8 Books To Bring A Bit More Queer Joy To Your Life

·5-min read

Welcome to Hot Book Summer. From books about queer joy to snappy page turners you can read in a weekend, true crime books without the violence against women to Unbothered's picks of the best books written by Black women now, R29 has got your summer reading list sorted.

In many ways it's never been a better time to be an LGBTQ+ reader: books which span all genres and topics are being published regularly and access to long-forgotten classics as well as emerging writers has never been easier. Plus, it's Pride month, which means that it's peak time for lists of LGBTQ+ friendly books – so finding titles to add to your 'to read' list is hardly a challenge.

But there are times, such as now, when you want to make sure your read doesn't remind you just how awfully LGBTQ+ people are still treated in 2021. That doesn't mean it has to be saccharine or unrealistic. Just that there is a sense of joy, possibility or celebration at the heart of the book.

The following titles are all, in some way, an iteration of queer joy, whether it's an exploration of the ways families could form, a riotous piece of historical fiction or a genuinely happy ending for a relationship.

Longlisted for the 2021 Women's Prize and a <em>Times</em> top ten bestseller, it's unlikely you've not come across Torrey Peters' blistering debut novel.<br><br>In case you haven't, the story follows three women – cis and trans – whose lives are intertwined by an unexpected pregnancy. It reckons with desire, relationships, motherhood and the possibilities of family outside of the cis straight norm. While the novel never shies away from the realities of trying to live your life as trans in a transphobic world, it does so with a sense of humour that doesn't bother to worry what others will think of it.<br><br><strong>Profile Books</strong> Detransition, Baby by Torrey Peters, $, available at <a href="https://uk.bookshop.org/books/detransition-baby-longlisted-for-the-women-s-prize-2021-and-top-ten-the-times-bestseller/9781788167208" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:bookshop.org" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">bookshop.org</a>
Longlisted for the 2021 Women's Prize and a Times top ten bestseller, it's unlikely you've not come across Torrey Peters' blistering debut novel.

In case you haven't, the story follows three women – cis and trans – whose lives are intertwined by an unexpected pregnancy. It reckons with desire, relationships, motherhood and the possibilities of family outside of the cis straight norm. While the novel never shies away from the realities of trying to live your life as trans in a transphobic world, it does so with a sense of humour that doesn't bother to worry what others will think of it.

Profile Books Detransition, Baby by Torrey Peters, $, available at bookshop.org
Released in the UK earlier this year, <em>Plain Bad Heroines</em> is a novel with two key narratives centred on a gothic private school called Brookhants School For Girls. An infamous site of a series of tragic deaths over 100 years ago, it's soon to be the subject of a controversial horror movie about the rumoured 'Brookhants curse'.<br><br>There's lesbians, mysterious deaths, gothic horror and stories-within-stories. It's a riot.<br><br><strong>Harper Collins Publishers</strong> Plain Bad Heroines by Emily M. Danforth, $, available at <a href="https://uk.bookshop.org/books/plain-bad-heroines/9780008346928?aid=553" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:bookshop.org" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">bookshop.org</a>
Released in the UK earlier this year, Plain Bad Heroines is a novel with two key narratives centred on a gothic private school called Brookhants School For Girls. An infamous site of a series of tragic deaths over 100 years ago, it's soon to be the subject of a controversial horror movie about the rumoured 'Brookhants curse'.

There's lesbians, mysterious deaths, gothic horror and stories-within-stories. It's a riot.

