PRIDE Month Student Book Picks & Music

People holding pride flags. Text says Happy Pride Month under a rainbow.

This blog post was written by our summer library student worker, Eden Marchese '23. Many of the books are on display on the main level of the Library and are available for check out. Eden also curated a Pride playlist, on our Spotify account account, celebrating LGBTQ+ artists and their songs that help their community feel seen.

My name is Eden Marchese (they/them/theirs), I am a rising senior at Fairfield University who is studying English: Creative Writing, Philosophy, German, Peace & Justice, and Black Studies (I have a very busy schedule as you could imagine). At Fairfield, I am the Director of Diversity & Inclusion for the Fairfield University Student Association (FUSA) and also have an assortment of other jobs around the campus! I identify as a Queer, non-binary person who cannot function unless they’re listening to is only a slight problem.

As we go through Pride month I wanted to take a moment to highlight some of my favorite LGBTQ+ books! Typically, I am someone who reads science fiction or fantasy novels though I am a huge sucker for romance novels - especially LGBTQ+ romance novels (yes, I am a hopeless romantic at the core). The following books are in no particular order and there are most definitely books that I am missing or that I sadly couldn’t fit into this list.

For all the novels listed below, and as a general rule, I recommend looking into any of the content warning listings they may have in case there is something that may be triggering for someone.

I Wish You All The Best by Mason Deaver

I Wish You All The Best is truly an incredible novel. The writing was beautiful and I fell in love with the characters so quickly - an easy testament to Mason Deaver’s (they/them) writing ability and style. This was the first book with a non-binary character that I have ever read and it meant the world to me to find a book with a main character who shared my identity, especially a non-binary main character who was written by a non-binary author. If you have not really heard the term “non-binary” before, I’d highly recommend this book as well since it helps to show why representation (especially representation written by someone who has that identity) is so important.

If you enjoy romance novels, I would highly recommend this book. Even if you are not someone that necessarily loves romance as a genre, this novel has so much beauty to it that anyone can find something they’ll love when reading.

Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas

This novel is one of Aiden Thomas’ (he/they) best and I am beyond excited to be able to read their new novel that’s set to come out this year (2022)! Cemetery Boys deals with some fantasy elements and deals a lot with the trans* experience through the lens of the main character. Aiden Thomas’ writing is beautiful in this novel and the romance is really well written. This is another incredible example of why it is important for writers within a certain identity should be creating media that deals with said identities as Aiden Thomas’ experience being trans plays into the realism of the main character’s experience throughout the novel.

Before reading this novel, I knew that it had a romance storyline but I was pleasantly surprised that Thomas spends a lot of the novel’s time on the mystery storyline since it is incredibly engaging and only bolsters the romance aspects of the novel as well.

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab

A lot of people began to know/read about this book when it blew up on TikTok (and for good reason, the writing is heartbreakingly beautiful) and it has quickly become one of my favorite books that I have ever read. The LGBTQ+ themes in this novel are much more subtle than the others on this list but that is one of the reasons it has been praised by readers since the sexuality of the various characters is not the end-all-be-all of their identity. Both of the main characters’ bisexuality is mentioned throughout the novel but there is no “coming out” moment for either of them and V.E. Schwab (she/her) allows their sexuality to be a piece of the incredible fantasy story.

The existential themes of the novel are fantastic and I cannot recommend this book enough if you are someone that enjoys feeling like a part of you was ripped out after finishing a novel because…ouch, this novel HURTS in all the best ways possible by the end.

On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong

A blend of fiction and memoir, On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous, is a masterpiece. This was the first piece of Ocean Vuong’s (he/him) I read and I fell in love with his writing almost immediately. The whole book is written as a letter from a son to his illiterate mother and is a way for the son to say things they could never speak about since he knows his mother will never be able to read it. I cannot recommend this book enough and I am getting chills just writing about it. Vuong’s own experience being gay is something that beautifully informs the writing and it is apparent how real all the characters are even if fiction is blended into the narrative.

This book is emotionally devastating and that is what heightens its beauty as Vuong’s poetic writing style dominates the reader’s mind throughout the narrative. Ever since reading this novel, I have dove into his poetry and have loved every second of it.

Boy Erased by Garrard Conley

Though I mentioned checking for content warnings earlier, I am going to reiterate it for this memoir since it is incredibly graphic and is a lot to read, especially if you are someone in the LGBTQ+ community. Boy Erased is incredibly well-written and the movie made for it was also really well done. As someone who grew up in a household that was really religious and not accepting of my identity, everything about this story hit really hard and the whole memoir is only made more upsetting by the fact that a lot of it is taken from recordings of conversations Garrard Conley (he/him) and his mother had later in life.

Much of this book deals with Conley’s experience being put through the horrific practice of conversion therapy (legal in 30 states as of June 2022) and his relationship with his parents. This book is incredibly important for anyone who does not know how dangerous conversion therapy is or for anyone who is genuinely curious what it can be like to be LGBTQ+ in the United States.

I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson

This novel is split between two main perspectives, a brother and sister, and is one of the things that pulled me to the novel when I was reading a summary of it on the jacket cover. Much of this story revolves around the relationship of the siblings through the lens of art and how both of them were impacted by their mother/the childhood struggle to be the mom’s “favorite” kid. The dynamic is easily the strongest part of the novel and it is clear how much heart each of the characters have as time goes on, especially when you look back on the whole timeline after finishing the book for the first time.

Jandy Nelson’s (she/her) writing in this novel is really beautiful and weaves together the sibling’s story in a way that is breathtaking much of the time. I left this book feeling numb from how incredible it was and it easily fits into some of my favorite literature and literary genres. I’ve come back to reread it a couple of times since I finished it and it is easily as good as it was the first time I read it.

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2 replies to “PRIDE Month Student Book Picks & Music”

  1. Laura says:

    Thanks for the recommendations Eden! I'm adding Cemetery Boys and The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue to my reading list as I write this!

  2. Barbara says:

    I started reading Addie LaRue and enjoying it so far! Will be checking out more of these too.

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