Words by Neus Forner
Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda is one of the key texts of LGBTQ+ literature out there and many enjoyed the book and the recent movie adaptation. If you, like us, want to delve more into LGBTQ+ literature and are looking for fun but emotive reads like Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda, this recommendation list is for you.
They Both Die at the End (2017) by Adam Silvera
Words by Catarina Vicente
There’s no doubt Simon vs. the Homosapien Agenda (or Love, Simon, if you know it from the movies) made a splash in the genre of queer YA literature. If you’ve finished it and are looking for something in the same vein, I highly recommend They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera.
They Both Die at the End revolves around Mateo and Rufus, on the day they find out they are going to die. In their world, a system called Deathcast is able to predict people’s deaths and warn them on the day, to allow them a chance at a fulfilling ‘End Day’. Rufus and Mateo, determinate to make their last day a memorable one, meet through the app ‘Last Friend’ and spend the day together, and we learn more about their lives and thoughts about their imminent death. Their storylines are also interweaved with other characters, with several chapters from the perspective of different characters.
If you’re familiar with Becky Albertalli’s work, you should know Adam Silvera – they authored a book together, after all. They Both Die at the End, like Simon vs. the Homosapien Agenda, also focuses on a gay relationship between the protagonists, one that develops through their shared moments in their last day together (yes, it’s as painful as it sounds). But the book is heavier than Simon, dwelling on the concept of death and life. Although it has its comic and light-hearted moments, the book poses deeper questions about what it means to live and the time that we are given. Suffice to say, I deeply enjoyed it, and definitely will be looking for more of Silvera’s work. They Both Die at the End is a great next read if you’re looking for something like Simon vs. the Homosapien Agenda.
Red, White Royal, Blue (2019) by Casey McQuiston
Words by Neus Forner
This adult romance follows the first son of the first female US president and Prince Henry of England through their unusual romance. They are not particularly fond of each other and after a public incident are forced to appear as friends for the media and the press. This LGBT book recommendation discusses issues of sexuality, friendship and life after university. This book has it all, strong sibling and parental bonds, steamy and cute romance, issues with friendships and sexuality, and a diverse cast of characters that are hard not to love. The characters of this story are funny and extremely relatable struggling with life after university and how to navigate the adult world, while still being in a position of power as sons of extremely important people in the world. If you are looking for a fun contemporary read that you will read in one sitting, this is your book!
Paul Takes the Form of a Mortal Girl (2017) by Andrea Lawlor
Words by Ona Ojo
I first read this LGBTQ+ must-read this past summer and it’s by far my most memorable book of last year. For the cover of their debut, Lawlor chooses cheeky one-word excerpts from fellow authors’ reviews, promoting the novel as ‘tight’, ‘deep’ and ‘hot’. I thought, surely I can’t miss this.
The protagonist Paul Polydoris, who once compares himself to a modern-day Orlando, has the power to transform his body at will. When he does so, he tends to go by Polly. This exploration of gender fluidity, which I’ve rarely encountered in novels, is set across various (semi-fictional) queer communities in 1990s America. As deftly as Paul shifts gender expression, he jumps from underground gay clubs and house parties in his university town to an out-of-state feminist music festival, following Polly’s girlfriend and their friend group, and finally ending up in San Francisco. As he flits around, Paul also keeps spotting a girl he suspects (and hopes) can shift like him.
Paul, who shifts from Paul to Polly and spaces in-between, never desires to conform to tradition, in gender or sexuality, and spends the story seeking out people who feel similarly – his community. ‘Paul’ the novel does the same – ‘Paul’ resists expectations of traditional literature and of queer identity, demonstrating the necessity of more queer (and specifically trans and non-binary) voices in modern literature. As expected, ‘Paul’ is many things at once – an adventure, a queer nostalgia romp, a romance (or many romances), and overall just a fun and funny novel.