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19 Incredible LGBTQ+ Books to Read for Pride Month and Well Beyond

These books contain multitudes.

lgbtq books

We may very well be living in the golden age of LGBTQ+ books. Spanning across genres and cultures, these reads continue to pave the way for more visibility within and beyond the queer community.

This Pride Month, we recognize that we cannot take this inclusive celebration of love and identity for granted. These books explain why that is, as many of them grapple with living in a society that does not validate the equality of all people. They are a complex reflection of our current times — one crucial example of this is that the future of protections against discrimination for all LGBTQ+ Americans still hangs in the balance, as the Senate is expected to vote on the Equality Act by the end of June.

To extend your support of the LGBTQ+ community during Pride Month and well beyond, we suggest buying these books from a local or queer-owned bookstore and donating to an organization that is fighting for the rights and safety of LGBTQ+ people such as The Marsha P. Johnson Institute, The Trevor Project, and The Ali Forney Center.

While this is by no means an exhaustive list, these 19 critically acclaimed LGBTQ+ books, both new and enduring fiction favorites, beautifully illustrate the joys and pains of the human experience in their own unique ways.

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Lambda Literary Award Winner
‘You Exist Too Much: A Novel’ by Zaina Arafat
Catapult amazon.com
$22.67 (13% off)

This debut novel is about the subtle ways the trauma of growing up in a patriarchal society can manifest as unexplainable loss and longing later in life. Illustrated in a series of vignettes, it traces the early life of a bisexual Palestinian American woman as she navigates the push and pull of her desires alongside cultural expectations. 

More: The Best Ways to Show Your True Colors This Pride Month

Lambda Literary Award Winner
‘Fiebre Tropical: A Novel’ by Juliana Delgado Lopera
Amethyst Editions amazon.com

There is a unique tension in having a church-centric upbringing while discovering your own queerness. This witty, irreverent, and bilingual read follows Francisca, who's recently immigrated from Colombia to Miami, as she falls for the pastor's daughter, Carmen. This book deftly balances the grief and lightness of life in such a vivid way.

Lambda Literary Award Winner
‘The Thirty Names of Night: A Novel’ by Zeyn Joukhadar
Atria Books amazon.com
$20.99 (22% off)

A story of rare birds, a mysterious ancestral link, and a new name, this gorgeously written book is about a trans artist who uncovers a hidden world within the pages of a journal. His discovery of the journal provides essential clues to solve not just the mystery of its author's disappearance, but also of his mother's tragic death.

Lambda Literary Award Winner
‘Neotenica’ by Joon Oluchi Lee
Nightboat Books amazon.com

Set in San Francisco in the early 2000s, this kaleidoscopic, experimental novel is about the marriage of Young Ae and her husband (who is never named) and their many casual affairs.

Rather than centering on plot, Neotenica's dreamlike examination of femininity, race, and family is altogether off-kilter with its metaphorical language that defines things by what they are not.

Women’s Prize for Fiction Nominee
'Detransition, Baby: A Novel' by Torrey Peters
One World amazon.com
$20.12 (25% off)

One of the buzziest books of the year, Detransistion, Baby is the queer person's answer to Sex and the City. It follows Reese and Amy, a Brooklyn-based trans couple whose opposing priorities in life, mainly involving Reese's deep longing for a child, are tearing them apart. 

After they break up, Reese salves her loneliness by sleeping with married men, while Amy detransitions to become Ames. When Ames gets his lover and boss, Katrina, unexpectedly pregnant, he realizes there might just be a chance to bring everyone in this love triangle together to raise the baby.

Lambda Literary Award Winner
'Patsy: A Novel' by Nicole Dennis-Benn
Liveright amazon.com
$14.29 (47% off)

This multifaceted LGBTQ+ book by Nicole Dennis-Benn follows the eponymous Patsy. She is an immigrant to the United States who makes the choice to leave her daughter in her native Jamaica in order to pursue a different, freer life in New York, in which she can more fully embody her queer identity.

