Your Pride reading list: The best LGBTQ+ books

Our edit of the best books exploring LGBTQ+ experiences and relationships, for Pride Month and beyond.

3 minutes to read

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.


by Garth Greenwell

Book cover for 9781509874637

In Sofia, Bulgaria, an American teacher grapples with the intimate encounters that have marked his years abroad as he prepares to leave the country he has come to call home. Around him, Sofia stirs with hope and impending upheaval. Expanding the world of Garth Greenwell’s debut novel, What Belongs to You, this is the story of a life transformed by the discovery and loss of love.

Read our interview between Garth and his editor.

The Mercies

by Kiran Millwood Hargrave

Book cover for 9781529005103

This evocative novel set on the remote Norwegian island of Vardø in the 1600s was inspired by the real Vardø storm and the subsequent witch hunt. When a catastrophic storm wipes out almost the entirety of the male population of the island, the women who are left, still grieving for their men, are forced to fend for themselves. Eighteen months later, the sinister new commissioner, Absolom Cornet, arrives with his young wife Ursa. Ursa sees independent women for the first time, and she gets to know Maren, the young woman who helps her navigate life in this harsh new world, the two women are irresistably drawn to each other. But Absolom is convinced that the women’s behaviour is ungodly and he must bring them to heel by any means necessary.

Read Kiran Millwood Hargrave on the true story behind The Mercies.

Paul Takes the Form of A Mortal Girl

by Andrea Lawlor

Book cover for 9781529007671

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.

Queer Intentions

Book cover for 9781509866168

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.

How to Survive a Plague

by David France

Book cover for 9781509839407

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.

The Animals at Lockwood Manor

by Jane Healey

Book cover for 9781529014174

It's 1939, and Hetty Cartwright has been tasked with the evacuation of the Natural History Museum's collection of mammals. But whan she arrives at Lockwood Manor, where she and the animals will stay until the end of the war, she realises she's taken on more than she bargained for. When some of the animals go missing, Hetty fears that an unknown presence is stalking her through the corridors of the house. And, all the while, she finds herself falling under the spell of Lord Lockwood's daughter Lucy . . .


by Elton John

Book cover for 9781509853311

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.


by Jackie Kay

Book cover for 9781447289494

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

Book cover for 9781447275183

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.


by Virginia Woolf

Book cover for 9781509841875

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

Book cover for [object Object]

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 devastating 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.

What Belongs to You

by Garth Greenwell

Book cover for 9781447280521

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.


by Patricia Highsmith

Book cover for [object Object]

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.

Wayward Son

by Rainbow Rowell

Book cover for 9781509896882

Wayward Son is the stunning sequel to Rainbow Rowell's much-loved YA novel Carry On. Simon Snow beat the villain, won the war and even fell in love. So why can't he get off the couch? According to his best friend, he needs a change of scenery, and so Simon, Penny and Baz head to America for the roadtrip of a lifetime. But trouble finds them before too long . . .

Boy Meets Hamster

by Birdie Milano

Book cover for 9781509848652

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.

What's Up With Jody Barton?

Book cover for 9781447267829

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 . . .

The Dark Light

by Julia Bell

Book cover for 9781447283034

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.

In this episode of Book Break Emma celebrates happy LGBTQIA+​ stories: