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Looking for LGBTQIA+ books to read for Pride month–or anytime? This reading list includes fantastic stories with lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer characters. Read rich stories about the LGBTQ community, as well as stories of family, friends, love, and so much more.
In recent years, so many more LGBTQIA books have been published and reached mainstream audiences, which is amazing for readers and the literary community.
Readers dedicated to reading diverse books now have more opportunities to read LGBTQ books, and discuss them with many other readers who are also enjoying and finding meaning in these stories.
Both allies and members of the LGBTQ community can enjoy these books. As an ally and someone with many friends and loved ones in the LGBTQ community, I appreciate that there are so many more books available to represent their experiences.
Some of these books are heavy and delve into the struggles that many queer people face, while others offer other aspects of the human experience, through a queer lens: joy, love, self-discovery, romance, humor.
Whether you’re looking for a love story, a coming-of-age story, or an LGBTQIA book to make you laugh, you’ll find plenty of recommendations that are essential reading for any book lover.
LGBTQIA+ Books to Read for Pride Month (or Anytime)
Grace Porter has finished her PhD in astronomy and is ready to move into her successful career. But her field doesn’t seem quite as ready to welcome her–a biracial lesbian–into the fold.
When she wakes up in Vegas–married–she has dim memories of the night, the girl, and the magic. Thrown into crisis, she decides to take a break and find the girl–and maybe herself.
There is a lovely romance in this book, but the love stories that truly shine are between Grace and her friends. Even with this support system, she–and all of them–need to face the things everyone does: loneliness, confusion, identity, mental health, and finding their path.
Reese is a trans woman dealing with the fallout after her girlfriend, Amy, detransitions to Ames and her dreams of a peaceful family life are broken. Ames, too, is struggling. When he learns his new lover is pregnant, he wrestles with the idea of himself as a “father”–and wants to bring Reese into the mix to build their own version of family.
This may be an untraditional book to include on a list about motherhood, but it overarches the whole narrative, in multiple ways: how trans people “mother” one another in the community, what makes a mother, and who has the right to want to be a mother.
Unflinching and explicit, this book will make a lot of readers very uncomfortable, but if you’re up for the rawness, this is endlessly thought-provoking.
Olivia is raising her son, Asher, on her own after leaving an abusive marriage. Asher is popular, charismatic, and head-over-heels for his girlfriend, Lily. When Lily is found dead at the bottom of her stairs–where Asher claims to have found her–he is the main suspect in her death. Throughout the trial and investigation, Olivia learns things about her son and his relationship that make her question everything she knows.
I am being purposely vague in this summary so I don’t spoil some key plot points, but Picoult and Finney Boylan cover a lot of timely ground here, and they do it in a way that brings controversial, national conversations close. Picoult has become particularly masterful at doing this in her most recent books–while writing page-turners–and this one is no exception. It’s excellent.
Chain-Gang All-Stars is a compelling sci-fi dystopia that has a bit of a Hunger Games feel. The U.S. has implemented a gladiator sport program in which prisoners fight to the death for the entertainment of spectators. If the fighters survive three years in the program, they can be freed. The story follows two women, Loretta Thurwar and Hamara “Hurricane Staxx” Stacker, who are stars of the program and in a relationship. As Thurwar closes in on her freedom, she tries to help her remaining chain members find connection and humanity in a system determined to dehumanize them.
This is satirical, but also horrifying, and it moves swiftly through the perspectives of the chain-gang members to protestors to workers to fans of the bloodsport. Like those fans, I couldn’t look away from this sharp indictment of the prison system, its racism and violence, and the role of capitalism in our system of justice.
Arthur Less is a failing novelist on the brink of turning 50. When he receives an invitation to his former lover’s wedding, he embarks on an around-the-world journey to avoid the event. Less is both frustrating and endearing, a bit bumbling, and above all, certain of his own failures.
Light on plot and heavy on wandering musings, this Pulitzer Prize winner can be slow at times–but certain parts also had me laughing out loud.
After living a quiet life alone with his cat and working as a postman, Albert Entwistle is informed that it’s time for him to retire. He realizes that he’s about to lose the only way he connects with other people, so he sets out to change that. Albert starts trying to make friends, and he also thinks it may be time to share who he really is–and find George, the love of his life who he lost years before.
I loved listening to Albert’s journey to connection and acceptance. His deep shame and fear about his sexual identity being discovered were so sad and affected his entire life–in ways that were probably not uncommon. Albert is a lovely character and he forms a number of delightful friendships. If you liked A Man Called Ove, give this one a try.
Sarah Foster ran away from home at 16 after her first girlfriend was found dead in a lake and she learned people in her life may have been involved. Starting from nothing is hard, but she makes her way into bartending and soon becomes famous for her creative signature cocktails.
