Some of my favorite pride reads, recommended by mood.
CLICK ON THE TITLE TO JUMP TO ITS SYNOPSIS:
- For the book you’ll want to read again as soon as you’ve finished it: The Heart’s Invisible Furies by John Boyne
- For the one to send chills down your spine: Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado
- For a coming of age story that will make your heart ache: Tell the Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt
- For the beautiful story in the untraditional format: Fun Home by Alison Bechdel
- For the one to whisk you away on an adventure: Less by Andrew Sean Greer
- For the stunning YA novel about grief, anxiety, sexuality, and so much more: We Are Okay by Nina LaCour
- For the classic that helped blaze the trail for all the others: Giovanni’s Room by James Baldwin
- For the novel that will teach you about places and times you’ve never read about: Disoriental by Négar Djavadi
For the book you’ll want to read again as soon as you’ve finished it:
The Heart’s Invisible Furies by John Boyne
Click here to read my review of The Heart’s Invisible Furies.
Cyril Avery is not a real Avery – or at least, that’s what his adoptive parents tell him. And he never will be. But if he isn’t a real Avery, then who is he?
Born out of wedlock to a teenage girl cast out from her rural Irish community and adopted by a well-to-do if eccentric Dublin couple via the intervention of a hunchbacked Redemptorist nun, Cyril is adrift in the world, anchored only tenuously by his close friendship with the infinitely more glamorous and dangerous Julian Woodbeard. At the mercy of fortune and coincidence, he will spend a lifetime coming to know himself and where he came from – and over his many years will struggle to discover an identity, a home, a country, and much more.
For the one to send chills down your spine:
Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado
In Her Body and Other Parties, Carmen Maria Machado blithely demolishes the arbitrary borders between psychological realism and science fiction, comedy and horror, fantasy and fabulism. While her work has earned her comparisons to Karen Russell and Kelly Link, she has a voice that is all her own. In this electric and provocative debut, Machado bends genre to shape startling narratives that map the realities of women’s lives and the violence visited upon their bodies.
A wife refuses her husband’s entreaties to remove the green ribbon from around her neck. A woman recounts her sexual encounters as a plague slowly consumes humanity. A salesclerk in a mall makes a horrifying discovery within the seams of the store’s prom dresses. One woman’s surgery-induced weight loss results in an unwanted houseguest. And in the bravura novella Especially Heinous, Machado reimagines every episode of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, a show we naively assumed had shown it all, generating a phantasmagoric police procedural full of doppelgangers, ghosts, and girls with bells for eyes.
Earthy and otherworldly, antic and sexy, queer and caustic, comic and deadly serious, Her Body and Other Parties swings from horrific violence to the most exquisite sentiment. In their explosive originality, these stories enlarge the possibilities of contemporary fiction.
For a coming of age story that will make your heart ache:
Tell the Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt
In this striking literary debut, Carol Rifka Brunt unfolds a moving story of love, grief, and renewal as two lonely people become the unlikeliest of friends and find that sometimes you don’t know you’ve lost someone until you’ve found them.
1987. There’s only one person who has ever truly understood fourteen-year-old June Elbus, and that’s her uncle, the renowned painter Finn Weiss. Shy at school and distant from her older sister, June can only be herself in Finn’s company; he is her godfather, confidant, and best friend. So when he dies, far too young, of a mysterious illness her mother can barely speak about, June’s world is turned upside down. But Finn’s death brings a surprise acquaintance into June’s life—someone who will help her to heal, and to question what she thinks she knows about Finn, her family, and even her own heart.
At Finn’s funeral, June notices a strange man lingering just beyond the crowd. A few days later, she receives a package in the mail. Inside is a beautiful teapot she recognizes from Finn’s apartment, and a note from Toby, the stranger, asking for an opportunity to meet. As the two begin to spend time together, June realizes she’s not the only one who misses Finn, and if she can bring herself to trust this unexpected friend, he just might be the one she needs the most.
