10 books like Detransition, Baby

By Torrey Peters,

Here are 10 books that authors have personally recommended if you like Detransition, Baby. Shepherd is a community of 8,000+ authors sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of The Transgender Issue: An Argument for Justice

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

From the list on queer stories to expand your thinking.

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. 

Amelia's book list on queer stories to expand your thinking

Discover why each book is one of Amelia's favorite books.

Why did Amelia love 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. 

The Transgender Issue

By Shon Faye,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Transgender Issue as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

THE INSTANT SUNDAY TIMES BESTSELLER

'Few books are as urgent as Shon Faye's debut ... Faye has hope for the future - and maybe so should we' Independent

'Unsparing, important and weighty ... a vitally needed antidote' Observer

'Takes the status quo by the lapels and gives it a shaking' Times Literary Supplement

Trans people in Britain today have become a culture war 'issue'. Despite making up less than one per cent of the country's population, they are the subjects of a toxic and increasingly polarized 'debate' which generates reliable controversy for newspapers and talk shows. This media frenzy conceals…


Book cover of Paul Takes the Form of a Mortal Girl

Jennifer Savran Kelly Author Of Endpapers

From the list on queer people on the edge.

Who am I?

I’m endlessly fascinated by people’s resilience—how we hold onto life and find meaning in it when everything seems to be falling apart. As a queer and genderqueer author, I especially love to see stories about queer characters in all of their human messiness, characters who aren’t forced to be models of perfection in order to earn readers’ empathy, stories that show us queer people don’t deserve dignity because we’re perfect; we deserve it because we’re human. These five novels have affected me deeply because they don’t shy away from the complexities of grief, love, parenting, trauma, sex, social justice, gender identity, and more. 

Jennifer's book list on queer people on the edge

Discover why each book is one of Jennifer's favorite books.

Why did Jennifer love this book?

Lawlor’s novel gave me the best gift a book can offer: it changed my mind halfway through.

I had been so intrigued by the premise of a shapeshifting character who can change their gender at will, that I forced myself to read on even though I wasn’t enjoying the emphasis on sex, especially as conquest, and I was sorely disappointed the story didn’t seem to go deeper.

But as I continued, I was happy to be proven wrong. By the end of the novel, I was checking my own biases and prejudices and empathizing deeply with Paul and his/her/their struggles. Reading this novel was an emotional experience unlike any I’ve had with a book.

Paul Takes the Form of a Mortal Girl

By Andrea Lawlor,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Paul Takes the Form of a Mortal Girl as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'Paul Takes the Form of a Mortal Girl is quite simply one of the most exciting - and one of the most fun - novels of the decade.' Garth Greenwell

It's 1993 and Paul Polydoris tends bar at the only gay club in a university town thrumming with politics and partying. He studies queer theory, has a lesbian best friend, makes zines, and is a flaneur with a rich dating life. But Paul's also got a secret: he's a shapeshifter. Oscillating wildly from Riot Grrrl to leather cub, Women's Studies major to trade, Paul transforms his body at will in…


Gutterboys

By Alvin Orloff,

Book cover of Gutterboys

Ryszard I. Merey Author Of A + E 4Ever

From the list on queer, poisonous relationships with angst.

Who am I?

Growing up in a mostly pre-Internet time, I was hungry for androgynous and queer characters and didn’t know why. Books offered an escape hatch into the heads of the people I wanted to be. As I got older, writing was how I processed this disconnect, but for a long time, my lack of clarity negatively affected many of my relationships. It was through words (mine and others’) that I learned who I am. Amongst other things, a fragile and flawed and wildly imperfect person. It’s been great to see all the wholesome, positive LGBT rep that’s come out in literature over the last years, but my heart and stories will always belong to the bad-angel queers struggling to get a foot into Heaven. 

Ryszard's book list on queer, poisonous relationships with angst

Discover why each book is one of Ryszard's favorite books.

Why did Ryszard love this book?

