It’s the middle of Pride Month and it’s the perfect time to add some rainbow colors to any TBR pile (which stands for To-Be-Read, for the non-bookworms). June is the perfect month for readers who want to increase the diversity of what they are reading. It’s easy to end up reading the same tropes over and over, but with Pride Month comes fresh representation in the form of great stories! Here are seven book recommendations with the colors of their covers included (no spoilers!):
Red “How It All Blew Up”
Arvin Ahmadi brings in a strong read with a queer, Persian protagonist, Amir, who struggles to express his sexuality to his traditional parents. He flees to Italy to escape his impending outing, but his problems are never too far away. Eventually, they catch up to him and he’s interrogated by customs at the airport. Ahmadi does an incredible job articulating the struggles many young people face when trying to be their authentic selves. Ahmadi even called the book his “most personal book yet.”
Orange “Felix Ever After”
Kacen Callender tells the story of Felix Love, a nonbinary college student struggling to find love. Things get worse when an anonymous bully targets Felix’s transition by bringing up his old pictures and using his dead name. Callender takes a character with an extremely specific situation and uses it to reach audiences across the spectrum. Anyone facing loneliness, heartbreak and a desperate need to be loved will empathize with Felix and find the book to be a cozy read.
Yellow “An Unexpected Kind of Love”
Author Hayden Stone introduces the quiet, low-key protagonist, Aubrey Barnes, a local London bookstore owner. Aubrey isn’t looking for drama, but he finds it when an American actor, Blake Sinclair, saunters into his life. When Blake’s film crew eyes Aubrey’s failing bookshop as the perfect filming location, Blake and Aubrey start spending time together and falling in love. What happens next is a steamy affair rife with drama. Stone gifts readers with the perfect racy read to match the hot summer weather!
Green “If It Makes You Happy”
Claire Kann delivers the perfect summer read with this book. The main character, an intensely lovable girl named Winnie, has just graduated high school and is spending her summer before college working in her family’s small-town diner. Winnie struggles with her weight — or rather, people in the small town she lives in commenting on her weight — while simultaneously juggling relationships with her platonic girlfriend and her dreamy crush, Dallas. Kann uses Winnie as representation for many different identities long underrepresented in YA books.
Blue “Song of Achilles”
Finally, Madeline Miller brings to life the Achilles/Patroclus story in the way that it’s meant to be told! Long gone is the boring and tragic “Iliad” version covering the end of their relationship; instead, here is their glorious relationship from its conceptual beginning where they forge an inseparable friendship that eventually turns into a deep love. Anyone who has read the “Iliad” knows how it ends, but it’s still a beautiful love story perfect for readers to soak up over the summer. Miller handles the historical fiction genre and classical myth narrative with grace and glory.
Akwaeke Emezi delivers a monster-strewn, magical realist tale led by Jam, a transgender girl who is convinced an extinct monster is still roaming around her utopian town. The book will have readers contemplating the idea that people are willing to risk lives by simply refusing to acknowledge that bad things and bad people exist. Jam is a character and hero desperately needed in the book world and it will have readers on the edge of their seats. Emezi focuses on the choices that everyone has even when the people around them refuse to acknowledge the existence of a threat.
Rainbow “This Book is Gay”
Capping off the rainbow is James Dawson’s “instruction manual” for sexuality. Here is a book for any reader, no matter their identity, that covers a wide variety of topics, ranging from stereotypes to politics. It will end Pride month with an uplifting message on top of tons of information. Some readers may find it overly simplified or attempting to put everyone into a labeled box, but the book is more of a springboard for investigating all things LGBTQ+. It is a quick and informative opinion book where Dawson attempts to make queer topics more mainstream.
Currently, YA books featuring more diverse and well-written characters come out every day. There were so many books considered for this article that didn’t make the list and so this is just a teeny slice of what books are perfect for Pride 2022. Hopefully, the Pride Month spirit sticks around throughout the year so readers can discover all the great, representative books out there.