The best queer books to expand your thinking

Amelia Abraham Author Of We Can Do Better Than This: 35 Voices on the Future of LGBTQ+ Rights
By Amelia Abraham

Who am I?

I have been writing about LGBTQ+ culture for magazines and newspapers for almost a decade, and am a voracious consumer of queer stories. Queer literature makes our various needs and desires as a community come alive on the page, and helps us to connect with and understand one another. Reading LGBTQ+ books is a way to learn about contemporary queer life, and work out what more we can be doing to help those more marginalised than us. 

I wrote...

We Can Do Better Than This: 35 Voices on the Future of LGBTQ+ Rights

By Amelia Abraham (editor),

Book cover of We Can Do Better Than This: 35 Voices on the Future of LGBTQ+ Rights

What is my book about?

In We Can Do Better Than This, 35 voices – actors, musicians, writers, artists, and activists – answer this vital question, How do we make the world better for LGBTQ+ people?, at a time when the queer community continues to suffer discrimination and extreme violence. Through deeply moving stories and provocative new arguments on safety and visibility, dating and gender, care and community, they present a powerful manifesto for how – together – we can change lives everywhere.

The books I picked & why

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Detransition, Baby

By Torrey Peters,

Book cover of Detransition, Baby

Why this book?

I loved reading this contemporary novel which is hilarious, astute, smart (you can see why it was nominated for so many book Prizes!) Written by a trans author, with central trans characters, it skips over any “explaining” about trans lives and eschews the sterotypes, making for complex and nuanced protagonists who feel 100% real. It’s a book about queer family making, and what that can look like. It feels right up to the minute in terms of the new formulations of family that are existing today. 

Gay Bar: Why We Went Out

By Jeremy Atherton Lin,

Book cover of Gay Bar: Why We Went Out

Why this book?

Gay Bar is an imaginative history of gay bar culture in London, San Francisco, and LA – where the author has lived, over several decades. It is both personal and more widely historical, blending anecdotes and “overheard” with in-depth research to uncover the importance and also problems that come with these spaces, which are increasingly becoming extinct, as gay bars in major cities struggle to stay in business. 

The Transgender Issue: An Argument for Justice

By Shon Faye,

Book cover of The Transgender Issue: An Argument for Justice

Why this book?

This book is written with the utmost clarity – making an incisive and digestible argument why liberation for trans people fits into wider fights for socialism and justice for minorities. With chapters on why “T” belongs in “LGBT” and why trans inclusion should be core to feminist movements, it’s an essential read for LGBTQ+ people and their allies. 

All The Things She Said

By Daisy Jones,

Book cover of All The Things She Said

Why this book?

Recently published and super accessible, this book is a modern catalogue of lesbian and bi culture for women. It looks at the recent evolution of queer female visibility in the mainstream and across pop culture, asking what material changes this visibility has for the life of queer women everywhere. It’s funny and pacey and broad in scope, as it asks: How is lesbian culture changing?


By Garth Greenwell,

Book cover of Cleanness

Why this book?

The follow-up to his acclaimed book What Belongs to You, Cleanness is a relatively short but gorgeously executed novel about an American teacher living in Sofia, Bulgaria. It gives snapshots of his relationship, as well as dating app hooks ups – for better or worse. Greenwell is one of the greatest writers of our time, and he turns each sentence beautifully. 

5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in queer topics and characters, topics and characters, and lesbian topics and characters?

5,809 authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about queer topics and characters, topics and characters, and lesbian topics and characters.

Queer Topics And Characters Explore 95 books about queer topics and characters
Topics And Characters Explore 45 books about topics and characters
Lesbian Topics And Characters Explore 55 books about lesbian topics and characters

And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

We think you will like The Gender Creative Child, A Practical Guide to Transgender Law, and Gutterboys if you like this list.