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Top Ten Tuesday: Reading Recommendations For Pride Month

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

June is pride month and even though the month is nearly over, I just didn’t want to let it slide unnoticed. I love to read diverse books, so I decided to create a list for you guys with some inspiration for your TBR. Please do not just read them in June, because (gender)diversity is something that should been accepted and celebrated all year long. And I was like: why not turning it into a Top Ten Tuesday? This week’s topic is not a freebie, but oh well. With no further ado, let’s take a look into some books you can add to your TBR to celebrate pride.

Ophelia After All by Racquel Marie

Okay this book is such a delight to read. A little predictable, but it’s such a feelgood novel. It deals with the topic of questioning your identity and sexuality. I wasn’t a fan of the prom drama, but the more of the discovery part.

A teen girl navigates friendship drama, the end of high school, and discovering her queerness in Ophelia After All, a hilarious and heartfelt contemporary YA debut by author Racquel Marie.
Ophelia Rojas knows what she likes: her best friends, Cuban food, rose-gardening, and boys – way too many boys. Her friends and parents make fun of her endless stream of crushes, but Ophelia is a romantic at heart. She couldn’t change, even if she wanted to.
So when she finds herself thinking more about cute, quiet Talia Sanchez than the loss of a perfect prom with her ex-boyfriend, seeds of doubt take root in Ophelia’s firm image of herself. Add to that the impending end of high school and the fracturing of her once-solid friend group, and things are spiraling a little out of control. But the course of love–and sexuality–never did run smooth. As her secrets begin to unravel, Ophelia must make a choice between clinging to the fantasy version of herself she’s always imagined or upending everyone’s expectations to rediscover who she really is, after all.

Something to talk about by Meryl Wilsner

I found this book such a pleasure to read. The Hollywood setting is well done, even though I had to be aware to not compare it to The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo haha.

A showrunner and her assistant give the world something to talk about when they accidentally fuel a ridiculous rumor in this debut romance.
Hollywood powerhouse Jo is photographed making her assistant Emma laugh on the red carpet, and just like that, the tabloids declare them a couple. The so-called scandal couldn’t come at a worse time–threatening Emma’s promotion and Jo’s new movie.
As the gossip spreads, it starts to affect all areas of their lives. Paparazzi are following them outside the office, coworkers are treating them differently, and a “source” is feeding information to the media. But their only comment is “no comment”.
With the launch of Jo’s film project fast approaching, the two women begin to spend even more time together, getting along famously. Emma seems to have a sixth sense for knowing what Jo needs. And Jo, known for being aloof and outwardly cold, opens up to Emma in a way neither of them expects. They begin to realize the rumor might not be so off base after all…but is acting on the spark between them worth fanning the gossip flames?

The House in the Cerulean Sea by T.J. Klune

I’ve read this book last year and at the time, I wasn’t the biggest fan. However, I keep thinking of this book and now it has gotten its Dutch release, it’s time for a reread.

A magical island. A dangerous task. A burning secret.
Linus Baker leads a quiet, solitary life. At forty, he lives in a tiny house with a devious cat and his old records. As a Case Worker at the Department in Charge Of Magical Youth, he spends his days overseeing the well-being of children in government-sanctioned orphanages.
When Linus is unexpectedly summoned by Extremely Upper Management he’s given a curious and highly classified assignment: travel to Marsyas Island Orphanage, where six dangerous children reside: a gnome, a sprite, a wyvern, an unidentifiable green blob, a were-Pomeranian, and the Antichrist. Linus must set aside his fears and determine whether or not they’re likely to bring about the end of days.
But the children aren’t the only secret the island keeps. Their caretaker is the charming and enigmatic Arthur Parnassus, who will do anything to keep his wards safe. As Arthur and Linus grow closer, long-held secrets are exposed, and Linus must make a choice: destroy a home or watch the world burn.
An enchanting story, masterfully told, The House in the Cerulean Sea is about the profound experience of discovering an unlikely family in an unexpected place—and realizing that family is yours.

Loveless by Alice Oseman

Actually all books by Alice Oseman can be added to this list, but I choose to go with her most recent work. Honestly, I devorued this book last year. It made me learn lots about the aro/ace spectrum and I recognised several things in the story.

