Friday, September 25, 2015

How To Get Away With All Your Gayness ( An LGBT Booklist )

An Amazing Post by Melanie "Khaleesi"


       If you are like me- an awesome  LGBTQIAP person- you like to hear about anything and everything gay. Thanks to social media and the passing of gay marriage last June, the rainbow flag has been waved openly and proudly. Yet, if you are also like me, you are a big bookworm (and since you're actually reading this blog, I bet that you are. Unless you're in denial. In that case, it's okay. You're in a safe space). You want to read words about boys liking boys, girls liking girls, and everything else about being your true self. So if you're homosexual literature deprived, or if you're just book-curious, here are my favorite LGBTQIAP books for LGBTQIAP youth:

Full Disclosure: I don't have many books about bi/pansexuality. I apologize on behalf of the literature community and hope to update this list soon.

George by Alex Gino:

      This book may be fairly recent, but it is definitely one of the best. I read this the whole way through at a bookstore, and I cannot describe to you my puffy-eyed face after I was done. The story is about a girl named George. Actually, she was born with a penis, and people call her a boy, but she knows that she is a beautiful girl named Melissa. After her fourth-grade teacher announces that her class will put on a production of Charlotte's Web, George knows that deep down in her heart, she wants to play Charlotte.
      The width of the novel deals with George and her struggle with coming out as transgender. While known to be an adult topic, George is written for the middle school reading level, giving insight to younger audiences about tolerance to those who are different than you. The highlight of the novel is definitely its characters. George is a delight, and the rest are absolutely wonderful to read. Fun fact: Alex Gino is intersex, using pronouns "they" or "their". How cool is that?


      The Miseducation of Cameron Post by emily m. danforth:
      This award-winning novel is definitely one of my favorites. Set in early 90's Montana, Cameron Post is an avid swimmer with a dark secret: She likes to kiss girls. After her parents die in a car crash, Cameron is sent to live with her conservative aunt, who is the kind of person to send someone to a anti-gay Christian camp. Everything starts to go downhill for Cameron when she meets the girl of her dreams.
      What I like about this book is Cameron's voice. danforth so eloquently writes in first-person, with Cameron experiencing her coming-of-age. While the majority of the novel does deal with LBGT issues, it does have some great moments of Cameron stealing gum from a convenience store, watching movies up in the attic, and smoking pot for the first time. This book is also a great insight towards Cameron's grief over her parents, who actually feels relief when her parents die because they'll never find out she's gay.
      And if you're still not hooked, there is a really hot sex scene in this.


Totally Joe by James Howe
      You might know him as the author of the Bunnicula books, but Howe has also written another great series, The Misfits, which is personally one of my favorites. Each book focuses on one character, or "misfit". This is the second book in the series, which focuses on Joe, a homosexual middle-schooler. Joe's English teacher gives him a project where he has to alphabetize his life ( so a chapter would be about a word that starts with an "A", then "B", "C", "D", etc. ) and write a moral at the end of each chapter. We read Joe's project, where he talks about coming out, having a boyfriend, and struggling with middle school bullies. As we all know, middle school bullies are the worst.
      In all honesty, it really bothered me how Howe made Joe sound. He writes the chapters like a stereotypical gay male, like adding an excessive amount of smiley faces, for example. But if you can look past that, you will find a kind, hilarious person named Joe who will warm your heart and make you smile. Howe has said he wishes he could have been like Joe when he was in middle school, and I can see why.

Annie on My Mind by Nancy Garden
      Okay, so this is an oldie, probably published in your mother's day, but this a very important novel. Why? Because this was one, if not the first book that allowed a lesbian couple to have a happy ending. Really think about that. Prior to Annie, lesbians in books either a) became straight or b) died. So yeah, thank you Nancy Garden!
      With the weight of this book in mind, you'll be surprised of how simple the story is: girl meets girl, they fall in love, and have to deal with the pressuring prejudice of society, the end. But that's what I like about this book. It doesn't make a big deal about the girls being gay. There are mentions of the couple reading about other lesbians to find about themselves, but that's completely normal even of straight people. The way and her partner, Liza, are described in this is so parallel to a straight couple. The author also doesn't make them bland characters. These girls are so full of life, and I absolutely want them to be real. I loved, loved, loved this book.

The Picture of Dorian Gray (Uncensored) by Oscar Wilde
      This, other than The Color Purple, is the most famous classic novel of a homosexual person... today. Back in 1890, when Wilde published his novel opus, people were horrified of the sexual nature of his characters, so the book was censored of its "untasteful content."
      Until now.
      If you want to get the good gay stuff, you have to read the uncensored version of the novel. If you don't, then you're just going to get a White Guy who is Horrible to Women and Likes to Murder People. I should probably talk about the plot of this, but I assume most of you Sparknoted this and pretty much know everything. For those of you who didn't, Dorian Gray is a young man living in 19th century London. After reciveing a portrait by aquaintence Basil ( who most defs has the hots for Gray ),  Dorian makes a realization: he will never age, but his portrait will. The rest of the novel follows Dorian into his face-dive of sin, and his ever-changing ugly painting.
      I never finished this book because of the men of the story are horribly sexist, and that almost made me vomit. But if you can stomach the crudeness, then give Dorian Gray a try. I'm not sure if there is a gay sex scene in this, but the way these men describe each other totally oozes in the man-lovin'.
      Now the movie on the other hand...

