The best novels on what it means to be LGBTQ+

The Books I Picked & Why

Two Boys Kissing

By David Levithan

Book cover of Two Boys Kissing

Why this book?

Two Boys Kissing is a book about the culture and “inherited memory” of LGBTQ+ people. It is a crucial contribution because it bridges the generation of gay men living (and dying) through the AIDS crisis of the 1980s with the younger, modern LGTBQ+ generation who share similar challenges but haven’t connected to the wisdom of LGBTQ history. 

The story and characters affirmed my identity, named my pain, and brought it within the collective history of those who have carried the same burdens of shame, fear, and self-loathing.


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Call Me by Your Name

By André Aciman

Book cover of Call Me by Your Name

Why this book?

Call Me By Your Name is not just about two young men falling in love in a time and place of extreme homophobia. It’s also about nagging doubt, fear of rejection (from self and others), and illustrates the pain of finding everything you need before you realized what that was—and then how to cope when you lose it.


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Tin Man

By Sarah Winman

Book cover of Tin Man

Why this book?

Tin Man weaves the beauty and meaning of Van Gogh’s oeuvre into a background for a story that is written like poetry. Time is a main character who is sometimes kind, but mostly cruel. Separation, loss, and longing are themes that all people can relate to but when seen through the perspective of a character who identifies as LGBTQ+ it heightens and clarifies those human experiences in a way that draws a reader from any background deeper into an exploration of what the passing of time means and the consequences of ignoring the herald of each minute that ticks by.


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The Song of Achilles

By Madeline Miller

Book cover of The Song of Achilles

Why this book?

The Song of Achilles broke through my love-scarred heart and reminded me that finding someone in this lonely world is worth it. This novel is full of beauty: boys falling in love, fighting through conflict, and maturing into an eternal commitment no matter the cost. I came away with hope and yearning and those feelings alone stoke the fires to keep the search going.


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They Both Die at the End

By Adam Silvera

Book cover of They Both Die at the End

Why this book?

They Both Die At The End deceives you at first because…the title! We know what is going to happen—or so it seems. But the themes of living life to the fullest and learning to trust yourself and others are really what is at the core of this book. 

The main characters grab your heart and drag it through the streets of New York one fearful stop at a time. You stop wondering when or how they’re going to die (although that fear is neatly tucked in the back of your mind) and absorb the lessons they have to teach you. Keep a box of tissue nearby!


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