LGBTQ2S+ Recommendations for Your Bookshelf

Sink in to some exceptional storytelling.

Written and compiled by arch magazine staff

In honour of Pride Month, arch magazine asked professors and staff at the University of Calgary for their recommendations of books with LGBTQ2S+ themes.

Included are several novels, including some award-winners, for adults and youth exploring romance, identity, family, community, agency and advocacy across time and place, as well as a collection of essays that challenge us to rethink literature for children and young adults, and a group of short stories on what it means to be an athlete.

There are so many reasons to explore the incredible stories and ideas on this bookshelf. Connect with relatable experiences, seize an opportunity for reflection and growth, deepen your historical and cultural understanding, enrich your perspective, support the movement for a more inclusive society, or simply sink in to some exceptional storytelling. Happy reading.

A book cover of 'A Minor Chorus'

A Minor Chorus by Billy-Ray Belcourt, Penguin Random House Canada

A Minor Chorus is told from the point of view of an unnamed narrator who, compelled to write a novel, haltingly leaves his university studies. He returns home to Northern Alberta where, in his rural hometown, he seeks answers to the existential questions that haunt him.

Recommended by Joe Kadi (he/him), associate professor (teaching), Gender and Sexuality Studies, Department of Philosophy, Faculty of Arts

Alt Kid Lit – What Children’s Literature Might Be edited by Kenneth B. Kidd and Derritt Mason, University Press of Mississippi

This collection of essays — co-edited by Dr. Derritt Mason, PhD, an associate professor in the Department of English — challenges readers to examine how we think about literature for children and young adults. The contributors expand the thinking about existing boundaries that determine which books are pushed to the forefront for children and youth, and which are pushed to the margins. They consider identities and genre in literature, and even video games and children’s digital engagements.

Recommended by Miss Vivek Shraya, associate professor, Department of English, Faculty of Arts

BadAss(ish) by Jaymie Heilman, Ronsdale Press

In this novel for young adults by Alberta author and University of Alberta professor Dr. Jaymie Heilman, PhD, three teenagers explore issues of gender, race and sexuality alongside their concerns about the climate crisis and taking initiative to fight for what they believe in.

Recommended by Joe Kadi (he/him), associate professor (teaching), Gender and Sexuality Studies, Faculty of Arts

Delilah Green Doesn’t Care by Ashley Herring Blake, Penguin Random House

A contemporary adult sapphic romance about learning to love and surviving second adolescences. This book is a refreshing representation of life as a modern woman trying to reclaim her routes.

Recommended by Lila Webb (she/her), UCalgary alum and former Students’ Union Q Centre Co-ordinator

Hell Followed with Us by Andrew Joseph White, Peachtree Books

A novel about a trans boy who escapes from his doomsday-cult upbringing and is on the run amidst an armageddon. This book engages with trans experience and transphobia through an apocalyptic story about found family and living one’s truth.

Recommended by Lila Webb (she/her), UCalgary alum and former Students’ Union Q Centre Co-ordinator

Last Night at the Telegraph Club by Malinda Lo, Penguin Random House Canada

An LGBTQ2S+ coming-of-age story, set in San Francisco in the 1950s, Last Night at the Telegraph Club explores young love amidst the struggles of the Chinese-American community during the McCarthy era.

Recommended by Joe Kadi (he/him), associate professor (teaching), Gender and Sexuality Studies, Faculty of Arts

Queer Voices from the Locker Room edited by: Cu-Hullan Tsuyoshi McGivern and Paul Chamness Miller, Information Age Publishing

In this collection of autobiographical short stories, high-performance athletes from a wide range of sport challenge stereotypes around what it means to be an athlete. The contributors share their experiences with creating identity and the importance and role of community support and bridging communities throughout their athletic journeys.

Recommended by Dr. William Bridel, PhD (he/him), associate dean (undergraduate programs) and associate professor, Faculty of Kinesiology

The Sleeping Car Porter by Suzette Mayr, Coach House Books

This award-wining novel from alum and UCalgary English professor Dr. Suzette Mayer, BA’90, PhD, is told from the perspective of Baxter, a gay Black man who dreams of studying dentistry while working as a sleeping car porter on a passenger train that criss-crosses Canada in the 1920s. The novel illustrates an important part of Black history as Baxter manages a myriad of passengers and co-workers after a mudslide strands the train.

Recommended by Dr. Tonya D. Callaghan, BA’90, BEd’96, PhD (she/they), associate professor and academic co-ordinator of Advancing Healthy and Socially Just Schools and Communities, Werklund School of Education

The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller, Harper Collins Publishers

A popular book that beautifully retells the Greek myth of Achilles through an LGBTQ2S+ lens. This book is lyrical, passionate and has truly earned its reputation as one of the best books of the decade.

Recommended by Lila Webb (she/her), UCalgary alum and former Students’ Union Q Centre Co-ordinator

You Exist Too Much by Zaina Arafat, Catapult Books

This novel is centred around a Palestinian-American woman as she embarks on a journey of self-discovery, navigating the complexities of cultural, religious and sexual identities alongside familial dynamics and her personal desires. She grapples with the intersecting facets of her life, from her upbringing in Kuwait to her adolescence in the United States, as she confronts the challenges of belonging, love and addiction.

Recommended by Dr. Safaneh Mohaghegh Neyshabouri, PhD (she/they), assistant professor (teaching), Gender and Sexuality Studies, and Arabic Language and Muslim Cultures, Faculty of Arts

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