The main criticism about movies is that you don’t get the characters thoughts and true emotions, the audience can not fully experience what it’s like to live through the moments that are happening. It can be frustrating to want to know what it’s truly like for each of the characters in the story whether it be nonfiction or fiction. That is the whole point in reading, to understand another person or culture and grow from it. Below are a list of LGBTI books that are highly rated for their insight and literary quality. Many of these books are read in educational courses or ranked on best sellers list.

Tipping the Velvet is a coming of age story of two women who fall in love in 1890s England written by Sara Waters in 1998. Waters is a writer of several books, including Fingersmith and The Little Stranger which have each won awards and been ranked on best seller lists. Tipping the Velvet is a historical romance centered around a woman who begins to follow and obsesses over a male impersonator. Once the two meet, they begin a career and romance. The book was adapted into a miniseries by BBC directed by Geoffrey Sax and starring Rachael Stirling and Keeley Hawes.

Fingersmith is a romance drama story about two women who fall in love during unusual circumstances written by Sara Waters in 2002. Waters is a writer of several books, including Tipping the Velvet and The Little Stranger. Fingersmith follows a woman who is asked to gain the confidence of a wealthy woman so that she may con her out of her money. During the con, the two women begin to form a romantic bond. It has won the Man Booker Prize and the Orange Prize.

Annie on My Mind is a 1992 romance novel by Nancy Garden focusing on two teenage girls. Garden has also authored Endgame and Good Moon Rising which won a Lambda Literary Award. The book follows two friends who fall in love over time even though they are being pressured by family and friends to end it. This book has been banned in many schools and won several awards for its readability and in-depth description of lesbian experiences among teenage girls. BBC dramatized the novel on the radio shortly after its release.

The Miseducation of Cameron Post is a 2012 young adult novel by Emily M. Danforth who has authored no other titles. The book is a coming of age story centered around a twelve-year-old girl living in Montana who begins to explore her sexuality that results in her being sent to a conversion camp. It received high praise for its ability to give detailed insight into the life of a young girl discovering her homosexuality. Danforth won a Montana Book Award for the novel and was a finalist for a LAMBDA Literary Award. In 2018, Desiree Akhavan directed a movie based off the novel that won an award at Sundance.

Rubyfruit Jungle is the debut novel for best selling author Rita Mae Brown who writes mystery novels such as Fox Tracks and Cat of the Century. It was released in 1973 to instant acclaim and positive reviews. The book is a coming of age tale following a teenager as she explores her sexuality with other women and men. Brown has stated that it is an autobiographical novel that recounts her own youth. After being out for over two decades, the book and author received the Lee Lynch Classic Book Award in 2015.

The Song of Achilles is a 2011 debut novel by historical fiction novelist Madeline Miller author of Circe. It was a New York Times Bestseller and explores the homosexual relationship between Achilles and his friend Patroclus. The novel depicts the Trojan War while detailing the passionate and close friendship the two men experience during the battle. When it was released, The Song of Achilles won the Orange Prize for fiction and the Gaylactic Spectrum Award for Best Novel.

Every Heart a Doorway is a 2016 novella by Seanan McGuire who writes the series October Daye and InCryptid. McGuire won several best novella awards for the book including the Locus and Nebula Award. It is the first in the Wayward Children series that focuses on teenagers in a fantasy world where they have each been returned to the real world after having been abducted into fairy lands and other fantastical worlds. The book follows an asexual teen girl as she gets acclimated to the home for “found” children where she meets other LGBTI characters who have been returned from their various fantasy realms.

Down Among the Sticks and Bones is a 2017 fantasy novella by Seanan McGuire who has written many best-selling books and series. It is a follow-up to the novel Every Heart a Doorway which was released in the previous year. The novel follows characters explored in her series Wayward Children. This novella focuses on twins, one of which is a transgender teen, as they fall into a fantasy world and explore their separate identities. It explores coming of age and transgender themes.

Though reading fiction gives a person sympathy, reading nonfiction gives a person knowledge and allows them to start to understand on a more cognitive level. Taking classes in LGBTI rights and communities allows students to gain access to certain materials and books, but these are a few nonfiction LGBTI books that anyone can read without being in an academic program. These books center around civil rights for LGBTI communities and ways to take action to help.

Try This at Home! is a 1996 nonfiction book written and published by the ACLU Lesbian and Gay Rights Project director, Matthew A. Coles. This is the only book to date for this author. It explores and gives information on how to improve society laws and policies at home, schools, and other communities. There are suggested strategies and information on how to build support for LGBTI individuals, write policy, campaign organization, and more. The book also includes vignettes from people who have done things in their community that have benefited LGBTI people.

Listen, We Need to Talk is a 2017 nonfiction book by lecturer Brian F. Harrison and Professor Melissa R. Michelson. In the book, authors explore a new theory that they call The Theory of Dissonant Identity Priming that lays out a way of communicating that helps change a person’s opinion about strong held beliefs. It is a helpful text for those who are looking to work in politics and other community positions where speaking with others on controversial issues is a large component. Michelson and Harrison provide data and experiment findings to support their theory.

Seeing Straight: An Introduction to Gender and Sexual Privilege is a 2016 nonfiction book by authors Jean Halley and Amy Eshleman. Halley has written other books like The Parallel Lives of Women and Cows: Meat Markets and Seeing White: An Introduction to White Privilege and Race. Eshleman has authored other books including one with Halley, Seeing White, and California Prehistory. Seeing Straight is an introductory text for people who are interested in gender and sexuality politics. It provides key terms and definitions, as well as, theories and research to familiarize readers with the topics.

Reading is a great way to learn about a different culture than yours or to understand your own better. Above the books are aimed to give insight and help to those who want to explore the difficulties that members of the culture face and how to improve the situation on a large and small scale. Taking a moment to explore these books and read these novels is a great way to begin, continue, or deepen your knowledge and compassion for those in the LGBTI community.


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