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The Rainbow Connection

We’ve got 18 important books to honour Pride Month, a time to celebrate and reflect on LGBTQ lives, history and culture / BY Nathalie Atkinson / June 9th, 2022


Whether you’re interested in biographies, cultural history or a cozy mystery, our roundup of the best recent LGBTQ+ titles will entertain and illuminate your Pride Month.

Obsessive Book Buyers: Zoomer editors have carefully curated our book coverage to ensure you find the perfect read. We may earn a commission on books you buy by clicking on the cover image.

1The Kingdom of Sandby Andrew Holleran

In 1978, the American author’s Dancer from the Dance became a classic of post-Stonewall queer American literature, and this is the first new novel in 16 years by Holleran, now 78. Slowly paced and told in a circular style, it follows an unnamed narrator living in Florida (itself a character in the book), who survived many losses in the AIDS epidemic, as he grapples with lust, despair, aging and the encroaching loneliness of invisibility, while craving human connection. (June 7)


2Bad Gaysby Huw Lemmey and Ben Miller

Based on their incredibly popular irreverent podcast series, the Barcelona- and Berlin-based hosts interrogate the villainization of gay individuals with a contextual history that reframes the conversation about queer lives. Their editor says it’s a book “that Oscar Wilde would have clasped to his chest,” where subjects range from ancients like the Emperor Hadrian and Victorian sex workers to Ronnie Kray, one of the notorious London gangster twins, to U.S. political operative Roy Cohn.


3Queer Spacesco-edited by Adam Nathaniel Furman and Joshua Mardell

This atlas, with stories, is a fascinating look at LGBTQ+ architectural history. Furman, the London-based artist, and Mardell, a British architectural historian, use more than 90 examples from all over the world, ranging from conventional spaces made queer by virtue of their inhabitants to gay-friendly community meeting places (like a bookstore in Glasgow or an ice cream shop in Havana) and residential refuges.


4And the Category Is … by Ricky Tucker

The now-classic 1991 documentary Paris is Burning and Madonna’s music video for “Vogue” thrust the ballroom scene into the cultural mainstream. Ballroom, not to be confused with WASPy social dancing, is the underground subculture founded more than a century ago by LGBTQ African American and Latino men and women in Harlem. The North Carolina writer and past LAMBDA emerging writer fellow, now a part-time lecturer at the New School in New York, pens a celebratory look at the community’s history and vital cultural legacy.


5It was Vulgar & It Was Beautifulby Jack Lowery

The SILENCE = DEATH graphic defined the HIV/AIDS activist movement, and this book – recounting the story of the Gran Fury art collective (and its strategic work with ACT UP) – grew out of Lowery’s master’s thesis at New York’s Columbia University. The tone is of the younger generation looking back, indignantly, at history through the work of the influential group of provocateurs, whose community-made propaganda campaigns were a powerful rebuttal to capitalism and the establishment during the AIDS crisis.


6Like & Subscribe for Murderby Elle Kleos

Arriving on the heels of the latest Kardashian branded wedding, this queer cozy murder mystery features a non-cis protagonist (detective Sam) investigating a murder on a luxurious island resort during the grand wedding of two social-media superstars. Written by a Canadian audiobook producer now based in California, their astute (and funny) observations about the sleight-and-mirrors of spon-con influencer culture also benefit from being perfectly timed to the zeitgeist.


7Queer Countryby Shana Goldin-Perschbacher

The first in-depth examination of contemporary LGBTQ+ country music and the Americana genre, this book by a Temple University music professor based in Nashville covers the lives and work of artists like Lil Nas X and Lavender Country pioneer Patrick Haggery – including legendary Canadian k.d. lang, of course.


8Secret Cityby James Kirchick

Journalist Kirchick, who writes for Air Mail and Tablet, delves into the American capitol’s closets to excavate the hidden history of gay Washington (and bipartisan homophobia) since the Second World War. “Even at the height of the Cold War, it was safer to be a Communist than a homosexual,” he writes of American politics, where secrecy, persecution and fear turned homosexuality into a national security threat, and even affected how the Reagan administration (mis)handled the AIDS crisis.


9Legends of Dragby Harry James Hanson and Devin Antheus

The authors, both drag queens, artists and Milwaukee natives, embarked on this four-year portrait project, an anthology that profiles “queens of a certain age” (and whose ongoing work has been featured in Vogue), to celebrate “a glorious legacy of gender transgression that spans hundreds of years,” as Sasha Velour writes in the foreword. The 79 portraits – including Portland’s Darcelle XV, who, at 91, holds the Guinness record for oldest working drag queen – attest to the power of using beauty to create enduring space for oneself, and the importance of archiving queer history.


