As Pride month ramps up into full swing, the community becomes even more vibrant. With a plethora of parades, outdoor events, drag shows and more, it can feel great to curl up after a long day of partying with a good book. Additionally, as more and more LGBTQ+ books are being challenged with book bans, it’s important to elevate the voices of LGBTQ+ authors, and support them in your own way. If you are an avid bookworm and are looking for a whole new way to celebrate Pride and the community, here are a few reads to get you started:
“Middlesex” by award-winning author Jeffrey Eugenides has the power to change your life. The novel follows the narrator Cal Stephanides, who navigates life as an intersex individual. The novel seamlessly blends past, present and future – as well as myth and reality – to paint a portrait of Cal’s life and journey. The main theme of the novel is transition and falling into place when it feels like you belong nowhere, as Eugenides melds together Cal’s coming-of-age with their Greek family’s legends. Eugenides’ command of prose makes this chronicle of the queer experience feel like an epic.
Call Me By Your Name
You cannot mention LGBTQ+ books without mentioning “Call Me By Your Name” by Italian-American writer André Aciman. While already made into a feature film, the novel itself is enough to capture the heat of the summer, following a passionate romance between Elio and Oliver, an intern for Elio’s father. The novel is a story about desire, change, and a coming-of-age like no other. Once you read this book, it just becomes part of you.
Under the Udala Trees
“Under the Udala Trees” by Nigerian-American author Chinelo Okparanta provides a harrowing setting for the novel: the Nigerian civil war. She masterfully mirrors the narrator Ijeoma’s internal conflict with her sexuality to the external conflict of the war, which tears apart her family – but ignites the flame of her first love. This book is not for the faint of heart; with conflict after conflict as well as the war challenging Ijeoma and the reader, Okparanta makes the hope of a happy ending truly something to fight for.
The Scent of God
Indian novelist Saikat Majumdar flatters the senses in “The Scent of God,” which follows Anirvan, a student who dreams of becoming a monk. He goes to an all-boys school managed by a Hindu ashram.
In the foreground of the novel, the simmering of adolescence intertwines with a same-sex love affair between Anirvan and another student. What is meditation but spirituality?
What is spirituality without love? Why would love ever be considered wrong? The religious tension, juxtaposition of setting and Majumdar’s mastery of the senses perfumes the novel with richness.