100 books like Rainbow Rainbow

By Lydia Conklin,

Here are 100 books that Rainbow Rainbow fans have personally recommended if you like Rainbow Rainbow. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Real Life

Lucy Jane Bledsoe Author Of Tell the Rest

From my list on not-the-same-old queer stories.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been reading queer fiction for, well, I guess about 50 years. First, brilliant novels by James Baldwin, Virginia Woolf’s Orlando, and cheesy lesbian pulp novels. In the eighties, feminist presses and a wealth of new queer literature sprung into existence. It’s easier now to find great queer fiction, if you dig a little. My approach is to read widely, all kinds of authors, from all kinds of backgrounds. So the whole idea of a “best 5” is hard for me to get my mind around. I could have listed 25 more. Thank you for reading!

Lucy's book list on not-the-same-old queer stories

Lucy Jane Bledsoe Why did Lucy love this book?

A perfect fit for the not-the-same-old-queer novel list, Taylor’s story features a Black gay biochemist who is working on his degree at a Midwestern university.

I love this book for the intimacy in its portrayal of the protagonist, Wallace, the way his thoughts and feelings and decisions are revealed with such precision. I felt his joys and his pains so clearly.

A science nerd gay character! What’s not to love?

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…


Book cover of Cantoras

Christopher DiRaddo Author Of The Family Way

From my list on uplifting and celebrating queer kinship and chosen family.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm a queer author based in Montreal. When I came out in the early 1990s, at the age of 21, I remember feeling concerned about my future. Family has always been important to me, but I couldn’t imagine what mine would look like as I got older. I knew I wasn't going to have a traditional family like my parents, but I didn’t know what else was possible. Thankfully, I found the answer in books… As queer people, we must seek out and learn our traditions and history. We’re not taught them from birth. Finding books that demonstrate and uplift the bonds that queer people share provides a roadmap for those of us seeking community.

Christopher's book list on uplifting and celebrating queer kinship and chosen family

Christopher DiRaddo Why did Christopher love this book?

Five women find salvation in each other in a beachside hamlet on Uruguay’s eastern coast. With no running water or electricity, the isolated Cabo Polonio becomes their sanctuary, a place where these cantoras (women who "sing”) can exercise their voice – something denied them as queer women under the Uruguayan dictatorship of 1970s and 80s.

The book follows the friends over the span of 35 years as they continue to return to this family home of theirs, sometimes together, sometimes with new lovers. Beautifully written, the book is brimming with heart and is a testament to the power of activism and solidarity. 

By Carolina De Robertis,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

"Cantoras is a stunning lullaby to revolution—and each woman in this novel sings it with a deep ferocity. Again and again, I was lifted, then gently set down again—either through tears, rage, or laughter. Days later, I am still inside this song of a story." —Jacqueline Woodson, National Book Award–winning author

From the highly acclaimed, award-winning author of The Gods of Tango, a revolutionary new novel about five wildly different women who, in the midst of the Uruguayan dictatorship, find one another as lovers, friends, and ultimately, family.

In 1977 Uruguay, a military government crushed political dissent with ruthless force.…


Book cover of The Five Wounds

Alina Grabowski Author Of Women and Children First

From my list on exploring how place shapes community.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a writer who grew up in Massachusetts and now lives in Austin, Texas. Though I haven’t lived in Massachusetts for over a decade now, I find myself drawn back to the state’s coast in my fiction. My novel, Women and Children First, takes place in a fictional town south of Boston called Nashquitten. I’m obsessed with how where we’re from shapes who we become and the ways we use narrative to try and exert control over our lives. 

Alina's book list on exploring how place shapes community

Alina Grabowski Why did Alina love this book?

Las Penas, New Mexico, is the setting for this moving novel that follows a year in the lives of the Padilla family. Valdez Quade creates characters with dazzling depth, and you’ll root for the Padillas as they stumble through twelve months, where everything they know is upended and destabilized.

The way this book portrays community reminds me of a favorite Sally Rooney quote from Normal People: “No one can be independent of other people completely, so why not give up the attempt, she thought, go running in the other direction, depend on people for everything, allow them to depend on you, why not.”