When she meets Emilie at a restaurant, their connection is instant. But both have complications from their pasts that make it difficult to fall into a relationship. As they ebb and flow toward and away from one another, they start to understand how they might fit together. This was a lovely story, with complex, sensitive characters and relationships.
Arlo Dilly is a DeafBlind man in his twenties. He is bright and curious, but also isolated within his Jehovah’s Witness community and by his controlling uncle. When Arlo decides to take a college writing course, interpreter Cyril reluctantly agrees to the assignment, uncertain of his tactile sign language skills. Cyril and Arlo soon open new worlds to one another, as Cyril teaches Arlo about the rights he never knew he had, and Arlo shows Cyril what it means to be brave and take risks for love.
I loved this story for so many reasons. The characters were fantastic, with rich backstories, flaws, and so much heart. There are many serious themes in this book, but the friendships and quirky characters (including an elderly guide dog and an eccentric Belgian) added levity and delight. One of my favorites of 2022.
Twenty-three-year-old August is hoping for a new start in New York City. She enjoys her quirky new roommates and job at a beloved diner. But it’s the intriguing girl on the subway who really piques her interest. As she and Jane grow closer, August discovers a new mystery to solve: Jane is from the 1970s and forever stuck on the subway. Why, and how can they fix it?
This LGBTQ romantic comedy is set in a slightly alternate universe and is filled with charming banter and diverse characters. The narration is excellent–I highly recommend this on audio.
In a fictional White House family, Alex is a golden boy with eyes on a future in politics. He has a quiet rivalry/fascination with Prince Henry of Wales that usually has little effect on his life–until a tense encounter forces them into a false PR campaign highlighting their “close friendship.” The two grudgingly go along, until their smart banter turns to real friendship–and then to more. The unrelenting spotlight and the difficulties of two political worlds don’t make their romance easy.
This was a fun audiobook listen with sweet romance (it’s a little steamy), witty banter, and insider-y political maneuverings. A great choice if you’re looking for an uplifting romance.
Rosie and Penn are raising a loud, unique family of five boys. From science to stories to knitting to costumes, the family is full of quirks that are embraced and nurtured.
So when 5-year-old Claude declares that he is a girl, his parents support him. Soon Claude has become Poppy, a girl to all outside the family and accepted as one within his family. But secrets weigh heavy, time can’t be slowed, and the safety of childhood and family can’t shield Poppy from difficult future decisions and the outside world forever.
I loved this story of imperfect parents whose hardest lesson isn’t accepting a child who is different, but accepting that facing difficulties and fears is sometimes the best way to be supportive.
Stuart’s Booker Prize-winning debut novel is a gut-punch of a book. Young Shuggie adores his mother, Agnes, and her beauty and glamour captivate those who meet her. But her alcoholism shapes the lives of Shuggie and his older siblings. Shuggie’s philandering father eventually abandons them to a derelict public housing scheme outside of Glasgow, where Shuggie tries to manage his mother and her binges, while facing bullying for being “different.”
Filled with relentless, gritty poverty, brutality, and addiction, Shuggie Bain is a difficult coming of age story. There is hope and love here, though I think many readers found more of those elements than I did. Recommended if a heavy read is right for you, but there are plenty of trigger warnings to be aware of.
In a Nigerian town, a mother opens the door and finds the body of her son. As she grieves his death, she tries to understand the person Vivek was and find out how he was killed. A gentle soul, Vivek struggled with identity and finding a place in the world.
Told from multiple perspectives, the story reconstructs the events leading to Vivek’s death and the heartbreaking struggle for self-acceptance in a world that is determined to deny it.
A Little Life
Author: Hanya Yanagihara
Publish Date: 2016
Genres: Literary Fiction
A Little Life tells the story of JB, Malcolm, Willem, and Jude, four friends just out of college and making their way in New York.
As the story shifts through the perspectives of each friend, finally landing on Jude, you realize that Jude is struggling with more than quarter-life angst. He bears the physical and emotional wounds of a deeply traumatic childhood. As years and decades pass, the friends struggle to understand his trauma and help him move toward healing.
Charlie lands the job as eccentric actress Kathi Kannon’s assistant by chance. He starts as a fan–and an employee desperate to keep his job. He soon becomes essential and as she depends on him more, he wonders where he starts and she ends–and whether he can save her from herself.
This was a fun audiobook listen, filled with snark and Hollywood absurdities. It’s fiction, but a great choice if you love a good tell-all (the author is Carrie Fisher’s former assistant, though he makes clear this is not a memoir).