An emotionally charged coming-of-age novel, Tell the Wolves I’m Home is a tender story of love lost and found, an unforgettable portrait of the way compassion can make us whole again.
For the beautiful story in the untraditional format:
Fun Home by Alison Bechdel
In this graphic memoir, Alison Bechdel charts her fraught relationship with her late father.
Distant and exacting, Bruce Bechdel was an English teacher and director of the town funeral home, which Alison and her family referred to as the Fun Home. It was not until college that Alison, who had recently come out as a lesbian, discovered that her father was also gay. A few weeks after this revelation, he was dead, leaving a legacy of mystery for his daughter to resolve.
For the one to whisk you away on an adventure:
Less by Andrew Sean Greer
Click here to read my review of Less.
Who says you can’t run away from your problems?
You are a failed novelist about to turn fifty. A wedding invitation arrives in the mail: your boyfriend of the past nine years is engaged to someone else. You can’t say yes – it would be too awkward. And you can’t say no – it would look like defeat. On your desk are invitations to half-baked literary events around the world.
Question: How do you arrange to skip town?
Answer: You accept them all.
What could possibly go wrong?
Thus begins an around-the-world-in-eighty-days fantasia that will take the novelist Arthur Less to Mexico, Italy, Germany, Morocco, India, and Japan and put thousands of miles between him and the plight he refuses to face.
Welcome to the bestseller embraced by readers everywhere: a love story, a satire of the American abroad, a rumination on time and the human heart. Less shows a writer at the peak of his talents raising the curtain on our shared human comedy.
For the stunning YA novel about grief, anxiety, sexuality, and so much more:
We Are Okay by Nina LaCour
Click here to read my review of We Are Okay.
You go through life thinking there’s so much you need…
Until you leave with only your phone, your wallet, and a picture of your mother.
Marin hasn’t spoken to anyone from her old life since the day she left everything behind. No one knows the truth about those final weeks. Not even her best friend, Mabel. But even thousands of miles away from the California coast, at college in New York, Marin still feels the pull of the life and tragedy she’s tried to outrun. Now, months later, alone in an emptied dorm for winter break, Marin waits. Mabel is coming to visit, and Marin will be forced to face everything that’s been left unsaid and finally confront the loneliness that has made a home in her heart.
For the classic that helped blaze the trail for all the others:
Giovanni’s Room by James Baldwin
Set in the 1950s Paris of American expatriates, liaisons, and violence, a young man finds himself caught between desire and conventional morality. With a sharp, probing imagination, James Baldwin’s now-classic narrative delves into the mystery of loving and creates a moving, highly controversial story of death and passion that reveals the unspoken complexities of the human heart.
For the novel that will teach you about places and times you’ve never read about:
Disoriental by Négar Djavadi
Click here to read my review of Disoriental.
At once a sweeping saga of twentieth-century Iran and an intimate story of a young woman’s determination to create a future on her own terms, Disoriental is Négar Djavadi’s timely, passionate, and entertaining debut novel.
Kimiâ Sadr fled Iran with her mother and sisters at the age of ten to join her father in France. Now in her twenties, sitting in a fertility clinic in Paris as she awaits life-changing news, Kimiâ is inundated by memories of her ancestors, reminiscences, and family myths that reach her in unstoppable waves. Generations of flamboyant Sadrs return to her, including her formidable great-grandfather Montazelmolmolk with his harem of fifty-two wives, and her distracted but ardent parents, Sara and Darius, stalwart opponents of each political regime that has befallen them.
In this high-spirited, multigenerational tale, key moments of Iranian history punctuate a story about motherhood, family, exile, rebellion, and love. At the heart of this prize-winning international bestseller is the unforgettable Kimiâ Sadr – queer punk-rock aficionado and storyteller extraordinare, a woman caught between the vibrant intricacies of her origins and the modern life she’s made.