The 27 Best LGBTQ+ Books to Read During World Pride and Beyond - Men's Health Magazine Australia

The 27 Best LGBTQ+ Books to Read During World Pride and Beyond

Whether you're in the community or an ally, we've got you covered with this diverse reading list.

LGBTQ+ voices and perspectives remain largely underrepresented in most forms of media, including film, TV, and music. When it comes to literature, it’s a similar story: books by queer authors, featuring queer characters or exploring themes of sexuality and gender, have historically frequently been either overlooked or labeled as “niche,” and therefore struggled to reach a wider audience.

But, just as on-screen visibility can have power, so too can inclusive storytelling on the page. To a marginalised reader, stumbling across a novel told from the point-of-view of a character with the same lived experience as them can be revelatory. It doesn’t end there, though: a diverse bookshelf benefits everyone. Reading is, if nothing else, an innate act of empathy; of putting yourself, however temporarily, in another person’s shoes. So whether you are a member of the LGBTQ+ community, would like to become more familiar with queer art, or simply enjoy a great read, we’ve got you covered with this list of our favorite LGBTQ+ books.

The list below is by no means exhaustive, instead offering merely a sampling of some of the most exciting and compelling reading material being published by LGBTQ+ authors, encompassing forms and genres as wide-ranging as memoir, literary fiction, personal essays, humor, true crime, young adult, romance, erotica, and comic book.

Surrender Your Sons

Adam Sass Surrender Your Sons

‘Lost’ meets ‘Boy Erased’ in Adam Sass’ compelling YA debut about Connor Major, a gay teenager who comes out to his single mother and ends up being forcibly sent to a conversion therapy facility on a remote island. Once there, Connor realizes there are even darker secrets at Camp Nightlight than are first apparent, and he sets out to uncover them—and take the whole place down from the inside.

Detransition, Baby: A Novel

Torrey Peters Detransition, Baby: A Novel

One of the most talked-about novels of this year, Detransition, Baby follows the interlinked lives of three people: trans woman Reese, her ex Ames, who has detransitioned and is living as a man, and Katrina, Ames’ boss and girlfriend who learns she is pregnant as the story begins. While this book has been widely discussed as a “trans novel,” and certainly includes great insight and reflection on the violence and trauma that make up many trans women’s lived experiences, it is also a laugh-out-loud romantic comedy and a sharply sardonic look at modern relationships.


Sarah Waters Fingersmith

The less a reader knows going into this Dickensian tale of love and chicanery the better. Put simply, it concerns a plot to scam a beautiful young heiress, in which the urchin Sue is planted in her house to pose as a maid. Eventually adapted by Park Chan-wook into the Korean-language movie The HandmaidenFingersmith is the kind of book you cancel plans to finish. And it even precededGone Girl with its game-changing, mid-novel plot twist.

Boyslut: A Memoir and Manifesto

Zachary Zane Boyslut: A Memoir and Manifesto

If you’ve ever read his Men’s Health sex column, Sexplain It, then you know Zachary Zane is incomparably open and honest (and hilarious!) when it comes to writing about sex and sexuality. His new book, releasing May 9, 2023, is a series of essays about his experience as a bisexual man, and the pleasure that comes with living a shame-free life.

All Boys Aren't Blue: A Memoir-Manifesto

George M. Johnson All Boys Aren’t Blue: A Memoir-Manifesto

Johnson’s self-described “memoir-manifesto” is an exploration of race, sexuality, gender, toxic masculinity, and the importance of finding joy as a queer Black person. It is currently being adapted for television by Gabrielle Union. 

Red, White & Royal Blue: A Novel

Casey McQuiston Red, White & Royal Blue: A Novel

This romantic comedy became something of an online phenomenon when it was first released two years ago, and has continued to gain momentum through word-of-mouth recommendations. It’s not hard to understand why: back when we were still deep in the last administration, the story of a prince and a president’s son falling in love and changing the institutions in which they both grew up was the kind of escapist fantasy many romance readers craved.

I Can't Date Jesus: Love, Sex, Family, Race, and Other Reasons I've Put My Faith in Beyoncé

Michael Arceneaux I Can’t Date Jesus: Love, Sex, Family, Race, and Other Reasons I’ve Put My Faith in Beyoncé

Michael Arcenaux’s deeply funny and frank debut essay collection explores “Big Issues” like race and sexuality with a lightness of touch that somehow manages to both take them as seriously as they deserve while also poking fun at how seriously we tend to take them.

