Two Asian men lying on bed together reading books, shelf with books behind

15+ Great Books to Celebrate Pride Any Time of Year

Celebrate Pride with the community all year with queer novels and nonfiction books from LGBTQ+ authors and allies. Your next great read is a click away!

One of the best ways to celebrate the LGBTQ+ community is by reading their stories. Whether you’re interested in queer memoirs, heartwarming romances, or diverse fantasy novels with casts from all walks of life, sharing stories of LGBTQ+ people in many contexts helps the community feel represented in mainstream media while encouraging others to be better allies. Whoever you are, picking up a new author or two is a great way to show your support this Pride season and beyond. Check out these top recommendations and learn more about the authors at the end of each synopsis!

Note: The majority of these authors identify as LGBTQ+, but at the end, you’ll also find a bonus section of recommendations by cis-hetero allies who make inclusivity a priority in their writing.

All Boys Aren’t Blue by George M. Johnson

George M. Johnson: Activist. Journalist. LGBTQIA+ member. Growing up, they were just Matthew—a smart, funny kid with a lot of potential. In their memoir All Boys Aren’t Blue book coverAll Boys Aren’t Blue, Johnson explores their childhood and college years in a series of essays that act as a love letter to young LGBTQIA+ people who need hope. This memoir will make you laugh and shed tears at the life Johnson has lived. If you prefer audiobooks, Johnson narrates the book themselves (common for memoirs), infusing their personality and confidence into their performance. One of the most frequently targeted books for banning in libraries, this memoir is important, powerful, and beautifully written.

About the author: George M. Johnson is the author of five books and identifies as queer and nonbinary. Their most recent release is a second memoir titled We Are Not Broken, which further explores Black boyhood and their grandmother, Nanny.

Image courtesy of Farrar, Straus and Giroux and Macmillan Publishers

The Wayward Children series by Seanan McGuire

Seanan McGuire is the master of destroying you emotionally then making you hopeful again—and the The Wayward Children series compendium book coverWayward Children series is no different. Starting with the novel Every Heart a Door, readers follow many characters at Eleanor West’s School for Wayward Children, a place where you go after finding doors to other worlds and being unceremoniously kicked out again. Each novella recounts the circumstances that led a lost child to find their door and the trials they face to Be Sure they want to leave their old life behind. Throughout the series, we follow characters who are trans, asexual, queer, nonbinary, and more, exploring these experiences through a fantasy lens and stripping them down through beautiful prose that hits all the right chords. 

About the author: Seanan McGuire is a five-time award-winning author of 91 books; received a degree in Folklore and Herpetology from the University of California, Berkely; and identifies as queer.

Image courtesy of Tor Publishing Group and Macmillan Publishers

Red, White, & Royal Blue and One Last Stop by Casey McQuiston

It’s likely you’ve heard of Red, White & Royal Blue, with the hugely popular 2023 Amazon Prime movie starring pop culture heartthrobs Taylor Zakhar Perez and Nicholas Galitzine, plus Hollywood powerhouse Uma Thurman. If you haven’t, you should be rushing to read it! It’s a charming forbidden love story where the US president’s son falls in love with the Prince of England and how they navigate this tricky social faux pas. On the other hand, you could also pick up One Last Stop book coverOne Last Stop and follow the story of August and Jane, star-crossed lovers on a subway ride that transcends time. Either way, these books will make your heart soar with every foot-kicking, hair-twirling, flirty moment. 

About the author: Casey McQuiston is the author of three novels and graduated from Louisiana State University with a BA in Journalism. McQuiston, who identifies as queer and nonbinary, credits queer fiction for giving them a safe space to explore their identity at a young age, wanting to provide the same for other young people with their novels.   

Image courtesy of St. Martin's Press and Macmillan Publishers

Transgender History by Susan Stryker

Transgender people continue to have their rights stripped away and face social persecution every day. Now, more than ever, it’s important to educate ourselves on the history of transgenderism in the US. Spanning from the mid-20th century to today (with the second edition updates), Transgender History book coverTransgender History: The Roots of Today’s Revolution by Susan Stryker is the quintessential historical text to begin with; it will help you understand the basics of gender issues and the events that have caused radical change. This book is comprehensive with extensive research, quotes from speeches, excerpts from transgender memoirs, and more—truly a crash course on being a more aware ally for the trans community.