The Color Purple by Alice Walker*
      This is my last classic book, I promise. I just feel the obligation to include this.
      The story follows Celie, a young woman who was raped by her daddy, got knocked up twice, and given away to a man simply known as Mr. _________ who also rapes her. So if you can handle that darkness, the story takes a turn when Shug Avery, a famous blues singer and past lover of Mr. _______ , comes to stay with Celie and form a different, yet powerful bond.
      If the description didn't warn you enough, this is a dark book. But there is also a sweet love story between Shug and Celie. The biggest problem I have with the book is that it's narrated in first person. Celie doesn't know how to read, write, or spell very well, so most of the time you're trying to figure what the heck she's saying. However, I do recommend this book highly for those who are interested.

Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green & David Levithan
      The author of The Fault in our Stars teamed up with the author of some of the most popular LGBTQ books ever to create Will Grayson, Will Grayson. The story follows two  boys named Will Grayson.
The first one is overshadowed by his friend Tiny, an ironic name for he's ginormously fat, plays on the football team, and is incredibly gay. The other Will Grayson is a gay boy who is depressed and talks only in lowercase letters. When these two meet in downtown Chicago, things change sporatically.
      For those of you who are new John Green fans, this isn't as good as TFIOS, but that doesn't mean it's bad. In fact, it's downright hilarious. One of the plot threads is Tiny putting on his own musical, and the last few chapters dedicate themselves to writing down the hilarious lyrics of the songs ( one of the song titles is "The Quarterback Likes Tight Ends". You can figure out the rest).  WHY CAN'T THIS BE REAL? WHY CAN'T I HAVE NICE THINGS? There's also a completely touching ending that makes many teenagers cry on Facebook. Yeah, this is a good read. If you like this book, David Levithan has a slew of homosexual content for teens, including Boy Meets Boy and Two Boys Kissing.

Almost Perfect by Brian Katcher
       A new girl at school, Sage, catches the eye of Logan, who can't stop thinking of her. After a kiss too late, Logan learns the truth about Sage: she's a guy.
      This book mainly focuses on these two characters. Logan battles his inner thoughts, wondering if he's gay because he's attracted to Sage. Sage has to deal with her parents, especially her father, who doesn't even look at her anymore. I'm going to be very vague about this read because this book is based on surprise and twist. You should totally check it out because the way Sage is described here, she would give Caitlyn Jenner a run for her money.

Empress of the World by Sara Ryan
      So, are you guys too young to know what Dawson's Creek is? Or do I just want to be accepted by the X-generation? The reason I bring Dawson's Creek up (besides the fact it was the first show to ever have a gay kiss!) is because this book gets compared to that show a lot. Why? Because they both have teenagers that are waaaaaaayyyyyyy to mature for their own good.
           However, if that's something you can let by, here's the plot:
      Nicola is attending a summer summit for gifted children. Along with meeting very colorful characters, the one that really gets her attention is Battle, a dancer who steals Nic's heart.
      This book is one of the very few books that have to deal with bisexuality. While most of the characters are relateble, there is one who's just used as a plot device. The character that I fell in love with was Katrina, with her wild red hair and her leggings printed with tiny explotives.
        As one teenager said after she read the book, "This author plays with your heart like a friggin' fiddle."


Fun Home by Alison Bechdel
      From one gay medium to another very gay medium. Ever since it won the Tony for Best
Original Musical, it's very hard to avoid this wrecking ball. For those of you who do not know, this is a graphic novel-memoir about Bechdel growing up in a funeral home, aka "Fun Home". While she and her dad did not see eye to eye on many topics, they did share one huge secret: They were both gay.
      Feminists know Bechdel as the creator of the Bechdel Test. Old lesbians know Bechdel from her comic series Dykes to Watch Out For (which is also really good, btw. Even though it was made in the 80's, it still has many relevant factors). Everyone else will know her for her stunning masterpiece.

 

I'll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson
      This book has been called the next TFIOS. Are they right? Well... no. TFIOS was one of the first novels to portray a common yet deadly illness in such a clever way. Nothing can reach the impact that TFIOS had with so many people. And with that tangent out of the way, I present I'll Give You the Sun
     Jude and Noah are twins. In this book, Jude is trying to create a marble sculpture, but can't do it. So she seeks out a recluse artist to mentor and guide her. Hijinks insue.
     A few years back, Noah fell in love with a boy. Hijinks ensued, but didn't end up well.
     This books deals with coping, tragedy, and finding the beauty in moving on. This is a very good book to read.





