I am by definition a bibliophile. I love books. I always have. I taught myself to read at a young age and taught my little sister to read when she was three. My mom still to this day tells me of how she used to find the dictionary next to the toilet because I would read it while pooping. I was that kid.
My love for words has spanned centuries and as I have grown it has grown with me. Now I spend my days teaching teenagers to find comfort in words too. Sometimes I am successful and sometimes I am not, but what can you do! Teens these days want every thing now and often times books aren’t like that. When I was coming to terms with my sexuality, I immediately sought comfort in books about all things gay. When I came out to my mom, I gave her a list of books for parent’s of kids on the LGBTQ+ spectrum. I always turn to words. They never fail me.
Although my list of favorite books could go on for miles and miles, I want to focus this post on LGBTQ+ books because I’ve found that there are many out there, they are just sometimes difficult to find. So for all my queer bibliophiles out there, check out some of these books. You might find something that speaks to your heart.
- Fun Home and Are You My Mother? by Allison Bechdel
I can’t say enough wonderful things about Alison Bechdel as a person, but also as an author. The stories she tells of her coming out and her relationships are so truthful and relatable. Graphic novels as a genre weren’t very popular when I was in school, but once I started studying to become a teacher I found that graphic novels are pretty amazing. The amount of detail and thought that goes into writing/illustrating a graphic novel is incredible. I’d heard a lot about Fun Home because it is now a Broadway play, but I hadn’t read it until this summer. As soon as I picked it up, I couldn’t put it down. The illustrations are heart wrenchingly beautiful and Bechdel is so honest. The story is about her tumultuous relationship with her father and how many events in her life impact that relationship. You will laugh and you will cry. You will feel Bechdel’s pain as if you are experiencing it yourself. I don’t remember relating to a story more than the one told in Fun Home. Are You My Mother? is another graphic novel by Alison Bechdel and it explores her relationship with her mother and how writing Fun Home impacted their relationship. It is neat that you get two sides of the same story, it almost makes your feel like you are part of her family. I read Fun Home first and then Are You My Mother? These are two novels I wish I would have had access to when I was coming out. The clipping above is from Are You My Mother?
- Buffering Unshared Tales of a Life Fully Loaded by Hannah Hart
Oh mannnn. This book is pure gold. I’ve been a fan of Hannah Hart for years now. She was one of the first people I started to follow almost religiously on Youtube when it became popular. I remember spending hours rifling through episodes of My Drunk Kitchen. Hannah always alluded to her life while she was growing up in her Q&A videos and other videos, but she wasn’t ever super up front about it. She always made light of her current situation and how her past made her who she is, and of course her audience understood she wouldn’t be sharing every detail (especially painful ones) with millions of people all over the world. But Buffering fills in all the blanks for us and Hart really digs deep. Buffering is a memoir, but it is organized in a way that almost makes it feel like personal essays/journal entries. It makes her success in different facets of her life and her heart ache from the past so accessible. She writes about a wide range of things from coming out to her Youtube success. I already admired her before reading this book, but after I admire her even more. She is truly so strong and optimistic, two qualities that I wish I had more of. This book is a breath of fresh air.
- Darling Days: A Memoir by iO Tillet Wright
I love iO Tillett Wright. I was introduced to him a few years ago because he started a movement called We Are You, A Self Evident Truths Project. We Are You is a non profit project supported by the Human Rights Campaign which travels around the country taking photos/portraits of people all over the LGBTQ+ spectrum at pride parades. iO Tillett Wright is working to do an installation of the photos covering The National Mall in Washington DC. I was immediately on board with iO’s efforts to help make LGBTQ+ people visible because sometimes we feel invisible. iO is a photographer, public speaker, author, actor, and blogger who grew up in as he describes in an “unorthodox way.” iO is gender fluid (he does not use labels) and has centered much of his work on LGBTQ+ visibility. Darling Days is a raw and real look inside iO’s childhood into adulthood, and how he got to be the creator he is now. It will hit you right in the feels so prepare your body. If you want to know more about iO, check out his TedX Talk here.
- Running with Scissors by Augusten Burroughs
I read this book when I was in high school because one of my best friends loved it and recommended it to me. To this day it is still one of my most treasured and loved possessions. It is so quirky and oddball, but so painfully honest about what it feels like to be queer in a dysfunctional family. The book also tackles the ins and outs of mental illness, which is part of the reason I love it so much. I remember reading it and one minute I would be thinking, “What the actual fuck” and the next minute I would be peeing my pants laughing. It was made into a movie, but the movie doesn’t even compare to how genius the book is. Augusten Burroughs has written a slew of other books that are all wonderful, so check him out!
- The Price of Salt by Patricia Highsmith
This book guys. This books is crazy good. I’m sure many of you saw the movie Carol in the past year, this is the book it is based off of. This was the first book I ever read that tackles being a lesbian head on. I identify as a lesbian so that was a huge deal for me. I finally found something I could relate to in regard to that facet of who I am. The book itself was published in 1952 (hence the old timey cover art), so it was WAY ahead of its time. Patricia Highsmith did not want to be pigeon holed as a “lesbian author,” so she published the novel under the name Claire Morgan. This book is so socially significant because it broke the mold of what people during this time period believed a lesbian woman would/should be (butch). It is on the surface a lesbian romance novel, but underneath that it is so much more. It tells the story of two women during the 1950s who have to sneak around in order to be with each other because one is married to a man and has a child. It is still regarded as the only lesbian novel with a happy ending. Even if you’ve already seen Carol, I would suggest reading the book. The movie is phenomenal, but the book is even better.
There you have it! There are many other books that could be considered LGBTQ+, but these are books that I love and are significant to me. And as a side note, even if you don’t fall on the LGBTQ+ spectrum does not mean you can’t or shouldn’t read these books. I promise they all have something you can relate to. All of these books can be purchased on Amazon. I urge you to check them out and if you have any other books that mean something to you share them in the comments below. I’m always looking for new books to read!