11 LGBTQIA+ Books to Read During Pride Month

June 14 2018
Share 11 LGBTQIA+ Books to Read During Pride Month

It’s that time of year again! Break out your rainbow flag and celebrate Pride in true booklover fashion: by reading lots and lots of excellent stories. Here are 11 books to get you into the spirit.

Chef's Choice
by TJ Alexander

CHEF'S CHOICE is the delightful second serving in TJ Alexander's Chef's Kiss series. This queer rom-com sizzles with humor, romance, and authenticity as it navigates the lives of Luna O'Shea, a spirited trans woman, and Jean-Pierre, a laid-back trans man and potential culinary heir. Their journey from fake dating to genuine affection is both heartwarming and complex, layered with Luna and Jean-Pierre's personal explorations of identity and acceptance. Alexander skillfully weaves these themes throughout, lending depth to the love story that unfolds. This narrative is a flavorful blend of laughter, love, and self-discovery, garnished with the charm of culinary misadventures.

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Chef's Choice
TJ Alexander

A fake dating arrangement turns to real love in this deliciously delightful queer rom-com from the author of the sweetly satisfying Chef’s Kiss.

When Luna O’Shea is unceremoniously fired from her frustrating office job, she tries to count her blessings: she’s a proud trans woman who has plenty of friends, a wonderful roommate, and a good life in New York City. But blessings don’t pay the bills.

Enter Jean-Pierre, a laissez-faire trans man and the heir to a huge culinary empire—which he’ll only inherit if he can jump through all the hoops his celebrity chef grandfather has placed in his path. First hoop: he needs a girlfriend, a role that Luna is happy to play…for the right price. She’s got rent to pay, after all! Second hoop: they both need to learn how to cook a series of elaborate, world-renowned family recipes to prove that Jean-Pierre is a worthy heir. Admittedly, Luna doesn’t even know how to crack an egg, but she’s not going to let that—or any pesky feelings for Jean-Pierre—stop her.

Another swoon-worthy and heartwarming queer love story from a charming new voice in romance.

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This Is How It Always Is
by Laurie Frankel

When their youngest son, Claude, expresses his love for dresses and ultimate desire to be a girl, Rosie and Penn aren’t sure how to handle the situation. As Claude grows and becomes Poppy, they encourage her to stay true to herself, while grappling with this ever-growing secret and a multitude of hard decisions. Inspired by Laurie Frankel’s own transgender child, this is a beautiful and often heartbreaking story of raising a child who doesn’t fit into gender norms.

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This Is How It Always Is
Laurie Frankel

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Spoiler Alert: The Hero Dies
by Michael Ausiello

It is always very considerate of an author to make you laugh your head off while they are simultaneously breaking your heart. In SPOILER ALERT, TVLine Editor-in-Chief Michael Ausiello gives us a glimpse into his 14-year relationship with his husband. You’ll quickly turn the pages as you bear witness to the love, laughter, tears, and joy of what is ultimately a modern-day tragic love story.

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Spoiler Alert: The Hero Dies
Michael Ausiello

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Paper is White
by Hilary Zaid

Hilary Zaid has written a novel about hidden stories, intergenerational silence, and the redemptive love between women. Set in 1990s San Francisco, the story follows Ellen Margolis and her girlfriend as they set out on a path toward marriage equality. Ellen searches for buried history while collecting stories from the last survivors of the Holocaust.

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Paper is White
Hilary Zaid

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11 LGBTQIA+ Books to Read During Pride Month

By Off the Shelf Staff | June 14, 2018

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Pomegranate
by Helen Elaine Lee

Helen Elaine Lee's POMEGRANATE offers an unforgettable exploration of queer Black womanhood. Centered around Ranita Atwater, a determined woman battling to regain her life after prison and addiction, the narrative seamlessly intertwines themes of LGBTQIA+ identity, marginalization, and resilience. Ranita's quest for sobriety is made even more poignant by her love for Maxine, which plays a critical role in her self-discovery and redefinition. Lee's writing is a masterful blend of gritty realism and emotional depth, echoing the profound struggles and triumphs of the human spirit. Each page invites readers into Ranita's life, filled with struggle, yet brimming with hope and resilience. POMEGRANATE is a testament to the power of love in its many forms. It's a must-read for those seeking a powerful portrayal of life's toughest battles and most beautiful victories.

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Pomegranate
Helen Elaine Lee

“A remarkable feat of literary conjuration.” —Jennifer Haigh, nationally bestselling author of Mercy Street

The acclaimed author of The Serpent’s Gift returns with this gripping and powerful novel of healing, redemption, and love, following a queer Black woman who works to stay clean, pull her life together, and heal after being released from prison.

Ranita Atwater is “getting short.”

