Some Non-Speculative WLW Books I’ve Enjoyed

Y’all, reading science fiction has been hard lately. I don’t know what it is. Something in the air? Unfulfilled innate desires? The need to find hope in something more down-to-earth (hur hur) than a ship flying through space? 

I am not really worried about it, though. I am mostly concerned that I will not finish this novella before the library reminds me that it’s due back (again). I am mildly amused that it’s taken me more than a week to read the first book in a trilogy I had on my list for YEARS. Sometime soon I will sit down with these books and power through them. Just take an evening and sit and read and read and read. Despite my love for DNF’ing books that do not jive with me, I do believe in following through on my emotional commitments. And I am committed to these books! 

In any case, this—what do you call this, a slump? A wave?—is something I am embracing (what else am I going to do?). And I have been embracing it for quite a while. As a result, here is a handful of non-speculative books I’ve enjoyed featuring a queer cast or queer main characters. 

Honey Girl by Morgan Rogers

I am a sucker for good prose, and this book has it. The prose treats the main character like she’s a glass paperweight, tough when it needs to be but fragile when push comes to shove. I went into this book thinking it would lean more heavily on the romance end of things, but it’s really about our main character Grace Porter learning to take care of herself and redefine what it means to be the “best.” I read it all in a day, and I was crying through most of it. No, I am not sorry to admit that. 

She Drives Me Crazy by Kelly Quindlen

I am also a sucker for girls being dicks to each other, but only in fiction. This is the high school, fake dating, enemies-to-lovers book of my dreams. I loved that our main character was just as “toxic” as her ex-girlfriend that she wanted to make jealous, and part of her arc was learning to be more sympathetic to other people and more compassionate to the people she cared about. My preferences veer towards adult literature, so I do not know how this novel compares to other queer YA. In my limited experience, however, I would recommend this to others. 

New Ink on Life by Jennie Davids 

This is the first in a series that I hope expands beyond its current two novels. I have the second book on my shelf, ready to be read at any moment! For this book, I also really like the characters and how they came together. I liked how they both were challenged to grow because of the other. One had to learn to be true to herself in a way that I could relate so much to, and the other had to learn to cast aside her insecurities to be less of an asshole. 

I am realizing, as I write this article, that I love reading about assholes turning into nice people. Before writing this article, I knew that I love people who appear to be assholes but are really misunderstood creatures with hearts of gold. There is value in both stories! And I love them all. 

Far From Home by Lorelie Brown 

I think I read the words “demisexual main character” and “marriage of convenience” and “contemporary” in the same paragraph in describing this book and then got it from the library as soon as I could. This book for me came with all the feels and treated its subject matter with such compassion and tenderness that I had to wrap myself in a blanket burrito for a bit. Our demisexual main character is also dealing with an eating disorder, and she is marrying a friend of a friend who needs a visa to stay in the United States. Naturally, they fall in love, but they are not without their problems. 

Honorable Mention – One Last Stop by Casey McQuiston 

One Last Stop has a big speculative element driving the main plot of the book. Marketing terms are created to categorize where and how a book should be sold (and thus are fake but fake in the sense Wall Street is fake in that somehow a large chunk of the industry is managed by it). Which is to say, I consider One Last Stop a romance before I consider it a work of speculative fiction despite being both. I had a great time reading this book, so much so that I live-tweeted my thoughts on it, so I recommend it to others who are also looking for a great time. 

If you have some non-speculative queer books that you’ve enjoyed, please send the titles my way on Twitter!