June is Pride Month so I thought I would put together a list of our all-time favourite LGBTQ+ books. When compiling this list I noticed a couple of disappointing things about my shelves that I’d like to apologise for in advance:
- there’s a serious lack of trans characters & authors on this list.
- this list is also very white.
It’s times like these that we need to reflect upon our reading and the narratives we’re consuming and diversify our shelves and do something about it. We’ll make sure that we do better in the future.
We must also take our time to remember the origins of the Pride movement, and that we owe a lot to Black trans activists for the rights of LGBTQIA+ folks. Here’s a list of organisations that you can support:
The Falling in Love Montage by Ciara Smyth – this one is a newly released lesbian rom-com; if that alone doesn’t sell it I don’t know what will. I absolutely adored this book. Saoirse and Ruby are a super cute couple, and this book features some laugh-out-loud moments, and also has our m/c navigating some really complex emotions regarding early-onset dementia and what it means for her life now, and her future. The Falling in Love Montage is a fantastic addition to queer YA lit and a must for contemporary fans looking for on-the-page lesbian rep and f/f romances.
Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo – another fantastic verse novel from the incredibly talented Elizabeth Acevedo. Clap When You Land follows two sisters, unaware of the existence of the other, as they navigate the loss of their father and the discovery that he was not who he seemed. One of the sisters, Yahaira, is a lesbian and has a girlfriend. It’s not a central part of the novel, but it’s sweet, supportive, and also best-friends to lovers. (trigger warnings: plane crash, death of a parent, threat of rape, attempted sexual assault)
How to Make a Wish by Ashley Herring Blake – I was not expecting such an emotion-filled, heart wrenching book when I picked up How To Make A Wish three years ago. One of my all-time favourite books, and one I consistently recommend for those looking for bi rep and an f/f romance. I loved Eva and Grace’s relationship. Their build-up, their chemistry, their midnight adventures, their witty remarks – it’s so cute. (trigger warnings: parental neglect, alcohol misuse, emotional abuse)
People Like Us by Dana Mele – it was pitched as a queer Mean Girls, and that pretty much sums it up. Murder mystery, boarding school, and sapphic girls — what more could you want? There’s a lack of labels in here though, so if that is something that bothers you I would probably steer clear, but our main character is attracted to both boys and girls and is most likely bisexual. (trigger warnings: talk of suicide, death, description of dead bodies/animals)
Far From You by Tess Sharpe – I read this over four years ago now and it’s still one of my favourite books. It’s an emotionally charged murder mystery — two best friends, one murder. It has fantastic, authentic, on-the-page bisexual rep (our main character, Sophie), and a beautiful f/f relationship (though, tragically, Mina is dead). This is a book I will forever recommend. (trigger warnings: death, drug addiction, depression)
After the Eclipse by Fran Dorricott – this is an atmospheric edge-of-your-seat mystery thriller. It is an emotive and haunting story about sisterhood, loss, and truth. As for the rep, it has a lesbian main character, a bi love interest, and an f/f romance! (trigger warning: sexual abuse, kidnapping, suicide, alcohol and drug abuse)
We Are Okay by Nina LaCour – We Are Okay is mainly a book about grief and it is powerful, intimate, and hard-hitting. Grief is a powerful and complex human emotion, and I think this book portrays it really well. We have a lesbian main character and I really loved the slow-burn, friends-to-lovers relationship between Marin and Mabel, which got disrupted due to grief and isolation. A heart-wrenching book. (trigger warnings: grief, death of a loved one)
Radio Silence by Alice Oseman – this follows Frances, a biracial, bisexual, podcast loving teen as she develops an intense platonic relationship with Aled, a depressed asexual/demisexual teen feeling disconnected with education. I think this book is a good one for readers looking for on-the-page rep and it’s unapologetic the use of labels.
Dating Sarah Cooper by Siera Maley – another one of my absolute favourites! Siera Maley is a fantastic author if you’re looking for f/f romances with a HEA. Dating Sarah Cooper follows two best friends who mistakenly end up fake dating and end up falling in love for real. Not only do we have fake dating, we also have best-friends-to-lovers — ADORE. It’s a fluffy lesbian YA romcom.
This is What It Feels Like by Rebecca Barrow – this a beautiful story about friendship, recovery, grief, and music. It has a lesbian m/c and an f/f romance. (trigger warnings: alcohol abuse and death of a loved one.)
- The Summer of Everything by Julian Winters – gay m/c and m/m romance
- Perfect on Paper by Sophie Gonzales – bi m/c with a m/f romance
- This is All Your Fault by Aminah Mae Safi – sapphic characters
- I Kissed Alice by Anna Birch – enemies-to-lovers f/f romance!!