10Until it Shimmersby Alec Scott

The debut of Canadian writer and journalist Scott, now based in Oakland, Calif., is about the coming-out and sexual reckoning of a young Torontonian from a privileged family. The title borrows from old Bon Appetit recipes, which instruct the cook to heat oil “until it shimmers,” and that’s what the protagonist Ned does, of a sort. The heart of this coming-of-age novel is a complicated mother-son relationship, and along the way Ned careens into Thatcher and AIDS-era London nightlife. Out of the frying pan and into the fire, as it were.


11Bi by Julia Shaw

Shaw, a London-based criminal psychologist, member of Princeton University’s Queer Politics think tank and founder of the Bisexual Research Group, considers the science, culture and history of sexuality, beyond gender. She examines bisexuality in the animal kingdom, deconstructs heterosexual norms and expectations, as well as how (Kinsey scale aside) bi individuals are still largely invisible in research on sexuality.


12I Was Better Last Nightby Harvey Fierstein

This instantly iconic memoir by the iconic Broadway performer and playwright (with a slew of Tony Awards for Torch Song Trilogy, La Cage Aux Folles, Hairspray and Kinky Boots), gay activist and lifelong New Yorker will make you laugh and cry. It’s worth listening to the audiobook, narrated by the indelibly gravel-toned entertainer himself, since you’ll already be hearing his voice in your ear on every page.


13This Has Always Been a Warby Lori Fox

This debut from Fox, a queer and non-binary journalist who lives off-grid in Whitehorse, and whose work has appeared in the Guardian, the Globe and Mail, and the Walrus, is a collection of essays at the frontline of the cultural moment. The subtitle, “the radicalization of a working-class queer,” makes it clear their interwoven personal angles are meant to stir the pot on politics and race, class and gender struggles – tackling both small injustices and big ideas, and inspiring conversation and activism.


14Glitterby Nicole Seymour

Sparkle! This fun new addition to Object Lessons, my favourite series of short pop culture books about the hidden lives of ordinary things, tackles the meaning of a seemingly frivolous substance. To Seymour, a professor of English and Queer Studies at California State University, the material’s aesthetic and cultural history are potent, ranging from its origins as an environmentally toxic micro-plastic to its entanglements in queer politics, like the glitter bombings of homophobic and misogynist politicians over the past decade and products like glitter beer that are marketed to LGBTQ+ communities.


15Fire Islandby Jack Parlett

Pride and Prejudice recently went full pride with the arrival of Fire Island, the entertaining and poignant queer retelling of Jane Austen’s classic (now streaming on Disney+). This American poet and scholar’s book is an account of the notorious Long Island summer setting, beginning with its Native American inhabitants to its rise as a gay resort destination. It delves into the literary lights – like James Baldwin, Frank O’Hara and Patricia Highsmith – who visited, and the area’s important influence on culture and queer liberation in the past century, as well as who and what was lost during the AIDS epidemic. (June 14)


16Rainbow Rainbowby Lydia Conklin

American writer Lydia Conklin’s work has appeared in Tin House and The Paris Review, and her collection of raw and compassionate short stories – one of the season’s most anticipated books – takes readers into the lives of queer, gender-nonconforming and trans characters.


17Funny Gyalby Angeline Jackson with Susan McClelland

Jackson, the young lesbian human rights activist and HIV/AIDS educator, famously stood up to Jamaica’s oppression of queer youth, and this memoir shares her story as a survivor of rape and forced conversion therapy who went on to create safe spaces for LGBTQ communities in Jamaica. Its working title was “The Power of One Person,” a phrase taken from President Barack Obama’s 2015 town hall address in Kingston, which singled her out as a young leader. (June 21)


18Immoral, Indecent & Scurrilousby Gerald Hannon

We’d be remiss if we didn’t highlight Hannon, the award-winning queer Canadian journalist, radical sex-positive activist and key figure in the gay liberation movement, who died in May (at the age of 77) on the eve of his highly-anticipated memoir. It was years in the writing, and Hannon’s colourful (and often controversial) life and career, coupled with his forthright voice and talents as a writer, guarantee this important record will also be a page-turner. (July 16).


THE SCROLL

Brian Thomas Isaac’s “All the Quiet Places” wins $5,000 Indigenous Voices AwardThe B.C. author, a retired bricklayer, drew on his childhood growing up on the Okanagan Indian reserve for his coming-of-age story set in 1956


Canadian-American Author Ruth Ozeki Wins Women’s Book Prize for “The Book of Form and Emptiness”The UK judges said her fourth novel, inspired in part by the Vancouver Public Library, contained "sparkling writing, warmth, intelligence, humour and poignancy."


The Bill Gates Summer Reading List Includes a Sci-Fi Novel On Gender Inequality Suggested by His DaughterBill Gates' summer reading list includes fiction and non-fiction titles that cover gender equality, political polarization and climate change.


