I’m finally back from London! The London Book Fair was amazing, and while I will definitely dedicate a whole post to what the event was like, I thought I would first share with you the books that I got in the big city! I only got one of these at the actual fair, because the LBF is mainly an industry event with workshops and panels for people who want to go into publishing or want to advance their publishing careers. But of course I couldn’t resist visiting some bookshops on my first ever trip to London – and this lovely haul is the result.
So, before I get into talking about the books I got, here’s a bit of info on the two bookshops I visited. Gay’s the Word is a fairly well-known LGBT+ bookshop, and it was the place I wanted to see the most in London. They have lots of shiny new books across different genres, including stunning non-fiction hardbacks on gender studies, which I really wanted to pick up, but they also stock three whole second-hand shelves with really cheap books, and that is where I found my picks (because #broke). I wasn’t planning on going to Judd Books, I had never even heard of it, but it’s pretty much right next to Gay’s the Word, and it’s a second-hand bookshop, so I thought why the hell not. They mostly sell academic books on social studies, and they all look quite dense and boring, so I was put off at first, but then I spotted a huge section full of fiction books, and there were some really amazing finds!
Asking for It by Louise O’Neill
I’m so amazed that I actually found this, especially in a place like Judd Books. I mean, honestly, I was expecting books like Gone Girl and some tacky romance, the kind of books that magically end up in every single second-hand bookshop ever, but I was not expecting something that I’ve wanted to read for ages. If you don’t know what Asking for It is about, it’s YA fiction about a girl who gets raped at a party, and it deals with victim-blaming and all the consequences of that night. I read Only Every Yours back in 2015 and I loved it. I’m hoping to be just as impressed with how dark Louise O’Neill can get when I read this. The only thing that bothers me is that I wish I had found the copy with the nice blue cover – I feel like it looks less boring and more similar to my copy of Only Ever Yours, as silly as that might sound. (£4.50)
Golden Boy by Abigail Tarttelin
This is another amazing find from Judd Books, and honestly I am so damn excited about it. I have lost count of the times I put this in my Book Depository basket and then removed it again because it was too expensive. And now I have it! It doesn’t even look second-hand, it looks and feels brand new. This is another YA novel, and this time it follows Max, who has been raised as the “perfect son”, and then discovers he is actually intersex. IT SOUNDS SO GOOD. (£3.95)
Fire from Heaven and The Persian Boy (Alexander the Great #1 and #2) by Mary Renault
I had the sudden urge to read more books like The Song of Achilles recently, so I started browsing other LGBT+ novels set in Ancient Greece. That’s how I came across Mary Renault – apparently she writes fantastic gay romance novels set during that time, which is exactly what I wanted. I have to confess now that I was a little bit dumb, because for some reason I knew about The Persian Boy before finding out about the author, I had just somehow heard of the book, but I never knew it was the second one in the series. So I was very lucky that I found Fire from Heaven as well, because I totally would have bought the second one on its own, and that would have been a whole new level of fail. In any case, I’m happy I found the first two books for such a cheap price, and I’m excited to read them! (Also the covers on my editions totally don’t match but they were cheap so ayyyy.) (£3.96 and £4.95)
Stay with Me by Ayọ̀bámi Adébáyọ̀
This is the one book I got from the London Book Fair, and I am beyond excited about it. Ayọ̀bámi was interviewed right in front of me, and she signed books afterwards, so while it was an expensive hardback copy, I couldn’t resist buying it. Mine was actually the last one they had left, so I was quite lucky. A girl walked up to the LBF bookshop about a second after I did and asked for a copy of the book, so yeah, that was close! The main reason I wanted to have this is that I love Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s work, and I got very similar vibes from this. It’s set in Nigeria and deals with family life, and the way the author described it in the interview made it sound like a very raw depiction of flawed people, which is what made me think it might be similar to Chimamanda’s novels. Very, very excited! (£14.99)
Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley
This is one of the books I found in Gay’s the Word, and I’m really glad I did, cause it’s been a while since there was some hype around it and I had completely forgotten about its existence. It’s set in 1959 Virginia, and it follows one of the first black girls in a previously all-white high school. On top of that, the main character also falls for a girl she works on a school project with, the daughter of a vocal opponent of school integration, and from what I can tell that girl likes her back. It sounds super good! (£3)
Everything Leads to You by Nina LaCour
I think everyone has heard about this book. It’s a YA novel that follows Emi, a young film maker who gets a mysterious letter from a movie world legend. The thing that most people love about this is that while Emi is gay, it’s not a big deal; this is not a coming-out story, her sexuality is just kind of a part of her and she doesn’t struggle with it. When I first saw this book around I was put off by the cover, because it looks like cheesy contemporary YA romance, but when I heard that it was LGBT+ themed and not a coming-out story for a change, I couldn’t help myself. I’m curious to see what I think! (£3)
The Last of the Wine by Mary Renault
What could be a better way to end this haul than with some more gay historical fiction … yes, I picked up another book by Mary Renault. Retrospectively, I feel a bit stupid, because if I don’t like Fire from Heaven I am not only stuck with the sequel but with another book by the same author. So I really hope I will love this! It’s again set in Ancient Greece, and this time we follow two young Athenians, Alexias and Lysis, who go through all sorts of fun adventures and probably do some gay shit in between. Hell yeah. I only wish the cover wasn’t so ugly, but one can’t have everything! (£3.50)
So those are all the books I picked up in London! If you guys have read any of these I would love to know what you think – and if you haven’t, do you plan on picking them up at some point? Also, if you’ve ever visited Gay’s the Word or Judd Books (or both!), did you like it there? I feel like chatting in the comments today, so just tell me whatever, really.
‘Till next time and happy reading!