22 Books by LGBTQ+ Authors, Highly Rated by Millions of Readers


Once upon a 2021 summer, I became an avid nonfiction reader. Ever since then, I have completely devoured any personal essay that I can get my hands on. However, I never would have found this passion for my favorite genre if I hadn’t read one book by an LGBTQ+ author that dealt partially with queer identity and partially with general great life advice (yes, it was Untamed by Glennon Doyle and yes, I am a Basic Girl). LGBTQ+ authors are changing the game in their respective genres constantly; whether you’re like me and you want to read a true story of queer identity, or you’re looking for a fantastic LGBTQ+ romance to curb your obsession with Red, White & Royal Blue, these books by LGBTQ+ authors are sure to spark your enthusiasm.

This particular list of popular titles by LGBTQ+ authors was curated by Goodreads, meaning these books have been read, rated, and reviewed by millions of readers. If you’re looking to peruse community-approved literary picks, Goodreads is definitely the place to find and share recommendations. Read on for the best books by LGBTQ+ authors to read this year.

Justin Torres

Out in the desert in a place called the Palace, a young man tends to a dying soul, someone he once knew briefly, but who has haunted the edges of his life. Juan Gay—playful raconteur, child lost and found and lost, guardian of the institutionalized—has a project to pass along to this new narrator. It is inspired by a true artifact of a book, Sex Variants: A Study in Homosexual Patterns, which contains stories collected in the early twentieth century from queer subjects by a queer researcher, Jan Gay, whose groundbreaking work was then co-opted by a committee, her name buried. As Juan waits for his end, he and the narrator trade stories—moments of joy and oblivion—and resurrect lost loves, lives, mothers, fathers, minor heroes. The past is with us, beside us, ahead of us; what are we to create from its gaps and erasures?

LGBTQ+ Books

Shastri Akella

Shagun knows he will never be the kind of son his father demands. After the sudden deaths of his beloved twin sisters, Shagun flees his own guilt, his mother’s grief, and his father’s violent disapproval by enrolling at an all-boys boarding school. But he doesn’t find true belonging until he encounters a traveling theater troupe performing the Hindu myths of his childhood. Welcomed by the other storytellers, Shagun thrives, easily embodying mortals and gods, men and women, and living on the road, where his father can’t catch him. When Shagun meets Marc, a charming photographer, he seems to have found the love he always longed for, too. But not even Marc can save him from his lingering shame, nor his father’s ever-present threat to send him to a conversion center. As Shagun’s past begins to engulf him once again, he must decide if he is strong enough to face what he fears most, and boldly claim his own happiness.

LGBTQ Books The Everygirl 12

Kaveh Akbar

Cyrus Shams is a young man grappling with an inheritance of violence and loss: his mother’s plane was shot down over the skies of Tehran in a senseless accident; and his father’s life in America was circumscribed by his work killing chickens at a factory farm in the Midwest. Cyrus is a drunk, an addict, and a poet, whose obsession with martyrs leads him to examine the mysteries of his past—toward an uncle who rode through Iranian battlefields dressed as the Angel of death to inspire and comfort the dying, and toward his mother, through a painting discovered in a Brooklyn art gallery that suggests she may not have been who or what she seemed.

LGBTQ+ Books

Nicola Dinan

It began as your typical boy meets boy. While out with friends at their local university drag night, Tom buys Ming a drink. Confident and witty, a magnetic young playwright, Ming is the perfect antidote to Tom’s awkward energy, and their connection is instant. Tom finds himself deeply and desperately drawn into Ming’s orbit, and on the cusp of graduation, he’s already mapped out their future together. But shortly after they move to London to start their next chapter, Ming announces her intention to transition. Tom and Ming face tectonic shifts in their relationship and friend circle in the wake of Ming’s transition. Through a spiral of unforeseen crises—some personal, some professional, some life-altering—Tom and Ming are forced to confront the vastly different shapes their lives have taken since graduating, and each must answer the essential question: Is it worth losing a part of yourself to become who you are?

LGBTQ+ Books

James Frankie Thomas

Idlewild is a tiny high school in lower Manhattan. Students call their teachers by their first names and every day begins with 20 minutes of contemplative silence. It is during one of those meetings that catastrophic events unfold. For two outcasts, 9/11 served as the first day of the intense, 18-month friendship between Fay who is obsessed with gay men and Nell who is obsessed with Fay. The two of them spend all their waking hours giddily parsing their environment for homoerotic subtext. One day they notice two boys who are potential candidates for their exclusive Invert Society. The pairs become mirrors of one another and drive each other to make choices that they’ll regret for the rest of their lives. Looking back on these events as adults, the estranged Fay and Nell trace the spectacular cascade of mistakes, miscommunications, and betrayals that would ultimately tear the two of them apart.

