Top 50 Best LGBT Books Of All Time To Read 2022

Best LGBT Books Of All Time Reviews
  • MatthewDusQues

Ever wondered exactly what LGBT means? It is possible to be an ally by knowing key terms and concepts such as the difference between sex, gender, and sexual orientation.

LGBT literature is readily available and easily accessible to all ages and sexual orientations. It can be found in libraries, bookshops, and the most dangerous parts of the Internet. The options are endless and varied. You’ve found them must read LGBT books here. Continue reading to discover more about books with LGBT.

Best LGBT Books To Read

Best LGBT Novels To Read

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Real Life: A Novel by Brandon Taylor

Best LGBTQ+ novels of all time

Real life tells the story of Wallace, a student in biochemistry at a Midwestern college. It was recently longlisted for the Booker Prize. The novel opens shortly after Wallace’s death and powerfully tells Wallace’s careful handling of the social tensions as a graduate student and black, queer man.

This campus novel is sensitive and intelligent and does a great job of showing the interconnectedness between social relationships and the intimate separation between the private and public.

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A Boy’s Own Story, by Edmund White

(Best gay novels to read)

The A Boy’s Own Story can be compared to J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye. Edmund White’s 1982 novel, The Catcher in the Rye, begins with a sexual encounter with a 15-year old boy. It is based upon his own experiences as a teenager coming to terms with his homosexuality in the Midwestern United States.

White would write two more novels, The Beautiful Room Is Empty (1988) and The Farewell Symphony (1997), which followed his gay protagonist into adulthood. They form a powerful trilogy that chronicles the life of a gay man in the second half of the 20th century.

In the Dream House by Carmen Maria Machado

Carmen Maria Machado, the author of Her Body and Other Parties, reflects on her abusive relationship with another woman. This memoir won the Lambda Literary Award in LGBTQ Nonfiction

This fascinating book takes us through the effects of an abusive relationship on a person by experimenting with form and structure. Machado’s work is crucial in a society where many still believe that abuse only happens when a man is involved.

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Like a Love Story by Abdi Nazemian

Best Young Adult LGBT book

Like a Love Story is set in New York City in 1989. It follows three teenage girls as they navigate love and life in the midst of the AIDS crisis. Reza, a closeted boy, only sees homosexuality through the eyes of so many gay men who are dying.

Judy, a fashion designer aspirant, idolizes her gay uncle while he fights for justice. Art, who is the only openly homosexual boy in school, photographs the AIDS crisis. The teens embark on a journey of self-acceptance and discovery when Reza and Judy begin dating. It will keep readers riveted and breathless until the end.

Ivy Aberdeen’s Letter to the World by Ashley Herring Blake

Ivy Aberdeen’s letter to the world follows a young girl who has her whole life rewritten. A tornado damages her family home, and her sketchbook is also lost.

Although this may seem like a minor loss, the pages are filled with photos of girls holding hands. Ivy keeps finding pages from her notebook in her locker, along with encouraging notes.

Ivy cannot help but believe it is from the new girl in her class. Ivy will need to figure out how to solve the mystery and her new life on her own, given that she is living in borrowed clothes and that her older sister has gotten into a tangled knot with her.

Under the Udala Trees, by Chinelo Okparanta

“This beautiful, lyrical story is filled with the background of civil war and the love story between two young girls on the frontlines: a fantastic book,” Danny Ramadan, gay refugee activist and columnist, raves about this global-minded tale.

The book reveals the emotions of a young woman who is forced to flee Nigeria’s civil war and has an affair with a fellow refugee. These girls come from different ethnic backgrounds, which forces them to confront the taboos and prejudices of being queer and the realities of living in a country that is destroying itself.

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Rubyfruit Jungle, by Rita Mae Brown

Many queer women writers consider Rita Mae Brown’s 1973 coming of age story an iconic piece of LGBT literature. “[I love Rubyfruit Jungle] Because, well, because. This was my first ever ‘lesbian’ book! And devoured. And loved,” says The Year of Needy Girls’ Patricia Smith.

Yolanda Wallace is the author of Tailormade; She tells us that when she was a teenager, she was questioning her sexuality, and this book gave her the answers.

Semi autobiographical, Rubyfruit Jungle follows Molly Bolt’s amorous adventures from childhood to adulthood, including a stint in swinging New York City.

Although Molly is open to having sexual adventures with men in her life, she has a deep love for women, and Brown doesn’t hesitate to describe Molly’s passion for women (the title captures Molly’s obsession with female anatomy).

