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The 10 Best-Selling LGBT Books of All Time You Should Have Read Already By Now

The 10 Best-Selling LGBT Books of All Time You Should Have Read Already By Now

Imagination is one of humanity’s greatest powers on this earth, which makes literature so important to human culture. Be it in the form of poems, short stories, or even just recording history or one’s day, words written in books are beautiful. And the best-selling LGBT books are no exception.

They remind us of what it is like to be an imaginative, exploratory person and give us the power to live out and see through the eyes of anyone living any life we choose. 

Unfortunately, however, the age we live in is a time of commerce and figures, and the literary industry has transformed alongside the rest of the world. Artistic expression has faded somewhat out of the forefront of importance when it comes to writing, and replacing it is a generalized need to sell copies that make money for companies rather than the book’s writers themselves and the art they created.

We’ve all seen the fat labels slapped across the covers of glossy paperbacks in the discount store. 1# Bestseller. The award can be passed down from The New York Times or any other kind of reviewing label, and we all know that the book has sold a lot largely because we could find it in a store in the first place – a goal that most authors don’t achieve in today’s publishing scene.

Best Selling LGBT Books - Best Selling LGBT Books of All Time - Best Selling Books for LGBT - Books on LGBT of All Time

While this gives the impression that ‘Best-Selling’ is a term often used in sales to demonstrate popularity, another side to the ubiquitous term bears little more weight. 

A book being ‘Best-Selling’ can mean many things that aren’t directly related to immediate profit. After all, a book that is known and bought consistently over a long period is worth more than a book that is put onto shelves and used as a coffee coaster.

This is the difference between a commercial best-seller and the kind of work that people worldwide remember and that authors use as inspiration for their works in time.

So, with that said and the exact interpretation of ‘best-selling’ that we’ll be paying the most attention to given clarification, let us dive in and check out the top 10 (subjectively!) best-selling LGBT books of all time!

If, when studying road atlases

while taking, as you call it, your

morning dump, you shout down to

me names like Miami City, Franconia,

Cancún, as places for you to take

me to from here, can I help it if

all I can think is things that are

stupid, like he loves me he loves me

not? I don’t think so. No more

than, some mornings, waking to your

hands around me, and remembering

these are the fingers, the hands I’ve

over and over given myself to, I can

stop myself from wondering does that

mean they’re the same I’ll grow

old with. 

From Domestic by Carl Phillips
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. 

Best Selling LGBT Books - Best Selling LGBT Books of All Time - Best Selling Books for LGBT - Books on LGBT of All Time

Odd Girls and Twilight Lovers by Lillian Faderman

Written by world-famous LGBT history scholar and recipient of six Lambada Literary Awards, Lillian Faderman, ‘Odd Girls and Twilight Lovers: A History of Lesbian Life in Twentieth-Century America lives up to its hype and achieves so much more.

Unearthing the history of lesbians from all ages, times, and backgrounds with trained expertise, Faderman’s work draws from every available scrap of source material, compiling and piecing together the tale of the past from letters between lovers, newspapers, manuscripts, medical records, and much, much more.

What she discovers there, in the remains of a love that has once been and secrets that had been stowed away until the ones keeping them were long gone, is truly amazing. It is a picture of feminism and the power of feminine love from across the ages, and evidence showing hundreds upon hundreds of years of bravery.

Odd Girls and Twilight Lovers is not a book setting out with a conclusion already in mind to prove and justify – instead, sifting through every piece of information with energetic interest and a genuine lack of bias, looking for the actual truth rather than the sensational and subjective.

Meeting all ends and exploring all possible crevices in what is a supremely well-researched treatise on the history of lesbians in America and all across the world, Odd Girls and Twilight Lovers deserves its title as a bestseller and is a definite must-read for anyone interested in LGBT history or discovering the most undiscussed depths of feminine history.

Odd Girls and Twilight Lovers by Lillian Faderman - Best Selling LGBT Books of All Time

eBook | Physical

Dancer from the Dance by Andrew Holleran

Embracing the New York City of the 70s like a cloak of period-induced nostalgia and taste, Dancer from the Dance dives directly into the night scene of the gay community – taking the reader on a lively, engaging, and experienced journey through a time that is not so long ago, yet feels like another world altogether from ours.

Blending together a mixture of pleasure and pride with the taint of secrecy and shame about the edges, the book brings the reader directly into the life of Malone and his search for companionship and love in a scene that he feels he will never fully understand.

Fleeting between affairs, clubs, and polarizing experiences, he searches for the true sense of himself and the ground he can finally feel comfortable calling his home.

Dancer from the Dance is about different kinds of Woodstock, filled with queer expression rather than hippies and music. It is about a protest of societal chains and religious limitations upon intimacy and sexuality rather than standing up against war. 

Hailed as one of the most important works of gay fiction of all, Holleran’s Dancer from the Dance is everything that pictures the genre best. His status as a crucial writer of post-Stonewall fiction and as a vessel of queer expression is a perfect example of this in this book.

