Celebrate Pride with these unique, thoughtful, and warm reads that champion the LGBTQ+ experience.
The incredible thing about Pride month is the opportunity to celebrate all the beautiful shades and spectrums of the LGBTQ+ rainbow. And in recent years, the popularity of queer stories, once relegated to the shadows or merely bleak tales of tragedy, now leap off the page in all sorts of glorious forms. Young adult will-they-won’t-they stories, tales of later-in-life sexual realization, and queer stories that celebrate the BIPOC communities all shine bright year-round. This Pride month, we gathered a number of stories that span genre, time period, and audience, and we tapped our friends at Goodreads to help us celebrate. This roundup includes books published in the last year and is based on how many times a book was rated, the total rating, and how many members added the book to their want-to-read shelf. Happy reading, and very happy Pride month.
Top Picks for You
'Young Mungo' by Douglas Stuart
In Douglas Stuart’s follow-up to Booker prize-winning Shuggie Bain, Protestant Mungo and Catholic James fall in love amidst the backdrop of working-class Glasgow. Forced to act hyper-masculine and tough to conceal their love, Young Mungo plays out as a kind of modern Romeo and Juliet. Expect Stuart’s signature lyrical and poetic prose, and stay for the hopeful message that ultimately, love does win in the end.
'Afterparties' by Anthony Veasna So
Afterparties has been at the top of many “Best of” lists this summer, won the Roxane Gay seal of approval, and is a New York Times Bestseller. And it’s easy to see why. In this exploration of the Cambodian-American experience in California, we read unique, thoughtful portrayals of race, friendship, and family, and delve deep into the complexities of being both queer and an immigrant. Fans of Ocean Vuong’s luminous On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous will appreciate the novel’s seamless blend of tenderness and humor.
'Under the Whispering Door' by T.J. Klune
Sometimes the grim subject of death can be mined for the best laughs. T.J Klune does just that in his latest about a man who finally begins living after his death. Whisked away from his near-empty funeral by a reaper, Wallace realizes he spent the entirety of his life chained to his cubicle. But in the cozy Dickens-like Charon’s Crossing (the waiting room before the afterlife), Wallace finally begins to enjoy his (after) life. Fans of The Good Place will delight in this witty and warm novel about it never being too late to seize the day. Even if you’re dead.
'Yerba Buena' by Nina LaCour
Award-winning YA author Nina LaCour’s adult fiction debut Yerba Buena will propel you back to the messy days of young love in your 20s. Careers, self-actualization, the past, and mutual baggage have a way of upsetting the romance between many a star-crossed lover, and couple Emilie and Sara are no exception. They meet in A-list L.A. restaurant Yerba Buena (named after a healing medicinal herb), and the novel follows their journey, as they try to navigate the angst of falling in love. Will they make it? A wistful page-turner, LaCour’s YA background adds real depth and longing to this love story.
'You Made a Fool of Death With Your Beauty' by Akwaeke Emezi
Goodreads users remarked they went from laughing to crying to laughing again at this steamy and fun book about grief, loss, and finding love after loss. Emezi begins her novel with a classic romance trope, a young woman, Feyi, being pushed back into the dating scene by her BFF after her husband’s death. But You Made a Fool of Death With Your Beauty flips the script with a twist midway through the book. We won’t spoil things for you, but expect the unexpected in this very sexy, very spicy, realistic portrayal of dating after loss and sexual discovery.
'Summer Sons' by Lee Mandelo
Lee Mandelo, you had us at “queer Southern Gothic.” This highly-reviewed fan favorite follows inseparable best friends Eddie and Andrew, until Eddie’s apparent suicide during his graduate program at Vanderbilt. Andrew naturally goes looking for answers and discovers a world Eddie told him nothing about, including fast cars and dangerous boys (the Fast and the Furious franchise is mentioned in several reviews). A slow-burning mystery, Summer Sons will have you guessing until the last page and hanging on every word like a slow southern drawl.
'She Who Became the Sun' by Shelley Parker-Chan
Shelly Parker-Chan begins this sweeping historical fantasy with a prophecy in Mongol-ruled China: two siblings, one a boy, one a girl. The boy, destined for greatness, his sister, destined for little more than becoming a wife. And then when a bandit attack orphans the two siblings, it is the girl, Zhu who survives. If you’re game for a Mulan-esque tale full of badassery, you’ll love this epic that has also drawn comparison to The Song of Achilles. Ultimately a feminist tale about reclaiming your destiny and place in the world, you’ll be on your feet cheering by the end of this epic.
