As part of this year’s 10 to Try reading challenge, I recently read a Pulitzer Prize-winning book called The Sympathizer, telling the story of a communist sympathizer spying among exiled Republic of Vietnamese officers in America. As you’d expect from a Pulitzer Prize book, the author brings you into the time and place, the culture, and most of all, the protagonist’s mind deeply and thoroughly — which gets difficult to stomach when the protagonist gets captured and tortured by his own side in the latter quarter of the book.

I’d classify this book along with The Satanic Verses and A Single Man in my 10 to Try adventures: Intellectually, I appreciate its literary accomplishment; emotionally, by the time I finish, I just feel ready for something fun and fluffy.

To accomplish this, I mined a few books from the library’s “16 Sci-Fi and Fantasy Novels By LGBTQ+ Authors” list. I ended up with:

  • River of Teeth, by Sarah Gailey – An “it’s all fun and games until someone gets eaten” alternative history novella starring a cast of all LGBTQ hippo-wrangling criminals working to eliminate feral hippos from the Mississippi river.
  • Child of a Hidden Sea, by A.M. Dellamonica – A swashbuckling adventure starring a surprisingly deep protagonist, but with slightly more nuanced political intrigue and a hint of time travel.
  • Sorcerer of the Wildeeps, by Kai Ashante Wilson – An artistically written fantasy about two caravan guards, lovers who have Greek gods in their history and an evil “juke-toothed tiger” wizard in their future.

As I read, I wondered… Is part of the pleasure in fantasy for LGBTQ folks is reading about a world populated by and completely friendly to people with their same relationship preferences? Reading about worlds where heterosexuality isn’t assumed? Just got me thinking.

Anyway, next up I have Stories of Ibis, a book recommended by a coworker that doesn’t check off any 10 to Try boxes. Then I guess I’ll bite the bullet and finish my 10 to Try list by reading a book of poetry. Maybe I’ll go for some Shel Silverstein or Jack Prelutzky.

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