As the omicron variant sweeps the world at unparalleled speed — upending the return of long-awaited "normal" holiday celebrations — now may be a better time than ever to stay indoors, escape from the surrounding chaos and get lost in a good (and queer) book.
From a historic rundown of the political movement sparked by the AIDS crisis to a novel surrounding an impregnated queer love triangle, here are 10 of the best-selling, award-winning and barrier-breaking LGBTQ books from 2021.
'The Prophets' by Robert Jones Jr.
A forbidden love story of two enslaved boys living on a Mississippi plantation takes a turn when the pair is betrayed by an enslaved Christian evangelist, threatening their existence. Robert Jones Jr.'s debut novel — a National Book Award finalist for fiction — captures the horrors of the enslaved and the beauty of a sustaining love.
'¡Hola Papi!' by John Paul Brammer
Named after a popular LGBTQ advice column, “¡Hola Papi!” hilariously chronicles the heartwarming story of John Paul Brammer, who grew up queer in America’s heartland. Brammer's memoir-in-essays details everything from how he came out in college (“in a fit of gay mania") to a problematic relationship he had with a Christian youth group member. Brammer, who has written for NBC News, said in an interview that his publisher refers to him as the “Chicano Carrie Bradshaw."
'Detransition, Baby' by Torrey Peters
This groundbreaking novel follows three central characters: a transgender woman who wants a baby; her ex, a man who detransitions; and a pregnant cisgender woman. Torrey Peters’ debut novel was nominated for the 2021 Women’s Prize for Fiction, drawing the ire of the Wild Woman Writing Club because Peters is transgender.
'Patricia Highsmith: Her Diaries and Notebooks'
At 999 pages, this collection gives readers unprecedented access to one of the 20th century’s most notable and misanthropic writers, whose works include "The Talented Mr. Ripley," "Strangers on a Train" and "The Price of Salt" (which was made into the film "Carol"). Her notebooks and diaries, consisting of 8,000 pages, contain entries from 1941, when she was a Barnard student, to 1995, the year of her death.
'Broken Horses' by Brandi Carlisle
In her long-awaited memoir, singer-songwriter and six-time Grammy winner Brandi Carlile tackles sexuality, fame and parenthood. Variety’s Chris Willman called it “the best-written, most engaging rock autobiography since her childhood hero, Elton John, published 'Me.'" NPR named "Broken Horses" one of the best books of 2021.
'Let the Record Show' by Sarah Schulman
Schulman documents the comprehensive history of a New York City grassroots advocacy group dedicated to ending the AIDS crisis: the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power, better known as ACT UP. Listed for the 2021 Brooklyn Public Library Literary Prize, the book details the collective anger people felt in response to a lack of government action in the early days of the deadly crisis.
'Yes, Daddy' by Jonathan Parks-Ramage
This suspenseful novel follows the journey of an ambitious, handsome young man, Jonah Keller, who is trying to make it big as a playwright in New York City. Jonah’s climb up the ladder of success takes a nightmarish turn when he meets an older, successful playwright who lures Jonah into a world of the wealthy and notorious. Before its publication this year, “Yes, Daddy” had already snagged a television adaptation by Amazon Studios.
'100 Boyfriends' by Brontez Purnell
This brutally hilarious collection of short stories chronicles the substance-fueled, romantic and erotic adventures of an ensemble cast of Black, queer men in America. Author Brontez Purnell's slice-of-life group of tales was listed for the 2021 Brooklyn Public Library Literary Prize.
'With Teeth: A Novel' by Kristen Arnett
Named among this year’s best works of fiction by The Washington Post, Vogue, Reader’s Digest and several other publications, this gripping novel unveils a mother's struggle to enjoy parenthood and project the image of a picture-perfect queer family. The Washington Post's Ron Charles hailed Kristen Arnett as "that rare, brave writer willing to articulate the darkest thoughts even the best parents entertain while trudging along through the most challenging job in the world."
'Last Call' by Elon Green
In a powerful work of nonfiction, this New York Times critically acclaimed book gives readers a chilling account of an elusive serial killer, dubbed the “Last Call Killer,” who preyed on gay men in New York City in the 1990s. In 2001, Staten Island nurse Richard Rogers was arrested for two of the killings. Rogers, now 71, is serving a life sentence.