8 Must-Read LGBT Books for Summer 2016

summer reading
Cassie Sheets

There are few things more satisfying than leaning back in the sun, digging your toes into the sand, listening to the sound of the ocean, and getting lost in a great book. Whether you’re stuck at home this summer, or you have the perfect getaway planned, these recently released books with LGBT characters or authors are the perfect summer escape.

Boy Erased: A Memoir by Garrard Conley

lgbt summer books

Penguin Random House
May 10, 2016
352 pages; $27
Buy it here.

Garrard Conley’s memoir, Boy Erased, takes us from life as the son of a Baptist pastor in small-town Arkansas to Conley being outed to his parents as a 19-year-old college student. After attending a church-supported conversion therapy program that promised to cure him of his homosexuality, Conley found the strength to embrace his true self and explore the complicated relationships among family, faith, and community.

Small Beauty by Jia Qing Wilson-Yang

transgender books

Metonymy Press
May 13, 2016
176 pages; $16.95
Buy it here.

Small Beauty is a book for a rainy summer day. The novel tells the story of Mei, who is coping with her cousin’s death after abandoning her life in the city to live in his empty house in a small town. Isolated from the trans women she left behind, she learns about her aunt’s long-term secret relationship, discovers local trans mysteries, and receives advice from departed loved ones.

Modern Lovers by Emma Straub

lgbt books

Penguin Random House
May 31, 2016
368 pages; $26
Buy it here.

Modern Lovers follows former college bandmates Elizabeth, Andrew, and Zoe. In the band’s heyday, Zoe was the lesbian all the straight women wanted to sleep with, Andrew had unwashed hair past his chin, and Elizabeth was never without a snarl. Now, nearing fifty, all three live in gentrified Brooklyn with children reaching maturity. As their comfortable adult lives begin to unravel, secrets come out—including some about the famous fourth band member who left them behind.

Weekend by Jane Eaton Hamilton

lgbt books

Arsenal Pulp Press
May 31, 2016
294 pages; $17.95
Buy it here.

Jane Eaton Hamilton’s intimate novel Weekend explores two lesbian couples who live next door to each other one summer in cottage country as they find each of their relationships at a crossroads. One woman experiences a crisis on her fiftieth birthday that causes her to question what she wants out of life and her partner. The other couple deals with the turmoil in their relationship after having a baby.

Juliet Takes a Breath by Gabby Rivera

lgbt summer books

Riverdale Ave Books
January 18, 2016
193 pages; $9.99 eBook
Buy it here.

Juliet Milagros Palante just came out to her family, and she isn’t sure her mom will ever speak to her again. But she has a plan. Juliet is leaving the Bronx for Portland, Ore. To intern with the author of her favorite book, Harlowe Bisbane. With more questions than answers, Juliet takes on Portland, Harlowe, and most importantly, herself over the course of one summer.

The Nest by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney

summer 2016 books

Harper Collins
March 22, 2016
373 pages; $26.99
Buy it here.

Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney’s debut novel has been getting a lot of buzz, and for good reason. This dysfunctional family drama follows siblings Melody, a suburban wife and mother with a massive mortgage and looming college tuition, Jack, a gay antiques dealer who has borrowed against the beach cottage he shares with his husband, Bea, a once-promising short story writer who can’t finish her novel, and Leo, freshly released from rehab and tasked with bringing his family together again.

Beijing Comrades by Bei Tong (Translated by Scott E. Myers)

lgbt books

The Feminist Press
March 15, 2016
312 pages; $13.56
Buy it here.

Beijing Comrades circulated throughout China in 1998 and developed a cult following, but wasn’t translated into English until this year. The novel tells the story of a torrid love affair between Handong and Lan Yu set against the sociopolitical unrest of late-eighties China. Due to the depiction of gay sexuality and critique of totalitarian government, Beijing Comrades was originally published anonymously on an underground gay website.

We Love You, Charlie Freeman by Kaitlyn Greenidge

summer reading

Algonquin Books
March 8, 2016
336 pages; $25.95
Buy it here.

Kaitlyn Greenidge’s compelling novel follows the Freeman family—Charles, Laurel, their teen daughter Charlotte, and nine-year-old Callie—when they’re invited to participate in a research experiment by the Toneybee Institute teaching Charlie, a young chimp, sign language. Charlotte’s experience as a black lesbian teenager in a nearly all-white community as she discovers shocking truths about the Institute's history of questionable studies makes for a page-turning coming-of-age story. 

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