What queer book have you chosen to share with our readers today?
Loveless by Alice Oseman was one of my favourite reads of 2020. It has a special place in my heart because it’s one of the first times I felt seen by a book. A Young Adult aromantic asexual coming-out story, Loveless is set at Durham University and follows fanfic-loving protagonist Georgia. As a romantic, she believes that she will find her happily ever after eventually, but soon begins to question why the romance that comes so easily to her friends is so hard for her. Although Loveless isn’t autobiographical, author Alice Oseman writes from experience and Georgia’s exploration of her identity as an aro-ace person hit home for me. A charming tale of acceptance that celebrates love in all its forms.
Why is this book one of your favorites?
As a reader in my thirties I’m moving away from Young Adult as a genre these days, but Alice Oseman’s books are the exception! Like the characters in her webcomic series Heartstopper and those in her previous novel Radio Silence, Georgia and her friends grapple with questions of identity, and specifically queer identity, in realistic ways. The characters are so endearing and believably teenage. I absolutely love how platonic relationships are prioritized in this book and how well Oseman develops each of Georgia’s friendships. Loveless is the first book I’ve read with such prominent aro-ace representation and it really is uncanny that I wound up reading this book about an aro-ace nerd who starts a Shakespeare Society with her friends at a time when I, an aro-ace nerd, was performing in weekly Shakespeare plays over zoom!
How would you describe yourself as a reader?
I’d describe myself as a voracious reader of diverse books, with a special fondness for science-fiction and fantasy. I love the creativity and escape that SFF offers as a genre and I feel like we’re living in a golden age of diverse SFF right now, which makes it an exciting genre to follow! Some of my best bookish friends read literary fiction and champion translated works though, and I’ve been picking up more of their recommendations, even when they’re outside of my comfort zone.
As a queer person, have books helped you explore or express your queer identity?
The biggest way in which books have helped me explore my queerness is through connecting me to other LGBTQIA+ readers and the broader queer community.
I was in my mid-twenties before I learned that there was a word for people like me who don’t experience sexual or romantic attraction. Even after I identified as asexual, it took me awhile to feel comfortable calling myself queer because I wasn’t sure if I would be accepted as part of the community or if I was “queer enough”. Strengthening friendships with other queer readers who share an interest in books and working with wonderful queer library workers on a regular basis have helped me to feel like I have a place within the queer community.
I didn’t see myself represented on screen or on the page when I was growing up. Too often it looked like a happy ending could only be achieved through a romantic relationship, a path that I knew wasn’t for me. It’s only in the last five years that I’ve started to see books with asexual and/or aromantic characters being released by mainstream publishers. I think shifts in the publishing industry will make it easier for teens and young adults exploring their asexuality these days, but I do wish there were more books targeted at adults with asexual and aromantic characters.
Other than reading, are there any queer nerdy recommendations that you would like to leave with our readers?
My go-to rec is Black Sails, but I think Roar Cat Reads has that covered, so I’m recommending In the Flesh, a 9-episode British show that is the most original take on a zombie apocalypse I’ve ever seen. The show is set a few years after “The Rising”, a period in which thousands of people around the world reanimated as zombies, wreaking havoc. Now a medication has been developed to restore consciousness to those who suffer from “Partially Deceased Syndrome” (PDS), but prejudice abounds. Pansexual protagonist Kieran is a sufferer of PDS who returns to his hometown and his family but feels guilty over what he did in his rabid state.
As far as other pursuits go, since April 2020 I’ve been part of Project Shakespeare, a group of friends who gather on zoom to perform Shakespeare plays, complete with props, costumes, and schtick. I’m naturally an introverted, shy person and it took a few months to come out of my shell, but if you have a safe and supportive group of friends I highly recommend acting out some Shakespeare as a queer and nerdy pastime!
Check out our Queer Lil Library for more book recommendations and reviews!