The best books that show that it’s possible to be both queer and Christian

Why am I passionate about this?

Growing up in an eccentric, liberal family, as a member of the Church of England, under the shadow of the British Government’s homophobic Section 28, the messages I received were distinctly mixed. If I’d heard the word ‘bisexual’ before the age of twenty my life might have been very different. And to this day, the most common assumption is that one can’t be simultaneously queer and Christian. As I’ve discovered, and as these books show, that isn’t true – and moving beyond that assumption reveals new and fascinating horizons.


I wrote...

Speak Its Name

By Kathleen Jowitt,

Book cover of Speak Its Name

What is my book about?

When Lydia Hawkins, English Literature student, evangelical Christian, and very closeted lesbian, encounters the eccentric, ecumenical household at Alma Road, she’s forced to expand her ideas of what it means to be Christian – and what it means to be herself. But she’s not the only one questioning some of those definitions. Speak Its Name is a university novel that explores faith, love, politics, and the untidy process of working out who you are.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Acts and Omissions

Kathleen Jowitt Why did I love this book?

Catherine Fox is intimately familiar with the nuances of the Church of England. She writes about them with wit and affection, and she’s dependably funny in this tale of a married bishop who doesn’t want to look too closely at why he’s quite so patient with his disaster of a chauffeur. The Lindchester series is ongoing, and I’m one of many followers who read along to share the joys and sorrows of the diverse, expanding, and delightful cast of characters. This is the place to start, though.

By Catherine Fox,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Chosen as a Guardian Book of 2014


Book cover of Easter

Kathleen Jowitt Why did I love this book?

Set in a London congregation at the height of the AIDS crisis, this is a powerful novel that packs a lot into one Easter weekend. Its ingenious triptych structure underlines the fact that there’s often more going on than a superficial understanding of either faith or sexuality would like to believe. The oldest book on this list by a couple of decades, this is one of the first novels to engage seriously with what it means to be queer in an institution that prefers to ignore that fact, and it was both a challenge and a comfort in my own coming-out years.

By Michael Arditti,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?


Book cover of Daughter of Mystery

Kathleen Jowitt Why did I love this book?

If ever there was a book that felt like it had been written just for me, this is it. Set in a fictional European country in the early nineteenth century, it has swashbuckling, nights at the opera, complicated family history, politics, magic, and lesbians. The way that Christianity is integrated into the fantastic element won’t be for everybody, but I was won over by Margerit’s earnest insistence on claiming her identity as a queer woman of faith and power. I’d wholeheartedly recommend the rest of the series, too.

By Heather Rose Jones,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Margerit Sovitre did not expect to inherit Baron Saveze’s fortunes—even less his bodyguard, a ruthlessly efficient swordswoman known only as Barbara. Wealth suddenly makes Margerit a highly eligible heiress and buys her the enmity of the new Baron. He had expected to inherit all, and now eyes her fortune with open envy.

Barbara proudly served as the old Baron’s duelist but she had expected his death to make her a free woman. Bitterness turns to determination when she finds herself the only force that stands between Margerit and the new Baron’s greed.

At first Margerit protests the need for Barbara’s…


Book cover of Briarley

Kathleen Jowitt Why did I love this book?

A Beauty and the Beast retelling, set amid the upheaval of the Second World War, in which the Beast is a dragon and the protagonist is a person who doesn’t see why his daughter should take the rap for her father’s misdemeanour. Humane and compassionate, this story isn’t afraid of exploring the theology of sexuality, but it never gets bogged down in details, and it maintains its fairy-tale atmosphere while remaining grounded in time and place. I loved it.

By Aster Glenn Gray,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

An m/m World War II-era retelling of Beauty and the Beast.During a chance summer shower, an English country parson takes refuge in a country house. The house seems deserted, yet the table is laid with a sumptuous banquet such as the parson has not seen since before war rationing. Unnerved by the uncanny house, he flees, but stops to pluck a single perfect rose from the garden for his daughter - only for the master of the house to appear, breathing fire with rage. Literally. At first, the parson can't stand this dragon-man. But slowly, he begins to feel the…


Book cover of The God Painter

Kathleen Jowitt Why did I love this book?

I’ve never read a book quite like this, and yet it felt hauntingly familiar. The population of Earth is rescued en masse from a destructive solar event and has to start again from scratch on an unknown planet. But of course humanity has taken the problems of its own nature with it, and the encounter with its new hosts only raises further questions – around sex, gender, love, and nature. It’s brave and beautiful, hopeful and sad and dynamic all at once, and it kept me reading and guessing all the way to the end. 

By Jessica Pegis,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The God Painter as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In the year 2035 humanity is rescued from a lethal solar flare by seven mysterious beings and transported across the universe to the uninhabited planet of Ansar. Earth's major cities are recreated, and a stunned but thankful humanity mostly carries on with life and society. But is everything as it appears? Just who are the semi-omniscient beings who rescued them? What do they really want? And to what secret place do they retreat every night? With that appearance of the seven, all the old divisions concerning gender, privilege, and power re-emerge in unexpected and increasingly dangerous ways. Conspiracy theories abound.…


You might also like...

A School for Unusual Girls

By Kathleen Baldwin,

Book cover of A School for Unusual Girls

Kathleen Baldwin Author Of Sanctuary for Seers: A Stranje House Novel

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Loves God Mother to Many Wilderness Adventurer History Enthusiast

Kathleen's 3 favorite reads in 2023

What is my book about?

A spy school for girls amidst Jane Austen’s high society.

Daughters of the Beau Monde who don’t fit London society’s strict mold are banished to Stranje House, where the headmistress trains these unusually gifted girls to enter the dangerous world of spies in the Napoleonic wars. #1 NYT bestselling author Meg Cabot calls this exciting historical series "completely original and totally engrossing."

A School for Unusual Girls

By Kathleen Baldwin,

What is this book about?

A School for Unusual Girls is the first captivating installment in the Stranje House series for young adults by award-winning author Kathleen Baldwin. #1 New York Times bestselling author Meg Cabot calls this romantic Regency adventure "completely original and totally engrossing."

It's 1814. Napoleon is exiled on Elba. Europe is in shambles. Britain is at war on four fronts. And Stranje House, a School for Unusual Girls, has become one of Regency England's dark little secrets. The daughters of the beau monde who don't fit high society's constrictive mold are banished to Stranje House to be reformed into marriageable young…


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