One Dutch Editor, One Nomad Writer

The Writing Community’s Favorite LGBT+ Books

With June moments away, it’s time for Pride! But this isn’t the year for parades and large gatherings. Instead, we’re celebrating LGBT+ authors and their books. I asked the writing community for their favorite LGBT+ books and y’all delivered! Most of the works below are ownvoices, but I couldn’t verify that for all authors. I’ve sorted them by rep so there’s plenty to choose from. LGBT+ books listed multiple times have representation from multiple categories.

Four LGBT+ books' covers

Lesbian Fiction

96 Hours – Georgia Beers: Erica Ryan is flying home from London after a disastrous business trip. Free spirit Abby Hayes is flying into New York City to visit her mother before jetting off again. Both end up in Gander, Canada, when their flight is diverted because of 9/11.

Artificial Generation – A.H. Haga. Elena is part of a generation of artificially created children. Believed to be humankind’s last hope, they have only one purpose: to breed. Elena, however, doesn’t want children.

The Book of Promises – Tammy Bird. Spencer Price is living her best life in Denver Colorado. But when Jordan Rohan kisses her, and her best friend writes it in their shared book of promises, she suddenly finds herself in a struggle between duty and independence, allegiance and betrayal.

Dangerous Remedy – Kat Dunn: Frankenstein meets chaotic disaster gays during the French Revolution. Camille, a revolutionary’s daughter, leads a band of outcasts – a runaway girl, a deserter, an aristocrat in hiding. 

In the Dream House (Memoir) – Carmen Maria Machado: For years Carmen Maria Machado has struggled to articulate her experiences in an abusive same-sex relationship. Machado tackles a dark and difficult subject with wit, inventiveness and an inquiring spirit. She uses classic horror themes to create an entirely unique work which is destined to become an instant classic.

Fairy-tales for Lost Children – Diriye Osman. Fairytales For Lost Children is narrated by people constantly on the verge of self-revelation. These LGBT+ Somalis must navigate the complexities of family, identity and the immigrant experience as they tumble towards freedom.

Two lesbian books

Fingersmith – Sarah Waters. Sue Trinder is an orphan, left as an infant in the care of Mrs. Sucksby, a “baby farmer,” who raised her with unusual tenderness, as if Sue were her own. Mrs. Sucksby’s household, with its fussy babies calmed with doses of gin, also hosts a transient family of petty thieves—fingersmiths—for whom this house in the heart of a mean London slum is home.

The Flywheel – Erin Gough: Seventeen-year-old Del drops out of high school when her romance with another girl goes horribly wrong. Preferring chaos to bullying, Del makes it her mission to save her dad’s crumbling café, the Flywheel, while he ‘finds himself’ overseas.

Gideon the Ninth – Tamsyn Muir: The Emperor needs necromancers. The Ninth Necromancer needs a swordswoman. Gideon has a sword, some dirty magazines, and no more time for undead bullshit.

The Hoodlum Army – Elizabeth Rodrick: A Robin Hood for the Modern Age…Robin never thought she’d meet the girl of her dreams in a bank, much less when they were both robbing it. But her mother always said to find someone who shares your interests.

4 lesbian / lgbt+ books

Juliet Takes a Breath – Gabby Rivera. Juliet Milagros Palante is leaving the Bronx and headed to Portland, Oregon. She just came out to her family and isn’t sure if her mom will ever speak to her again. But Juliet has a plan, sort of. It’ll help her figure out this whole “Puerto Rican lesbian” thing.

Knit One, Girl Two – Shira Glassman. Small-batch independent yarn dyer Clara Ziegler is eager to brainstorm new color combinations–if only she could come up with ideas she likes as much as last time! When she sees Danielle Solomon’s paintings of Florida wildlife by chance at a neighborhood gallery, she finds her source of inspiration.

Legendborn – Tracy Deonn. After her mother dies, sixteen-year-old Bree Matthews wants nothing to do with her family memories or childhood home. A residential program for bright high schoolers at UNC–Chapel Hill seems like the perfect escape—until Bree witnesses a magical attack her very first night on campus.

juliet takes a breath cover

Loving Her – Ann Allen Shockley. The groundbreaking story centers on Renay, a talented black musician who is forced by pregnancy to marry the abusive, alcoholic Jerome Lee. When Jerome sells Renay’s piano to finance his drinking, she leaves her destructive marriage, and flees with her young daughter to Terry, a wealthy white writer whom she met at a supper club.

Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit – Jeanette Winterson. This is the story of Jeanette, adopted and brought up by her mother as one of God’s elect. Zealous and passionate, she seems destined for life as a missionary, but then she falls for one of her (female) converts.

The Price of Salt – Patricia Highsmith, Claire Morgan: A stage designer trapped in a department-store day job, Therese Belivet’s salvation arrives one day in the form of Carol Aird, an alluring suburban housewife in the throes of a divorce. They fall in love and set out across the United States, pursued by a private investigator who eventually blackmails Carol into a choice between her daughter and her lover. 

lesbian lgbt+ books

Queen of Coin and Whispers – Helen Corcoran. Lia is a newly crowned, idealistic queen, and Xania is her (female) spymaster, who takes the job to uncover her father’s murderer. When they fall for each other, their feelings collide with their expected paths in life: duty and vengeance.

Stone Butch Blues – Leslie Fienberg: Woman or man? This internationally acclaimed novel looks at the world through the eyes of Jess Goldberg, a masculine girl growing up in the “Ozzie and Harriet” McCarthy era and coming out as a young butch lesbian in the pre-Stonewall gay drag bars of a blue-collar town.

Travelers – V.S. Holmes: Archaeologist Nel Bently has her own crew, her own research, and a private patron to fund her passion for dirt. With her trowel barely into the dry earth of Chile’s coast, however, Nel learns she and her crew are being watched.

We are Okay – Nina LaCour – You go through life thinking there’s so much you need… until you leave with only your phone, your wallet, and a picture of your mother. Marin hasn’t spoken to anyone from her old life since the day she left everything behind. 

Two LGBT+ books' covers

Gay Rep

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe – Benjamin Alire Sáenz: Aristotle is an angry teen with a brother in prison. Dante is a know-it-all who has an unusual way of looking at the world. When the two meet at the swimming pool, they seem to have nothing in common. But as the loners start spending time together, they discover that they share a special friendship–the kind that changes lives and lasts a lifetime.

B-Boy Blues: A Seriously Sexy, Fiercely Funny, Black-on-Black Love Story – James Earl Hardy. Hardy’s debut novel about the lives of black gay men in New York City is unabashedly and unapologetically written for the African-American male. Rough, sexy, humorous, and authentic, B-Boy Blues is a first-rate love story.

Beauregard and the Beast – Evie Drae: Champion MMA fighter Adam Littrell is preparing for the biggest fight of his career. If he wins, he’ll add another proverbial notch to his record-breaking title reign. If he loses, he’s on the fast track for retirement. But when he opens the door to a distraction in the form of the nerdy and awkward Bo Wilkins, staying focused becomes a struggle.

The Black Flamingo – Dean Atta: A boy comes to terms with his identity as a mixed-race gay teen – then at university he finds his wings as a drag artist, The Black Flamingo. Sometimes, we need to take charge, to stand up wearing pink feathers – to show ourselves to the world in bold colour.

Buzz – E. Davies: At twenty-three, an undiagnosed heart condition sends pro hockey player Cameron Riley back to his hometown newly single and looking for work. Cam can’t hide his past – especially when his heart racing is a big risk, and boy, does his new boss’s nephew make his heart race. 

Four gay book covers

The Charioteer – Mary Ranault. After enduring an injury at Dunkirk during World War II, Laurie Odell is sent to a rural veterans’ hospital in England to convalesce. There he befriends the young, bright Andrew, a conscientious objector serving as an orderly. As they find solace and companionship together in the idyllic surroundings of the hospital, their friendship blooms into a discreet, chaste romance. 

Don’t Call Us Dead – Danez Smith. Don’t Call Us Dead opens with a heartrending sequence that imagines an afterlife for black men shot by police, a place where suspicion, violence, and grief are forgotten and replaced with the safety, love, and longevity they deserved here on earth. Smith turns then to desire, mortality the dangers experienced in skin and body and blood and a diagnosis of HIV positive. 

one of yet more lgbt+ books

Dry – Augusten Burroughs: You may not know it, but you’ve met Augusten Burroughs. You’ve seen him on the street, in bars, on the subway, at restaurants. He’s a twenty-something guy, nice suit, works in advertising. Regular. Ordinary. But when the ordinary person had two drinks, Augusten circles the drain by having twelve.

Heartstopper – Alice Oseman. Charlie, a highly-strung, openly gay over-thinker, and Nick, a cheerful, soft-hearted rugby player, meet at a British all-boys grammar school. Friendship blooms quickly, but could there be something more…? Bonus points, it’s a graphic novel!