- Even if We Break by Marieke Nijkamp – trans and non-binary characters
Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan – an exquisite fantasy series with a central f/f pairing — it’s a forbidden, slow-burn romance. Girls of Paper and Fire is a tense, fierce, and imaginative read about fighting for what you believe in. It is about survival, love, and hope. (trigger warnings: sexual assault and rape).
Beneath the Citadel by Destiny Soria – here we have a bisexual main character and an m/m romance, and also a fat asexual character too. I absolutely adored Beneath the Citadel and it gripped me from the very first page – it’s a brilliant and engaging fantasy with great group dynamics. A must for fantasy fans!
Crier’s War by Nina Varela – As soon as I found out that this was an f/f enemies-to-lovers romance, that was enough for me and I picked it up almost immediately. My favourite aspect, and the most wonderfully crafted aspect, was Ayla and Crier’s relationship. If you’re a fan of slow-burn romances, Crier’s War will probably kill you with anticipation. It’s actually enemies-to-lovers, and by that, I mean Ayla is literally plotting Crier’s murder. It’s a sweet and unassuming romance. If you’re on the lookout for a queer fantasy with rebellion and romance, then Crier’s War is a must.
Queen of Coin and Whispers by Helen Corcoran – Queen of Coin and Whispers follows both Lia, a newly crowned and idealistic queen, and Xania, her newly appointed spy-master out for vengeance which develops into an intense love story. We have two lesbian main characters and also lesbian, gay and bisexual side characters too. (trigger warnings: off-page suicide, emotional torture, imprisonment, murder, death, violence)
Girl, Serpent, Thorn by Melissa Bashardoust – a Persian inspired sapphic fairy tale about a princess who was cursed to be poisonous to the touch. It is a story brimming with intrigue, lies, betrayal, power, and monsters. It features a bi main character, and a slow-burn f/f romance between two morally grey characters.
The Obsidian Tower by Melissa Caruso – It is about our main character, Ryx, trying to avert war with diplomacy. Tensions are high and war is brewing. I really felt the urgency of what Ryx was trying to achieve. It is also a book full of high stakes – personal, political, and also magical. The Obsidian Tower features a bi main character, a non-binary side character, a lesbian side characters, and a side f/f romance.
The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon – I will warn you to be committed when you start this because it is over eight hundred pages long. It was, put simply, epic. It has a lesbian main character and a central f/f romance and a side m/m romance too. I loved the worldbuilding and the religions and the history of the world and of the queendoms and the kingdoms.
We Set the Dark on Fire by Tehlor Kay Mejia – in case you hadn’t noticed, I’m very drawn to sapphic fantasies. This is another excellent one. It features intricate storytelling, a beautifully crafted world, political intrigue, uprising and fighting against injustice, and a message so relevant in today’s climate. It has a Latinx main character and a passionate, swoon-worthy, enemies-to-lovers f/f romance.
The Midnight Lie by Marie Rutkoski – The Midnight Lie has one of the best slow-burn romances I’ve ever read. It has a lesbian main character and a f/f romance between Nirrim, our protagonist, and Sid, a traveller. The two have an intense relationship full of longing, stolen glances, witty conversations, playful banter, and lots of sexual tension. Highly recommend if you’re looking for a good sapphic fantasy.
Inkmistress by Audrey Coulthurst – this is the prequel to Audrey Coulthursts lesbian fantasy duology Of Fire and Stars, which doesn’t feature on this list because it had a lot of weaker elements, so I went for Inkmistress, one of my favourite books and the prequel which features an implied bisexual main character. Whilst the word bisexual is not on the page, Asra is attracted to both men and women throughout the novel (starts off with an f/f romance, ends with an f/m romance).
Belle Révolte by Linsey Miller – Belle Révolte follows two different characters – Annette and Emilie. Emilie’s story features a m/f rivals to lovers romance with a trans boy love interest and it was glorious. Annette is also sapphic and asexual and there is a lovely f/f romance with a baker/alchemist!
- Court of Lions (Mirage #2) by Somaiya Daud – lesbian main character, f/f romance, lesbian love interest
- Each of Us A Desert by Mark Oshiro – gay rep, lesbian rep, f/f romance
- These Feathered Flames by Alexandra Overy – f/f romance, sapphic m/c
- Beyond the Ruby Veil by Mara Fitzgerald – lesbian main character
- Ruinsong by Julia Ember – bi mc, f/f romance
paranormal + magical realism/fabulism
Ghost Wood Song by Erica Waters – this is one of my most recent reads, and it’s not out until end of July, but it’s a fantastically atmospheric southern gothic with a bisexual lead. We have sweet, kind romance, and a bit of a love triangle between Shady, her best friend Sarah, and a boy named Cedar. We have on the page bi rep (our m/c Shady) and on the page lesbian rep (Sarah and Rose).
