100 books like Cantoras

By Carolina De Robertis,

Here are 100 books that Cantoras fans have personally recommended if you like Cantoras. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of The Great Believers

Christopher DiRaddo Author Of The Family Way

From my list on uplifting and celebrating queer kinship and chosen family.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm a queer author based in Montreal. When I came out in the early 1990s, at the age of 21, I remember feeling concerned about my future. Family has always been important to me, but I couldn’t imagine what mine would look like as I got older. I knew I wasn't going to have a traditional family like my parents, but I didn’t know what else was possible. Thankfully, I found the answer in books… As queer people, we must seek out and learn our traditions and history. We’re not taught them from birth. Finding books that demonstrate and uplift the bonds that queer people share provides a roadmap for those of us seeking community.

Christopher's book list on uplifting and celebrating queer kinship and chosen family

Christopher DiRaddo Why did Christopher love this book?

Many books that tackle the AIDS crisis tend to focus on queer meccas like New York City and San Francisco, but Makkai’s The Great Believers illustrate just how hard the virus hit Chicago.

Jumping back and forth between 1985 and 2005, the book follows a close group of gay men and their straight allies as their communities begin to come under attack. In 1985, Yale Tishman is on the verge of great professional success just as his dreams begin to slip through his fingers.

Meanwhile in 2005, Yale’s friend Fiona Marcus finds herself looking for her runaway daughter in the streets of Paris, while also coming to terms with what she had to give up to care for these men. A masterful book. 

By Rebecca Makkai,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked The Great Believers as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

PULITZER PRIZE FINALIST
NATIONAL BOOK AWARD FINALIST
A NEW YORK TIMES TOP 10 BOOK OF 2018
LOS ANGELES TIMES BOOK PRIZE WINNER
ALA CARNEGIE MEDAL WINNER
THE STONEWALL BOOK AWARD WINNER

Soon to Be a Major Television Event, optioned by Amy Poehler

"A page turner . . . An absorbing and emotionally riveting story about what it's like to live during times of crisis." -The New York Times Book Review

A dazzling novel of friendship and redemption in the face of tragedy and loss set in 1980s Chicago and contemporary Paris

In 1985, Yale Tishman, the development director for an…


Book cover of Tales of the City

Christopher DiRaddo Author Of The Family Way

From my list on uplifting and celebrating queer kinship and chosen family.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm a queer author based in Montreal. When I came out in the early 1990s, at the age of 21, I remember feeling concerned about my future. Family has always been important to me, but I couldn’t imagine what mine would look like as I got older. I knew I wasn't going to have a traditional family like my parents, but I didn’t know what else was possible. Thankfully, I found the answer in books… As queer people, we must seek out and learn our traditions and history. We’re not taught them from birth. Finding books that demonstrate and uplift the bonds that queer people share provides a roadmap for those of us seeking community.

Christopher's book list on uplifting and celebrating queer kinship and chosen family

Christopher DiRaddo Why did Christopher love this book?

There were only three Tales of the City books when I picked up my first copy. There are now nine of them, spanning 40 years.

First written as a newspaper serial, the collected Tales explore the lives and loves of a diverse group of folks living in the same boarding house at 28 Barbary Lane in San Francisco. Among them is landlord Anna Madrigal, an early trans icon, and gay everyman Michael ‘Mouse’ Tolliver, a hopeless romantic looking for love in the Castro.

The book is an easy read with short chapters, lots of dialogue, and zany plot twists. What I love most is how much these characters – some of whom are estranged from their biological families – start to feel like close friends whose lives you get to follow. 

By Armistead Maupin,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Tales of the City as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

NAMED AS ONE OF THE BBC'S 100 MOST INSPIRING NOVELS

Now a Netflix series starring Elliot Page and Laura Linney . . .

'It's an odd thing, but anyone who disappears is said to be seen in San Francisco.' Oscar Wilde

Mary Ann is twenty-five and arrives in San Francisco for an eight-day holiday.

But then her Mood Ring turns blue.

So obviously she decides to stay. It is the 1970s after all.

Fresh out of Cleveland, naive Mary Ann tumbles headlong into a brave new world of pot-growing landladies, cut throat debutantes, spaced-out neighbours and outrageous parties. Finding a…


Book cover of Real Life

Lucy Jane Bledsoe Author Of Tell the Rest

From my list on not-the-same-old queer stories.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been reading queer fiction for, well, I guess about 50 years. First, brilliant novels by James Baldwin, Virginia Woolf’s Orlando, and cheesy lesbian pulp novels. In the eighties, feminist presses and a wealth of new queer literature sprung into existence. It’s easier now to find great queer fiction, if you dig a little. My approach is to read widely, all kinds of authors, from all kinds of backgrounds. So the whole idea of a “best 5” is hard for me to get my mind around. I could have listed 25 more. Thank you for reading!

