Book Recs for Pride Month 2024

by Matt Cain

From rom-coms to historical fiction, Becoming Ted and The Secret Life of Albert Entwistle author Matt Cain has some books you’ll want to check out for Pride Month and beyond!

Wild Things by Laura Kay

I loved the first two rom-coms by Laura Kay but Wild Things made my heart sing. It opens with a New Year’s resolution to ‘Be More Wild’ and becomes a tale of unrequited love on a queer commune in the countryside outside London. Like Kay’s previous novels, it has a great cast of characters, stirring lesbian sex, stacks of charm, and so much queer heart. 

Kiss of the Spiderwoman by Manuel Puig

I studied languages at university and one of the books I enjoyed most was this queer classic about two very different men sharing a prison cell in 1970s Argentina. Valentin is a straight political revolutionary while Molina is a gay window dresser imprisoned for sexual offences. In order to take them away from the horrors of their situation, Molina recounts some of the plotlines from his favourite popular, escapist cinema. They eventually progress from mutual mistrust to a tender, loving – and sexual – relationship.

Young Mungo by Douglas Stuart

How is it possible that Douglas Stuart’s second book is even better than Shuggie Bain? I’ve no idea but Young Mungo off-the-chart good, a gut-wrenchingly vivid portrayal of working-class Glaswegian life and forbidden first love, with some shockingly dark twists. It left me in awe!

Mother’s Boy by Patrick Gale

Mother’s Boy is a historical novel about closeted queer poet Charles Causley, who lived in Cornwall, in south west England. It’s gorgeously written and gently gripping, the characters are brilliantly drawn, the setting beautifully evoked and the themes tenderly explored. I think it’s Gale’s best yet! 

My Policeman by Bethan Roberts

This novel tells the story of a female schoolteacher and a gay museum curator who both fall in love with a handsome policeman in 1950s Brighton, on the south coast of England. Silence and secrecy are the only ways through what becomes a complicated and very tense love triangle and an unspoken understanding sets in – until one of the trio cracks and their world is shattered. This terrific book is written from multiple points of view but has a consistent ring of authenticity. The characters are terrifically drawn and the insights into the realities of gay life and a sham marriage in the 1950s are fascinating and very moving. 

Real Life by Brandon Taylor

This book is set on a university campus somewhere in the Mid West of America and follows black, gay science student Wallace as he negotiates the challenges thrown up by work, friendships and romantic relationships over the course of one very intense weekend. It’s beautifully written, brilliantly observed and expertly paced, and its emotions are drawn with a tenderness that took my breath away. I was rooting for Wallace so hard that I sometimes caught myself shouting my encouragement out loud. I feel like this book enriched me, gave me a better understanding of humanity and made me a better person.

And Then He Sang A Lullaby by Ani Kayode Somtochukwu

This book is astonishing. A gay love story set in present-day Nigeria, it’s beautifully written but the experiences it explores are shocking, sobering and stirring. It’s left me heartbroken but feeling privileged to have read it – and excited to see what Ani Kayode Somtochukwu writes next!

The Guncle by Steven Rowley

I loved this book and, as a guncle myself, empathised HARD! It’s fun and frothy and bursting with wit. But it’s also woven through with serious wisdom and is a tender, touching exploration of grief. A real winner!

Giovanni’s Room by James Baldwin

This is a queer classic and a beautifully written, tightly structured gem of a novel. I find it incredible that Baldwin had such a clear, deep understanding of gay shame and the impact this can have on our relationships with others back in the 1950s. Years before my generation felt we were discovering it for ourselves!

The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller

This is possibly my favourite book of all time. Written by Classics scholar Madeline Miller, it re-works the Greek mythology related in The Iliad, Homer’s epic account of the Trojan War. It hones in on the relationship between heroic warrior Achilles and his devoted companion Patroclus. Their relationship is never fully explained but Miller was so intrigued by the little that Homer did write that she decided to fill out the story herself – and she interprets their relationship as a gay romance. What she’s written is nothing short of magnificent. I’d even go as far as saying you’ll never read a more beautiful account of romantic, lustful, intimate love – gay or straight.

A Man Called Ove meets “Ru Paul’s Drag Race” in this vibrant, joyful, universally relatable story about kindness, self-acceptance, and blooming at any age from the acclaimed author of the LibraryReads and Indie Next Pick, The Secret Life of Albert Entwistle.

If Ted Ainsworth were to compare himself to one of the ice cream flavors made by his family’s company, famous throughout his sleepy Lancashire hometown, it might be vanilla—sweet, inoffensive, and pleasantly predictable. At forty-three, Ted is convinced there’s nothing remotely remarkable about him, except perhaps his luck in having landed handsome, charismatic Giles as a husband.

Then Giles suddenly leaves him for another man, filling his social media feed with posts about #newlove and adventure. And Ted, who has spent nearly twenty years living with, and often for, another person, must reimagine the future he has happily taken for granted.

But perhaps there is another Ted slowly blossoming now that he’s no longer in Giles’s shadow—funny, sassy, more uninhibited. Someone willing to take chances on new friendships, and even new love. Someone who’s been waiting in the wings too long, but who’s about to dust off a long-ago secret dream and overturn everyone’s expectations of him—especially his own. . .