Oh man, this book! It’s everything I want: Sweet, simple, cute, nostalgic, at times, just awful. Gutterboys taught me that a book with a soul and a soundtrack and a firm jab in the gut is the type of book I want to make. Set in the 80s, Jeremy is a naïve suburban Jewish teen who falls crazy-stupid in love with a gorgeous older hustler. Colin won’t date Jeremy, but he does take him on a New York adventure that will only unhinge innocent Jeremy more and more. If you like that intoxicatingly toxic unrequited gay love, give it a go!

Gutterboys

By Alvin Orloff,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?


A twisted gay tale of unrequited love in Lower Manhattan in the early 1980s filled with scenes of humorous debauchery. Jeremy, a shy 19-year-old, falls madly in love with Colin, a disturbed yet well-read older hustler. Though Colin rejects Jeremy as a lover, he takes him on as a protégé, introducing him to the hilariously depraved world of new wave nightclubs and gay bars in the days before AIDS and the war on drugs. Innocent Jeremy, protected by the guardian spirits of his beloved dead grandmothers - one a fiery Jewish socialist, the other a proper British matron - becomes…


Narcisa

By Jonathan Shaw,

Book cover of Narcisa: Our Lady of Ashes

Ryszard I. Merey Author Of A + E 4Ever

From the list on queer, poisonous relationships with angst.

Who am I?

Growing up in a mostly pre-Internet time, I was hungry for androgynous and queer characters and didn’t know why. Books offered an escape hatch into the heads of the people I wanted to be. As I got older, writing was how I processed this disconnect, but for a long time, my lack of clarity negatively affected many of my relationships. It was through words (mine and others’) that I learned who I am. Amongst other things, a fragile and flawed and wildly imperfect person. It’s been great to see all the wholesome, positive LGBT rep that’s come out in literature over the last years, but my heart and stories will always belong to the bad-angel queers struggling to get a foot into Heaven. 

Ryszard's book list on queer, poisonous relationships with angst

Discover why each book is one of Ryszard's favorite books.

Why did Ryszard love this book?

I picked up Narcisa in Portland’s legendary Powell’s bookstore over ten years ago on a whim and it ended up worming its way into my top ten books of all time. The prose is chaotic, evocative, drippy, disgusting, engaging, fantastic. Narcisa is a predatory, magnetic mess of nature and like the narrator, you’ve got to keep flying with her until she throws you down. I was floored and inspired by Shaw’s ability to tame such a blizzard of turmoil between two thin paper covers.

Narcisa

By Jonathan Shaw,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The first trade edition of the cult classic from the artist/author hailed by Iggy Pop as “the great nightmare anti-hero of the new age,” legendary tattoo artist Jonathan Shaw, that chronicles a scandalous, degenerative addiction between two people—a wild, brutal, passionate, and unstoppable ride into depravity and darkness through the back alleys of Rio De Janeiro and New York City.

A legendary tattoo master and notorious creator of trendsetting underground art, Jonathan Shaw has created a masterpiece with this powerful story that captures the destructive addiction of love, sex and drugs, embodied in two people whose irresistible passions threaten to…


City of Night

By John Rechy,

Book cover of City of Night

Ryszard I. Merey Author Of A + E 4Ever

From the list on queer, poisonous relationships with angst.

Who am I?

Growing up in a mostly pre-Internet time, I was hungry for androgynous and queer characters and didn’t know why. Books offered an escape hatch into the heads of the people I wanted to be. As I got older, writing was how I processed this disconnect, but for a long time, my lack of clarity negatively affected many of my relationships. It was through words (mine and others’) that I learned who I am. Amongst other things, a fragile and flawed and wildly imperfect person. It’s been great to see all the wholesome, positive LGBT rep that’s come out in literature over the last years, but my heart and stories will always belong to the bad-angel queers struggling to get a foot into Heaven. 

