Welcome back to 30 Days of Pride on Ace Of Bens! Today, I’m welcoming Julian Winters, author of Running With Lions (2018) and How To Be Remy Cameron (2019). If you’ve been at a loss of what to read this Pride Month, Julian has some awesome recommendations to help you queer up your TBR list!
Eight Books You Need to Fill Your Summer with Pride
If there’s one thing I love about summer, besides escaping the frost of a long winter, it’s sitting in the shade and soaking up a good book. It’s especially heartwarming—and relaxing—when I can dive into so many amazing books during Pride month. Here’s a list of some incredible books filled with unforgettable LGBTQIA+ characters and stories for every bookish lover.
The Music of What Happens by Bill Konigsberg
There’s nothing like a long, hot summer working in a food truck, especially when the two main characters, Max and Jordan, are complete opposites. Max wants nothing more than to enjoy his summer with his buddies and forget what happened with a college boy he met at a party. Jordan wants nothing more than to save himself and his mom from being evicted from their house and to escape the ghost of his dead father. But neither of them expects to fall for the other while learning to run a food truck in the sticky, thick heat of an Arizona summer. This book is quietly poignant and loud with humor, friendship, and the things we don’t say but need to.
Death Prefers Blondes by Caleb Roehrig
Everyone loves Margo Manning. Or, more accurately, they love to hate her or want to be her. But being the It Girl is so overrated. Margo prefers to spend her nights stealing jewels and priceless artwork with her four best friends—all dressed in drag. But there are some spotlights Margo can’t escape, especially when she steals from the wrong infamous Russian millionaire. This high stakes, high adrenaline book goes through more twists and turns than a runway show. It’s filled with laughs and near-misses and four loveably queer boys who are just as killer with their sarcasm as they are in heels.
The Summer of Jordi Perez (And the Best Burger in Los Angeles) by Amy Spalding
Abby is a fashion-obsessed blogger who has one goal: get an internship at her dream boutique and use that to take over the fashion industry. The problem is her competition: Jordi Perez. No, the real problem is, she’s kind of into Jordi. Actually, the biggest problem is she’s into Jordi and now they’re kind of dating and they’re both competing for the same job. But Abby’s tired of being the sidekick to her friends. She’s tired of her mom’s obsession with healthy eating—and Abby’s weight. Abby is ready to stand on her own and that might mean she and Jordi can’t be a thing. This book is the romantic comedy of your dreams, with a fun side adventure into discovering the best burger in Los Angeles with the most unlikely dude-bro you’ll ever meet!
I Wish You All the Best by Mason Deaver
Three words change Ben’s life forever: “I am nonbinary.” From that moment, Ben’s life is flipped upside down and they’re just trying to survive the end of high school at a new school while living with the sister they haven’t spoken to in years. But this isn’t just Ben’s coming out story. It’s their journey toward starting over. Toward understanding themselves and the things they deserve. Ben’s journey is about family and what that one word means. What the word love means and how to use it. It’s a soft, sometimes heartbreaking journey with the sweetest boy ever, Nathan, and their blossoming feelings, along with Ben’s walk toward a new destination: Hope.
Odd One Out by Nic Stone
Love is a complicated thing. Scratch that: Friendship is a complicated thing. Combined the two and things are about to get truly… complicated for Cooper, Jupiter, and Rae. Coop can’t stop daydreaming about more than a friendship with his best friend, Jupiter Sanchez. But Jupiter might have eyes for Rae, who might have eyes for Cooper? It’s sort of… complicated and hilarious and poignant. This book erases the lines society puts on defining one’s sexuality. It’s a tender look at how, every day, we’re learning more about ourselves and who we are. Sometimes, it’s complicated.
What If It’s Us by Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera
It’s pretty clear the Universe wants Arthur and Ben to be together: Meet-Cutes. Coffeeshop “are you my someone?” posters. Do-overs. All of these are signs to Arthur. But Ben isn’t best friends with Destiny. He doesn’t believe in random encounters turning into happily ever afters. Not yet, at least. But a summer in New York City filled with clumsy dates and getting over an ex and this one boy so filled with so much hope, Ben can’t imagine holding anyone else’s hand, might change his mind. This book has the right dose of Albertalli Cute and Silvera Honesty to leave you swooning and crying in the sun.
How (Not) to Ask a Boy to Prom by S.J. Goslee
Nolan is gay, seventeen, and on a mission to avoid anything involving dating during his junior year. Not entirely on purpose, of course. He’s more into gardening and drawing and not participating in after-school clubs. But when his older, adoptive sister makes it her mission to up his academic and social status, Nolan clumsily falls into a fake relationship with Bern, who rides a motorcycle and skips class and is definitely not Nolan’s actual crush, gay football star Si O’Mara. But fake dating to avoid his sister’s attempts to make the thing with Si happen can’t be too hard. Until it is. Until Nolan kind of likes hanging out and almost kissing Bern. This book is fun and heartwarming and hits all the Fake Dating tropes your heart desires.
Darius the Great Is Not Okay by Adib Khorram
Fitting in isn’t something Darius is great at. He knows all the best—and worst—teas. He knows everything there is about Star Trek, especially Captain Picard. He can quote the Lord of the Rings for almost any situation. He also knows he’s clinically depressed and disappoints his dad and is an easy target for some of his peers because he’s half-Persian. What Darius doesn’t know is how he fits into his family back in Iran. He doesn’t know how to navigate a friendship with this amazing new boy, Sohrab, who smiles and laughs and hugs Darius like they’ve been friends forever. Darius knows he’s never felt more like himself than when he’s with Sohrab. It opens his world to getting to know his family, his history, and that he doesn’t have to be great. That it’s okay to not be okay. An honestly unforgettable book about life, family, mental health, learning to be who you are, and the things that give us joy.
Julian Winters is the best-selling author of contemporary young adult fiction. His debut, Running With Lions (Duet, 2018), won accolades for its positive depictions of diverse, relatable characters. A former management trainer, Julian currently lives outside of Atlanta where he can be found reading, being a self-proclaimed comic book geek, or watching the only two sports he can follow—volleyball and soccer. How to Be Remy Cameron is his second novel.