(Queer) Love is in the Air
I know I'm a little early, but due to my every other week posting schedule, here's an obligatory Valentine's Day themed post! As a genre, romance is either ignored or ridiculed and I can only conclude that this derision is deeply rooted in literary sexism. The genre is populated by mostly female writers and readers, which makes it easy to dismiss romance novels as "beach reads" or the written equivalent of "chick flicks." However, romance can be well written, thoughtful, and have literary value. (But, even if it doesn't, what's wrong with that? What's wrong with reading for pure enjoyment? A topic for another post...) On a positive note, the tendency to ignore romance has actually made it a more accepting space for LGBTQ+ writers. Queer love stories are becoming more common, but romance (and YA) are the spaces that have been most welcoming. So, in honor of this Hallmark holiday, here are a few (mostly queer) romance books that I recommend:
1. Heartstopper -- Alice Oseman
This graphic novel series has a simple premise, two teenage boys fall in love, but Oseman's art style is appealing and the story is funny and sweet. Heartstopper began as a webcomic back in 2016, but in 2018 with the help of Kickstarter, Oseman began editing and transferring the story into graphic novel format. Despite having four volumes so far, the webcomic is still updated regularly. The graphic novel is definitely worth it, but if you're tight on cash or want a taste of the story before going all in, you can find the webcomic here.
2. The Price of Salt -- Patricia Highsmith
Better known as Carol, this novel is a classic f/f (female/female) love story. Published in 1952, under the pseudonym Claire Morgan, the story was revolutionary and it remains a must read for all fans of queer romance. I'd definitely recommend checking out the movie as well (when you finish of course). It's on Netflix!
3. Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe -- Benjamin Alire Sáenz
This award-winning YA m/m (male/male) love story is beautifully written and manages to tackle complex family relationships, trauma, and Mexican-American identity, all without losing the story's romantic foundation. Last year, Sáenz confirmed that he finished a sequel, but the release date hasn't been announced yet. Also, if you prefer audio books, this one is read by Lin-Manuel Miranda!
4. Normal People -- Sally Rooney
I haven't read this book yet, but I've lost count of how many times it's been recommended to me; from friends to a random woman in a bookstore (remember when we used to go to those?) Since people seem to be obsessed with it, I've included it in this post. It also serves as this list's heterosexual representation :)
5. The Feminine Pursuits series -- Olivia Waite
I haven't read this series yet, but each novel is a self-contained f/f romance, so the books don't need to be read in order. A friend recommended the second book, The Care and Feeding of Waspish Widows, to me. Her selling points involved the Georgian era, middle-aged English women, printing, and beekeeping, so do with that what you will. The third book has an expected release date of June 15th.
6. Written in the Stars -- Alexandria Bellefleur
This f/f romance came out in November so I haven't read it yet but I had to include it on the list because it has one of my all time favorite tropes--a fake relationship. I am a sucker for two people falling in love while pretending to be in love and this novel looks adorable.
Pride and Prejudice -- Jane Austen
Yes, Austen is in Bloom's canon, but no romance list is complete without P&P. Elizabeth and Darcy are an iconic couple and Austen is the queen of the romance genre. (Also, the 2005 adaptation with Keira Knightley and Matthew Macfadyen is one of my favorite movies of all time).
Happy Valentine's Day everyone! And don't forget to check in on the 19th for a special post celebrating Black History Month!