Queer books that you need to read now.
Emily Trueman explores five books from queer authors that are a must-read.
I’ve been an avid reader since I was about five-years-old. Growing up and struggling to come to terms with my sexual orientation as a lesbian in Western Sydney, it was a struggle for me to find books where I could see this aspect of myself represented. It’s not that these books didn’t exist - it’s that no-one was willing to talk to me about them. Thankfully, with the development of the internet and the recent willingness in the past decade to speak more openly about LGBT+ people and culture, I was able to find these books for myself. And now I’ll pass them onto you.
The Miseducation of Cameron Post (2012) by E M Danforth
We follow Cameron Post from the day her parents die suddenly and unexpectedly in a car crash, through the beginning of high school in the 90’s and, eventually, her experiences at conversion therapy. This was the first book about being a lesbian and coming to understand your own sexuality where I could see my own conflicted feelings and confusion reflected back at me. Although this book is driven by tragic circumstances, it is not a sad book. Super readable and told from a first person perspective, Cameron is a relatable, wry and insightful narrator. There’s also a new movie adaptation that has made waves on the indie circuit.
Similar books: Rubyfruit Jungle (1973) by Rita Mae Brown, Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit (1985) by Jeanette Winterson
Call Me By Your Name (2007) by Andre Aciman
Beautiful and atmospheric writing transports the reader to a small estate on the coast of Italy in the 1980s. This novel is an exploration of first love, obsession and sex, told from the perspective of a teenage boy. Best read in large chunks, get ready for a lot of sexual metaphors and philosophising that still can’t take away from the awkwardness and excitement of a first crush and sexual awakening that will resonate with all who reads it.
Similar books: Carol (originally published as The Price of Salt) (1952) by Patricia Highsmith, Disobedience (2006) by Naomi Alderman
Eyes Too Dry: A Graphic Memoir About Heavy Feelings (2017) by Alice Chipkin and Jessica Tavalossi
Two queer women from Melbourne wrote this graphic novel as a way to cope and communicate with each other while one of them was going through a period of deep depression. Drawn in two distinct styles, it explores the indiscriminate reach of mental illness and the closeness of Alice and Tava’s friendship. Moreover, this is a novel about “recovering” and choosing life, a topic rarely explored within depictions of depression.
Similar books: Fun Home (2006) by Alison Bechdel
Everything Leads To You (2014) by Nina LaCour
This light-hearted and romantic young adult novel follows an up-and-coming production designer (read: intern) in Hollywood as she stumbles upon a mystery left behind by one of the biggest stars of Hollywood’s golden age. If you need something uplifting, summery and bright with well-executed character arcs and a really cute romance, you’ll find it here!
Similar books: Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda (2015) by Becky Albertalli, Symptoms of Being Human (2016) by Jeff Garvin, Tell Me Again How A Crush Should Feel (2014) by Sara Farizan
The Last Nude (2011) by Ellis Avery
Set in the late 1920s, Rafaela is an Italian-American girl sent from New York City to Italy for an arranged marriage, before she escapes and settles in Paris, which, at that time, was the literary and lesbian capital of the world. She survives by working as the “girlfriend” of wealthy men before being picked up by an older artist, and becoming her muse and object of affection, culminating in a bittersweet romance. This is actually based on the true story of bisexual painter Tamara De Lempicka and the subject of her painting, La Belle Rafaela.
Similar books: Tipping the Velvet (1998) by Sarah Waters, The Well of Loneliness (1928) by Radclyffe Hall, Fingersmith (2002) by Sarah Waters
Emily Trueman is a recent Communications graduate, majoring in Social Inquiry with a minor in Screen Studies. She likes to read, write and act, and might make a career out of it some day.