Georgia is a urologist in South Carolina, and she and her best friend, Jonah–a doctor at the same clinic–have become family. Just as she leaves the country for a conference, a crisis: the clinic bans Jonah’s transgender patients, and Jonah himself is in danger of losing his job because of his sexual orientation.
I expected a much darker story but was treated to a delightful friendship, funny quips, and intelligent medical writing (Martin is a doctor). Martin covers the serious topics with sensitivity, without overtaking the characters. Smart but light writing at its best.
When aging movie star Evelyn Hugo recruits Monique Grant, an unknown reporter, to write her biography, Monique can’t fathom why Evelyn would want her. She is quickly drawn into Evelyn’s winding tale, from her rise to stardom, her multiple marriages, and the dramas of her life.
Evelyn is an enigmatic character–fascinating, confident, and powerful. It’s no wonder, since she and her story are based on several of Hollywood’s leading ladies.
I loved the peek behind the curtain of the careful construction of Evelyn’s public life versus her private life. This was juicy, smart, and unputdownable.
Set in two time periods, the first in 1980s Chicago and the second in 2015 Paris, The Great Believers throws readers into the thick of–and the aftermath of–the 1980s AIDS crisis. From a group of young men in Chicago’s gay community to the people they left behind, mourning the loss of so many, this is grief on a large scale.
Makkai masterfully juxtaposes the AIDS crisis with several other tragic events, including world wars and terrorist attacks. These, as well as a thread about historical art, are brilliantly woven together to highlight the generations of people and talents lost to these devastations.
For more on this book, check out 11 Things to Know About The Great Believers: The Story of the Story
Born to an unwed mother in Ireland in the 1940s, Cyril is adopted by Charles and Maude Avery. From an early age, Cyril knows he’s different: not a “real Avery,” and not attracted to girls like his friends.
The book follows Cyril through his life, from his youth and twenties spent in hiding in a repressive Dublin to a more open life in middle age in Amsterdam and New York. Cyril’s search for identity, belonging, acceptance, and family is by turns funny, frustrating, and sad.
Ten-year-old Ian is a bookworm who young librarian Lucy Hull helps smuggle books past his overbearing mother. He also might be gay, much to the horror of his parents, who have sent him to anti-gay classes with Pastor Bob. When he shows up after hours at the library with a plan to run, Lucy suddenly finds herself an unwitting kidnapper, driving Ian halfway across the country with a half-formed plan to save him.
Moral questions and gray areas abound and aren’t always satisfactorily resolved, which may frustrate some readers, but the point here is less about moralizing than it is about having the courage to save yourself. Also a great choice if you love books about books.
Helen arrives in Appalachia with her boyfriend, full of dreams of living off the land–but it goes south quickly. He leaves and she, having put all her resources toward the land they purchased, sticks it out. Her neighbors Karen and Lily are expecting a child–a boy, which means they must move off of the Women’s Land Trust where they’ve been scraping by. Helen invites them to live on and share ownership of her land.
Bent on being independent, together, the three women and the little boy, Perley, build a life and negotiate their relationships. But soon the outside world encroaches on their lives in ways they didn’t expect. This book combines so many themes: the families we create, living off the land, life in Appalachia and poverty, and rugged femininity, all told in multiple riveting voices.
This collection of David Sedaris’ essays and stories will be familiar to any fan, and I enjoyed revisiting them. For those who love the stories of his life and family, this is a nice journey through the years.
The essays, including one new one, get more poignant toward the end, as Sedaris reflects on their lives and the family members who have passed away. (His fiction stories are always too absurdist for my taste–you can safely skip those if you feel the same.) I always enjoy Sedaris more on audio–his delivery makes the stories even funnier–and if you can, I recommend listening to this essay collection instead of reading.
Jennifer Finney Boylan’s memoir is an original take on the typical dog memoir. From her boyhood through her transition and adulthood as a married woman with children, this book is less about the dogs themselves than about how their presence punctuated the pivotal moments of her life.
For a person struggling with identity, these dogs were unrelentingly (often hilariously) themselves. Grounding Boylan’s journey–foreign to so many readers–in the relatable love of dogs serves to make her story relatable as well.
This novel, framed as a letter from a son to a mother who cannot read, is a debut for poet Ocean Vuong. The son, named Little Dog, reflects on life with his mother. She is work-worn and sometimes abusive, exhausted by her lack of a homeland, her inability to read or speak English fluently, and her mentally ill mother who was traumatized by the war. Little Dog grapples with his identity as a son, an Asian American, and a gay man experiencing his first romance with a troubled farm worker.
The prose and the story–especially the first three-quarters–are stunning. The writing is spare but poetic, and devastatingly insightful. Some parts caused me to pause and read them again to savor their brilliance. Notable here because the son’s perspective is the only view of the mother available.