By Kirstin Valdez Quade,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

It's Holy Week in the small town of Las Penas, New Mexico, and thirty-three-year-old unemployed Amadeo Padilla has been given the part of Jesus in the Good Friday procession. He is preparing feverishly for this role when his fifteen-year-old daughter Angel shows up pregnant on his doorstep and disrupts his plans for personal redemption. With weeks to go until her due date, tough, ebullient Angel has fled her mother's house, setting her life on a startling new path.

Vivid, tender, funny, and beautifully rendered, The Five Wounds spans the baby's first year as five generations of the Padilla family converge:…


Book cover of Nightcrawling

Lucy Jane Bledsoe Author Of Tell the Rest

From my list on not-the-same-old queer stories.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been reading queer fiction for, well, I guess about 50 years. First, brilliant novels by James Baldwin, Virginia Woolf’s Orlando, and cheesy lesbian pulp novels. In the eighties, feminist presses and a wealth of new queer literature sprung into existence. It’s easier now to find great queer fiction, if you dig a little. My approach is to read widely, all kinds of authors, from all kinds of backgrounds. So the whole idea of a “best 5” is hard for me to get my mind around. I could have listed 25 more. Thank you for reading!

Lucy's book list on not-the-same-old queer stories

Lucy Jane Bledsoe Why did Lucy love this book?

I can’t resist a book set in Oakland, very near to where I live.

I also love a novel that tells deep truths, and Nightcrawling does that, showing the horrors of police abuse and the failures of the justice system. However, this book isn’t “trauma porn.” On every page, protagonist Kiara owns her story, drives her agency, makes the best choices she can in the moment, and loves with a huge heart.

The way she finds her way to queer love is organic and beautiful.

By Leila Mottley,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

NEW YORK TIMES BEST SELLER • AN OPRAH BOOK CLUB PICK • BOOKER PRIZE LONGLIST • A dazzling novel about a young Black woman who walks the streets of Oakland and stumbles headlong into the failure of its justice system. This debut of a blazingly original voice “bursts at the seams of every page and swallows you whole” (Tommy Orange, author of There There).

A BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR: The New Yorker, The Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, San Francisco Chronicle, TIME, GOODREADS

Kiara and her brother, Marcus, are scraping by in an East Oakland apartment complex optimistically called…


Book cover of Giovanni's Room

Nicholas McInerny Author Of How to Have a Perfect Marriage: A BBC Radio 4 Comedy Drama

From my list on being emotionally monogamous and sexually promiscuous.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am someone who has lived a number of different lives. Although I loved being a father and husband I knew I wasn’t being authentic. At 45 that all changed utterly when I finally came out as gay – and accepted myself for perhaps the very first time in my life. However, even before coming out I was a professional writer – it was my only way to make sense of the world. But I also knew that although a successful writer I wasn’t a truthful one – and the most beautiful thing in life is discovering your own truth, isn’t it? Join me here in a safe space to experience yours.

Nicholas' book list on being emotionally monogamous and sexually promiscuous

Nicholas McInerny Why did Nicholas love this book?

Set in Paris, with David the sexually conflicted central character who has an affair with the doomed Giovanni.

This book – written in 1956 – is an incredibly brave exploration by Baldwin into Gay/Bi sexuality – breaking new ground in LGBTQ+ representation whilst at the same time creating an atmosphere of almost stereotypically gay angst – perhaps even initiating some of the cliches around gay life that were to become mainstream – and used by heterosexual society against us.

That doesn’t stop it being a novella of great significance and febrile passion – like a passionate quickie up against the wall!

By James Baldwin,

Why should I read it?

9 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,…


Book cover of Peter Darling

Sylvia Barry Author Of Lessons in Timing

From my list on grumpy/sunshine romance with a healthy side of yearning.

Why are we passionate about this?

Sylvia Barry is our invention, a solitary witch who writes queer romance from her lighthouse keep. As a pair of co-authors, one of us grew up with the dry humor of Terry Pratchett and Douglas Adams, and the other grew up with fanfiction and romance tropes. We came together to write quirky, queer romances that are playful and ironic but also deal with deeper themes of self-discovery, trauma healing, and community. Rivals-to-lovers and grumpy/sunshine are our favorite tropes to write, especially in dual (or more!) POV, because the Yearning is always juicy, and we play off each other’s energy as we write our opposing characters.

Sylvia's book list on grumpy/sunshine romance with a healthy side of yearning

Sylvia Barry Why did Sylvia love this book?