American novelist Joshua Cohen wins the Pulitzer Prize for fiction for “The Netanyahus”The 2022 Pulitzer prizes include this satirical look at identity politics, focused on the father of former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, at a crucial time in the Jewish state’s history


Margaret Atwood, Alice Munro Among Canadian Authors Recognized in Commemorative Reading List Marking Queen’s Platinum JubileeThe authors are among six Canadian scribes included on the The Big Jubilee Read list.


Queen Elizabeth II’s Aide Reveals Details of Life in Royal Pandemic Lockdown in New Addition to BookAngela Kelly, who's worked for the Queen for 20 years, discusses everything from cutting the Queen's hair to "the light and laughter that was shared ... even in the darkest moments."


New Leonard Cohen Story Collection, ‘A Ballet of Lepers,’ Set for October ReleaseThe collection features a novel, short stories and a radio play written between 1956 and 1961.


Archived Letters Reveal How Toni Morrison Helped MacKenzie Scott Meet Future Husband Jeff BezosBezos hired Scott at the hedge fund where he worked after receiving a recommendation from Morrison. Shortly thereafter, the pair married and Scott helped Bezos launch Amazon.


Prince Harry’s Memoir is Set to Rock the MonarchyFriends say the California-based royal got a million-pound book deal to write "an intimate take on his feeling about the family."


European Jewish Congress Asks Publisher to Pull Anne Frank BookThe Congress says 'The Betrayal of Anne Frank' has "deeply hurt the memory of Anne Frank, as well as the dignity of the survivors and the victims of the Holocaust."


Canadian Author Details Anne Frank Cold-Case Investigation That Named Surprise Suspect in Her Family’s Betrayal in New BookAhead of the 75th anniversary of the publication of Frank's 'The Diary of a Young Girl' in June, a team that included a retired FBI agent and around 20 historians, criminologists and data specialists identified a relatively unknown figure as a leading suspect in revealing her family's hideout.


Man Who Tricked Authors Into Handing Over Unpublished Manuscripts Arrested by FBI in New YorkFilippo Bernardini, an employee of a well known publication house, has been arrested for stealing hundreds of unpublished manuscripts.


Hollywood Legend Betty White Has a Last Laugh in New Biographic Comic BookThe creators of the biographical comic book have released similar books about Hollywood legends like Carrie Fisher, Lucille Ball, David Bowie and Elizabeth Taylor.


Barack Obama Reveals His List of Books That Left “A Lasting Impression” in 2021Obama's favourite 2021 reads include two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning author Colson Whitehead's 'Harlem Shuffle' and 'Klara and the Sun,' by Nobel Prize-winning author Kazuo Ishiguro


“Interview With the Vampire” Author Anne Rice Dies at 80 — Tributes Pour in From Stuart Townsend and OthersThe author, who was best known for her work in gothic fiction, died on Saturday evening as a result of complications from a stroke.


Norma Dunning wins $25,000 Governor General’s English fiction prize for ‘Tainna’The Edmonton-based Inuk writer explores themes of displacement, loneliness and spirituality in six short stories


Omar El Akkad wins $100,000 Giller prize for “What Strange Paradise”The former Globe and Mail reporter, who published "American War" to acclaim in 2017, tackles the global migrant refugee crisis in his second novel


South African Author Damon Galgut Wins the Booker Prize For ‘The Promise’Galgut received nominations for his 2003 and 2010 works before finally taking home the prize this year. 


Hollywood Legend Paul Newman Discusses Life, Acting and Aging Gracefully in Newly Discovered MemoirPublishers of the newly discovered memoir say the Hollywood legend wrote the book in the 1980s in response to the relentless media attention he received during that time.


Here’s What You Need to Know About the Toronto International Festival of AuthorsDirector Roland Gulliver lands in Toronto to open his second, much-expanded virtual festival with more than 200 events


Tanzanian Novelist Gurnah Wins 2021 Nobel Prize in Literature for Depicting the Impact of Colonialism and Refugee StoriesGurnah, 72, is only the second writer from sub-Saharan Africa to win one of the world's most prestigious literary awards


Miriam Toews Garners Third Giller Prize Nomination for “Fight Night” after Shortlist AnnouncedSophomore efforts from novelists Omar El Akkad and Jordan Tannahill join debut books from Cheluchi Onyemelukwe-Onuobia and Angélique Lalonde


Tina Brown’s New Book, ‘The Palace Papers’, Covers the Royal Family’s Reinvention After Diana’s Tragic DeathTina Brown's sequel to her 2007 release 'The Diana Chronicles' is set to hit shelves April 12, 2022. 


Audible.ca Releases Andrew Pyper’s Exclusive Audiobook “Oracle” For New Plus Catalogue LaunchThe thriller about a psychic FBI detective is one of 12,000 titles now available for free to members


Barack Obama and Bruce Springsteen to Release Book Based On Their “Renegades” PodcastThe new book will feature a collection of candid, intimate and entertaining conversations


Prince Harry Will Publish a Memoir in Late 2022Harry says he's writing the book "not as the prince I was born but as the man I have become."


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