The title of this blog post should probably be called, “My Top 10 Favourite LGBTQ+ representation books”, as all these books are fiction rather than non-fiction. I’ve generally found nearly all LGBTQ+ books are represented through fiction (stories and narratives) rather than non-fiction (facts and memoirs). I have learnt so much through all of these books, simply by reading their stories and hearing it through their own voices. Some of these books don’t actually explicitly cover LGBTQ+ in terms of stating and addressing it. Instead, LGBTQ+ characters just are, and in so many ways those are my favourites books as they portray the world as, I think, it should be - no explanations, no labels (if you don’t want to be labeled), no assumptions, no defaults. I would also like to state that in all these books below, the LGBTQ+ characters are the main characters and voice - not the sidekicks.
I’m deeply saddened to say though that none of these books represent trans or non-binary characters, and while I do plan to go seeking out non-binary and trans-representation books, it is shameful that there are very, very few out there. I really hope this is something that changes in the coming years and more trans and non-binary characters get a voice and platform. (I'm currently waiting for "Felix Ever After" to come out which revolves around the character, Felix, who is Black, queer, and transgender).
(Note: For those who struggle to read due to an illness such as M.E, I have added how many pages each book contains and I have rated all the books on how hard they are to read – from “Easy”, to “Moderate”, to “Hard”. The ones which I have labeled “Easy” are generally the shorter books that are concise and to the point, while those I have labeled “hard” are the longer books with often some research in them. If you do not suffer from ill health or have no problems reading, you can ignore this! This is simply for those who struggle to read so they can know which books are easiest.)
*Please also note that some of my reviews of the books use extracts and sentences from the book's synopsis on Goodreads*
1. “The Seven Husband’s of Evelyn Hugo” by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Don’t be off-put by the celebrity side of this book: it’s so much deeper than what the synopsis gives away. It is definitely one of those books to go into with the little you know the better, but I will say this book does a great job of describing the difference between lesbian/gay and bisexual, and having frank conversations between a gay and bi person who are in a relationship together (I thought it explained it so well, as well as stamping out the stigma that bi people are more likely to cheat). (Pages – 391. Reading difficulty – Easy.) *Available as audiobook
2. “The Heart’s Invisible Furies” by John Boyne
Although it is fiction, this book is based on the very real history of Ireland and the rife homophobia from the 1940s to today. It takes you through Cyril Avery’s life story - how he will spend a lifetime coming to know himself and where he came from - and over his many years, will struggle to discover an identity, a home, a country, and much more. This book tore my heart apart and put it back together at the end - an absolute must-read if you can! It gives an honest account of just how hard it was, and in many ways, still is, to be gay in Ireland. (Pages – 592. Reading difficulty – Hard.) *Available as audiobook
3. “Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda” by Becky Albertalli
I LOVED this book, and I do not say that lightly. It taught me so much about LGBTQ+ and more. One of the biggest messages I took away from this book was why is it only gay people who have to come out? Why do we always make straight the norm? Isn’t it time to change that, so it requires either everyone or no one to come out? This was one of the first LGBTQ+ books I read and I think it is a perfect place to start. You will finish it and realise how wrong the world is and how much needs to change. I hope we can live in a world where straight isn’t the default, where there aren’t any sexuality assumptions, where LGBTQ+ people don’t feel pressured to “come out”. And also making the emphasis on the fact coming out is extremely personal to that person, and no one has the right to take that away from them. I know this book has been made into a film called “Love, Simon” which I hope to watch soon. I also know there is now a spin-off called “Love, Victor” which is a TV show instead of a film, and unlike Simon, Victor does not have a supportive family around him. (“Love, Victor” is due to come out later this month). (Pages – 303. Reading difficulty – Easy.) *Available as audiobook
4. “Vicious” by V.E Schwab
Not only is this a brilliant story, but one of the two main lead characters who is Victor Vale is asexual - a topic which I think is seriously underrepresented. In case you’re unsure, asexual means someone who doesn’t have sexual feelings - they can still be romantically attracted to someone and want love, but have no or little interest in sex - but please bear in mind that being asexual means different things to different people. Like anything, it’s not something you can put in a box with everyone in it - but I’d just thought I’d give an overview if you were unsure. I think because so many books love the romance side of things, it means asexuality often gets overlooked. But this book proves that you can have a book with a main character who is asexual, and have it to not take away from the story one teeny tiny bit. I’m not actually sure many people who have read this book would have noticed this representation, as it’s not labeled explicitly, but I know one of my Goodreads friends who is asexual was over the moon with this representation. (Pages – 366. Reading difficulty – Moderate.)
