Books

Five amazing, UK-based, queer independent bookshops you can support this Pride month

Jonny Yates June 1, 2021
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Bookshop.org is home to independent and queer bookshops across the UK.

Bookshop.org is home to independent and queer bookshops across the UK.

It’s officially Pride Month, and what better way to celebrate than reading some important books by LGBT+ people from one of the UK’s excellent queer bookshops?

There’s thousands of titles to get stuck into during Pride Month, and all year round, from independent bookshops across the UK.

If you can’t get to the queer bookshops in person during Pride Month then you can support them by ordering online through bookshop.org.

This article contains affiliate links, PinkNews may earn revenue if you click through and purchase products through the links.

The website describes itself as “a socially-conscious way to buy books online,” highlighting local and independent queer bookshops, authors and publications.

Bookshop.org features a number of queer, independent bookshops that can deliver your favourite novels and new reads right to your doorstep throughout the year.

Below we’ve put together a list of some of the independents featured on Bookshop.org that stock and celebrate LGBT+ writers.

You can find out what they’re doing for Pride Month, both in-store and digitally, and the LGBT+ books they’re highlighting.

The Bookish Type

The Bookish Type is based in Leeds. (Bookshop.org)
The Bookish Type is based in Leeds. (Bookshop.org)

Where: 58 Merrion Centre (upstairs), Leeds, LS2 8NG

The Bookish Type is an independent queer bookshop based in Leeds and they say: “We champion LGBTIQA+ authors and books with queer themes or characters because we know the importance of representation and we want to celebrate all the amazing queer books in publication.”

For Pride Month The Bookish Type is hosting an online author event with Matt Cain and Crystal Jeans to promote their new books, organising a queer history walk around Leeds on 13 June and running local bookstalls at Hyde Park Book Club in Leeds on 13-14 June.

Their page on Bookshop.org highlights the whole LGBT+ spectrum from books with asexual characters to contemporary lesbian fiction and horror fiction with LGBT+ characters to YA coming out novels.

Some books from the shop to get stuck into this Pride Month include acclaimed YA novel Loveless, which follows Georgia, a fanfic-obsessed romantic who’s never had a crush and comes to terms with her identity and new terms like asexual and aromantic.

Another from their ‘LGBT+ novels made into films’ list is Pride, the true story behind the hit film, which takes place in the 1980s during the miners’ strike and the beginning of the AIDS epidemic, and sees two unlikely groups team up to make a stand against the establishment together.

Plus there’s also The Secret Life of Albert Entwistle, which follows 64-year-old Albert, who realises it’s time to be honest about who he is and set out to find the long-lost love of his life, George. The Bookish Type will be teaming up with the author Matt Cain for a virtual Pride event.

Shelflife Books and Zines

Shelflife Books and Zines is based in Cardiff. (www.shelflifebookshop.com)
Shelflife Books and Zines is based in Cardiff. (www.shelflifebookshop.com)

Where: The Castle Emporium, Womanby Street, Cardiff, CF10 1BS

Shelflife is a new not-for-profit, radical queer bookshop based in Cardiff. It started as a pop-up inside a record shop in late 2019 and is “focused on making space for marginalised voices, stocking books from independent, micro and self-publishers”

This year’s Pride Month will mark Shelflife’s first as a physical shop and they say they’ll be celebrating with book displays, reading lists and by expanding their LGBT+ range throughout the month to highlight queer stories.

The bookshop is run by Rosie Smith who says: “You might think it’s daft to start a specialist, not-for-profit bookshop in the digital age and during a pandemic – but I think now is the best possible time – our communities need bolstering, understanding and a safe place to have their voice heard more than ever.”

Some highlights from the store include Man Enough to Be a Woman by Jayne County, a memoir about her life during the 60s art scene in Andy Warhol’s Factory, facing off against the police at Stonewall and coming out as a trans woman while touring Europe with her band.

A second is We Have Always Been Here, a queer Muslim memoir by Samra Habib about forgiveness and freedom.

Another is Fat and Queer: An Anthology of Queer and Trans Bodies and Lives, a collection of prose and poetry which radically explores the intersection of fat and queer identities, showcasing new, emerging and established queer and trans writers from around the world.

Mostly Books

Mostly Books helped set up its small town's first ever Pride event in 2019. (Bookshop.org)
Mostly Books helped set up its small town’s first ever Pride event in 2019. (Bookshop.org)

Where: 36 Stert Street, Abingdon, Oxfordshire, OX14 3JP

Mostly Books are an independent bookshop that were heavily involved in organising the town’s first ever Pride Festival back in 2019.

They say they are “committed to stocking LGBTQ titles throughout the year” and aim to give members of the community their support “by showing our visible inclusivity and approachability to read, talk about and celebrate LGBTQ books and authors.”

They also wanted the Pride event to broaden the horizons of readers who might not have previously read LGBT+ material, to “show them the wealth of fantastic stories and enlightening lived experiences that are available to enjoy and learn about.”

Due to the pandemic and the bookshop’s size they’ve been unable to host Pride celebrations at the same scale in 2020 and 2021, so this year every member of staff has chosen LGBT+ reading material that they’ve enjoyed to promote throughout June.

The books will be highlighted in the window displays, featured on social media channels, newsletter and bookshop.org, alongside all its other LGBT+ titles that are stocked throughout the year.

The titles range from early-years picture books including Uncle Bobby’s Wedding and Brenda Is a Sheep to YA fiction including The Extraordinaries and Once & Future and adult fiction such as Less and Find Me.

Lighthouse

Where: 43- 45 West Nicolson Street, Edinburgh, EH8 9DB

Lighthouse is a queer-owned and women-led independent community bookshop based in Edinburgh.

They describe themselves as “an unapologetically activist, intersectional, feminist, antiracist, lgbtq+ community space with over 10,000 titles for readers of all ages.”

Throughout the year they champion voices from the margins with events featuring talks from writers and an LGBT+ bookclub, to name a few. This month they’ll host Daisy Jones who will discuss her book All The Things She Said, an exploration of lesbian and bi culture from TikTok to queer style and lesbian representation in film and TV to Cate Blanchett.

Gay’s The Word

Gays The Word is the UK's oldest LGBT+ bookshop. (gaystheword.co.uk)
Gays The Word is the UK’s oldest LGBT+ bookshop. (gaystheword.co.uk)

Where: 66 Marchmont Street, London, WC1N 1AB

Gay’s The Word is a popular independent LGBT+ bookshop and it’s the oldest in the UK after opening in January 1979.

It’s based in London, so some people across the UK might not have had a chance to visit the historic bookshop but you can still order books from the independent shop to be delivered to your door.

This month they’ll be hosting ‘Gay Writes: Representation, Love and Prejudice in Young Adult Literature’ with William Hussey and Darren Charlton in conversation with Hamza Jahanzeb.

Hussey is the author of YA romantic-thriller The Outrage, while Charlton is the author of YA horror Wranglestone and the pair will discuss representation, love and prejudice in queer YA on 3 June.

Plus you can find a whole host of titles on their Bookshop.org page from gay thrillers to bisexual non-fiction and favourite picks from the staff at Gay’s The Word.

You can also head to the PinkNews bookshop at uk.bookshop.org/shop/PinkNews, which highlights LGBT+ novels, memoirs and more that have featured on our website.

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