Rubyfruit Jungle, which is now a course in queer literature, is bold and brave. Its honest discussion about lesbian sexuality can be shocking for modern readers who think life was more straightforward in the 1970s. Rubyfruit Jungle is a page turner that reminds us of queer lust and queer sex.

Relate: Top 60 Best Lesbian Books of All Time Review 2022

Tipping the Velvet, by Sarah Waters

Sarah Waters’ 1998 page turner tells the story of Nan, a Whitstable girl who is an oyster in 1890. She falls in love with Kitty, the charismatic male impersonator, after seeing a play at her local theater. Waters’ heroine follows Kitty from Whitstable to London, where Kitty is taught by the more experienced woman how to impersonate a dapper dandy.

The book was a massive success with queer women because of its honest depiction of lesbian love and flirting with gender roles. It was also made into a BBC miniseries in 2002.

Giovanni’s Room by James Baldwin

The Best Classic LGBTQ+ Novels

The novel of James Baldwin about love and fear, set in the Paris bohemian bars of 1950s Paris. Giovanni’s Room, another gay lit classic, is the complex story of David, a young American living in Paris in the 1950s, who desperately tries to accept what society has told him is proper: a heterosexual marriage.

While Hella, his fiancee, is always on his mind, David soon discovers that he cannot deny his desire to be with Giovanni, a bartender who teaches him a new way of living. David must face his truth in the darkened room, hidden from the rest.

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Fairest by Meredith Talusan

Fairest is the story of a boy born with albinism and raised in a rural village in the Philippines. He would go on to become a successful American woman.

This moving memoir is both eloquent and poignant. It explores the intersection of race and gender identity as well as disability. It also thematizes the author’s experiences of reading white as an Asian albino.

Talusan’s journey is filled with powerful and poignant moments of love and desirability that will remind readers of the memories of novels like Call Me by Your Name or Giovanni’s Room. These evocative reflections are sure to change our perceptions about love, identity, gender, and fairness.

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

(LGBTQ books for adults)

The Picture of Dorian Gray, a novel used in Oscar Wilde’s trial for gross indecency (1895), is unlikely to be viewed as homoerotic. Dorian Gray is a Gothic novel that traces his moral decline as a young man obsessed with beauty. Oscar Wilde’s extraordinary novel, The Picture of Dorian Gray, is a fascinating tale about fear of aging and a piece in gay literary history.

The Other Boy by M. G. Hennessey

This touching novel is about an ordinary boy. It’s the boy you have met 100 times. Shane enjoys basketball, graphic novels, and spending time with his best friend, Josh.

Shane is hiding a secret from his best friend. He’s transgender and was formerly a girl when his family moved to San Francisco in 2003. Shane suddenly finds himself in a situation where his classmates threaten to tell the truth. The other boy is a touching story about being true to yourself and the importance of having people in your life who are there for you no matter what.

Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic by Alison Bechdel

Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home, a graphic memoir about Alison’s childhood and relationship with her father, is written in comics. The Tony Award winning musical adaptation of this book is notable for one line: “I know …” whispers Alison Bechdel, the young protagonist, as she sees herself in the superficial appearance of a delivery girl.

This story will touch on gender norms, gender roles, and sexual orientation. The comic strips with a blue tinged theme will also move you.

A Year Without a Name

Cyrus Grace Dunham (Lena Dunham) wrote this 2019 memoir about self-discovery. Readers will be moved by Dunham’s struggle for sexual identity, especially for those who were not able to or would not accept their sexual orientation and identity as a given.

A Two-Spirit Journey: The Autobiography of a Lesbian Ojibwa-Cree Elder by Ma-Nee Chacaby

Ma-Nee Chacaby has had a difficult life. She’s been subject to abuse as a child and an adult, as well as alcoholism and racism. Although the book’s unflinching subject matter is difficult to read, it’s a story of perseverance, self-discovery, and eventually peace.

This intensely personal account of the impact of multiple marginalized identities on one another will appeal to readers of all backgrounds. The memoir A Two Spirit Journey will stay with you for many years.

Lot: Stories by Bryan Washington

Lot is a collection of powerful short stories about Houston during the time before and after Hurricane Harvey. Many stories focus on a young man from a Black and Latinx family who struggles to accept his sexuality.

The stories together paint a touching portrait of America’s urban environment today, which is diverse, gentrified, and works hard for its citizens and workers. Lot is raw and tender. It’s a beautiful, sad, and awe inspiring debut collection.

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Rainbow Milk by Paul Mendez

Rainbow Milk is an important and revelatory coming of age story from a new voice. It follows Jesse McCarthy, nineteen years old, as he struggles with his racial and sexual identities the backdrop of his Jehovah’s Witness upbringing.