LGBTQ+ Books

J.K. Chukwu

Sahara is Not Okay. Entering her sophomore year at Elite University, she feels like a failure: her body is too curvy, her love life is nonexistent, her family is disappointed in her, her grades are terrible, and, well, the few Black classmates she has just keep dying. Sahara is close to giving up and her depression is, as she says, her only “Life Partner.” The Unfortunates is meant to be a final unfurling of Sahara’s singular, unforgettable voice before her own inevitable disappearance and death. But over the course of this wild sophomore year, and supported by her eccentric community of BIPOC women, Sahara will eventually find hope, answers, and an unexpected redemption.

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R.O. Kwon

At a lavish party in the hills outside of San Francisco, Jin Han meets Lidija Jung and nothing will ever be the same for either woman. A brilliant young photographer, Jin is at a crossroads in her work, in her marriage, and in who she is and wants to be. Lidija is an alluring, injured world-class ballerina on hiatus from her ballet company under mysterious circumstances. Drawn to each other by their intense artistic drives, the two women talk all night. Jin finds herself telling Lidija about an old familial curse, breaking a lifelong promise. She’s been told that if she doesn’t keep the curse a secret, she risks losing everything. As Jin and Lidija become more entangled, they realize they share more than their ambition, and begin to explore hidden desires. Something is ignited in Jin: her art, her body, and her sense of self irrevocably changed. But can she avoid the specter of the curse?

LGBTQ+ Books

Emily Austin

Enid is obsessed with space. She can tell you all about black holes and their ability to spaghettify you without batting an eye in fear. Her one major phobia? Bald men. But she tries to keep that one under wraps. When she’s not listening to her favorite true crime podcasts on a loop, she’s serially dating a rotation of women from dating apps. At the same time, she’s trying to forge a new relationship with her estranged half-sisters after the death of her absent father. When she unwittingly plunges into her first serious romantic entanglement, Enid starts to believe that someone is following her. As her paranoia spirals out of control, Enid must contend with her mounting suspicion that something is seriously wrong with her. Because at the end of the day there’s only one person she can’t outrun—herself.

LGBTQ+ Books

Christina Cooke

Twenty-year-old Akúa flies from Canada to her native Jamaica to reconnect with her estranged sister Tamika. Their younger brother Bryson has recently passed from sickle cell anemia—the same disease that took their mother ten years prior—and Akúa carries his remains in a small wooden box with the hope of reassembling her family. Over the span of two fateful weeks, Akúa and Tamika visit significant places from their childhood, but time spent with her sister only clarifies how different they are, and how years of living abroad have distanced Akúa from her home culture. While wandering through Kingston with her brother’s ashes in tow, Akúa meets Jayda, a brash stripper who shows her a different side of the city. As the two grow closer, Akúa confronts the difficult reality of being gay in a deeply religious family, and what being a gay woman in Jamaica actually means.

LGBTQ+ Books

Henry Hoke

A queer and dangerously hungry mountain lion lives in the drought-devastated land under the Hollywood sign. Lonely and fascinated by humanity’s foibles, the lion spends their days protecting a nearby homeless encampment, observing hikers complain about their trauma, and, in quiet moments, grappling with the complexities of their gender identity, memories of a vicious father, and the indignities of sentience. When a man-made fire engulfs the encampment, the lion is forced from the hills down into the city the hikers call “ellay.” As the lion confronts a carousel of temptations and threats, they take us on a tour that spans the cruel inequalities of Los Angeles and the toll of climate grief. But even when salvation finally seems within reach, they are forced to face down the ultimate question: Do they want to eat a person, or become one?

LGBTQ+ Books

Sarah Cypher

In a Pacific Northwest hospital, the heart of a stillborn baby begins to beat and her skin turns vibrantly, permanently cobalt blue. Her name is Betty. The family matriarch and keeper of their lore, Aunt Nuha, believes that the blue girl embodies their sacred history, harkening back to a time when the Rummanis were among the wealthiest soap-makers and their blue soap was a symbol of a legendary love. Decades later, Betty returns to Aunt Nuha’s gravestone, faced with a difficult decision: Should she stay in the only country she’s ever known, or should she follow her heart and the woman she loves, perpetuating her family’s cycle of exile? Betty finds her answer in partially translated notebooks that reveal her aunt’s complex life and struggle with her own sexuality, which Nuha hid to help the family immigrate to the United States. But, Betty will soon discover, her aunt hid much more than that.

