the Juicy Pink Box logo, the letters in small print with a green heart

The 10 Saddest, Queerest Books of Summer

Heading to the pool this summer? Grab one of these must reads.
Unlock
Your
Curiosity
Arousal the way
you want it.
AI generated

Summer reading is synonymous with the beach–something easy and compelling while you´re getting in and out of the water. And sad, sultry, and especially sexy novels are made all the more poignant when you’re already sweating and delirious, and perhaps reflecting on some bad decision making. 

These 10 reads are all queer, but are markedly different. There are queer parents, closeted teenage boys, bickering housemates, and campy high femme lesbians. More than that, there´s yearning… for excitement, for sex, for being seen. These books are probably the most thrilling way to liven up your summer without actually setting your life on fire, though these protagonists may offer some comfort if you go that route first. 

Housemates by Emma Copley Eisenberg

Eisenberg´s debut novel is a playfully constructed look at a group of queer housemates living in Philadelphia, where they mostly bicker about the minutiae of life until two, Leah and Bernie, embark on a sweaty and surprising road trip. This book is about sexuality and desire and does a lovely job of describing not only queer sex, but queer sex featuring characters in larger bodies, and all its particular nuances. It’s also about mentors and artists behaving badly, and what we do to make peace with getting to know the people who influenced us, for better or for worse. 

Women by Chloe Caldwell

Women is a novella that´s getting a re-release after its initial publication in 2014. It’s a short novel that reads like a memoir following a freshly queer woman and her emotionally intense and chaotic relationship with Finn, an older butch lesbian. It’s messy, erotic, and perfect for readers who enjoy The L Word and But I´m A Cheerleader.

Blessings by Chukwuebuka Ibeh

Blessings is a novel filled with pain, hurt, and betrayal, but it’s an important one that has the potential to be healing, too. Ibeh writes about a young gay man, Obiefuna, living in Nigeria in the early and mid 2000s, including adolescence at a Christian boarding school where Obiefuna was banished by his father as punishment. This novel moves around in time and manages to make the characters feel distinct to their specific circumstances in a way that feels compelling and unnerving—it’s chilling to read about young people becoming older people, like peeking behind the curtain of everyone´s intimate emotional developments. This is is for everyone who cried watching Moonlight.

Like Happiness by Ursula Villarreal-Moura

A compelling literary novel with a unique second person narration, Like Happiness follows Tatum, a bisexual Latina working at an art museum, who is trying to figure out her complicated relationship with Mateo, an older and critically accomplished Puerto Rican writer. This one is unsettling and sexy, ripe with questions about power imbalances, consent, and grooming. It is perfect for fans of My Last Innocent Year and Call Me By Your Name.

Henry Henry by Allen Bratton

Brandon Taylor´s first acquisition for Unnamed Press is a delightful treat whether or not you´ve read Shakespeare’s Henriad. This atmospheric and dense novel follows Hal, a gay Catholic disaster in his early twenties, as he does drugs, parties, and generally disappoints his family in his post-Oxford life. There´s a lot of heavy material here—sexual assault and family abuse, among others—and the characters are decidedly unlikeable, but it´s the kind of book that really humanizes its monsters, and it is perhaps a little too recognizable for many readers. It’s Messy Girl Lit meets Saltburn meets Ripley.

Exhibit by RO Kwon

Stylish and voicey, this literary novel follows a photographer, Lin Han. She meets a renowned (and injured) ballet soloist, Lidija Jung. The pair embarks on an erotic exploration of ambition, art, and identity. It’s for readers who want an atmospheric and devastating approach to sex and eroticism, especially kink. And is a read that urges you to stay at each sentence and really think about its sly magic. Sirens & Muses meets Black Swan.

Perfume & Pain by Anna Dorn

This nod to 1950s lesbian pulp fiction is smart, sharp, and funny. It manages to write explicit lesbian sex without making it weird or cringe. Like Dorn´s previous novels, Vagablonde and Exalted, the protagonist is moody and dysfunctional. Additionally, she is equally desirous and resentful of the women in her life. Here we have Astrid, a controversial novelist living in Los Angeles. She starts an ill-fated dalliance with (of course) an erratic lesbian obsessed with lesbian pulp. This is all while trying to escape the watchful eye of her (of course) neighbor Penelope, a judgy vegan living off an Urban Outfitters settlement. Meant to be read on the beach while listening to Lana Del Rey´s Salvatore on repeat. 

Anyone’s Ghost by August Thompson

Anyone’s Ghost is a haunting debut with eroticism and sexuality that operates like a chilly hug. It is familiar yet unsettling, the result of hope and optimism meeting people´s human mistakes. Thompson writes about queer men and the closet, attraction, mixed signals, and risks and regrets that comprise a young life. And includes when you´re covertly stealing from the rich boss you work for one summer in small town New Hampshire.

We Were the Universe by Kimberly Parson

For the frustrated and dissatisfied parents, this novel follows Kit, a bisexual mother who is mourning the loss of her younger sister, Julie, while raising her toddler. Kit is generally bored, angry, and restless, and her wry sadness permeates these pages. For fans of Melissa Broder´s Death Valley, Ruth Madievsky´s All-Night Pharmacy, and Fleabag.

