Monday, April 2, 2018

Books for Campus Pride Month

Though Pride isn't officially until June, April is when a lot of college campuses celebrate Pride--mostly due to the fact the majority of students aren't there in June. With the popularity of Love, Simon, there have been lots of lists floating around on books to read after you see the movie, and many of these lists feature LGBTQ characters. The movie opened up a visibility online (though, I admit, I'm in a lot of book communities on social media) that is hopeful, showing that hopefully change is happening.

Admittedly, I've read a lot of the books that are circulating on the internet--and they're all wonderful, you should read them! You can find some of these lists here, here, and here. As someone who's done a lot of academic research in this area, I thought I'd chime in with some of my favorite books that represent the LGBTQ community.

1. Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz

Ari and Dante don't really have anything in common, at least when they first meet at a swimming pool over the summer. But as they start hanging out, they realize they're more alike than they could have ever imagined and their friendship blossoms into something more. Set in Texas in the 1980s, Ari and Dante struggle with stereotypes around the gay community, and as Ari is Mexican American, his culture is brought to the forefront as well. An emotional examination of a coming-of-age story.

2. They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera

Death-Cast calls people on the day they're going to die--but it doesn't tell them when or how. Matteo and Rufus both receive this call on the same day and end up connecting via a friendship app for those on their last day. Rufus is able to help Matteo to come out of his shell and experience life, while Matteo is able to help Rufus deal with the death of his family. Silvera's stories are always incredibly emotional, and this one is no different.

3. The Great American Whatever by Tim Federle

Quinn's sister, Annabeth, was killed in a car accident, and now Quinn has lost his desire and motivation in writing his movie script. Geoff, Quinn's best friend, is finally able to pull Quinn out of his isolation by bringing him to a party, where Quinn meets and falls in love for the first time. A mixture of humor and grief, Federle's style feels similar to Beck Albertalli's. You'll fall in love with Quinn right from the beginning.

4. Symptoms of Being Human by Jeff Garvin

Riley is genderfluid, meaning sometimes Riley identifies as a girl and sometimes as a boy. But not being out is putting a strain on Riley's emotions and anxiety, especially being in the spotlight during their dad's campaign. Not only should Garvin be commended for never gendering his protagonist one way or another (which is incredibly difficult!), but the emotions and anxiety throughout the text feel very real. Riley's predicament is one that many teens will relate to.

5. Carry On by Rainbow Rowell

The only fantasy book on this list, Carry On follows the story of Simon and Baz at the Watford School of Magicks, something that was referenced in her book Fangirl. As with any of Rowell's books, Simon and Baz's relationship is the reason to read this book. The tension is built up and built up until you're like: just kiss already! I plowed through this book so quickly, it might be time to go back and revisit it.

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