What We’re Reading: Pride Edition

Happy June! There are so many exciting events around the corner, including the Lambda Literary Awards. But as you recoup from Pride or if you just want to celebrate from your couch, we have some great recommendations straight from the staff of Lambda Literary!

Samiya Bashir: Lambda Literary Executive Director

This season I’m reading a lot of multi-author collections, from literary journals to anthologies of all kinds, as well as exploring series’ that allow single or multiple authors to engage in a sustained conversation. Join me! 

  • OBSIDIAN: Literature & Arts in the African Diaspora – series editor Duriel Harris and guest editor Ronaldo Wilson are both great friends of Lambda Literary. One of my favorite pieces in this issue (which, full disclosure, I also have a few poems published within) is “Confederate Grindr,” by former Lammys Producer Charles Rice-Gonzalez, LGBTQ+ activist, and cofounder of the Bronx Academy of Arts & Dance (BAAD!). Another favorite is “Creation Story,” by writer, educator, and interdisciplinary artist Anastacia-Renée, whose vibrant engagement of form sings throughout this poem. 
  • CHECK PLEASE! – OMG love! As I continue to read and write about banned books, I have been enjoying utilizing these book ban lists as excellent reading lists – I suggest it! – which is how I found this series of joyfully made graphic novels by Ngozi Uzaku.  Uzaku’s book was not only challenged, but the Forsyth County, Georgia, challenger called for school officials to “remove all copies and burn it.” Like, seriously: this is truly the most adorable story of a young hockey player / figure skater entering college and working through the resultant growing pains. While you’re in the graphic novel lane, don’t miss Gender Queer, buy 2023 Lambda Literary Trustee Award W for years. It has just been replaced by George M. Johnson’s Not All Boys Are Blue which, at the risk of making this reading list even more lit and lengthy, I say GET THEE TO THIS BEAUTIFUL BOOK! 
  • Belladonna*’s Lesbian All Stars Chapbook Series is quickly becoming a new favorite. I got to meet Shelley Marlow at the recent Independent Booksellers Party – a fantastic event! – and her inclusion in the series, #289 “Halloween in Edinburgh,” from “The Wind Blew Through Like a Chorus of Ghosts,” has made Marlow a new addition to my long list of faves published by this groundbreaking women’s publishing collective.
  • Pathetic Literature – Edited by Eileen Myles, these pages are chock full of canonical pieces from LGBTQ+ faves like CA Conrad, Andrea Abi-Karam, Natalie Diaz, Samuel Delaney, Renee Gladman, and a whole assortment of faves old and new. I haven’t even begun my deep dive into this 600+ page brick of greatness. But I can see myself losing time in the sun nose-deep in this tome and coming away every time a little bit changed. 

Monica Carter: National Director of LGBTQ Writers in Schools

  • Just in time for summer, The Pride Atlas:500 Iconic Destinations for Queer Travelers gives you all the inspiration you need to plan the best queer vacay! Each page pops with stunning photos of LGBTQ+  destinations over 7 continents ranging from Pride celebrations to queer archives to historical landmarks. Even if you can’t afford to travel, this book is worth picking up because it’s filled with the queer history of other countries, how to be safe as an LGBTQ+ traveler, and queer culture across the world, all informed by social justice and inclusivity.  
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is image-2.png
  • One of the things I love most about summer is finding quiet spots in nature to relax, read, and reflect. It’s when I love to find a queer classic novel (insert canon argument here) and dive in. Finnish author Tove Jansson’s slim novel, Fair Play, chronicles the relationship of a lesbian couple living together, one a writer and the other an artist, who work together in two apartments connected by an attic. The chapters are short vignettes of moments in their loving relationship over the years from the slights and squabbles of the quotidienne and the joy and companionship through their travels to Corsica, Phoenix, and a remote Finnish island. An endearing story about lifelong love and creativity, especially meaningful for queer writers. For a bonus read, spot the queer themes in Jansson’s Moomin books, a Moominland Midwinter and Finn Family Moomintroll.

Iyana Gallen: Executive Office Manager

  • Astrid Parker Doesn’t Fall by Ashley Herring Blake – Growing up as an overachiever, I was able to relate to Astrid a lot. The idea of having your whole life planned out, and it not going remotely close to how you envisioned is a tough pill to swallow. For someone who came out in their 20’s, this book showed me that there is beauty in letting go of expectations and embracing the unknown. Also, having an enemies-to-lovers troupe never hurts!

Suzi F. Garcia: Lambda Literary Review Manager

  • Saltwater Demands a Psalm: Poems by Kweku Abimbola -This debut collection is stunning. I’ve been reading it slowly in the mornings, and the language stays with me throughout the day. As a reader, I’m absorbed in the writing, and as a poet? I am absolutely invigorated.

Ian Kirkland: Lambda Literary Review Intern

So far, this summer has brought on a lot of travel for me and my family. From a birthday holiday in Vienna to a cat-sitting gig in Germany, we’ve practically been playing EasyJet roulette. This has meant packing light (my wallet insists on carry-ons only, thank you) and mindfully planning my holiday reads—something I’ve never been prone to doing.

Carmen Maria Machado’s allegorical and atmospheric short stories in Her Body and Other Parties have been a fantastic go-to, as they’re meticulously crafted and pack a punch that’ll have you recovering for weeks. I’ve also recently enjoyed Emily Austin’s debut novel Everyone in This Room will Someday be Dead—a terribly relatable book about the lies we use as armor and the anxieties which slowly erode our sanity.

Parrish Turner: Office Administrator

  • The Third Person by Emma Grove– This is a gripping graphic novel that I read in a single sitting despite it being over 800 pages long. It is all about the complexities of identity, the intersection of disability and transgender identity, and the complex relationship trans people have with the therapeutic institutions that have stood as guards between ourselves and access to care. The author’s note shares amazing insights into what it takes to build a story and how we interrogate our own memories.
  • Riley Weaver Needs a Date to the Gaybutante Ball by Jason June– What we have here is a delightful rom-com as Riley Weaver fufills a dare that his femme and fabulous self must find a masculine date to the biggest gay dance of the year. As he works through a cycle of cute boys, it might take a while to find the right one. With discussions of femmephobia, what it means to be an LGBT leader, and what it means to be yourself, this story is a fun ride, perfect for beaches or drinking tea in a pile of blankets.