Lucy's book list on not-the-same-old queer stories

Lucy Jane Bledsoe Why did Lucy love this book?

A perfect fit for the not-the-same-old-queer novel list, Taylor’s story features a Black gay biochemist who is working on his degree at a Midwestern university.

I love this book for the intimacy in its portrayal of the protagonist, Wallace, the way his thoughts and feelings and decisions are revealed with such precision. I felt his joys and his pains so clearly.

A science nerd gay character! What’s not to love?

By Brandon Taylor,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Real Life as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A FINALIST for the Booker Prize, the National Book Critics Circle John Leonard Prize, the VCU/Cabell First Novelist Prize, the Lambda Literary Award, the NYPL Young Lions Award, and the Edmund White Debut Fiction Award 
 
“A blistering coming of age story” —O: The Oprah Magazine

Named a Best Book of the Year by The New York Times, The Washington Post, New York Public Library, Vanity Fair, Elle, NPR, The Guardian, The Paris Review, Harper's Bazaar, Financial Times, Huffington Post, BBC, Shondaland, Barnes & Noble, Vulture, Thrillist, Vice, Self, Electric Literature, and Shelf Awareness

A novel of startling intimacy, violence, and…


Book cover of The Five Wounds

Alina Grabowski Author Of Women and Children First

From my list on exploring how place shapes community.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a writer who grew up in Massachusetts and now lives in Austin, Texas. Though I haven’t lived in Massachusetts for over a decade now, I find myself drawn back to the state’s coast in my fiction. My novel, Women and Children First, takes place in a fictional town south of Boston called Nashquitten. I’m obsessed with how where we’re from shapes who we become and the ways we use narrative to try and exert control over our lives. 

Alina's book list on exploring how place shapes community

Alina Grabowski Why did Alina love this book?

Las Penas, New Mexico, is the setting for this moving novel that follows a year in the lives of the Padilla family. Valdez Quade creates characters with dazzling depth, and you’ll root for the Padillas as they stumble through twelve months, where everything they know is upended and destabilized.

The way this book portrays community reminds me of a favorite Sally Rooney quote from Normal People: “No one can be independent of other people completely, so why not give up the attempt, she thought, go running in the other direction, depend on people for everything, allow them to depend on you, why not.”

By Kirstin Valdez Quade,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Five Wounds as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

It's Holy Week in the small town of Las Penas, New Mexico, and thirty-three-year-old unemployed Amadeo Padilla has been given the part of Jesus in the Good Friday procession. He is preparing feverishly for this role when his fifteen-year-old daughter Angel shows up pregnant on his doorstep and disrupts his plans for personal redemption. With weeks to go until her due date, tough, ebullient Angel has fled her mother's house, setting her life on a startling new path.

Vivid, tender, funny, and beautifully rendered, The Five Wounds spans the baby's first year as five generations of the Padilla family converge:…


Book cover of Rainbow Rainbow

Lucy Jane Bledsoe Author Of Tell the Rest

From my list on not-the-same-old queer stories.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been reading queer fiction for, well, I guess about 50 years. First, brilliant novels by James Baldwin, Virginia Woolf’s Orlando, and cheesy lesbian pulp novels. In the eighties, feminist presses and a wealth of new queer literature sprung into existence. It’s easier now to find great queer fiction, if you dig a little. My approach is to read widely, all kinds of authors, from all kinds of backgrounds. So the whole idea of a “best 5” is hard for me to get my mind around. I could have listed 25 more. Thank you for reading!

Lucy's book list on not-the-same-old queer stories

Lucy Jane Bledsoe Why did Lucy love this book?

Conklin’s collection of short stories offers storylines that are utterly and marvelously original.

These queer characters are quirky, but not quirky for the sake of being quirky. They are so fully themselves, and their passions drive them through their relationships and actions so believably, that you don’t question the strangeness of the situations for a second.

Mainly I just love the big heart in Conklin’s stories. Their prose, the actual word choices, are a delight in the same way the characters are—they surprise you and yet are spot-on right.

By Lydia Conklin,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Rainbow Rainbow as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A collection of stories that celebrate the humour, darkness and depth of emotion of the queer and trans experience that's not typically represented: liminal or uncertain identities, queer conception and queer joy.

