It's June and Pride 2018 is officially under way with everyone at Serpent’s Tail geared up for a summer of reflections and celebrations. We’ve trawled our shelves that are bursting with some of the best in LGBT+ literature; we’re in the throes of creating a mammoth playlist of pride party anthems; and a bunch of us managed to bag ourselves tickets to see Britney do Brighton this August.

Over the next few weeks we’ll be sharing an exclusive extract from Gentleman Jack, the extraordinary biography of Anne Lister we’re publishing this November, as well as launching special competitions on Twitter to win copies of our favourite queer books.

But first up, staff recommend their fave queer reads that would make any TBR pile Proud. Be sure to check back for part two when we invite our authors to share theirs ...

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CECILYEat Up

'This is a story about hunger' writes Ruby Tandoh about realising her queer identity in Eat Up! But that doesn’t mean deprivation: instead, Ruby means hunger in the best sense of the word, an exuberant appetite for the diverse, delicious tastes and sensations the world can offer us. From The Rocky Horror Picture Show’s Frank N Furter to the pancakes she cooked for her fiancée the morning after their first date, Moonlight to the queer trailblazers who revolutionised the food scene throughout the twentieth century, Eat Up! celebrates food as a source of pride, a manifestation of love and a defiant statement of identity.

Jayn CountyDREW

One of my favourite books from the Serpent’s Tail archives is Man Enough to be a Woman: The Autobiography of Jayne County by Rupert Smith. A true original, County (pictured) was a pioneer of punk, a Warhol superstar, a Stonewall rioter and the first openly transsexual rock star. Honest, spirited and with zero fucks given, County’s autobiography tracks her life from young sissy-boy to film actress, punk singer to prostitute, and shows just how influential she has been on pop and rock culture around the world.

RACHEL Fingersmith square

I remember reading Sarah Waters’ Fingersmith when I was about 13. It was at night, under the bedcovers during a regular sleepover at my best friend’s house. A perfect setting for such a darkly delicious, gothic read.

RUTHIE

Many of my favourites are about disguise - of gender, sexuality, desire - out of necessity, fear, persecution, rejection. Olivia by Dorothy Strachey,  Virginia Woolf's Orlando, The Price of Salt aka Carol by Patricia Highsmith, Fingersmith by Sarah Waters, Ali Smith's How to Be Both,  Michael Cunningham’s The Hours. In generations to come, let's hope that disguise will be just for sheer pleasure and playfulness.

Fun HomeLOUISA

Fun Home by Alison Bechedel is a fierce, intelligent and beautifully drawn story of exploration and discovery – it’s one of those books to reread countless times, and lend out just as often.

The Autobiography of Red by Anne Carson is probably one of my favourite books of all time – the poetry is gorgeous and surprising, and Geryon the most achingly human character.

Glitter and Blood

ALIA

I can almost guarantee you haven’t read anything else like A History of Glitter and Blood. A post-modern fantasy with a VERY unreliable narrator, it’s my favourite book about fairies - not the gossamer winged creatures of Rackham – these fairies live in a war torn city of steel and smoke. These fairies have to watch out for cannibal gnomes and carry the still living remains of their families around in jars. These fairies create new families out of the ruins of their old lives and are sometimes surprised by the results. This book is more than worth the effort.

 

ANNA-MARIEAnna-Marie

Michelle Tea is a writer whose work I really treasure. She represents a very particular Third Wave feminist, west coast USA outlook and moment in time. Her work chronicles turn-of-the-century Californian counterculture and the figure of the queer grrrl outsider with a kind of optimistic belief that there is Another Way to live. And who hasn’t wanted to run away to 1990s San Fran in a blur of eyeliner and red hair dye? Tea has long explored issues around community, belonging and identity as well as bohemian poverty and addiction. I love her graphic novel Rent Girl (2004) and recent autofiction-apocalypse-experience Black Wave (2016).

Paradise Rot isn’t out until the autumn and I was lucky enough to read an early proof courtesy of Verso a couple of months ago. Jenny Hval is an incredible Norwegian polymath who writes books, makes music (including the album Blood Bitch which was inspired by her favourite book, I Love Dick) and has the best author photo ever. Her debut is a short and dreamy bildungsroman about Jo, a student newly arrived in a mysterious grey country who ends up falling into a vague and delicious coupling with her housemate. In the meantime their apartment grows and decays around them into a mossy and overgrown Eden in which she’s not sure whether she’s drowning or coming up for air. It’s really quite gorgeous with a bit of WTF.

Eileen MylesFLORA

Somehow I hadn’t heard of Eileen Myles before their editor announced we were publishing them. Immediately I was drawn in: a queer rock star poet who once ran for president and went out with Jill Soloway? Yes please. And their writing did not disappoint: full of life, and life’s setbacks, tough, raw and revolutionary, Eileen Myles’ I Must Be Living Twice was everything I’d hoped for. Their poetry is a celebration of finding one’s way in the world; also of eccentricity and otherness (a perfect fit for Pride). Here are 10 things we found out about Eileen Myles – prepare to be amazed!

ALI

 Brother by David Chariandy (pictured) is a beautifully written story (with not a single word wasted) – about family, love, grief, race, sexuality, loneliness; all underpinned by an aching sense of sadness and anger that this is the shit world we are living in right now.