5. “The Priory of The Orange Tree” by Samantha Shannon
This is one of those books where I want to live in that world the author creates: a world with no labels, no eyebrow raises, no assumptions or defaults. It is an epic fantasy novel that could easily be split into three books, but the thing I love most about this book is, as I said, the representation. It strongly reminds me once again how much I don’t want to be labelled, nor do I want anyone to assume things about me or put me in a box. But I do understand this is my ideal world and not everyone’s: there is power in some labels and in owning them. (Pages – 846. Reading difficulty – Hard.) *Available as audiobook
6. “On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous” by Ocean Vuong
This book is a letter from a son to a mother who cannot read. Written when the speaker, Little Dog, is in his late twenties, the letter unearths a family's history that began before he was born – a history whose epicentre is rooted in Vietnam – and serves as a doorway into parts of his life his mother has never known, all of it leading to an unforgettable revelation. You will either like the poetical writing style of this book or you won't. I wasn’t mad about it, but I know a lot of people who loved this book and I think it’s important to keep a diverse representation of LGBTQ+. If you do like this book though, I also recommend “Red at the Bone” - similar writing style to this one and also LGBTQ+ rep, although through a women’s experiences instead, whereas this one is through a man’s. (Pages – 246. Reading difficulty – Hard.) *Available as audiobook
7. “Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe” by Benjamin Alire Sáenz
I’ll never forget the amount of anger Aristotle held within himself; always lashing out, become seriously ill, only to realise it was all because he was hiding who he truly was (but not even fully realising it himself, or allowing him too). It makes me think of so many people, both real life and fictional, who are angry and have no way to express that anger either because they are gay/trans and unable to be who they are or are having to hide some other part of their life, either to themselves and/or others. This book educated me in ways I didn’t expect to be and I really recommend it from that angle. (Pages – 370. Reading difficulty – Easy.) *Available as audiobook
8. “Girls of Paper and Fire” by Natasha Ngan
This book is not only is this one of the best YA fantasy books I have read, but by far the most mature, heartbreaking, dark, and important. Go in with caution and a heart heavy; this book addresses the rape culture in a way I have never read before. It was painful to read at times and yet I couldn’t put it down; devouring this novel in a day. But the author has written this book so beautifully, and with so much love and thought poured into it, you can tell how carefully she chose every word and sentence. This book was another one of those books where the LGBTQ+ representation was through simply being - not revolving around it at all, or labelling it, but having the main love story revolving around two girls. (Pages – 366. Reading difficulty – Moderate.) *trigger warning rape
9. “I’ll Give You The Sun” by Jandy Nelson
A coming of age novel about two twins - Jude and Noah - and how they fall for two boys they can’t have, as well as focusing on a tragedy that drives the two twins apart. I loved the relationship Noah had with the boy in this book especially, it was so real, fragile, and authentic. Do pick up this book if you can, it is easy and also a great book for anyone struggling with their identity as a young person. (Pages – 429. Reading difficulty – Easy.) *Available as audiobook
10. “The Gentlemans Guide to Vice and Virtue” by Mackenzi Lee
It’s very easy to skip over this book simply due from the cover alone as you think it’s about privileged white men, but it’s not. This book has both LGBTQ+ rep and disability rep, a first! As well as an extremely strong feminist narrative. Go into it with an open mind and read how the terrible Monty struggles with his feelings after falling for his best friend, Percy, as the two of them and Monty’s sister, Felicity, embark on a grand tour of Europe. (Pages – 533. Reading difficulty – Easy.) *Available as audiobook
There are also so many other LGBTQ+ books I’ve been dying to get my hands on, such as “Red, White & Royal Blue” and “Call Me By Your Name” (now a film with Timothee Chalamet), which I haven’t read yet or watched but I’ve heard great things about. I'm also hoping to read "Clap When You Land" soon which has also had great reviews, as well as "All Boys Aren't Blue": A Memoir Manifesto" by George M. Johnson, a young-adult memoir weaving together the trials and triumphs faced by Black queer boys, which looks amazing and has just come out last week.
If you have any recommendations for me, please do let me know by leaving a comment below. You can also follow me on Goodreads where you can see all my book reviews and ratings, as well as explore my different shelves for the different types of books I read (I have a shelf on LQBTQ+ rep).
Metta, E xx