LGBTQ+ Book recommendations
Updated: Nov 24, 2022
When the Moon was Ours - Anna-Marie Mclemore I had to start this list off with my favourite LGBTQ -author of all time. Any of AM’s novels could take this spot, as they all contain own-voice representation of LGBTQ+ characters from all across the spectrum. AM themself identifies as non-binary and pansexual and uses their own experiences, as well as those of their transgender partner, in her works. Also by the author with similar representation: Lakelore, Wild Beauty, Dark and Deepest Red and The Mirror Season.
2. On Earth we’re Briefly Gorgeous – Ocean Vuong Written as a letter from a son to a mother who cannot read, this stunningly written coming of age novel by poet Ocean Vuong is based off his own experiences of growing up as a gay man in a traditional Vietnamese-American family. Also by the author with similar representation: Time is a Mother and Night Sky With Exit Wounds.
4. Our Wives Under the Sea - Julia Armfield A haunting literary novel about the dynamics of an established F-F relationship, the defamiliarising effecs of loss and grief, and what life there is in the deep deep sea. Also by the author with similar representation: Salt Slow
5. We Are the Ants – Shaun David Hutchinson A heavy but incredibly impactful coming of age novel about a teenage boy who must decide whether or not the world is worth saving, whilst also dealing with the grief over losing his ex-boyfriend to suicide. Also by the author with similar representation: Howl, The Apocalypse of Elena Mendoza
6. Pet - Akwaeke Emezi A thought-provoking and haunting novel about a creature that escapes from an artist's canvas, whose talent is sniffing out monsters in a world that claims they don't exist anymore. Featuring a black, transgender protagonist, written by a black, non-binary author. Also by the author with similar representation: Freshwater, You Made a Fool of Death with Your Beauty and Bitter.
7. The Argonauts – Maggie Nelson Maggie Nelson's The Argonauts was one of my first introductions to non-fiction about a gender-fluid relationship, as I think it was to many. For that reason, as well as the momentum it sparked, it's a modern classic in my book.
8. In The Dream House- Carmen Maria Machado Remaining within the domain of non-fiction, Carmen Maria Machado's literary memoir breaks new grounds by openly covering her experiences with an abusive same-sex relationship. It's described as "tackling a dark and difficult subject with wit, inventiveness and an inquiring spirit, and using a series of narrative tropes—including classic horror themes—to create an entirely unique piece of work which is destined to become an instant classic." I couldn't have summarised it better myself.
Also by the author with similar representation: Her Body And Other Parties
9. Like Water by Rebecca Podos A gorgeously written and deeply felt literary young adult novel of identity, millennial fears, caregiving and first (F-F) love. Also by the author with similar representation: From Dust a Flame and The Wise and the Wicked.
10. We Are Okay by Nina Lacour A beautiful coming of age novel centring around grief and healing, featuring a beautiful F-F relationship. Also by the author with similar representation: Watch Over Me and Yerba Buena.
11. The Gloaming - Kirsty Logan A beautiful, slightly melancholic sea-side fantasy featuring a story of family, grief, homesickness and of course, an own-voice F-F relationship. Also by the author with similar representation: The Gracekeepers, Things We Say in the Dark and A Portable Shelter.
12. The Diviners - Libba Bray A historical, paranormal fantasy set in 1920s New York City, featuring a diverse (in every sense of the word) cast of characters.
13. Strange Creatures - Phoebe North An incredibly nuanced and compassionate portrait of grief, paracosm, and the journey onwards from trauma after a horrible event shatters the bond between an inseperable sibling pair. There's a stunning and supporting F-F relationship in here, although it's not the central focus of the novel. The author themself identifies as non-binary.
14. The Last True Poets of the Sea - Julia Drake Another one of my favourite YA-contemporary novels of recent years that checks all of my boxes (sea-setting, friendship, grief, comming of age, etc.), that also happens to feature an F-F romance.
15. King and the Dragonflies - Kacen Callender A poignant and bittersweet middle-grade novel about (queer) identity, grief and discovering your place in the world, following a boy who believes his deceased brother has transformed into a dragonfly. Also by the author with similar representation: Felix Ever After, Hurricane Child and Moonflower.
16. Elatsoe - Darcie Little Badger No sexuality is as underrepresented in YA-fiction as asexuality, which is why I adored seeing it in Elatsoe. A story packed to the brim with diversity in the broadest sense of the word, Elatsoe is one of the most lovable characters ánd novels as a whole I've read in a long time.
17. Hazel Bly and the Deep Blue Sea - Ashley Herring Blake A heartfelt middle-grade novel about a girl navigating grief, trauma, friendship and first queer love. Also by the author with similar representation: Ivy Aberdeen's Letters to the World, Girl Made of Stars and The Mighty Heart of Sunny St. James.
18. The City Of Woven Streets - Emmi Itäranta A deeply dreamlike, character driven fantasy novel about body, being an outcast and finding your place in an unwelcoming world. That includes wonderful found-family vibes and a blossoming F-F relationship that I could get behind 100%.
19. Sorrowland - Rivers Solomon One of the most unique literary horror-novels I've encountered in years, featuring an intersex main character, fleeing a cultish community that refuses to let her go, with her two young children in toe. Also by the author with similar representation: An Unkindness of Ghosts.
20. The Unseen World – Liz Moore A coming of age story of a young girl raised by her eccentric socially inept single father, who directs a computer science lab in 1980s-era Boston. As her father starts to suffer from the early stages of Alzheimers disease, Ada gets to know her dad "retroactively" through the stories about his private life that surface. NB: be aware that this is one of the few books on this list that isn't own-voices as it's written by a female author, and told from the perspective of the daughter of the LGBTQ-character. If you prefere to only read own-voices, steer clear from this one, although I still think it's a phenomenal novel on multiple levels, including representation.
21. Foundry Side - Robert Jackson Bennett A high fantasy novel that will appeal to fans of The Lies of Locke Lamora and Mistborn, featuring a high-stakes heist plot, carried out by an ragtag cast of characters in a world featuring an almost science-based magic system with a basis in Alchemy and changing an ordinary objects material properties. The LGBTQ-element comes into play with the F-F romance between two mail characters, which is one of the few romantic sideplots in a fantasy novel that I was actually completely rooting for. NB: as with the previous entry on this list; this book is not own-voices and written by a male author. It still felt completely genuine to me however, and subverted all the "creepy-male-fantasy-vibes" I got from the likes of Jay Kristoffs depiction of F-F romances.