Coexistence Stories by Billy-Ray Belcourt

Short story collections can be tough to recommend. The genre isn’t everyone’s favorite, and collections can run the risk of being uneven. However, Belcourt´s manages to feel cohesive and surprising at the same time. These stories follow Indigenous men living in Canada. They are mostly queer. The stories navigate life with parents, living on or off the rez, and having children or not. And especially are about how they desire sex or don´t, from scrolling hookup apps to abstinence. These stories feel like novels in that they’re each a fully evolved world, yet reading in order allows them to complement one another and provide a really rich and satisfying experience.

Unlock Your

Curiosity

Join our VIP site.

Unlock Your

Curiosity

Join our VIP site.

You May Also Like

  • All Posts
  • Confessions
  • Culture
  • Kink
  • PRESS
  • Sex
  • Travel
    •   Back
    • MEDIUM
    • SWAY'S UNIVERSE
    • HUFFINGTON POST
    • WALL STREET JOURNAL
    • ABC NEWS NIGHTLINE
    • NYTIMES MAGAZINE
    • PLAYBOY
    • THE VILLAGE VOICE
    • FRENCH GQ
    • GAY CALGARY
    • THIS WEEK IN TEXAS
    • AUTOSTRADDLE
    • LES INROCKUPTIBLES
    • EDGE MEDIA NETWORK
    • DAILY BEAST
    • OUT MAGAZINE
    • VICE MAGAZINE
    • GOMAG
    • PATCH
    • THE STANDARD
    •   Back
    • TRENDING IN TRAVEL
    • BEST OF LISTS
    • SEX ON VACAY
    • SEXY CITY GUIDES
    • GET TIPSY
    • LUXURY TRAVEL
    •   Back
    • TRENDING IN CULTURE
    • FOOD, DRINK & DRUGS
    • POP CULTURE
    • OPINION
    • GETTING PERSONAL
    • POLITICS
    • BIG NEWS
    • MUSIC
    • NOSTALGIA
    • SPICY BOOKS
    • QUEER
    • QUEER BOOKS
    • MOVIE SEX
    • CULTURAL SHIFTS
    •   Back
    • TRENDING IN CONFESSIONS
    • QUEER
    • STRAIGHT
    • CUMMING OF AGE
    • GETTIN' WILD
    • KINKY CONFESSIONS
    • GETTING PERSONAL
    • SEX CLUBS
    • SEX AFTER 40
    •   Back
    • TRENDING IN KINK
    • DATING WHILE KINKY
    • RELATIONSHIPS
    • KINK ENCYCLOPEDIA
    • GETTING PERSONAL
    • HOW TO GET KINKY
    •   Back
    • TRENDING IN SEX
    • SEX ENCYCLOPEDIA
    • RELATIONSHIPS
    • SEX ED
    • GETTING PERSONAL
    • SEX MEETS TECH
    • OH JOY SEX TOY
    • IDENTITY
  • All Posts
  • Confessions
  • Culture
  • Kink
  • PRESS
  • Sex
  • Travel
    •   Back
    • MEDIUM
    • SWAY'S UNIVERSE
    • HUFFINGTON POST
    • WALL STREET JOURNAL
    • ABC NEWS NIGHTLINE
    • NYTIMES MAGAZINE
    • PLAYBOY
    • THE VILLAGE VOICE
    • FRENCH GQ
    • GAY CALGARY
    • THIS WEEK IN TEXAS
    • AUTOSTRADDLE
    • LES INROCKUPTIBLES
    • EDGE MEDIA NETWORK
    • DAILY BEAST
    • OUT MAGAZINE
    • VICE MAGAZINE
    • GOMAG
    • PATCH
    • THE STANDARD
    •   Back
    • TRENDING IN TRAVEL
    • BEST OF LISTS
    • SEX ON VACAY
    • SEXY CITY GUIDES
    • GET TIPSY
    • LUXURY TRAVEL
    •   Back
    • TRENDING IN CULTURE
    • FOOD, DRINK & DRUGS
    • POP CULTURE
    • OPINION
    • GETTING PERSONAL
    • POLITICS
    • BIG NEWS
    • MUSIC
    • NOSTALGIA
    • SPICY BOOKS
    • QUEER
    • QUEER BOOKS
    • MOVIE SEX
    • CULTURAL SHIFTS
    •   Back
    • TRENDING IN CONFESSIONS
    • QUEER
    • STRAIGHT
    • CUMMING OF AGE
    • GETTIN' WILD
    • KINKY CONFESSIONS
    • GETTING PERSONAL
    • SEX CLUBS
    • SEX AFTER 40
    •   Back
    • TRENDING IN KINK
    • DATING WHILE KINKY
    • RELATIONSHIPS
    • KINK ENCYCLOPEDIA
    • GETTING PERSONAL
    • HOW TO GET KINKY
    •   Back
    • TRENDING IN SEX
    • SEX ENCYCLOPEDIA
    • RELATIONSHIPS
    • SEX ED
    • GETTING PERSONAL
    • SEX MEETS TECH
    • OH JOY SEX TOY
    • IDENTITY
Skip to content