The best fiction books about queer millennials

Why am I passionate about this?

As a queer millennial myself, I’m fascinated by the many different approaches writers of my generation have taken to queerness. American millennials have, I think, a unique perspective—when we were kids, gay jokes were prevalent everywhere on TV. Now same sex marriage is legal. On the other hand, there has also been a hard swing of the pendulum, and LGBTQ rights are being curtailed once again. Celebrating the plurality of queer contemporary stories is important to me, a reminder that we’re always going to be here, and that just as queer artists always have, we’ll continue having an impact on the cultural landscape.  


I wrote...

All My Mother's Lovers

By Ilana Masad,

Book cover of All My Mother's Lovers

What is my book about?

Intimacy has always eluded millennial Maggie Krause—despite being brought up by married parents, models of domestic bliss—until, that is, Lucia came into her life. When Maggie’s mom, Iris, dies in a car crash, Maggie returns home only to discover a withdrawn dad, an angry brother, and five sealed envelopes Iris left behind, each addressed to a mysterious man Maggie’s never heard of.

Running from her grief, Maggie embarks on a road trip to hand-deliver the letters and discover what these men meant to Iris. What follows shatters everything Maggie thought she knew about her parents’ marriage. But what is she supposed to tell her father and brother? And how can she deal with her own relationship when her whole world is in freefall?

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Blue-Skinned Gods

Ilana Masad Why did I love this book?

There are so many things I love about this book, starting with the concept: Kalki, the novel’s narrator, was born with blue skin, and has been raised in an ashram as a child-god, the tenth reincarnation of the Hindu god Vishnu. As the years go by and Kalki grows up, he begins to question his parents’ authority, the strictures that have been placed on him his whole life, and his own godhood. As a young adult, he finds himself in New York City, where he gets his first taste of real rebellion, with all the joys and sorrows that accompany it. Incredibly queer, fast-paced, and emotional, I read this book in big chunks, gulping it down. 

By SJ Sindu,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Blue-Skinned Gods as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From the award-winning author of Marriage of a Thousand Lies comes a brilliantly written, globe-spanning novel about identity, faith, family, and sexuality.

In Tamil Nadu, India, a boy is born with blue skin. His father sets up an ashram, and the family makes a living off of the pilgrims who seek the child’s blessings and miracles, believing young Kalki to be the tenth human incarnation of the Hindu god Vishnu. In Kalki’s tenth year, he is confronted with three trials that will test his power and prove his divine status and, his father tells him, spread his fame worldwide. While…


Book cover of Starling Days

Ilana Masad Why did I love this book?

Buchanan has gifted the world with a novel that explores the depths of human feeling in all its strangeness, mystery, irrationality, and wonder, all with a deep compassion. Mina is mentally ill, and her recent potential suicide attempt worries her husband Oscar so much that the two decide to travel to England to give Mina time and space to heal, which she wants to try without medication. In England, Mina meets Phoebe, the sister of Oscar’s best friend, and an attraction develops between the two of them. Mina has always known she’s bisexual but has never acted on it; now, when Oscar travels for work, Mina finds herself more and more drawn to Phoebe. Exploring themes of mental illness, queer desire, and the power of mythological stories, Starling Days is an incredible triumph. 

By Rowan Hisayo Buchanan,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Starling Days as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The moving new novel by the author of Harmless Like You, a New York Times Book Review Editors Choice and NPR Great Read

On their first date, Mina told Oscar that she was bisexual, vegetarian, and on meds. He married her anyhow. A challenge to be met. She had low days, sure, but manageable. But now, maybe not so much . . . Mina is standing on the George Washington Bridge late at night, staring over the edge, when a patrol car drives up. She tries to convince the policeman she s not about to jump, but he doesn t…


Book cover of Pizza Girl

Ilana Masad Why did I love this book?

Jean Kyoung Frazier has done something so remarkable with this novel - she's managed to write a book with no villains in it, but also no "good guys." The narrator of Pizza Girl is, you guessed it, an 18-year-old pizza delivery girl in Los Angeles. Her father has recently died, she’s pregnant, and her boyfriend is living with her and her mom. Both of them really excited about the baby—our narrator is not. When she encounters a stay-at-home mom named Jenny during one of her deliveries, our narrator finds herself with a powerful and confusing crush. Although brief (and hard to put down), this book feels enormous, vital, and vibrant. It is also beautifully concerned with the small mundane everyday details and with how truly gigantic they are if we let ourselves pay attention to them. I wished I had a person like Pizza Girl’s narrator in my life; she’s amazing.

By Jean Kyoung Frazier,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Pizza Girl as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Named a Vogue, Esquire, NPR, Marie Claire, and Refinery29 Best Book of the Year. Perfect for fans of Normal People and Fleabag

Great inventiveness, unfailing intelligence and empathy, and best of all a rare and shimmering wit' Richard Ford

A moving story about an unforgettable young woman trying to find her place in the world...

Eighteen years old, pregnant, and working as a pizza delivery girl, our dysfunctional heroine is deeply lost and in complete denial about it all.