Ryszard's book list on queer, poisonous relationships with angst

Discover why each book is one of Ryszard's favorite books.

Why did Ryszard love this book?

The search for the self is an act of self-indulgence and that search and that act is on full display in this 60s gay classic. I adore Rechy’s prose, it’s just so different and beautiful, and although this is an old story, much of its loveliness and loneliness and promiscuity has never changed. I read City of Night and reread it for the tender, cracked characters who keep looking so patiently into every dark corner. 

City of Night

By John Rechy,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Bold and inventive in style, City of Night is the groundbreaking 1960s novel about male prostitution. Rechy is unflinching in his portrayal of one hustling 'youngman' and his search for self-knowledge among the other denizens of his neon-lit world. As the narrator moves from Texas to Times Square and then on to the French Quarter of New Orleans, Rechy delivers a portrait of the edges of America that has lost none of its power.
On his travels, the nameless narrator meets a collection of unforgettable characters, from vice cops to guilt-ridden married men eaten up by desire, to Lance O'Hara,…


Giovanni's Room

By James Baldwin,

Book cover of Giovanni's Room

Liz Harmer Author Of Strange Loops

From the list on Eros and Thanatos desire mixed with doom.

Who am I?

For about five years, I became obsessed by the question of erotic possession, of the kind erotic love that would be so powerful it would be difficult to distinguish from a desire for annihilation, especially at times when one’s life seems so settled and easy. Why does this sort of love overtake a person? As I began to write my own novel addressing this theme, I read everything I could find on the subject, including many not listed here. I have become a hobbyist of the question of romantic ruination, and I am now preparing to teach a course on the subject. 

Liz's book list on Eros and Thanatos desire mixed with doom

Discover why each book is one of Liz's favorite books.

Why did Liz love this book?

James Baldwin’s classic story of erotic doom and betrayal came to me far too late; it’s the sort of book you wish you’d read sooner and then plan to read again.

The novel articulates the real pain of unrequited erotic love—doomed erotic love—narrated by a person accused of not loving enough.

At the opening, we learn that Giovanni is to be executed, and the story unravels the desperate entanglement of two men in Paris in mid-century.

The love in this novel, while passionate, is never far from its opening sense of doom; love is mixed with hate and terror: “this was but one tiny aspect of the dreadful human tangle occurring everywhere, without end, forever.” 

Giovanni's Room

By James Baldwin,

Why should I read it?

7 authors picked Giovanni's Room as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

When David meets the sensual Giovanni in a bohemian bar, he is swept into a passionate love affair. But his girlfriend's return to Paris destroys everything. Unable to admit to the truth, David pretends the liaison never happened - while Giovanni's life descends into tragedy.

United by the theme of love, the writings in the Great Loves series span over two thousand years and vastly different worlds. Readers will be introduced to love's endlessly fascinating possibilities and extremities: romantic love, platonic love, erotic love, gay love, virginal love, adulterous love, parental love, filial love, nostalgic love, unrequited love, illicit love,…


Gay Bar

By Jeremy Atherton Lin,

Book cover of Gay Bar: Why We Went Out

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

From the list on queer stories to expand your thinking.

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. 

Amelia's book list on queer stories to expand your thinking

Discover why each book is one of Amelia's favorite books.

Why did Amelia love 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. 

Gay Bar

By Jeremy Atherton Lin,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

NATIONAL BOOK CRITICS CIRCLE AWARD WINNER

NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY: The New York Times * NPR * Vogue * Gay Times * Artforum *

“Gay Bar is an absolute tour de force.” –Maggie Nelson

"Atherton Lin has a five-octave, Mariah Carey-esque range for discussing gay sex.” –New York Times Book Review

As gay bars continue to close at an alarming rate, a writer looks back to find out what’s being lost in this indispensable, intimate, and stylish celebration of queer history.

Strobing lights and dark rooms; throbbing house and drag queens on counters; first…


Book cover of All The Things She Said

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

From the list on queer stories to expand your thinking.

