You’ve probably found yourself with quite a bit more alone time lately than you’re used to thanks to the coronavirus pandemic and all of the havoc it has wreaked on everyday life. Everyone copes with those hours of solitude differently—maybe you spent nearly every waking minute online to keep up with the outside world and pass the time. Or, maybe you’ve dived deeper into your home-bound hobbies, and your houseplants now have names, and your grumpy, resident cat has many a time been an unwilling receptor to your undivided attention.
Or, maybe you’re like another, less talked-about category of us, and this unwanted isolation has you spiraling. Hard.
You may be reeling as you try to adjust to having all of your simple everyday pleasures—like chatting with a barista or popping into the gym to swim laps—ripped from your grasp.
Now, more than ever, it’s so incredibly important to give yourself the opportunity to become grounded, put reality to the side, and dedicate time to clearing your head. Reading is a perfect way to do that: it gives you a break from the screens; the quietness is nice, and you can support others from the LGBTQ community.
No one has ever said, “you know, there are just too many books by queer authors out there.”
In fact, there are vastly not enough, and for that reason, we owe it to them to recognize and celebrate their work. If you’re looking for a good read by an LGBTQ author to help clear your head this isolation season, look no further.
Are You Listening?
by Tillie Walden
It seems rare that a graphic novel takes home first place in book lists, but there is so much to love about Walden’s book, from stunning artwork (designed by Walden herself, a 23-year-old, award-winning graphic designer), to deeply moving themes of friendship and grief, to a flavor of adventure.
In Walden’s novel, you will follow the journey of Bea and Lou, who are on the run through Texas, joined by a mysterious cat.
If you want to drink in some gorgeous artwork and follow alongwith two women who live to confront their truths, Are You Listening? is perfect for you. Find it on Amazon.
We noticed one potential trigger warning in Walden’s book: sexual assault.
Girl, Woman, Other
by Bernadine Evaristo
Here are three underrepresented elements in British literature: being queer, being black, and being a woman.
Now, here’s a book that presents to you all three.
The energy in Evaristo’s eighth novel is unmatched, so you may want to strap in, grab your readers, and be prepared to polish off a book in one night. This lively novel is an intricate tale of the lives of 12 characters—mostly femme, black, and British—and their careers, lovers, and families, spanned across many years.
This dynamic and vibrant read will grip you until the end, and it provides an excellent escape from the four walls of your home.
While the novel narrates the struggles that women face—from dealing with adolescent children to affairs to career trouble—we couldn’t find any themes or events that may be triggering to readers.
How We Fight for Our Lives: A Memoir
by Saeed Jones
We love Jones as a modern, LGBTQ icon and his presence on the morning news show AM 2 DM, but he gives us even more to love in his 2019 memoir about growing up gay and black in Lewisville, Texas. Jones will grip you with his story of marginalization, complex relationships with parents, and his coming-out journey.
When you need to check out of your own reality for a little while, sometimes the best thing to do is pay a visit to someone else’s. In Jones’ story, you can follow his observations of the delicate balance of power and tenderness, love and hate.
If you’re feeling brave and want a read that will challenge you, and subsequently change you, How We Fight for Our Lives will do just that. You can find it on Amazon.
Readers should bear in mind that this memoir might contain themes and scenes that may be upsetting or triggering to some.
by Byron Washington
Follow along with Washington through the colorful highs and lows of Houston, Texas, a city that sees as a mix of beauty and seediness. With themes of multiethnicity, culture, and socioeconomic struggle, you will be stirred by his stories of Houston’s seldom-seen facets.
There is a lot of life in Washington’s book, and it is a perfect read for those of us spinning out from being locked up. Cosmopolitan said that Lot: Stories “will immediately transport you out of whatever bubble you’re living in,” so if you’re looking to experience life through a new set of lenses, Washington will do that for you.
Lot: Stories is available for purchase on Amazon. While nothing in the book’s synopsis or reviews outright suggested that we might need a trigger warning, there may be traumatic or upsetting themes in Washington’s stories.
Sontag: Her Life and Work
by Benjamin Moser
We should probably start off by letting you know that this book is nearly 900 pages of the life and impact of Susan Sontag, so by the end of 2020 you should: be an expert on this American writer and feminist and hopefully have finished the book, or at least gotten close.
Moser’s book made the list for a handful of reasons, mostly because Sontag played such a pivotal role in 1960s-era feminism, intellectualism and—mostly speculated just recently after her death and following the publication of Moser’s biography—queerness among high-profile activists.
This book is a big bite to swallow, but it has a lot of good knowledge in its pages, and it goes without saying that the vast majority of us have plenty of time on our hands. You can dive into the world of Susan Sontag via Amazon, and we didn’t pick up on anything that would suggest this book isn’t suitable for readers who need to avoid triggering elements.
There you have it: our top five picks of books that are: by queer authors, or have queer themes, or may suit queer audiences. It’s hard to know for sure when life will return to normal, so head on over to Amazon, stock up on these fantastic reads, and settle in.