Everyone needs an expansive list of beach reads for summer, including the LGBT+ community. Summer has swept us away with heat waves, leaving us nothing to do but lounge in front of a fan or flee to the beach and read. We all know that a typical beach read requires read-it-in-one-sitting pacing, engaging themes and intriguing characters with a flare for drama.
Mystery and thrillers, romantic comedies and YA fantasy often include all three. But these aren’t the only books clutched in the hands of tanned vacationers. Who hasn’t hauled a massive book they finally have time to read on a weeklong beach trip? Or the classic you’ve had on your TBR list for … well, a while now.
Put aside the tear-jerkers and go for a queer beach read this summer. Add these LGBT+ beach reads for summer to your 2021 reading list. From the best page turner to steamy LGBT+ romance – these are our picks for the best summer books for 2021.
Mystery and thrillers
“Bath Haus” by P.J. Vernon
A forbidden bathhouse, a nightmarish encounter and a lie that escalates to thrilling twists. P.J. Vernon’s “Bath Haus” follows Oliver Park, a recovering addict who landed the perfect partner, a distinguished trauma surgeon named Nathan. One night of indiscretion and secrets takes Oliver away from the life he built and down a terrifying path. Readers won’t know who to trust.
“Wilder Girls” by Rory Power
If you couldn’t put down “Annihilation,” you’ll love this queer YA thriller. The Tox, an unidentified disease that manifests in deformities like second spines and talons, takes root in the students and teachers of Raxter, a boarding school for girls. Hetty, Byatt and Reese can’t trust their bodies, but they trust each other. When Byatt goes missing, Hetty and Reese go after her and make horrific discoveries along the way, both about the past and the future. “Wilder Girls” might hit a bit close to home after over a year dominated by a pandemic, but the mystery of the disease and the teen romance is worth it.
“Cemetery Boys” by Aiden Thomas
A paranormal book centering on a trans youth determined to validate his identity in the eyes of his Latinx parents? Put it on your TBR list! When Yadriel summons a ghost and can’t banish him, he teams up with said ghost, a Bay boy named Julian, to achieve mutual goals. The lovable characters make for a quick and entertaining read in the summer sun.
“One Last Stop” by Casey McQuiston
Nothing can shake the cynicism of August, a 23-year-old student working at a 24-hour New York institution that serves classic pancakes, until she meets “Subway Girl.” Jane is a charismatic punk lesbian who just happens to always catch the same train as August. It turns out, “Subway Girl,” aka Jane, is from the 70s and trapped on the train. August will have to dig up her sleuthing skills and toss away her impervious exterior to help Jane. Blending the genres of romantic comedy and mystery and throwing in some retro music and found family, “One Last Stop” makes a perfect read for an afternoon on the beach.
The classic you’ve been meaning to read
“Carmilla” by Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu
Predating the iconic vampire tale of “Dracula,” “Carmilla” demands to be read by every queer womxn who loves Gothic literature. This Victorian novella infused with slow-paced tension tells the story of a young woman seduced by a charismatic vampire, the titular Carmilla. If you need a break from fun in the sun, find a shady spot and lose yourself in the darkness of the original lesbian bloodsucker.
The terrifying thick book you finally have time to read
“The Priory of the Orange Tree” by Samantha Shannon
Political intrigue, dragons, forbidden magic and queer romance make for a dense and daunting read. Often likened to George R.R. Martin’s “Game of Thrones,” “The Priory of the Orange Tree" is a perfect high-fantasy read to check off your TBR list this summer. A queen without an heir and unaware of the mage protecting her interests reigns a world divided. Across the sea, a dragon rider is forced to make a life-altering decision. Download this onto your Kindle to make the book less intimidating. Besides, who could possibly fit this behemoth story into their suitcase?
LGBT+ 2021 must-read
“The Chosen and the Beautiful” by Nghi Vo
If your high school English teacher shot down your comments on queer subtext in “The Great Gatsby,” you’ll love this LGBT+ retelling of F. Scott Ftizergald’s classic of the American canon. Remember Nick’s love interest, the socialite Jordan Baker? Vo reinvents her as an adopted Asian girl exoticized by the dazzling characters of the Jazz Age. And she happens to be gay. While it’s a more entertaining read if you’ve already read “The Great Gatsby,” this book is definitely worth an afternoon or two on the beach.
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