February is LGBTQ+ History Month in the UK. Throughout the month, the people, places and events in LGBTQ+ history that might previously have been overlooked or ignored by the history books are focussed on. Each year, there is a theme and this is explored through the lives of individuals from the LGBTQ+ community and their allies. This year’s theme is ‘Body, Mind, Spirit’ and you can explore all the resources available here. This year’s ‘Faces of 2021’ are Lily Parr, Mark Ashton, Maya Angelou, Michael Dillon and Mark Weston.
Last year, we explored the story of an LGBTQ+ book in our collection. While moving stock around, we came across a 1949 edition of ‘The Well of Loneliness’ by Radclyffe Hall which inspired us to look deeper into the history of the novel and of this particular copy. You can read about what we found here. For this year’s blog, we’re going to share with you some of our favourite LGBTQ+ reads available through BorrowBox as either eBooks or on eAudio. You’ll find even more reading recommendations on our ‘Inclusive Reads‘ page, including items on our library shelves too.
Before we get to that, don’t forget that you can view an archive of events available through the Living Knowledge Network – a network that Warwickshire Libraries are a part of, in partnership with the British Library. This year’s LGBTQ+ History Month was launched via a virtual event held late last year (you can catch up with it here) and there are other previously live screened events available to view, including Michael Cashman in conversation with Sir Ian McKellan and a British Library-hosted event called ‘A Look Into The Trans Archive‘.
There have been a number of titles published recently that explore LGBTQ+ history in Britain and worldwide, both from a contemporary perspective and looking back through history. We really like ‘Gay Britannia: Celebrating LGBTQ+ History in Britain‘, an eAudio collection of insightful interviews, documentaries and comedy that was published to coincide with the 50th Anniversary of the Stonewall riots. It features interviews with Susan Calman, Stephen Fry, Stella Duffy and Simon Callow and explores art, music and culture.
‘Queer‘, edited by Frank Wynne is an anthology that includes writing from ancient history as well as contemporary authors such as Juno Dawson. Included in this collection are some of the writings of Anne Lister. You may have seen the recent TV series based on her diaries called ‘Gentleman Jack’ and you’ll find more about her life in ‘Gentleman Jack: The Real Anne Lister‘ by Anna Choma and Sally Wainwright.
You’ll also find ‘Trans Britain: Our Journey From The Shadows‘, edited by Christine Burns in our BorrowBox collection. This collection of essays recounts the landmark events which have shaped the transgender community over the last five decades, and their knock-on effects today. There are contributions written by activists, film-makers, broadcasters, parents, an actress, a rock musician and a priest. ‘Queer Intentions‘ by Amelia Abrahams is a fascinating collection of essays about the different elements of LGBTQ+ culture that the author explores during her travels throughout Europe and America.
You’ll also find titles aimed at younger readers in our collection, including ‘Queer, There and Everywhere‘ by Sarah Prager. This is a collection aimed at Young Adults that explores the lives of 23 queer people throughout history, including Eleanor Roosevelt, Frida Kahlo and Alan Turing.
Alan Turing is a figure that you’ll find a number of titles about in our collections. They include a look at his life in the ‘Little People, Big Dreams‘ series as well as history books about his contributions to the Second World War and the breaking of the Enigma Code. You can also try ‘Murmur‘ by Will Eaves, an award-winning novel that uses Alan Turing’s story as its inspiration.
You’ll also find biographies and history writing about other LGBTQ+ people in our collections. You’ll find titles about one of the Faces of 2021, Maya Angelou, including a dramatisation of her powerful autobiography ‘I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings‘, while comedian Jen Brister takes a look at family life in her book ‘The Other Mother‘, available as both an eBook and on eAudio. We’d also recommend Jackie Kay’s ‘Red Dust Road‘ – a memoir that explores the author’s family history (you could also read Jackie Kay’s other works too – try ‘The Lamplighter‘ or ‘Reality, Reality‘).
It’s very difficult to narrow choices down to a few titles to highlight here – there are many great books that could be included but here are a selection of novels that we’d highly recommended. ‘The Story of Silence‘ by Alex Myers is a novel that got our attention with its eye-catching cover and blurb. It takes as its inspiration a French legend and is “a knightly fairy tale of royalty and dragons, of midwives with secrets and dashing strangers in dark inns”. You can find it on BorrowBox as both an eBook and on eAudio.
Set slightly closer to today is ‘The Madonna of Bolton‘ by Matt Cain (eBook, eAudio). If you like 1980s nostalgia, then this novel is for you. Join Charlie as he discovers Madonna, and falls in love. His obsession sees him through some tough times in life and all starting out from a pebble-dashed house in suburban Bolton.
