Culturally Relevant

7 Bookish Ways to Celebrate Pride

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Laura Sackton

Senior Contributor

Laura Sackton is a queer book nerd and freelance writer, known on the internet for loving winter, despising summer, and going overboard with extravagant baking projects. In addition to her work at Book Riot, she reviews for BookPage and AudioFile, and writes a weekly newsletter, Books & Bakes, celebrating queer lit and tasty treats. You can catch her on Instagram shouting about the queer books she loves and sharing photos of the walks she takes in the hills of Western Mass (while listening to audiobooks, of course).

Pride Month might be almost over, but that does not mean the celebrations have to stop. There’s a lot I love about Pride, but the truth is that I’m a celebrate-pride-year-round kind of person. When it comes to books, I’m a year-round queer reader. So while all of these ideas for bookish ways to celebrate Pride are things you can do right now, in the last two weeks of June, they’re also things you can do in July. And August. And September. And October…

I’ve also focused on fun ways to celebrate that do not require being in big crowds or attending massive events. Big Pride events are fun for lots of people! They’re important! But they’re not for everyone. Also, we’re still in a pandemic. I used to feel left out — or like there was something wrong with me — when I was younger, because I never wanted to go to big Pride parades. Now I know that parades are just one of dozens and dozens of ways to celebrate how great it is to be queer.

So whether you’re ready to dig into queer history, excited about reading all the queer books this month, or looking for some fantastic LGBTQ+ bookish orgs to donate to, get ready to wave your rainbow book flag high.

Preorder Books by Queer Authors

cover of Self-Made Boys by Anna-Marie McLemore

Here’s a simple way to support and celebrate queer authors this Pride Month: preorder their books! Preorders actually make a difference in the lives of authors and their books, especially when it comes to debut authors. They’re also a delightful gift you can give to yourself. There’s nothing better than the feeling of receiving a surprise package of a book you completely forget your preordered months ago! If you don’t have a lot of money to spend on books, you can still help authors out by requesting that your library preorder the book. It’s just as beneficial as purchasing it yourself, and you can put in a hold on it at the same time, so that you get to read it as soon as it’s released.

There are far too many amazing queer books coming out this summer and fall to list them all here. But I’ll give you the highlight reel of my personal preorder list, which includes:

If you’re looking for even more queer books to preorder, we’ve got a fantastic guide for how to find upcoming book releases, as well this useful primer on how to keep track of new releases.

Donate to Bookish LGBTQIA+ Orgs

If you’re looking to celebrate Pride with some donations, here are a few book-related organizations that will benefit from your dollars:

Hope in a Box provides LGBTQ+ inclusive books, curriculum, and trainings to educators. With all the book bans going on right now, ensuring that kids and teachers have access to queer books and educational materials is more important than ever.

LGBT Books to Prisoners is “a trans-affirming, racial justice-focused, prison abolitionist project” that sends books to incarcerated LGBTQ people all over the United States.

The Bureau of General Services — Queer Division and Bluestockings Cooperative are two volunteer bookstores, activist spaces, and community centers, both in New York City.

Read Books that Honor Queer History

cover of We Are Everywhere by Leighton Brown and Matthew L. Riemer

Pride grew out of Christoper Street Liberation Day, which happened in June 1970 to honor the first anniversary of the Stonewall Riots. It’s always the time to learn about LGBTQ+ history, but it feels especially important during Pride Month. If you’re going to celebrate Pride, you should know something about its history and origins — not to mention the decades of queer activism that came before Stonewall.

A fantastic place to start is We Are Everywhere by Leighton Brown and Matthew L. Riemer (who run @lgbt_history on Instagram). It’s a gorgeous book full of hundreds of photos — just looking at it is a treat. But it’s also a detailed, complicated history. Brown and Riemer delve into the good and the bad, exploring the schisms and conflicts in the history of queer activism, as well as the moments of success and solidarity.

And when you’re reading for more, check out these LGBTQ+ history books, these must-read books about LGBTQ+ history, and these books about queer women’s history. If you’re more inclined to learn about history by reading historical fiction, there are loads of fantastic books on this list of the best queer historical fiction.

Host a Queer Readathon

For all my fellow queer introverts out there, may I suggest a queer readathon for Pride? All you need is a stack of queer books, some good snacks, and a friend or two (or not — solo readathons are valid, too!) I loved this piece Leah wrote about taking an anti-burnout reading vacation. I plan to round out my Pride celebrations this year by taking her advice and throwing myself a mini weekend reading vacation — with all the queer books, of course.

Visit a Queer-Owned Bookstore (Online or In Person)

What’s better than buying queer books? Buying queer books from queer-owned bookstores! has a fantastic bookstore finder that allows you to filter by results by various qualifiers, such as queer-owned, Black-owned, woman-owned, etc. You might even find a queer-owned bookstore near you you didn’t even know existed!

Luckily for all of us who don’t live near a queer-owned bookstore, there’s this little thing you may have heard of called online shopping. I really appreciate being able to buy books from queer-owned indie bookstores whose mission and values I align with, even if they’re hundreds of miles away from me. In the past few years, I’ve bought from Buffalo Street Books, a community-owned bookstore in Ithaca, New York, and Loyalty Bookstores in D.C. At the beginning of the pandemic I spent hours virtually browsing A Room of One’s Own in Madison, Wisconsin, thanks to the the amazing rec lists the booksellers there have curated.

One of the great things about Bookshop is that smaller stores that don’t have their own online shops can create Bookshop storefronts and receive a portion of the profits. I’ve enjoyed browsing (and buying from) Tubby & Coo’s Mid-City Book Shop — and there are so many more queer-owned stores with Bookshop storefronts to discover!

Participate in a Queer Reading Challenge

If you don’t already subscribe to the Our Queerest Shelves newsletter, I highly recommend it! Earlier this year Danika offered queer recs for all the 2022 Read Harder prompts. Why not tackle a few this Pride Month? Or create your own queer reading challenge — here are some ideas to get you started.

Show Your Pride with Bookish Merch

Sometimes you just want a cute queer book sticker or some rainbow bookmarks, you know? Show off your bookish pride this year with some of these LGBTQ+ bookish goods, or some of these fantastic goods for LGBTQ+ readers. If you’re still swooning over Heartstopper (the graphic novels and the Netflix adaptation), why not treat yourself to some Heartstopper accessories?

Over the years, Pride has become more and more corporate, with huge corporations paying lip service to queer rights and queer culture during June, despite remaining silent (or actively hostile) the rest of the year. There are tons of queer artists, creators, and small business owners making and selling all sorts of Pride goods (bookish and otherwise), and they are worth seeking out and supporting.

If you’re looking for even more ways to celebrate, check out our Pride Month archives! You’ll find booklists galore — enough to keep you reading till next June!