If you follow me on instagram, you may already know I’m currently hosting a giveaway to celebrate reaching 1000 followers there, as well as Pride Month (the two things happened to coincide). There will be two winners, who will each get to choose one out of eight own voices* queer books. I figured it would be nice to share a little more information about those books!
‘Own voices’ means the book was written by an author of the same marginalisation. For instance, a book about a gay man written by a gay man is own voices for gay representation. A book can be own voices for one or several marginalisations, while not being own voices for others (therefore it’s good to specify what a book is own voices for).
1. Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz
Goodreads synopsis: Aristotle is an angry teen with a brother in prison. Dante is a know-it-all who has an unusual way of looking at the world. When the two meet at the swimming pool, they seem to have nothing in common. But as the loners start spending time together, they discover that they share a special friendship—the kind that changes lives and lasts a lifetime. And it is through this friendship that Ari and Dante will learn the most important truths about themselves and the kind of people they want to be.
Own voices for: gay, latinx.
Why am I giving it away? This is a quick read that will nonetheless give you all the feels. I read it last August and it is the perfect summer read.
2. The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers
Goodreads synopsis: Somewhere within our crowded sky, a crew of wormhole builders hops from planet to planet, on their way to the job of a lifetime. To the galaxy at large, humanity is a minor species, and one patched-up construction vessel is a mere speck on the starchart. This is an everyday sort of ship, just trying to get from here to there.
But all voyages leave their mark, and even the most ordinary of people have stories worth telling. A young Martian woman, hoping the vastness of space will put some distance between herself and the life she‘s left behind. An alien pilot, navigating life without her own kind. A pacifist captain, awaiting the return of a loved one at war.
Set against a backdrop of curious cultures and distant worlds, this episodic tale weaves together the adventures of nine eclectic characters, each on a journey of their own.
Own voices for: f/f relationship (no label is used).
Why am I giving it away: This might be one of my favourite books ever. I mentioned it in my 2016 Favourites post. It’s a character driven sci-fi, a comfort read, it’s got all kinds of aliens (not just humanoids), is diverse like it’s no big deal, and has an unexpected ending that almost made me cry (which is a big deal because books never make me cry). When I found out this was own voices, I had to use it for my giveaway.
3. More Than This by Patrick Ness
Goodreads synopsis: A boy drowns, desperate and alone in his final moments. He dies.
Then he wakes, naked and bruised and thirsty, but alive.
How can this be? And what is this strange deserted place?
As he struggles to understand what is happening, the boy dares to hope. Might this not be the end? Might there be more to this life, or perhaps this afterlife?
From multi-award-winning Patrick Ness comes one of the most provocative and moving novels of our time.
Own voices for: gay.
Why am I giving it away: I’ve been dying to read more Patrick Ness after reading A Mosnter Calls. This book is bound to be very different, but I’ve heard great things, about the author in general, and about this book specifically.
4. History Is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera
Goodreads synopsis: When Griffin’s first love and ex-boyfriend, Theo, dies in a drowning accident, his universe implodes. Even though Theo had moved to California for college and started seeing Jackson, Griffin never doubted Theo would come back to him when the time was right. But now, the future he’s been imagining for himself has gone far off course.
To make things worse, the only person who truly understands his heartache is Jackson. But no matter how much they open up to each other, Griffin’s downward spiral continues. He’s losing himself in his obsessive compulsions and destructive choices, and the secrets he’s been keeping are tearing him apart.
If Griffin is ever to rebuild his future, he must first confront his history, every last heartbreaking piece in the puzzle of his life.
Own voices for: gay, OCD.
Why am I giving it away: This is another author I’ve heard much about. It sounds like this will be a very interesting and heartbreaking story about grief. What intrigues me beside the story itself and the queerness, is Griffin’s struggle with OCD. I don’t think I’ve read any realistic portrayals of OCD yet, and I very much want to change that.
5. Ash by Malinda Lo
Goodreads synopsis: In the wake of her father’s death, Ash is left at the mercy of her cruel stepmother. Consumed with grief, her only joy comes by the light of the dying hearth fire, rereading the fairy tales her mother once told her. In her dreams, someday the fairies will steal her away, as they are said to do. When she meets the dark and dangerous fairy Sidhean, she believes that her wish may be granted.
The day that Ash meets Kaisa, the King’s Huntress, her heart begins to change. Instead of chasing fairies, Ash learns to hunt with Kaisa. Though their friendship is as delicate as a new bloom, it reawakens Ash’s capacity for love-and her desire to live. But Sidhean has already claimed Ash for his own, and she must make a choice between fairy tale dreams and true love.
Entrancing, empowering, and romantic, Ash is about the connection between life and love, and solitude and death, where transformation can come from even the deepest grief.
Own voices for: bisexual.
Why am I giving it away: A queer Cinderella retelling? Yes, please! I’ve heard great things about Malinda Lo and this book sounds incredible.
6. George by Alex Gino
Goodreads synopsis: When people look at George, they think they see a boy. But she knows she’s not a boy. She knows she’s a girl.
George thinks she’ll have to keep this a secret forever. Then her (4th grade) teacher announces their class play is going to be “Charlotte’s Web.” George really, really, REALLY wants to play Charlotte. But the teacher says she can’t even try out for the part …because she’s a boy.
With the help of her best friend, Kelly, George comes up with a plan. Not just so she can be Charlotte – but so everyone can know who she is, once and for all.
Own voices for: transgender.
Why am I giving it away: I have read such incredible reviews of this book, I had to include it. I also wanted to include different genres and ages, and this is the only children’s book on the list. Which makes it all the more important!
7. Everything Leads to You by Nina LaCour
Goodreads synopsis: A wunderkind young set designer, Emi has already started to find her way in the competitive Hollywood film world.
Emi is a film buff and a true romantic, but her real-life relationships are a mess. She has desperately gone back to the same girl too many times to mention. But then a mysterious letter from a silver screen legend leads Emi to Ava. Ava is unlike anyone Emi has ever met. She has a tumultuous, not-so-glamorous past, and lives an unconventional life. She’s enigmatic…. She’s beautiful. And she is about to expand Emi’s understanding of family, acceptance, and true romance.
Own voices for: lesbian.
Why am I giving it away: A cute lesbian contemporary romance. I’ve heard this is one of those contemporaries even people who aren’t a fan of the genre enjoy!
8. Stung With Love: Poems and Fragments of Sappho
Goodreads synopsis: For the first time in Penguin Classics—the incomparable verse of the ancient Greek lyric poet Sappho, in a brilliant new translation.
Sappho’s writings are said to have filled nine papyrus rolls in the great library at Alexandria, but only one poem survives complete. This new translation of all of Sappho’s extant poetry showcases the wide variety of themes in her work, from amorous songs celebrating adolescent females to poems of invocation, desire, spite, celebration, resignation, and remembrance. Aaron Poochigian captures the eros and mystery of Sappho’s verse, bringing to readers of English the living voice of the poet Plato called “the tenth Muse,” whose lyric power remains undiminished after 2,500 years.
Own voices for: f/f love (our labels didn’t exist yet).
Why am I giving it away: Do I need a reason to include Sappho in a queer giveaway? She is the reason we call lesbians lesbians. Her poems, though fragmentary, are beautiful and have inspired people for thousands of years.
I haven’t read all of the books in this giveaway yet, but I definitely plan to. I wanted to give a choice of various genres and queer identities (while sticking to a certain price and giving away physical copies instead of ebooks), so that’s how this list came to be. You can find my giveaway post here.
Please let me know if there’s anything I got wrong or should add in my descriptions! And of course I would love to get more recommendations for own voices queer books.