Happy pride month, everyone! 🌈
I realized that it’s been a while since I do book recommendations and I don’t think I’ve ever done any for pride month, so here I am with 7 books for you to read! There’s a mix bag of super popular titles and less popular ones, but these are the ones I absolutely loved and had an amazing time reading. Obviously we should read LGBTQ+ stories and authors all year round, but just incase you need some recommendations these books will always be here for you!
Without further ado, let’s jump right in!
01. Noteworthy by Riley Redgate
A cappella just got a makeover.
Jordan Sun is embarking on her junior year at the Kensington-Blaine Boarding School for the Performing Arts, hopeful that this will be her time: the year she finally gets cast in the school musical. But when her low Alto 2 voice gets her shut out for the third straight year—threatening her future at Kensington-Blaine and jeopardizing her college applications—she’s forced to consider nontraditional options.
In Jordan’s case, really nontraditional. A spot has opened up in the Sharpshooters, Kensington’s elite a cappella octet. Worshiped…revered…all male. Desperate to prove herself, Jordan auditions in her most convincing drag, and it turns out that Jordan Sun, Tenor 1, is exactly what the Sharps are looking for.
Jordan finds herself enmeshed in a precarious juggling act: making friends, alienating friends, crushing on a guy, crushing on a girl, and navigating decades-old rivalries. With her secret growing heavier every day, Jordan pushes beyond gender norms to confront what it means to be a girl (and a guy) in a male-dominated society, and—most importantly—what it means to be herself.
This book is sooo amazing and underrated! It music, found family vibe, and a loot of diversity. Not only our main character Jordan is bi, in Kensington Academy despite being an elite institution, we’re meeting a lot of people from varying ethnicity, social classes, and sexuality. And despite the focus on acapella and music, there’s also discussion on academic pressure and parental pressures. Basically this book has everything!
02. Black Tides of Heaven by Neon Yang
The Black Tides of Heaven is one of a pair of standalone introductions to JY Yang’s Tensorate Series. For more of the story you can read its twin novella The Red Threads of Fortune
Mokoya and Akeha, the twin children of the Protector, were sold to the Grand Monastery as children. While Mokoya developed her strange prophetic gift, Akeha was always the one who could see the strings that moved adults to action. While his sister received visions of what would be, Akeha realized what could be. What’s more, he saw the sickness at the heart of his mother’s Protectorate.
A rebellion is growing. The Machinists discover new levers to move the world every day, while the Tensors fight to put them down and preserve the power of the state. Unwilling to continue to play a pawn in his mother’s twisted schemes, Akeha leaves the Tensorate behind and falls in with the rebels. But every step Akeha takes towards the Machinists is a step away from his sister Mokoya. Can Akeha find peace without shattering the bond he shares with his twin sister?
If the gorgeous cover doesn’t convince you to pick this book up, then you should know that it has one of the most unique concept and world building I’ve ever read! This book set in a country that is protected by the Protectorate and Tensors can manipulate this element called Slack that is everywhere. Just imagine the Tensors as benders, but they can bend all elements, which are the Slack. Another unique thing is that children chose their own gender whenever they are ready and it doesn’t have anything to do with their physical features. It’s just really fantastic to read about and since it’s also a novella, it doesn’t take much of time.
03. Where We Go From Here by Lucas Rocha
An absorbing debut novel about three gay young adults in Brazil whose lives become intertwined in the face of HIV, perfect for fans of Adam Silvera and Bill Konigsberg
Ian has just been diagnosed with HIV.
Victor, to his great relief, has tested negative.
Henrique has been living with HIV for the past three years.
When Victor finds himself getting tested for HIV for the first time, he can’t help but question his entire relationship with Henrique, the guy he has-had-been dating. See, Henrique didn’t disclose his positive HIV status to Victor until after they had sex, and even though Henrique insisted on using every possible precaution, Victor is livid.
That’s when Victor meets Ian, a guy who’s also getting tested for HIV. But Ian’s test comes back positive, and his world is about to change forever. Though Victor is loath to think about Henrique, he offers to put the two of them in touch, hoping that perhaps Henrique can help Ian navigate his new life. In the process, the lives of Ian, Victor, and Henrique will become intertwined in a story of friendship, love, and stigma-a story about hitting what you think is rock bottom, but finding the courage and support to keep moving forward.
Set in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, this utterly engrossing debut by Brazilian author Lucas Rocha calls back to Alex Sanchez’s Rainbow Boys series, bringing attention to how far we’ve come with HIV, while shining a harsh light on just how far we have yet to go.
