6 Queer Summer Reads with Julie
As a book reviewer, I am inundated with requests for reviews; my “to-read” pile grows daily.
Because it’s summertime, there’s been an increase in frivolous romance novels, and boiler-plate mysteries. Apparently when the weather gets hot, readers crave lighter book fare. But I’m sure I’m not the only queer-book-nerd out there that likes my summer reads to be a bit meatier. Here are six LGBT-related stand-outs. Don’t worry, for those who like it steamy, I’ve included one of those, too…
1. For fans of biography, art, and American culture, I recommend Lambda Literary Foundation award-winning biography Fire in the Belly: The Life and Times of David Wojnarowicz by Cynthia Carr. Ms. Carr invites the reader into the intimate world of this private artist in New York’s East Village during the AIDS crisis.
2 .As a former Peace Corps volunteer, I was drawn to A.J. Walkley’s Vuto. Walkley herself served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Malawi. This beautifully written novel captures Walkley’s first-hand knowledge of place as she explores the relationship of a Malawi woman ostracized from her village with a Peace Corps volunteer, who together confront cultural issues.
3. For readers of memoir, I recommend Chronology of Water by Lidia Yuknavitch and Chelsea Cain. Chronology tells the story of a swimmer cum artist who tackles issues such as motherhood, reproductive rights, bisexuality, drug and alcohol abuse and other issues that may resonate with the reader.
4. I’m a big fan of young adult (YA) fiction. The genre has changed since I was a teenager struggling to find books to identify with. Openly Straight by Bill Konigsberg is a YA that deserves to be read. Rafe has been out since 8th grade. He’s the poster boy for gay rights. At an all-boys’ boarding school, he’s given the chance to reinvent himself as just one of the guys. But then he goes and falls in love…
5. I think it’s important to connect with local artists in your own communities. My favorite local girl in Richmond, Virginia is Ruth Perkinson. As a former high school teacher, Ms. Perkinson is a champion for misunderstood teenagers. In The Mystic Market, Ms. Perkinson uses her magic with words to illuminate the tragic consequences of anti-gay bullying.
6. And for those of you who like sex in your beach read, try Basil Papademos’ Mount Royal, a sizzling romp through the Montreal in the tumultuous 1980s. But Papademos’ novel is not just a fluffy beach read. Critics call it a “love letter to a time and a place.”
Happy Summer Reading!
Julie Harthill Clayton is an out and proud bisexual with a passion for reading, writing . . . and NOT arithmetic. Her work has appeared in the Christian Science Monitor, the Internet Review of Books, Curve Magazine, Lambda Literary and more. She is working on her first novel - Two Tickets to Freedom - a semi-autobiographical queer coming-of-age tale. A paralegal by day, Julie spends her free time knitting, writing, and reading anything she can get her hands on. She lives in Richmond with her partner, local artist David Turner, and their mischievous and loving hunting dog, Max.
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