Since I have you all here today, I wanted to share one of my favorite things with you, and that is high quality, well written, enjoyable LBTQ+ books. In my never-ending hunt to find good LGBTQ+ work, I’ve managed to amass a wonderful, (and sadly tiny,) collection of literature, some of which I’m sure you’ve heard of, and others that are amazing diamonds in the rough. I hope you enjoy these book’s as much as I do, and I’d love to hear your thoughts and opinions!
All books listed here are 100% fiction, and most are very much adult themed, one way or the other, so as you’re perusing them, please do keep that in mind, all the books listed here also have happy endings, none of that heartbroken or bittersweet sorrow, just people finding their forever people and living happily ever after.
Now then, onward!
So first, I wanted to start with my number one favorite, the ever allusive ‘Lesbian Fiction.’
If you’ve ever looked around your local bookstore, searching the shelves for a book about lesbians, only to find that the majority fell neatly into little piles of,
- History of lesbians
- What always somehow comes across as a ‘how-to’ manual for lesbians
3. a memoir of a lesbian (those of which I generally do absolutely love reading, but not when I’m looking for escapism.)
This rest of this list is sorely lacking in lesbian content, very simply because of the trouble I have finding quality lesbian fiction, but the two-book series I’m including first is so sensationally good, it will hopefully tide you over until I can unearth a few more.
The Spanish Pearl by Catherine Friend
This series. I know I’ve been hyping it up, but, when I tell you just how much it deserves it, I am not even a tiny bit exaggerating. This series is what I, in my humble opinion, well and truly believe to be the pinnacle of lesbian fiction.
The books follow butch, city girl Kate on her adventure kicking off from a vacation/visit to meet the little boy she and her partner Anna are planning to adopt. On a recommendation he gives them on their very first meeting, they go out on a tour of these old, mystical caves, and Kate, needing to take a moment, sits down and falls asleep. When she wakes up, she finds herself stumbling out of the cave, tour group long gone, Anna nowhere to be found, and with her, the rest of modern-day society.
What she does find, however, is a life changing adventure filled with hidden identities, kings and solders, the absolute indignity of being forced to wear a dress, and the universe bending the rules of time and space to drop her off into the arms of her soulmate. In the year 1085.
There are so many things in these books that I love, Kate’s resilience and personal growth, the vivid way the writing transports you into this world and keeps you there, this glimpse into what life may have been like for women, all women, in a time that wasn’t really very kind to us. But most of all, I love the heart of these books, the very real, very adult struggle of figuring out who you are at a time in your life when you thought you already knew the answer.
If you have a little free time, I highly recommend reading these books, you won’t regret it.
Luna by Julie Anne Peters
I won’t lie, the last time I read this book was several years ago, but the story has always sat there floating in the back of my mind, little things triggering a rush of pictures built from words, and that alone would have earned it a spot on my list.
‘Luna’ follows Liam, or more accurately, Liam’s sister Regan tells us the story of her brother, and allows us to share in her, and his, journey as he comes forward and traverses the different stages of living life as he was always meant to live it.
To living as the wonderful, strong woman she has always really been, and as the sister that Regan was always meant to have.
This book is categorized as young adult, but please be aware before going in that there are some very heavy themes, and trigger warnings for,
- Emotional abuse
- Suicidal ideation
This book is by no means perfect, and just like lesbian fiction, there is an overwhelming lack of positive Trans fiction, something I’m hoping we can all work together to change in the near future.
Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston
The next book on this list was a ‘New York Times Bestseller,’ which generally means absolutely nothing to me, this time, however, I am glad to announce that the book does actually deserve that accolade, a thousand times over.
‘Red, White & Royal Blue’ is the story of two young men, Alex and Henry, and the journey they go on, separately and together, down the path of what it means to fall in love. The concept of star-crossed lovers is an old one and a favorite, if the countless number of iterations are anything to go by, but what makes this version stand out, is, well, everything.
Alex is the son of the president, the first female president to be exact, and he takes that job seriously. A bright young mind in the political arena, he knows exactly what he wants to do with his life. Joining him are his two best friends, his sister June, a budding journalist, and the granddaughter of the vice president Nora, a genus in her own right. All together they form their own little clique, the White House Trio. Three young people who’ve grown up under a microscope of T.V. news reporters, gossip magazines and the tumultuous chaos of their everyday lives. On the other side of the ocean lives Henry. Prince, 4th in line for the throne, and Alex’s nemesis.