Time moves differently when you can never grow up. We love to revisit S.A Chant’s brilliant exploration of Queer Time again and again.

Peter Darling has fast become one of our favorite books of all time–it’s a lush, transformative addition to the Peter Pan canon. The rivals-to-lovers element is rich and romantic, and the plot twist breaks boundaries, subverts expectations, and plays with gender in such a careful and nuanced way while also depicting a fresh and unique take on Neverland.

It’s a masterpiece of a book and one that continues to amaze us every time we reread it.

By Austin Chant,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Peter Darling as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A queer, transgender retelling of Peter Pan in which Pan returns to Neverland after a decade in the real world.


The Lost Boys say that Peter Pan went back to England because of Wendy Darling, but Wendy is just an old life he left behind. Neverland is his real home. So when Peter returns to it after ten years in the real world, he's surprised to find a Neverland that no longer seems to need him.


The only person who truly missed Peter is Captain James Hook, who is delighted to have his old rival back. But when a new…


Book cover of Something Fabulous

Sylvia Barry Author Of Lessons in Timing

From my list on grumpy/sunshine romance with a healthy side of yearning.

Why are we passionate about this?

Sylvia Barry is our invention, a solitary witch who writes queer romance from her lighthouse keep. As a pair of co-authors, one of us grew up with the dry humor of Terry Pratchett and Douglas Adams, and the other grew up with fanfiction and romance tropes. We came together to write quirky, queer romances that are playful and ironic but also deal with deeper themes of self-discovery, trauma healing, and community. Rivals-to-lovers and grumpy/sunshine are our favorite tropes to write, especially in dual (or more!) POV, because the Yearning is always juicy, and we play off each other’s energy as we write our opposing characters.

Sylvia's book list on grumpy/sunshine romance with a healthy side of yearning

Sylvia Barry Why did Sylvia love this book?

It’s Oscar Wilde and the cast of Monty Python having an orgy on the set of Bridgerton–what’s not to love? 

Alexis Hall is an auto-buy author for us, and Something Fabulous is one of our favorites. It’s a hysterical romp–sexy and romantic but also deeply irreverent and laugh-out-loud funny. Chock full of shenanigans, relatable and diverse characters, and a fresh reimagining of Regency romance.

We love a grumpy duke. We love a chaotic, wide-eyed ward. We LOVE Sir Horley Comewithers and his questionable cabin in the woods. There’s a scene with a bee that has caused irreparable damage to our lungs and ribs. 

By Alexis Hall,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

From the acclaimed author of Boyfriend Material comes a delightfully witty romance featuring a reserved duke who’s betrothed to one twin and hopelessly enamoured of the other.

Valentine Layton, the Duke of Malvern, has twin problems: literally.

It was always his father’s hope that Valentine would marry Miss Arabella Tarleton. But, unfortunately, too many novels at an impressionable age have caused her to grow up…romantic. So romantic that a marriage of convenience will not do and after Valentine’s proposal she flees into the night determined never to set eyes on him again.

Arabella’s twin brother, Mr. Bonaventure “Bonny” Tarleton, has…


Book cover of I Think Our Son Is Gay 01

Emmarie Bee Author Of A Twist of Fate

From my list on LGBTQ+ manga/graphic novels.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve always loved cartoons and anime. I’m also bisexual and non-binary. Growing up, gay representation was hard to come by, so when we did get it, we were always super excited, whether it was good or not so good. Luckily, I’ve gotten to watch the world change and grow more accepting, but sometimes it’s still difficult to find good rep when you don’t know where to look. I try to fill my books with good representation so that my readers can feel seen in a way I didn’t, and I want to spread the word about some great LGBT manga that I love and made an impact on me.

Emmarie's book list on LGBTQ+ manga/graphic novels

Emmarie Bee Why did Emmarie love this book?

I’m always a sucker for something sweet, wholesome, and low-to-no stakes when it comes to my gay manga.

It’s a sweet and wholesome story about a mom who realizes her eldest son is gay, but gives him the space, respect, and privacy to come out in his own time. She also makes a point to defend her son’s sexuality without outing him to others. It made me crack up because I remember being that eldest son - thinking I was slick at hiding my sexuality, when I really wasn’t.

I also love how the mom gives her son the space he needs and respects his privacy. A super mom, for sure!

By Okura,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked I Think Our Son Is Gay 01 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 12, 13, 14, and 15.