Sawkill Girls by Claire Legrand – the author described as ‘girls loving girls, girls kissing girls, girls being friends with girls, girls helping girls’ so I just had to read it. It’s a monstrously creepy paranormal with a kickass girl gang. It’s eerie and atmospheric, with an immersive setting in Sawkill Rock, and a dynamic cast of characters. We have three protagonist – Marion is bisexual, Zoey is asexual, and Val is queer and is in a sapphic relationship, but her label is never stated on page. (trigger warnings: blood and gore, suicidal ideation, parental abuse, loss of a loved one, violence.)
Missing, Presumed Dead by Emma Berquist – in short, we have angry queer girls, a paranormal murder mystery, ghosts, and an f/f romance. (there are, however, no labels on page). The plot is pretty much just the background for Lexi and Jane’s characters arcs and developing romance, but even so, it’s a compelling murder mystery with ghosts!
The Fascinators by Andrew Eliopulos – this is a, at heart, a contemporary coming of age story, set against a magical backdrop with a subplot ft. a dangerous cult and a thirst for power. We have a gay protagonist and a sweet m/m friends-to-lovers romance, with a bit of a love triangle and some unrequited love thrown in there too.
Wild Beauty by Anna-Marie McLemore – This was a beautiful, lyrical story. It was magical and I adored the Nomeolvides girls, and the imagery was beyond gorgeous. This is probably the most beautifully queer (bisexual rep, side gay rep, side genderqueer rep) book I’ve ever read and it’s fantastic.
Wilder Girls by Rory Power – a feminist horror and a modern-day Lord of the Flies. It was a… strange read but it was my kind of strange. It’s feral, it’s brutal, it’s atmospheric, and it’s queer. There is a bisexual main character, other sapphic side characters, and an f/f romance. (trigger warnings: violence, gore, body horror, self harm, suicide)
- Miss Meteor by Tehlor Kay Mejia & Anna-Marie McLemore – sapphic character
- Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas – trans m/c and m/m romance
- The Fell of Dark by Caleb Roehrig – gay m/c
- The Reckless Afterlife of Harriet Stoker by Lauren James – bi m/c?
The Space Between Worlds by Michaiah Johnson – takes place in a sort of dystopian world where there is a huge class divide between Wiley City and Ashtown, and this leads to some really nuanced discussions about class, abuse, identity, and race. Cara, our protagonist is fucking glorious – she’s so complex and flawed, she was such an intriguing character to follow. We have a Black bisexual main character, a Japanese sapphic love interest, and an f/f romance.
The Luminous Dead by Caitlin Starling – The Luminous Dead was an eerie, suspenseful sci-fi novel. For having such a limited setting and only two characters (both of whom are queer, and there is a central f/f romance), Starling managed to create something so atmospheric and so emotive. It was as if I was down in the caves with Gyre myself, and all her pent-up frustration, fear, and agitation created an on-the-edge-of-your-seat reading experience.
They Both Die At The End by Adam Silvera – They Both Die At The End is a simple, heartfelt and hard-hitting book, as you would expect from the title. It features a lovely, bittersweet, slow-burn m/m romance, with such well-developed and lovable protagonists. We have a gay Puerto-Rican m/c and a bisexual Cuban-American m/c.
The Abyss Surrounds Us by Emily Skrutskie – The Abyss Surrounds Us follows Cas, who is a Reckoner in-training and she’s now in charge of her first ship and sea monster – alone, when things go sideways, Cas ends up as a prisoner aboard a pirate ship. This book has a central enemies to lovers f/f romance and is full of pirates, sea monsters, bad-ass ladies, and morally ambiguous characters.
Into the Drowning Deep by Mira Grant – Into the Drowning Deep was an intense and suspenseful read. It features characters of colour, a disabled characters, an autistic character, and sapphic characters, and has a main f/f romance. This one is full of science and mythology and KILLER MERMAIDS and I loved every second of it, and also, lots of women in STEM. It was atmospheric, suspenseful, creepy, and thrilling.
Not Your Sidekick by C. B. Lee – I really enjoyed Not Your Sidekick, mainly because it was fun. It had a very sky-high vibe, which also made this a really fun read. It has superpowers, a vietnamese-chinese-american m/c, a bisexual m/c, a f/f relationship (a lesbian li), and a trans side character. Highly recommend!
- The Shadow War by Lindsay Smith – not entirely sure about the rep, but I do know there is at least a sapphic character and it’s super queer.
- Crownchasers by Rebecca Coffindaffer – pansexual m/c
- The First Sister by Linden A. Lewis – nonbinary character, sapphic character
- Architect of Memory by Karen Osborne – bi m/c, f/f romance
- The Art of Saving the World by Corinne Duyvis – questioning, asexual lesbian
All Out The No-Longer-Secret Stories of Queer Teens throughout the Ages edited by Saundra Mitchel – an historical fiction book dedicated entirely to queer teens? It’s amazing! There were such a variety of sexualities and gender identities represented on these pages: we have asexual characters, lesbian characters, trans characters, gay characters, f/f romances, and m/m romances and there is just so much positivity in some of these stories. This is such a lovely collection of stories.
