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The 10 Best LGBT Books To Read You Should Have Read Already By Now!

The 10 Best LGBT Books To Read You Should Have Read Already By Now!

A lot of things can make a book worth reading. An open mind looking for a good story, a previous interest in a franchise or a character, or even a catchy cover that draws in the eyes.  For many people, it’s also when the book touches upon a subject that is close to them or that they are interested in learning more about – this is our enduring interest in the best LGBT books!

This is the case with many or even most non-fiction books, but it can also be just as true for fiction. Relatable characters, familiar situations, or future dreams can all make for a wonderful read when they are factors in a novel!

There’s nothing more enjoyable than flipping through chapters of a book that describes a world far from our own, and there’s nothing more satisfying than following a carefully crafted tale through to the very end – even if it makes us mope, complain, and possibly even tear up a little along the way.

The fictional works we create mirror the real life we have around us and are perfect examples of just how great the human ability to create is and what it can achieve!

LGBT Books To Read - best LGBT Books To Read - Best Books for LGBT to Read - Books on LGBT to Read

That’s where we come to queer novels. It’s natural for these works to be popular amongst queer people, but it can also be said that their reach doesn’t end there. After all, one does not have to identify as part of a community or as queer to enjoy learning about related subjects and reading related stories.

It is allowing and expressing acceptance and willingness to learn new things that help us move forward as a society, and nothing but good can come from allowing people to walk in the shoes of others they might not have necessarily agreed with. 

As is so with all kinds of art, whether a book is good is entirely up to personal opinion for the most part, but that doesn’t belittle the fact that some works rise above the heap to become legends of their respective genres.

We’ve tried to capture those few special works with this curated list – taking in the popular, the underrated, and the niche alike to form a set of some of the best queer novels that were ever written. So, get ready to open up some pages and your mind, and get ready to dive into ten of the best LGBT books and novels that are ever written!

Music, my adored. When is there never

music? My accordion puffs up

with drinkable melodies. I spill

her tunes into your listening ear,

one after the other: the squeeze-box

enters the dance of the plaintive gypsy

with its hard rhythms, lilts the back-

breaking labor song the worker croons

to earth, warbles romantic notes of

dissolving borders. You melt

like a woman beneath her lover’s touch.

Music is happy and pitiless when

it sets fire to combustible souls. Even

the raspy bandoneon’s voice is lyric.

From Six Sonnets: Crossing the West by Janice Gould
Queer Literature

Don't have time to read them all? Why not try listening to them? Audible is a great platform for listening to audiobooks because it offers a wide selection of books, including bestsellers and exclusive content. With Audible, you can listen to your favorite books on-the-go, whether you're commuting, working out, or doing household chores.

The Audible app also has features like adjustable narration speed, a sleep timer, and the ability to create bookmarks, making it easy to customize your listening experience. Additionally, Audible offers a membership program that gives members access to a certain number of audiobooks per month, making it a cost-effective option for avid listeners. 

A great resource for people who want to maximize their time and make the most out of their daily activities. Try a free 30-day trial from Audible today, and you'll get access to a selection of Audible Originals and audiobooks, along with a credit to purchase any title in their premium selection, regardless of price (including many of the books on this list!) 

For ebook lovers, we also recommend Scribd, basically the Netflix for Books and the best and most convenient subscription for online reading. While they have a catalog comprising over half a million books including from many bestselling authors, for some of the books on this list, you'll still have to purchase individually - either as a paperback or eBook to load on your Kindle - due to publishing house restrictions. 

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Martin and John by Dale Peck

The first of our best LGBT books are set apart from the pack of its kind by the intriguing, gripping twist in its writing style; Martin in John is undoubtedly a classic masterpiece of great regard. The book’s story follows two men named Martin and John during the height of the AIDS pandemic, but things aren’t as straightforward as they might seem.

For there are two sets of Martins and Johns, each living entirely different lives, going through different kinds of suffering and finding one another and themselves in different, polarized ways. 

What starts as an already masterful capture of the times soon becomes a double-edged sword of a different type altogether. Laden with real emotion and a deep sense of brutal, realistic anguish, Martin and John stay close to the heart of these two to four men as life throws hurdle after hurdle in their direction, and the world turns even crueler than it had already been.

Martin and John embody all of history’s pains and more. It is the author’s first novel and was written at a time when the AIDS pandemic was an almost apocalyptic event in the lives of many gay people – both those that were directly affected and those that had to face a new level of discrimination.

It is one of the strongest AIDS-period queer novels ever released and one of the genre’s high points. Worth a read and worthy of every cent of praise.

Martin and John by Dale Peck - Best LGBT Books to Read

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The Heart’s Invisible Furies by John Boyne

An adopted child with a troubled past, The Heart’s Invisible Furies covers the life of Cyril Avery from conception to old age, with a spotlight upon the catharsis of his coming into himself as a gay man living in conservative and catholic Ireland.

What starts as a story of navigating rocky waters throughout childhood and the teenage years turns into a lifetime-long tale of finding himself and what it means to be different. Cyril was told his entire life that he wasn’t a ‘real Avery’, but what does that mean for his future? Must he live out his life in a lie, or can he be his person after time?

The answer to that question – amongst others – is expedited by the arrival of the rogue Julian Woodbead into his life – the first in a chain of many big changes that will affect Cyril’s world forever.

The Heart’s Invisible Furies was released to resounding approval and continues to impress critics even six years after its release. The book’s take on the political subject matters that it covers fresh and grounded, and its humor is surprisingly on point, given its overall sincerity.

Its awards range from a nomination for the Lambda Literary Award for Gay Fiction in 2018, a nomination for the Andrew Carnegie Medal also in 2018, the Goodreads Choice Award Nominee for Historical Fiction and the Book of the Month Book of the Year Award in 2017 as well as a nomination for the International Dublin Literary Award.

The Heart's Invisible Furies by John Boyne - Best LGBT Books to Read

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Ammonite by Nicola Griffith

The first and only sci-fi entry on this list of best LGBT books, Ammonite is the story of another planet at another time. Here, a savage virus has ravaged all humans, and none but a ragged group of fundamentally altered women are still alive to witness the wreckage it left behind in its wake.

Marghe Taishan is one of the scientists assigned with creating a vaccine for the virus, and her discoveries about humankind and the new world they are forced to live in are what shape the pages of Ammonite and its meaning.

What Marghe learns along that long, difficult journey that she must take to achieve her objective is that she must take the change that her world has been subjected to as something to adapt to rather than to resist, and that realization changes her outlook and that of her kind forever.

The military, steel remnants of the destroyed past that still cling on are just chains to an unobtainable future, and giving in to the moment is the only thing that will allow true peace.

Ammonite comes out on top of the heap in a feminist counter to several well-established literary tropes we see every day, taking expectations and inverting them right back on themselves with excellent skill and a gripping plot.

The book garnered its author an Arthur C. Clarke Award nomination in 1994, a James Tiptree Jr. Award in 1993, and the Lambda Literary Award for Lesbian Science Fiction/Fantasy/Horror in 1993.

Ammonite by Nicola Griffith - Best LGBT Books to Read

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The Hours by Michael Cunningham

“The Hours” is a story with many facets – following the lives and the individual journeys of three very different but similar women as they rise above opposition and find who they truly are. 

The arc of this book’s story begins with Virginia Woolf writing Mrs. Dalloway – a book that is included later on in this very list – and then expands on to touch upon the daily life of Laura Brown, who is an American housewife from the 1940s and Clarissa Vaughn, who is the wife of an esteemed writer dying of AIDS in the latest quarter of the century.

While they may have never known each other personally, their stories mirror one another to a deep, meaningful level, and there lies The Hours’ true heart.

