LGBTQIA+ Autumn Reads
By Rhys Wright, Becca Binnie and Rosie Green
With summer behind us and the cold weather beginning to set in, it’s the perfect time to curl up in bed with a good book while leaves fall from trees and rain pelts against your window. This is the season for hot drinks, knit scarves, early Christmas shopping and reading some real page-turners. With that in mind, we’d like to recommend some engrossing LGBTQIA+ books for you to get lost in this autumn. Whether you’re looking for a sweeping romance, back-to-school antics, spooky stories, or cosy autumnal vibes; these books have something for everyone.
Swimming in the Dark by Tomasz Jedrowski
If you’re interested in a gripping book to warm up with, Tomasz Jedrowski’s debut novel is a must-read. A gay romance with a political edge, this lyrical portrait of doomed love in early 1980s Poland is sure to leave you hooked.
While one-party communist rule is being challenged by the Solidarity movement, Ludwik Glowacki is sent to spend the summer in an agricultural camp to finish his degree. He falls for the more confident Janusz after lending him a contraband copy of Giovanni’s Room and the two of them go on an idyllic camping trip to the countryside.
But, what starts as a blissful summer romance can’t last forever. As autumn begins and the two of them have to make their own way in the real world, they find themselves heading in different directions. While Ludwik wants to support the budding protest movement, Janusz will do whatever it takes to escape the rural poverty he grew up in, even if that means rising through the party ranks and working for a government that kept databases of gay and bi men to supress political opposition.
Swimming in the Dark was published in 2020 after numerous towns in Poland declared themselves ‘LGBT-free zones’. Jedrowski’s novel is a timely attempt to shine a light on historical queerness in Poland that has been silenced by past and present homophobia. Yet, it’s also a celebration of Polish culture, looking back on the past and dreaming of a future where queerness can be openly accepted. Moving, enthralling and elegant, this is an autumn read you won’t forget.
Plain Bad Heroines by Emily M. Danforth
Plain Bad Heroines is the perfect wicked tale to get you into the spooky spirit this autumn! The story starts at The Brookhants School for Girls, a school with a dark and tragic past. In the early 1900s, Brookhants students Flo and Clara were brought together by their fondness for a scandalous memoir. The two fell beautifully in love, but a few months later were killed in a terrible wasp attack. All that was left by their bodies was the book…
A further three frightful deaths occurred before the school was closed down. Now, Brookhants is opening its doors again, set to be the subject of a controversial horror film. Looking to tell the story of the ‘Brookhants curse’, a cast of glamorous actresses begin filming. Soon enough, the line between past and present – and curse and Hollywood – begins to blur and nothing is quite as it seems.
Danforth’s writing will have you on the edge of your seat in this perfectly eerie tale, combining queer love, gothic horror and Hollywood satire – a must-read this autumn!
The Other Ones by Fran Hart
Looking at The Other Ones, you would probably think of chilly autumn days in jumpers, cosy evenings spent carving a pumpkin with friends, spooky nights surrounded by ghosts. You would not be disappointed. But while The Other Ones meets these expectations, it also flips them; hiding in this haunted house is a tender and emotional story about friendship, romance and family.
Sal shrouds his secrets in the mysteries surrounding his house, until Pax arrives and attempts to banish the ghosts with sage and lavender (halfway succeeding with smiles and laughter). A budding romance, along with the blossoming of new friendship, picks at the façade Sal has built up while his sister, sick of secrets, is on the verge of tearing it down altogether.
The grumpy/sunshine dynamic in this love story is sweet and, refreshingly, the fact that their romance is queer is never an issue. Sal, initially confused by Pax’s clashing clothes and frustrated by his fascination with ghosts, gradually warms to him and their accidental friendship grows into something more.
Fun, cute and emotional, this is a perfect book to curl up with on a chilly evening. So, grab a pumpkin spice latte, don’t get too jealous of Pax’s huge knitted jumpers and get cosy this autumn with The Other Ones!
We hope these recommendations offer you some nuanced LGBTQIA+ representation to keep you entertained this autumn and make the dark days just a little bit brighter.