In this delightful debut collection of prize-wining stories, queer, gender-nonconforming and trans characters struggle to find love and forgiveness, despite their sometimes comic, sometimes tragic mistakes. In one story, a young lesbian tries to have a baby with her lover using an unprofessional sperm donor and a high-powered, rainbow-coloured cocktail. In another, a fifth-grader explores gender identity by dressing as an ox - instead of a matriarch -…


Book cover of Nightcrawling

Lucy Jane Bledsoe Author Of Tell the Rest

From my list on not-the-same-old queer stories.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been reading queer fiction for, well, I guess about 50 years. First, brilliant novels by James Baldwin, Virginia Woolf’s Orlando, and cheesy lesbian pulp novels. In the eighties, feminist presses and a wealth of new queer literature sprung into existence. It’s easier now to find great queer fiction, if you dig a little. My approach is to read widely, all kinds of authors, from all kinds of backgrounds. So the whole idea of a “best 5” is hard for me to get my mind around. I could have listed 25 more. Thank you for reading!

Lucy's book list on not-the-same-old queer stories

Lucy Jane Bledsoe Why did Lucy love this book?

I can’t resist a book set in Oakland, very near to where I live.

I also love a novel that tells deep truths, and Nightcrawling does that, showing the horrors of police abuse and the failures of the justice system. However, this book isn’t “trauma porn.” On every page, protagonist Kiara owns her story, drives her agency, makes the best choices she can in the moment, and loves with a huge heart.

The way she finds her way to queer love is organic and beautiful.

By Leila Mottley,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Nightcrawling as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

NEW YORK TIMES BEST SELLER • AN OPRAH BOOK CLUB PICK • BOOKER PRIZE LONGLIST • A dazzling novel about a young Black woman who walks the streets of Oakland and stumbles headlong into the failure of its justice system. This debut of a blazingly original voice “bursts at the seams of every page and swallows you whole” (Tommy Orange, author of There There).

A BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR: The New Yorker, The Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, San Francisco Chronicle, TIME, GOODREADS

Kiara and her brother, Marcus, are scraping by in an East Oakland apartment complex optimistically called…


Book cover of How Long Has This Been Going On?

Christopher DiRaddo Author Of The Family Way

From my list on uplifting and celebrating queer kinship and chosen family.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm a queer author based in Montreal. When I came out in the early 1990s, at the age of 21, I remember feeling concerned about my future. Family has always been important to me, but I couldn’t imagine what mine would look like as I got older. I knew I wasn't going to have a traditional family like my parents, but I didn’t know what else was possible. Thankfully, I found the answer in books… As queer people, we must seek out and learn our traditions and history. We’re not taught them from birth. Finding books that demonstrate and uplift the bonds that queer people share provides a roadmap for those of us seeking community.

Christopher's book list on uplifting and celebrating queer kinship and chosen family

Christopher DiRaddo Why did Christopher love this book?

It’s a common occurrence for the latest generation to think they invented everything, but Mordden sets the record straight and deftly answers the question posed by his book’s title: It’s been going on for a long, long time…

Epic in scope, this brick of a book opens at an underground gay bar in Los Angeles in 1949 and ends on Gay Pride Day in New York City in 1991. In between, we’re introduced to a boatload of queer characters from across the US, all trying to survive the trials that life throws at them.

At some point, many cross paths. It’s all here folks: raids on gay bars, secret affairs, falling in love, sex work, the birth of the pride movement, the torment of AIDS. I didn’t want it to end.

By Ethan Mordden,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked How Long Has This Been Going On? as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

With dozens of characters in locations from New York to L.A., San Francisco to the heartland, this novel encompasses the entirety of the gay and lesbian experience in America since World War II. From the author of the Buddies trilogy and a regular contributor to The New Yorker.


Book cover of I Hope We Choose Love: A Trans Girl's Notes from the End of the World

Christopher DiRaddo Author Of The Family Way

From my list on uplifting and celebrating queer kinship and chosen family.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm a queer author based in Montreal. When I came out in the early 1990s, at the age of 21, I remember feeling concerned about my future. Family has always been important to me, but I couldn’t imagine what mine would look like as I got older. I knew I wasn't going to have a traditional family like my parents, but I didn’t know what else was possible. Thankfully, I found the answer in books… As queer people, we must seek out and learn our traditions and history. We’re not taught them from birth. Finding books that demonstrate and uplift the bonds that queer people share provides a roadmap for those of us seeking community.

Christopher's book list on uplifting and celebrating queer kinship and chosen family

Christopher DiRaddo Why did Christopher love this book?

I always have time for what Kai Cheng Thom has to say. A work of non-fiction, this collection of enlightened essays and prose poems should be required reading for those of us interested in queer liberation.

