Recommended Books for Adults in support of LGBT History Month 2020
Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit by Jeanette Winterson
Like most people I lived for a long time with my mother and father. My father liked to watch the wrestling, my mother liked to wrestle; it didn’t matter what.” — Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit This is the story of Jeanette, adopted and brought up by her mother as one of God’s elect. Zealous and passionate, she seems destined for life as a missionary, but then she falls for one of her converts. At sixteen, Jeanette decides to leave the church, her home and her family, for the young woman she loves. Innovative, punchy and tender, Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit is a few days ride into the bizarre outposts of religious excess and human obsession.
The Hours by Michael Cunningham
The Hours is a daring and deeply affecting novel inspired by the life and work of Virginia Woolf. In 1920s London, Virginia Woolf is fighting against her rebellious spirit as she attempts to make a start on her new novel. A young wife and mother, broiling in a suburb of 1940s Los Angeles, yearns to escape and read her precious copy of Mrs Dalloway’. And Clarissa Vaughan steps out of her smart Greenwich village apartment in 1990s New York to buy flowers for a party she is hosting for a dying friend. Moving effortlessly across the decades and between England and America, this exquisite novel intertwines the stories of three unforgettable women.
Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh
Written at the end of the World War II, this novel mourns the passing of the aristocratic world which Waugh knew in his youth and recalls the sensuous pleasures denied him by the austerities of war. In so doing, it provides a study of the conflict between the demands of religion and of the flesh.
Death in Venice by Thomas Mann
Death in Venice tells the story of Gustav von Aschenbach, a successful but aging writer who follows his wanderlust to Venice in search of spiritual fulfillment that instead leads to his erotic doom. In the decaying city, besieged by an unnamed epidemic, he becomes obsessed with an exquisite Polish boy, Tadzio. “It is a story of the voluptuousness of doom,” Mann wrote. “But the problem I had especially in mind was that of the artist’s dignity
The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters
It is 1922, and London is tense. Ex-servicemen are disillusioned, the out-of-work and the hungry are demanding change. And in South London, in a genteel Camberwell villa, a large silent house now bereft of brothers, husband and even servants, life is about to be transformed, as impoverished widow Mrs Wray and her spinster daughter, Frances, are obliged to take in lodgers. As passions mount and frustration gathers, no one can foresee just how far-reaching, and how devastating, the disturbances will be.
Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Café by Fannie Flagg
The day Idgie Threadgoode and Ruth Jamison opened the Whistle Stop Cafe, the town took a turn for the better. It was the Depression and that cafe was a home from home for many of us. You could get eggs, grits, bacon, ham, coffee and a smile for 25 cents. Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe is a mouth-watering tale of love, laughter and mystery.
The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller Greece in the age of heroes. Patroclus, an awkward young prince, has been exiled to the court of King Peleus and his perfect son Achilles. Despite their differences, Achilles befriends the shamed prince, and as they grow into young men skilled in the arts of war and medicine, their bond blossoms into something deeper – despite the displeasure of Achilles’s mother Thetis, a cruel sea goddess. But when word comes that Helen of Sparta has been kidnapped, Achilles must go to war in distant Troy and fulfill his destiny. Torn between love and fear for his friend, Patroclus goes with him, little knowing that the years that follow will test everything they hold dear.
Tell the Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt There’s only one person who has ever truly understood 14-year-old June Elbus, and that’s her uncle, the renowned painter, Finn Weiss. Shy at school and distant from her once inseparable older sister, June can only be herself in Finn’s company; he is her godfather, confident, and best friend.
Ghost Wall by Sarah Moss Teenage Silvie is living in a remote Northumberland camp as an exercise in experimental archaeology. Her father is an abusive man, obsessed with recreating the discomfort, brutality and harshness of Iron Age life. Behind and ahead of Silvie’s narrative is a story of a bog girl, a sacrifice, a woman killed by those closes to her, and as the hot summer builds to a terrifying climax, Silvie and the Bog girl are in ever more terrifying proximity.
Call me By Your Name by Andre AcimanThis is the story of a sudden and powerful romance that blooms between 17-year-old Elio and his father’s house guest, Oliver, during a restless summer on the Italian Riviera. What grows from the depths of their souls is a romance of scarcely six weeks’ duration, and an experience that marks them for a lifetime.
This is How it Always is by Laurie Frankel Rosie and Penn always wanted a daughter. Four sons later, they decide to try one last time – and their beautiful little boy Claude is born. Life continues happily for this big, loving family until the day when Claude says that, when he grows up, he wants to be a girl. As far as Rosie and Penn are concerned, bright, funny and wonderful Claude can be whoever he or she wants. But as problems begin at school and in the community, the family faces a seemingly impossible dilemma: should Claude change, or should they and Claude try to change the world?