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz

Aristotle, a teenager from El Paso, Texas, is spending the 1980s in El Paso. Dante is a quieter boy who has a lot to offer. They are very different boys. Ari is reserved and guarded and struggles to feel at home. On the other hand, Dante is warm and emotional and can see through Ari’s darkest moments with his bright light.

They spend the summer together learning more about each other, and their love and friendship grow stronger with each passing day. Aristotle & Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Aristotle & Dante is a touching and lyrical book that will help you restore your faith.

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Orlando: A Biography by Virginia Woolf

Virginia Woolf’s tribute to Vita Sackville West, Orlando is a fascinating study in gender fluidity in time and space.

The protagonist is a young, dashing nobleman from Elizabethan England. He falls in love with the queen and then has a falling out with her. Later, he indulges in sex with many women but develops an intense friendship with a male poet.

Later, Orlando is sent to Constantinople on a diplomatic mission. He discovers he has become a woman and this gender switch allows him to comment on the limitations society places upon women.

Boy Erased by Garrard Conley

Garrad Conley was to become heterosexual through an institutionalized Twelve Step Program. Despite the complex and sometimes brutal journey, Garrard found the strength and understanding to overcome and find his true self.

Let’s Talk About Love by Claire Kann

Alice and her girlfriend broke up when Alice became openly gay. She has no desire ever to date anyone again, at least until she meets Takumi. She can only think of her cute coworker at the local library, but it’s impossible to imagine him wanting to date an ace girl…

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What Belongs to You: A Novel by Garth Greenwell

The novel’s unnamed American protagonist walks into a Bulgarian public bathroom and asks Mitko for sex. They develop a complicated relationship in which power, dependence, passion, and love all play into each other’s delicate balance.

As the novel progresses, it reveals the backstories of both characters. The reader is then able to understand the core question about identity and all its many layers. As it explores lust, remorse, and memory, What Belongs To You has a breathtaking pace.

If You Could Be Mine, by Sara Farizan

The forbidden relationship between two young girls in Iran and the lengths they go to to remain together when an arranged marriage threatens to split them apart will break your heart if you’re a sucker for star-crossed lovers

City of Night by John Rechy

John Rechy’s 1963 novel the City of Night is a classic piece of fiction. It follows the lives of gay hustlers in New York City and Los Angeles, New Orleans, San Francisco, and New Orleans.

Through stream of consciousness narration, the reader gets a glimpse of queer life in mid century America, with a long and fascinating cast of characters, including drag performers, S&M practitioners, and sex workers.

The book inspired music by the Doors and a Gus Van Sant film, My Own Private Idaho. SJ Sindu, the author of Marriage of a Thousand Lies, stated that this epic chronicle of gay culture during the American sixties was as far reaching and important as it is essential, giving us a glimpse at identity and motive.

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The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller

The Song of Achilles, an intensely poetic and thrilling novel, tells the story of the Trojan War’s Greek myth. It focuses on the romance and friendship between Achilles, Patroclus and is a highly poetic and exciting read.

Madeline Miller expertly sketches their personalities, tracing their journey from young boys to warrior men. Achilles, the son of sea goddess Thetis and proud of his admiration for people’s attention, while Patroclus is humble and contemplative and prefers to watch Achilles from the quiet corners. Their story is halted when they find themselves in the Trojan War. But we won’t spoil the ending.

Last Night at the Telegraph Club by Malinda Lo

This story of two young ladies falling in love in San Francisco’s Chinatown in the 1950s was written by famous novelist Malinda Lo. It quickly rose to the top of the bestseller list following its January 2021 release. We concur that this National Book Award winner is an “instant classic” and a “delight to read.”

Detransition, Baby by Torrey Peters

This provocative debut explores the emotions, vulnerability, and messy parts of womanhood that no amount of platitudes or good intentions can reach.

Torrey Peters masterfully and fearlessly navigates some of the most challenging taboos about gender, sex, and relationships. This novel is witty and original, and profoundly moving.

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Middlesex, by Jeffrey Eugenides

Jeffrey Eugenides won the Pulitzer Prize for his 2002 story about Cal Stephanides, an intersex protagonist. Middlesex is a story that reflects the 19th century memoirs of Herculine Barin. It incorporates elements from Greek mythology and Eugenides’s Greek American upbringing.

This is a pioneering story about gender identity in 21st century America. The intersex community has criticized Middlesex because the author doesn’t identify as intersex and consults with intersex people.

However, the novel is a landmark in queer visibility. It is considered a candidate for the title Great American Novel by some literary circles.