Three book covers from the gay suggestion section

My Man, My Boyz – Dwayne Vernon: Tariff Struggling to uphold his lover’s dying wish for him to find love again; he must come to terms with Demetrius, who waits in the wings. Can Demetrius be patient while Tariff accepts the love he has to offer him?

On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous – Ocean Vuong. On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous is a letter from a son to a mother who cannot read. Written when the speaker, Little Dog, is in his late twenties, the letter unearths a family’s history that began before he was born — a history whose epicenter is rooted in Vietnam — and serves as a doorway into parts of his life his mother has never known, all of it leading to an unforgettable revelation.

Renegades – E.M. Lindsey: Soren Green is a good man. An ex-MMA fighter, single father, and a lawyer helping to better the lives of LGBT teens. But his life isn’t as simple as it seems, and things get turned a little upside down when he stumbles on a troubled man on the side of the road, making his way through a snowstorm.

The Sidekicks – Will Kostakis. All Ryan, Harley and Miles had in common was Isaac. They lived different lives, had different interests and kept different secrets. But they shared the same best friend. They were sidekicks. And now that Isaac’s gone, what does that make them?

two gay books covers

Something Like Summer – Jay Bell. The hot Texas nights were lonely for Ben before his heart began beating to the rhythm of two words; Tim Wyman. By all appearances, Tim had the perfect body and ideal life, but when a not-so-accidental collision brings them together, Ben discovers that the truth is rarely so simple.

Surrender Your Sons – Adam Sass. At Nightlight, everyone has something to hide from the campers to the “converted” staff and cagey camp director, and it quickly becomes clear that no one is safe. Connor plans to escape and bring the other kidnapped teens with him. But first, he’s exposing the camp’s horrible truths for what they are— and taking this place down.

They Both Die at the End – Adam Silvera. On September 5, a little after midnight, Death-Cast calls Mateo Torrez and Rufus Emeterio to give them some bad news. They’re going to die today. Mateo and Rufus are total strangers, but, for different reasons, they’re both looking to make a new friend on their End Day.

Two gay books

Through the Portal – Jessica Grace Wright. William, Meredith, Jake, Henry and Josie are runaway foster kids who live in an abandoned apartment in Asheville. They steal what they need to survive, but, one night a strange girl named Katherine helps them.

Wild Beauty – Anna-Marie McLemore. For nearly a century, the Nomeolvides women have tended the grounds of La Pradera, the lush estate gardens that enchant guests from around the world. They’ve also hidden a tragic legacy: if they fall in love too deeply, their lovers vanish.

The World of Normal Boys – K.M. Soehnlein. Falling into a fevered triangle with two other outcasts, Todd Spicer and Scott Schatz, Robin embarks on an explosive odyssey of sexual self-discovery that will take him beyond the spring-green lawns of suburbia, beyond the fraying fabric barely holding together his quickly unraveling family, and into a complex future, beyond the world of normal boys.

Three LGBT+ books' covers

Bi and Pan Rep

Red Penpals note: Bi and pan are valid separate identities.

Artificial Generation – A.H. Haga. Elena is part of a generation of artificially created children. Believed to be humankind’s last hope, they have only one purpose: to breed. Elena, however, doesn’t want children.

Dangerous Remedy – Kat Dunn: Frankenstein meets chaotic disaster gays during the French Revolution. Camille, a revolutionary’s daughter, leads a band of outcasts – a runaway girl, a deserter, an aristocrat in hiding. 

Hotel of Lost Souls – H.S. Kallinger. The Lost Humanity series is a queer psychological horror/urban fantasy that follows an ordinary guy who never saw himself doing anything interesting… until a villainous vampire gets him in his grasp. It’s the story of the villain’s sidekicks, their fall, and their life together.

a bi book

Just as I Am – E. Lynn Harris. Raymond, a young black lawyer from the South, struggles to come to terms with his sexuality and with the grim reality of AIDS. Nicole, an aspiring singer/actress, experiences frustration in both her career and in her attempts to find a genuine love relationship.

Knit One, Girl Two – Shira Glassman – Small-batch independent yarn dyer Clara Ziegler is eager to brainstorm new color combinations–if only she could come up with ideas she likes as much as last time! When she sees Danielle Solomon’s paintings of Florida wildlife by chance at a neighborhood gallery, she finds her source of inspiration.

Legendborn – Tracy Deonn. After her mother dies, sixteen-year-old Bree Matthews wants nothing to do with her family memories or childhood home. A residential program for bright high schoolers at UNC–Chapel Hill seems like the perfect escape—until Bree witnesses a magical attack her very first night on campus.

