Reading is Fundamental: Some Fan Faves for Pride Month

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Dublin Pride 2018, photo by Maggie McAlister

Happy Pride y’all! In honor of our coworkers, patrons, friends, and family who are members of the LGBTQIA+ community, I asked library and information professionals to write to me about their favorite Pride books. They are listed here, with clickable titles that lead their respective webpages for ease of access to you!  

Alice Isn’t Dead by Joseph Fink

Genre: Horror, Mystery, Thriller, Supernatural

Content Warnings: Mental health, anxiety

Identities: While their sexualities are never labeled, the main character and her wife are both women, and the book has been nominated for the 2019 Lambda Literary Award for Lesbian Mystery

Target Age Group: YA+

Alice Isn’t Dead follows Keisha Lewis as she travels searching for her “dead” wife, Alice, fighting para-military/secret government agency hate zombies, heartache and loss, and her own anxiety to get her back. A book about the paranormal that is deeply human, this one is immediately relatable for people who have their own battles with anxiety. 

 

Iron Council by China Miéville

Genre: Fantasy/New Weird

Identities: Gay & bisexual men

Target Age Group: Adults

Set in China Miéville’s bizarre and wonderful Bas-Lag universe, Iron Council follows three characters: Judah a railroad scout, as he helps in a socialist revolution during a war between two city-states, Cutter a friend and former lover of Jonah, who is trying to warn him of an incoming attack, and Ori, a revolutionary back in the city of New Crobuzon. Iron Council is filled with strange creatures, trains and golems made from a wide variety of materials. While it’s the third entry in the Bas-Lag series, the novel stands on its own and doesn’t require you to read the previous two novels. 

 

Midnighter: Out (Volume 1) by Steve Orlando

Genre: Superheroes, Action, SciFi, Graphic Novel/Comic Book

Identities: Gay men

Target Age Group: Adults

 “One of my all-time favourite comics.” Midnighter is an overly violent superhero with a supercomputer in his brain that allows him to predict how to win any fight. The book starts shortly after Midnighter has broken up with his fellow superhero, Apollo. Midnighter investigates a robbery of weapons from the God Garden as well as a file that contains information on his past. Written by bisexual author Steve Orlando and has absolutely stunning art by ACO. 

 

The Last-Herald Mage Trilogy by Mercedes Lackey

Genre: Fantasy

Content Warnings: Parental abuse, depression, self-harm, sexual assault survival, character death, slight bury-your-gays 

Identities: Gay cis men

Target Age Group: New Adult+

This trilogy tells the story of Vanyel, a privileged, beautiful, but perpetually disappointing son of a socially conservative and isolated noble family in a fantasy kingdom where the benevolent and moral law-keeping force are (basically) knights who ride semi-divine talking horses. The trilogy belongs to the world of Valdemar, and could act as an introduction to a rich universe with characters of myriad backgrounds and sexual identities. When we meet Vanyel, magic seems to be disappearing and outside forces are making suspicious moves, but Vanyel is about to come of age with a bang – and fall in love with his aunt’s protege. This series was written in 1989-1990 and has some of the issues you’d expect, including a predilection to whiteness, but it is still a beautifully written high fantasy story of self-discovery, first love, lost love, and doing your best even when hate everything. While ultimately a tragic hero, Vanyel is a character worth knowing who chose the hardest road and is ultimately remembered for his bravery and power. 

 

Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston

Genre: Romantic Comedy

Content Warnings: Descriptions of past trauma/attempts at abuse, mental health, homophobic royals

Identities: Major characters reach across the spectrum of sexual and gender identities! So much healthy representation! 

Target Age Group: New Adult+, but appropriate for older YA readers as well

What happens when the son of the first female President of the United States and the Prince of Wales (who hate each other) fight into a wedding cake at a royal wedding? Damage control fake friendships, of course. In this enemies-to-lovers story, we get to enjoy a (mostly) happy love story in a world where the good guys win, both inside and outside of politics.

 

Nimona by Noelle Stevenson

Genre: Graphic Novel, Fantasy

Content Warnings: Homophobia, Torture

Identities: Lord Ballister Blackheart & Sir Ambrosius Goldenloin love each other. Full stop.

Target Age Group: Appropriate for YA+

Nimona the orphaned shapeshifter & Lord Ballister Blackheart the supervillian need each other. For villainous acts, yes. For revenge, absolutely. For survival, tangentially. But mostly, they need each other to prove to the world that the “good guys” aren’t really that good. 

 

Carry On by Rainbow Rowell

Genre: YA, Fantasy, Fanfiction

Content Warnings: Suicidal/self harm tendencies, depression & mental health (not related to sexuality)

Identities: Baz & Simon are both LGBTQIA+, as are two minor characters, Ebb and Trixie. In fanon (and we can hope in the upcoming sequel, Wayward Son), Agatha is ace. 

Target Age Group: YA+

Carry On’s Simon Snow is the Chosen One, and he’s terrible at it. He’s also sure that his roommate, Tyrannus Basilton “Baz” Grimm-Pitch, is a vampire who is plotting his death. Oh, and there’s the Humdrum (who causes magic vacuums), homework (they’re students, after all), his girlfriend (who is endgame … right?), and a lot of magical class tension. The book itself is the Harry Potter-adjacent fanfiction referenced in a previous book by Rainbow Rowell that’s worth a read, Fangirl.  

 

Meddling Kids by Edgar Cantero

Genre: Horror, Horror-Comedy

Content Warnings: Suicide, mental health, body horror, out-of-date terminology

Identities: Throughout the story, Alex’s gender and sexuality are both brought to discussion; however, it seems that she is perfectly happy to just be Alex. This discussion ranges in levels of respectfulness from character to character. 

Target Age Group: New Adult+

Thirteen years after solving their final case as the Blyton Hills Detective Club, the remaining members of the group return to find out what really happened that night at Deboën Mansion  on Sleepy Lake, each with their own baggage. In this blend of Scooby Doo, Cabin in the Woods, It, and Lovecraft, those meddling kids fight for the town that built them once and for all.

 

Geography Club by Brent Hartinger

Genre: YA

Identities: The LGB of LGBTQIA+

Target Age Group: High/Secondary schoolers

“One book I loved when I was first coming out was Geography Club.” A classic identity-exploring and coming out story about a high/secondary school-aged boy who gets involved in his school’s Geography Club, which turns out to be a Gay-Straight Alliance of sorts.

 

Deep End by Ger Philpot

Genre: Memoir

Content Warnings: Homophobia, hate speech, death and dying

Identities: All of them, as all were (and are) affected by the crisis

Target Age Group: New Adult+, predominantly history scholars

Philpott’s memoir describes a devastating period in which government institutions, state organisations and Irish society ignored a particular groups public health needs, as Irish queer men and women increasingly died from AIDS related illnesses throughout the 1980s. The book in particular documents Philpott’s tumultuous relationship with his lover Paul, one of the first people to die from AIDS in Ireland. Confronting an unaccepting and morally strict society with monstrous grief, Philpott chronicles the developing AIDS crisis in Ireland and the struggles to force a society mired in a culture of silence to confront the harsh realities of an epidemic. A crucial insight into a historical moment written and ignored from the annals of Irish history, indicating how the personal is always political.

 

This list was gathered together by our LGBTQ+ and Children & Youth Services Committee Member, Maggie! She is deeply grateful to everyone who submitted their favorites for this list, and opted to leave them anonymous for purposes of safety and potential issues with employment that could arise. She can be reached through this site, or via email at mcalistm@tcd.ie.

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