Ah October. It’s the month of spooks and high strangeness. And I’ll be sure to keep this in mind for my three book recommendations!
The simple idea of this monthly book brag is to help people, wherever they are on the sexuality spectrum, gain fresh perspectives. Not just on normalising the different sexualities, but on all the other weird and wonderful things that make life interesting.
Every month, I’ll share a great book that is unapologetically gay, and one that is wonderfully straight. The gay book may not necessarily be gay-centric; it could just include a great gay character. Same with the straight book.
And as an added bonus, I’ll share my favourite straight-talking book that will challenge your views about the world.
Come on, let’s get strange. It’s October after all…
Best Gay Book: The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern
The Starless Sea is by far one of my favourite gay books, all because the main character’s gayness is simply a minor plot point.
The story follows Zachary Ezra Rawlins, a student who finds a mysterious book in his local library. In it is a world of lovelorn prisoners, key collectors, nameless acolytes and a story that happened to him in his childhood. The inexplicable book leads him on a journey of self-discovery, starting with three curious clues: a bee, a key, and a sword. They lead him to a masquerade party in New York, to a secret club, and through a doorway to an ancient library hidden far below the surface of the earth — in search of the starless sea.
It is a magical book, compelling and remarkable, with a character who just so happens to be gay.
Best Straight Book: Severance by Ling Ma
Severance is a post-apocalyptic novel that is perfect in the current circumstances. At least in making us realise that Covid-19 is not as bad as Ling Ma’s terrifying plague.
Candice Chen, the main character, is devoted to routine and extremely introverted. So much so that she barely notices the plague sweeping across New York. It’s called Shen Fever. Soon entirely alone, Candice begins to blog about her life, photographing the empty streets and posting them under the pseudonym NY Ghost.
Cut to a few months later and Candice finds herself part of a survivors group, a quasi-religious group with a power-hungry leader named Bob. They’re traveling to a place called the Facility, a place Bob promises to be the start of their new life. But Candice sees Bob’s power as a trap.
It’s a dystopian nightmare that borders on dark, questionable comedy. A thought-provoking read with a marvelous straight character.
Best Straight-Talking Book: This Much Is True by Miriam Margolyes
If you follow Miriam Margolyes long enough, you’ll know she’s a straight-talking lady with the most endearing “potty mouth”. Which is precisely why her autobiography has made this list.
This Much Is True recounts all the juicy details of Miriam’s life, from childhood to growing old, and all the nitty gritty in between. This includes plenty of sex talk, trombonious farts, and awkward moments. Miriam is a stellar storyteller who has a way with words, which is also why I bought the audiobook. Even in her 80s, she has gifted voice.
She’s also not afraid to tell it like it is, offering necessary slaps at those who crossed her. Even I gasped at a few her digs. It just goes to show that this world is not as blissful as we wish it to be.
Miriam is a force to be reckoned with, and this book proves it.
Do you have a favourite gay, straight, or straight-talking book? Let me know in the comments!