This is one of my favorite reads of 2020 and despite being underrated, everyone who read it fell in love with the story. I think this is my first time reading about HIV in fiction and I think it is a very well-written and important book. It tells information about HIV and with our 3 main characters, discussed the different experiences with HIV. While it does have its dark moments, it managed to feel warm and hopeful at the same time with the amount of support every characters are having. It is such an important and thought provoking book that if there’s only one book I want you to read from this list, it’s this one.
Trigger warning: homophobia, HIV stigma, status reveal, self-hate
04. You Asked for Perfect by Laura Silverman
Senior Ariel Stone is the perfect college applicant: first chair violin, dedicated community volunteer, and expected valedictorian. He works hard – really hard – to make his life look effortless. A failed Calculus quiz is not part of that plan. Not when he’s number one. Not when his peers can smell weakness like a freshman’s body spray.
Figuring a few all-nighters will preserve his class rank, Ariel throws himself into studying. His friends will understand if he skips a few plans, and he can sleep when he graduates. Except Ariel’s grade continues to slide. Reluctantly, he gets a tutor. Amir and Ariel have never gotten along, but Amir excels in Calculus, and Ariel is out of options.
Ariel may not like Calc, but he might like Amir. Except adding a new relationship to his long list of commitments may just push him past his limit.
This is also one of my favorite of 2020 just because it discussed the topic of academic pressure. I don’t think I’ve ever read any book that discussed this topic so this book was really close to my heart. I also adore Amir and Ariel’s relationship as they felt really soft together and felt like Ariel find a safe space with Amir 🥺
05. The Tea Dragon Society by Kay O’Neill
From the award-winning author of Princess Princess Ever After comes The Tea Dragon Society, a charming all-ages book that follows the story of Greta, a blacksmith apprentice, and the people she meets as she becomes entwined in the enchanting world of tea dragons.
After discovering a lost tea dragon in the marketplace, Greta learns about the dying art form of tea dragon care-taking from the kind tea shop owners, Hesekiel and Erik. As she befriends them and their shy ward, Minette, Greta sees how the craft enriches their lives—and eventually her own.
Ahh how do I express my love for this series?? 🥺 Not only the art is gorgeous, reading the story and the characters felt like a warm hug or a calming cup of tea. It’s just soo soothing and magical! ✨
06. Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas
Yadriel has summoned a ghost, and now he can’t get rid of him.
When his traditional Latinx family has problems accepting his gender, Yadriel becomes determined to prove himself a real brujo. With the help of his cousin and best friend Maritza, he performs the ritual himself, and then sets out to find the ghost of his murdered cousin and set it free.
However, the ghost he summons is actually Julian Diaz, the school’s resident bad boy, and Julian is not about to go quietly into death. He’s determined to find out what happened and tie up some loose ends before he leaves. Left with no choice, Yadriel agrees to help Julian, so that they can both get what they want. But the longer Yadriel spends with Julian, the less he wants to let him leave.
This is one of the more popular books on this list and it’s very well deserved! THIS BOOK IS AMAZING OMG. Well developed characters, smoldering romance, tight knit community and family, as well as struggles being lgbt+ in a community that holds fast to their tradition- all explored really well without sacrificing the other element! If you haven’t pick this one up, then I hope you do this month!
07. Red White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuinston
First Son Alex Claremont-Diaz is the closest thing to a prince this side of the Atlantic. With his intrepid sister and the Veep’s genius granddaughter, they’re the White House Trio, a beautiful millennial marketing strategy for his mother, President Ellen Claremont. International socialite duties do have downsides—namely, when photos of a confrontation with his longtime nemesis Prince Henry at a royal wedding leak to the tabloids and threaten American/British relations. The plan for damage control: staging a fake friendship between the First Son and the Prince.
As President Claremont kicks off her reelection bid, Alex finds himself hurtling into a secret relationship with Henry that could derail the campaign and upend two nations. What is worth the sacrifice? How do you do all the good you can do? And, most importantly, how will history remember you?
If I’m being honest, it took me two tries to finish this book just because it’s very romance heavy lol. But personal problems aside, this book was AMAZING. Alex and Henry were a delight to read and they’re perfect for each other. The side characters, despite less page time, also shined on their own. President Claremont? Showstopping. And the ending did made me cry. It is the most famous book on this list but I can see why so many people love this book!