Stefani’s Top 15 Books for Toledo Pride

Posted on August 12, 2022

by Stefani H

I can talk about LGBTGUIA+ literature all day, every day…to the point I have entire friendships created on this interest! In honor of Toledo Pride, here’s a list of related books that have a special place in my heart.

Darius the Great is Not Okay by Adib Khorram

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I love this book because it speaks so much to who I was in high school. Darius is a nerdy, awkward kid who loves tea, has a golden child sister, and an uncomfortable relationship with his dad that centers on Star Trek. Darius’s journey through this book and his view of Iran when visiting his grandparents are some of the best things I have ever read. Adib Khorram creates a vivid character who kept me engaged through the entire story.

Dread Nation by Justina Ireland

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This book is LGBTQIA+ literature in one of the best possible ways – it centers on queer characters without making that the only salient aspect of their identity. This story is mostly a historic zombie apocalypse story that happens to focus on a bisexual black woman. This book also has one of the best articulations of asexuality I have ever read. While I am not normally a fan of anitbellum south novels, Justina Ireland manages to tell an engaging, character-centric story that turns the typical antebellum south novel tropes on its head.

Leah on the Offbeat by Becky Albertalli

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This book is part of the Simonverse, which includes three other books by Becky Albertali and two books by Angie Thomas. This book follows Leah as she deals with body image issues, figures out college, discovers her bisexuality, and generally fulfills the expectations of the protagonist in a coming-of-age novel. It is glorious to watch her becomes more comfortable with herself and figure out what she wants in life.

Juliet Takes a Breath by Gabby Rivera

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This book came to my attention from a coworker and I am OBSESSED! Juliette takes an internship with her absolute favorite author who helped her accept herself. The book opens with her coming out to her parents before going to Portland, the farthest she has ever been from her family. Throughout this book she discovers how to love herself, gain a deeper understanding of what community means to her, see people in all their complexity (and how decide if they should be in her life), and more. This book is a beautiful and honest exploration of queer identities, how intersectionality makes EVERYONE’S experience completely different, what it means to be an ally in multiple senses of the world, and so much more. I love Juliet with a passion and cannot recommend this book enough!

Let’s Talk About Love by Claire Kann

As an Asexual (Ace from here on out) woman who does not have romance on my list of preferred genres, it was absolutely fascinating to me to see an Ace woman cast as a romantic lead. This book opens with someone breaking Alice’s “Cutie Code” and her figuring out what this means for herself and what she looks for in a relationship. It also tackles many of the other issues of identity and finance that many young people face post-college graduate. I admit bias recommending a book about an Ace woman who works in libraries, but this book tackles some big topics with humor, grace, and some amazing writing. Also, all of Claire Kann’s books are fun to read, so do yourself a favor!

Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan

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This isn’t as lowkey about its queer characters as Dread Nation by Justina Ireland, but it is another book that has things other than queer identity at the core of the story. Lei is chosen as the woman to represent her people as a potential future wife of the demon king who rules her land. She and eight other young women go into training on ways to catch the king’s attention. Lei understands what this means for her people, but also understands the completely messed up situation that she and all the other women experience. She manages in this process to find love with another woman, but can’t be with her while promised to the king. This book explores many themes of gender, power, identity, and much more. Warning that this book contains an assault scene that may make the book a bad choice for some readers.

The Marrow Thieves by Cherie Dimaline

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So, this one is a bit of a stretch, but that’s also why it’s in here. The LGBTQIA+ character is an important secondary character, but not one of the characters at the very center of the novel. The book centers on young people from a variety of nations (such as the Metis, Cree, Ojibwe, and more). This is a near future post-apocalyptic novel in a world where no one can dream but the Indigenous Peoples of North America and the horrors that come from this realization. One of the elders who helps the children is a member of the LGBTQIA+ community and a really well written character. Warning that this book does deal with some very difficult topics such as residential schools that readers should be aware of before reading this novel.

Disoriental by Négar Djavadi

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Kimiâ Sadr, the main character, takes the reader on a journey story that tells of her family’s history in Iran going back the better part of four generations. The history and dynamics of the Sadr family make for a tale that is operatic in scale while the more immediate tales of Kimiâ and her immediate family show one family’s experience in the Iranian diaspora. Kimiâ also highlights one experience of queer identity across two cultures through the prism of her own identities and experiences. This is a dynamic story that has something to offer those who like dramatic family dynamics and reading about immigrant experiences. Djavadi is a dynamic writer who engages reader stylistically and through character development the entire novel.

The City We Became by N.K. Jemisin

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This book takes place in a world where cities are living creatures that face danger as they come into existence. Each city gets its own avatar(s) that help it get on its feet. New York City is supposed to have six, but the primary avatar gets put in a coma, leaving the other five to figure out what and who they are, find each other, and save the city. This book has a series of characters that represent a great deal of diversity including two queer people of color. This book is fantastic in general – N. K. Jemisin is one of my favorite writers – and has some fantastic queer representation.

A History of My Brief Body by Billy-Ray Belcourt

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Belcourt is a Driftpile Cree Nation writer and academic who uses this memoir in verse to explore his queer identity, indigeneity in a colonial setting, and much more. This book is a wonderfully done book that explores the intersectionality of a wide variety of identities, histories, and how they shape how we see ourselves and the world. The poetry is deeply personal, this is beautiful collection of poetry is worth the read!

This is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone

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This is a novel about Red and Blue – two soldiers fighting for different factions trying to control the course of history. Agents like Red and Blue are sent through time to manipulate events in subtle (and not so subtle ways). Soldiers like Red and Blue are not supposed to communicate, but these two women are and the story that grows from this communication is amazing! Told in alternating perspectives in an epistolatory format, this novel is a fascinating story through time and space!

A Quick and Easy Guide to They/Them Pronouns by Archie Bonigiovanni and Tristan Jimerson

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Using they and them pronouns is not a new practice, but some people still have questions or want to learn more. This book is a good starting point for the basics on why some feel best represented by they/them pronouns (and there are a lot of different reasons!) and how they function. This book (and the series in general) does a great job of explaining the bare basics clearly and pointing to further resources. It is not comprehensive, but is still a fantastic start!

A Quick and Easy Guide to Queer and Trans Identities by Mady G and J.R. Zuckerberg

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Feeling a little lost on the variety of queer identities? Questioning your own identity or orientation and don’t know where to start? This book is absolutely a wonderful starting point whether you are trying to become a more informed ally, someone learning more about your own community, needing a place to gain information to explore about yourself, or the myriad of other reasons someone might be seeking out information! While far from comprehensive, this book explains some of the most common terms used by the LGBTQUIA+ community (including a discussion of the word queer) and presents some great resources for further questions that may arise after reading this book!

The Stonewall Reader

You will sometimes hear people say “the first Pride was a riot” or see signs, posters, and more with this same sentiment. This incredible book from the New York Public Library lets readers hear directly from people who were involved with the original Stonewall Riot and the individuals whose voices helped shape the movement for LGBTQIA+ rights in the 1960. This diverse collection of voices gives people a strong sense of the voices that shaped one of the large pushes for queer rights in U.S. History.

A Queer History of the United States by Michael Bronski

This book is a fantastic broad view of the history of queer people and their place in American History. It is a great way to think about where we started, how much has changed, and how far we still have to go.