The Pearl Thief by Elizabeth Wein – a prequel to the amazing Code Name Verity, following Julie’s younger years, who is now canonically bi. I loved that we got to see Julie in a completely different setting and light. We got to see her without all her trauma and pain. We got to see how she became that brilliant and angry Scotswoman we all fell in love with in Code Name Verity. We finally saw how she became Queenie, a nickname given to her by Ellen, the stubborn and passionate Scottish traveller who initially clashes with Julie, but they slowly grow feelings for each other.
The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid – if you are active on book twitter, I’m sure you have heard all about The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, and despite the name, this book is super gay. It is basically an epic love story between Evelyn Hugo, who is bisexual, and Celia St. James, who is a lesbian.
Dangerous Remedy by Kat Dunn – Dangerous Remedy, while quite serious and dark at times, was just a purely fun read. An f/f relationship? A bi love triangle? found family? a dark & mysterious girl? lots of witty humour? lots of swashbuckling action? the french revolution???? It’s hard not to fall in love with this book. We have a lesbian m/c, gay m/c and a bisexual m/c. (trigger warnings: violence, death, human experimentations, gore.)
Lair of Dreams (The Diviners #2) by Libba Bray – the second book in the Diviners series. A sleeping sickness has been plaguing the city, its origins unknown. Can the Diviners enter the dream world and catch the one responsible? The Diviners features a gay character, called Henry, but he took more of a backseat. Lair of Dreams though puts Henry in the driving seat and introduces a new character Ling, who is Chinese, queer, and disabled. Ling and Henry have such a brilliant friendship too.
- The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller – an exquisite and moving m/m romance based on the Greek myth of Achilles and Patroclus
- The Spellbook of Lost & Found by Moira Fowley-Doyle – a witchy and atmospheric novel, following several groups of friends whose stories intertwine. two bisexual characters and an f/f romance
- The Gallery of Unfinished Girls by Lauren Karcz – a story about art, creativity, expression, family, and figuring yourself out with a little dash of magic. bisexual m/c and an f/f romance.
- Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson – an exquisite fantasy with a fantastically developed magic system, a determined and formidable protagonist, BOOKS!!, and enemies-to-friends-to-lovers slow-burn romance, and a broody bisexual LI.
- The Girl in Red by Christina Henry – a Little Red Riding Hood retelling in a post-apocalyptic setting? Amazing. Black bisexual m/c.
- Colorblind by Siera Maley – a cute, flirty & fluffy lesbian romance.
- The Wise and the Wicked by Rebecca Podos – this was a genuinely fantastically magical story about family and legacy. trans boy love interest.
- Out Now: Queer We Go Again edited by Saundra Mitchell – a range of genres for all readers, whether that be fantasy, sci-fi, or contemporary romance. gay characters, nonbinary characters, asexual characters, lesbian characters, bisexual characters, trans characters.
on my tbr
- Who I Was With Her by Nita Tyndall
- You Should See Me in a Crown by Leah Johnson
- Full Disclosure by Camryn Garrett
- Felix Ever After by Kacen Callender
- The Henna Wars by Abida Jaigirdar
- Let’s Talk About Love by Claire Kann
- Cinderella is Dead by Kalynn Bayron
- I Wish You All The Best by Mason Deaver
- The Stars and the Blackness Between Them by Junauda Petrus
blog posts and articles
- 2020 LGBTQ+ Books for Teens Coming Out in 2020 | Teen Vogue
- 40 LGBTQ+ YA Books Still To Come In 2020 | United by Pop
- Sapphic & f/f romances and gay books & m/m romances by The Quiet Pond
- 50+ YA books about QPOC by QPOC by May @ forever and everly
- Twitter’s Best Gay Books by readsrainbow
- #RainbowReadathon TBR and Other QTPOC Books to Read During Pride Month by Shenwei @ readingasiam
- LGBTQIA+ books written by diverse authors by Beth @ Booksnest
- Book bloggers and readers share their favourite LGBTQIAP+ books by Kate @ Reading Through Infinity
- Sasha & Amber have done a variety of rec posts: books with bisexual characters, books with non-binary characters, books with asexual and aromantic characters, books with sapphic characters and romances
- 2020 LGBT+ book releases by Sofi @ abookathoughtblog
- 17 South Asian Queer Books to Read for Pride by Krisha @ bookathonblog
- LGBTQ+ Books For Pride Month by Hollie @ hollieblog
- Ten Books By Black LGBTQ+ Authors For Pride by Lulu @ libraryleopard
what are some of your favourite LGBTQIA+ books?