From her earliest pages, it’s clear that Thom is not afraid to have difficult conversations or ask the tough questions, but she unpacks so many of today’s important issues with empathy, honesty, insight, and wit. Ultimately, she’s asking us to look inward and examine how we treat each other as members of the queer community.

What kind of future do we want for ourselves? For those we consider our family? This work remains hopeful and solutions-oriented without being saccharine or unrealistic.

By Kai Cheng Thom,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked I Hope We Choose Love as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Winner, Publishing Triangle Award for Trans and Gender Variant Literature; American Library Association Stonewall Honor Book

What can we hope for at the end of the world? What can we trust in when community has broken our hearts? What would it mean to pursue justice without violence? How can we love in the absence of faith?

In a heartbreaking yet hopeful collection of personal essays and prose poems, blending the confessional, political, and literary, Kai Cheng Thom dives deep into the questions that haunt social movements today. With the author’s characteristic eloquence and honesty, I Hope We Choose Love proposes…


Book cover of Redwood and Ponytail

Jennifer Richard Jacobson Author Of Crashing in Love

From my list on middle grade about first love.

Why am I passionate about this?

Although I was an avid reader of romance when I was a tween, the middle grade novels I wrote prior to Crashing in Love were about more “serious” topics. Yet, much of the mail I received from kids had pressing questions about the future of potential love interests. That’s when I realized that I’d been guilty (like many) of considering romance to be “light” fiction. What could be more important, more serious, than discovering ourselves while making genuine connections with others? Those letters changed my mind. Learning to love is essential and not to be taken lightly at all.

Jennifer's book list on middle grade about first love

Jennifer Richard Jacobson Why did Jennifer love this book?

I cannot say enough wonderful things about this heartfelt novel in verse about Tam (Redwood) and Kate (Ponytail) who fall in like while finding their authentic selves. Kate (like Peyton in my book) is a perfectionist—she’s got her list of boxes to check. But then Tam comes along, and Kate is set on an invigorating path of discovery. K.A. Holt’s brilliant poetry dazzles as she shares two journeys that are often joyful, satisfying introspective, and completely engrossing.

By K.A. Holt,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Redwood and Ponytail as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 10, 11, 12, and 13.

What is this book about?

2020 Odyssey Honor Award
2020 Rainbow Booklist Title
NCTE 2020 Notable Poetry Book
ALSC Notable Children's Recordings

Kate and Tam meet, and both of their worlds tip sideways. At first, Tam figures Kate is your stereotypical cheerleader; Kate sees Tam as another tall jock. And the more they keep running into each other, the more they surprise each other. Beneath Kate's sleek ponytail and perfect facade, Tam sees a goofy, sensitive, lonely girl. And Tam's so much more than a volleyball player, Kate realizes: She's everything Kate wishes she could be. It's complicated. Except it's not. When Kate and Tam…


Book cover of Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe

David Ciminello Author Of The Queen of Steeplechase Park

From my list on quirky wisdom filled love stories.

Why am I passionate about this?

Growing up queer and Italian in suburban New Jersey in the late 1960s and early 70s, it was the passionate love of food and family that got me through the tough times. I learned to cook from my mother and my grandmothers. I gardened and picked tomatoes with my grandfathers. There was always a pot of simmering tomato gravy and magic meatballs on the stove. My mother’s chicken parmigiana, my paternal grandmother’s homemade ravioli, my maternal grandmother’s stuffed clams, my great aunt’s baked chicken. As a writer, it became my mission to share these secret family recipes and the loving life lessons that saved me.

David's book list on quirky wisdom filled love stories

David Ciminello Why did David love this book?

Through a series of tall tales told by an impish old lady to a lost, lonely woman visiting a nursing home, Fannie Flagg whisks the reader back to the deep south circa 1929 to an off-beat love story between two women who run a cozy café, and a rich mystery that gives the lost woman the courage to make heroic changes in her life.

This delectable book was a huge inspiration for me when writing my debut novel. I love how the wisdom-filled folk-tale-like chapters are quilted together to tell a larger story. And, like my own book, it contains a bucket full of tasty recipes!

By Fannie Flagg,

Why should I read it?

9 authors picked Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Folksy and fresh, endearing and affecting, Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe is a now-classic novel about two women: Evelyn, who’s in the sad slump of middle age, and gray-headed Mrs. Threadgoode, who’s telling her life story. Her tale includes two more women—the irrepressibly daredevilish tomboy Idgie and her friend Ruth—who back in the thirties ran a little place in Whistle Stop, Alabama, offering good coffee, southern barbecue, and all kinds of love and laughter—even an occasional murder. And as the past unfolds, the present will never be quite the same again.
 
Praise for Fried Green Tomatoes at…


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