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. 

Amelia's book list on queer stories to expand your thinking

Discover why each book is one of Amelia's favorite books.

Why did Amelia love 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?

All The Things She Said

By Daisy Jones,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked All The Things She Said as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

______________________________________________________________________________________

'an explicitly inclusive, thoughtful, joyful read' - REFINERY 29

'This "love letter of sorts" to inclusive queer women's culture is perfect for anyone who's just come out, wants to know what the heck's going on or has yearned for an entire chapter dedicated to the film Carol.' - DIVA

'An introspective dive into the fast-moving world of queer culture, Daisy unpacks some of the 21st century's biggest lesbian and bisexual moments to paint a portrait of what modern-day queerness looks like.' - GAY TIMES

'Daisy Jones effortlessly explores queer culture' - COSMOPOLITAN
______________________________________________________________________________________

A modern, personal guide to the…


Cleanness

By Garth Greenwell,

Book cover of Cleanness

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

From the list on queer stories to expand your thinking.

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. 

Amelia's book list on queer stories to expand your thinking

Discover why each book is one of Amelia's favorite books.

Why did Amelia love 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. 

Cleanness

By Garth Greenwell,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Longlisted for the Prix Sade 2021
Longlisted for the Joyce Carol Oates Prize
Longlisted for the Gordon Burn Prize

A New York Times Notable Book of 2020
A New York Times Critics Top Ten Book of the Year
Named a Best Book of the Year by over 30 Publications, including The New Yorker, TIME, The Washington Post, Entertainment Weekly, NPR, and the BBC

In the highly anticipated follow-up to his beloved debut, What Belongs to You, Garth Greenwell deepens his exploration of foreignness, obligation, and desire

Sofia, Bulgaria, a landlocked city in southern Europe, stirs with hope and impending upheaval.…


Book cover of I Keep My Exoskeletons to Myself

Jennifer Savran Kelly Author Of Endpapers

From the list on queer people on the edge.

Who am I?

I’m endlessly fascinated by people’s resilience—how we hold onto life and find meaning in it when everything seems to be falling apart. As a queer and genderqueer author, I especially love to see stories about queer characters in all of their human messiness, characters who aren’t forced to be models of perfection in order to earn readers’ empathy, stories that show us queer people don’t deserve dignity because we’re perfect; we deserve it because we’re human. These five novels have affected me deeply because they don’t shy away from the complexities of grief, love, parenting, trauma, sex, social justice, gender identity, and more. 

Jennifer's book list on queer people on the edge

Discover why each book is one of Jennifer's favorite books.

Why did Jennifer love this book?

Against the backdrop of a speculative future in which extra shadows have become the alternative to prison and cameras watch our every move, I Keep My Exoskeletons to Myself takes a raw, honest look at grief, family, queerness, and how we survive.

Kris has lost her wife Beau and gained an extra shadow—along with a child who also has an extra shadow. As she navigates her new reality, Kris can either sink deeper into her grief, accepting a life of surveillance and oppression for herself and her kid, or she can choose love and hope.

Crane’s approach to storytelling, open and vulnerable and using small fragments and pop quizzes, allowed me deep into Kris’s heart, and I rooted for her as she forged a life against all odds.   

I Keep My Exoskeletons to Myself

By Marisa Crane,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked I Keep My Exoskeletons to Myself as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Dept. of Speculation meets Black Mirror in this lyrical, speculative debut about a queer mother raising her daughter in an unjust surveillance state

In a United States not so unlike our own, the Department of Balance has adopted a radical new form of law enforcement: rather than incarceration, wrongdoers are given a second (and sometimes, third, fourth, and fifth) shadow as a reminder of their crime—and a warning to those they encounter. Within the Department, corruption and prejudice run rampant, giving rise to an underclass of so-called Shadesters who are disenfranchised, publicly shamed, and deprived of civil rights protections.

Kris…


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