15 Queer Books: Fiction & Nonfiction LGBTQ+ Essentials

If you’re looking to expand your literary landscape with more diverse books, these queer fiction and nonfiction stories make a great place to start.

From novels that challenge societal norms to memoirs that offer intimate glimpses into personal truths, this list of queer books promises to ignite your imagination, stir your emotions, and broaden your understanding of the LGBTQ+ experience.
Whether you’re looking for new romance, thought-provoking social commentary, or adventurous stories, these LGBTQ+ essentials are sure to captivate you. So, settle into your favorite reading nook, pour yourself a cup of tea, and get ready to be transported into worlds where every page is a celebration of the queer spirit.

Kids & Young Adult Queer Fiction Recommendations

Dive into a vibrant world of LGBTQ+ representation in kids’ and young adult fiction, where children’s authors explore themes of love, identity, and acceptance.

1 | Heartstopper

Follow Charlie and Nick’s journey as they navigate high school, friendship, and the complexities of their burgeoning relationship in this heartwarming graphic novel by Alice Oseman. As their bond deepens, Charlie and Nick confront societal expectations and personal insecurities, ultimately finding solace and strength in each other’s company.

With its charming artwork and nuanced portrayal of LGBTQ+ experiences, Heartstopper not only captures the complexities of teenage life but also celebrates the power of love and connection in overcoming life’s challenges.

If you’re looking for a book with queer characters that will instantly endear you, this is it.

2 | The Whispers

Dive into The Whispers by Greg Howard, a poignant coming-of-age tale that will tug at your heartstrings and keep you guessing until the very end.

Follow twelve-year-old Riley as he embarks on a journey of self-discovery in the mysterious woods of his small town in Arkansas. With his mother gone and unanswered questions lingering, Riley embarks on a quest to uncover the truth behind the Whispers, the mythical creatures his mama used to tell him about.

As he grapples with his own wishes, Riley must confront the unknown and decide how far he’s willing to go to find the answers he seeks. Filled with laughter, tears, and unexpected twists, The Whispers is a gripping read that will keep you turning the pages long into the night.

A gay couple reading to their children.

3 | Cemetery Boys

When Yadriel, a determined transgender boy from a traditional Latinx family, summons a ghost in his quest to prove himself as a true brujo, he gets more than he bargained for. Instead of his cousin’s spirit, he conjures the mischievous Julian Diaz, the school’s rebellious troublemaker, who refuses to leave until he solves the mystery surrounding his untimely death.

As Yadriel and Julian navigate the realm of the dead together, they forge a powerful bond that transcends life and death. With its vibrant characters, rich cultural tapestry, and heart-stopping romance, Cemetery Boys is a must-read for fans of diverse YA fiction.

4 | Last Night at the Telegraph Club

Enter the spellbinding world of Last Night at the Telegraph Club by Malinda Lo, where the vibrant neon lights of 1950s San Francisco illuminate a tale of forbidden love and courage.

Seventeen-year-old Lily Hu finds herself drawn to the enigmatic Kathleen Miller and the clandestine embrace of the Telegraph Club, a sanctuary for girls like them in a society gripped by Red Scare paranoia and anti-Chinese sentiment. As Lily grapples with her blossoming feelings and the looming threat of deportation hanging over her family, she and Kath embark on a daring journey to defy societal norms and fight for their love to shine in the face of adversity.

Rich with historical detail and poignant emotion, this mesmerizing novel is a testament to the strength of the human spirit.

5 | Julián Is a Mermaid

Prepare to be enchanted by Jessica Love’s Julian is a Mermaid, a delightful picture book that captures the magic of self-discovery and acceptance.

When Julian spots three dazzling women dressed as mermaids on the subway, his imagination takes flight, inspiring him to create his own fabulous mermaid costume. But as he eagerly awaits his Nana’s reaction, Julian wonders if she’ll understand and embrace his true identity. 

With every page brimming with charm, tenderness, and humor, this captivating story celebrates the beauty of being true to oneself and the unconditional love of family.

LGBTQIA+ Love: Romance Recommendations

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6 | Red, White & Royal Blue

Indulge in the irresistible romance of Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston, a charming and witty novel that reimagines the world of politics with a captivating LGBTQ+ love story at its heart. Follow the unexpected romance between First Son Alex Claremont-Diaz and Prince Henry of Wales as they navigate the complexities of love, friendship, and duty, all against the backdrop of international politics and media scrutiny. 

With its sharp humor, swoon-worthy romance, and heartfelt exploration of identity, this novel is a delightful and uplifting read that will leave you smiling long after you’ve turned the final page.

As one of the best LGBTQ books of recent years, this is a must-read.

7 | Satisfaction Guaranteed

Karelia Stetz-Waters’ Satisfaction Guaranteed tells the story of Cade Elgin, who finds herself unexpectedly thrust into the world of sex toy entrepreneurship after inheriting her late aunt’s struggling store. Determined to save Satisfaction Guaranteed from foreclosure, Cade teams up with her new partner, Selena Mathis, whose infuriating lack of business sense is matched only by her ability to ignite a fiery attraction within Cade. 