Cunningham is an award-winning author of great repute, and his skill is very clear to the eye in The Hours. Each transition between the three individual viewpoints of the main characters is smooth, and all of them feel equally rounded and well-written as each other.

While the book’s content may be a little strong for some in its earnest consultations with life and death – with the very prologue describing the moment and scene of Woolf’s self-inflicted drowning – for the inclined reader, it is a masterpiece of both feelings, power, and self-realization across the ages, showing how the will to grow and to express never changes, no matter which time, setting, or state of being the person feeling it lives in.

The Hours by Michael Cunningham - Best LGBT Books to Read

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Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe by Fannie Flagg

Another book that skillfully blends the lines between times present and past, Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Café is also like Martin and John in the fact that it is also about two sets of two people – Evelyn Couch, a middle-aged Alabaman woman, Ninny Threadgoode, who is an elderly resident of an aged care home, and on the other side of the tale, Idgie Threadgoode and Ruth Jamison. 

Idgie Threadgoode was the youngest daughter of the family that adopted Ninny and eventually gave her her name when she married one of Idgie’s brothers. While studying at a Vacation Bible School, Idgie meets Ruth, and the two quickly become attached at the hip. They remain so for quite some time until Ruth suddenly leaves to marry, leaving Idgie feeling alone in the world.

However, things take yet another turn when Ruth’s husband becomes an abusive brute, and Idgie is forced to save her friend and Ruth’s son from danger in a series of events that bind them closer together than before.

Much later in life, Ninny and Evelyn spark an unlikely friendship together while Evelyn visits the aged care home to visit her mother-in-law. Ninny regales the younger woman with stories of her sister-in-law, and the two grow greatly attached over time. 

Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Café is a truly special book and is matched by very few when it comes to unique writing styles and powerful characters. 

Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe by Fannie Flagg - Best LGBT Books to Read

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Tipping the Velvet by Sarah Waters

A tale of sparkling spotlights and romance that were revealed could fill the widest headlines, Tipping the Velvet is the tale of fame and temptation mixed with an undeniable connection between two performing women. 

Nan, also known as Nancy Astley, is an ambitious girl that spends her days working at her parents’ oyster restaurants and her nights attending the theatre. There, the apple of her eye is a singer named Kitty Butler, who performs popular tunes in male disguise to great success.

After a chance turn of events leads Nan to be part of Kitty’s stage two, the two’s chemistry soon becomes more real than life, and she leaves her hometown with the performer’s entourage to make her way to the big city with her new lover.

Though at first Nan feels like she has achieved her biggest dreams and that everything is falling into place for her, new obstacles present themselves to her in the new world that the city presents; in the end, it turns out that nothing is as set and perfect as she once thought it was going to be.

With an amazing cast of supporting characters and a dazzling storyline that will get even the most mellow readers leaning off the edge of their theatre seats in rapt anticipation, Tipping the Velvet has everything one looks for in Victorian queer drama and more. The lights are shining bright, and the curtain call is still a long, long time in the future.

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At Swim, Two Boys by Jamie O’Neill

Even though ‘At Swim, Two Boys’ is O’Neil’s first book, everything from its locale, tone, and complexity is worthy of a masterwork. The book is an intense journey through the discovery of one’s sexuality and the repercussions directly afterward and pulls much like 

Set in catholic Ireland, much like The Hours by Michael Cunningham, which was explored earlier on this list, At Swim; Two Boys tells the story of a sixteen-year-old Jim Mack’s days in and out of high school while trying to understand himself as a queer young man in a straight world.

Jim’s surroundings are anything but easy on him, and he spends many of his days bouncing between lies and half-truths told to keep his social head on his shoulders. 

Things only get more comfortable when he feels an instant connection to the son of one of his father’s friends from his days in the army – a boy named Doyler Doyle.

