Happy Pride, folks! This week on SFF Seven, we are highlighting books by members of the LGBTQ+ community, so I scanned through my recent reads and got a happy surprise (more on that in a bit).
Keep in mind I'm usually at least a year out of date -- I buy books that oooh-yes my brain when they are released, but I typically don't get around to reading them until years later. So the first book I'd like to mention is The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune. It's kind of Harry Potter, but if the story were told from the point of view of a middle-aged, single, magical-child services inspector/bureaucrat who owns (or is owned by?) a very judgy cat. The protagonist, Linus, is relatable and easy to read, and the rest of the story is just as charming as he is. When this book was recommended to me, it was described as "a warm hug" and it so is.
The happy surprise is the other book I want to recommend: The Jasmine Throne (by Tasha Suri), which came out... yesterday! I loved the previous books in her series and so had pre-ordered this one, and when I read the back-cover synopsis, I realized it was a sapphic fantasy and ... eeeee!! Even more excited to crack this one open = me. Clearly I have not yet read the book that came out yesterday (see above regarding my slowpokieness), but Tasha Suri has not disappointed me yet, and I feel comfortable sending folks out to buy it.
I should confess one semi-uncomfortable thing, though: going by the blog theme this week, I had to check online and make sure that these two authors were gay. According to the always-reliable internet, they are (using this and this as sources). That knowledge makes me even happier. I mean, I liked their books before, but with all the #ownvoices writers being outed stuff that has been going around, I was really hoping that nosy readers like me weren't forcing someone to tell a truth they weren't ready to tell. In these cases, that doesn't seem to be what's going on. Whew.
But it does make me think of the current #ownvoices issue and some decisions that are being made to reduce usage of the term. If you're interested in knowing more, you can read the hashtag on Twitter. Basically, some folks think the #ownvoices hashtag causes more harm than good. On one hand, I am sorry for the writers who have been outed before they're ready. That must have been horrible. But at the same time, as a reader, I like knowing that I'm reading a book by a writer who has a similar lived experience to the protagonist. I especially like to know I'm reading #ownvoices when the writer is from a more visible marginalized community, like Black writers. But for LGBTQ+ writers... I kind of see where WNDB and others are coming from. If writers don't choose to share that information, for whatever reason, is it even really my business? That's why searching up the personal details on these excellent authors felt a little awkward.
So yes happy Pride, definitely yes check out these books/authors, and also maybe yes be sensitive to the fact that another person's identity is owned by them, not who we need or want them to be.