Juliet Takes a Breath, by Gabby Rivera

The night before her flight to Oregon for an internship with her favorite novelist, Harlowe Brisbane, Juliet chooses to come out to her Puerto Rican family. She is unsure if her mother will ever talk to her again after her disastrous coming out.

She asks Harlowe’s assistance, assuming that she would know what to do, but when she learns that her hero isn’t perfect, she needs to come up with a solution on her own.

Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Café by Fanny Flagg

Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe is loosely based on the Book of Ruth. It’s a story of love, loss, and triumph. Idgie and Ruth are two women who run a cafe in their Alabama town during the Great Depression.

Author Fannie Flagg frames the novel’s events as a story within a story, told by Idgie’s sister in law to her much younger friend, Evelyn, in the 1980s.

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The City and the Pillar by Gore Vidal

Jim and Bob had sex seven years ago on a camping trip. This was just before Bob left high school to leave their hometown. Jim is one year older than Bob and has struggled with his sexuality for all of the years. He still longs for the friend he lost. He hoped that he would one day rekindle their love affair, but it may not be joyful.

Untamed by Glennon Doyle

Glennon Doyle discusses how to let go of your inhibitions, years of engrained social conditioning, and the urge to please others in this stirring memoir and self-help book.

Doyle recounts her experience of wondering where she had ended in life and understanding she needed to realign herself to her authentic LGBT identity without shying away from vulnerability. Untamed, fall in love, be a wonderful spouse, realize your true self in childhood, and enjoy your life to the fullest. It’s a party, and it’s definitely worth your time.

The Witch Boy by Molly Knox Ostertag

Aster is a charming graphic novel that follows a young boy raised in a family full of shapeshifters and witches. The only problem is that all boys become shapeshifters, and all girls become witches. But Aster wants to be one.

The story that follows is both heartbreaking and thrilling. Aster begins his apprenticeship in secret and is thrust into the limelight when a mysterious beast attempts to steal his family members. The Witch Boy tells a story about being genuine and authentic to yourself, regardless of how different you may be and maybe even how you might not be as different as you think.

Cantoras by Carolina De Robertis

In the 1970s, Uruguay was ruled by a military dictatorship. This was not a place for queer people. Cantor, a novel about five women who discover dangerous freedom in one another during a week long vacation, is both heartbreaking and celebratory.

This extensive work spans thirty five years and shows the changes and perils they have to face while highlighting the unique bond they share. Reading Cantoras is a reminder of their freedoms in their lives and how much they should treasure them.

Call Me by Your Name by André Aciman

(Best gay fiction books of all time)

Andre Aciman’s bestseller won a Lambda Literary Award in Gay Fiction. The Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay went to the movie adaptation of the same name.

Call me by your Name is set on the Italian Riviera in the 1980s. It centers around Elio, a 17-year old bisexual Jewish boy with a passionate affair, with Oliver, an older Jewish medical student, over one fateful summer.

All Out: The No-Longer-Secret Stories of Queer Teens throughout the Ages by Saundra Mitchell

This short story collection features 17 of the most talented young adult writers today. These historical fiction stories centered on a character from the LGBT+ spectrum when identities were often obscured, ignored, or erased.

All Out shows that queer teens have always contributed to the world, living, loving, and making a difference. This diverse collection, which spans 1870s Mexico through the early ’90s grunge scene, will inspire and entertain you from the very first page.

Hurricane Child by Kacen Callender

Hurricane Child is set on the beautiful shores of St Thomas of Virgin Islands. It follows Caroline, a little girl who was born during a hurricane. It is said that it brings bad luck, and Caroline certainly has had to deal with a lot of that.

Although this book is heavier than other titles on the list, young readers will still benefit from Caroline’s story about evil spirits, first crushes, and parental abandonment. As you soak in its prose, it’s a rich tale that will reach deep into your soul.

Zami: A New Spelling of My Name by Audre Lorde

Audre Lorde’s 1982 bio mythography traces the poet’s life, starting with her childhood in Harlem as the daughter of West Indian immigrants, and ending in Mexico after college.

Paul Takes the Form of a Mortal Girl

Andrea Lawlor’s Paul Takes The Form of a Mortal Girl, a modern version of Orlando, is a novel about a young man who transforms into a bartender and lives a high life on a cross country trip through the United States in the early 1990s.

Odd Girls and Twilight Lovers: A History of Lesbian Life in Twentieth Century America by Lillian Faderman

This historical account of lesbianism through the 20th century was first published in 1991. It is, however, somewhat out of date. The book is worth reading for anyone interested in changing cultural attitudes regarding female centric romance over several turbulent, vastly different decades.

Faderman charts America’s attitudes toward women loving women, from the early days of romantic friendship, which was an admirable, even typical trait, to the McCarthy terror years and beyond.