She is almost done with her four-year sentence for opiate possession at Oak Hills Correctional Center. With three years of sobriety, she is determined to stay clean and regain custody of her two children.

My name is Ranita, and I’m an addict, she has said again and again at recovery meetings. But who else is she? Who might she choose to become? As she claims the story housed within her pomegranate-like heart, she is determined to confront the weight of the past and discover what might lie beyond mere survival.

Ranita is regaining her freedom, but she’s leaving behind her lover Maxine, who has inspired her to imagine herself and the world differently. Now she must steer clear of the temptations that have pulled her down, while atoning for her missteps and facing old wounds. With a fierce, smart, and sometimes funny voice, Ranita reveals how rocky and winding the path to wellness is for a Black woman, even as she draws on family, memory, faith, and love in order to choose life.

Perfect for fans of Jesmyn Ward and Yaa Gyasi, Pomegranate is a complex portrayal of queer Black womanhood and marginalization in America: a story of loss, healing, redemption, and strength. In lyrical and precise prose, Helen Elaine Lee paints a humane and unflinching portrait of the devastating effects of incarceration and addiction, and of one woman’s determination to tell her story.

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Surpassing Certainty
by Janet Mock

Janet Mock has become one of the most recognizable faces in the trans community. In her newest memoir, Mock writes of her transition from male to female in a candid and inspiring narrative. She takes us on the journey of self-discovery and how a young first-generation college student uses her sometimes rough and gritty life lessons to become a force in the LGBTQIA+ community.

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Surpassing Certainty
Janet Mock

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Boy Erased
by Garrard Conley

Born the son of a Baptist pastor in small-town Arkansas, Garrard Conley was deeply conflicted by his sexuality. At 19, he was given the option to either lose his family forever or attend a church-supported therapy program. Following the 12-step program, he was meant to emerge heterosexual and cleansed of impure urges. Instead, through this brutal journey, Conley managed to find the strength and understanding to eventually break away and embrace his true self.

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Boy Erased
Garrard Conley

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Super Late Bloomer
by Julia Kaye

Julia Kaye is an artist and illustrator who used to her popular webcomic, Up and Out, to chronicle her transition from male to female. Kaye’s unique sense of humor coupled with her sometimes challenging and bewildering new experiences will give readers a better understanding of how our transgender brothers and sisters cope with their new bodies, new names, and resilient spirits.

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Super Late Bloomer
Julia Kaye

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Just by Looking at Him
by Ryan O'Connell

JUST BY LOOKING AT HIM by Ryan O’Connell offers a compelling exploration of a gay man's journey towards self-acceptance amidst addiction, infidelity, and living with cerebral palsy. Elliot, a successful TV writer, grapples with personal and romantic struggles beneath the guise of his seemingly perfect life. This poignant and hilariously relatable story provides a unique perspective on the dichotomy between public perception and private reality. Bridging humor, struggle, and authenticity, this moving narrative is a truly memorable read.

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Just by Looking at Him
Ryan O'Connell

From the star of Peacock’s Queer as Folk and the Netflix series Special comes a “funny, tender, and beautiful” (Gary Janetti, New York Times bestselling author) novel following a gay TV writer with cerebral palsy as he fights addiction and searches for acceptance in an overwhelmingly ableist world.

Elliott appears to be living the dream as a successful TV writer with a doting boyfriend. But behind his Instagram filter of a life, he’s grappling with an intensifying alcohol addiction, he can’t seem to stop cheating on his boyfriend with various sex workers, and his cerebral palsy is making him feel like gay Shrek.

After falling down a rabbit hole of sex, drinking, and Hollywood backstabbing, Elliott decides to limp his way towards redemption. But facing your demons is easier said than done.

“With his singular voice and unforgettable wit” (Steven Rowley, author of The Guncle), Ryan O’Connell presents a candid, biting, and refreshingly real commentary on gay life, laugh-out-loud exploration of self, and a rare insight into life as a person with disabilities.

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Before Night Falls
by Reinaldo Arenas

This gripping memoir is a stark reminder of the discrimination still faced by the LGBTQIA+ community around the world. Cuban writer Reinaldo Arenas describes his life, from his poverty-stricken childhood in rural Cuba to his suppression as a writer and imprisonment as a homosexual before finally fleeing to New York. This is an in-depth account of life in a country where homosexuality is a crime, written from the author’s deathbed.

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Before Night Falls
Reinaldo Arenas

In this shocking memoir by a visionary Cuban writer, Reinaldo Arenas recounts his personal journey: from his poverty-stricken childhood and his adolescence as a rebel fighting for Castro, to his imprisonment for being homosexual, his flight from Cuba, and his subsequent life in New York.

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