We asked our Aerie LGBTQ+ community and allies to share some of their favorite books in honor of Pride Month this June. See their picks below, then grab one of these empowering books to read for yourself!
Maple’s pick: An Absolutely Remarkable Thing by Hank Green
Synopsis: In his wildly entertaining debut novel, Hank Green—cocreator of Crash Course, Vlogbrothers, and SciShow—spins a sweeping, cinematic tale about a young woman who becomes an overnight celebrity before realizing she’s part of something bigger, and stranger, than anyone could have possibly imagined.
What Maple has to say: I love An Absolutely Remarkable Thing by Hank Green (sci-fi-ish realistic fiction). It’s not a specifically LGBTQ+ book but the main character is bi & there is expansion on how this affects her life/the other themes of the book. It’s a super relevant exploration of social media celebrity and its impact on society, but also just a funny and heartfelt book with characters that feel like people I know.
Honorable Mention: My other favorite LGBTQ+ books are the Leagues and Legends series by E. Jade Lomax (more of fantasy genre). The author is LGBTQ+ and while the main characters aren’t, there are plenty of supporting characters who are and they are all beautiful, funny, and fully fleshed out. It’s a fun escape into a world unlike ours but again filled with people who I have been able to relate to, in identity or otherwise.
Associate Merchant of Men’s Jeans
Marcie’s Pick: George by Alex Gino
Synopsis: When people look at George, they see a boy, but she knows she’s a girl. George thinks she’ll have to keep this a secret forever. Then her teacher announces that their class play is going to be Charlotte’s Web. George 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.
What Marcie has to say: I love this book because it shows what it means to be transgender as a child from their perspective and in a way that is easy for parents to understand.
Sr. Director, AEO Foundation and Corporate Social Responsibility
Paul’s Pick: The Front Runner by Patricia Nell Warren
Synopsis: Harlan Brown is a tough, conservative track coach hiding from his past at a small college. Billy Sive is a brilliant young runner who is homosexual and doesn’t mind who knows it. When they fall in love, they enter a race against hate and prejudice which takes them to the ’76 Olympics and a shattering, shocking conclusion.
What Paul has to say: I read this book many moons ago and I love it for its themes around living an authentic life and discovering that everyone deserves love, and that love flourishes even in the face of adversity. The book was published during a time when all things LGBTQ+ were taboo and unspoken. This book deftly captures the fears of being casted out, but also the excitement of love, and the emotional burden lifted that comes from embracing who you are.
Analyst with Supply Chain Projects
Dan’s Pick: Alice + Freda Forever: A Murder in Memphis by Alexis Coe
Synopsis: In 1892, America was obsessed with a teenage murderess, but it wasn’t her crime that shocked the nation―it was her motivation. Nineteen-year-old Alice Mitchell had planned to pass as a man in order to marry her seventeen-year-old fiancée Freda Ward, but when their love letters were discovered, they were forbidden from ever speaking again. Freda adjusted to this fate with an ease that stunned a heartbroken Alice. Her desperation grew with each unanswered letter―and her father’s razor soon went missing. On January 25, Alice publicly slashed her ex-fiancée’s throat. Her same-sex love was deemed insane by her father that very night, and medical experts agreed: This was a dangerous and incurable perversion. As the courtroom was expanded to accommodate national interest, Alice spent months in jail―including the night that three of her fellow prisoners were lynched (an event which captured the attention of journalist and civil rights activist Ida B. Wells). After a jury of “the finest men in Memphis” declared Alice insane, she was remanded to an asylum, where she died under mysterious circumstances just a few years later. Alice + Freda Forever recounts this tragic, real-life love story with over 100 illustrated love letters, maps, artifacts, historical documents, newspaper articles, courtroom proceedings, and intimate, domestic scenes.
What Dan has to say: I found this book hard to put down! Written by a museum curator, Alexis Coe tackles the true-life love story of Alice Mitchell and Freda Ward from the 1800’s. Coe addresses issues of race, politics and mental illness in a captivating and detailed manner. Though this story took place over 100 years ago, it’s amazing how similar and consistent social issues and expressing love and living through heartbreak are to today. If you are a fan of true-crime and love stories, this read is for you.
Luke’s pick: LESS by Andrew Sean Greer
Synopsis: A struggling novelist travels the world to avoid an awkward wedding in this hilarious Pulitzer Prize-winning novel full of “arresting lyricism and beauty” (The New York Times Book Review).
What Luke has to say: I actually think that this book is a really timely reminder that our work as LGBTQ+ and humanitarian advocates is never really done. The main character, who is a middle-aged white gay author, spends a lot of time wallowing in self-pity because his career has basically stalled and because he’s turning 50 and feels like he’s not yet accomplished those things in life that he “should.” Throughout the book – there are many moments where he’s challenged to check his privilege and comes to realize that the generations before him – the leaders of the gay rights movement, a generation who also had to navigate the AIDS crisis, has enabled him to have a really comfortable existence – an existence where he’s basically been able to “float” through life without facing adversity and without having to put up much of a fight. I think this book is a really strong reminder that, while our own personal challenges are valid and relative to our own lives, that we must continue to look beyond ourselves and our own problems; we should constantly check our own privilege and use our voices to fight for the greater good and for human equality. The work is never done – there is no “finish line” in equality.
Director of Marketing Strategy
Have you read any of these books? Comment below & share your thoughts!