What is this book about?

A doting mother and her two beloved sons, one of whom she thinks is probably gay, go about their daily lives in this hilarious and heartwarming LGBTQIA+-friendly family comedy!

Despite belonging to a family of four, the Aoyama residence is typically home to three, with Dad away for work. Mom Tomoko and her two darling sons, Hiroki and Yuri, go about their everyday lives with little to disturb their gentle routines.

But as Hiroki begins his first year of high school, Tomoko can’t help but wonder if her eldest has fallen for another boy. Though Tomoko is content to cheer…


Book cover of At the Center of All Beauty: Solitude and the Creative Life

Bella DePaulo Author Of Single at Heart: The Power, Freedom, and Heart-Filling Joy of Single Life

From my list on joyfull single people at heart.

Why am I passionate about this?

For too long, single life has been characterized as a lesser life. As a 70-year-old who has been happily single my whole life, I want that to end. As I said in my book, “In the enlightened world that I envision, every child will understand, as a matter of course, that living single is a life path that can be just as joyful and fulfilling as any other—and for some people, the best path of all. Every adult will forsake forever the temptation to pity or patronize single people and will instead appreciate the profound rewards of single life." 

Bella's book list on joyfull single people at heart

Bella DePaulo Why did Bella love this book?

The stars of this book are “solitaries,” people who choose to live alone or spend substantial stretches of time alone. Upending the demeaning caricatures of people who spend a lot of time alone, Johson shows that some of the most renowned artists and authors have been solitaries.

They have rich inner lives and contribute meaningfully to society. Even unknown solitaries are artists–they design their own lives. Solitaries value friendship and do not see romantic relationships as sitting atop a relationship hierarchy. Free of a conventional focus on The One, they are more open to more different people and the world.

By Fenton Johnson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked At the Center of All Beauty as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Fenton Johnson's lyrical prose and searching sensibility explore what it means to choose solitude and to celebrate the notion that solitude is a legitimate and dignified calling. He delves into the lives and works of nearly a dozen iconic solitaries he considers his kindred spirits, from Thoreau at Walden Pond and Emily Dickenson in Amherst, to the fiercely self-protective Zora Neale Hurston. The bright wakes these figures have left behind illuminate Fenton Johnson's journey from his childhood in rural Kentucky to his solitary travels in America, France, and India. Woven into his musings about better-known solitaries are stories of friends…


Book cover of The Secret Life of Oscar Wilde: An Intimate Biography

Philippa Ryder Author Of My Name Is Philippa

From my list on our lives in public: personal stories and memoirs.

Why am I passionate about this?

I had so many questions as I grew up. Why was I so different to other boys. Then, some 20 years ago, I started to find and talk to others like me. I realised I was transgender, ‘born in the wrong body’ as the saying goes. From that point on I began to work for the LGBTQ+ community as I also negotiated the personal and difficult path of transitioning from male to female. My passion for activism continues to this day, shown in my role as Chair of Dublin LGBTQ+ Pride and delivering workshops, presentations, and lectures to multinational companies and government bodies where I encourage everyone to see the beauty in diversity.

Philippa's book list on our lives in public: personal stories and memoirs

Philippa Ryder Why did Philippa love this book?

I was taken down a rabbit hole, exploring other aspects of 19th and 20th-century Irish and British gay culture.

This very comprehensive biography of Ireland’s leading playwright whose many amusing quotes are now part of everyday language deals predominantly with his sexuality, going into considerable detail in parts. Wilde was, as per his name, pretty wild!

His life was a true roller-coaster, from the height of his fame with many books, poetry, and stage productions making him a household name worldwide. Yet he was a troubled soul and the author of the biography has researched his subject intensively and has delivered possibly the ultimate work about this notable gay icon.

By Neil McKenna,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Secret Life of Oscar Wilde as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In The Secret Life of Oscar Wilde, Neil McKenna provides stunning new insight into the tumultuous sexual and psychological worlds of this brilliant and tormented figure. McKenna charts Wildes astonishing odyssey through Londons sexual underworld, and provides explosive new evidence of the political machinations behind Wildes trials for sodomy. Dazzlingly written and meticulously researched, The Secret Life of Oscar Wilde offers a vividly original portrait of a troubled genius who chose to martyr himself for the cause of love between men.


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