Harper Collins Publishers Plain Bad Heroines by Emily M. Danforth, $, available at bookshop.org
The first nonfiction entry on the list, Daisy Jones' in-depth and personal exploration of modern lesbian and bi culture is a celebration of all the ways that queer women make their mark and forge their lives in the world. While there's serious examinations of how mental ill health affects queer women and how the decimation of club culture is changing how queer women socialise, there is also rapturous dedication to why lesbians love Cate Blanchett so much and the significance of TaTu. It's an explicitly inclusive, thoughtful, joyful read.<br><br><strong>Hodder & Stoughton</strong> All The Things She Said by Daisy Jones, $, available at <a href="https://uk.bookshop.org/books/all-the-things-she-said-everything-i-know-about-modern-lesbian-and-bi-culture/9781529328035" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:bookshop.org" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">bookshop.org</a>
The first nonfiction entry on the list, Daisy Jones' in-depth and personal exploration of modern lesbian and bi culture is a celebration of all the ways that queer women make their mark and forge their lives in the world. While there's serious examinations of how mental ill health affects queer women and how the decimation of club culture is changing how queer women socialise, there is also rapturous dedication to why lesbians love Cate Blanchett so much and the significance of TaTu. It's an explicitly inclusive, thoughtful, joyful read.

Hodder & Stoughton All The Things She Said by Daisy Jones, $, available at bookshop.org
Transgressive, foulmouthed and wildly funny, Brontez Purnell's <a href="https://www.refinery29.com/en-gb/tiktok-cottagecore-dark-academic-queer-women" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:100 Boyfriends" class="link rapid-noclick-resp"><em>100 Boyfriends</em></a> is a filthy, unforgettable and brutally profound ode to queer love in its most messy of variations. <br><br>A horny, punk love song full of imperfect intimacies, <a href="https://www.refinery29.com/en-gb/tiktok-cottagecore-dark-academic-queer-women" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:100 Boyfriends" class="link rapid-noclick-resp"><em>100 Boyfriends</em></a> takes readers on a riotous journey through dirty warehouses and gentrified bars, from dysfunctional houseshares to desolate farming towns in Alabama. Drawing us into a community of glorious misfits living on the margins of a white supremacist, heteronormative society, Purnell gives us an uncompromising vision of desire, desperation, race, loneliness and queerness.<br><br><strong>Cipher Press</strong> 100 Boyfriends by Brontez Purnell, $, available at <a href="https://uk.bookshop.org/books/100-boyfriends/9781916355378" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:bookshop.org" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">bookshop.org</a>
Transgressive, foulmouthed and wildly funny, Brontez Purnell's 100 Boyfriends is a filthy, unforgettable and brutally profound ode to queer love in its most messy of variations.

A horny, punk love song full of imperfect intimacies, 100 Boyfriends takes readers on a riotous journey through dirty warehouses and gentrified bars, from dysfunctional houseshares to desolate farming towns in Alabama. Drawing us into a community of glorious misfits living on the margins of a white supremacist, heteronormative society, Purnell gives us an uncompromising vision of desire, desperation, race, loneliness and queerness.

Cipher Press 100 Boyfriends by Brontez Purnell, $, available at bookshop.org
The paperback edition of <em>The Observer</em>'s 2020 Best Debut is an intersectional coming-of-age story following 19-year-old Jesse McCarthy as he grapples with his racial and sexual identities against the backdrop of a Jehovah's Witness upbringing and the legacies of the Windrush generation. The beautifully written novel is a bold and explicit exploration of race, class, sexuality, freedom and religion. It is memorable, affecting and in its ending, surprisingly uplifting.<br><br><strong>Little Brown Book Group</strong> Rainbow Milk by Paul Mendez, $, available at <a href="https://uk.bookshop.org/books/rainbow-milk-an-observer-2020-top-10-debut/9780349700588" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:bookshop.org" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">bookshop.org</a>
The paperback edition of The Observer's 2020 Best Debut is an intersectional coming-of-age story following 19-year-old Jesse McCarthy as he grapples with his racial and sexual identities against the backdrop of a Jehovah's Witness upbringing and the legacies of the Windrush generation. The beautifully written novel is a bold and explicit exploration of race, class, sexuality, freedom and religion. It is memorable, affecting and in its ending, surprisingly uplifting.