A Ladder to the Sky by John Boyne A psychological drama of cat and mouse, ‘A Ladder to the Sky’ shows how easy it is to achieve the world if you are prepared to sacrifice your soul. If you look hard enough, you can find stories pretty much anywhere. They don’t even have to be your own. Or so would-be writer Maurice Swift decides very early on in his career. A chance encounter in a Berlin hotel with celebrated novelist Erich Ackermann gives him an opportunity to ingratiate himself with someone more powerful than him. For Erich is lonely, and he has a story to tell. Whether or not he should do so is another matter entirely. Once Maurice has made his name, he sets off in pursuit of other people’s stories. He doesn’t care where he finds them – or to whom they belong – as long as they help him rise to the top.
Inseparable: Desire between Women in Literature by Emma Donoghue
Love between women crops up throughout literature: from Chaucer and Shakespeare to Charlotte Bronte, Agatha Christie, and many more. In ‘Inseparable’, Emma Donoghue examines how desire between women in literature has been portrayed, from schoolgirls and vampires to runaway wives, from cross-dressing knights to contemporary murder stories.
Proud by Gareth Thomas The autobiography of former Welsh rugby player Gareth Thomas, who represented Wales in both rugby union and rugby league. Thomas announced publicly he was gay in 2009, making him the first openly gay professional rugby union player.
Good as You by Paul Flynn ‘Good As You’ is the 30 year history of British gay culture – from the identification of the HIV virus in 1984, through Manchester’s self-selection as Britain’s gay capital, to Eastenders’ Colin and Barry’s first primetime televised gay kiss and the real-time romance of Elton John and David Furnish’s eventual marriage. Including candid interviews from major protagonists such as Kylie, Russell T. Davies and Holly Johnson, as well as the relative unknowns crucial to the gay community, Flynn charts the fight for equality both front of stage and in the wings.
Pride and Joy by Sarah and Rachel Hagger-Holt ‘Pride and Joy’ is a practical, positive guide for lesbian, gay, bi and trans parents. It draws on experiences and advice from a diverse range of LGBT parents and their children.
The Oldest Gay in the Village by George Montague Born in 1923, George Montague has seen many changes in his lifetime, few greater than the attitude towards being gay – attitudes that saw him criminalised for the sin of loving another man. This charming, funny book is a unique social history from a truly remarkable man.
Becoming Nicole by Amy Ellis Nut This is the inspiring true story of a transgender girl, her identical twin brother, and an ordinary American family’s extraordinary journey to understand, nurture, and celebrate the uniqueness in us all.
Philomena by Martin Sixsmith ‘Philomena’ is the tale of a mother and a son whose lives were scarred by the forces of hypocrisy on both sides of the Atlantic and of the secrets they were forced to keep. A compelling narrative of human love and loss, Martin Sixsmith’s moving account is both heartbreaking yet ultimately redemptive.
Trans Britain edited by Christine Burns Over the last five years, transgender people have seemed to burst into the public eye. From our television screens to the ballot box, transgender had suddenly become part of the zeitgeist. This apparently overnight emergence, though, is just the latest stage in a long and varied history. The renown of Paris Lees and Hari Nef has its roots in the efforts of those who fought for equality before them, but were met with apathy and often outright hostility from mainstream society. ‘Trans Britain’ chronicles this journey in the words of those who were there to witness a once invisible community grow into the powerful movement we recognise today.
Somebody to Love-The Life, Death and legacy of Freddie Mercury by Matt Richards Including interviews from Freddie Mercury’s closest friends in the last years of his life, along with personal photographs, ‘Somebody to Love’ is an authoritative and humane biography of the great man.
Theft by Finding: Diaries Volume 1 by David Sedaris The point is to find out who you are and to be true to that person. Because so often you can’t. Won’t people turn away if they know the real me? You wonder. The me that hates my own child, that put my perfectly healthy dog to sleep? The me who thinks, deep down, that maybe The Wire was overrated? For nearly four decades, David Sedaris has faithfully kept a diary in which he records his thoughts and observations on the odd and funny events he witnesses.
Gentleman Jack-the biography of Anne Lister by Angela Steidele Anne Lister was a wealthy Yorkshire heiress, a world traveller and an out lesbian during the Regency era – a time when it was difficult simply to be female. She wrote her diary in code derived from Ancient Greek, including details of her liaisons with women. Liberated by her money, she remained unmarried, opened a colliery and chose to dress all in black. On inheriting Shibden Hall, Anne chose to travel abroad, before returning to Halifax and courting Ann Walker, another wealthy heiress twelve years her junior. They renovated Shibden Hall together and considered themselves married, to the horror of Walker’s relatives. The biography combines excerpts of Lister’s own diaries with Angela Steidele’s erudite and lively commentary.
Finding Stevie by Cathy Glass When Stevie’s social worker tells Cathy, an experienced foster carer, that Stevie, 14, is gender fluid she isn’t sure what that term means and looks it up. Stevie, together with his younger brother and sister, have been brought up by their grandparents as their mother is in prison. But the grandparents can no longer cope with Stevie’s behaviour so they place him in care. Stevie is exploring his gender identity, and like many young people he spends time online. Cathy warns him about the dangers of talking to strangers online and advises him how to stay safe. When his younger siblings tell their grandmother that they have a secret they can’t tell, Cathy is worried. However, nothing could have prepared her for the truth when Stevie finally breaks down and confesses what he’s done.