I know it’s hard to believe amid 10,000-degree heat waves, but THE Queer Season™, is just around the corner. I’m talking about fall: land of pumpkin spice and salted caramel, cinnamon scented candles, soft sweaters and best of all, books! The autumnal gay stories are out and about, ranging from thoughtful poetry collections to girl-girl romcoms, to a rereleased classic that isn’t “Carol”! Here are my faves in order of release date, all available now or for pre-order. Cute snuggling partner(s) not included.
“Olivia” by Dorothy Strachey
“Call Me By Your Name” was a phenomenon in book form and on celluloid. Author Andre Aciman cites this 1948 novel about a boarding school student falling hard for her headmistress as one of his major influences, and wrote the foreword for the new edition of “Olivia.” Pull on your comfiest sweater, grab a cup of hot cocoa and dive into this early lesbian classic.
“Here is the Sweet Hand” by francine j. harris
Autumn is a soulful time of year, perfect for personal reflection before seasonal depression sets in. What better time to pick up this lovely collection of poems by acclaimed Black author harris, centering on the topic of female loneliness and sexual identity in the vein of icons like Toni Morrison. From politics to race to aging, this Lambda Literary Award winner covers it all and will leave you thinking for days.
“Moon Fever” by Ileandra Young
Still feeling hot as summer dies down? Reach for this erotic paranormal novel which follows badass Danika, whose recent job promotion involves taking down a dangerous werewolf pack–but things get complicated, fast. Enter Danika’s colleague and girlfriend Rayne, who also happens to be a powerful vampire. As the full moon approaches, will Danika and Rayne get the job done and control their explosive passion for one another? Author and fantasy maven Young spins a tale that’s both suspenseful and incredibly sexy.
“On the Square” by Brenda Murphy
I’m a sucker for chef romances–bonus descriptions of elaborate, delicious food!–but this trope can be overwhelmingly straight and white. This recent release from queer publishing house NineStar Press thankfully breaks the mold. Celebrity chef Mai Li moves back to her small hometown to reopen her parents’ restaurant and try to forget her cheating ex. Sparks fly when Mai meets contractor cutie Dale, but a storm throws a wrench into the renovation process and their budding relationship. Netflix adaptation, anyone?
“A World Between” by Emily Hashimoto
Queer folks love our coming-of-age stories: it’s a time when many of us start to realize our true identities. College students Eleanor and Leena meet on an elevator in 2004, and realize they have more in common than shared idealism. The romance doesn’t last, but when the two reconnect as adults, what does it mean for them and their respective partners? If you’ve ever wondered what happened to your first love, this is your book.
“The Times I Knew I Was Gay” by Eleanor Crewes
Alison Bechdel’s “Fun Home” put queer memoirs in cartoon form on the map, and now Crewes illustrates her own experience as a Catholic girl in London who slowly starts to figure out why she loves Willow on “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” so darn much. What makes this graphic memoir stand out is Crewes’s experiences of having to come out not once, but over and over throughout her young adulthood. Also, this book originated as a zine, and you can’t get gayer than that.
“They Never Learn” by Layne Fargo
What better way to celebrate Halloween than the latest from queer author Fargo? This female-driven thriller follows beloved English professor Scarlett Clark, who annually hunts and kills the most deplorable man at her university, and freshman Carly Schiller, who becomes a woman obsessed with revenge after her roommate is sexually assaulted. If you can’t wait until October, try Fargo’s debut “Temper,” a delicious queer revenge fantasy set in the Chicago theater community.
“Plain Bad Heroines” by Emily M. Danforth
Danforth’s “The Miseducation of Cameron Post” quickly became a young adult classic (and a film!), and her follow-up looks just as great. In 1902, three students at the Brookhants School for Girls form a secret society, and obsessive Sapphic love follows suit. When the girls’ dead bodies are found, the school closes for good…until a century later when a queer feminist author publishes a bestselling book about Brookhants. A movie adaptation soon follows, starring lesbian It Girl Harper Harper, and as on-location filming begins, the past comes back with a vengeance. Featuring illustrations by Sara Lautman, “Plain Bad Heroines” is a queer-horror icon in the making.
“The Secret Ingredient” by K.D. Fisher
Romance publisher Harlequin and its digital imprint Carina Press recently launched Carina Adores, an exclusively LGBTQ+ line. “The Secret Ingredient” is an enemies-to-lovers tale featuring single mom Adah, who’s just taken on an executive chef job in a small Maine town, and her professional rival, cafe owner and manic pixie dream girl Beth. Soon, clashes turn into kisses, but is there room for both businesses to thrive? I told you I love chef romances, and this one looks like a treat!
“The Freezer Door” by Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore
I’m getting serious “In the Dream House” vibes from this forthcoming essay collection, which explores the never-ending quest for connection in a world that mostly shuns anything outside the status quo. Seattle-based author Sycamore turns the lens on her own beloved city and the queer communities within it, warts and all. Unflinching and honest, it’s sure to stun readers in the best possible way.
SEXY BONUS: As I was writing this article, I stumbled upon the world’s hottest cover and immediately preordered the book it belongs to, “Moments in Ink.” Penned by New York Times bestselling romance author Carrie Ann Ryan, this novella chronicles a one-night stand between former lovers Zia and Meredith…that may become much, much more.
Whenever available, links are to Bookshop.org, a fantastic site who make it their mission to support independent bookstores (because Amazon gets enough business, am I right)? All profits from your orders can go to a local bookstore you select! Learn more about Bookshop here, and happy reading!