Feeling Seen: 7 Queer Books to Add to Your Summer Reading List

June 15, 2021
K.B. Wagers

Hey Knix! I’m K.B. Wagers, a non-binary author of science fiction currently living in Colorado Springs, CO where the weather has finally warmed up and the blue sky is wrapped around the Rocky Mountains like your favorite summer beach blanket.

As we roll into June and Pride Month I wanted to share seven books I’ve read recently that I’ve loved. All these books have some form of queer rep on the page and may potentially also be written by queer folx, but out of respect I’ve chosen not to note that here. Readers can check out the respective authors’ social media pages to see if they have chosen to discuss it there! 

display: full

Trans Like Me by CN Lester

This compelling non-fiction work by musician, author, and activist CN Lester is a deep dive into both their personal history and the many discussions that are currently swirling around about trans people and what it’s like for us to live in this world. It was at times a difficult and painful read, but the undercurrent of Lester’s determination to help make this world a better place is undeniable. It's the kind of hope I know I have sorely needed after the last few years. 

Unconquerable Sun by Kate Elliott 

When I first heard the pitch “queer, genderbent Alexander the Great in space” I slammed my wallet on the table. That excitement hasn’t waned now that I’ve actually gotten to read Elliott’s amazing space opera. I always feel like I’m channeling Stefon from SNL— this book has everything: political intrigue, sexual and gender equity, assassinations, space battles, and echoes of Greek history. It is everything I wanted in a book this year.

Fireheart Tiger by Aliette de Bodard 

Speaking of everything I wanted, de Bodard’s beautiful novella is both seductive and dangerous as the fire for which it is named. It's a gorgeous story of an empress’s daughter trying to find her feet, even as she struggles with the trauma of a deadly fire in her past and an abusive relationship with a princess on the other side of the negotiation table. It is, in the end, a story about love and how sometimes we have to walk through the fire to get what we truly want.

The Space Between Worlds by Micaiah Johnson

You know when you have to put a book down because you just can’t take the suspense? That happened to me so often reading Johnson’s amazing speculative fiction about multiverses and a woman who can travel between worlds because her other selves have a talent for dying. I was hooked from the first page by this utterly complex, at times heartbreaking (you try seeing the person you love look right through you as if you’re a stranger and see if it doesn’t break your heart) story about relationships and revolution, revenge and salvation, and how to walk between worlds both the ones out there and the class divisions we create right here at home. It was a triumphant book that kept me guessing right until the end, which is very hard to do. 

American Hippo by Sarah Gailey

If you love hippos and are fascinated by alternate history, you want to check out this compendium of Gailey’s novellas following the adventures of a group of cons and outlaws as they run a job that gets them into some dangerous waters and as you know any water with hippos in it pretty much qualifies! I love all of their writing, but this collection I think is one of their best. 

Syncopation by Anna Zabo

I love all the stories about the rock band Twisted Wishes, but hold a special place in my heart for the first book as it was my entry into the world. I am a sucker for the past history trope of old crushes reappearing and the exchanges between Ray the lead singer and Zavier, their new drummer, simply hits that spot. It’s a love story with an aromantic which I really appreciated and felt was handled so beautifully in the text itself. Zabo writes both hot love scenes and more tender emotional moments with equal deftness, and I truly love their other stories set in this world. 

On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong

I have only just started reading this but even just a few chapters in I knew I wanted to include Vuong's work here because the prose is so stunning even as the story being told is devastating. It is a story about the enduring trauma of war, the pain of America’s razor sharp boundaries to the immigrants who shape her, and above all the beauty of living on this Earth through it all. 

You can also check out my upcoming military science fiction adventure HOLD FAST THROUGH THE FIRE about an Interceptor crew of the NeoG (think Space Coast Guard) learning about trust, betrayal, and what truly makes a family stick together. This book is a companion novel to A PALE LIGHT IN THE BLACK and drops on July 27th. 

display: split
K.B. Wagers is the author of the Indranan and Farian War trilogies from Orbit Books and the NeoG Adventures from Harper Voyager. They are a fan of whiskey and cats, Jupiter Ascending and the Muppets. You can find them on Twitter @kbwagers and Instagram @midwaybrawler for political commentary, plant photos, and video game play-throughs.