Hi, all! I hope you’re reading hard and staying safe. You know how there are some Read Harder tasks where you wonder how you could possibly find a book to read for it? This one was the complete opposite — there are just too many amazing debut novels by queer authors! The diverse mix of books below barely scratches the surface. As per the new usual, all of these books are available digitally through Overdrive or Hoopla.
I love when poets write novels. “On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous” completely took my breath away. On almost every page, there are lines so beautiful I want to get them tattooed on my forearms so I can read them all the time. Ocean proves that he is up to long-form writing with amazing character development. Spanning from his Vietnamese mother escaping the war to the current opioid epidemic, the generational trauma and all of the complexities that accompany it are so palpably felt in this novel.
“Texts From Jane Eyre” is exactly what it sounds like: text conversations from classic literary characters. Daniel Mallory Ortberg imagines the classic canon, but with smartphones. Be warned that you will need to have read the books to which it is referring to fully appreciate the humor, but it is full of valuable lessons. For example, don’t text and drive. That lesson comes courtesy of Daisy Buchanan.
Kristen Arnett has a hilarious Twitter, so I can only assume that she brings the same wit and insight into her novel, “Mostly Dead Things.” The protagonist, Jess-Lynn Morton, struggles to cope with her father’s suicide as she takes over his failing taxidermy business. The rest of her family employ a variety of idiosyncratic coping mechanisms, including her mom sneaking into the shop at night to put the animals into artistic displays. As a side note, if taxidermy appeals to you at all, I would recommend checking out this book, which sparked a lot of joy for me.
“Red, White, & Royal Blue” is a sweet romance that centers around Alex Claremont-Diaz, the charming son of the President of the United States. Over the course of attempting to smooth over the strained relationship between himself and Prince Henry of Britain, the two fall in love. But what does their secret relationship mean for international relations and Alex’s mother’s campaign?
Hannah Kent’s “Burial Rites” is the well-researched fictionalized account of Icelandic maid Agnes Magnusdottir, who was charged with the murder of her employer and executed in 1829. Because there is no prison in the area, Agnes must await her fate at a local farm, much to the chagrin of the family who owns it. When she is not laboring on the farm, Agnes confesses her heartbreaking story of the local priest.
Sarah Gailey’s fantasy novel, “Magic for Liars,” follows private investigator Ivy Gamble. After a gruesome murder at Osthorne Academy for Young Mages, where Ivy’s magically gifted sister Tabitha teaches, Ivy is hired to investigate. This quirky mystery has everything — twists, romance, magic, and so much more.