The fourth novel from the phenomenally talented Alice Oseman – one of the most authentic and talked-about voices in contemporary YA.
It was all sinking in. I’d never had a crush on anyone. No boys, no girls, not a single person I had ever met. What did that mean?
Georgia has never been in love, never kissed anyone, never even had a crush – but as a fanfic-obsessed romantic she’s sure she’ll find her person one day.
As she starts university with her best friends, Pip and Jason, in a whole new town far from home, Georgia’s ready to find romance, and with her outgoing roommate on her side and a place in the Shakespeare Society, her ‘teenage dream’ is in sight.
But when her romance plan wreaks havoc amongst her friends, Georgia ends up in her own comedy of errors, and she starts to question why love seems so easy for other people but not for her. With new terms thrown at her – asexual, aromantic – Georgia is more uncertain about her feelings than ever.
Is she destined to remain loveless? Or has she been looking for the wrong thing all along?
This wise, warm and witty story of identity and self-acceptance sees Alice Oseman on towering form as Georgia and her friends discover that true love isn’t limited to romance.

Meet Cute Diary by Emery Lee

To be honest I wasn’t a huge fan of the main character, but this book taught a lot about different pronouns and their fluidity.

Felix Ever After meets Becky Albertalli in this swoon-worthy, heartfelt rom-com about how a transgender teen’s first love challenges his ideas about perfect relationships.
Noah Ramirez thinks he’s an expert on romance. He has to be for his popular blog, the Meet Cute Diary, a collection of trans happily ever afters. There’s just one problem—all the stories are fake. What started as the fantasies of a trans boy afraid to step out of the closet has grown into a beacon of hope for trans readers across the globe.
When a troll exposes the blog as fiction, Noah’s world unravels. The only way to save the Diary is to convince everyone that the stories are true, but he doesn’t have any proof. Then Drew walks into Noah’s life, and the pieces fall into place: Drew is willing to fake-date Noah to save the Diary. But when Noah’s feelings grow beyond their staged romance, he realizes that dating in real life isn’t quite the same as finding love on the page.
In this charming novel by Emery Lee, Noah will have to choose between following his own rules for love or discovering that the most romantic endings are the ones that go off script.

Only Mostly Devastated by Sophie Gonzales

Again, all books by this author count as inspiration, but I’ve only read this one so far. It’s a typical YA novel, but it was a pleasure to read.

Will Tavares is the dream summer fling ― he’s fun, affectionate, kind ― but just when Ollie thinks he’s found his Happily Ever After, summer vacation ends and Will stops texting Ollie back. Now Ollie is one prince short of his fairy tale ending, and to complicate the fairy tale further, a family emergency sees Ollie uprooted and enrolled at a new school across the country. Which he minds a little less when he realizes it’s the same school Will goes to… except Ollie finds that the sweet, comfortably queer guy he knew from summer isn’t the same one attending Collinswood High. This Will is a class clown, closeted ― and, to be honest, a bit of a jerk.
Ollie has no intention of pining after a guy who clearly isn’t ready for a relationship, especially since this new, bro-y jock version of Will seems to go from hot to cold every other week. But then Will starts “coincidentally” popping up in every area of Ollie’s life, from music class to the lunch table, and Ollie finds his resolve weakening.
The last time he gave Will his heart, Will handed it back to him trampled and battered. Ollie would have to be an idiot to trust him with it again.
Right? Right.
SIMON VS. THE HOMO SAPIENS AGENDA meets CLUELESS in this boy-meets-boy spin on Grease

Swimming in the dark by Tomasz Jedrowski

I found about this book last year and had no clue what to expect. It’s a story set in Poland in the 1980’s, were being gay was forbidden. Let me tell you, this book is a ride.

Set in early 1980s Poland against the violent decline of communism, a tender and passionate story of first love between two young men who eventually find themselves on opposite sides of the political divide—a stunningly poetic and heartrending literary debut for fans of Andre Aciman, Garth Greenwell, and Alan Hollinghurst.
When university student Ludwik meets Janusz at a summer agricultural camp, he is fascinated yet wary of this handsome, carefree stranger. But a chance meeting by the river soon becomes an intense, exhilarating, and all-consuming affair. After their camp duties are fulfilled, the pair spend a dreamlike few weeks camping in the countryside, bonding over an illicit copy of James Baldwin’s Giovanni’s Room. Inhabiting a beautiful natural world removed from society and its constraints, Ludwik and Janusz fall deeply in love. But in their repressive communist and Catholic society, the passion they share is utterly unthinkable.
Once they return to Warsaw, the charismatic Janusz quickly rises in the political ranks of the party and is rewarded with a highly-coveted position in the ministry. Ludwik is drawn toward impulsive acts of protest, unable to ignore rising food prices and the stark economic disparity around them. Their secret love and personal and political differences slowly begin to tear them apart as both men struggle to survive in a regime on the brink of collapse.
Shifting from the intoxication of first love to the quiet melancholy of growing up and growing apart, Swimming in the Dark is a potent blend of romance, post-war politics, intrigue, and history. Lyrical and sensual, immersive and intense, Tomasz Jedrowski has crafted an indelible and thought-provoking literary debut that explores freedom and love in all its incarnations.