As they navigate corporate challenges and undeniable attraction, Cade and Selena’s journey unfolds into a steamy tale of love, ambition, and self-discovery.

8 | Mixing Up Mayhem

Thirty-five-year-old Jackie Miller is on the brink of achieving her culinary dreams as head pâtissier at Seattle’s top restaurant.

With plans to propose to her girlfriend and a show-stopping dessert in the works, Jackie’s life seems perfect. But when a chance encounter with a princess turns her world upside down, Jackie must navigate through a whirlwind of unexpected challenges, including a breakup, an unexpected houseguest, and emotions she never saw coming.
With humor, heart, and plenty of delicious twists, Mixing Up Mayhem is an LGBTQ+ story you won’t want to miss.

9 | Contract Bound

If you’re looking for a steamy lesbian romance, Contract Bound is a vampire novel where darkness meets desire. A sizzling enemies-to-lovers tale told through Silvia’s eyes, vampires are nothing but bloodthirsty creatures devoid of humanity. But when she finds herself bound to one in a dangerous contract, Silvia’s beliefs are challenged in ways she never imagined.

Prejudice, fear, and familial ties are put to the ultimate test as Silvia and her vampire counterpart navigate a tumultuous journey filled with passion, danger, and undeniable attraction. With every page, readers will be drawn deeper into a world where love defies boundaries and desires burn brighter than the night.

A sapphic couple cuddling and reading together.

10 | Imogen Obviously

Discover the irresistible charm of Imogen, Obviously by Becky Albertalli, the latest novel from the bestselling author of “Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda.” Imogen finds herself navigating the complexities of friendship and identity when she visits her newly-out best friend, Lili, at college.

Surrounded by Lili’s vibrant queer community, Imogen finds herself drawn to Tessa, Lili’s freckle-faced best friend and begins to question her own sexuality. With Albertalli’s trademark warmth and wit, this novel beautifully explores the intricacies of friendship, identity, and love.

Exploring Queer History & Culture

Delve into nonfiction books about gay culture, guiding you through a journey through queer history, where tales of resilience, activism, and joy illuminate the diverse spectrum of LGBTQ+ experiences.

11 | The LGBTQ + History Book

From groundbreaking moments to unsung heroes, this illuminating read, The LGBTQ+ History Book, celebrates the resilience, activism, and diversity of the LGBTQ+ community, making it a must-have for anyone passionate about understanding and honoring LGBTQ+ experiences throughout history. This is one of those must-read pride books.

12 | Gay Bar: Why We Went Out

From iconic venues to intimate reflections, Gay Bar: Why We Went Out celebrates the role of gay bars as vital spaces for community, identity, and liberation. With its blend of history, memoir, and social commentary, Jeremy Atherton offers a fascinating glimpse into the heart and soul of LGBTQ+ culture, making it a captivating read for anyone intrigued by the power of nightlife to shape lives and communities.

13 | We Are Everywhere: Protest, Power, and Pride in the History of Queer Liberation

From the Stonewall riots to contemporary movements, this essential book chronicles the resilience and triumphs of the LGBTQ+ community, inspiring readers to join the ongoing fight for equality and justice. With its vivid storytelling and compelling visuals, We Are Everywhere is a testament to the enduring spirit of queer resistance and a rallying cry for a more inclusive future.

14 | How to Survive a Plague

Discover the gripping account of activism and resilience in How to Survive a Plague by David France, a poignant chronicle of the AIDS epidemic and the extraordinary efforts of those who fought for survival and justice.

Through vivid storytelling and firsthand accounts, France unveils the untold stories of grassroots activism and scientific breakthroughs that transformed the landscape of HIV/AIDS, offering a testament to the power of community, solidarity, and hope in the face of adversity.

15 | Glitter and Concrete: A Cultural History of Drag in New York City

Immerse yourself in the dazzling world of Glitter and Concrete: A Cultural History of Drag in New York City, where author Jeremy Atherton Lin guides readers through the glittering streets and underground clubs that have shaped drag culture.

From the gritty beginnings of drag balls to the mainstream success of RuPaul’s Drag Race, this captivating book celebrates the resilience, creativity, and influence of drag performers, making it a must-read for anyone enchanted by the transformative power of drag.

Diversify Your Shelf with These Must-Read Queer Books

Diversifying your shelf with LGBTQ+ books offers an enriching and enlightening experience, allowing you to explore a wide range of perspectives, identities, and stories. Whether you’re seeking captivating fiction, thought-provoking nonfiction, or empowering memoirs, these must-read queer books celebrate the beauty and complexity of queer experiences.

Alibris not only offers a vast selection of new and used queer books but also a variety of other genres, including funny books, mysteries, literary fiction, comics, and more. Happy reading!

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