I’m on a roll, peoples. BOOKS, BOOKS, AND MORE BOOKS. GAY BOOKS. THE GAYEST. I’m so sorry for all these bookish LGBTQ+ posts, except not really? After sitting in lit class all morning four days a week and then coming back to my dorm room and doing the readings for both of my classes for the rest of the day, I get pretty tired of assigned reading…
Anyway, today I’ll be taking a look at how the ways in which I find LGBTQ+ books has changed over time, and hopefully giving you some idea on other ways to find those books, too? That would be nice.
I started with reference books, I guess. Is that the right term for them? I found recommendations through books such as The Ultimate Teen Book Guide and 500 Great Books for Teens. This was when I was still in middle school, so that would have been prior to 2011 – before the slow yet steady increase in LGBTQ+ books thanks to the push for diverse lit. It would be several more years before I came out, so I was hesitant to just go up and ask someone IRL for recommendations. I preferred to be more surreptitious.
At around the same time, I began to find LGBTQ+ books simply by browsing the shelves of the local libraries. I feel incredibly lucky that I was even able to do so, because I have a lot of online friends who live in towns with crappy libraries. The ones near me, though, have a TON of books, and quite a few LGBTQ+ books. Which is weird, because otherwise those towns aren’t super gay-friendly places to live.
In fact, even today I find a lot of queer lit that I want to read and haven’t yet heard about through other means (Goodreads, et cetera – but I’m getting ahead of myself) when I’m back in my hometown on break from school.
I have pulled so many LGBTQ+ novels off the shelves in the YA section without even realizing what they were about, which is always a great feeling because once I take the book home and open it up and find out what kind of story it tells, I’m like 200% more excited about my new book than I was before. In fact, this is how I found my favorite book of all time: The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily Danforth. I had no idea it was a YA lesbian novel at first and once I realized that I was like… wow, look, my gaydar works on books, too!
I mentioned Goodreads, and I’d like to return to that discussion now. I joined in late 2012, but didn’t use my account much until almost a year later, and 2014 is when my use of that site really took off. I discovered enormously long (and enormously helpful) lists such as this one. I still haven’t found reading groups that are to my tastes yet, but then again I haven’t spent very much time looking for one, either… and some of the most interesting ones I’ve found so far have been defunct for a few years, which sucks.
I also find quite a few LGBTQ+ books thanks to my friends’ recommendations. Sometimes I’m friends with them on Goodreads, and sometimes I just hear about what they’ve been reading through our endless texts and emails and blog comments. This is a GREAT way to find out about lesser-known LGBTQ+ lit – for instance, self-published books, or books that may be popular in one country but not so much in another. A number of my closest friendships with fellow LGBTQ+ people have been built around LGBTQ+ books (and, to a lesser extent, LGBTQ+ fandom in general).
The last two sources I want to mention are social media and, more specifically, authors’ social media accounts. I follow a ridiculous amount of publishers’ pages on Facebook – probably too many – so my feed is clogged with updates about all sorts of YA books. I also pay attention to the books that my favorite authors, or my friends’ favorite authors, talk about on their social media accounts. It makes me so happy to find authors who get their hands on a lot of ARCs because that gives me an idea of what LGBTQ+ books to look for in the coming months.
Well, there you have it – a quick look at how I find new, and sometimes not so new, LGBTQ+ books to read. Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about my past reading experiences, how I find books, my memories of what drew me to certain genres, et cetera, which prompted me to write this post. I hope it was as fun for you to read as it was for me to write! How do you find LGBTQ+ books to read?