13 New LGBTQIA+ Books That Are Perfect for Pride Month Reading (and Beyond)
Browse this fresh selection of queer love stories, memoirs, comedies, coming-of-age picks, and more.
Looking for a new queer-centered page-turner to dive into? There's no shortage of standout books by LGBTQIA+ authors that feature queer characters you can't stop thinking about. There will always be the classics, like André Aciman's Call Me By Your Name and anything written by David Sedaris. But if you're craving a new title that's barely hit the shelves, we've rounded up the best, most beautiful LGBTQIA+ books that came out (no pun intended) in the past year and are ripe for reading right now. And considering that every author on this list launched their books in the darkest of times—in the depths of 2020—I think it shows an ally in all of us to support their work now more than ever this Pride month. These recommendations are brimming with everything from queer romance and family drama to tales of self-acceptance and sharp cultural commentary, so whether you're part of the LGBTQ+ community or not, you're going to devour these delicious reads.
1 Written in the Stars by Alexandria Bellefleur
If you’re a skeptical queer woman like I am, you’ll understand when I say most wlw (women who love women) romance novels can lean heavily on the stereotypes. However, I’m happy to report that Written In the Stars offers three-dimensional, relatable, and funny characters that anyone would fall in love with. Darcy Lowell is a no-nonsense actuary to Elle Jones’ free spirit as a Twitter-famous astrologer. After a blind date gone horribly wrong, Elle thought she’d never hear from Darcy again. Until, Darcy comes back with a plan to get their families off their back for the holidays by faking a relationship until New Year’s Eve. Darcy and Elle couldn’t be more different, but don’t let that fool you—let’s just say their signs certainly align.
2 It Had to Be You by Georgia Clark
I’ve loved Georgia Clark since her debut novel The Regulars hit shelves in 2017. It’s thrilling to see she’s back writing witty, realistic queer characters in her first romance, It Had to Be You. If you’re a sucker for Love Actually (I mean, Keira Knightley, hello?) and all of its interwoven love lives, you’ll fall for this classic rom-com and join me in waiting for the movie rights to be sold. This novel follows five major storylines, and it's a breath of fresh air to come across multiple LGBTQ+ narratives with just as much heat and passion as their straight counterparts.
3 Queer Love in Color by Jamal Jordan
Thank you, thank you, thank you, Jamal Jordan, for traveling across the world to meet with queer couples of color and their families and capturing their real love stories with beautiful portrait photography. This is the coffee table book you’ll actually pick up over and over, because, while it’s a piece of art visually, it’s also filled with stories that will continue to move you time and again. One of the first books to successfully include all gender identities, races and ages, it manages to show readers what it looks like to live at the intersections of queer and POC identity in a healthy, loving relationship. Get the tissues now, trust me.
4 Fairest: A Memoir by Meredith Talusan
This memoir begins in a rural village in the Philippines, where a boy with albinism eventually immigrated to America to become the woman she always was inside. Throughout Talusan’s journey, she tackles race, class, gender, sexuality, and relationships when she risks losing a man she loves in order to transition. This coming-of-age memoir walks you through her grappling with her place in the LGBTQ+ community as her identity moves from gay to gender binary to trans woman. Something a lot of us can relate to as we work out who we are and what that means in the larger context of society.
5 Hani and Ishu’s Guide to Fake Dating by Adiba Jaigirdar
Let’s just say this is the bisexual teenage romance novel I desperately needed when I was a closeted youth. When cool-girl Humaira “Hani” Khan comes out to her friends as bisexual, they tell her she can’t be bi if she’s only dated guys. Her retort at this invalidation of her sexual identity? To blurt out a lie: That she’s actually dating bookish overachiever Ishita “Ishu” Dey—the least liked girl in the school. Ishu agrees to help Hani—if Hani will help her get more popular and be elected head girl. When they begin developing real feelings for each other, some people can’t handle the only two Bengali girls in the school getting their happily ever after. If you’re a fan of To All the Boys I Loved Before, this is the contemporary fiction novel for you.
6 The Secret to Superhuman Strength by Alison Bechdel
Have you heard of the Bechdel Test? A work of fiction passes the test if at least two women are in it and actually talk to each other and discuss something other than men. This test was created by cartoonist and Fun Home author, Alison Bechdel, and she’s back with another graphic memoir of her lifelong relationship with exercise. A cultural superstar and iconic lesbian, Bechdel delivers a story about our interdependence with the people in our lives that’s not only hilarious and well-researched, but also heart-wrenchingly honest, relatable and earnest.
