The entire month of June is Pride Month, which commemorates the 1969 Stonewall riots, which eventually led to the efforts and progress towards achieving equal rights, justice, and opportunies for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning (LGBTQ) Americans. Big Thanks to Literati staff member/bookseller David Vogel for putting together most of this reading list that touches on and celebrates LGBTQ culture.
An irrerverent, sensitive, and inimitable look at gay dysfunction through the eyes of a cult hero. "I loved this book―raunchy, irreverent, deliberate, sexy, angry, and tender, in its own way." - Roxane Gay
When Christopher Isherwood's A Single Man first appeared, it shocked many with its frank, sympathetic, and moving portrayal of a gay man in maturity. The novel now stands as a classic lyric meditation on life as an outsider.
In the way only great fiction can, Acts of Service takes between its teeth the contradictions written all over our ideas of sex and sexuality. At once juicy and intellectually challenging, sacred and profane, Lillian Fishman’s riveting debut novel is bold, unabashed, and required reading of the most pleasurable sort.
Aristotle is an angry teen with a brother in prison. Dante is a know-it-all who has an unusual way of looking at the world. When the two meet at the swimming pool, they seem to have nothing in common. But as the loners start spending time together, they discover that they share a special friendship, the kind that changes lives and lasts a lifetime. And it is through this friendship that Ari and Dante will learn the most important truths about themselves and the kind of people they want to be.
Imbuing reality with the magic of a dark fairy tale, Bad Girls offers an intimate, nuanced portrait of trans coming-of-age that captures a universal sense of the strangeness of our bodies. It grips and entertains us while also challenging ideas about love, sexuality, gender, and identity.
Now that high school is over, Ari is dying to move to the big city with his ultra-hip band ― if he can just persuade his dad to let him quit his job at their struggling family bakery. Though he loved working there as a kid, Ari cannot fathom a life wasting away over rising dough and hot ovens. But while interviewing candidates for his replacement, Ari meets Hector, an easygoing guy who loves baking as much as Ari wants to escape it. As they become closer over batches of bread, love is ready to bloom . . . that is, if Ari doesn’t ruin everything.
As a young man Garrard Conley, the son of a Baptist pastor and deeply embedded in church life in small town Arkansas, was terrified and conflicted about his sexuality. As a nineteen-year-old college student, he was outed to his parents and was forced to make a life-changing decision: either agree to attend a church-supported conversion therapy program that promised to "cure" him of homosexuality, or risk losing family, friends, and the God he had prayed to every day of his life. Through an institutionalized Twelve-Step Program heavy on Bible study, he was supposed to emerge heterosexual, ex-gay, cleansed of impure urges and stronger in his faith in God for his brush with sin. Instead, even when faced with a harrowing and brutal journey, Garrard found the strength and understanding to break out in search of his true self and forgiveness.
This hilarious, touching debut novel by Aaron Foley, author of How to Live in Detroit Without Being a Jackass, follows three Black gay millennial men looking for love, friendship, and professional success in the Motor City.
A trans boy determined to prove his gender to his traditional Latinx family summons a ghost who refuses to leave in Aiden Thomas's paranormal YA debut.
The Crane Wife is a book for everyone whose life doesn't look the way they thought it would; for everyone learning to find joy in the not-knowing; for everyone trying, if sometimes failing, to build a new sort of life story, a new sort of family, a new sort of home, to live in. “An elegant masterpiece…Wry but also warm and generous.” - Roxane Gay
Alison Bechdel’s groundbreaking, bestselling graphic memoir charts her fraught relationship with her late father. Distant and exacting, Bruce Bechdel was an English teacher and director of the town funeral home, which Alison and her family referred to as the "Fun Home." It was not until college that Alison, who had recently come out as a lesbian, discovered that her father was also gay. A few weeks after this revelation, he was dead, leaving a legacy of mystery for his daughter to resolve.