'I Kissed Shara Wheeler' by Casey McQuiston
Groundbreaking and modern genre classic Red, White, and Royal Blue opened the floodgates for not only the current romance resurgence the literary world is finding itself in, but also the queer-focused romance world too. It comes as no surprise then that Casey McQuiston’s follow-up, I Kissed Shara Wheeler has been met with wild acclaim. In this YA high school rom-com, Chloe is on the cusp of graduating, when Shara Wheeler, an all-around perfect and popular type, unexpectedly kisses her and then goes ghost. Puzzled but determined, Chloe sets off on finding Shara and confronting her academic rival (and crush?) before graduation. Funny, fresh, and highly reviewed, you’ll love this sweet romance that’ll bring back the (good) high school memories.
'Ace of Spades' by Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé
Likened to a Get Out for teens, this academia-based, edge-of-your-seat thriller examines the perils of being a Black teen in a PWI (Predominately white institute). Devon and Chiamaka, the lone Black students at an elite prep school, are nominated to become prefects. All seems well until a shadowy entity known only as Aces appears, hell-bent on exposing secrets about the two. Ace of Spades has also drawn comparison to teen dramas like Pretty Little Liars and Gossip Girl, for obvious reasons, but manages to flip the script and highlight the social injustices prevalent in spaces like the academic world.
'Iron Widow' by Xiran Jay Zhao
The first book in an ongoing series, Xiran Jay Zhao’s Iron Widow is a fantastical reimagining of the rise of Chinese Empress Wu Zetian in medieval China. And that’s just the beginning. We’ve got elements of Pacific Rim and Handmaid’s Tale and Hunger Games, a polyamorous protagonist, and robot aliens. But what Goodreads fans seem to love most about this action-packed series is the lead characters–their agency and ability to subvert societal expectations, even in fantasy medieval China. We’re hoping Hollywood comes calling and gives us a big-screen adaptation of this epic.
'Aristotle and Dante Dive Into the Waters of the World' by Benjamin Alire Sáenz
In the follow-up to Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, where the two young lovers find love against all odds, Saenz shows readers what comes next. And after seven years in between books one and two, Goodreads fans were all but begging for the next chapter. After love conquers all, what comes next? Aristotle and Dante face bullies and personal tragedy all while navigating their new relationship in a place that condemns their relationship. Especially poignant for readers who faced difficulty coming out and coming to terms with identity, this sequel was definitely worth the wait.
'Loveless' by Alice Oseman
Tales surrounding asexual and aromantic protagonists are often hard to come by, but Alice Oseman’s fourth YA novel, Loveless, devotes grace, compassion, and charm to the oft-forgotten “A” in the LGBTQIA+ spectrum. Georgia, a college freshman, is coming to terms with her lack of crushes, kisses, and romantic entanglements. As she explores her identity and realizes she may be asexual, she undergoes the quintessential coming-of-age that all college freshmen endure. And most importantly, she has a band of nerdy, delightful, and witty friends by her side for it all. You’ll find joy in this sweet and thoughtfully written coming-out story.
'Ophelia After All' by Racquel Marie
Another high-school set coming out story, Ophelia After All was met with much acclaim amid its release in February. The end of high school comes with so much change–breakups, college–and Ophelia is juggling it all. But after one such breakup, Ophelia is overcome with feelings not for her ex, but for bookish Talia Sanchez…a girl. Hailed for its accurate portrayal of high school and its vivid main character, Ophelia’s journey of self-discovery will resonate with teens and adults alike.
'Kiss & Tell' by Adib Khorram
Those obsessed with BTS, BSB, and everyone in between will devour this fun and flirty tale about a teen boy band hounded by press and the perils of teen stardom. The book follows Hunter, the only gay member of Kiss & Tell, fresh off of a gossip-fueled painful breakup. Stuck playing the part of Perfect Gay Teen Role Model and smiling through his pain, he’s thrown into a fake relationship with Kaivan, drummer of Kiss & Tell’s opening act. With the publicity mill churning and paparazzi ready to pounce at any moment, will their (fake) relationship survive? Will this PR stunt become something more? Find out in this heartwarming, pop culture-bent romance.
'The Lesbiana’s Guide to Catholic School' by Sonora Reyes
Sonora Reyes’ stunner of a debut has innumerable five-star ratings on Goodreads. Romantic, joyful, and full of soul, this YA tale follows Yamilet, a queer Mexican American girl, and recent transfer to Catholic school after her accidental outing. Her mission to keep her head down and remain relatively anonymous proves difficult after she falls for the only openly-out, very cool girl at school, Bo. Readers loved Yamilet’s supportive family, and how the book not only paid testament to the young queer experience, but the young immigrant experience too. Whether you can relate to its dynamic lead’s tale or not, you’ll swoon through this powerhouse debut.