13 best-selling LGBT+ books – including young adult fiction – to help pass the time during lockdown
If you’re looking for something to do during lockdown that isn’t constantly scrolling through social media, then maybe you could try picking up new books online?
More specifically, and even better, books that put the spotlight on LGBT+ people. From personal memoirs to fiction novels both classic and modern, there’s plenty to add to or start your collection.
This list features sci-fi young adult novels that centre queer characters, books that celebrate being unashamedly queer and in love and those that highlight the struggles many LGBT+ have to face across the globe.
Below we’ve compiled just a handful of LGBT+ texts to get your bookshelf looking more queer than ever before.
We Have Always Been Here
This powerful and uplifting memoir from Samra Habib starts with her childhood in Pakistan and follows her arrival in Canada as a refugee, where she works as an LGBT+ activist, writer, and photographer. Her story shows how queer identity and Muslim identity can intersect, families being able to embrace change and individuals becoming their truest self.
The book is available in paperback, audio or Kindle edition via Amazon here.
Life as a Unicorn: A Journey from Shame to Pride and Everything in Between
This memoir by Amrou Al-Kadhi is described as a ‘hilarious yet devastating story’ of the author’s fight to be true to themselves. It follows the painful and surprising process of transforming from a God-fearing Muslim boy enraptured with their mother to a vocal, queer drag queen.
To buy the memoir in paperback, audio or Kindle edition go to Amazon here.
Girl, Woman, Other
From Bernardine Evaristo, this book follows the lives and struggles of 12 very different characters. Mostly women, black and British they tell the stories of their families, friends and lovers throughout the world and the years.
The stories are celebratory, dynamic and complex with a number of the characters exploring and coming to terms with their queer identity.
To purchase Girl, Woman, Other or to listen to the audiobook go to Amazon here.
Call Me by Your Name
Most people are familiar with the Oscar-nominated film adaption of this novel, which stars Timothée Chalamet and Armie Hammer. But if you want to see where the infamous peach originated then you can read the 2007 book by Andre Aciman. It centres on a romantic relationship between an intellectually precocious Elio Perlman and visiting scholar Oliver in 1980s Italy and chronicles their summer romance and the 20 years that follow, with a sequel Find Me released in 2019.
To get Call Me By Your Name and its sequel go to Amazon here.
Goodbye to Berlin
Goodbye to Berlin is a semi-autobiographical novel by Christopher Isherwood that inspired the beloved musical Cabaret. The 1939 novel is set in 1930’s pre-Nazi Berlin and follows a number of interesting characters Isherwood met over a period of several years including a wealthy Jewish heiress, Natalia Landauer, gay couple, Peter and Otto and of course, Sally Bowles. Isherwood also penned A Single Man, released in 1962 which was adapted into a film starring Colin Firth and directed by Tom Ford.
To purchase the book and other Isherwood works go to Amazon here.
We Are Everywhere
This rich photographic history of the Queer Liberation Movement comes from the creators of the popular Instagram account @lgbt_history. It was released in time for the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots and has been described as a ‘must-read’ for everyone.
The book features more than 300 images from more than 70 photographers, tracing queer activism from its roots in late 19th century Europe to those leading the charge today.
We Are Everywhere is available from Amazon here.
The Summer of Everything
The latest queer YA book from Julian Winters is The Summer of Everything. The story follows comic book geek Wesley who is trying to save his beloved local bookstore, salvage a strained sibling relationship and win the heart of his crush. But his advice from friends, 90s alt-rock songs and online dating articles aren’t helping much with the latter.
If you’re a fan of this one, then Winters has also penned Running with Lions, which follows love on the soccer field and How To Be Remy Cameron, an exploration of self-expression from an out-and-proud gay teen.
To purchase The Summer of Everything go to Amazon here.
How to Survive a Summer
This debut novel from Nick White centres around a gay-to-straight conversion camp in Mississippi and a man’s reckoning with the trauma he faced there. It follows Will Dillard who spent a summer at the camp as a teenager, and has since tried to erase the experience from his mind.
The past and present are woven together as Will returns to the abandoned campgrounds to solve the mysteries of that pivotal summer and reclaim his story from those who have stolen it.
The book is available from Amazon here.
The Wicker King
If you’re a fan of YA novels that explore fantasy and sci-fi but you also want queer characters to be at the centre of the story then K Ancrum’s The Wicker King is ideal. It follows August and Jack who’s intense friendship goes way back, they alienate everyone around them as they struggle with their sanity, free falling into a surreal fantasy world that feels made for them, and each must choose his own truth.
Ancrum also penned The Weight of the Stars which follows two girls who dream of life in the stars while falling in love with each other.
To get K Ancrum’s books go to Amazon here.
Juliet Takes a Breath
From Gabby Rivera this story follows Juliet Milagros Palante, a self-proclaimed ‘closeted Puerto Rican baby dyke from the Bronx’. However she decides to come out to her family ahead of flying out to Portland to intern with her favourite feminist writer, Harlowe Brisbane.
When her coming out doesn’t go to plan and she’s not sure her mother will ever speak to her again, Juliet believes her internship will help her figure everything out. But the author she’s interning with is white and not from the Bronx, so she doesn’t have all the answers.
The YA novel explores race and identity and what it means to come out to the world, family and yourself.
To purchase Juliet Takes a Breath go to Amazon here.
Becoming Nicole is the inspiring true story of transgender actor and activist Nicole Maines, whose identical twin brother Jonas and their adopted family join her on an extraordinary journey to understand, nurture and celebrate the uniqueness in us all.
It’s penned by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Amy Ellis Nutt who spent four years reporting this story that goes beyond an account of a girl and her family, who question their long-held views on gender and identity to accept Nicole’s transition, as it becomes a portrait of a slowly changing nation.
Some readers may also recognise Nicole as TV’s first transgender superhero on CW’s Supergirl.
To purchase Becoming Nicole go to Amazon here.
Boy Meets Boy
This romantic comedy follows the story of Paul who meets Noah and he thinks he’s found ‘the one’, until he blows it. Meanwhile one of his best friends is drifting away, while the other is dealing with ultra-religious parents and Paul’s ex-boyfriend isn’t going away anytime soon.
Paul’s not giving up on Noah which all happens against the backdrop of a high school like no other. The cheerleaders ride Harleys, the homecoming queen, Infinite Darlene is also the star quarterback, and the gay-straight alliance was formed to help the straight kids learn how to dance.
To get Boy Meets Boy and check out other books by David Levithan go to Amazon here.
The Grief Keeper
This YA debut from Alexandr Villasante explores healing, faith and freedom. It follows 17-year-old Marisol who has always dreamed of being American like Aimee and Amber, the title characters of her favourite show.
However she never pictured crossing the US border as “an illegal” while fleeing her home in El Salvador under the threat of death. If she had never fallen for the charms of a beautiful girl named Liliana, her brother Pablo might still be alive, her mother wouldn’t be in hiding and she and her sister Gabi wouldn’t have been caught crossing the border.
With no options remaining Marisol jumps at an unusual opportunity to stay in the United States as a grief keeper, taking the grief of another into her own body to save a life.
To purchase The Grief Keeper go to Amazon here.
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