Two books with bi rep

Pantomime – Laura Lam. Gene’s life resembles a debutante’s dream, yet she hides a secret that would see her shunned by the nobility. Not only is Gene is both male and female, she displays unwanted magical abilities – last seen in mysterious beings from an almost-forgotten age.

The Price of Salt – Patricia Highsmith, Claire Morgan. A stage designer trapped in a department-store day job, Therese Belivet’s salvation arrives one day in the form of Carol Aird, an alluring suburban housewife in the throes of a divorce. They fall in love and set out across the United States, pursued by a private investigator who eventually blackmails Carol into a choice between her daughter and her lover. 

Running With Lions – Julian Winters. Bloomington High School Lions’ star goalie, Sebastian Hughes, should be excited about his senior year. His teammates are amazing and he’s got a coach who doesn’t ask anyone to hide their sexuality. But when his estranged childhood best friend Emir Shah shows up to summer training camp, Sebastian realizes the team’s success may end up in the hands of the one guy who hates him.

Wild Beauty – Anna-Marie McLemore. For nearly a century, the Nomeolvides women have tended the grounds of La Pradera, the lush estate gardens that enchant guests from around the world. They’ve also hidden a tragic legacy: if they fall in love too deeply, their lovers vanish.

Trans Rep

An Unkindness of Ghosts – Rivers Solomon. Aster lives in the low-deck slums of the HSS Matilda, a space vessel organized much like the antebellum South. When the autopsy of Matilda’s sovereign reveals a surprising link between his death and her mother’s suicide some quarter-century before, Aster retraces her mother’s footsteps, all while embroiled in a grudge with a brutal overseer and sowing the seeds of civil war.

Cemetery Boys – Aiden Thomas. When his traditional Latinx family has problems accepting his gender, Yadriel becomes determined to prove himself a real brujo. With the help of his cousin and best friend Maritza, he performs the ritual himself, and then sets out to find the ghost of his murdered cousin and set it free.

Dreadnaught – April Daniels. Until Dreadnought fell out of the sky and died right in front of her, Danny was trying to keep people from finding out she’s transgender. But before he expired, Dreadnought passed his mantle to her, and those secondhand superpowers transformed Danny’s body into what she’s always thought it should be. Now there’s no hiding that she’s a girl.

Felix Ever After – Kacen Callender: Felix Love has never been in love—and, yes, he’s painfully aware of the irony. He desperately wants to know what it’s like and why it’s easy for everyone but him to find someone. Even though he is proud of his identity, Felix also secretly fears that he’s one marginalization too many. Black, queer, and transgender, can he ever get his own happily-ever-after?

two books with trans MCs

Peter Darling – Austin Chant. Peter Pan left Neverland to grow up, leaving behind his adolescent dreams of boyhood and resigning himself to life as Wendy Darling. Growing up, however, has only made him realize how inescapable his identity as a man is.

Under My Skin Kindle Edition – A. E. Dooland: Min Lee is a workaholic who can’t say no. She substitutes sleep with Red Bull and, through a combination of repression and bad habits, has managed to score herself a luxury apartment, a fabulous boyfriend and the approval of her billionaire CEO. Things are looking pretty awesome… well, apart from those body image issues that constantly plague her.

Nonbinary, Agender, and Genderfluid Rep:

Red Penpals Note: The nonbinary and genderqueer umbrella contains many separate, valid identities. However, they are grouped together under the Nonbinary umbrella for the purpose of this blog.

two lgbt+ books with nonbinary rep

Anger is a Gift – Mark Oshiro. A sophomore, Moss and his fellow classmates find themselves increasingly treated like criminals by their own school. New rules. Random locker searches. Constant intimidation and Oakland Police Department stationed in their halls. Despite their youth, the students decide to organize and push back against the administration.

Legendborn – Tracy Deonn. After her mother dies, sixteen-year-old Bree Matthews wants nothing to do with her family memories or childhood home. A residential program for bright high schoolers seems like the perfect escape—until Bree witnesses a magical attack her very first night on campus.

Pantomime – Laura Lam. Gene’s life resembles a debutante’s dream, yet she hides a secret that would see her shunned by the nobility. Not only is Gene is both male and female, she displays unwanted magical abilities – last seen in mysterious beings from an almost-forgotten age.

