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Read Different Challenge & LGBT Pride Month

diverse books

Last month we decided to join in with the Hachette’s Read Different campaign and we invited you to join us in an informal reading challenge to expand your reading horizons. The month of June happens to be LGBT pride month so what better time to highlight some of the great books by LGBT authors or with LGBT characters?

Recent research (described here in the Scientific American) suggests that reading literary fiction (as opposed to popular fiction increases empathy. Researchers claim that literary fiction focuses more on the psychology of characters and requires readers to understand psychological motivations of these characters. This ability then transfers to the real world, with readers of literary fiction being better able to empathize with others who may be different from them.

Books with LGBT characters are underrepresented in all genres of fiction. I am a heterosexual woman and I have no difficulty seeing myself and my type of relationships inside the books I read. The majority of books I’ve read that feature romantic relationships are centered around heterosexual relationships. Given the recent events in Orlando, empathy is clearly a quality that is much needed in the world. I’ve been thinking about how I could do my small part in showing my solidarity with the LGBT community. I filled our Little Free Library with LGBT books this month and I plan to make  a conscious effort to seek out LGBT literature.

This month I’ve read two books that could qualify: Nimona and In Love and War. Nimona is a young adult graphic novel that is quirky, irreverent, and has the added benefit of featuring a cool relationship between two male heroes. I’ll be reviewing that book at some point soon. In Love and War by Alex Preston is set in Italy during WWII and features a bisexual main character. I reviewed this book a few weeks ago and you can read that review here. I hope to try and read Guapa by Salem Haddad. This book is a debut novel that tells the story of Rasa, a young gay man coming out in the Middle East. It was featured on Book Riot this month and sounds incredibly interesting.

Want to join me this month? Here are some lists of recommended LGBT books: 
50 essential works of LGBT fiction by Flavorwire
16 LGBT Books that will actually change your life by Buzzfeed
New LGBTQ Fiction: Highlights from the 2016 Lambda Literary Awards by Book Riot

Finally, I’d like to recommend that you check out the work of two of my favorite authors: Jeanette Winterson and Colm Tóibín. Both are openly gay authors who have been very outspoken about gay rights and whose books often feature beautiful and complex homosexual relationships.

We want to hear from you! Those of you who are joining us in the read different challenge, what books have you read this month that are represent reading differently for you? Have you read any books featuring LGBT characters this month? Do you have any recommendations for books? 

26 Comments Post a comment
  1. The only author that comes to my mind is Michael Cunningham..

    Liked by 1 person

    June 20, 2016
    • I haven’t read any of his books yet even though he has at least one on the 1001 list.

      Like

      June 20, 2016
  2. I typically don’t pay attention to “type” – I tend to read diversely as a matter of course. So it was no surprised to me that I’d read a number of the books on the 50 essential list.

    Liked by 1 person

    June 20, 2016
    • Interesting, I also tend to read fairly diversely but when I started tracking I saw I was very light on LGBT fiction. I read lots of women, people of color, and non-us/uk authors. How many on the 59 essential list have you read? I’m going to check to see how many I have read.

      Like

      June 20, 2016
  3. I checked. I’ve read only read 6 of the 50. At least 10 others are on my TBR and at least 10 are ones I’ve never even heard of.

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    June 20, 2016
  4. Well I was trying to see how many I had read but the website kept crashing grrr

    Of the 6 or so I managed to view I have read 2 and I suspect I wont get much higher.

    Liked by 1 person

    June 20, 2016
    • A bunch of them are on the 1001 list so you may have read more than 2.

      Like

      June 20, 2016
  5. I am planning to read The Gilda Stories by Jewelle Gomez for LGBT month

    Liked by 1 person

    June 20, 2016
  6. Tracy S #

    I’ve read only 6 on the Flavorwire list, but I’ve got quite a few on my shelf. I also read Nimona and liked it very much. Another that I read this month that hits every diverse category is Ruby by Cynthia Bond. My cousin is a school librarian, and she highly recommended George by Alex Gino, so I’m going to get to that one, and try to read at least one more.

    Liked by 1 person

    June 20, 2016
    • I’ve heard George is really good. I’ll be looking for your review. Did you like Ruby? I’ve put it off for a while because I am not sure I want to read about that degree of abuse. Granted I read A Little Life and that was packed with trauma and abuse

      Like

      June 20, 2016
      • Tracy S #

        It did have a great deal of abuse, which significantly decreased my enjoyment. Ruby has a steel backbone, and that helped me tolerate it a bit more. I still gave it 4 stars- the characters, the storyline and the style are excellent. I still want to cry when I think of Jude in A Little Life!

        Liked by 1 person

        June 20, 2016
  7. So many cool lists! I think I’m gonna have to add A LOT more books on my TBR! 😁

    Liked by 1 person

    June 21, 2016
  8. My reading differently is about trying to read more books by/about differently abled people. I read Rosemary Sutcliff’s memoir this month. It wasn’t the best book I’ve ever read, but it occasionally made me think about why differently abled people have been hidden in the UK for a long time and haven’t been able to make their voices heard. It made me think about my own attitude towards differently abled people and where it came from. So although I found Sutcliff dull as a memoirist, I did get something out of the book.

    Liked by 1 person

    June 21, 2016
    • I am from Lithuania and when I moved to live abroad to Finland years ago I was amazed how many differently abled people were there. At first I was wondering why there were so many (considering) only to realize pretty soon that there were not more than in my own country. In my own country they don’t go out.. :/

      Liked by 1 person

      June 22, 2016
      • Could I ask you a question over email? If you are willing, maybe you could send me an email to jenlane3@yahoo.com. Nothing mysterious, just a blog related question

        Like

        June 22, 2016
      • Done 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

        June 22, 2016
      • Thanks! Will send you a message later today (when I get home from work) it is 9am where I am 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

        June 22, 2016
      • That’s how it used to be in the UK until the 1980s. Differently abled people were often sent to live in institutions and, if they lived at home with their families, were schooled separately. It wasn’t until 1995 that discrimination against disabled people became illegal. It’s shocking, isn’t it?

        Like

        June 22, 2016
      • It is..

        Like

        June 22, 2016
  9. JoLene R #

    I read a lot of female authors, but mostly US/UK based. When you first posted the challenge, I thought great idea and I will try to see if I can get 10% of reading to be people of color or non-US/UK. I have to modify my tracking SS to see how I’m doing.

    However, posting this, I have only read 2 of the books on the list (although I have read several of Jeanette Winterson’s books. I would say that I’ve heard of several of these but I had never heard of at least 30 of them. I have read Nimona though 😀

    I know this was a blog post a while back, but I do find that it’s bit trendy these days to read have LBTG characters in YA fiction as well as graphic novels. I think that people are recognizing the need to young people to see people like themselves.

    Liked by 1 person

    June 21, 2016
    • JoLene R #

      BTW — thanks for the lists 😀

      Liked by 1 person

      June 21, 2016
    • I do think YA authors are more tuned in to this than adult fiction authors. I look forward to seeing how you are doing with adding more non us/uk authors and poc focus!

      Like

      June 21, 2016
  10. JoLene R #

    FYI…the audible deal today (6/23) is Maurice by EM Forester; it is on the list of the 50 essential works.

    Liked by 1 person

    June 23, 2016

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