I often find myself recommending many of the same LGBTQIA+ books when asked, not because there is a certain list of "must reads" but because these books represent to me some of the most incredible work that our community has to offer. They are witty, wry, unforgiving, hopeful, unique, and most importantly, Queer. Below you will find a non-exhaustive list of books I love for all the reasons above: a list of titles perfect for anyone hoping to find more Queer stories, be they fiction, non fiction, or poetry.
Benjamin Alire Sáenz$24.99 $22.49
"Aristotle and Dante..." is one of the best YA books ever written, let alone a Queer YA. This novel balances a tender, heartfelt core while also speaking to the difficulties of growing up gay without really understanding what that means. For those who have not read this book (or who haven't heard of it), I highly recommend you check it out!
Carmen Maria Machado$16.00 $14.72
Machado's "Her Body and Other Parties" is my favorite collection of short stories, which makes sense once you read just the first story. This series of stories hurts to read, in the way that most truths tend to. These stories are explorative, clever, heartbreaking and wise in equal parts. They tell tales of woman segmented, of becoming yourself and becoming an other, of breaking into parts and not quite being fit back together. This work is for lovers of short stories, for those interested in Queer and Lesbian literature, and for those who just enjoy good story telling.
Samuel R. Delany$26.95 $24.26
This is one of the heaviest, and as a result, most rewarding books on this list. Delany is a master at the craft of Science Fiction, extrapolating the struggles of a universe, webbed by a proto-internet, written decades before the internet became a reality in our own world. This work labors on and breaks into the meaning of race, on how we as people define and categorize ourselves and others. It is in a way preeminent, somehow speaking to problems of the 2010's that seem almost impossible to have predicted when this book was first published. This is a work for those who love dense sci-fi, who enjoy worrying away at a piece until it unfolds, who are content not always being given the answers to questions asked of them.
Tamsyn Muir$25.99 $23.39
We follow with an utter romp of a book! "Gideon the Ninth" is space opera at it's most gothic, quite literally. Taking place in a future solar system ruled by necromancer kings and sects of scholars, fighters, and mystics of the bone-raising arts. Gideon is a character of hilarious makings, equal parts witting and daft!
"The Stone Gods" is Winterson at her finest. There's a lot to be said about this novel, from its explorations of storytelling style, to the way Winterson imagines a future us so unnerving, and yet so ultimately believable. This work is one of those rare "must reads" I'll ever mention, if only for the sake that so much can be learned from Winterson's careful attention to detail, even as she works in broad strokes of color.
Danez Smith$16.00 $14.72
Smith is one of the best poets writing today. This collection of work is a necessary read in a world where Black voices, especially Queer Black voices, are suppressed and undervalued. In "Don't Call Us Dead", Smith steps between topics like living with HIV, the traumas inflicted on Black bodies by Police brutality, the joys of family and self validity with marked agility. The body of work is breathtaking, beautiful, and painful to behold.
Marlon James$30.00 $27.00
Marlon James's "Black Leopard, Red Wolf" is a whodunnit that excels at the obfuscating nature of mystery books. Where this work differs, however, is we know the catch from the start. The child, who Tracker (our main character throughout the novel) is trying to find is very much dead. We learn this from the first sentence. What follows is the story of how Tracker comes to that knowledge, and we watch as James creates worlds within worlds, spinning out characters that are ephemeral yet immediately present.
Max Gladstone and Amal El-Mohtar$19.99 $18.39
This book (novella? long-short story? epistolary musings?) is quicksilver. It's hard to pin down what exactly this work is doing. It's a literary Spy Versus Spy. It's a play on the star crossed lovers trope. It's letters of blooming admiration between two strangers. Yet even as we play within this matrix of ideas, we're introduced to the braiding of time, the transposition of which earns us the core of the story: what happens when you fall in love with an agent from the enemy team? Not just an assailant who wants you dead, but a wild card who's machinations are meant to not only assure their side the victory, but the complete erasure of your side's existence. Heavy stuff to consider, and we haven't even gotten to the practicality of a good old-fashioned love letter.
Aliya Whiteley$12.95 $11.91
This book is gross but straight forward: What happens when every woman on the planet dies from a fungal infection that takes over their entire body? The answer, etched from narratives of this very brief novella, are far more complicated than the question. "The Beauty" contemplates notions of the binary of "Man" and "Woman", and watches as that system of thought ultimately fails under the strain of the end of the world, and the start of a new one.