Whether you’re interested in reading an LGBT book because you want to see more representation on the page, or you’re just getting pumped up for pride month, there’s bound to be a book out there for you. Books about gay characters by LGBTQ authors take us on literary journeys that are diverse and beautiful.
Countless people have used these books as a way to come to terms with their own sexuality and better understand the inner workings of people around them.
Top LGBT Books Worth Reading
Whether you’re a fan of romance novels, crime thrillers, humor, or memoirs, LGBT books know no genre. Continue reading and I’ll walk you through what I consider to be six of the top LGBT books worth reading.
1. Simon Vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli
You may be aware of this book by a different name – Love, Simon, which was a film adaptation and the first widely released teen film to showcase a gay character in the main role.
The book was published in 2016 and focuses on Simon Spier. Simon is a 16-year-old closeted gay teen who lives in Atlanta, Georgia. Simon then starts an anonymous email romance with another student at his school.
After his emails are discovered, a classmate blackmails Simon. If Simon doesn’t do what the blackmailer says, he risks being exposed to the whole school and losing his email partner forever.
While this book might not be considered ground-breaking, it certainly helps to push gay fiction further into the mainstream. Even though Simon’s parents are very progressive and liberal, he’s still terrified of coming out to them.
This is a crucial part of the book, as many people today assume that coming out is no longer a big deal. And hopefully after reading it, teenagers will be able to “really love the person” they see in the mirror.
2. Giovanni’s Room by James Baldwin
Giovanni’s Room was a truly ground-breaking book. Published in 1956, it’s one of the first American novels by a mainstream LGBTQ author to deal specifically with queer themes.
The plot focuses on the life of a young man, David, who is living in Paris and starts an affair with Giovanni, a man from Italy. David also has a girlfriend who lives in Spain and he is struggling with his desire to lead a heteronormative life and his sexual attraction to men. The book is full of twists and turns and plenty of drama.
This book is seen as a masterpiece within gay literature and is on just about every LGBT to-read list. The novel was extremely controversial in its time thanks to its frank portrayal of same-sex relationships.
As a black and gay man, James Baldwin faced a lot of discrimination from all sides. Unable to publish his book with an American publisher, he first had to have it published in England.
3. Annie on My Mind by Nancy Garden
After reading the many online reviews for this book, it’s easy to see that Annie on My Mind has been a formative read for queer and questioning women for the past four decades.
This groundbreaking novel follows the story of two girls whose friendship grows into love. Despite the pressures from school and family that attempt to stop their relationship, Annie and Liza promise to stay true to each other and their feelings.
The book was so controversial upon its release that it was banned in multiple school libraries and even publicly burned. Despite that, it continues to be read by young women throughout the world.
4. The Front Runner by Patricia Nell Warren
The Front Runner was first published in 1974 and follows the story of Harlan Brown, an athletic director at a fictitious liberal arts school in New York City. Harlan starts working at Prescott after he was falsely accused of sexually harassing a male student at Pennsylvania State University.
While at his new school, Harlan is asked to coach three track stars who were expelled from other universities for being gay. During their training, Harlan falls in love with one of the track stars and they start a relationship.
This book was a New York Times bestseller and remains as relevant and timely as ever.
5. Call Me by Your Name by Andre Aciman
Call Me by Your Name may be the most famous LGBTQ novel in the world right now. The book first came out in 2007 and focuses on the romantic relationship between a 24-year-old doctoral student, Oliver, and his professor’s son, Elio.
The novel follows their summer relationship in Italy in the late 80s. This novel is written beautifully and simply. It perfectly captures the experience of a teenage boy falling in love with another man for the first time.
The novel focuses on the theme of how our first love defines our lives, and how that person is always somehow with us.
6. Invisible Life by E. Lynn Harris
Invisible Life was self-published in 1991. It then received a wide release in 1994. The book focuses on the coming of age of Raymond Tyler as he faces the reality of being black and gay.
He has a beautiful girlfriend, a bright future, and is a successful law student, yet his world is turned upside down when he starts a sexual relationship with his best friend.
After he graduates, Raymond attempts to live his life as a closeted black man. He has multiple relationships with women and men before he falls in love with a closeted football player.
In 2010, the Los Angeles Times named this book one of the Top 20 “Classic Works of Gay Literature” ever written.
Which of These LGBT Books Will You Read?
As we can see, there are a variety of fascinating and compelling LGBT books out there. While everyone’s life experience is unique, reading books with gay themes can be an empowering experience.
Of course, you don’t have to be part of the LGBT community to enjoy what these works of literature have to offer. You just need to enjoy comfy chair and a great read.
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