Hello everyone (or seeing as I have a handful of followers, remember that this was a blog you decided to follow?) I have finally gotten around to posting on here again. I stopped posting for a while (close to a year) as I had a lot on, from writing my dissertation, to doing my exams, to graduating (with a 2:1, yay!), to being unemployed/sporadically employed as a tutor for while, to getting a full-time job at the start of March. I now work in corporate governance which is… Yeah so I know it’s not for me, but I’m trying to work out what I can/want to do with my life. Apart from knowing that I want to read books all day and write (which I am pouring as much time as I can into), I’m pretty adrift at the moment, and it’s hard. I’ll try to stick out this job as long as I can, but it constantly feels like it’s grinding a bit more of my soul away every day, which isn’t ideal.
HOWEVER I really want to get this blog properly running, and talk about my reading as well as my writing. I’m not going to set any particular day/amount of times I’m going to update this, mostly because work can be unpredictable, more so as it’s now the peak season, but I’ll try to do it fairly regularly. Thus, without further ado, I will get started with my Top 5 LGBTQ+ Books/Authors!
For those who don’t know, Top 5 Wednesday is a Goodreads group for book bloggers/booktubers/book podcasters/book enthusiasts in general, and more information can be found here.
The theme today is your top 5 LGBTQ+ books/authors, and I have a terrible confession to make: I haven’t read a lot. Seeing as I am bisexual myself, this is bad, and I am trying to remedy this. For this reason, I didn’t have a large pool to choose from, and I have decided not to do them in order of preference – they all stand within my top five equally. I am listing them purely in the order I read them.
- Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit by Jeanette Winterson – I read this very recently, only a couple of days ago in fact, when I went back to my parents’ house with my boyfriend for Easter. I was very close to finishing The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch (which I thoroughly enjoyed, more than I thought I would actually), and I was pretty sure that I would finish it on the train journey home. Instead of taking another book with me, as space was tight, I decided to borrow this from my mum. I had given it to her as a present a few Christmases before, and she has been recommending it to me for a while. It is a modern classic, serving as a fictionalisation of Winterson’s experience of growing up as a lesbian within a conservative evangelical church in the Midlands. It’s a fairly short book of just over 200 pages, and the prose is both beautiful and minimal. Winterson does a fantastic job of showing rather than telling, and this is a deeply personal, rather than polemical, piece of art. I’m a sucker for ambiguity and bare bones description, and this ticked a lot of boxes for me, particularly as it also featured a legend woven into the narrative.
- Virginia Woolf – Admittedly, I had a couple of issues with putting Woolf on this list, as although I like her writing style and her intentions, there are some difficulties in reading her in the modern day. I’ve only read A Room of One’s Own and, more recently, Jacob’s Room, so I do not have hugely extensive knowledge of her writing, but her feminism is definitely classist, and I am aware that some trans critics have described parts of her writing as transphobic. I recognise this, and we shouldn’t ignore these criticisms, but I find her writing extremely engaging, and her development of stream of consciousness narrative was extremely important within English literature.
- The Color Purple by Alice Walker – I read this a couple of years ago, and I actually read it to expand my reading of black literature, especially as I enjoyed Push by Sapphire, which was inspired by the book. The story revolves around a young, uneducated black woman living in the Deep South in the 1930s, and her struggle for personal freedom. She is forcibly married to an older man, and eventually befriends and falls in love with his mistress, who helps her to achieve independence. It’s a very important book on many levels, and I especially wanted to include it because the LGBTQ+ movement should be as inclusive as possible, and too often PoC voices are sidelined.
- Wilfred Owen – Embarrassingly enough, I didn’t actually realise that Owen was gay until I came to write this article, but this was probably due to the fact that I have only read parts of his war poetry when I was studying A Level English Literature. I am not particularly interested in poetry, as evidenced by its lack on my Goodreads books and general commentaries. I understand and appreciate the complexity of poetry, but most of it isn’t for me. However, I absolutely adore Owen’s poems about WWI, particularly ‘Dulce Et Decorum Est’, as a rallying cry for the pacifist movement. His poetry is haunting, tender, and fiercely political, and his association with Siegfried Sassoon at a mental hospital for PTSD sufferers only makes me like him more.
- Fingersmith by Sarah Waters – This could apply to a number of Waters’ books, of course, but I have only read Fingersmith, and I greatly enjoyed it. I actually read it a long time ago, as in, over ten years ago (oh dear God I feel old) when I was in Year Seven. Admittedly, I might have been a little young to read this at the age of twelve, but I was fairly well educated in terms of sex and relationships, and I was very interested in the book from both a romantic and historical perspective. I’m still a big fan of historical fiction, and I have fond memories of this book. It’s an excellent look at gender politics in the 19th Century, sexuality and pornography, and the dangers of being under a man’s control. It is also written in engaging prose that makes for an enjoyable, nuanced read.
That’s my top 5 for this week! Please let me know if you have any suggestions for LGBTQ+ books to expand my repertoire, or would like to comment about anything in the article. I hope to write another post perhaps later this week, but I may not have time until the weekend. If anyone is still following this, welcome back – I’ll try to do better this time!