LGBTQ+ Books

C. Pam Zhang

A smog has spread. Food crops are rapidly disappearing. A chef escapes her dying career in a dreary city to take a job at a decadent mountaintop colony seemingly free of the world’s troubles. There, the sky is clear again. Rare ingredients abound. Her enigmatic employer and his visionary daughter have built a lush new life for the global elite, one that reawakens the chef to the pleasures of taste, touch, and her own body. In this atmosphere of hidden wonders and cool, seductive violence, the chef’s boundaries undergo a thrilling erosion. Soon she is pushed to the center of a startling attempt to reshape the world far beyond the plate. Told in language as alluring as it is original, Land of Milk and Honey lays provocatively bare the ethics of seeking pleasure in a dying world. It is a daringly imaginative exploration of desire and deception, privilege and faith, and the roles we play to survive.

LGBTQ+ Books

Marisa Crane

In a United States not so unlike our own, the Department of Balance has adopted a radical new form of law enforcement: rather than incarceration, wrongdoers are given a second shadow as a reminder of their crime—and a warning to those they encounter. Within the Department, corruption and prejudice run rampant, giving rise to an underclass of so-called Shadesters who are disenfranchised, publicly shamed, and deprived of civil rights protections. Kris is a Shadester and a new mother to a baby born with a second shadow of her own. Grieving the loss of her wife and thoroughly unprepared for the reality of raising a child alone, Kris teeters on the edge of collapse, fumbling in a daze of alcohol, shame, and self-loathing. Yet as her kid grows, Kris finds her footing, raising a child whose irrepressible spark cannot be dampened by the harsh realities of the world. She can’t forget her wife, but with time, she can make a new life for herself and her kid.

LGBTQ+ Books

Jade Song

Ren Yu is a swimmer. Her daily life starts and ends with the pool. Her teammates are her only friends. Her coach is her guiding light. If she swims well enough, she will be scouted, get a scholarship, and go to a good school. Her parents will love her. Her coach will be kind to her. She will have a good life. But these are human concerns. These are the concerns of those confined to land, those with legs. Ren grew up on stories of creatures of the deep, of the oceans and the rivers. Creatures that called sailors to their doom. That dragged them down and drowned them. That feasted on their flesh. The creature that she’s always longed to become: the mermaid. Ren aches to be in the water. She dreams of the scent of chlorine, the feel of it on her skin. And she will do anything she can to make a life for herself where she can be free. No matter the pain. No matter what anyone else thinks. No matter how much blood she has to spill.

LGBTQ+ Books

Gerardo Sámano Córdova

Grieving mother Magos cuts out a piece of her deceased eleven-year-old son Santiago’s lung. Acting on fierce maternal instinct and the dubious logic of an old folktale, she nurtures the lung until it gains sentience, growing into the carnivorous little Monstrilio she keeps hidden within the walls of her family’s decaying Mexico City estate. Eventually, Monstrilio begins to resemble the Santiago he once was, but his innate impulses—though curbed by his biological and chosen family’s communal care—threaten to destroy this fragile second chance at life. A thought-provoking meditation on grief, acceptance, and the monstrous sides of love and loyalty, Monstrilio blends bold imagination and evocative prose with deep emotional rigor.

LGBTQ+ Books

Lamya H

When fourteen-year-old Lamya H realizes she has a crush on her teacher—her female teacher—she covers up her attraction, an attraction she can’t yet name, by playing up her roles as overachiever and class clown. Born in South Asia, she moved to the Middle East at a young age and has spent years feeling out of place, like her own desires and dreams don’t matter, and it’s easier to hide in plain sight. But one day in Quran class, she reads a passage about Maryam that changes everything: When Maryam learned that she was pregnant, she insisted no man had touched her. Could Maryam, uninterested in men, be like Lamya? From that moment on, Lamya makes sense of her struggles and triumphs by comparing her experiences with some of the most famous stories in the Quran—ultimately finding that the answer to her lifelong quest for community and belonging lies in owning her identity as a queer, devout Muslim immigrant.

