7 LGBTQ+ Books That Celebrate Pride, According To Readers

LGBTQ+ representation is vitally important in literature. Today’s best LGBTQ+ authors utilize the powerful medium of the printed word to relate stories of human life and to foster inclusion. Many places in the world are dangerous for members of the LGBTQ+ community, and print media has become an important outlet for understanding. Our list of the best LGBTQ+ books are all great literary works that reveal the realities of living as a member of the queer community.

Despite 62 percent believing the country is progressing with representation, there’s still a long way to go, according to new research. Even when there is representation, only a third of respondents (31%) said it was a “positive” portrayal when they first saw someone like themselves in the media. For many, the negative aspects are enough to turn them away as consumers. In fact, 39 percent have stopped engaging with specific media because they believe it plays into harmful stereotypes about the LGBTQ+ community. Others say they’ve stopped watching a certain show or reading a book due to a lack of representation.

Considering today’s tense political climate, it is increasingly difficult to face criticism for your identity. Unfortunately, hate crimes and violence are not unheard of for members of the queer community. These titles give an inside look into what it means to live in today’s world within the LGBTQ+ community whether that’s the beauty of self-expression or the harsh realities that come with it. Picking up one of these books can help anyone learn more about the community and how we can help support it rather than tear it down.

Ready to dive into some amazing titles? Our sources helped us take a thoughtful look at several of the genre greats and rank the top seven best LGBTQ+ books. These were the most recommended titles across the board. Let us know your favorites in the comments below!

LGBTQ Pride: Gay couple embracing, holding rainbow pride
Gay couple embracing and showing their love with rainbow flag (© Mego-studio
– stock.adobe.com)

The List: 7 LGBTQ+ Books You Should Read Next


1. “Giovanni’s Room” by James Baldwin (1956)

This book was considered obscene by some when it was first published. Today it serves as proof that love existed between two men in a time when they faced harsh prejudice. Pan Macmillan raves, “After David, a young American living in 1950s Paris meets the mysterious Giovanni in a bar the two begin an intense affair… Highly controversial when it was first published in 1956 for its portrayal of a gay relationship in mainstream literature, James Baldwin’s tale of an ill-fated love triangle is now considered a classic.”

“Giovanni's Room” by James Baldwin (1956)
“Giovanni’s Room” by James Baldwin (1956)

Multiple facets of the gay community are divulged in this tale. Book Riot adds, “David struggles with his love for Giovanni, and with his lover’s small, dirty room. He wants to separate himself from the gay community, from their seedy bars, from drag queens, from the effeminate. It’s a powerful classic about internalized homophobia, shame, repression, and self-destruction.”

You will have to read this book to find out more. For a sneak peak into the plot, “David soon finds himself unable to deny his desire for Giovanni, a bartender who shows him a different way of life. In the darkness of a room hidden from the rest of the world, David is forced to reckon with his true self,” says discovery.

2. “Orlando – A Biography” by Virginia Woolf (1928)

“Orlando” has a touch of magical realism. Over the course of a 300+ year life, the protagonist lives as a man and later transitions into a woman. Advocate says, “‘Orlando,’ which Virginia Woolf wrote in tribute to friend and lover Vita Sackbville-West, is a study in gender fluidity across time and space… and the gender switch offers an opportunity for commentary on the limitations society places on women.”

“Orlando - A Biography” by Virginia Woolf (1928)
“Orlando – A Biography” by Virginia Woolf (1928)

This is a title that you should add to your reading list. Oprah Daily adds, “I remember vividly going out one cold morning while reading ‘Orlando.’ I was eighteen and it was my first year of college. My house growing up wasn’t full of books, so I used to go to the library a lot. I felt a bit like the protagonist walking on thin ice–a bit different, queer, excited. That week I bought a pink dress and a pair of army boots and wore them together to a party.”

According to Good Housekeeping, “It follows the 300-year life of a man born during the time of Elizabeth I who’s on a quest to write a great poem. Of course, he has lots of life to live along the way, including love affairs as both a man and a woman with some of the most important moments in European history as window dressing.”

3. “Detransition, Baby” by Torrey Peters (2021)

This is a look at trans life in America. Publishers Weekly says, “Peters’ writing and characterization is razor-sharp throughout, boldly tackling the messier and less-talked-about elements of being trans. The result is characters who are complicated, compelling, and feel utterly real.”

“Detransition, Baby” by Torrey Peters (2021)
“Detransition, Baby” by Torrey Peters (2021)

The characterizations of the central trio in this book highlights the complexities of trans identity. Penguin Random House adds, “This provocative debut is about what happens at the emotional, messy, vulnerable corners of womanhood that platitudes and good intentions can’t reach. Torrey Peters brilliantly and fearlessly navigates the most dangerous taboos around gender, sex, and relationships, gifting us a thrillingly original, witty, and deeply moving novel.”

You may be asking, “What happens when a detransitioned man discovers that he’s expecting a baby with his girlfriend (who also happens to be his boss)? He recruits his trans ex-girlfriend to help them raise the baby as an unconventional family unit, of course—and that’s exactly what happens in this laugh-out-loud debut,” writes Cosmopolitan.

