LGBTQ Book Recommendations
December 26, 2015
These are a few of my favourite books - that happen to have LGBTQ characters, themes or storylines.
The Lymond Chronicles by Dorothy Dunnett
Dunnett is my favourite author, and probably the greatest influence on my writing. I love her command of tension, the precision of her writing, her breathtaking, incredible set pieces that are second to none.
The blond antihero-protagonist Lymond is canonically bisexual, even if the main storyline is heteroromantic, and there is a sexual fluidity to his character that I fell in love with growing up.
The Bell by Iris Murdoch
Murdoch is perhaps my second favourite writer after Dunnett, and The Bell is a tour-de-force of biased viewpoint, and simple, structural perfection.
I learned from The Bell the way that a new piece of information can "backlight" what has come before, allowing you to see it with new eyes, creating a powerful paradigm shift.
The Bell explores sexuality and sexual damage in a way that is simultaneously nuanced and powerful. It's a profound moment in The Bell when you realise how much you are being told is wrong.
The Philosopher's Pupil by Iris Murdoch
Much more of a tome than The Bell, but I loved the genderfluidity and gender exploration of Tom's college friend, the male countertenor Emma.
Border Crossing by Pat Barker
Border Crossing is one long, dangerous mind game between a psychiatrist and the young man who his testimony sent to prison years earlier.
Like many of my favourite novels, Border Crossing has a biased narrator, and plays with subjective truth. Border Crossing also uses the "dangerously charismatic bisexual sociopath" trope, which as a bisexual person I should dislike... but I actually love this trope, and have done ever since Angelina Jolie mesmerised me in Girl Interrupted. So go figure.
The Alexander Trilogy by Mary Renault
The Alexander Trilogy tells the story of Alexander the Great and his rise to power. I love Renault's spare, precise prose which, like Dunnett's writing, seems to make every emotional exchange intense, because it takes place between the lines. The love story between Alexander and Hephaestion in the first novel Fire From Heaven is utterly charming.
Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie
My favourite series of 2015, and now also my favourite sci-fi series of all time, the Ancillary series plays with gender and identity in a way that is unmatched in any other novel that I have read. Impossible to say much about it without giving it away, so just read it.
Cry to Heaven by Anne Rice
I gravitate towards bisexual protagonists, and Anne Rice's Lestat was a huge influence on me growing up. But I think Cry to Heaven is my favourite Anne Rice novel.
It tells the story of Tonio, and his rise in the world of the castrati opera singers, young men castrated as boys to preserve their soprano singing voices. The sexual and gender fluidity of this series is incredible. Cry to Heaven also has possibly the best subversion of the "I am your father" trope ever written.
Orlando by Virginia Woolf
Written in 1928, and completely ahead of its time, Orlando explores what might happen if a character's gender simply changed--at the midpoint of the novel, Orlando, now an ambassador in Constantinople, awakes to find that he is a woman. Aside from the charming style and delightful prose, what I love about Orlando is the ease and simplicity of Orlando's shifting gender.