Something That May Shock and Discredit You

Daniel M. Lavery Something That May Shock and Discredit You

From his time at The Toast to his tenure as Slate’s Dear Prudence agony aunt, not to mention a frequently hilarious newsletter, Daniel Lavery’s writing has been shot through with keen, slightly absurdist observations about pop culture and our relationship to it. In Something That May Shock and Discredit You, Lavery writes about his own experiences of transition through the lens of media mainstays such as Columbo, William Shatner, and HGTV’s House Hunters.

Filthy Animals

Brandon Taylor Filthy Animals

Brandon Taylor won last year’s Man Booker Prize with his debut novel Real Life, making his forthcoming short fiction collection Filthy Animals one of the most anticipated reads of 2021.

Hola Papi: How to Come Out in a Walmart Parking Lot and Other Life Lessons

John Paul Brammer Hola Papi: How to Come Out in a Walmart Parking Lot and Other Life Lessons

As an advice columnist, John Paul Brammer is known for guiding queer letter-writers through tricky situations with wit, insight and grace. He turns those qualities inwards in this memoir, in which he relives key chapters from his life and tries to figure out what he’s learned from it all so far.

Bisexual Men Exist

Vaneet Mehta Bisexual Men Exist

Bisexual men exist. This statement should be obvious, but as many m-spec (multi-gender attracted spectrum) guys know all too well, questions like “Are you sure you’re not gay?” and “Why can’t you just pick a side?” still abound in our society. To counteract that harmful messaging and empower m-spec men, Vaneet Mehta created the viral #BisexualMenExist campaign—then went on to write this book. Bisexual Men Exist is a handbook designed to validate and uplift m-spec men as they navigate coming out, dating, relationships, health, and more. 

Paul Takes the Form of a Mortal Girl

Andrea Lawlor Paul Takes the Form of a Mortal Girl

The titular character of this funny, provocative, genre-defying novel is a shapeshifter who regularly switches up their gender and appearances as they make their way through the queer punk scene of the early ’90s, sleeping with whomever they choose and breaking all kinds of hearts along the way.

Giovanni's Room

James Baldwin Giovanni’s Room

Any number of books from James Baldwin’s oeuvre would have been apt for inclusion on this list, but the novella Giovanni’s Room is an accessible point of entry for anybody unfamiliar with his work.

Our Work Is Everywhere: An Illustrated Oral History of Queer and Trans Resistance

Syan Rose Our Work Is Everywhere: An Illustrated Oral History of Queer and Trans Resistance

Encompassing perspectives from trans and femme artists and activists, Our Work Is Everywhere is an illustrated primer on the important work of queer people of color in moving the needle on LGBTQ+ equality. It falls somewhere between a historical text, an activism guide, and a visually stunning coffee table book.

On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous: A Novel

Ocean Vuong On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous: A Novel

The narrative of On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous takes the form of a letter written by the protagonist to his Vietnamese mother, and flits from the present day, to her family’s experiences during the Vietnam War, back to the narrator’s childhood and eventual sexual awakening in the United States. Vuong is a poet, and that comes across in the lyrical prose, which finds beauty and grace in the ugliest and most desperate of scenarios.

The Price of Salt

Patricia Highsmith The Price of Salt

Perhaps better known as Carol in the aftermath of its cinematic adaptation, The Price of Salt was considered exceptionally daring for its time in its depiction of a relationship between two women. While Patricia Highsmith’s most famous work tends to involve a certain Mr. Ripley, whose crimes formed the basis of another iconically homoerotic movie, the romantic elements of The Price of Salt are far less obfuscated.

Less (Winner of the Pulitzer Prize): A Novel

Andrew Sean Greer Less (Winner of the Pulitzer Prize): A Novel

When faded novelist Arthur Less receives an invitation to his ex-boyfriend’s wedding, he searches desperately for any excuse not to attend, and decides to embark on a last-minute, whistlestop world tour of every literary festival and residency he has previously avoided. This gorgeously witty (and Pulitzer-winning) comic novel is divided into sections chronicling Less’ misadventures through France, Italy, Germany, India, Japan, and beyond.

