THE HIGH TIDE

Five Fierce LGBTQ Books For Your 2018

Emily Carroll

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  As more LGBTQ influencers climb the pop culture ladder, things such as queer films, books and artists are becoming increasingly popular with each year. 2017 was a great year for the rise and the normalization of the LGBTQ community in the media. With films like Moonlight and shows like Shameless, a topic that was once used as a parody within media has become a fantastic movement to promote LGBTQ issues. Very rarely before 2014 were there books and films that depicted a serious LGBTQ character or situation. More often than not, gay themes were thrown around as a joke. This has recently taken a turn for the better. Lately, I have been absolutely obsessed with queer novels, so much so that I just can’t keep them all to myself. Here are my top 5 recommended LGBTQ books in order.

 

      My favorite so far, which has now bumped itself up to my favorite book of all time, is Carry On by Rainbow Rowell. Carry On is a continuation of Rowell’s novel Fangirl, in which the main character, Cath, is head over heels in love with a fictional character by the name of Simon Snow. Even more than Simon, Cath is in love with his relationship with a character named Baz. Carry On is the story of Simon Snow, the worst chosen one to ever be chosen, and his time at the Magickal School of Watford. Simon Snow is a magician, and his sworn enemy, Baz Grimm-Pitch, is a vampire. For years, Simon and Baz have been at each other’s throats, even trying to kill each other in their fifth year at the school. Little does Simon know, Baz’s hate is a cover-up for his true romantic feelings. For lack of a better phrase, think the gay version of Harry Potter. It’s a bit of a read at a little over 500 pages, but it is most definitely worth it. I’m not a fantasy fan at all, but from the minute I picked up Carry On, I could not bring myself to put it down.

 

      Call Me By Your Name has already swallowed the whole of 2018. Every person on every media platform is discussing the film, but what people forget is that the book is always first. I recently read Call Me By Your Name, by Andre Acimen, and I only have one word to describe it: exquisite. This book is unlike anything I’ve ever read. The language is so compelling; it almost sounds like it was translated from a different language. Due to Acimen’s unique writing stile, Call Me By Your Name took me twice as long to read as any other 200 page novel, which is not at all a bad thing. If anything, it helped me appreciate the book more. This book is battling with Carry On for my number one spot, but for now, it holds the place of runner up. The story takes place in Italy, settling in on 17 year old Elio, whose parents house a guest every summer just for the fun of it. This is where Oliver comes in, and where things get complicated. I won’t give too much away, but if you’re a fan of plenty of rhetorical language and lots of reading through smoke and mirrors, as well as prominent gay themes, you’ll love Call Me By Your Name. And. As previously stated, it is now a feature film, so you can enjoy the movie as well.

 

      Third on this list is Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz. This book was actually recommended to me by a friend, and I was skeptical at first. Now that I’ve finished it, I have to admit: this book is absolutely beautiful. Aristotle and Dante starts with Aristotle, a Mexican-American 15 year old who is too existential for his own good. He meets Dante, another Mexican teen, at the local pool one day when he offers to teach Aristotle how to swim. Aristotle gets to know Dante over the course of about 2 years, and he begins to see things in him that he wished he possessed himself. Eventually, Aristotle develops a love towards Dante that he’s never felt before, and is not sure he wants to feel. I liked the representation of race in this novel, as well as the undeclared sexualities. In Aristotle and Dante, the reader never gets a straight up “this character is gay”, but instead a “these characters love each other, and that is what matters.” I also thoroughly enjoyed the internal monologues of Aristotle, who could have very well been a 15 year old philosopher, as well as all of his thoughts about Dante. This book pays great attention to detail, and was overall a wonderful read.

 

      I have yet another book on my list that is now a film, and that is Simon Vs. The Homosapiens Agenda. This book follows Simon, a closeted gay, who has been emailing back in forth to someone who goes by the alias “Blue”. One day, a fellow classmate finds the emails, and gives Simon a proposal: set me up with your friend, and your secret stays with me. This is more of a light hearted read; there’s less drama and angst than those listed above. That being said, if you’re looking for a transition book, or just some general LGBT goodness, this one’s for you. And, when you’re done, you can go watch Love, Simon in theaters.

 

      The last book on this list is actually a book that I have yet to read, but have heard incredible things about. Roving Pack by Sassafras Lowrey involves LGBTQ topics, but deals more with gender than sexuality.  It’s set in an underground world of homeless queer teens, and follows Click, who’s not only straight-edge, but also transgender. It’s basically a pack of newly sober gender-defiant rebels all living together, making art and figuring out who they are as humans. The reason this sounds so intriguing to me is because very rarely do you come across a novel that really captures what it is like to feel misplaced in an environment where everyone else seems to be getting on just fine, especially in relation to a character’s gender. Representation is so important with books like these, as it doesn’t stop at transgender. People can be agender, non-binary, gender fluid, etc. This book, from what I’ve read and seen, does a fantastic job at involving as many third gender parties as possible, as well as giving insight to what it feels like to experience life out of the standard binary. I absolutely cannot wait to give this one a read.

 

      So there we have it: 5 must read LGBTQ books from me, to you. It’s so important to me that books like this get recognition, especially as the LGBTQ community grows and becomes more widely accepted by the media. Even putting aside the LGBTQ themes, these authors do an impeccable job at simply writing, so if you’re not that into this type of content, all of these people have other works worth reading as well. As we continue the fight for acceptance, let us show praise for the entire LGBTQ community, queer novels, and all good things to come, for love is love, and it cannot be killed or swept aside.

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