The Days of Bluegrass Love by Edward van de Vendel

This book is over 20 years old and is originally Dutch. However, it got an English translation last month. I’ve listend to the Dutch audiobook recently and I honestly recommend you guys to read this. I hope the other two books in this universe will be translated as well someday.

Tycho Zeling is drifting through his life. Everything in it – school, friends, girls, plans for the future – just kind of . happens. Like a movie he presses play on, but doesn’t direct.
So Tycho decides to break away from everything. He flies to America to spend his summer as a counselor at a summer camp, for international kids. It is there that Oliver walks in, another counselor, from Norway.
And it is there that Tycho feels his life stop, and begin again, finally, as his.
The Days of Bluegrass Love was originally published in the Netherlands in 1999. It was a groundbreaking book and has since become a beloved classic throughout Europe, but has never been translated into English. Here, for the first time, it is masterfully presented to American readers – a tender, intense, unforgettable story of first love.

Iron Widow by Xiran Jay Zhao

I recognise this book isn’t flawless, there are several reviews on that. I haven’t read this book myself yet, so I cannot fully judge on this. On the other hand, this book get lots of praise and hype and therefore I include it in this list.

The boys of Huaxia dream of pairing up with girls to pilot Chrysalises, giant transforming robots that can battle the mecha aliens that lurk beyond the Great Wall. It doesn’t matter that the girls often die from the mental strain.
When 18-year-old Zetian offers herself up as a concubine-pilot, it’s to assassinate the ace male pilot responsible for her sister’s death. But she gets her vengeance in a way nobody expected—she kills him through the psychic link between pilots and emerges from the cockpit unscathed. She is labeled an Iron Widow, a much-feared and much-silenced kind of female pilot who can sacrifice boys to power up Chrysalises instead.​
To tame her unnerving yet invaluable mental strength, she is paired up with Li Shimin, the strongest and most controversial male pilot in Huaxia​. But now that Zetian has had a taste of power, she will not cower so easily. She will miss no opportunity to leverage their combined might and infamy to survive attempt after attempt on her life, until she can figure out exactly why the pilot system works in its misogynist way—and stop more girls from being sacrificed.

The Charm Offensive by Alison Cochrun

I’m not on Tiktok, so I never heard of this book before it got its Dutch release last week. I went on a hunt for reviews and they are mainly positive, so this book got a spot on my enormous TBR.

Dev Deshpande has always believed in fairy tales. So it’s no wonder then that he’s spent his career crafting them on the long-running reality dating show Ever After. As the most successful producer in the franchise’s history, Dev always scripts the perfect love story for his contestants, even as his own love life crashes and burns. But then the show casts disgraced tech wunderkind Charlie Winshaw as its star.
Charlie is far from the romantic Prince Charming Ever After expects. He doesn’t believe in true love, and only agreed to the show as a last-ditch effort to rehabilitate his image. In front of the cameras, he’s a stiff, anxious mess with no idea how to date twenty women on national television. Behind the scenes, he’s cold, awkward, and emotionally closed-off.
As Dev fights to get Charlie to connect with the contestants on a whirlwind, worldwide tour, they begin to open up to each other, and Charlie realizes he has better chemistry with Dev than with any of his female co-stars. But even reality TV has a script, and in order to find to happily ever after, they’ll have to reconsider whose love story gets told.
In this witty and heartwarming romantic comedy—reminiscent of Red, White & Royal Blue and One to Watch—an awkward tech wunderkind on a reality dating show goes off-script when sparks fly with his producer.

So far, my recommendations for pride month. I have lots and lots more, but I didn’t want to go with the obvious books again and again. Did I miss one? Please let me know in the comments! What’s your favourite (gender)diverse book?

9 thoughts on “Top Ten Tuesday: Reading Recommendations For Pride Month”

  1. The Charm Offensive was so so good! And made me realize I apparently love reality tv dating tropes in a book despite actually not watching it at all. 🤣 Loveless has been on my list, too, so I’m excited to hear more good things about it. Happy Tuesday! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ha that’s actually why it was on my list. I’m a sucker for such books as well. I was a little reluctant because it seemed quite shallow, but reviews tell me otherwise. Well, let’s hope it’s worth the hype.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I think it handled the situation well to keep it from being shallow and vapid. The ending was lovely and overall I’d put it at very sweet and heartwarming (with some of that spicy drama included!). A young adult ARC I just finished also has the celeb-dating angle called “Never Ever Getting Back Together” by Sophie Gonzalez, but that’s not out till December. Still, can keep an eye out!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks for sharing these. I came out at the beginning of the month and I’m always looking for LGBTQ+ books to read. I actually haven’t read very many of them so I’m excited to expand my horizons.

    Liked by 1 person

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