100 books like Rubyfruit Jungle

By Rita Mae Brown,

Here are 100 books that Rubyfruit Jungle fans have personally recommended if you like Rubyfruit Jungle. Shepherd is a community of 11,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Flamer

Jonah Newman Author Of Out of Left Field

From my list on gay coming-of-age graphic novels.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm a gay cartoonist and editor who lives and breathes graphic novels. As an editor at Graphix, Scholastic's graphic novel imprint, I've worked with Dav Pilkey, Jamar Nicholas, Angeli Rafer, Kane Lynch, and many others. As a cartoonist, I'm the author and illustrator of Out of Left Field, which is based on my experiences as a closeted kid on the high school baseball team. So many wonderful books have influenced my journey and career, but these are some of my favorites: groundbreaking graphic novels that helped make Out of Left Field possible.

Jonah's book list on gay coming-of-age graphic novels

Jonah Newman Why did Jonah love this book?

This book is almost 400 pages long, but it absolutely does not feel like it. It’s one of the most riveting and absorbing books I’ve ever read, in part because of its relatively simple art style and small number of words per page.

It stars Aiden, a teenager who struggles with homophobia and suicidal thoughts as he comes to realize that he’s gay. So much of the dialogue and behavior in this book resonated with my own teenage experiences dealing with toxic “bros,” who made me feel like coming out would be an unsafe thing to do.

Curato creates an incredibly sympathetic character in Aiden, and his two-color artwork—grayscale with well-placed pops of orange and red—deftly supports the book’s thematic and emotional content. 

By Mike Curato,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Award-winning author and artist Mike Curato draws on his own experiences in Flamer, his debut graphic novel, telling a difficult story with humor, compassion, and love.

"This book will save lives." ―Jarrett J. Krosoczka, author of National Book Award Finalist Hey, Kiddo

I know I’m not gay. Gay boys like other boys. I hate boys. They’re mean, and scary, and they’re always destroying something or saying something dumb or both.

I hate that word. Gay. It makes me feel . . . unsafe.

It's the summer between middle school and high school, and Aiden Navarro is away at camp. Everyone's…


Book cover of The Color Purple

Hari Ziyad Author Of Black Boy Out of Time

From my list on loss and grief from a certified death doula.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a journalist, author and screenwriter, my work has always pondered loss and grief. I think this has something to do with the fact that of my mother’s religion; she was a convert to Hinduism and started conversations about the inevitability of death and how the soul and the body aren’t the same when us children were at a very young age. It probably also has something to do with the constant presence of death within my family and communities as a Black and queer person in a violently anti-Black and queerantagonistic world. I currently volunteer at a hospice, and provide community-building programming to death workers from diverse communities.

Hari's book list on loss and grief from a certified death doula

Hari Ziyad Why did Hari love this book?

This novel is a soul-stirring journey of resilience and self-discovery.

Reminding us that loss of connection to a loved one shares many of the same aspects as death, The Color Purple is a testament to the strength of the human spirit, particularly in the face of adversity. Along the way, you’ll come to a deeper understanding of gendered violence, the healing power of sisterhood and the enduring nature of love.

By Alice Walker,

Why should I read it?

15 authors picked The Color Purple as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 14, 15, 16, and 17.

What is this book about?

Winner of the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award. Alice Walker's iconic modern classic is now a Penguin Book.

A powerful cultural touchstone of modern American literature, The Color Purple depicts the lives of African American women in early twentieth-century rural Georgia. Separated as girls, sisters Celie and Nettie sustain their loyalty to and hope in each other across time, distance and silence. Through a series of letters spanning twenty years, first from Celie to God, then the sisters to each other despite the unknown, the novel draws readers into its rich and memorable portrayals of Celie, Nettie, Shug…


Book cover of Stone Butch Blues

Allan Hunter Author Of GenderQueer: A Story from a Different Closet

From my list on LGBTQIA+ YA on coming out and coming of age.

Why am I passionate about this?

Allan D. Hunter came out as genderqueer in 1980, more than 20 years before “genderqueer” was trending. His story is autobiographical: the story of a different kind of male hero, a genderqueer person's tale. It follows the author from his debut as an eighth grader in Los Alamos, New Mexico until his unorthodox coming out at the age of twenty-one on the University of New Mexico campus in Albuquerque. 

