Reading is how I stay alive. Sometimes a book is a fun break from the real world, and other times one buoys me during the heaviest parts of my life. Here is a list of the ten books (or series) that took root inside of me over the last decade.
#1: The Ruby Oliver Quartet
This series carried me through the end of high school and into adulthood. It’s witty and fun (think Mean Girls) but also deals with the parts of growing up that aren’t really popular in mainstream young adult fiction, like learning that you are responsible for your own closure, and that there is no such thing as a happy ride-off-into-the-sunset end. It’s messy and real, like most of e. Lockhart’s books.
Also, Ruby Oliver totally helped me understand my panic attacks.
#2: Deadpool: Suicide Kings
I know. I’m the only person in the world who likes Deadpool. But this was the first comic series I became obsessed with. I fell in love with the dark humor. Also, I think the first time I heard the term pansexual was in relation to Deadpool. So thanks for the help with figuring out my own orientation, Gerry Duggan!
#3: The Hunger Games
I first read this series after the sudden death of my ex-fiance. I felt like other books and movies in this genre lacked realistic depiction of the effects of being a part of violence. These books helped me navigate my own trauma, and Katniss’s determination to be strong, and to be “something to hold on to” for the people that die around her also taught me who I wanted to be when dealing with my father’s terminal illness. She also helped me mold my idea of what love should be.
#4: The Buffy the Vampire Slayer Comics
I loved the comics for the same reason I loved the show; fantastical, sometimes campy stories that are usually metaphors. The end of the show got brave for it’s time with it’s queer content, and the comics pushed it even further. I lived for the gay storyarchs, particularly Willow’s and Andrew’s. Willow gave me strength to come out when I did.
Though I still firmly believe that Willow is bisexual.
#5: The Vampire Chronicles
This was the first queer content I ever read. I started the series when I was a teenager and revisited it in my adulthood. It was really amazing to see this storyline go from gay subtext in it’s first installment (Interview With the Vampire) and spawn into the blatent queer representation it is today. (Last installment is Blood Communion, 2018.)
#6 Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe
This might have been the first queer book I read that didn’t involve fantastical beings. The characters are so real, and the story is beautiful. Ari and Dante give voice to groups that don’t often have a large platform through exploring their ethnic and sexual identities.
#7: The Hate U Give
This book had a huge impact. It rekindled my belief in the power of words, and gave me an idea of the sort of writing I wanted to do. Star is teaching a generation how to be brave.
#8: Captive Prince
I stumbled upon this series through some adorable fanart. Once I found the source material and read the premise, I completely expected nothing more than a steamy gay fantasy novel. This series broke me. I did not expect there to be so many layers. It’s what Fifty Shades of Gray should have been, with its commentary on the effects of abuse and imbalanced power dynamics.
#9: Simon Snow series
I kept hearing “It’s like Harry Potter, but gay.” It’s so much more than that. The series is a full-functioning story, but it’s also a self aware a satire about young adult fiction tropes like the idea of a chosen one, and teenage love triangles. It also realistically depicts the effects of trauma and grief. These characters breathed life into me when nothing else could.
#10: Red White and Royal Blue
This was another book where I read the premise and expected little more than a fun romance, but was completely unprepared for the heavy emotional punches. The story was such a contradiction to our current political climate, yet somehow managed to give me hope that our world can change for the better.
In writing out this list, I think my biggest discovery is that I spent the last ten years becoming more and more gay. What has this decade been for you?