Celebrate Pride Month with these must-read books

Celebrate Pride Month with these must-read books

By Sam Cohen

June 18, 2024

We asked our colleagues across Courier Newsroom to share recommendations for books by LGBTQ+ authors. Here’s what they said.

Reading allows us to walk around in someone else’s shoes for a bit. For a brief moment in time, we learn what it’s like to be a queer teenager navigating the unforgiving landscape of high school, or what it’s like to experience safety in the arms of found family. Every time we pull a book off the shelf or press play on an audiobook, we’re committing ourselves to a brand new adventure.

In celebration of Pride Month, our colleagues at Courier Newsroom wanted to highlight books by LGBTQ+ authors that enhanced our perspectives and reflected our personal experiences. We hope that in doing so, you can also gain a deeper understanding of the LGBTQ+ community and embark on adventures of your own.

To celebrate even further, Bookshop.org is offering a 15% discount for Pride Month (from now until June 30), so be sure to check out the sale here and pick up some of these titles for yourself.

And to find and support an LGBTQ+ owned bookstore near you, scroll down on Bookshop.org’s Pride Month page to access their interactive map.

Before we get to everyone’s recommendations, here’s one of my own:

“Our Wives Under The Sea” by Julia Armfield 

I knew as soon as I read the first sentence of “Our Wives Under The Sea” that this story was going to stay with me long after I had finished reading. The novel cut me open in such a profoundly human, achingly honest way. It’s beautiful, strange, and heartbreaking in equal measure. 

Centering on the relationship of marine biologist Leah and her wife Miri, “Our Wives Under The Sea” interweaves dual perspectives about what happened to Leah during an expedition that mysteriously went awry, and its aftermath. There wasn’t a single moment during the book where I knew what was going to happen next—it was such a singular reading experience, unique in its emotions and perspective. 

Armfield captures so many moments of life, love, grief, hope, fear, and uncertainty in her story about Leah and Miri. I’ve never read anything quite like it—before or since. It’s the book I recommend most to my family and friends, and now, to you.

Book Recommendations

“Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda” by Becky Albertalli

My sister was obsessed with this book. She liked how relatable it was for someone her age (high school at the time).

-Angelique Inchierca, Social Media Manager at Granite Post

“In the Dream House: A Memoir” by Carmen Maria Machado

Carmen’s memoir is about a queer abusive relationship that distorts reality with media and its mirrors. In a book that had potential to fall to a gimmicky heap, it stood out as a hauntingly beautiful novel. She paints a picture of the complexities of being in an abusive relationship while also experiencing the added societal pressure of upholding what a queer relationship should look like. It’s truly the best book I have read!

I’d also recommend this New Yorker piece about Carmen and her memoir.

-Lily Jackson, Community Development Organizer 

“The House in the Cerulean Sea” by TJ Klune, and “Why Fish Don’t Exist: A Story of Loss, Love, and the Hidden Order of Life by Lulu Miller

“The House in the Cerulean Sea” is like a warm hug about found family. 

“Why Fish Don’t Exist,” which is part biography, part memoir, is one of my favorite books of the last several years. It’s ultimately about trying to find order in chaos, and reshaping how we try to organize said chaos in our lives. 10/10 everyone should read it!

-Marianne Kuga, Paid Media Director

“Nightswimmer” by Joseph Olshan, “Zami: A New Spelling of My Name” by Audre Lorde, and “The Stonewall Reader,” an essay collection

I read “Nightswimmer” years ago and thought it was such a heartbreaking work exploring loss during the time of AIDS.

Anything by Audre Lorde. “Zami: A New Spelling of My Name” is so excellent. I always come back to it; she writes in such a vulnerable, honest way.

And for recent nonfiction, “The Stonewall Reader” is a collection of essays from before, during, and immediately after Stonewall, which of course brought gay rights to the forefront in the American mainstream. What’s so interesting, however, is hearing about the activism behind the scenes, what really happened from multiple perspectives, and how history gets whitewashed—as well as watered down or made unnecessarily dramatic. A necessary history for us all.

-Amie Rivers, Community Editor at Iowa Starting Line

“The Priory of the Orange Tree” by Samantha Shannon and “Gideon the Ninth” by Tamsyn Muir

Two excellent sapphic fantasy novels.  For “The Priory of the Orange Tree,” think: dragons, magic, swords, and multiple storylines across a world. For “Gideon the Ninth,” think: necromancers in space, irreverent gothic humor/horror.

-Danielle Strasburger, Director of Communications and Marketing

You Exist Too Much by Zaina Arafat and “If Beale Street Could Talk” by James Baldwin

Zaina Arafat won a Lambda Literary Award in 2021 for her book, which is about a young woman struggling with bisexuality, religion, her relationship with her mother, and finding a place to call home.

“If Beale Street Could Talk” is an all time favorite. It’s James Baldwin’s fifth novel; a love story set in Harlem following Tish and Fonny’s relationship from childhood friends to parenthood and Fonny being wrongfully imprisoned

-Bryce Lacy, Partnerships Manager

“Bastard Out of Carolina” by Dorothy Allison

For my money, Dorothy Allison’s “Bastard Out of Carolina” is the best novel ever written. It’s a heartbreaking exploration of growing up in the rural South as a dirt-poor lesbian who’s also navigating family abuse. There’s nothing fun about reading it, but there’s a tangible power in every page.

-Michael Foley, Growth Project Manager

“Less Than Zero,” “The Rules of Attraction,” “Imperial Bedrooms,” “Glamorama,” and “Lunar Park” by Bret Easton Ellis 

Some of my all-time favorite books come from Bret Easton Ellis. They’re incredibly dark, but Ellis’ chilling writing style is like no other and keeps me coming back for more.

-Jessica Swarner, Community Editor at Copper Courier 

“We Have Always Been Here: A Queer Muslim Memoir” by Samra Habib 

A steady flame of a memoir written by a queer, Pakistani Canadian and Muslim artivist, this book taught me what chosen family is, how to see identity as a sacred space, and how to honor others’ sacred spaces. The political is almost always personal, but the personal doesn’t have to be political.

-Avery Staker, Social Media Manager at Iowa Starting Line

“Welcome to St. Hell: My Trans Teen Adventure” by Lewis Hancox, “Gender Queer: A Memoir” by Maia Kobabe, “Boys Weekend” by Mattie Lubchansky, “Mall Goth” by Kate Leth

“Welcome To St. Hell” has a sequel coming out soon! Also, I haven’t read it, but Maia Kobabe has also written a great book about how to safely bind your chest. It’s called “Breathe.”

-Lucas Henkel, Multimedia Reporter at ‘The Gander

  • Sam Cohen

    Sam is the Editorial Product Manager in the Community Department at COURIER Newsroom. Prior to joining the organization, Sam worked as a writer and editor covering topics ranging from literature, health & wellness, and astrology to the British royal family and profiles of notable actors and musicians.


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