Tamsyn Muir’s Gideon the Ninth, first in The Locked Tomb Trilogy, unveils a solar system of swordplay, cut-throat politics, and lesbian necromancers. Her characters leap off the page, as skillfully animated as arcane revenants. The result is a heart-pounding epic science fantasy.
Set among the bohemian bars and nightclubs of 1950s Paris, this groundbreaking novel about love and the fear of love is "a book that belongs in the top rank of fiction." - The Atlantic
In 2014, Maia Kobabe, who uses e/em/eir pronouns, thought that a comic of reading statistics would be the last autobiographical comic e would ever write. At the time, it was the only thing e felt comfortable with strangers knowing about em. Gender Queer is Maia’s intensely cathartic autobiography charts eir journey of self-identity, which includes the mortification and confusion of adolescent crushes, grappling with how to come out to family and society, bonding with friends over erotic gay fanfiction, and facing the trauma and fundamental violation of pap smears.
Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera reunite to continue the story of Arthur and Ben, the boys readers first fell for in the bestselling rom-com What If It’s Us.
A high-stakes hide-and-seek competition turns deadly in this dark supernatural thriller. “The suspenseful plot combines elements of Thomas Tryon’s classic "Harvest Home," "Squid Game," and the social commentary of Jordan Peele’s film oeuvre and mixes these with a revelatory pacing reminiscent of Spielberg’s "Jaws.” - Booklist
Of the nine books of lyrics the ancient Greek poet Sappho is said to have composed, only one poem has survived complete. The rest are fragments. In this new translation, acclaimed poet and classicist Anne Carson presents all of Sappho’s fragments, in Greek and in English, as if on the ragged scraps of papyrus that preserve them, inviting a thrill of discovery and conjecture that can be described only as electric — or, to use Sappho’s words, as “thin fire ... racing under skin.”
Harvey Fierstein's stories on everything from HIS high school's smoking terrace to his early days as a supporting actor in Andy Warhol's Pork plus all the backstage gossip of La Cage Aux Folles. The memoir goes well beyond the Fierstein's catty writing: he's blunt about his struggle with addiction, the feeling of abandonment he felt through the AIDS crisis, and the fear that characterized how many people in the entertainment business treated him, even as he won award after award for his work, much of which focused on the lives of gay men.
Author, poet, tarot legend, and organizer Michelle Tea has long been known as a fairy godmother of the millennial queer set. In this blazing new memoir in her signature verve, she approaches the subject of parenthood and all the poking, prodding, jaw-dropping expense, and nosy questions that it can entail for LGBTQ+ parents.
A memoir in essays about so many things: growing up in an abusive cult, coming of age as a lesbian in the military, forced out by homophobia, living on the margins as a working class woman and what it’s like to grow into the person you are meant to be. "Hough’s writing will break your heart." - Roxane Gay
The beloved and blistering cult classic and finalist for the Lambda Literary Award for Transgender Fiction is back in print. Nevada follows a disaffected trans woman as she embarks on a cross-country road trip.
The outsized characters who inhabit this world are some of the most memorable in all of fiction. There is Guido Volkbein, the Wandering Jew and son of a self-proclaimed baron; Robin Vote, the American expatriate who marries him and then engages in a series of affairs, first with Nora Flood and then with Jenny Petherbridge, driving all of her lovers to distraction with her passion for wandering alone in the night; and there is Dr. Matthew-Mighty-Grain-of-Salt-Dante-O'Connor, a transvestite and ostensible gynecologist, whose digressive speeches brim with fury, keen insights, and surprising allusions. Barnes' depiction of these characters and their relationships has made the novel a landmark of feminist and lesbian literature.
A ragtag crew travels to the deepest reaches of space, rebuilding beautiful, broken structures to piece the past together.
Two girls meet in boarding school and fall deeply in love―only to learn the pain of loss.
With interwoven timelines and stunning art, award-winning graphic novelist Tillie Walden creates an inventive world, breathtaking romance, and an epic quest for love.