About the author: Susan O’Neal Stryker is a professor of Gender & Women’s Studies at the University of Arizona as well as an award-winning author and filmmaker. Stryker holds a BA from the University of Oklahoma and a PhD from UC Berkeley. She is a lesbian transgender woman as well as a leading scholar on transgender history.

Image courtesy of Hatchett Book Group

Under the Whispering Door and In the Lives of Puppets by TJ Klune

You may have read The House in the Cerulean Sea by now (in all its cozy, gay glory), but have you checked out any of TJ Klune’s other books? In Under the Whispering Door, a man comes to terms with his death in the afterlife guided by a reaper who becomes so much more than just a guide to the beyond. For science fiction fans,In the Lives of Puppets explores the nature of asexuality and finding contentment in love and relationships outside of sexual desire through the lens of the last human on Earth in a world full of robots. Some of the other stories on this list can be heavy, so if lighthearted joy is what you’re looking for, these stories are for you.

About the author: TJ Klune is a three-time award-winning Canadian author of 34 fantasy and romantic fiction novels. His first novel was published in 2011 and was noted as one of the top LGBTQ+ books that year. Klune identifies as asexual and is candid in interviews about how his queer identity influences his writing and stories. 

Under the Whispering Door book covers In the Lives of Puppets book cover

Images courtesy of Tor Publishing Group and Macmillan Publishers

In the Dream House by Carmen Maria Machado

As with any other relationship, LGBTQ+ people face the threat of abusive partners and trauma—often with identity-related consequences. IIn the Dream House book covern the Dream House is not a memoir for the faint of heart. Finding a way to articulate her painful experiences, Carmen Maria Machado take readers on a dream-like and wholly unique experience in an effort to make them understand the pain she carries from her long-term same-sex relationship. She uses both classic horror tropes and an inventive, fractured writing style to create a memoir unlike any other you’ll read.

About the author: Carmen Maria Machado is a multi-award-winning author, penning essays and criticisms for acclaimed publications such as The New York Times, The New Yorker, and more. She graduated from American University, earned her MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop at the University of Iowa, is a writer in residence at the University of Pennsylvania, and lives with her wife in-state.

Image courtesy of Graywolf Press

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by VE Schwab

VE Schwab is another prolific writer with many novels under her belt that span genres and generations. A popular novel during the 2020 pandemic lockdown, Invisible Life of Addie LaRue book coverThe Invisible Life of Addie LaRue sees the titular character making a pact with a god to escape the shackles of an arranged marriage—but as they say, be careful what you wish for. Addie’s request leaves her adrift for an eternity, immortal but with no one able to remember her face or name once she’s gone. Spanning centuries and romantic partners of all genders and backgrounds, this story shows readers how many shapes love can come in and the sacrifices you sometimes have to make for the love and life you want.

About the author: Victoria Schwab (aka VE Schwab) has written more than 20 novels and identifies as gay. In 2009, she published her first novel before she even graduated from Washington University in St. Louis with a BFA.

Image courtesy of Tor Publishing Group and Macmillan Publishers

Gwen & Art Are Not in Love by Lex Croucher

Who doesn’t love a little historical romance? Hello, Bridgerton! And queer romance? Sign me up! In this spin on the classic legends of King Arthur, descendant and future lord Arthur and his arranged fiancé Gwendoline find themselves in the fake-marriage scenario of the century when they both discover the other’s secret love affairs and longings mere hours before their wedding. Seeing an opportunity to be allies, Gwen & Art Are Not in Love book coverGwen & Art Are Not in Love is a fun, romantic, sword-clashing found-family story about choosing your own path to happiness when others have already tried to make the choice for you.

About the author: Lex Croucher is a nonbinary British author of seven books, one a nonfiction young adult (YA) self-help book and six fiction YA and adult novels. They gained experience in social media and non-governmental organizations prior to pivoting to writing as a career.

Image courtesy of Wednesday Books and Macmillan Publishers

A Psalm for the Wild-Built by Becky Chambers

If I had a nickel for every award-winning LGBTQ+ cozy robot book out there, I’d only have two nickels, but it’s awesome that it happened twice. Becky Chambers brings us the world of Panga in A Psalm for a Wild-Built book coverA Psalm for the Wild-Built, in which we follow the tea monk Dex on a life-altering day when a sentient robot—long thought to be myth—approaches them to ask the question, “What do people need?” Exploring the nature of the human experience in an open and inclusive world where all genders and sexualities are represented, Dex goes on a journey of self-identity and purpose in this heartwarming fantasy beloved by the masses.

