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7 Books to Get You Through Post-Queer Eye Life

by  | August 28

Another season of Queer Eye, another several hours well spent laughing, crying, and generally feeling like you can tackle anything. And while Antoni, Tan, Karamo, Bobby, and Jonathan are fantastic at making the people on the show—and by extension the viewer—believe in the power we all have inside of us, there are other ways to get that uplifting feeling. My favorite way, obviously, is books…and then bingeing Queer Eye again. So if your heart is ready to love again, and your TBR is feeling a little empty, here are seven reads that are going to take you on heartwarming journeys of discovery and growth.

A Man Called Ove

A Man Called Ove

by Fredrik Backman

The saying goes “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks,” and that certainly seems to be the case with Ove, a grump so set in his ways that he becomes the most reviled neighbor in his area. All that changes, however, when a new family moves in next door and forces Ove to confront the feelings of grief and loss he’s been keeping bottled up since his wife’s death. Backman is a master of writing engaging characters who get readers emotionally invested, and both Ove and his new neighbor Parvaneh really shine.  A look at how our circumstances can change us—for better or worse—and how everyday small actions can turn things around in big ways.

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How We Fight for Our Lives

How We Fight for Our Lives

by Saeed Jones

So much of Queer Eye is not just about changing oneself but accepting oneself, and that isn’t always easy for people of marginalized and oppressed communities. This struggle for self-esteem and the right to take up space is well known to Saeed Jones, whose moving memoir How We Fight for Our Lives embodies the journey of empowerment, self-acceptance, and discovery. Jones details growing up Black and gay in the South through vignettes, delving into relationships with his family, friends, lovers, and strangers who in turn inform his experience. Ultimately, the book ties together the search and creation of love and power through a blend of poetry and prose, highlighting that while finding oneself can sometimes be uncomfortable, daunting, and lonely, it is the most important fight we will ever face. Seriously, bring your tissues for this one.

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The Trouble with Henry and Zoe

The Trouble with Henry and Zoe

by Andy Jones

Sometimes, personal change comes following traumatic events, causing our world to go off-kilter as we try to regain some semblance of order and priority. Personal growth can also happen at the most inconvenient times, like meeting your soul mate four months before you’re set to travel the world alone. That’s what happens with Henry and Zoe, two people on the run from their pasts, who end up colliding headfirst into each other’s lives. The book is written from the perspective of both Henry and Zoe, and their takes on the situation provide a lot of comedy, but also a lot of heart. As they each grapple with what they’ve done—and what has been done to them—you can see them coming closer together and growing stronger, helping to lift themselves out of their past and into the future.

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The Gilded Razor

The Gilded Razor

by Sam Lansky

It’s always tempting to look at those who “have it together” and wish we could be more like them. In an age of picture-perfect lives on Instagram, it can seem like some people really do get to have it all and look good doing it. Sam Lansky fit that description easily—top student at an elite NYC high school, popular, and bound for the Ivy League, it seemed like nothing could stop his meteoric rise. But behind all that, he was having affairs with older men, abusing prescription drugs, and slowly losing control of his perfect world. After a near-fatal overdose shakes everything to its core, Lansky journeys from city to city before coming to terms with his demons. The Gilded Razor is a witty and brutally honest look at addiction, denial, and transformation, reminding readers that healing is a path laid down with hard work and the courage to see it through.

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Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine

Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine

by Gail Honeyman

Personal growth is tough, having to combat your own insecurities and inner demons to make real and lasting changes in your life. So, really, it’s not all that surprising when people prefer to stay where they are mentally and emotionally rather than taking the leap. For Eleanor, life isn’t perfect, but her regimented routine keeps her safe, which is all she wants. That is, until one day she meets Raymond, an IT guy from her office who is trying to help an elderly man named Sammy. Her interactions with these two open her up to a whole new world of love and vulnerability—beyond being just “fine”—even though it also means having to deal with her traumatic childhood in foster care. Like any good episode of Queer Eye, this book will have you in tears as Eleanor sheds her protective shell and moves forward to become who she always secretly wanted to be.

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Teaching the Cat to Sit

Teaching the Cat to Sit

by Michelle Theall

Any psychologist will tell you that how a parent treats their child will have a profound impact on their lives. Michelle Theall’s relationship with her devoutly Catholic and volatile mother certainly did. In her memoir Teaching the Cat to Sit, she details how she felt like a disappointment to her mother, for never behaving how she should. Well, that, and being a lesbian, which is a sin in both the church and the eyes of her mother. After moving to a remote mountain town in Colorado and enjoying a few years of peace, Theall winds up the center of a controversy when her son’s Catholic school decides to expel all children with gay parents, opening up old wounds and unleashing a battle with the Church. A story of the struggle for acceptance and the complexity of parental love, Theall’s book with have you laughing, crying, screaming, and rejoicing in one beautifully written book.

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The Alchemist

The Alchemist

by Paulo Coelho

No list of books about inspiring personal journeys would be complete without The Alchemist, a transcendental story. Santiago is a shepherd in Spain who dreams of finding a treasure in Egypt. Along his long and harrowing journey, he meets several characters, all of whom point him in the right direction, but not just toward monetary goods. Ultimately, as Santiago continues along, he finds that the true value he seeks is found within himself. This short book is brimming with lush scenery, thoughtful prose, and big ideas, a cross between a self-help book and a parable meant to inspire and warm. Ultimately, The Alchemist pushes readers to chase what they want, even when the road seems insurmountable.

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A reporter by trade, Sara Roncero-Menendez is a lover of horror, sci-fi, and all things pop culture. From indies to classics to even the strangest genre pieces, all movies, TV shows, and books are fair game for a binge-fest. Follow her on Twitter @sararomenen or at her website, www.sara-roncero-menendez.com