The best LGBT books are here. There are so many great books with queer characters now that the literary world is more diverse and representative than ever. You’ll be able to choose from a lot of great books with queer characters.
Our list of the 40 best LGBT books is very broad. Some are classics that explicitly talk about the LBGT experience, while others just have characters who are gay. We have a whole category for nonfiction books, where you can find interesting memoirs and stories about personal journeys. We also have a category for middle-grade readers, because we know that adults and kids need to be able to see themselves in the books they read. We hope you enjoy these books as much as we did!
Fairest: A Memoir by Meredith Talusan
As she says in her memoir, Meredith Talusan went from being an albino boy in the Philippines to being an immigrant, award-winning woman journalist in the United States. This is her story. This poignant memoir explores a place where race, gender identity, immigration status, and disability all come together. It talks about the author’s experience of reading “white” as an Asian albino. The question of desirability is an issue that touches on all of these themes. Talusan is increasingly pointing out that desirability is just a label that means different things in different parts of the world. Brave people look in the mirror and tell an honest story about their lives. This is called “Fairest.”
Untamed by Glennon Doyle
With the help of Glennon Doyle, you can let go of your inhibitions and years of social conditioning in this powerful memoir and self-help book. She talks about how you can really come into your own by letting go of what you don’t want to do. When Doyle talks about herself, she doesn’t hold back. She tells her own story of questioning where she was in life and realizing that she had to realign herself with her true queer identity. You can learn how to fall in love with yourself by rediscovering the person you were when you were young and living your life to the fullest. Untamed talks about how to fall in love with yourself. If you have the time, you should go. It’s a party.
The Argonauts by Maggie Nelson
In this essay, Maggie Nelson doesn’t try to hide how she thinks about her own life and marriage to Harry Dodge, a man who can be both male and female. When Nelson looks at the making of gay relationships and gay families, he sees them as always difficult and always questioning. Nelson’s body changes when she gets pregnant, and Dodge’s body changes when he gets surgery and testosterone. This story is about bodies and how they change over time. If it looked like your body was becoming more and more “male,” Nelson says in The Argonauts, “it may have looked like that to you.” This book is very powerful, and she goes on to explain why this isn’t the best way to look at bodies.
How to Write an Autobiographical Novel: Essays by Alexander Chee
What Alexander Chee wrote in his book How to Write an Autobiographical Novel is a quiet and introspective book for people who write, but it’s also a good read for anyone who has read Chee’s many published (and well-known) essays in the past. Chee is a gay Korean-American writer, and these essays are about his own experiences as a gay Korean-American writer. They cover everything from the writing life to a eulogy for a friend who died of AIDS. In this impressive collection, Chee’s voice is both sensitive and subtle, and he can keep a reader’s attention all the way through. We don’t think you should hesitate to read his prose.
Odd Girls and Twilight Lovers: A History of Lesbian Life in Twentieth-Century America by Lillian Faderman
This book about lesbian history was first published in 1991. It’s a little outdated, but it’s still a good read. If you’re interested in how cultural attitudes have changed about female-centered romance over a number of very different, turbulent, turbulent decades, this book is well worth your time. Faderman looks at how the U.S. has looked at women who love other women over the years, from when “romantic friendship” was normal and even good, to the McCarthy years and beyond. When you read Odd Girls and Twilight Lovers, you’ll learn a lot about the history of gay rights and how women played a role in that journey. It’s also a sobering reminder that the work isn’t over.
A Two-Spirit Journey: The Autobiography of a Lesbian Ojibwa-Cree Elder by Ma-Nee Chacaby
Ma-Nee Chacaby hasn’t had an easy life. She has been abused both as a child and as an adult, has alcoholism, and has been a victim of racism. As hard as it can be to read, though, the book as a whole is about perseverance, self-discovery, and finally, peace. All readers will be able to learn from and connect with this deeply personal account of what it means when two or more marginalized identities come together. This is a memoir that will stay with you for a long time. It’s called A Two-Spirit Journey.
Sissy: A Coming-of-Gender Story by Jacob Tobia
In this book, Jacob Tobia tells us their story, from when they were little and wanted to wear sparkly dresses and play in the mud to when they were bullied and went to the United Nations and the White House. It’s a lot of fun to read! Sissy talks about what it means to be attracted to both the feminine and masculine parts of yourself, how your gender can change over time, and how you can be proud of who you are. What does it matter if you don’t play by the rules of other people? People should stand up and claim their identities in this book. It’s a good book to read because it’s fun and encouraging.
Real Queer America: LGBT Stories from Red States by Samantha Allen
It’s easy to think that every American on the LGBT+ spectrum has to live on the liberal coasts, or hide in the closets of the heartland “flyover” states. But this isn’t true at all. She shows in Real Queer America, though, that no matter where you go, there are ways for gay people in the area to form strong, healthy communities with each other. This is what she says: The book by Allen takes readers on a tour of the United States, from drag shows to gay bars to rallies. Allen shows how LGBT+ people are found in even the most conservative places, and how they show their pride.
Queer, There, and Everywhere: 23 People Who Changed the World by Sarah Prager
No, I didn’t know that. How about that Sweden was once ruled by someone who didn’t fit in with the gender norms? They might have been nonbinary in today’s world. She wrote love letters to another woman.
Every person on the LGBT+ spectrum has made a difference and helped shape the world we live in, even if history doesn’t remember that part of their identity. There, and Everywhere is a book written by Sarah Prager that tells the stories of 23 people who have done great things. It shows us that queers have always been here, making the world a better place one person at a time.
Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic by Alison Bechdel
As a graphic memoir, Fun Home is about the author’s upbringing and her relationship with her father. It’s written by Alison Bechdel, and it’s in comic book form. One line from the musical adaptation of this book that won a Tony Award stands out: In this scene, the young protagonist sees herself in the butch presentation of a delivery woman and says, “I know you.” This picture of a closeted father and a lesbian daughter who is becoming more and more independent will make you cry. The blue-tinged comic strips will also make you cry. This is a book about gender norms, gender roles, and sexual orientation.
Star-Crossed by Barbara Dee
There has been a big change in the way children’s books are written in the last few years. One thing that still doesn’t get a lot of attention is bisexuality. Star-Crossed helps to make up for the shortfall in that area of income. Set in a middle school theater production of Romeo and Juliet, the story follows Mattie as she starts to fall in love with her co-star, who is beautiful and smart, but also British and pretty. Mattie is trying to figure out what it means to like both boys and girls, but her feelings are complicated by a long-term crush she has had on a boy. After the curtain comes down, it’s a positive look at young love, Shakespeare, and friendship that will stay with people for a long time.