by H. Bentham
Happy Pride! I know that we should be celebrating pride and all forms of love every single day, but it’s also fun to have a whole month dedicated to it. 🙂
Today, I will be recommending queer books I’ve enjoyed in the last three or four years that have given me joy and love (and sometimes even reprieve and understanding) that I think other readers would enjoy as well.
Before I begin, please know that I am a romance writer and a ~slow reader, and I have a fairly questionable memory, so that reflects heavily on the titles I pick up and the stories I enjoy. I’ve put some markers/categories with each title, as well as personal commentary on what I liked from it, to make it easier for you to find what you’re looking for. If I made any mistakes, however, please let me know. Also, if you know of similar titles that you think I might enjoy, let me know, too!
I’m not sure if all these are still readily available for purchase (because I tend to buy books in the heat of the moment and then take forever to get to them), but you can DM me @bentchbites on Instagram, and Iet’s see how we’ll get you new books!
Now, in no particular order, here are my Pride 2022 book recommendations:
You, Me. U.S. by Brigitte Bautista (Bi F/F Romance)
Jo and Liza’s story is near and dear to my heart because of its sincere representation of a seedier, grittier Manila that still shines a light on the beauty of the city. The thing that strikes me most about this is how it shows the power of choice and how certain decisions and sacrifices can inevitably drastically change lives. Also, the prose is *chef’s kiss.*
Encounters Series by Jack Harbon (M/M Romance)
Found this author years ago on Wattpad and Jack Harbon can do me no wrong! This series is one of the author’s more recent works and I love it because each story is fast-paced, witty, and laced with just a touch of taboo. Perfect for when you’re in for something spicy, yet endearingly sweet!
No Two Ways by Chi Yu Rodriguez (Bi F/F Romance)
This was my first Filipino read with a bisexual MC who’s not figuring out her sexuality, and I so loved how comfortable and proud AJ is with herself. She may be doubtful of her feelings towards LI Jackie, a little bit towards her ex, Axel, as well, but the love she has nurtured for herself is solid and that’s what I found so inspiring.
The Rat-Catcher’s Daughter by K.J. Charles (Trans F/M Ace Romance)
This is only a novelette, but all ~17k words hit right in this historical romance between a music hall singer and her admirer. That’s all I’m gonna say, but also check out other K.J. Charles titles too like Any Old Diamonds and the A Charm of Magpies series.
LGBTQ+ Kommunity 2019 – Komiket Anthology
A selection of short comics featuring queer stories and queer creators. Anthologies are often a mixed bag for me but it’s fun discovering new writers and artists through collections like this.
His Cocky Cellist by Cole McCade (M/M Romance)
What sold me was the blurb that said: “Take Pretty Woman.” Add BDSM. And then Make It Gay™. SOLD! Get this if you would like a book that’s emotionally stirring, racially and gender diverse, AND has a steamy romance between people from different social classes.
Kwentong Tibo Vols 1 & 2 by landlee (F/F Comic Strips)
These collections of comic strips are both adorable and relatable in a lot of ways! It’s quick and light and pokes fun at being queer in the PH. The second volume has more sad strips, imo, which I deeply appreciate because its simple honesty is totally refreshing.
Candy Hearts by Erin McLellan (M/M Romance)
I will admit that I was initially drawn to this by the cover, but it really was a fun read. It’s got a lot of tropes and dynamics I adore: age-gap, secret lovers, stormed-in, etc., and I also loved how funny a lot of the scenes were, without being too ridiculous.
The Impossible Boy, The Lost Boy by Anna Martin (enby/M Romance)
Set in contemporary London, this romance duology between a gender-fluid fashion designer and a badass guitarist. Both books deal with hard-hitting issues (eating disorders, addiction, etc.) so it might be a heavy read for Pride Month, but I liked how the author dealt with these issues and how love wasn’t the answer to everything, but it did help A LOT.
MILK! 00 and 01 by eroticmilk (NSFW zines)
Full NSFW comic zines by a local artist! Milk 01 has a short plot, but 00 is done in pr0n thumbnail style. I love all of this artist’s work especially the NSFW ones because it’s straightforward artsy smut, and it doesn’t pretend to be anything else. Also, follow the artist on Penlab! He’s got an ongoing serial, Ang Manananggal, that’s not queer (and it’s horror), but it’s so good!
Coffee Boy by Austin Chant (Trans M/M Romance)
I’ve read this a while back but I can still remember how pleased I felt reading through this office romance between a bi boss and the younger, trans coffee boy.
Boys Run The Riot by Keito Gaku (Trans Man YA Manga)
I only got to read the first volume of this, but it has an amazing YA representation of trans teens in contemporary Japan, AND Ryu’s character arc in this first volume hits the nail for me in terms of his struggle with his queer identity. It’s got awesome friendships, too!
So Forward by Mina V. Esguerra (Bi M/F Romance)
This book redefined “soft” as a character identifier in my head because Colin is a hardened athlete and Lexa, agh, she’s Hardcore™, but teehee, the two of them together is a swoony mush. And my god, the ways in which he allows her to unwind and let go, and inversely, how she manages to help him all the time, was just So Good.
My Brother’s Husband by Gengoroh Tagame (Gay Manga)
This two-volume manga series stands out to me because it depicts a facet of provincial Japan’s views on homosexuality in contemporary times. The themes of grief, estrangement, and found family were dealt with in a kind and heartwarming way, interspersed with bara aesthetics (which is amazing, I must say, hihi).
Goddess of the Hunt by Shelby Eileen (AroAce Poetry)
This poetry collection unapologetically presents the goddess Artemis as unbothered by romantic conquests for who she is internally, and not because of external things, and yet still it becomes a self-preservation mechanism of sorts too, later in her life, when she fully accepts her being a divine protector of the afflicted.
Check Please! by Ngozi Ukazu (Gay YA Graphic Novel)
Perfect for when you’re in the mood for something sweet and funny. It’s charming and adorable in ways that feel so natural, and while I did think the cute art style made it seem like this was gonna be dialed down on some adult language and themes, I’m so glad it still went hard! Hoping to get to read the second volume, too.
The Prince and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang (enby/F Graphic Novel)
The unconventional premise is the first thing that draws people into this, but I’m sure it’s the layered storytelling (and amazing art!) that makes it unforgettable. I think the way the conflict is handled in the story is remarkable, respectful for the enby representation, and that scene of acceptance, for Sebastian’s part, is fulfilling especially to anyone who’s had to go through something similar.
My Monster Boyfriend (Gay NSFW Comics Anthology)
This features 10 original shorts that absolutely did not hold back on the steam department. It’s not only diverse in terms of ethnicity and sexuality of the pairings, but also in the monster rep. The beloved vampires and werewolves are here (in an unexpected and hilarious story, I have to note) but there are also harpies, gargoyles, salamander-dragon creatures, an android, and more!
On my TBR:
- The Doctor is in Love: A Medical Romance Anthology (specifically The Days of Rain and Flowers by EK Gonzales)
- Learned Reactions by Jayce Ellis
- Wing of the Locust by Joel Donato Ching Jacob
- Taproot by Keezy Young
- The Magic Fish by Trung Le Nguyen
- Chef’s Kiss by Jarrett Melendez & Danica Brine
Shout out to besfluencers Chachic and April, the #romanceclass community, and Bookbed for putting a lot of these books into my radar AND forever enabling my book hoarding tendencies!
Anything to share? :)