If contemporary fiction is more your thing, and you like a bit of gothic supernatural-ness thrown in for good measure, then why not try ‘Plain Bad Heroines‘ by Emily M Danforth? Or if you’re looking for prize-winning/prize nominated fiction, give the recent Booker Prize shortlisted novel by Brandon Taylor, ‘Real Life‘ (eBook, eAudio) a go. You’ll find ‘Pizza Girl‘ by Jean Kyoung Frazier in our BorrowBox collection and ‘In At The Deep End‘ by Kate Davies, winner of the 2020 Polari Book Prize.
February is also ‘Romance Reading Month’, according to the Romantic Novelist’s Association. If you’re after a romantic read, try ‘This London Love‘ by Clare Lydon – a novel with “witty dialogue, engaging characters, and addictive plot twists”. ‘The Secret of You And Me‘ by Melissa Lenhardt (eBook, eAudio) is described as a “heartwarming, uplifting modern retelling LGBTQI+ romance perfect for fans of Gentleman Jack and Jane Austen”. For something both romantic and heart-breaking, we recommend ‘A Love Story For Bewildered Girls‘ by Emma Morgan or ‘Memorial‘ by Bryan Washington.
For Young Adult Readers
We’ve already mentioned ‘Queer, There and Everywhere’ for YA readers but there are countless others titles available on BorrowBox, written for Young Adults (though they can be read by adults too!). You’ll find books by Juno Dawson, including ‘This Book Is Gay‘ as well as her fiction titles including ‘Say Her Name‘ and ‘Margot and Me‘. Dawson has also compiled a collection of essays and writings by other top authors in ‘Proud‘. You’ll find books by Becky Albertelli, including ‘Leah On The Offbeat‘ and ‘Simon vs The Homo Sapien Agenda‘ (which was made into the film ‘Love Simon’), books by Patrick Ness, including ‘Release‘ (eBook, eAudio) and books by Adam Silvera, including ‘Infinity Son‘ (eBook, eAudio).
If you like your YA on the fantastical side, we can recommend ‘Reverie‘ by Ryan La Sala (a book with a cover quote that reads ‘Some Dreams Chase You Back’!) or ‘Cinderella Is Dead‘ by Kaylnn Bayron. ‘Ghost Wood Song‘ (eBook, eAudio) by Erica Waters is a book full of “family secrets, a gorgeously resonant LGBTQ love triangle, and just the right amount of creepiness” according to its blurb, while ‘The Hand, The Heart and The Eye‘ by Zoe Marriott takes place in the court of the Land of Dragons, and follows the tale of Zhilan, assigned female at birth but destined for battle.
For Younger Readers
You’ll also find stories aimed at younger readers in our BorrowBox collection. ‘10,000 Dresses‘, written by Marcus Ewart and illustrated by Rex Ray, tells the story of Bailey, who dreams of magical dresses but whose family tells her she is a boy and should not be dreaming of such things. It is a book described as “a modern fairy tale about becoming the person you feel you are inside”. This theme is also at the heart of ‘Rick‘ by Alex Gino, a book that follows its main character on their journey to find their place in the world.
‘Birdie and Me‘ by J M M Nuanez is a title we’ve recently added to the collection. It is Nuanez’s debut novel about a girl named Jack and her gender creative little brother, Birdie, searching for the place where they can be their true and best selves. We love the cover on this one! For a final recommendation, we also love the novels by Sarah Hagger-Holt that explore family life, acceptance and are hugely enjoyable reads! You can find ‘Proud Of Me‘ and ‘Nothing Ever Happens Here‘ on BorrowBox.
We could go on and on but we have to stop somewhere. We hope that’s given you some reading ideas this LGBTQ+ History Month. Browse our ‘Inclusive Reads‘ page for more and if you follow us on Twitter, you can also see our daily recommendations for #LGBTHM21 which will give you even more suggestions.
If you’re just getting started with BorrowBox, or need any help at all, you can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or we have two videos – one about getting started which you can view here and a second with tips and tricks for making the most of BorrowBox, available to view here. This includes the all-important ‘hit return’ – when you’ve finished with a title, please hit the return link in your ‘My Loans’ list so that the next reader can enjoy the title.
You can also read our earlier blog post to ensure you’re a BorrowBox whizz, including finding out how to adjust the font, font size and background when reading eBooks and change the playback speed when listening to eAudio books to ensure you get a reading/listening experience that suits you.
Let us know in the comments or on social media what you’ve been reading this month and as always, happy reading!