In part one of this blog series, we recommended some queer books that we believe everyone should read, and in this part, we will recommend some more books. This list is entirely subjective and is queer books that have changed my life and thinking, but here is the list of more books that I think everyone should read at least once.
Okay, I don’t want to be the only one, but I read for pleasure, and I can finish a book in a day. As a queer, non-binary person, I tend to seek out queer books, and this list is for all queer people looking for queer book recommendations.
So you are correct in saying that I have read quite a few queer books in my lifetime. I also have a degree in English and am currently working on a Masters in Linguistics, so believe me when I say I know what I am talking about. So, without further ado, let’s get into this list.
1. Peter Darling by Austin Chant
I read “Peter Darling” just this year and was in love with the book from the first line- so much so that I would have loved to re-read it immediately after I finished it. Three months later, I bought the paperback edition of the book in addition to my eBook- even though, at almost 14$, it’s significantly more expensive than I’m usually willing to spend on a paperback with less than 200 pages.
But some books you just have to have on your shelf, and “Peter Darling” really enchanted me- the love story between Peter Pan and Captain Hook, in which Peter (like the author, by the way!) is a trans man who returns to Neverland because he can’t bear to live as Wendy anymore, is beautifully written, sensitively and at the same time excitingly told. I really never thought such a short book could evoke such great emotion in me, but I loved it. Very big recommendation!
2. David Levithan’s Two Boys Kissing
Craig and Harry want to set an example for all gay boys. To do so, they kiss. Thirty-two hours, 12 minutes, and 10 seconds. That’s how long it takes to break the world record for long-term kissing. That’s how long it takes to figure out your feelings for each other after you’ve just broken up.
That’s how long it takes to change the lives of every gay couple in the area forever. Levithan, one of the best gay writers in the world, doesn’t take 20 pages to dive deep into his story, which has a Greek chorus of men who have died from the effects of AIDS, narrating and commenting on what has happened from beyond the grave with all their love and unfulfilled longing.
“Two Boys Kissing” is so beautiful, so varied, and so true that you howl with joy, and after you finish, immediately start reading again from the beginning. Get your box of tissue because this box will make you cry and laugh; it is a must-read if you ask us.
3. James Baldwin’s Giovanni’s Room
No love is ever innocent. In the fifties, in Paris, David, an American ex-pat, meets the delightfully overbearing, lionizing Giovanni in a bar. The two begin an affair- and desire and shame break loose in David like a storm.
Then suddenly, his fiancée returns. David can’t summon up the courage to come out. Believing he can save himself, he plunges Giovanni into a disaster that ends fatally. James Baldwin broke two taboos with “Giovanni’s Room” in 1956: as a black writer, he wrote about the love between two white men.
His American publisher subsequently separated from him, and his agent advised him to burn the manuscript. The now available and very prosperous new translation by Miriam Mandelkow was published only at the end of February and had a very readable afterword by Sasha Marianna Salzmann. Today, “Giovanni’s Room” is considered Baldwin’s most famous novel.
4. Swimming in The Dark by Tomasz Jędrowski
This book must be mentioned in the list right after Baldwin; after all, the author calls “Giovanni’s Room” his biggest inspiration for the novel, which was originally published in English under the beautiful title “Swimming in the Dark”. Tomasz Jedrowski tells of the love of two men in 1980s socialist Poland- a love story that is inevitably political, and one that the author himself believes, sadly, could still be just as fraught with fear of judgment and negative consequences in today’s Poland. Nevertheless, the novel reads as quickly as the title suggests- the perfect summer read.
5. Ocean Vuong’s On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous
A coming-of-age story is a somewhat unusual but beautiful form: Vietnamese-American poet and writer Ocean Vuong’s debut novel has been critically acclaimed for a reason. We read a son’s letter to his mother in incredibly poetic language. Ocean Vuong incorporates his own identities as a homosexual man and as the son of Vietnamese immigrants. Slowly, he fills our heads with images as he tells of life on the fringes of American society.
Sound off in the comments section below and tell us what you want to read next and if you want to read more about queer book recommendations.