June is Pride Month, and while this year has brought with it some very dark moments, it’s still the time to celebrate the LGBTQ* community. Rob and I hope we can call ourselves allies and friends, and so we’re talking about our LGBTQ Library, in association with Penguin Pride.
As part of Penguin Pride, as well as putting together their own suggestions, Penguin have been asking bloggers and vloggers to chat about their LGBTQLibrary, so here are a few of our very favourites…
Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal by Jeanette Winterson – the true story behind Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit, which was in turn a fictionalised account of Winterson’s childhood. It’s raw, brilliantly written and an extraordinary account of living in an incredibly difficult, even abusive family situation, whilst also coming to terms with your sexuality – you can read my review here
This Book is Gay by Juno Dawson – non-fiction aimed at teens but also parents and anyone looking to considering their own sexuality or gender, to educate themselves, or to prepare for a conversation with someone. Written in Juno’s inimitable style, I can’t recommend it highly enough. Certainly every school library should have a copy (or ten) – review here
The Price of Salt, or Carol, by Patricia Highsmith – we read this for the most recent episode of bookclub podcast Hear, Read This! and it’s an absolute masterpiece in so many ways. It’s literary, it’s a thriller, it’s a book that deals explicitly with a relationship between two women written at a time when this would have been extremely dangerous and it does so without sensationalism, with tenderness, romance. I loved it, as you might be able to tell. Listen here or via iTunes here
how to be both by Ali Smith – It’s pretty well known that Ali Smith is fantastic, and I’m still somewhat baffled that how to be both didn’t win the Booker. It uses art, gender and sexuality to connect two people across hundreds of years, Rob got me a signed copy, and I treasure it. I talk at length about my love for it in a number of our podcasts, but particularly here
The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller – a modern retelling of one of the most ancient, celebrated gay love stories of them all, absolutely done justice by Madeline Miller. We’ve shared our podcast of this a few times, but in case you missed it, you can listen here, or read a review here
The Art of Being Normal by Lisa Williamson – special mention for this one because I’m super-pleased to have a quote on the paperback edition of this. I love this to bits; Lisa’s experience working at The Tavistock with young trans people inspired her to write her debut, and it’s filled with warmth and positivity as well as realism and perceptiveness in its portrayals of the difficulties of growing up knowing you are in the wrong gender body. Read my review here, and listen to my interview with Lisa here
There are so many more that I could add – Fun Home by Alison Bechdel, A Place Called Winter by Patrick Gale, The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters (both AMAZING) and many many more, but that’s just a few recommendations to get you started…
Rob and I also wanted to get some more recommendations, so we asked Penguin what they could suggest. Lo and behold, we got a couple of beautifully wrapped presents in the post…
Rob’s #LGBTQLibrary recommendation: The Well of Loneliness by Radclyffe Hall “New to Penguin Modern Classics, the seminal work of gay literature that sparked an infamous legal trial for obscenity and went on to become a bestseller.
The Well of Loneliness tells the story of tomboyish Stephen, who hunts, wears trousers and cuts her hair short – and who gradually comes to realise that she is attracted to women. Charting her romantic and professional adventures during the First World War and beyond, the novel provoked a furore on first publication in 1928 for its lesbian heroine and led to a notorious legal trial for obscenity. Hall herself, however, saw the book as a pioneer work and today it is recognised as a landmark work of gay fiction.”
‘The love child of John Green and Rainbow Rowell’ Teen Vogue
Straight people should have to come out too. And the more awkward it is, the better.
Simon Spier is sixteen and trying to work out who he is – and what he’s looking for. But when one of his emails to the very distracting Blue falls into the wrong hands, things get all kinds of complicated. Because, for Simon, falling for Blue is a big deal . . . It’s a holy freaking huge awesome deal.”
We’re really looking forward to reading these – they both sound brilliant, and I’m loving the fantastic, rainbow-coloured bookmarks too! Sadly the temporary tattoos arrived a bit too late for us to wear them for Pride weekend but I’m sure they’ll come in handy some time soon.
I also just wanted to say thanks so much to the lovely people at Del Rey who’ve sent me an advance copy of Woman on the Edge of Time by Marge Piercy, which is celebrating its 40th anniversary this summer – this classic science fiction novel is often compared to Atwood and Le Guin, so ticks some big boxes for me, and explores gender and sexuality, as well as feminism, that definitely fits in with the #LGBTQLibrary theme!
We hope that – despite the topsy-turvy world we’ve got at the moment – you’ve had a positive Pride month and that you’ve found something that you’ll love to read from these recommendations. We’d love some from you in return – what do you think we might enjoy? Leave a comment below, email, or tweet us! Kate and Rob x