Anger Is a Gift

River of Teeth – Sarah Gailey. Contained within this volume is an 1890s America that might have been. There’s a bayou overrun by feral hippos and mercenary hippo wranglers from around the globe. Oh, and a biracial queer cowboy accompanied by a nonbinary demolition expert.

An Unkindness of Ghosts – Rivers Solomon. Aster lives in the low-deck slums of the HSS Matilda, a space vessel organized much like the antebellum South. When the autopsy of Matilda’s sovereign reveals a surprising link between his death and her mother’s suicide some quarter-century before, Aster retraces her mother’s footsteps, all while embroiled in a grudge with a brutal overseer and sowing the seeds of civil war.

Intersex Rep

Pantomime – Laura Lam. Gene’s life resembles a debutante’s dream, yet she hides a secret that would see her shunned by the nobility. Not only is Gene is both male and female, she displays unwanted magical abilities last seen in mysterious beings from an almost-forgotten age.

Shiva XIV: Lyra Shanti: A dying kingdom. A galaxy in peril. And only the reincarnation of an ancient god can save them. His sheltered existence torn asunder, Ayn finds himself on an epic journey. He meets new friends, foes, and a mysterious “cat-bird” only he can see.

Ace Rep

Anger is a Gift – Mark Oshiro: Now, in his sophomore year of high school, Moss and his fellow classmates find themselves increasingly treated like criminals by their own school. New rules. Random locker searches. Constant intimidation and Oakland Police Department stationed in their halls. Despite their youth, the students decide to organize and push back against the administration.

City of Strife – Claudie Arseneault: A hundred and thirty years have passed since Arathiel last set foot in his home city. Isandor hasn’t changed—bickering merchant families still vie for power through eccentric shows of wealth—but he has. His family is long dead, a magical trap has dulled his senses, and he returns seeking a sense of belonging now long lost.

Three asexual book covers

Every Heart a Doorway – Seanan McGuire: Children have always disappeared under the right conditions; slipping through the shadows under a bed or at the back of a wardrobe, tumbling down rabbit holes and into old wells, and emerging somewhere… else. But magical lands have little need for used-up miracle children.

Let’s Talk About Love – Claire Kann. The only thing missing from Alice’s perfect summer plan is her girlfriend (who ended things when Alice confessed she’s asexual). Alice is done with dating–no thank you, do not pass go, stick a fork in her, done. But then Alice meets Takumi and she can’t stop thinking about him or the rom com-grade romance feels she did not ask for (uncertainty, butterflies, and swoons, oh my!).

Demi Rep

Queen of Coin and Whispers – Helen Corcoran. Lia is a newly crowned, idealistic queen, and Xania is her (female) spymaster who takes the job to uncover her father’s murderer. When they fall for each other, their feelings collide with their expected paths in life: duty and vengeance.

Hotel of Lost Souls – H.S. Kallinger: The Lost Humanity series is a queer psychological horror/urban fantasy that follows an ordinary guy who never saw himself doing anything interesting… until a villainous vampire gets him in his grasp. It’s the story of the villain’s sidekicks, their fall, and their life together.

The Other Side: An Anthology of Queer Paranormal Romance

Anthologies with So Much Wonderful Rep, They Could Go in Every Category:

The Other Side: An Anthology of Queer Paranormal Romance – various authors: Featuring 19 stories by 23 different creators, The Other Side is a celebration of queer romance and the paranormal! Inside, you’ll find positive romance stories featuring a wide variety of queer and trans protagonists-as well as poltergeists, shadow monsters, guitar-playing hypnotists, lost angels, genderfluid vampires, trickster ghosts, and many more!

An LGBT+ author's book cover

Books by LGBT+ authors that aren’t about LGBT+ Topics:

Let’s not restrict LGBT+ authors to writing only LGBT+ things.

Life is a Terminal Illness – Cynthia McDonald: In 2013, the author was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer. This non-fiction account chronicles that journey, and how the experience changed her life for the better. Learning to see the positive in a terminal diagnosis gave her the strength to become a better person and see the world around her in a more positive way.

LGBT+ Writing Resources For Allies

If you’re an ally writing LGBT+ characters), we suggest our blog on writing with gender-neutral pronouns. It has links to even more fabulous LGBT+ books, including LGBT+ books written by ownvoices and award-winning authors.

You can also sign up for our Newsletter to hear about when we publish more blogs. To follow us on Twitter and submit your suggestions for LGBT+ books, you can find this post’s author at Madeline_Pine, and the other half of Red Penpals by searching Saskia Brakenhoff. Thank you for reading, submitting, and sharing. Happy Pride!

Leave a Reply