This coming-out novel is the recipient of the Whitbread Prize for Best First Fiction is from the acclaimed author of "The Passion" and "Sexing the Cherry." Narrator Jeanette cuts her teeth on the knowledge that she is one of God’s elect, but as this budding evangelical comes of age and comes to terms with her preference for her own sex, the peculiar balance of her God-fearing household crumbles.
Virginia Woolf’s most unusual creation, "Orlando" is a fantastical biography as well as a funny, exuberant romp through history that examines the true nature of sexuality. As his tale begins, Orlando is a passionate sixteen-year-old nobleman whose days are spent in rowdy revelry, filled with the colorful delights of Queen Elizabeth I’s court. By the close, three centuries have passed, and he will have transformed into a thirty-six-year-old woman in the year 1928. Orlando’s journey is also an internal one. He is an impulsive poet who learns patience in matter of the heart, and a woman who knows what it is to be a man.
This is the definitive edition of the work of one of America's greatest poets, increasingly recognized as one of the greatest English-language poets of the twentieth century, loved by readers and poets alike. Bishop's poems combine humor and sadness, pain and acceptance, and observe nature and lives in perfect miniaturist close-up.
The hometown-beauty-queen-to-pro-domme pipeline is strong in Belcher’s memoir, which draws on stories from her time working as “L.A.’s Renowned Lesbian Dominatrix.” It’s long past time for a canon to emerge around sex work written by those who are intimately familiar with doing that work. Belcher’s account of labor, sexuality, identity, queerness, and femininity is absolutely not to be missed.
A singular and stunning debut novel about the forbidden union between two enslaved young men on a Deep South plantation, the refuge they find in each other, and a betrayal that threatens their existence.
Thirty-year-old Joy is outgoing, loves puns and is unashamed of herself or her asexuality. She's also been in love with her best friend, Malcolm, since they met in college, though she's never told him. But when Malcolm asks her to be a fourth wheel on vacation with him, his new love interest Summer, and Summer's ex-boyfriend Fox, it's all too much. Joy needs a plan to show Malcolm what he's missing before it's too late. So when Fox proposes they pretend to fall in love to make Malcolm jealous, Joy agrees. After all, what could go wrong?
A landmark coming-of-age novel that launched the career of one of this country’s most distinctive voices, "Rubyfruit Jungle" remains a transformative work more than forty years after its original publication. In bawdy, moving prose, Rita Mae Brown tells the story of Molly Bolt, the adoptive daughter of a dirt-poor Southern couple who boldly forges her own path in America. With her startling beauty and crackling wit, Molly finds that women are drawn to her wherever she goes — and she refuses to apologize for loving them back. This literary milestone continues to resonate with its message about being true to yourself and, against the odds, living happily ever after.
Poet Omar Sakr's debut novel follows Jamal Smith, a queer Arab Australian, across the years as he struggles to mitigate the conflict between his desires and the strict Muslim family he loves. Beginning with Jamal's sexual awakening during the holiest night of Ramadan, the novel tracks him though his adolescence and beyond.
In this a genre-bending work of gothic fiction monsters aren’t just individuals but entire nations. This is a searing, seminal book that marks the arrival of a bold, unignorable voice in American fiction.
Renowned historian and activist Martin Duberman tells the full story of a pivotal moment in history, the Stonewall riots. With riveting narrative skill, he re-creates those revolutionary, sweltering nights in vivid detail through the lives of six people who were drawn into the struggle for LGBTQ rights. Their stories combine to form an unforgettable portrait of the repression that led up to the riots, which culminates when they triumphantly participate in the first gay rights march of 1970, the roots of today's pride marches.
For the fiftieth anniversary of the Stonewall uprising, the reader is an anthology chronicling the tumultuous fight for LGBTQ rights in the 1960s and the activists who spearheaded it, with a foreword by Edmund White.
