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Student Services Librarian Nancy Wallace (center) collaborated with UC Davis LGBTQIA Resource Center Community Coordinators Nathan Lee (left) and La'a Anthony (far right) on book recommendations for UC Davis Pride Month. (UC Davis/Karin Higgins)

UC Davis Pride Month Book Recs

A proud collaboration with the LGBTQIA Resource Center

History and Heritage Month book recommendations are one of my favorite parts of my job. For UC Davis Pride Month this year, I’m delighted to be joined by La’a Anthony, a 4th year student double-majoring in Science & Technology Studies/Gender, Sexuality, Women’s Studies, and Nathan Lee, a 3rd year student majoring in Environmental Policy. Our recommendations cover a wide range of topics and genres that reflect the diversity of the LGBTQIA+ experience.

— Nancy Wallace, Student Services Librarian

Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard by Rick Riordan, 2015-2017

From Nancy: This trilogy by the author of Percy Jackson and the Olympians is one of his most inclusive so far. The main character is the son of a Norse god who has been unhoused and living on the streets of Boston for several years; his friends include a Muslim Valkyrie, a Black dwarven fashion designer, a elven mage who is deaf, and the trans-identified, genderfluid child of Loki. The characters aren’t just there to provide token representation; their backgrounds are crucial to the story.

When criticized for “politicizing” his books, Riordan, a former teacher, has said, “All of the kids that I write about, at one time or another, have been in my classroom…I feel very protective of them. I am very aware of my responsibility to do right by them, to make them feel safe.” That’s how to be an ally.

Gender Queer: A Memoir by Maia Kobabe, 2019

From Nancy: I picked Gender Queer because I was curious about one of the most banned books in the United States. It arrived through interlibrary loan on Friday; I picked it up on Monday and stayed up late to finish it. Despite our different backgrounds—especially the almost 20-year difference in our ages—Maia’s story resonated with me. I wrote fanfiction about boy bands (Duran Duran instead of One Direction), read Mercedes Lackey’s Last Herald-Mage trilogy in search of queer representation, and experienced discomfort and disconnection with my body as it changed. Maia’s gender journey is both intensely personal and profoundly relatable.

Cured Documentary, directed by Patrick Sammon and Bennett Singer, 2020

From Nancy: Cured is the compelling story of the campaign to remove homosexuality from the American Psychiatric Association’s manual of mental illnesses. Lesbians and gay men were confined to mental institutions, subjected to medical interventions to “cure” them, and fired from their jobs because the mere fact of being gay was considered a sickness. Told with a combination of archival footage and interviews with people involved with the campaign, Cured is both an example of the power of activism, and a reminder that the struggle for equality is ongoing.

Gay Semiotics: A Photographic Study of Visual Coding Among Homosexual Men, Hal Fischer, 1977

From La’a: Gay Semiotics feels like a delightful time capsule of San Francisco gay life in the 1970s (or at least one vision of it). In my favorite section, Fischer includes photographs representing the gay fashion archetypes he has noticed– ranging from “40s funk” to “leather.” Adding to the time capsule feel, when I opened up the LGBTQIA RC’s copy, the original receipt from the 80s fell out!

Contesting Intersex by Georgiann Davis, 2015

From La’a: Georgiann Davis, drawing on her own experience as an intersex person and on sociological interviews, outlines the medicalization and pathologization of “intersex” as a category, while also providing actionable steps for improving the lives of intersex people. Given the academic nature of the text, I found myself happily surprised by the accessibility of the writing style—Davis avoids academic jargon, without sacrificing complexity or detail.

Homie by Danez Smith, 2020

From Nathan: Danez Smith is one of my favorite poets! Their latest collection is intimate and powerful, with poems that insist on choosing love within blood and found family despite the violence of oppression. Smith’s voice is both fierce and tender; their work is intensely vulnerable and necessary amidst the rise in oppressive violence.

Detransition, Baby by Torrey Peters, 2021

From Nathan: Detransition, Baby examines womanhood and transness through the perspectives of Reece, a trans woman, her partner Ames, who recently detransitioned, and Ames’ partner Kat, who is pregnant with Ames’ child. Peters writes vividly flawed characters with a dry, witty voice. I appreciate that the novel was written by a trans author for a trans audience, rather than catering to cisgender sensibilities.

Pride Book Display at Shields Library

These book recommendations are currently on display at Shields Library, near the Circulation Desk. We invite you to stop by to check them out. You can also literally check them out using UC Library Search.




Book recommendations diversity LGBTQIA+ UC Davis Pride Month