Odd Girls & Twilight Lovers offers a fascinating look into the history of gay rights and the interplay of being a woman in that journey. It is also a sad reminder that it is far from over.

All Boys Aren’t Blue by George M. Johnson

A series of colorful articles by journalist and LGBTQ activist George M. Johnson on his early years growing up on the East Coast as a Black queer child includes happy and sad memories and everything in between.

Johnson’s book has also been optioned for television by actress and activist Gabrielle Union, nominated for a 2020 Goodreads Choice Award for Best Memoir & Autobiography.

Queer Love in Color by Jamal Jordan

(Best queer novels)

This is a photographic celebration of the love, relationships, and passions of queer people of color. This moving, intimate collection gives an intimate look into what it is like to live at the intersections between queer and POC identities. It honors a broad vision of love and affection across all sexes.

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On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong

When it was published in 2019, contemporary author Ocean Vuong’s debut novel quickly rose to the top of the bestseller list. It is still making ripples both within and outside of gay literary communities. The novel’s protagonist is little Dog, a gay Vietnamese guy in his late 20s.

His letter to his mother provides insight into themes of masculinity, class, racism, and the experience of growing up as a Vietnamese American. It’s unquestionably among the most significant novels you’ll want to read this year.

The Great Believers, by Rebecca Makkai

The Great Believers tells the intertwined tales of a Chicago art gallery clerk who, during the AIDS pandemic of the 1980s, loses his buddy and ultimately all he knows, and his friend’s sister, who must deal with her own loss in Paris 30 years later.

Felix Ever After, by Kacen Callender

The lovely and touching tale of a transgender youngster coming to grips with self-discovery and falling in love for the first love is told in Felix Ever After. You should definitely have some Kleenex on  hand for this one.

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You Exist Too Much, by Zaina Arafat

This first novel follows an unidentified bisexual Palestinian American woman who searches for her place in the world via a series of vignettes. Along the way, she visits places like New York City, Italy, Egypt, Lebanon, and even a treatment facility.  She also meets new partners and discovers new things about herself.

The Mercies by Kiran Millwood Hargrave

The historical Vard storm and the accompanying witch hunt served as the basis for this inspirational book, which is set in the 1600s on the isolated Norwegian island of Vard. The women who are left, still mourning for their husbands, are left to fend for themselves after a tumultuous storm almost eliminates the entire island’s male population.

Absolom Cornet, the evil new commissioner, and his youthful wife Ursa come after 18 months. When Ursa encounters independent women for the first time and comes to know Maren, the young lady who assists her in surviving in this harsh new world, they find themselves pulled to one another inexorably.

But Absolom is confident that the women’s actions are impure, and he will use whatever measures necessary to subdue them.

I Wish You All the Best, by Mason Deaver

High schooler Ben comes out to his parents in this endearing debut as non-binary. They react by making him move live with their estranged sister and change high schools halfway through his senior year. Fortunately, Ben becomes friends with a charming man called Nathan, and chemistry soon develops.

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I Wish You All the Best
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The Color Purple, by Alice Walker

Since I (and everyone else!) should have read this book long ago, I feel a little ashamed to term this post a “book review.” Why hadn’t I? It was declared brilliant by the 1983 Pulitzer Prize jury, so you don’t need me to say it is.

Steven Spielberg adapted the novel into a movie in 1985. It took home several Academy Awards, including Best Actress for Whoopi Goldberg, who played Celie, and Best Supporting Actress honors for Oprah Winfrey, who played Sofia, and Margaret Avery, who played Shug.

Sister Outsider by Audre Lorde

The fifteen pieces in this book, which Audre Lorde wrote between 1976 and 1984, express her literary and philosophical personae. These pieces investigate and provide light on Lorde’s intellectual evolution, her long-standing worries about minority women authors’ empowerment, and the unavoidable need to define difference according to sex, color, and socioeconomic class.

The Black Unicorn, a book of her poems, is where the name Sister Outsider originates (1978). These poems and the essays in Sister Outsider emphasize the recurring topic of continuity in Lorde’s work, specifically the connection between Dahomey, Africa, and her developing identity on a geographical and intellectual level.

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Conclusion

These best LGBTQ books, which include LGBTQ authors and gay authors and books featuring queer characters, prove that literary worlds are possible (and should) be diverse.

The world we live in can be just as diverse as our literary world. We all deserve to see the beauty and diversity of our lives in a book. LGBTQ books are available in every genre, just as the rest of the literary canon. We hope that you enjoy these fantastic books as much as ours!

Last update on 2022-09-29 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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