Thursday, June 13, 2024

Too many books, too little time. Sometimes the task of choosing a book to read can feel daunting with so many choices, but we have an abundance of knowledgeable, passionate booksellers and librarians in Cambridge and Somerville who recommend titles on a daily basis. So why not take some of those recommendations and share them with our readers? As part of our goal of diversifying Read, we’ve started posing questions – “What’s your all-time favorite book? What’s the last book you read? What new release are you looking forward to reading?” – and we’ll share the answers with you.

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Harvard Book Store marketing manager Lily Rugo called queer books “one of our staff specialities,” so we asked: What book would you recommend for queer reading this June?

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“This is Our Rainbow” edited by Katherine Locke and Nicole Melleby

“This middle grade collection has it all: a wide range of identities both specific and ambiguous, realism, fantasy, poetry, comics, coming out, first love, friendship, mentorship, joy, grief, struggle, history, possibility. An encouraging and invigorating portrait of the young LGBTQ community.” – Olivia

The first LGBTQ+ anthology for middle graders, this collection features 16 stories of joyful, proud representation: a nonbinary kid searching for an inclusive athletic community, a tween girl navigating a crush on her friend’s mom, a trans girl empowering her online friend to come out. The anthology includes fantastical, historical and contemporary interpretations of what it means to be young and queer.

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“You Should See Me in a Crown” by Leah Johnson

“A love story at its core but not solely about the girl-likes-girl love. That’s essential, but there’s also the love of complicated friendships, unconditional family love and loving every aspect of yourself.” – Lily

A Stonewall Book award winner and named one of the best 100 young adult books of all time by Time, “You Should See Me in a Crown” is about Liz Lighty, an Indiana teenager who longs to leave her hometown and go off to college. With a Black queer protagonist whose love story emerges slowly, this novel is heartwarming and sweet while also exploring the impact of harsher topics such as racism and poverty.

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“Lavender House” by Lev A.C. Rosen

“An original take on the classic ‘country house mystery’ with a strong cast of characters and setting, ‘The Lavender House’ is a great title for anyone looking to put their feet up and read a mystery this weekend.” –Anna Geneva

In 1952, detective Evander “Andy” Mills, recently fired from the San Francisco police after being caught in a gay bar, is called to Lavender House to investigate the death of its matriarch, Irene Lamontaine. It’s a twisty mystery that puts an LGBTQ+ spin on a story about secrets, old money and jealousy. And, if you enjoy it, it’s the first in a series that continues with “The Bell in the Fog” and “Rough Pages.”

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“The Good Luck Girls” by Charlotte Nicole Davis

“Kill your captors, banish your demons, burn everything down behind you. Most importantly, love the people you take along for the ride. This is a great addition to the growing canon of radical, queer Westerns. Note: This story contains discussion of sexual assault and forced prostitution. It is for mature YA readers.” –Hannah

“The Good Luck Girls,” a fantasy adventure that has been called “Westworld” meets “The Handmaid’s Tale,” centers around Aster, the protector; Violet, the favorite; Tansy, the medic; Mallow, the fighter; and Clementine, the catalyst. When Clementine accidentally kills a man in their country of Arketta, the girls escape on a harrowing journey, fighting against forces human and inhuman.

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“Gwen & Art Are Not in Love” by Lex Croucher

“One of my favorite queer historical reimaginings I’ve ever read and one of my favorite young adult romances of the past few years. It’s cozy, swoony and packs a surprisingly emotional punch too. Read with a warm mug of hot cocoa and a box of tissues.” –Julia

A queer medieval rom-com, “Gwen & Art Are Not in Love” is about future Lord Arthur and Princess Gwendoline, who have been betrothed since birth. Spending the summer together at Camelot before their wedding, Gwen sees Arthur kissing a boy and Arthur finds confessions of Gwen’s crush on the kingdom’s only female knight, Bridget Leclair, in her diary. Instead of enemies to lovers, Croucher explores an enemies to allies plot as Gwen and Art cover for each other pursuing their own loves.

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“Is Love the Answer?” by Uta Isaki

“This charming coming-of-age manga is a deep exploration of all the facets of queer identity searching. Turns out – it involves a lot of google, research, crowdsourcing and found family.” –Lily

High schooler Chika has never had a crush on anyone, with no desire for physical intimacy. When she goes to college, she realizes she’s not alone in feeling this way, and that there’s a word for it: asexual. Love isn’t always the answer, and for Chika, realizing that is just the answer she needs.

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“Annie on my Mind” by Nancy Garden

“I vividly remember the moment I found this book in the young adult section of my local library as a closeted queer sixth grader – it was the first time I ever encountered a book about people like me, with lives and futures of their own. It changed my life.” –Maddie

Published in 1982, “Annie on My Mind” is heralded as an early story of queer love, about a relationship between two teenage girls in New York City. Liza Winthrop and Annie Kenyon meet at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and become friends. When the truth of their burgeoning relationship comes out, the people in their lives are forced to contend with their sexualities.

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“An Education in Malice” by S.T. Gibson

“Seriously, you will love this book if you enjoy any of the following: Sapphic relationships, academic rivals to lovers, vampires, poetry, ‘Guilty as Sin’ by Taylor Swift, yearning.” – Jac

“An Education in Malice” takes the rivals-to-lovers trope, adds a dark academic spin and delivers it through a queer lens. Laura Sheridan lands at the isolated and ancient Saint Perpetua’s College, where she meets the enigmatic Carmilla in a poetry class taught by demanding professor De Lafontaine, who has her own obsession with Carmilla. As their rivalry blossoms into love, Laura must confront the politics and magic of their setting.