Here are just a few of our favourite books that feature LGBTQ+ characters, are written by LGBTQ+ authors or explore themes that have greatly affected LGBTQ+ communities. Our selection encompasses everything from novels by writers as diverse as Virginia Woolf to Alan Hollinghurst, to popular science books on the AIDS epidemic and explorations of gay lives around the world. Here we’ve curated our edit of the very best fiction and non-fiction LGBTQ+ books.
Queer Intentions by Amelia Abraham
Owen Jones called Queer Intentions a book that will ‘not just resonate with a new generation of queer people, but with all those who seek to be their allies.’ Combining journalism and personal experience, Amelia Abraham seeks answers to the challenges facing LGBTQ+ people today. Are the options available to LGBTQ+ people all they’re cracked up to be? And what happens to those left behind, in parts of the world where LGBTQ+ rights aren’t so advanced? This thought-provoking and often funny book takes the reader on a exploration of what it means to be queer in 2019.
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Paul Takes the Form of a Mortal Girl by Andrea Lawlor
This funny, sharp, sweet and frequently filthy book follows Paul Polydoris, a shapeshifting bartender who can change gender at will, on a riotous adventure through early ‘90s queer America. From Riot Grrl to leather cub and Iowa City to San Francisco, this is a journey through queer theory, LGBT communities and gender fluidity, as well as a love letter to early ‘90s counter-culture.
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How to Survive a Plague by David France
How to Survive a Plague was the winner of The Green Carnation Prize for LGBTQ Literature and the Lambda Literary Award for LGBT non-fiction. The book is a riveting and moving account of the AIDS epidemic and the activists at grass-roots level who fought to develop the drugs which turned AIDS from an almost always fatal infection to a manageable disease. Weaving together dozens of individual stories, many from people who were facing their own life or death struggles with the disease, this is an insider’s account of an incredibly important moment in our history.
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Me by Elton John
In his first and only autobiography, the iconic Elton John reveals all about his incredible life, from growing up as Reginald Dwight in a London suburb to touring the world and forming friendships with Freddie Mercury, John Lennon and George Michael. In Me, Elton writes powerfully about his struggles with addiction, setting up his AIDS Foundation, finding love with David Furnish and becoming a father. A must-read for all Elton fans.
Trumpet by Jackie Kay
After the death of legendary jazz trumpeter Joss Moody, his secret is revealed to the world: Joss was trans, a fact that even his adopted son Colman never knew. Trumpet is a tender and moving story of love, gender and private lives made suddenly public.
The Line of Beauty by Alan Hollinghurst
Alan Hollinghurst's Man Booker winning novel explores themes of identity and class in Thatcher's Britain through the lives of the wealthy Fedden family and their 23 year old lodger Nick. The Line of Beauty lifts the veil on the Conservative elite, and the relationship between politics and sexuality in 1980s London.
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Carol by Patricia Highsmith
Carol is a visceral portrait of the relationship between Therese Belivet, a lonely young artist, and Carol, a self-assured divorcee, set against the backdrop of 1950s New York. Highsmith first published Carol as The Price of Salt under a pseudonym in 1952 to avoid potential scandal around her own personal life.
Orlando by Virginia Woolf
Following it’s immortal namesake through three centuries of history, Orlando is an whimsical exploration of perceptions of gender and love through the ages. It’s also a love letter, written by Virginia Woolf to her long time female companion and fellow novelist Vita Sackville-West, who inspired the character of Orlando.
Giovanni's Room by James Baldwin
After David, a young American living in 1950s Paris meets the mysterious Giovanni in a bar the two begin an intense affair. When David's girlfriend returns three months later he is forced to choose between them, which has devestating consequences for them all. Highly controversial when it was first published in 1956 for it's portrayal of a gay relationship in mainsteam literature, James Baldwin’s tale of an ill fated love triangle is now considered a classic.
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What Belongs to You by Gareth Greenwell
After a one off meeting in a public bathroom, a charismatic young hustler and an American teacher begin an intimate, intense, and unnerving relationship. What Belongs to You is a powerful and erotic debut novel, which explores how being rejected for being who you are shapes the way you love, and the difficulty of growing up as a gay man in Southern America in the 1990s.
Buy What Belongs to You
Boy Meets Hamster by Birdie Milano
Boy Meets Hamster is a funny and touching romance between two teenage boys, set at a holiday camp in Cornwall. This is Angus, Thongs and Full-Frontal Snogging meets Love, Simon, and it is a lot of fun.
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What's Up With Jody Barton? by Hayley Long
Jolene and Jody Barton are twins, who have both fallen in love with the same guy – but Jolene’s superior flirting skills leave Jody totally out of the running. Only there’s something nobody knows about Jody Barton . . .
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The Dark Light by Julia Bell
Rebekah has lived on the island her whole life, and until recently, had never imagined what life might be like outside her strict religious community. But when another teenage girl, Alex, is sent to join the community to escape her dark past, the two girls strike up a strong friendship. And when a kiss between the girls is witnessed by another islander, there’s nowhere to escape.
Buy The Dark Light by Julia Bell
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