Little Brown Book Group Rainbow Milk by Paul Mendez, $, available at bookshop.org
<em>An Ordinary Wonder</em> is a powerful coming-of-age story that explores complex desires as well as challenges of family, identity, gender and culture, and what it means to feel whole.<br><br>Richly imagined with art and folk tales, this moving and modern novel follows a young intersex teenager called Oto through life at home and at boarding school in Nigeria, through the heartbreak of living as a boy despite their profound belief they are a girl, and through a hunger for freedom that only a new life in the United States can offer. It is about struggle but it is also about the potential of new beginnings and the celebration that can be found in that.<br><br><strong>Little Brown Book Group</strong> An Ordinary Wonder by Buki Papillon, $, available at <a href="https://uk.bookshop.org/books/an-ordinary-wonder/9780349701264" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:bookshop.org" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">bookshop.org</a>
An Ordinary Wonder is a powerful coming-of-age story that explores complex desires as well as challenges of family, identity, gender and culture, and what it means to feel whole.

Richly imagined with art and folk tales, this moving and modern novel follows a young intersex teenager called Oto through life at home and at boarding school in Nigeria, through the heartbreak of living as a boy despite their profound belief they are a girl, and through a hunger for freedom that only a new life in the United States can offer. It is about struggle but it is also about the potential of new beginnings and the celebration that can be found in that.

Little Brown Book Group An Ordinary Wonder by Buki Papillon, $, available at bookshop.org
This anthology of writing on what it means to be trans today and every day is a powerful and heartfelt love letter to the trans community by eight new trans writers.<br><br>From the daily bite of anxiety as you leave the house to the freedom found swimming in the wild, through to moments of queer rage and joy and the peculiar timeslip of reliving your adolescence, the stories in this collection reveal the untold lived realities of trans people to help inform, inspire and unite. Spanning a range of topics such as gender dysphoria, transphobia, chest binding, gender reassignment surgery, coming out in later life, migration and love and relationships, these unique first-person accounts celebrate the beauty and diversity of being trans and will empower others on their journey.<br><br><strong>Jessica Kingsley Publishers</strong> Transitions: Our Stories of Being TRANS, $, available at <a href="https://uk.bookshop.org/books/transitions-our-stories-of-being-trans/9781787758513" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:bookshop.org" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">bookshop.org</a>
This anthology of writing on what it means to be trans today and every day is a powerful and heartfelt love letter to the trans community by eight new trans writers.

From the daily bite of anxiety as you leave the house to the freedom found swimming in the wild, through to moments of queer rage and joy and the peculiar timeslip of reliving your adolescence, the stories in this collection reveal the untold lived realities of trans people to help inform, inspire and unite. Spanning a range of topics such as gender dysphoria, transphobia, chest binding, gender reassignment surgery, coming out in later life, migration and love and relationships, these unique first-person accounts celebrate the beauty and diversity of being trans and will empower others on their journey.

Jessica Kingsley Publishers Transitions: Our Stories of Being TRANS, $, available at bookshop.org
Much has been said about love, friendship, passion and romantic feeling between the two literary figures Virginia Woolf and Vita Sackville-West. But this collection is the first to bring together selected letters and diary entries and have them introduced by a lesbian: the legendary Alison Bechdel.<br><br>Reading these letters is a window into a constantly evolving relationship that spanned 20 years and moves from acquaintance to passion to an intense bond. Though they first met nearly 100 years ago, their words and the way they spoke about and to each other still resonate today.<br><br><strong>Vintage Publishing</strong> Love Letters: Vita and Virginia, $, available at <a href="https://uk.bookshop.org/books/love-letters-vita-and-virginia/9781784876722?aid=1125" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:bookshop.org" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">bookshop.org</a>
Much has been said about love, friendship, passion and romantic feeling between the two literary figures Virginia Woolf and Vita Sackville-West. But this collection is the first to bring together selected letters and diary entries and have them introduced by a lesbian: the legendary Alison Bechdel.

Reading these letters is a window into a constantly evolving relationship that spanned 20 years and moves from acquaintance to passion to an intense bond. Though they first met nearly 100 years ago, their words and the way they spoke about and to each other still resonate today.

Vintage Publishing Love Letters: Vita and Virginia, $, available at bookshop.org

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