When I think of summer reads, I think of my youth spent staying up much too late devouring books with a flashlight or paging through books in the library while the a/c is going hard as it can. I think of the books read in one sitting, as light and satisfying as ice cream, or books read at the beach without getting (too) sunburnt. Books tucked into your backpack for sticky afternoons at camp and books piled high at the foot of your bed, just bought for a nickel each from a yard sale.
I didn’t have access to queer books during those summers, but I think I’ve read enough now that I could make a decent list of what I would have read. And since June is Pride month and really, so is July and August and every month, why not put together and short and sweet list of queer summer reads?
Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli
A sweet contemporary YA that’s not so much about coming out as it is about navigating all the expectations of your friends and family and – yes – yourself, when you finally do. Simon is well aware he’s gay and he just hasn’t bothered sharing that with people; but when some snot-nosed kid finds his flirtatious emails to another boy and blackmails him, he’s forced to live a lie he never meant to get trapped in if only to keep that boy he has a crush on safe. Funny, sweet, and easily binge-able.
Huntress by Malinda Lo
Light second-world fantasy that somehow manages to be dark at the same time. Nature is out of balance in the human world. The sun hasn’t shone in years, and crops are failing and now hostile creatures have begun to appear.
To solve the crisis, Kaede and Taisin, two seventeen-year-old girls, are picked to go on a dangerous journey to the city of the Fairy Queen. As members of their party succumb one by one to unearthly attacks and fairy tricks, the Kaede and Taisin come to rely on each other and even begin to fall in love. But the Kingdom needs only one huntress to save it.
Otherbound by Corinne Duyvis
A fresh and fast-paced second-world YA fantasy, Otherbound also has a bisexual MC and not a drop of biphobia.
Amara and Nolan are never alone. One is forced to protect a cursed princess in hiding, fleeing across countries and seas just to stay alive. The other is just trying to go to school in his Arizona town, but every time he blinks – or sleeps – he slips into Amara’s mind. For years, Nolan could only observe Amara’s life, powerless to help her.
Until one day he finds a way to communicate.
Afterworlds by Scott Westerfield
This book is more wish fulfillment than anything, but it’s so fun and light you can’t really put it down. Plus it’s got an f/f romance at its heart, which you can’t really say no to.
Darcy wrote a book in 30 days during her senior year of high school and now she’s got a publishing contract that’s gonna pay enough for her to take a gap year and live in NY. The dream, right? Well, except now she’s got to edit that book and navigate the glitzy yet fraught world of publishing and deal with all the drama and oh no, fall in love with another writer??
Darcy’s gap year in NY is told in alternating chapters with her actual story, a YA fantasy about a girl who guides restless spirits. In a neat and clever touch, events in Darcy’s novel follow on the heels of events in her own life that clearly provided inspiration.
And the very real question hangs overhead the entire time: can Darcy write the perfect ending before her deadline?
Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire
Anything by Seanan is guaranteed read from me these days. She is the queen of casually queer stories, and I’ve always been impressed by her ability to just hold up a mirror to the people in our own world. Her Wayward Children series is no exception.
In this, the first in an ongoing, delightful and yet dark series about the children who have gone to places like Narnia and then returned, Nancy has come back from her own quiet adventure in a world where she could be still as a statue and her asexuality never questioned, and now must learn how to live in reality again. So she’s sent to Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children, where she will absolutely not have any more adventures, no sir.
Then the murders began, and now Nancy’s sucked into a mystery that might just prove you can never really leave your world behind.