7 With Teeth by Kristen Arnett
There’s something dark and intriguing in the way Kristen Arnett writes. In her first novel, Mostly Dead Things (2019), Arnett focused on family dynamics in an uncomfortable but direct way, and brings a similar energy to With Teeth. It’s with this rawness that she examines a middle-aged lesbian couple in Florida raising a four-year-old son who begins to exhibit troubling signs of tendency toward violence. This book holds up a mirror to parenting, queer relationships, and the insecurities we all feel when you must confront your own destructive impulses.
8 Everybody (Else) is Perfect by Gabrielle Korn
Gabrielle Korn, the former editor-in-Chief of Nylon, has spent her entire career in fashion and media—and she’s sick of it. At least that’s the sense you'll gather from her brave personal and cultural essays on the women’s magazine industry, internet feminism, social media beauty standards—and the reason we’re here: an honest conversation on sexuality. It feels good to read about a young lesbian taking NYC by storm. Korn gives us a funny, dark commentary from takes on the L Word to battles with anorexia. She makes the argument that personal authenticity is more powerful than you think, and that the hard-won battle of self-acceptance is worth more than gold.
9 Detransition, Baby by Torrey Peters
Roxanne Gay described this book as “gorgeously queer,” and I’d have to agree. Detransition, Baby tells the story of three women and an unplanned pregnancy. Reese is a trans woman who desperately wants a child, but her life begins to fall apart when her partner, Amy, detransitions into Ames. Ames wants to keep Reese in his life, so when his new lover Katrina becomes pregnant with his baby, he comes up with a plan to create an unconventional family of three. Torrey Peters’ debut novel poses such searing questions as, what makes a mother? How do taboos around gender shape our relationships? And what happens when good intentions aren’t enough? The characters’ chaotic energy only makes them more three-dimensional, and their unlikability only makes them more loveable and human.
10 Burn It All Down by Nicolas DiDomizio
Burn It All Down is just the summer read you’ve been craving—it’s sold as “Gilmore Girls meets Thelma and Louise,” so what more do you need? A fiercely funny novel about the relationship between 18-year-old Joey and his mother Gia, who had him when she was 16. After Joey finds out his boyfriend had been cheating on him, and Gia’s relationship falls apart at the same time, they find themselves angry—and with too much wine. After a destructive night of revenge, they must flee New Jersey and go on the run. Faced with the realization that they both keep falling for bad boys, they must unravel the effects of toxic masculinity, the importance we place on the male gaze, and the impact it has on both queer men and women who date men.
11 Save Yourself by Cameron Esposito
Cameron Esposito once had dreams of becoming a priest—instead she wound up on the stage as a queer standup comedian. This is the story of her journey from her time as a theology major at a Catholic college that expelled gay people, to accepting herself for what she is: a fearless comic with a self-described “triumphant dyke’s tale.” Filled with both charming, hilarious, and cringe-worthy personal anecdotes, this is a book anyone can relate to—especially if you’ve ever been an awkward, closeted teen.
12 Girlhood by Melissa Febos
Girlhood is an essay collection that breaks down the values we’ve been told to prioritize as girls and, eventually, as women. Melissa Forbes uses investigative reporting and personal essays to realign our misguided beliefs around personal safety, happiness, and freedom. This well-researched book gives us permission to feel anger, grief, power, and pleasure when society constantly denies our experiences. Often we’re given “anthems for women” by straight, cis women. It’s a comfort that Febos uses her perspective as a queer woman to share her relationship with her own sexuality and how culture shapes the value we place on ourselves based on our gender-expression.
13 She Who Becomes the Sun by Shelley Parker-Chan
This sapphic adult fantasy has been described as Mulan–meets–The Song of Achilles, except queerer, bolder, and sexier. But the romantic relationships are just a juicy addition to this adventure-filled novel. Set in reimagined Ming Dynasty China in 1345, She Who Became the Sun follows two separate storylines, each with a genderqueer protagonist. Two children are assigned two fates: the boy to greatness; the girl to nothingness. After her brother’s unfated death, the girl takes his place and starts her journey to claim his abandoned greatness. Carrying both epic and intimate themes of imperialism, gender dysphoria, and the all-too-human craving to belong, Parker-Chan gives us a novel that’s equal parts inspirational and thrilling. Prepare to turn some pages.