Savannah Cordova recommends 6 Amazing New LGBT Books to Add to Your TBR!
Beyond the seminal classics, there are incredible new LGBT books coming out all the time, pushing boundaries and headlining different kinds of queer experiences in fresh and exciting ways. If you’re hungry for more LGBT books to add to your TBR, here are some amazing releases from the last couple of years to sink your teeth into!
1. Detransition, Baby by Torrey Peters
One of the most original and fascinating novels of 2021, Detransition, Baby centers on Ames: a former trans woman who upends his life when he detransitions, breaks up with his longtime girlfriend Reese, and impregnates his new lover Katrina. Complicating matters is the fact that Reese — herself a trans woman — has long yearned for a child, yet is unable to have one biologically. And this is where Ames, desperate to find a way back into Reese’s life, hatches a plan “so crazy it just might work”: what if he, Katrina, and Reese all raised the baby together?
The result is something of an LGBT, feminist slant on the classic comedy Three Men and a Baby, with sharper prose and much fresher commentary. Peters doesn’t pull any punches when writing about sex and relationships, and while the occasional observation might be tough to swallow — especially for a fairly “vanilla” cis audience — Detransition, Baby remains boldly compelling, urging you on even when its characters seem destined to crash and burn. It’s the perfect book club selection to kick off 2022… and there’s plenty more where that came from.
2. My Autobiography of Carson McCullers by Jenn Shapland
While working as a graduate intern at the University of Texas archives, author Jenn Shapland uncovers a series of letters between writer Carson McCullers and a woman named Annemarie Schwarzenbach. Passionate, intimate, and revealing, the letters set off a process of discovery — both of McCullers’ identity as a queer woman, and of Shapland’s own self-discovery.
In this book, Shapland recounts her self-confessed fixation on McCullers, which sees her spending time in the author’s home as she attempts to untangle the archival record and uncover more about her life and loves. Along the way, Shapland begins to explore questions she had not dared ask herself before — about the nature of her own queerness, her chronic illness, and how she wanted to tell her own story. Part intimate memoir, part detailed portrait of an artist, this bookis a complex exploration of the self and a striking example of the resonant echoes among queer stories throughout history.
3. Outlawed by Anna North
A queer feminist novel, following a notorious gang of outcast and outlawed bandits, set in an alt-history version of the Wild West… need I say more? Outlawed not only has an irresistible premise, but also the kind of unputdownable pacing that will make you want to devour it in a single sitting. Our heroine is 17-year-old Ada, newly married and seemingly set for life. The only hiccup? She’s struggling to conceive — and in a town where infertile women are accused of witchcraft, this is very bad news indeed.
Ada finds solace as part of the Hole in the Wall Gang, a ragtag collection of women and non-binary misfits led by the magnetic Kid, whose dreams of an oppression-free haven leads them all on an adventure both perilous and exciting. A refreshing take on the Western genre that puts BIPOC, nonbinary, and female characters at the fore, Outlawed is brilliantly subversive — and sure to be unlike anything you’ve ever read before.
4. Something That May Shock and Discredit You by Daniel M. Lavery
If you’ve yet to immerse yourself in the writings of Danny Lavery, you’ve got some catching up to do. Lavery had previously turned his hand to almost every topic, from reimagined fairy tales in his short story collection The Merry Spinster to musings on religion and masculinity and to ranking every meal in Great Expectations in order of how upsetting it is. In Something That May Shock and Discredit You, Lavery takes an introspective turn while retaining his signature blend of hyper-literary fluency, pop culture references, Biblical imagery, and crackling wit.
Lavery’s writing takes on broad ground with confidence and self-awareness, as he explores transmasculinity and identity with both candor and humor. You won’t be getting easy answers here; this is no straightforward explanation of Lavery’s gender identity, nor of how this son of an evangelical pastor navigates his complex relationships with his parents. What you will get is a series of razor-sharp personal essays, the warmth of which is outweighed only by their hilarity.
5. All Adults Here by Emma Straub
Describing a book as a portrait of family dysfunction may not scream “fun time,” but All Adults Here really is one. The Stricks are dysfunctional in a way akin to the Joneses in Bridget Jones’ Diary: a collection of not-quite-adult children, struggling to navigate their own lives, while coming to terms with the fact that their mother may also have a life of her own — who knew?
As it turns out, Astrid Strick has been in a relationship with her female hairdresser for the last three years. After witnessing a fatal accident that shifts her outlook on life and parenting, she decides it’s time to be honest with her children about it. Sounds reasonable, but said children are very much wrapped up in their own lives. Will the Stricks be able to pull it together and accept one another? A novel full of revelations and wry humor that observes the dynamic of an unconventional family with real hope and humanity, All Adults Here is a true modern must-read.
6. Real Life by Brandon Taylor
If you haven’t yet read Real Life, consider this your cosmic sign to do so. Based on his experiences as a gay Black writer, Taylor’s novel tells the story of Wallace: a PhD student navigating life in a conservative white university town. Told over the course of one seemingly uneventful weekend, Real Life delicately explores the power of the mundane as we bear witness to Wallace’s daily reality. Watching him move through the world, we see the cumulative effect of corrosive microaggressions against the defenses he has spent his whole life building up.
The politics of academic life and the experience of being Othered within both personal and professional spheres is given nuanced, thoughtful handling in this astonishing debut. With the book having been shortlisted for the Booker Prize and with a film adaptation in the works, it’s high time for you to join Taylor’s devoted fanbase if you haven’t already.
I hope these recommendations have given you a tiny slice of the incredible diversity of LGBT literature out there, and whet your appetite for more! Happy reading!