Brilliant books recommended by some of our favorite LGBT+ authors. (Hurry)
Books can help people discover new emotional depths and develop greater self-understanding – which is especially true for LGBT+ book enthusiasts.
Over 212 million printed books were sold in the UK in 2021, a 5% increase on the previous year and the highest number in a decade.
People devoured books to discover new worlds, escape the pressures of the pandemic, or even just to unwind at the end of the day.
For some, opening a book and seeing themselves reflected in its pages can help those who feel marginalized to connect with the larger outside world.
With that in mind, PinkNews asked six LGBT+ authors from different genders, experiences and countries to share the books – queer or not – that changed their lives and helped them feel seen for the first time.
Zeros and crosses – Malorie Blackman
Adiba Jaigirdar, author of Hani and Ishu’s Guide to Fake Dating, said Malorie Blackman’s book had not only had an impact on her life, but had a “major impact on the publishing industry in general” in the UK and Ireland.
“I think it was actually the first book I read that was written by a marginalized person in general, but it was definitely the first book I read that was written by a woman of color,” said Jaigirdar about Zeros and crosses.
She explained that seeing characters who were people of color helped her realize that she could be an author and “write about people who look like me or live life like me.”
“Before that, I didn’t necessarily know if that was a possibility because I had never seen these characters written,” Jaigirdar said. “I had never seen these authors write books.”
Girl of Smoke and Bones – Laini Taylor and And I darken – Kiersten White
Xiran Jay Zhao, author of iron widow, noted Daughter of Smoke and Bones was the first book that first helped them see “how beautiful language could be”.
“Laini Taylor is a master of storytelling, and I’m always amazed by his ability to balance gorgeous descriptions with page-turning tension,” they said.
Zhao said their own novel could not have been written without White’s. And I darken, which they say “expanded my view of what a YA protagonist might look like.”
“Lada was so fierce and vicious that she took my breath away,” Zhao said. “Not to mention all the LGBT representation in a historical setting!
Escape the furnace – Alexander Gordon Smith and The Song of Achilles – Madeleine Miller
Andrew Joseph White, author of Hell followed with us, described Alexander Gordon Smith’s book as an “edgy young adult series from the early 2010s that isn’t talked about much”.
“I read it in high school, and I’m almost afraid to read it again in case it doesn’t hold up after all this time,” he said.
“But when I was 14 and unaware of my identity as a queer trans man, it practically etched itself into my ribcage. Body horror solidified my lifelong love for monstrosity and how the monstrosity can be a reflection of my gender and my sexuality.
“Obviously the show never intended this – I remember it was an insane squick fest that I devoured in one sitting – but I give it credit for setting me on the path of the work I do now.”
White also recommended a The Song of Achilles, a queer tale by Madeline Miller that focuses on life, friendship and eventual romantic feelings between Patroclus, a clumsy young prince, and the demigod Achilles.
He said PinkNews: “I also read this one in high school, just before I started to question everything about myself. The book was my first celebration of queer love as an art, as something ancient and immortal, as something that survives forever.
“In fact, the character of Patroclus shaped my transition to men years later: a gentle man who was able to love other men, who mastered the art of healing by bleeding his hands, and showing that the definition of “the man” can be softer than the world often wants. I so needed to see that.
“It’s the combination of these two things, I think, that shaped me: a connection to monstrosity made soft, beasts as a representation of love and protection”
the Tortal series – Tamora Pierce
Zabé Ellor, author of May the best win and silk fire, said Tamora Pierce’s expansive fantasy series meant “most to me as a child” because the novels focused on “young women – magical or otherwise – performing heroic feats in a world of political obstacles. , cultural and supernatural”.
“What influenced me the most was seeing how hard his heroines had to work to overcome all the obstacles in their path – there was no magic shortcut to achieve their goals, and they often had to work twice as hard as the male characters to get credit,” Ellor said.
He continued, “I really admire authors who can be honest with young readers about the challenges they’ll face in the real world and who don’t make things too simple for kids.”
the Arden St Ives series – Alexis Hall
As a writer of queer novels, Anita Kelly, author of Love and other disasters, Recount PinkNews there was “only one answer” when it came to which writer had changed his life the most – Alexis Hall.
She described how Hall’s work focuses on “the kind of messy, complicated, shamelessly queer stories I live for”.
“The breadth of Hall’s work inspires me in itself; he constantly takes risks and writes what he wants. If I had to choose a favorite, it would be hers. Arden St Ives series,” Kelly said.
“It’s kind of funny that these are my favorite books, given that the first book is called How to Hit a Billionaire, and I most definitely think billionaires shouldn’t exist, but I now hear the title in a rather tongue-in-cheek way, just another hallmark of Hall’s humor.
Kelly described the book as a “reaction to the 50 shades empire” but “became queer and kink positive”. As such, she said it was “an epic saga about power, sex, trauma, love and vulnerability that I could read again and again (and have).”
don’t bite the sun – Tanith Lee and steal the thunder –Alina Boyden
Maya Deane, author of Goddess of anger sing, Recount PinkNews that one of the most influential books she read growing up was by Tanith Lee don’t bite the sun.
She described the book as a “fascinating and distant sci-fi novel”, which is also a bizarre coming-of-age story for a character who “lives in a robot-ruled society”.
“[It’s] skip the series of coming-of-age processes that you’re supposed to go through over the centuries,” Deane explained. “It’s a society where everyone changes their bodies like changing clothes.”
She said the main character often “gets depressed and decides” to become “another attractive and beautiful woman”. But this is seen as “a little weird” because other members of society “will be much more keen on changing genders”.
“And as a young trans kid, I was like, ‘I feel weird seen by this really weird Tanith Lee novel,'” Deane said.
Deane also recommends Boyden’s steal the thunder and its sequel, Offer fire. She explained that it was the “first big five fantasy novel” featuring a trans woman that was also written by a trans woman.
“And it kind of made me realize that it’s possible — it’s a thing that can actually happen,” Deane said. “There are readers who are interested in stories of trans women, and this really put me on the path to some good questioning. Goddess of anger sing and spread it around the world.