About the author: Becky Chambers is a multi-award-winning author of eight novels and various short stories. She is an advocate for queer rights, lives with her wife in California, and attended the University of San Francisco.  

Image courtesy of Tor Publishing Group and Macmillan Publishers

The Burning Kingdoms trilogy by Tasha Suri

Starting with The Jasmine Throne book coverThe Jasmine Throne, The Burning Kingdoms series follows Malini and Priya on a quest to change the fate of their empire, facing down Malini’s own flesh and blood—her dictatorial brother who sits on the throne—to do so. This queer fantasy romance is inspired by the rich history and culture of India, the author’s familial homeland. The series continues in The Oleander Sword and The Lotus Empire as Malini and Priya seek vengeance and power against their oppressors, further learning just how intertwined their destinies always were and forever will be. If you’re looking for a lot of action and some badass lead women, pick this series up sooner rather than later.

About the author: Tasha Suri is an award-winning British fantasy author who identifies as queer and studied English and Creative Writing at the University of Warwick. She’s written seven books, including a novella in the ongoing Doctor Who collection of independent novels.

Image courtesy of Orbit Books and Little, Brown Book Group

To Shape a Dragon’s Breath by Moniquill Blackgoose

We need more Native American representation in literature; that’s just the truth. And author Moniquill Blackgoose is giving us just that with her debut fantasy novel To Shape a Dragon’s Breath book coverTo Shape a Dragon’s Breath. Set at a colonizer-run dragon academy, a young girl named Anequs must struggle to find her place as both a bonded half to a dragon hatchling and as an outsider with a very different understanding of her land than what’s believed by those around her. This queer coming-of-age story with high stakes and high impact explores Indigenous culture, the history of their oppression, and the change we still have yet to see all through a fantasy lens, making for a powerful breakout novel.

About the author: Moniquill Blackgoose is an enrolled member of the Seaconke Wampanoag Tribe of Massachusetts and Rhode Island as well as a descendant of Ousamequin Massasoit. While this is her first novel, Blackgoose has long been a blogger and essayist for Indigenous advocacy and representation.

Image courtesy of Penguin Random House

Additional recommendations by inclusive allies and classic writers

  • The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern is a mysterious, sprawling love story that takes place in a secret underground world of books, stories, lovers, lies, and “ships that sail upon a starless sea.”
  • The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid explores the public perception of bisexuality through the lens of an aging Hollywood starlet who spent her public years marrying men while being in love with the same woman in private most of her life.
  • Legends & Lattes by Travis Baldtree is a fun Dungeons & Dragons–esque cozy fantasy novel published in 2022. It follows an orc named Viv after she’s retired from fighting and is finding new purpose in life by becoming a business owner (and maybe falling in love).
  • Interview With the Vampire by Anne Rice is the quintessential gay vampire novel that most people know about. If you’ve never read the book or watched the Tom Cruise/Brad Pitt movie, maybe you’ve heard of the new AMC+ show with Jacob Anderson and Assad Zaman.
  • Carmilla by Joseph Thomas Sheridan Le Fanu is the sapphic vampire novel for you if you’re looking for more gothic horror compared to Rice’s novel. In fact, Carmilla pre-dates not only Interview With the Vampire but the one and only Dracula too!

Related: Great Colleges and Universities for LGBTQ+ Student Support

This list may feel comprehensive already, but I could go on forever about all the great queer novels out there to help guide your way and bring light to your life. I hope you find at least one new favorite here, as many of them are favorites of mine and those of my friends and allies in the LGBTQ+ community. Happy Pride Month!

If you’re a huge bookworm and these recommendations simply aren’t enough for you, we have a lot more great book suggestions where these came from. Check them out now!

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About Kelli Dolan

Kelli Dolan

Kelli Dolan is the Senior Assistant Editor & Counselor Communications Coordinator for CollegeXpress. Her day-to-day includes editing and writing CollegeXpress articles, running the CollegeXpress Counselors social media platforms, and basically just doing all things CollegeXpress. When she’s not editing other people’s work, she's writing for fun, favoring fiction stories and poetry. You could also potentially find her reading, playing video games, or hanging out with her dog, Athena; cat, Apollo; and red bearded dragon, Freya.

 

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