Every single character is this book is amazing, the familial relationships are achingly real, beautiful and painful in the way that family usually is. The slow build from ‘cold standoff’ to ‘you are my person’ is masterfully woven, and I walked away from this book already knowing I was going to miss this world and the people in it the second I flipped to the last page, and as a bonus, I also walked away having somehow learned more about politics without even realizing.
The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee
‘The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue’ came out of left field and knocked me flat out on my ass. I’ve spent much of this year traveling a round trip commute of three hours on a nearly daily basis, and I was desperate, at this point, for anything to occupy me on my drive, so, in a flash of childhood nostalgia, I decided to check out the audiobook’s available in my local library through the app ‘Libby’. Kind of in a rush, and not really expecting much, I typed LGBTQ+ into the search bar, and after not nearly as much scrolling as I expected, I stumbled across this book.
While coming-of-age LGBTQ+ books are no longer one of my preferred genres, I thought that the synopsis sounded interesting, and that if I didn’t choose something soon, I was going to get stuck in morning, rush hour traffic. And I am so incredibly glad that I gave it a chance.
‘The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue’ is the fantastical tale of Henry “Monty” Montague, Percy Newton , his best friend and longtime crush, and his sister, Felicity Montague (who is the protagonist in the sequel, ‘The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy’). Monty is the rabble rousing, entitled rich boy, that simply does not seem to grasp the magnitude of his privilege. Life set out for him on a gilded platter, all Monty seems to be truly capable of is whining and drinking. And flirting.
His father, a gentlemen to everyone except his son, having had enough of his shenanigans, gives him one more chance to turn himself around and become the shinning light and perfect gentleman that his position calls for, and he has one year, and one trip on a tour of “the Continent” to make that happen. Joining him are Percy and Felicity, as well as a mild case of sticky fingers that land the entire group in a deadly pot of boiling water, a mad scramble across several borders with none of their usual monetary comforts, a puzzle of epic, life and death, proportions, a host of engaging and intriguing characters, and a lesson on just what is actually important in your life.
Plus, there is slow burn romance, boys being stupid, girls being brilliant, an incredibly satisfying ending, and pirates.
Captive Prince by C. S. Pacat
Let me start off by saying that ‘Captive Prince’ is book number one in a trilogy, and I would be perfectly happy if that was actually book number one in its own version of ‘The Neverending Story.’
There is so much that I want to talk about when it comes to this series, that I’m actually currently working very hard on trying to figure out how to sparse it down. I will tell you right now that these books are definitely not for children, and I’d give them a nice, firm rating at 17+, please also be aware for trigger warnings in the form of,
- Child abuse
I know you’re probably looking at me like I’ve gone round the bend now, after that list, and really, I can’t blame you. But here’s the thing.
These books deal in heavy topics, and the first book especially comes out swinging, but the more you read, the more you start to see all the itty bitty plot points and character shifts that pull this story together.
‘Captive Prince’ is the ever more convoluted story of Damen, prince and next in line for the throne, warrior and protector of his people, hero. It is also the story of Laurent, also a prince, and also next in line for the throne, but only after the death of his brother who was killed by Damen’s own hand. Laurent is cold and calculating, brilliant and elegant, as beautiful as he is frigid. Damen is fire, all motion and anger, smart, but always the embers of a full-blown volcano just waiting to rise from the pit of his gut, and together, they are a disaster.
Betrayed by his illegitimate half-brother, Damen is bound and gagged, sold to his enemies, and forced into slavery as the personal pleasure slave of Prince Laurent, and I won’t lie folks, it gets dark. But there is so much hidden away in the shadows, so many shifting puzzle pieces to pin down and put into place, years of resentment and hate to muddle through, high court maneuvers and backstabbing and also front stabbing, and the course of true love looked at Damen and Laurent and ran screaming for the hills.
But these books also manage to capture the softness that is discovering you don’t really know a person, but now that you’ve given them just a half a chance, there is the very real possibility you just might be able to see yourself falling in love with them. These books are a gift, one that, should you feel that this series is the right series for you, I hope you will enjoy and get so caught up in reading, you end up forgetting that 5 AM is not an acceptable time to go to bed when you’ve got work at 9 AM.
Here are some links to a couple LGBTQ+ reading lists, I cannot personally vouch for these books as I haven’t read many of them.
14 OF THE BEST QUEER BOOKS: A PRIDE READING LIST by Rachel Brittain
11 Works of Trans-Positive Science Fiction & Fantasy by Ross Johnson
And this rounds out the books for today! I hope that you’ve been able to find something new to read, or have been reminded of an old favorite, thank you for coming with me on this journey, and I’ll see you all next time!