We may very well be living in the golden age of LGBTQ+ books. This reader-favorite lit continues to pave the way for more visibility within and beyond the queer community. While this is by no means a comprehensive list, these 11 reads beautifully illustrate the pains and joys of the human experience in their own unique ways.
As one reviewer puts it, this coming-of-age LGBT book is a "YA masterpiece." It follows Aristotle, an angry and depressed teenager who feels utterly alone, and Dante, a boy his age who befriends him and enlightens him to how beautiful and wondrous the world can be, in spite of all of its darkness. Amidst the growing pains of teenage life and Ari's struggle with his mental health, the boys' close friendship is a steadfast beacon through the good times and bad.
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Carmen Maria Machado's celebrated literary debut is a sublimely queer story collection, tinged throughout with paranormal themes. Each of the eight stories features protagonists and characters on varying points on the sexuality spectrum, dealing with the myriad traumas in their lives as a result of their female-presenting identities.
All-powerful and thought-provoking, the book's first story, The Husband Stitch is one of the most chilling and artfully rendered in the collection, a retelling of the children's horror tale The Green Ribbon.
If you saw the Call Me By Your Name movie without knowing that it was a book beforehand, don't fret! The source material is just as lush, passionate, and poignant as the Oscar-winning flick. In the book, Elio and Oliver's love story is told in the stream-of-consciousness narrative of Elio's inner monologue.
Call Me By Your Name is filled with tension and contradictory emotions that pull on the heartstrings of the reader alongside Elio's own sexual frustrations. It's a word-dense and excruciatingly beautiful read.
If I Was Your Girl is a heart-opening and tender novel following Amanda Hardy, the new girl in a small-town Tennessee high school. Anxious and shy, she wants so badly to make new friends and fit in, as well as open up to her new crush, Grant.
Her transgender identity is a secret, and she fears losing the connections she's made in letting the people around her actually meet the real her. This beautifully written and honest story is a celebration of teenagehood, in all of its complications and joy.
This 480-page LGBT book may seem like an insurmountable story to get through, but we think its premise is enough to hook you in for the long haul.
The titular character of The Miseducation of Cameron Post is sent to live with ultra conservative relatives after the death of her parents, and while she struggles in secret with her gay identity, she ends up falling for her best friend, with whom she seeks comfort in this dark time.
When her aunt discovers that Cameron is a lesbian, she sends her to a religious conversion camp as punishment. Cameron's reckoning with her identity in the face of harsh, abusive adversity, is incredibly powerful.
This new-release YA novel is a breath of fresh air for those craving a fun and buzzy LGBT book. The protagonist, Abby, is a fashion-obsessed lesbian who runs a plus-size style blog that's just starting to gain popularity. She's stoked on her career ambitions, having landed a summer internship at an amazing boutique with the possibility of full-time employment at the end. The only thing is, she's competing with the other intern for the coveted spot ... who she ends up totally falling for.
Fast-paced, funny, and charming, you'll also be head over heels by the time this book is done.
Novels about the immigrant experience in America often deal largely with identity issues, between the self and the adopted society, but No One Can Pronounce My Name additionally expounds on matters of gender presentation and desire.
Indian immigrants Harit and Ranjana are neighbors in an Indian American community outside of Cleveland, both reeling from major life changes. They develop a friendship, helping each other to reconcile their internal struggles, in order to love and feel at home within themselves. This book is compelling in both its subject matter and profound emotional intelligence.
Wholesome and honest, this of-the-moment LGBT book (on which the movie, Love, Simon was based) is sure to give you all the feels. Protagonist Simon Spier is a 16-year-old high school student who's on the cusp of coming out, when he strikes up an anonymous friendship online with a classmate and feels comfortable enough to confide in him. The plot thickens as Simon's correspondence falls into the wrong hands, sending him spiraling on whether or not he's ready for everyone to know that he's gay.
Comic, endearing, and "adorkable" (says one reviewer), don't be surprised if you speed-read the whole thing through one sitting.
Abundant with darkly whimsical fairy tale elements, this novel is a treat for any fantasy reader, and it also happens to be a beautiful LGBT love story as well. Miel and Sam are each other's closest friend and comfort, as they're both misunderstood by the greater community in different ways. Sam is coming to terms with a gender identity that wasn't assigned to him at birth, while Miel has the unusual, mystical ability to grow roses from her wrist.
These roses are a source of great intrigue to the manipulative Bonner sisters, who want to use Miel's powers for their own gain. With its atmospheric, evocative prose, this novel (loosely inspired by "La Llorona" in Mexican folklore) is one to really savor.
Even those who are LGBTQ+ allies may have a hard time understanding the realities of queer life, especially in a bigoted environment. The Art of Being Normal is about the friendship between Leo, a trans guy, and Kate, a trans girl, and their resilience in facing the bullies that have made their lives difficult at school. This powerful book is lauded for its sensitive and vivid portrayal of life as a transgender teenager.
This touching novel speaks directly to anyone who has ever grieved the loss of a trusted companion. Set in 1987 during the AIDS crisis, it follows 14-year-old June Elbus, who is a loner and completely invisible at school and at home. The only person who truly sees her and encourages her to accept herself is her godfather, Finn. In the midst of their friendship, Finn unexpectedly dies from the disease, and June is, once again, utterly alone.
At Finn's funereal, she notices a man there who she'd never seen before, who she discovers is Finn's ex-partner. He becomes a missing link to a person she was just beginning to know, instilling in June the hope that she thought was surely lost.