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OutSmart’s Top Picks: 11 LGBTQ Books You Should Totally Read

No matter what you’re in the mood for, we've got you covered.

Ziggy, Stardust & Me

Another week at home means a new roundup of some of OutSmart’s best picks. This week, we’re sharing our favorite underrated LGBTQ books. 

With such great mainstream representation out there, it’s easy for these literary gems to become obscured by the next big bestseller. So we scoured our bookshelves to find you some of the greatest lesser-known queer content.

Whether you prefer young adult novels, poetic prose, or intense worldbuilding, we got you covered! Who knows, maybe you’ll find your new favorite book among our top picks.

Young Adult Novels:

The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy by Mackenzi Lee
This is a sequel to the 2017 Stonewall Honor winner The Gentleman’s Guide To Vice and Virtue, and the second installment comes packed with tons of queer identities, badass women, and historical intrigue than its predecesor. The novel follows the young and ambitious Felicity Montague as she travels through 17th Century Europe while making friends, allies,  and everything in between. And she does everything in her power to reach her ultimate goal of becoming a certified medical doctor.

Ziggy, Stardust & Me by James Brandon
Told through a uniquely psychedelic prose that matches the wildly stylish, yet politically tense backdrop of the 1970s, this coming-of-age story followsJonathan Collins, a David Bowie superfan, whose blossoming romance with another boy is threatened by their individual issues and the growing racial tensions within their town. 

All Out: The No-Longer-Secret Stories of Queer Teens throughout the Ages edited by Saundra Mitchell
Bringing together some of the best LGBTQ writers of all time, this short story compilation covers as many genres as it does identities. Fun, clever, and ever imaginative, this book pays homage to all the LGBTQ individuals whose lives and successes have been unfairly erased from the annals of history.  


The Fancy Dancer by Patricia Neil Warren
Released only two years after Warren’s historical 1974 literary debut, Harlan’s Race (which was the first contemporary gay fiction novel to make it to the New York Times Best Seller list)her sophomore work remains ever so topical and relatable, even forty years later. It recounts the story of a young priest falling in love with an unapologetically out and proud, mixed-race indigenous “troublemaker” as they both grow and learn from one another and try to find a place where they can belong. 

Peter Darling by Austin Chant
For anyone who ever wished there were more LGBTQ fairy tales, this novel takes the classic tale of Peter Pan and queers it for modern audiences. Austin Chant goes where few authors have dared to go before and delivers a daringly romantic story about gender acceptance, finding love in unexpected places, and what it means to grow up.







The Gods of Tango by Carolina de Robertis
Much like the seductive dance this novel’s title references, the story showcases a gender bending, scandalous, and rhythmically entrancing 20th century Argentina, where a young immigrant woman finds herself wrapped up in the illicit music and romance of the era. Emotionally charged yet passionately written, you don’t have to be a fan of tango to pick up this novel, but you may become one after reading it.

Amberlough by Lara Elena Donelly
Cabaret meets Atomic Blonde in this alternate-universe spy thriller. The book takes readers on a journey through glamorous nightclubs, underground smuggling rings, an impending fascist revolution, and follows a pair of lovers tangled up in the middle of it all. With incredible world building and even more compelling characters, this novel will capture your attention from the first page until the last, making you wish for more. And fortunately, there are sequels!


No Ashes in the Fire by Darnell Moore
This unflinchingly honest and astoundingly tender biography was written by one of the most notable LGBTQ activists, journalists, and authors of our time. Darnell Moore takes his experiences as an openly gay Black man in the public eye and turns them into captivative stories and lessons on kindness that everyone can learn from. 

Becoming Nicole by Amy Ellis Nutt
From recounting  Nicole Maines’ incredible coming of age story about her highly publicized childhood transition, to the history-making bathroom rights case where the Maine Supreme Judicial Court ruled in her favor, this non-fiction novel is a contemporary classic in the making. Additionally, you can watch Nicole on Supergirl as the first transgender supehero in television history. Talk about a role model!

Graphic Novel/Comic Book:

Rock and Riot

Rock and Riot by Chelsea Furedi
If Grease had been written by John Waters, made appropriate for all audiences and delivered in comic book format, this would be that book. Campy, cute, and over-the-top, this queer comic series follows a trio of diverse 1950s rival greaser gang members who feud, fall in love, and keep their hair looking fabulous. It is available to read online completely free of charge!

Moth and Whisper by Ted Anderson and Jen Hickman
Set in the near future (where information and surveillance are power and currency alike), a genderqueer child of world-class data thieves must venture out on their own after their parents go missing. Intriguing and reminiscent of classic heist films with a sci-fi twist thrown in, this graphic novel is as entertaining as it is
beautifully written and illustrated. 

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Alys Garcia Carrera

Alys is a spring 2020 intern for OutSmart magazine and an international student who currently attends the University of Houston. They are majoring in Political Science and have three minors: GLBT studies, English/Spanish translation, and film studies. They also work for the University's Special Collections LGBTQ archives at M.D. Anderson Library.
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