It is an almost memoir-esque window into personal troubles and the deep emotions that drive one through life, framed into the engaging pages of a top-shelf novel. 

Dancer from the Dance by Andrew Holleran - Best Selling LGBT Books of All Time

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The Gay Revolution: The Story of the Struggle by Lillian Faderman

Two books on this list of best-selling LGBT books from the same author! This certainly says something about Faderman’s notoriety as a writer in the genre, and The Gay Revolution oversteps even those expectations by leaps and bounds.

Using every possible input of information and personal experience possible to paint a real-life picture of society from the 1950s on, the book dips into the depths of struggle with both hands, pulling out a jagged image of religious conflict, governmental shunning, and societal discomfort.

How did the outside world come to shine upon ‘homosexuals’ so sharply, critically, and harshly as it did in the past, and how did the battles, the resistance, and the bravery of yesteryear’s heroes contribute to the state of the queer community that we have today? 

It wasn’t easy, and it isn’t easy even now. But perseverance has proved to win against all odds.

But The Gay Revolution does not pat itself on the back or claim to know everything that there is to know – instead emphasizes the fact that it is an unfinished story and gives room for future advancements in building an accepting, loving world to wash away the pain and history of a struggle it gives so much attention to dissecting and describing.

An incredibly useful, inspiring, and heart-touching read, The Gay Revolution packs the best of other gay history books into one package and presents its contents with true care. Faderman is a master writer, and her treatment of the subject is without a true rival.

The Gay Revolution The Story of the Struggle by Lillian Faderman - Best Selling LGBT Books of All Time

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Carmilla by J. Sheridan Le Fanu

Though perhaps a classic through influence rather than through true notoriety by name, Carmilla was one of the key inspirations for Bram Stoker’s Dracula and has since remained an important part of the legend’s shadow, as well as in the fictional lore of vampires as a whole.

Laura’s isolation in her father’s mansion and separation from the rest of the world leaves the girl feeling many things. Alone. Like a prisoner.

As though nothing will ever change in her life. But if only she knew how suddenly change would come to her and the consequences it would have upon everything that she once knew, perhaps she would have sought another source of release than allowing the mysterious, clandestine Carmilla into her life.

But once things have begun to spiral out of control, Laura has no way to see or stop the chaos from growing. Laura begins to feel strange, as though an otherworldly influence is seeping into her very bones, and by the time Carmilla’s secret is revealed, she is left stranded with no time left to save herself from the unknown. 

Surprisingly modern in speech and gripping by nature, the book Carmilla is as sly as the character itself. A legendary, although somewhat biting and cynical account of female seduction, Carmilla may not have exactly helped the public’s vision of lesbian romance at the time, but today it is certainly a classic of the great report and worthy of all the attention it can get. 

Carmilla by J. Sheridan Le Fanu - Best Selling LGBT Books of All Time

eBook | Physical | Audiobook

The City and the Pillar by Gore Vidal

Bob and Jim were best friends as children. Jim was too shy to talk to girls, so they spent most of the time doing everything with one another – playing, adventuring, and – upon graduating from high school – even sharing a single intimate night. 

Later in life, everything is different. Jim has developed and found himself in a life he is not altogether satisfied with leading. But one thing that has not changed in his life is the strength of his memories.

Of his times with Bob and what that had meant – or, rather, what he believes it to mean, and what he wants it to mean. Taking bravery and daring into his own hands, Jim pushes aside all expectations and sets out into the open in search of Bob and the life he truly wants to make his.

But yet, despite his determination, the question of reality remains. Will his feelings for Bob return if he finds his old friend? And even so, will life and the pressure of the world around them allow the romance of his dreams to take place and things to be as he has fantasized about them being for ever so long?

Taking on the aspect of its namesake well, The City and the Pillar is indeed a pillar of gay literature – taking the reader on a deep, sorrow-etched journey through a periodical experience of being queer and trying to carve what you want out of the world.

The City and the Pillar by Gore Vidal - Best Selling LGBT Books of All Time

eBook | Physical | Audiobook

The Price of Salt by Patricia Highsmith

Published in 1952 but continuing to rise to prominence again and again ever since, especially after the famed author Highsmith finally took credit for the novel in 1984, The Price of Salt is held as one of the all-time most influential novels from American literature and has become an icon of both the crime drama and queer romance genres.

Therese Belivet is a stage designer. Or at least she wants to be. The necessities of life and rent have her tied to working in a department store, and boredom is slowly eating away at the edge of her passion and needs to express her art to the world – to be someone.

Little does she know, however, that the rescue she is looking for is just around the corner. A divorced woman-shaped vessel of a rescue named Carol Arid. Suddenly the dull scape of Therese’s life explodes with color, love, life, and an appreciation for things she had never noticed before. Carol is everything she had been looking for, presented in the form she had least expected it to take.

Said to be the very finest out of all of Patricia Highsmith’s many works, The Price of Salt is a gripping, ubiquitous read for the ages, made all the more alluring by its backstory. The book was originally published under a pen name, given that Highsmith didn’t feel comfortable being known as a ‘lesbian writer’ at the time, feeling that the influx of controversy would trivialize the rest of her career.