Her world is further upended when she becomes obsessed with Jenny, a stay-at-home mother new to the neighbourhood.

As one woman…


Book cover of Don't You Know I Love You

Ilana Masad Why did I love this book?

I really love books about artists, women who are able to get angry, queer flourishing, and difficult family dynamics, and this book is about all of this. Angelina has recently graduated college when a car accident causes her to lose work and need to move back in with her parents. She and her father have always had a difficult relationship and being under his roof now is harder than ever, especially as she knows he doesn’t appreciate her desire to have a career as an artist. When Angelina meets Janet, a young queer artist, the two begin a friendship that blossoms soon into something more, inspiring Angelina’s own work. The writing is so mesmerizing, and Bogart’s description of the artwork Angelina makes is beautiful. Also – there’s a dog in this book, a very good dog, and she lives. 

By Laura Bogart,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Don't You Know I Love You as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The last place Angelina Moltisanti ever wants to go is home. She barely escaped life under the roof, and the thumb, of her violent but charismatic father, Jack. Yet home is exactly where she ends up after an SUV plows into her car just weeks after she graduates from college, fracturing her wrist and her hopes to start a career as an artist.

Angelina finds herself smothered in a plaster cast, in Jack's obsessive urge to get her a giant accident settlement, in her mother Marie's desperation to have a second chance, and in her own stifled creativity - until…


Book cover of Real Life

Ilana Masad Why did I love this book?

You probably don’t need me to tell you that Real Life has been widely awarded and beautifully reviewed! Wallace, a Black gay biochemistry grad student at a university in the Midwest, has been working hard on an experiment that is sabotaged by someone in his lab, a demoralizing occurrence in a long line of them. In addition to facing the racism rampant in academia, Wallace is also trying to figure out his relationship with Miller, a white guy who, despite his straightness, finds himself deeply attracted to Wallace. Over a fraught weekend, Wallace encounters both friends’ crises and his own, as memories flood him—and are yanked out of him. I love Tayor’s attention to language, the space he gives for characters’ silences, and his exquisite depiction of Wallace’s protective shell. Taylor also has a beautiful eye for descriptive detail; I will forever remember the image of crouching mugs.

By Brandon Taylor,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Real Life as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A FINALIST for the Booker Prize, the National Book Critics Circle John Leonard Prize, the VCU/Cabell First Novelist Prize, the Lambda Literary Award, the NYPL Young Lions Award, and the Edmund White Debut Fiction Award 
 
“A blistering coming of age story” —O: The Oprah Magazine

Named a Best Book of the Year by The New York Times, The Washington Post, New York Public Library, Vanity Fair, Elle, NPR, The Guardian, The Paris Review, Harper's Bazaar, Financial Times, Huffington Post, BBC, Shondaland, Barnes & Noble, Vulture, Thrillist, Vice, Self, Electric Literature, and Shelf Awareness

A novel of startling intimacy, violence, and…


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Feral Maril & Her Little Brother Carol

By Leslie Tall Manning,

Book cover of Feral Maril & Her Little Brother Carol

Leslie Tall Manning Author Of Maggie's Dream

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Mentor Laugher Research nut Avid reader

Leslie's 3 favorite reads in 2023

What is my book about?

Winner of the Literary Titan Book Award

Bright but unassuming Marilyn Jones has some grown-up decisions to make, especially after Mama goes to prison for drugs and larceny. With no one to take care of them, Marilyn and her younger, mentally challenged brother, Carol, get tossed into the foster care system. While shuffling from one home to another, Marilyn makes it her mission to find the Tan Man, a mysterious man from her babyhood she believes holds the key to her family’s happiness.

But Marilyn’s quest is halted when her daddy, an ex-con she has never met, is chosen by the courts as the new guardian. Caleb Jones wants something more than a father-daughter relationship. He sends Carol far away, where the boy won’t be a hindrance to his plans. Marilyn devises a plan of her own: to locate her little brother, kidnap him, and run away.

Independence, however, often comes at a high price.

As Marilyn weathers the unexpected and often brutal storms of her childhood and adolescence, hope becomes her ally as she winds through small southern towns, wrapping herself around an assortment of hearts along the way. With unexpected help from a caring social worker, a carnival of misfits, her first true love, and even the elusive Tan Man himself, Marilyn will discover that “family” isn’t always what we imagine it to be.

"A dazzling piece that delves deep into the themes of survival, the casualties of self-discovery, and the power of familial ties." ~ Prairies Book Review

Feral Maril & Her Little Brother Carol

By Leslie Tall Manning,

What is this book about?

Bright but unassuming Marilyn Jones has some grown-up decisions to make, especially after Mama goes to prison for drugs and larceny. With no one to take care of them, Marilyn and her younger, mentally challenged brother, Carol, get tossed into the foster care system. While shuffling from one home to another, Marilyn makes it her mission to find the Tan Man, a mysterious man from her babyhood she believes holds the key to her family's happiness.

But Marilyn's quest is halted when her daddy, an ex-con she has never met, is chosen by the courts as the new guardian. Caleb…


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