Their friendship deepens until one day, on the beach; they make a deal to keep them in each other’s sights for a good time. Doyle must teach Jim to swim, and in a year, they will swim out together to the distant object that is Muglin’s Rock. 

What follows in that year is an ever-deepening saga of emotions and the strengthening of an increasingly undeniable bond, making for a positively wonderful story for all fans of odd-defying queer literature and romance.

At Swim, Two Boys by Jamie O'Neill - Best LGBT Books to Read

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Rubyfruit Jungle by Rita Mae Brown

Another top-shelf bestseller that receives not half as much attention in modern times as it should because it focuses on queer subject matters, Rubyfruit Jungle is its author’s semi-autobiographical take on what it meant to grow up as a lesbian in the US of the 70s and paints her dreams for a beautiful future in a strength of colors that the literary world rarely sees.

The book follows the journey and coming out story of the fictional character Molly Bolt. Molly is a bold girl from the southern states of the US and doesn’t stop apologizing for who she is as she blazes a trail, unlike anyone before her, in a time where superstition is over, and the alienation of queer people is all too accepted and common.

Not only does Rita Mae Brown write about what it means to be gay, but she also lays out the carpet for discussion about gender and sexism as well, capturing a harsh and frank picture of the time’s attitude towards women as a prominent backdrop to many of the points she makes.

Rubyfruit Jungle is considered the coming-out book by many people, and with good reason. Its writing is brutally honest – and can be even a little too honest and zealous at times – but that makes it so addictively readable and unforgettable. A definite must-read, as you may have already been told, and a classic to endure the ages.

Rubyfruit Jungle by Rita Mae Brown - Best LGBT Books to Read

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Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf

Given the fact that it was mentioned earlier as one of the catalytical points in Michael Cunningham’s The Hours, and given the fact that Woolf is one of the most well-known lesbian writers of all time, it comes as as little surprise that Mrs. Dalloway is another of those legendary books that literature-inclined queer people of all times and genders know by heart. 

Held by many as the already well-renowned Woolf’s most successful and best novel, this book holds up its classic status by leagues. Although the story only spans the length of a single day, our protagonist – Mrs. Clarissa Dalloway herself – is explored in great detail, and we spend the majority of the book learning about her life and her feelings about where she is in it.

Though she may go around her daily tasks and swallow the monotony of the life she finds herself in, well, in her heart, she feels the weight of the times she wasted behind her, and that is where Mrs. Dalloway as a story finds its weight. 

Many have called Mrs. Dalloway unconventional, given the unique nature of its writing style, but that status of being ‘different’ allowed it to gain a level of interest from readers and a unique level of engagement that few other books from its time managed to achieve.

Overall, a definite masterpiece for the ages and a well-aged masterpiece that is too good for any true enthusiast of classic queer literature to miss out on reading.

Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf - Best LGBT Books to Read

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Like Real People Do by E.L. Massey

Ending off the list of best LGBT books with a little bit of light-hearted YA goodness, As Real People Do is everything sweet, high school and first love related that you can imagine rolled up into one bundle. Not only that, but one of the main characters has an adorable canine companion that will make even the sternest reader want to pet through the pages in front of them.

Eli – the lucky dog owner just mentioned – once dreamed about becoming a successful Olympic figure skater, but all of his hopes were thrown away in the hubris of a tragic accident just before he left high school.

Now trying to make his way through college as best he can while working through his issues and the homophobia scattered amongst his classmates, Eli is nonetheless swept off of his feet by the arrival of a new, powerful force in his life that makes him feel like he has never felt before. 

That force’s name is Alex. On the surface, Alex seems like he would be the exact kind of person that Eli could not stand. He’s a hot-headed jock with a mind in the game and two feet on the ground, known about campus for being somewhat of a womanizer.

As Eli soon finds out, however, all of that is just an act, and what lies behind it is a soft, anxious young man who has been queer for as long as he can remember.

Like Real People Do by E.L. Massey - Best LGBT Books to Read

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