This an anthology celebrates the work of five poets who are unapologetically trans: Joshua Jennifer Espinoza, Christopher Soto, beyza ozer, Cameron Awkward-Rich, and Kay Ulanday Barrett. Featuring poetry and interviews, this collection is a testament to the power of trans poets speaking to one another about family, race, class, disability, religion, and the body, including a range of trans experiences and poetics and expanding the possibilities of what it means to be both trans and a writer in the twenty-first century.
A biting novel from an electrifying new voice, Kristi DeMeester's "Such a Pretty Smile" is a heart-stopping tour-de-force about powerful women, angry men, and all the ways in which girls fight against the forces that try to silence them.
By turns irreverent and tender, filled with the beats of ’90s R&B, "Tell Me How to Be" is about our earliest betrayals and the cost of reconciliation. But most of all, it is the love story of a mother and son each trying to figure out how to be in the world. “My first great read of 2022…[Will] make you cringe with recognition and melt with longing.” - author Jennifer Weiner
Carl Phillips has aptly described his work as an “ongoing quest." "Then the War "is the next step in that meaningful process of self-discovery for both the poet and his reader. The new poems, written in a time of rising racial conflict in the United States, with its attendant violence and uncertainty, find Phillips entering deeper into the landscape he has made his own: a forest of intimacy, queerness, and moral inquiry, where the farther we go, the more difficult it is to remember why or where we started.
From the award-winning author of "The Map of Salt and Stars," a new novel about three generations of Syrian Americans haunted by a mysterious species of bird and the truths they carry close to their hearts. A “vivid exploration of loss, art, queer and trans communities, and the persistence of history. Often tender, always engrossing, "The Thirty Names of Night is a feat"." - R.O. Kwon
“If you’re living your own internal struggle, this book can help you find a way to live authentically, fully, and freely. . . . Let it show that we are all created equal and entitled to be treated with dignity and respect.” - President Joe Biden
Have pride in history. A rich and sweeping photographic history of the Queer Liberation Movement, from the creators and curators of the massively popular Instagram account "LGBT History."
So lonely and beautiful that I could hardly breathe. This is a perfect book.” - Stephanie Perkins, author of Anna and the French Kiss
A novel about a young woman’s life-altering affair with a much older, married woman. “An unforgettable account of a forbidden romance.” – Nicole Dennis-Benn, author of Patsy
“A gripping read…Unabashedly queer, probing and unafraid…Exceedingly engaging.” - USA Today — “Sublimely weird, fluently paced, brazenly funny and gayer still, and it richly deserves to find readers.” - New York Times
A thrilling portrait of political terror and the violent pleasures found in warehouses, bathrooms, and dungeons across New York City, "X" is a novel that delves into the psyches of characters on the margins.
Liz Lighty has always believed she's too black, too poor, too awkward to shine in her small, rich, prom-obsessed midwestern town. But it's okay -- Liz has a plan that will get her out of Campbell, Indiana, forever: attend the uber-elite Pennington College, play in their world-famous orchestra, and become a doctor.But when the financial aid she was counting on unexpectedly falls through, Liz's plans come crashing down . . . until she's reminded of her school's scholarship for prom king and queen. There's nothing Liz wants to do less than endure a gauntlet of social media trolls, catty competitors, and humiliating public events, but despite her devastating fear of the spotlight she's willing to do whatever it takes to get to Pennington. The only thing that makes it halfway bearable is the new girl in school, Mack. She's smart, funny, and just as much of an outsider as Liz. But Mack is also in the running for queen. Will falling for the competition keep Liz from her dreams . . . or make them come true?
Douglas Stuart’s first novel "Shuggie Bain," winner of the 2020 Booker Prize, is one of the most successful literary debuts of the century so far. Stuart returns with his extraordinary second novel, Young Mungo. Both a page-turner and literary tour de force, it is a vivid portrayal of working-class life and a deeply moving and highly suspenseful story of the dangerous first love of two young men.