4. “The Color Purple” by Alice Walker (1982)

“The Color Purple” is an important book for representation on many levels. Today explains, “First came the book, then came the movie and the Broadway musical. Told through a series of letters, ‘The Color Purple’ follows Celie and Nettie as they experience the many heartbreaks, joys and pains throughout four decades of their lives. Celie turns to sharp-tongued Shug Avery for comfort — and a relationship blossoms.”

The Color Purple: A Novel
The Color Purple: A Novel

With the printed word, “The Color Purple” achieves the goal of illustrating the pain of being identified as “the other” in America. Cosmopolitan offers, “‘The Color Purple’ is a classic. Told through a series of painfully honest letters, the story follows Celie, a woman who lives in poverty and has experienced physical and sexual abuse at the hand of her father, and later her husband, all while exploring her sexuality.”

Now, you can see the modern big screen adaptation of this book starring Taraji P. Henson and Halle Bailey. There is also the classic 1985 version with Oprah Winfrey. Good Housekeeping states, “Walker’s masterpiece about the love between women isn’t just an LGBTQ+ classic, it’s a must-read book in just about every way. Made into a major motion picture, this National Book and Pulitzer Prize-winner follows the story of two sisters living very different lives and the unbreakable bond between them, even through impossible circumstances.”

5. “What Belongs to You” by Garth Greenwell (2016)

This title is a bit salacious, but it does not lean into harmful stereotypes. Instead, it offers an intense read with heavy erotic elements. Oprah Daily claims, “I’m inclined to name books that I read during my adolescence or young adulthood, but I read this novel in my mid-30s and found it all the more life changing. It is ambitious in every part of its being, from the line level to the larger narrative structure, and it depicts the intersection of desire and self-reflection in a way that feels entirely new yet deeply relatable. Garth is one of the great writers of our time.”

“What Belongs to You” by Garth Greenwell (2016)
“What Belongs to You” by Garth Greenwell (2016)

According to Pan Macmillan, “After a one-off meeting in a public bathroom, a charismatic young hustler and an American teacher begin an intimate, intense, and unnerving relationship. ‘What Belongs to You’ is a powerful and erotic debut novel, which explores how being rejected for being who you are shapes the way you love, and the difficulty of growing up as a gay man in Southern America in the 1990s.”

For a steamy read, definitely add this to your reading list. “The novel unfolds backward and, as it progresses, the reader becomes acquainted with the backstories of the two characters, stumbling into the core question of identity and its many folds. ‘What Belongs to You’ assumes a truly breathtaking momentum as it chronicles lust, remorse, memory and the making of the self,” adds discovery.

6. “The Price of Salt” by Patricia Highsmith (1952)

Patricia Highsmith wrote this highly subversive book in an era where gender norms were heavily emphasized by American society. Book Riot says, “When the novel was first published, Highsmith was forced to publish it under a pseudonym. In the 1950s, sapphic tales were supposed to end tragically — and so her bold depiction of a hopeful ending for the love between an older socialite and a young shopgirl was dangerous and groundbreaking.”

“The Price of Salt” by Patricia Highsmith (1952)
“The Price of Salt” by Patricia Highsmith (1952)

Editions under the pen name Claire Morgan have become rare, as the book is now published under the name Highsmith. Advocate adds, “Highsmith went on to write more queer-tinged fiction, including ‘The Talented Mr. Ripley’ and all of the Ripley novels to follow. ‘The Price of Salt,’ of course, became the critically acclaimed Todd Haynes-helmed 2015 film ‘Carol,’ starring Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara.”

According to Good Housekeeping, “A chance meeting, an illicit romance, and the freedom of the open road — this classic has it all. That is, until one of the women is forced to choose between her lover and her child. Grab the tissues before picking up this suspenseful LGBTQ+ book. If you didn’t think a thrilling story could also make your heart sing, let this one change your mind.”

7. “Nevada” by Imogen Binnie (2013)

“Nevada” is dark satire about trans life. Pan MacMillan compliments, “A hilarious cult classic… ‘Nevada’ is the book that launched the trans writing scene in Brooklyn. Maria is a trans woman in her thirties who spends idle days working in a New York bookstore, drinking and having muddling sexual encounters.”

“Nevada” by Imogen Binnie (2013)
“Nevada” by Imogen Binnie (2013)

Content warnings include transphobia, deadnaming, and suicidal thoughts; yet the book is praised for its inventive plot and character portrayals. Book Riot assures, “When writing this book, Binnie was set on having it be a book about trans women for trans women, and explicitly not falling into the trap of describing the trans experience for cis readers. This sometimes-bleak, blistering book is an honest and bold cult classic that features a complex, messy punk trans woman navigating her world.”

“Looking for a trans novel that’s not about transitioning or going through trauma — just an enjoyable novel about someone who’s trans? Imogen Binnie has got you covered with ‘Nevada’ … a refreshing, thought-provoking book with a punk aesthetic that’s sure to become essential reading for the modern age,” articulates Discovery.

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Note: This article was not paid for nor sponsored. StudyFinds is not connected to nor partnered with any of the brands mentioned and receives no compensation for its recommendations. This article may contain affiliate links in which we receive a commission if you make a purchase.


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