When you hit the beach this season, don’t forget to bring a good book. Here are our picks for Summer 2014’s hottest LGBT titles.
Shirts and Skins
As a kid, Josh made big plans to leave his wrong-side-of-the-tracks hometown of Hamilton, Ontario, behind. He fulfills that dream by moving to Toronto when he’s of age, but soon find himself facing many of the same insecurities and making similar mistakes to when he was an adolescent. Classic case of ‘you can take the boy out of Hamilton, but you can’t take the Hamilton out of the boy.’ By Jeffrey Luscombe. From $15.23; amazon.com
Second Son: Transitioning Toward My Destiny, Love, and Life
Transgender and non-transgender readers alike will be captivated by the story of Ryan Sallans, born Kimberly Ann Sallans, who details the many tumultuous chapters of his life. Sallans explores each era – from infancy and childhood to body-obsessed teenage girl to the transition from female to male – with plenty of bumps along the way – with a bravery and honesty that’ll make you pine for a happy ending. From $9.95; amazon.com
The Reappearing Act
Coming out in the world of college sports is a hot topic these days, and ESPN’s Kate Fagan tackles the issue in this coming-of-age memoir. In her emotional but humorous personal story, Fagan details the struggles and anxiety of trying to hide in the closet and living a lie to finally embracing her sexuality and revealing her true self to her basketball team – which just happens to be comprised of born-again Christians. From $11.95; amazon.com
A Song for Lost Angels: How Daddy and Papa Fought to Save Their Family
As Kevin and his partner of 28 years balance two prominent careers – Kevin is a captain with the San Francisco Sheriff’s Department; Brian is a dancer with prominent West Coast modern dance companies – they embark on a journey that brings major changes to their lives in the form of medically at-risk newborn triplets that they opt to foster. All that’s well doesn’t necessarily end well in this poignant true story that begs the question: “What do you do the day after the worst day of your life?” By Kevin Fisher-Paulson. From $7.95; amazon.com
The Undead Sorceress
A mixed bag of LGBT supernatural beings – including vampires, sorceresses, zombies, and warlocks – populate Volume 1 of JF Garrard’s International House of Vampires series, at the heart of which is a bloodsucker-led modern civilization and a family feud that includes a not-so-sweet granny stealing her great-granddaughter’s soul. And you thought your clan had issues. From $5.99; amazon.com
Everything Leads to You
Talented young set designer Emi is a romantic at heart, finding the hidden beauty in the minute details of décor. Thriving in Los Angeles but struggling to find a partner with whom to share her optimism and joy, Emi’s unfortunate love life takes an unexpected turn with the discovery of a mysterious letter at Hollywood estate sale. As Emi follows the clues enclosed in the letter, she meets Ava, heir to a long-protected secret of a movie icon’s hidden life, and a course-altering prospect that she just can’t deny. By Nina LaCour. From $10.99; amazon.com
My Life, a Four Letter Word: Confessions of a Counter Culture Diva
When her Italian-American family rejected her after the birth of her mixed-race baby, Delores DeLuce hit the skids in search of a new place to call home and ended up with a makeshift family of misfits, including the legendary Divine, the Cockettes, various bad boys on Venice Beach, and her loving gay “husbands.” Her memoir includes encounters with John Waters and Joan Rivers, facing the pain of AIDs on the front lines, and being crowned Miss Alternative L.A., all while raising a kid as a single parent. With a little help from a few extraordinary characters, of course. From $3.99; amazon.com
Return to the Big Fancy: A Riotous Descent Into the Depths of Customer, Corporate, and Coworker Hell
A follow-up to his first book, Retail Hell, author Freeman Hall revisits the dog-eat-dog world of retail sales with a hilarious behind-the-scenes peek into the oppressive environment of corporate greed and ladder climbing, lifestyle-defining commission programs, and demanding customers who expect only the best. If you’ve ever worked at a mall, you can relate. From $11.99; amazon.com
Open: Five Filthy Bisexual Erotic Stories
Five prolific bisexual female writers – Tenille Brown, Sommer Marsden, Alison Tyler, Sophia Valenti, and Saskia Walker – detail their erotic encounters with both sexes in this easily consumed anthology of short stories. In case you needed a little more heat on the beach. From $3.49; amazon.com
Following Civil War II, Superior Protectorate, a sovereign government in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, is established in the not-too-distant future. Among its citizens are Miss Kristian and Miss Rhona who are approaching marrying age. Despite the forbidden prospect of same-sex marriage in the new nation, the young lovers embark on a quest for freedom and a life together against all odds. A touch of The Hunger Games with a lesbian vibe. By Zoe Amos. From $5.99; amazon.com