Kink: Stories

Edited by R.O. Kwon and Garth Greenwell Kink: Stories

This anthology of erotic fiction encompasses authors and characters of wide-ranging sexualities and gender identities, ensuring there will be something in its pages to titillate just about anyone, from Carmen Maria Machado’s Gothic romance “The Lost Performance of the High Priestess of the Temple of Horror” to Alexander Chee’s wild ride “Best Friendster Date Ever,” to Zeyn Joukhadar’s surprisingly moving “The Voyeurs.”

Last Call: A True Story of Love, Lust, and Murder in Queer New York

Elon Green Last Call: A True Story of Love, Lust, and Murder in Queer New York

Last Call captures a time in New York City—the late ’80s and early ’90s—that was extremely unsafe for gay men. This was not only due to the ongoing AIDS crisis, but also because a serial killer was preying on the patrons of gay bars; something that went underreported by the media, and, as author Elon Green argues, neglected by law enforcement.

“It’s important for people to see how anti-queer bigotry manifested itself in this case,” Green told the Guardianearlier this year. “They need to understand the stakes, not just for the victims but for the men who simply went to these bars during that period. There are systemic issues here.”

Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic

Alison Bechdel Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic

Alison Bechdel is perhaps best known for coining the term “Bechdel test,” a way of assessing the representation of women in fiction and film, but she also broke ground with her graphic memoir Fun Home, which digs deep into her childhood, her relationship with her closeted father, and her eventual coming out. Later, when it became a broadway musical, a pivotal moment led to another popular shorthand: the “Ring of Keys” moment, where a young, nascently queer person sees something they relate to but don’t necessarily quite understand, in a queer adult.

Yes, Daddy

Jonathan Parks-Ramage Yes, Daddy

Aspiring playwright Jonah moves to New York City, determined to make his dreams come true… at any cost. After engineering a meeting with theater fixture Richard, Jonah ingratiates his way into the older man’s social circle, and his bed. But during a summer getaway in Hamptons, Jonah gradually starts to suspect that Richard and his wealthy artist friends have some dark secrets of their own.

The House of Impossible Beauties: A Novel

Joseph Cassara The House of Impossible Beauties: A Novel

Love Pose? Mourning its shortlived run of just three seasons? Then dig into this fictionalized account of New York City’s ballroom scene, which imagines the inner lives of the iconic House of Xtravaganza, the drag family famously depicted in the documentary Paris Is Burning


Hamish Steele DeadEndia

An animated series based on the DeadEndia comic series is coming soon to Netflix, making now the perfect time to get to know Barney and Norma, two best friends who work at a haunted house in an amusement park that may or may not also be a portal to hell.

Stay Gold

Tobly McSmith Stay Gold

Tobly McSmith’s YA debut is told from dual perspectives: Pony, a trans boy trying to operate in “stealth” mode at his new school; and Georgia, a cisgender girl wrestling with her desire to branch out from cheerleading. Being together would threaten both of their plans for senior year, but there’s no denying their connection. Pony and Georgia’s journeys of falling in love and embracing their own identities alternate between laugh-out-loud funny and painfully heart-wrenching. Prepare to cycle through all the feelings.

Girls at the Edge of the World

Laura Brooke Robson Girls at the Edge of the World

In her stunning YA debut, Laura Brooke Robson weaves a fantasy world where everyone but the super-rich is doomed to be swept away in an epic flood. In the face of death, two girls hatch very different plans: one wants to marry the king to ensure her survival; the other is plotting his death. Ultimately, they realize the thing worth living for the most…is love. Swoon.

In at the Deep End

Kate Davies In at the Deep End

This sexy, funny fiction debut follows protagonist Julia, a twentysomething living in London, as she realizes she’s been looking for love in all the wrong places—literally. Newly out and proud, Julia throws herself into everything the queer scene has to offer, from LGBTQ+ dance classes to warehouse raves, and embarks on her first romantic relationship with a woman. But as things with her new girlfriend get intense fast, Julia begins to wonder if she’s bitten off more than she can chew. 

Leading Men: A Novel

Christopher Castellani Leading Men: A Novel

This lushly written novel—soon to be a major film produced by Call Me By Your Name director Luca Guadagnino—reimagines the events of a party in Portofino, Italy, in the summer of 1953. Hosted by literary icon Truman Capote and attended by legendary playwright Tennessee Williams, an encounter with a Swedish actress named Anja Blomgren will change their lives forever.

Via Men’s Health

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