Happy Saturday! Following on from yesterday’s lesbian bonanza, today I’m here with some of my favourite books with gay characters. I don’t think I read nearly as much m/m as I do sapphic books, but there’s still several brilliant books to add to your TBR here! I hope you enjoy!
Reverie by Ryan La Sala
If you’re looking for a joyful, gay book with magic rainbows and a drag queen sorceress, then this is the book for you!! This is pure, gay chaos in book form. Reveries are these dream worlds pulled into reality by the subconscious of a person, where they then act out as the “hero” of the reverie. Kane has recently woken from an accident with no recollection of what happened. When the police are interrogating him, a mysterious individual called Posey also interogates him. Posey promises to keep the police away from Kane if he finds out how his accident happened. As Kane investigates, he falls into his first reverie and a world of magic and drag queen sorceresses as he tries to find out what’s going on. Reverie is full of action and imagination, and with rainbow magic is pretty much the queerest book ever. Check out my full review here.
On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong
This is one of the books I’m most excited to read this month! It has received heaps of praise in the last year, and with Vuong’s experience as a poet, it will likely prove to be a beautiful read. On Earth We’re Briefly Goregous is a letter from Little Dog to his mother who cannot read, about his life growing up in the US as Vietnamese-American. The book discusses war, intergenerational trauma, race, masculinity and how to survive when you’re caught between different worlds.
Keep This To Yourself by Tom Ryan
I’m not a huge reader of thrillers, especially not YA thrillers, but this one definitely wants to make me change that and read more. Keep This To Yourself is absolutely full of twists and turns, and that ending. The book is set a year after a series of murders in a small, coastal town (which is pretty much my favourite setting for thrillers and mysteries!) Mac is trying to put the four murders behind him, which is difficult when his best friend Connor was the last victim. When Mac finds a cryptic note from Connor he realises that the killer might not have been the drifter everyone assumed it was, but someone much closer to home.
Cleanness by Garth Greenwell
Back to the literary fiction with the highly provocative and unique Cleanness. Garth Greenwell won heaps of acclaim with his first novel, What Belongs To Us. This novel follows the same character, although you do not need to have read What Belongs To Us to understand Cleanness. And moreso, I found Cleanness even better than his novel. Cleanness is structured in 9 short stories, with a very interesting thematic mirroring across the book. It’s a book discussing relationships, sex and the power in these for a gay man living in Bulgaria.
The Black Flamingo by Dean Atta
The Black Flamingo is a very unique YA novel told in verse by poet Dean Atta. It is a coming-of-age story where a boy, Michael, struggles to come to terms with his identity as a mixed-race, gay teen. When he gets to university, he begins to discover himself as a drag artist. A phenomenal and outstanding story told through poetry about accepting yourself and your uniqueness.
Real Life by Brandon Taylor
I ordered this book with my library, got a notification saying it was waiting for me, AND THEN THE LIBRARIES CLOSED. I was devastated. But then, a Pride miracle, the libraries reopened on June 1 so I was able to pick this up to read this month. Real Life is about Wallace, a gay black man from Alabama who is working for his degree at a predominantly white Midwestern university, who has to face up to the violence and intimacy in his friendship group. All I can say is I have heard nothing but exceptional things about this book and I can’t wait to read it.
Jack of Hearts (and Other Parts) by L.C. Rosen
Sex positive and funny, Jack of Hearts (and Other Parts) does what not many other YA books have done: talk about sex openly and honestly. This book follows Jack, a teen who starts an online sex advice column. But after he starts it, mysterious love letters he’d been receiving turn creepy and stalker-like, demanding that Jack stop flaunting his unashamedly queer lifestyle. This book sounds very much like a book version of Sex Ed (the Netflix show, which I adore), and I’ve had this sitting on my Kindle for SO LONG, I really need to read it asap.
Alex in Wonderland by Simon James Green
A wonderfully fun and sweet summer YA romance! Alex is painfully shy (what a mood) and has been abandoned by his two best friends for the Summer. He lands a part-time job at Wonderland, an amusement arcade on the beach, and the group of employees there begin to bring Alex out of his shell. He even starts to fall for his co-worker, Ben. Who has a girlfriend. Oh dear. This isn’t a gay coming of age story – Alex is already openly out and gay, happy with who he is. Instead, it’s both a fun, happy romance and a story about friendship as Alex, Ben and the rest of the Wonderland crew have to work together to save the arcade from being shut down by debtors.
Wranglestone by Darren Charlton
Zombies + queerness = pretty damn epic. Wranglestone is set in a town at the centre of a lake, a lake which keeps the dead from the town. But when Winter sets in, the dead can cross the ice. Peter puts everyone in the town in danger when he lets a stranger came onto the island and so he is made to help out Cooper, a rancher who herds the dead away from the shores. Peter and Cooper make a discovery that reveals the dark, secret past to the town. And obviously, they also fall in love.
The Prettiest Star by Carter Sickels
And lets end on a book that will break your heart and have you sobbing! Along with Real Life, this book is on so many most anticipated queer books of the year lists, which means it’s going to be pretty fucking great. At 18, Brian moved to New York City, like many young, gay men. But 6 years, his lover and friends are dead, and the city is in the midst of the AIDS epidemic. So Brian returns home to Appalachia, a place he never wanted to go back to. This is a book about home and family, and how fear and shame can change what that means. Highly anticipated, highly emotional, and hugely important to revisit and familiarise ourselves with the history of those who came before us.
I think today’s list is possibly one of the most contrasting so far: you have either highly emotional literary fiction, or really fun YA, apparently I have no inbetween. Let me know what your favourite book with gay rep is in the comments below!