Lambda Literary Award Winner
'Lot: Stories' by Bryan Washington
Riverhead Books amazon.com
$17.01 (32% off)

Named one of former President Barack Obama's favorite booksLot is a powerful debut collection of stories that take place in Houston. Some are connected, some are not. It centers around the exploration of boundaries between community and chosen family.

Lambda Literary Award Winner
‘Exquisite Mariposa: A Novel’ by Fiona Alison Duncan
Soft Skull Press amazon.com

If you feel as though your thumbs are too attuned to the endless scroll and your mind is now programmed to think in terms of captions and soundbites, Exquisite Mariposa is the LGBTQ+ book that needs to be your next read. 

Examining the surreality of a media-saturated world, this wildly entertaining and philosophical novel explores a 30-year-old woman's journey into The Real, a state of living that questions both the authenticity and fabrications of existence.

Lambda Literary Award Winner
'Little Blue Encyclopedia (for Vivian)' by Hazel Jane Plante
Metonymy Press amazon.com

This experimental LGBTQ+ book is a love letter from a trans woman to her deceased dear friend. Among its eclectic entries, there are collections of small joys, expressions of grief and pleasure, and even encyclopedia entries about the lost friend's favorite TV show.

Lambda Literary Award Winner
'The Grief Keeper' by Alexandra Villasante
G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers amazon.com
$8.99 (50% off)

This otherworldly YA novel and LGBTQ+ book is a gripping story following Marisol, a Salvadoran girl beset with grief and terror following the murder of her brother. In order to keep her sister from the same fate, they flee together to the United States. 

The only way they can live safely as undocumented citizens is by Marisol taking part in an experimental procedure in which she absorbs the grief of another to keep inside of her own body.

Lambda Literary Award Winner
'Her Body and Other Parties: Stories' by Carmen Maria Machado
Graywolf Press amazon.com
$14.40 (10% off)

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.

Booker Prize Winner
'Girl, Woman, Other: A Novel' by Bernardine Evaristo
Grove Press, Black Cat amazon.com
$11.55 (32% off)

The convention-defying Girl, Woman, Other follows 12 Black British women and nonbinary people, all with their own fascinating intersections in terms of race, sexuality, age, and class.

Nearly impossible to succinctly describe, the universe within this text is vivid, insightful, and richly descriptive.

PEN/Faulkner Award Finalist
‘On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous: A Novel’ by Ocean Vuong
Penguin Press amazon.com
$9.67 (63% off)

A story about giving a voice to the silenced and writing your own narrative in the absence of seeing yourself in the world, Ocean Vuong's luminous debut On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous is a letter from a son to a mother who can't read. It is thoughtful, tender, raw, and speaks with clarity in the naming and healing of trauma.

Pulitzer Prize Winner
'Less: A Novel' by Andrew Sean Greer
Back Bay Books amazon.com
$13.09 (18% off)

This comedic, lyrical LGBTQ+ book follows Arthur Less, a novelist in the midst of a midlife crisis when he receives an invitation to his ex-partner's wedding. 

To avoid coming to terms with reality, he accepts the invitations to a number of far-flung literary events that'll take him all over the world. Even still, in the midst of his travels, he still can't escape the long-overdue conversations that need to be had. 

Lambda Literary Award Winner
'Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe' by Benjamin Alire Saenz
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers amazon.com

As one reviewer puts it, this coming-of-age LGBTQ+ 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.

Stonewall Book Award Winner
'If I Was Your Girl' by Meredith Russo
Flatiron Books amazon.com

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.

William C. Morris Debut Award Finalist
'The Miseducation of Cameron Post' by Emily M. Danforth
Balzer + Bray amazon.com

This 480-page LGBTQ+ 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.

William C. Morris Award Winner
'Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda' by Becky Albertalli
Balzer + Bray amazon.com

Wholesome and honest, this of-the-moment LGBTQ+ 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.

Stonewall Honor Award Winner
'When the Moon Was Ours' by Anna-Marie McLemore
A Thomas Dunne Book for St. Martin's Griffin amazon.com

Abundant with darkly whimsical fairy tale elements, this novel is a treat for any fantasy reader, and it also happens to be a beautiful LGBTQ+ 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.

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