Tessa Masterson WILL Go to Prom by Emily Franklin & Brendan Haplin
       Ohmygodohmygdohmygodohmygodohmygodohmygod I LOVED THIS BOOK.
     Lucas and Tessa have been best friends since... ever. The whole town is just waiting for them to become a couple. So Lucas, who is in fact in love with Tessa, asks her to their senior prom with an over-the-top promposal. There's just 2 problems:
1. Tessa is gay
2. She already has a girlfriend
      However, this won't stop Tessa from going to prom, no siree. She's going to prom, with her girlfriend, and in a tuxedo instead of a dress. After Lucas badmouths her to the school newspaper, the town is just ready to hang Tessa by her neck.
      While the description I just gave sounds morbid, I just loved this book. The only problem I have with it is that there is this big pop star in this book's universe, and yes, it is very clear of who the writers are basing off of. Nevertheless, this is a great book that is so fun to read.    

Am I Blue? by Various Authors
      This collection of short stories all center around an LGBT issue. Some of the stories are underwhelming, but that's only because the rest are extremely powerful. My personal favorite is a girl coming out to her grandmother, who is a Holocaust survivor. The outcome completely moved me.
       These stories are pretty old, but timeless nonetheless.

Simon Vs. The Homo Sapien's Agenda
      To be perfectly honest, I didn't enjoy this book all that much.
      Don't get me wrong, it's really really good. It's just that I know these boys like Simon. The white, nerdy, gay boys who think they understand this world. The story is pretty standard as well, only because I've read so many other coming-out books like this.
      However, I am just a teen who has access to a library blog. People really like this book, and don't let me judge you on it. Go check it out for yourself.

Freak Boy by Kristin Elizabeth Clark
      Don't you just love poetry books? I loved when my teacher gave us poetry books to read because I thought we were just reading less and didn't have to try that hard.
      If you didn't get the hint, this book is written without prose. It also tries to answer this question:
Who is Brendan?
     Brendan was born a boy, but sometimes feels like a girl. He likes to wear bras, and his World of Warcraft avatar is a girl. When he goes to see a ballet and is entranced by one of the dancers, does he want her? Or does he want to be her?
          This is a very important book because it's one of the only books to have an intersex character. While it does focus on Brendan's point of view, the novel also lets us hear the thoughts of Vanessa, Brendan's girlfriend, and Angel, a transgender woman. This book is great for those who can't commit to a whole novel, but wants a powerful message to change them at the end.

Beauty Queens by Libba Bray
    Technically not LGBTQ centered, but I put this on here for two reasons:

1) There are two characters here who are on the LGBT spectrum (one being lesbian; one being transgender).

2) IT'S BEAUTY QUEENS, ONE OF THE FUNNIEST BOOKS OF OUR GENERATION!
     
I judge you immensely if you have not read Beauty Queens, but now is the time to start. It's about these beauty queen contestants who survive a plane crash on a deserted island. And honestly, nothing else I can say can bring this book justice. It's that funny. Please go read this, whether you're straight or gay, cis or trans; everyone should read this amazing book.

     Okay, so there are a lot of books that I need to read, and give you my opinion on. So be prepared for How to Get Away With All Your Gayness Part 2! Please comment down below what books I missed, and I'll be sure to read/give them a shout out on the next post!
      And now, fly my sparkly pretties! Run free to your fabulous habitats, and stay there with all these wonderful books in your hands!

*Major trigger warning






      

6 comments:

  1. What a gorgeously written post! (says this completely unbiased commenter) Great list -- and I'm so jealous that you've read "George" already! But why is Alice Walker labeled "major trigger warning"?

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  2. What a fantastic, diverse list! It has some of my favorites and some new titles for me to try--thanks, Mel! I look forward to seeing more from you!

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  3. Love this list! You have some greats on here. My two faves are I'LL GIVE YOU THE SUN and SIMON AND THE HOMOSAPIEN AGENDA, but whatever, different strokes...
    Your writing style makes me so happy! Write more, fast, please.

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  4. Great reviews, Meleesi!! I know you will now like me just a little less since I have not read Beauty Queens, but I will get right on it.
    XO,
    Mrs. Cynicletary

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  5. Mel! You rock! LOVE, love, LOVE your writing! -- Your mom's Maudie friend Kathleen in AZ (and mom of Lucas Waldron, who writes for HuffPo's Gay Voices)

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  6. What a great list of books! I am definitely going to add a few to my reading list.

    I ADORED Will Grayson. Have you read the follow-up? It's called Hold Me Closer and it's the entire play of Tiny Cooper's life story. Tiny is one of my favorite characters EVER.

    David Levithan's Every Day and Another Day feature a character named "A" who literally switches genders (and bodies) every day.

    Keep up the good work!

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