LGBTQ+ Books

Geena Rocero

As a young femme in 1990s Manila, Geena Rocero heard, “Bakla, bakla!,” a taunt aimed at her feminine sway. Eventually, she found her place in trans pageants, the Philippines’ informal national sport. When her competitors mocked her as a “horse Barbie” due to her statuesque physique, tumbling hair, long neck, and dark skin, she leaned into the epithet. By seventeen, she was the Philippines’ highest-earning trans pageant queen. A year later, Geena moved to the United States where she could change her name and gender marker on her documents. But legal recognition didn’t mean safety. In order to survive, Geena went stealth and hid her trans identity, gaining one type of freedom at the expense of another. She craved acceptance as her authentic self yet had to remain vigilant in order to protect her dream career. The high-stakes double life finally forced Geena to decide if she wanted to reclaim the power of Horse Barbie once and for all: radiant, head held high, and unabashedly herself.

LGBTQ+ Books

Curtis Chin

Nineteen eighties Detroit was a volatile place to live, but above the fray stood a safe haven: Chung’s Cantonese Cuisine, where anyone—from the city’s first Black mayor to the local drag queens, from a big-time Hollywood star to elderly Jewish couples—could sit down for a warm, home-cooked meal. Here was where, beneath a bright-red awning and surrounded by his multigenerational family, filmmaker and activist Curtis Chin came of age; where he learned to embrace his identity as a gay ABC, or American-born Chinese; where he navigated the divided city’s spiraling misfortunes; and where—between helpings of almond boneless chicken, sweet-and-sour pork, and some of his own, less-savory culinary concoctions—he realized just how much he had to offer to the world, to his beloved family, and to himself.

LGBTQ+ Books

Jedidiah Jenkins

When his mother, Barbara, turned seventy, Jedidiah Jenkins is reminded of a sobering truth: Our parents won’t live forever. For years, he and Barbara have talked about taking a trip together, just the two of them. They disagree on a lot like God and politics but they love each other. They land on an idea: to retrace the thousands of miles Barbara trekked with Jedidiah’s father. Beginning in New Orleans, they set off for the Oregon coast, listening to podcasts about outlaws and cult leaders—the only media they can agree on—while reliving the journey that changed Barbara’s life. Jedidiah discovers who Barbara was as a thirty-year-old writer walking across America and who she is now, as a parent who loves her son yet holds on to a version of faith that sees his sexuality as a sin. Along the way, he peels back the layers of questions millions are asking today: How do we stay in a relationship when it hurts? When do we stand up for ourselves, and when do we let it go?

LGBTQ+ Books

Raquel Willis

Raquel Willis was born in Augusta, Georgia, to Black Catholic parents, Raquel spent years feeling isolated, even within a loving, close-knit family. It wasn’t until she went to the University of Georgia that she found the LGBTQ+ community, fell in love, and explored her gender for the first time. But the unexpected death of her father forced her to examine her relationship with herself and those she loved. These years of grief, misunderstanding, and hard-won epiphanies seeped into the soil of her life, serving as fertilizer for growth and allowing her to bloom within. Upon graduation, Raquel entered a career in journalism, hiding her true identity. After hiding her identity as a reporter, her increasing awareness of the epidemic of violence plaguing trans women of color inspired her to come out publicly. Within just a few short years of community organizing in Atlanta, Oakland, and New York, Raquel emerged as one of the most formidable Black trans activists in history.

LGBTQ+ Books

Elliot Page

It was two months before the world premiere of Juno, and Elliot Page was in his first ever queer bar. The hot summer air hung heavy around him as he looked at her. And then it happened. In front of everyone. Here he was on the precipice of discovering himself as a queer person, as a trans person. But for Elliot, two steps forward had always come with one step back. With Juno‘s massive success, Elliot became one of the world’s most beloved actors. His dreams were coming true, but the pressure to perform suffocated him. The career that had once been an escape was suddenly a nightmare. As he navigated criticism and abuse from some of the most powerful people in Hollywood, a past that snapped at his heels, and a society dead set on forcing him into a binary, Elliot often stayed silent, unsure of what to do. Until enough was enough.

LGBTQ+ Books

RuPaul

Central to RuPaul’s success has been his chameleonic adaptability. From drag icon to powerhouse producer of one of the world’s largest television franchises, RuPaul’s ever-shifting nature has always been part of his brand as both supermodel and supermogul. Yet that adaptability has made him enigmatic to the public. In this memoir, his most intimate and detailed book yet, RuPaul makes himself truly known.



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