The Price of Salt by Patricia Highsmith- best Gay Fiction Books

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Born Again This Way by Rachel Gilson

It’s a subject that many of us feel uncomfortable with. Religion and queerness have been at ends with one another for thousands of years, after all, and religious persecution of non-heterosexuals is a long, dirty smear on the church’s history.

A powerful work of balance and easing one’s way through bias and feelings of conflict, Born Again This Way takes the unending tension between Christianity and being queer under the microscope and attempts to find a middle ground in a truly intriguing way.

The questions and arguments from both sides are earnestly addressed in the pages of this book, and Gilson does an excellent job of taking an unbiased approach and calmly hitting important issues, defusing, mediating, and bridging gap after gap with a caring, friendly attitude. 

Although Born Again This Way may not be for those who don’t identify as Christian themselves or would rather stay away from the debate on the subject, the book is nevertheless worth inclusion on this list, both in terms of widespread popularity and meaningfulness.

For Christians, however, it is a must-read – offering a comprehensive spiritual journey through accepting and loving oneself despite guilt and a lack of acceptance from those around you.

After all – dissolving and rationalizing the friction between the LGBT community and the other spaces that it interacts with is an integral part of working towards an inclusive and peaceful society, and that is the role that Gilson’s writing takes up to a tee.

Born Again This Way by Rachel Gilson

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The Well of Loneliness by Radclyffe Hall

In a time and place of lords and ladies, court and private lunches, Stephen embraces life with vigor. An avid scholar, fencer, and rider, Stephen’s dips in and out of love with women characterize many nights and leave many more questions unanswered than answered. 

Stephen is a woman too. And her interests – her real, truly want from the life she leads – expand far beyond what is expected of her by her family, her home, and the society all about her. She wants to experience adventure. She wants to see the world. And she will, despite all that stands against her.

Though The Well of Loneliness is a work of romance and feeling, it does not reduce its story to focusing upon the pains and pull of love and the strife of being queer – instead, venturing on and further into the heart of its characters to draw forth an engaging, heartfelt tale of struggle and the driving needs of an entire life, rather than just one aspect of living.

The Well of Loneliness was banned upon publication, with the reasons cited as the book’s ‘obscenity’ and coverage of homosexual topics.

In the modern era, however, it was relaunched to great approval and has been considered one of the most famous and influential queer novels of all time ever since, opening the way for many novels to come after it and for the subject of lesbian romance to be explored in a new, more open way.

The Well of Loneliness - Best Selling LGBT Books of All Time

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Bastard Out of Carolina by Dorothy Allison 

A fiction piece with a heart of gold and writing like silk, Bastard Out of Carolina follows the tale of the intelligent, sensible bastard child ‘Bone’, also known as Ruth Anne Boatwright. The men of her clan are gun-toting thieves who thirst for the bottle, and the women are stoic and fearsome. 

After the chaos surrounding Bone’s birth sees her birth certificate stamped with red ink, she is marked as an illegitimate child – a label that follows her at every possible corner and haunts her every action as she tries her best to make her way through life with only the scanty luck that is afforded to her. There will be many obstacles in her way, but she is determined and, above all, unbreakable.

Allison’s writing is unlike many other authors in the genre, depicting struggle and strife so sharply that each of the pages of the book feels like a new chapter and a new straw upon the back of Bone’s strength as she faces off with the wild, uncouth nature of her surroundings and the vicious actions of her family – especially her stepfather Daddy Glen. 

Though the story at its heart is one of bravery and pride, Bastard Out of Carolina is no book for the faint-hearted. Filled to the brim with lip-biting scenes of intensity, from abuse to slurs, racism and more, it is a passionate work of historical commentary, bringing the dark lives of many oppressed girls and women in real life to light. 

Bastard Out of Carolina by Dorothy Allison - Best Selling LGBT Books of All Time

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Rainbow Boys by Alex Sanchez

There are a lot of other young adult novels on the best-selling lists, but none of them – except those who have made it into school circulation or have been made into movies – have such a wide-reading impact as Rainbow Boys and the rest of the trilogy of which it is the first entry.

Published in 2001 and one of the first queer novels to break into the budding genre of young adult writing, Rainbow Boys follows the tale of not one but three gay teenage boys faced with the challenge of coming out of the closet in their ways.

Kyle Meeks prays that people assume that he is straight forever, but he knows deep inside his heart that he is not and that he will not be able to live in the lie that he has built about himself until now forever. Jason Carrillo is a top-shelf sportsman living the jock’s dream, but he can’t hold back the haunting knowledge that this is not what he wants. 

Last but not least is Nelson Glassman. Nelson has already come out, but that hasn’t made things any easier for him. He has come so far, but he is still leagues away from asking the boy of his dreams on a date.

A definite pioneer in all means, Rainbow Boys is an unexpectedly touching, deep narrative far ahead of its time and remains incredibly important to LGBT literature.

Rainbow Boys by Alex Sanchez - Best Selling LGBT Books of All Time

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