My Brother’s Name
Like many younger siblings, Jane looks up to her older brother John. But when John develops a mental illness, Jane follows suit, eventually assuming John’s identity and presenting herself to the world as if she were her brother. As Jane start to believe that she’s actually a young man named John, both their worlds – real and make-believe – are threatened by a never-ending chaos fueled by each sibling’s penchant for exerting control over the other. My Brother’s Name is a Lambda Literary Award finalist. By Laura Krughoff. From $9.99; amazon.com
Sisters Nina and Averil didn’t have an idyllic childhood thanks to their irresponsible mother, and their adult life is in danger of slamming into a brick wall, too. Nina, who often played caretaker to Averil, sacrificed medical school for her sister’s future many years ago, and Averil’s on the verge of squandering it. But when their mother suddenly comes out as a lesbian and introduces her partner to the family, the women’s relationships with one another takes an unexpected turn. By Susan Mallery. From $5.99; amazon.com
Miguel’s Secret Journal: The Four Corners of the Earth
Miguel isn’t your ordinary teen growing up in the gritty Bronx. In fact, his time on earth may be limited as he makes the transition from regular high school student to his ultimate destiny as the Archangel Michael. As if that isn’t enough for one teenager to handle, Miguel is torn between two special guys in his life who are both competing for his attention. This is the second book in the from-here-to-heaven series Miguel’s Secret Journal. By Armand Zeppa. From $2.99; amazon.com
Justice in an Age of Metal and Men
Avid sci-fi fans will want to strap in for this futuristic ride that takes a fictional look at an independent Texas overrun by outlaws and corporations. Sort of like if the Jetsons were thrown into the Wild West – with commentary on how sexual preference might not actually matter as much in a dystopian future. Where’s that time machine when you need it? By Anthony W. Eichenlaub. From $3.99; amazon.com
Living the Rainbow: A Gay Family Triptych
Three unique stories are tied together by common threads of hope after periods sorrow and hurt. Gay people in all three stories experience the pain of loss, the sorrow of loneliness, the scars left by homophobia, and the people profiled in all three vignettes find the strength to overcome their pain, ultimately learning to love again. By Hans M. Hirschi, from $24.73, amazon.com. Kindle version available from $9.99.
Dads: A Gay Couple’s Surrogacy Journey in India
A gay couple goes into uncharted territory when they recruit a surrogate mother for their child from India. The journey is explained in an entertaining yet serious manner, informing readers of legal and medical issues should they follow their same route. In the end, the reader will be touched as the couple gets to see and hold their baby son for the first time. Fun fact: This book was written while one of the fathers was on parental leave. By Hans M. Hirschi, available as an e-book on Kindle via amazon.com and on Nook via barnesandnoble.com (99 cents).
This book bears the subtitle “Joan Crawford Stars in ‘Your Fakebook Page Does Not Make You a F***ing Movie Star.” This unauthorized fake autobiography, “written by Mommie Dearest herself” from “pop culture heaven,” promises more than a laugh a page. You’ll definitely understand why with chapter names like “Stylish Diva Mother with a Disappointing Daughter: My Audition for Endora on Bewitched with Rescue by Gallant Uncle Arthur.” No pop culture icon, past or present, is safe from Joan’s scathing wit! By J.S. Hamilton, from $13.44; amazon.com.
We live in a Material World and many of us are Material Girls. For people who love weddings, celebrities, celebrity weddings, and everything else glamorous and famous, the book Weddings/365 gives you text and pictures for 365 celebrity weddings: one for every day of the year. For example, did you know Posh and Becks were married on July 4, 1999? And they’re still going strong! There are even stories of the marriages that failed, like Demi and Ashton, Prince Charles and Lady Di, and Liz Taylor’s eight marriages! (More than one of those marriages found their way to this beautiful coffee-table book.) By Harvey Solomon, from $9.04, amazon.com.
Mikey Rox is an award-winning journalist and blogger whose work has been published in more than 100 outlets across the world, including CNN.com, The Huffington Post, The Advocate, Instinct magazine, and Out.com, among many others. He lives in Manhattan with his husband and their cuddle-buddy furbaby. Connect with Mikey on Twitter @mikeyrox.