Friday, 26 August 2022

Read Around the Rainbow - What are your top three non-romance reads?

I'm a member of Read around the Rainbow, a rag tag collection of authors who are part of or who write about all letters of the LGBTQ+ rainbow. Each month we'll be posing a question or subject up for discussion. This month the question posed is 'What are your top three non-romance reads?'

I nearly ducked out of this one but I missed last month (because I write in pretty much total silence) and I don't like to skip two in a row. 

"But why would you duck out?" I hear you cry. "You love reading. You regularly smash 250 books a year on the GR challenge."

So true, imaginary reader.

But my issue is twofold. I have a terrible memory. I can't remember my favourite book of this year without scrolling through my GR reviews (it's why I never do one of those top ten reads lists in December), so I'm certainly not remembering my favourite book from 30 years ago because I didn't have GRs back then. What I did have was a reference book of best crime stories and I worked my way through that, reading the recommended stories and devouring the authors that I enjoyed. So, late teens, early twenties me would have said my favourite books were hardboiled crime novels - I loved Chandler and Hammett; or early 20th century British sleuths, especially Dorothy L. Sayers' Lord Peter Wimsey and Ngaio Marsh's Roderick Alleyn. I guess I should pick my first read from this amazing reference book (I'd recommend this if I could only remember the damn title). 

As such my first pick is The Daughter of Time (Inspector Alan Grant #5) by Josephine Tey. 

Tey uses the device of having her main detective laid up in hospital and, bored out of his skull, he decides to try and solve a centuries old murder, that of the Princes in the Tower and the subsequent vilification of Richard III. Sounds boring, yeah? But it's not. It's a brilliantly written piece of storytelling by a writer at the height of her craft (this was Tey's last book before her death), thought provoking and entertaining. It doesn't claim to be anything but fiction, and I'm sure historians by their hundreds have disproved Tey's ascertains, but it certainly shines a light on the way that history can be rewritten by the victors.

There, I have pulled a book from the annuls of (my) history. I could go back further, but we'd be looking at Nancy Drew, the Hardy Boys, and Willard Price's animal adventure books. Or a few years earlier, Enid Blyton. 

My other problem is that for the last decade it's rare that I read any novels that aren't queer romance or at the very least has a romance as a secondary story line. 

But of course I don't just read queer romance, my second genre of choice, although it's more a medium than a genre, is comics. So I've got to pick a comic for my list, right. But I read so many, which could I possibly chose?

The X-Men run from the last few years? An epic (in the large sense rather than amazing) story at the hands of Jonathan Hickman, but with so many different writers, and maybe not all of them understand Hickman's vision, hell I don't always understand it. There's good, bad, and ugly comics under that umbrella, some runs I read in their entirety, other's I gave up on straight away. 

Or the Spider-Man Clone Saga from the mid 90's. It's a run I'm currently reading and it's not always very good. It's iconic, not always for the best reasons, but it gave us two of my favourite Spider-Man characters, Scarlett Spider and Kaine. 

Or let's ignore the Big Two and go to Boom Comics. 

Once and Future (by Kieron Gillen, Dan Mora (Illustrator), Tamra Bonvillain (Colourist)) is an excellent read, combining Arthurian legend and the mess that is modern day Britain in a mad tale of monsters, wizards, kings and bloated politicians, a chain smoking monster hunting granny and her very confused grandson. It's 3 issues from the very end and I'm waiting to read the final arc but it's brilliant so far, visually exciting, and I can't wait to read again from the very beginning. 

For my final pick I'm going to chose something that I've read more recently, but what should it be. When I read away from queer romance these days I tend to pick something historical. I've recently started reading Edward Marston and his Home Front Detective series, set in London during WWI, which started with A Bespoke Murder. I really enjoyed Ruso and the Demented Doctor (Medicus Investigations 2) by R.S. Downie and will pick up anything of that ilk to try. 

Possibly my favourite series in this style and the one I'm going to add as my third book is Under the Eagle by Simon Scarrow. Let's be honest, these books have their detractors, and I don't know enough about Roman history to comment. I had my moments of WTF but the story is fun and action packed, the main characters are likeable and wouldn't be out of place in a age gap, grumpy/sunshine queer historical romance or on the pages of AO3. Even the tag line sounds queer: They're in it for Rome and they're in it together. 

So, they are my picks. If you were expecting highbrow and studious reasons, then you've come to the wrong place. But let's see what my fellow authors have come up with. 

Nell Iris: Read Around the Rainbow: Top 3 Non-Romance Reads

Ofelia Grand: Read Around the Rainbow | What are your top three non-romance reads?

Fiona Glass: Read Around the Rainbow: My Top 3 Non-Romance Books

Amy Spector: Read Around the Rainbow • Top 3 Non-Romantic Reads #RAtR

Ellie Thomas: Read Around the Rainbow: What are your top three top non-romance reads

KL Noone: Read Around the Rainbow: top three non-romance reads

Addison Albright: WEBRING ~ Read Around the Rainbow ~ Top 3 Fave Non-Romance Books ~ #RAtR


  1. I also have a problem remembering books! It's terrible.

  2. I haven’t read any of these three, but I’ve been meaning to read The Daughter of Time ever since I saw it mentioned in an MM mystery I read (Unspeakable Words by Sarah Madison). It’s just moved up my TBR. :-)

    1. It's well worth it. I might have to check out Unspeakable Words...

  3. I have no memory to speak of! The Daughter of Time is a favourite read of mine and I love Simon Scarrow as a writer too. Once & Future looks fab. Must check that out!!

    1. It's terrible. I have no idea how others can remember books from a tiny snippet or suggestion.

  4. I'm a huge comics fan—my walk-in closet more full of comic boxes than clothing, and bookshelves full of reprint collections can attest to that—but I've not read Once and Future. I'll have to hunt it down!

    1. Someone after my own heart. I'd rather buy new comics than new clothes anyway.

  5. Under the Eagle sounds really interesting. I'm a huge fan of Roman history :-)