Allan's book list on LGBTQIA+ YA on coming out and coming of age

Allan Hunter Why did Allan love this book?

Leslie Feinberg’s story is a powerful response to the notion that simply discarding sexist gender expectations ought to be enough. Feinberg’s main character Jess was still a young adult when modern feminism exploded onto the scene in the 1970s but Jess isn’t merely androgynous or resisting sexist limitations. She’s butch.  

By Leslie Feinberg,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked Stone Butch Blues as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Published in 1993, this brave, original novel is considered to be the finest account ever written of the complexities of a transgendered existence.

Woman or man? That’s the question that rages like a storm around Jess Goldberg, clouding her life and her identity. Growing up differently gendered in a blue--collar town in the 1950’s, coming out as a butch in the bars and factories of the prefeminist ’60s, deciding to pass as a man in order to survive when she is left without work or a community in the early ’70s. This powerful, provocative and deeply moving novel sees Jess…


Liddy-Jean Marketing Queen and the Matchmaking Scheme

By Mari Sangiovanni,

Book cover of Liddy-Jean Marketing Queen and the Matchmaking Scheme

Mari Sangiovanni

New book alert!

What is my book about?

Introducing the irrepressible Liddy-Jean Carpenter, a young woman who has learning disabilities but also has a genius plan.

While Liddy-Jean spends her days doing minor office tasks with nobody paying attention, she sees how badly the wand-waving big boss treats the Marketing Department worker bees. So, she takes lots of notes for a business book to teach bosses to be better. Liddy-Jean likes office-mate Rose and Rose’s new friend Jenny, but she doesn’t like Rose’s creepy boyfriend. So how can she save Rose?

Liddy-Jean knows with certainty that love is love, and she concludes that Rose should be with Jenny,…

Liddy-Jean Marketing Queen and the Matchmaking Scheme

By Mari Sangiovanni,

What is this book about?

Novelist and filmmaker Mari SanGiovanni introduces readers to the irrepressible Liddy-Jean Carpenter, a matchmaker with special talents who will charm readers with her wit, wisdom, and sensibilities in this warm, enchanting love-is-love office romance.

Liddy-Jean Carpenter has learning disabilities. But she also has a surprisingly genius plan.

While she spends her days doing minor office tasks with nobody paying attention, she sees how badly the wand-waving big boss treats the Marketing Department worker bees. So, she takes lots of notes for a business book to teach bosses to be better.

While compiling pages of bad behavior notes, she finds she…


Book cover of The Heart's Invisible Furies

Bart Yates Author Of The Language of Love and Loss

From my list on wiseass narrators and dysfunctional families.

Why am I passionate about this?

The stories I’ve loved the most in my life have all been about the richness of human relationships, told by a memorable narrator who can find humor and hope in almost everything, no matter how screwed up. Whether it’s Charles Dickens poking fun at his contemporaries in Victorian England or Armistead Maupin sending up friendship and love in San Francisco in the 1980s, I’m a sucker for well-told, convoluted, and funny tales about people who find life with other human beings difficult, but still somehow manage to laugh about it and keep on going. As the author of six novels myself, these are the kinds of stories I always try to tell.  

Bart's book list on wiseass narrators and dysfunctional families

Bart Yates Why did Bart love this book?

This is a peculiar and marvelous book about birth families, adopted families, and “found” families, and how each of these can be equally screwed up.

Starting in Ireland in the 1940s, the story is peppered with sharp, clever dialog and vivid, fully-human characters. I love how the narrator struggles with his own heart for decades, unable to decide what he wants, who he loves, what’s right, what’s wrong, etc.—in other words, all the stuff I haven’t figured out yet myself. 

Coincidence also plays a huge role in this book, basically making an ass of everyone, which I find oddly comforting since it reminds me that part of being human is having very little control over my own life. Painfully funny and brilliant from cover to cover. 

By John Boyne,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked The Heart's Invisible Furies as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'Compelling and satisfying... At times, incredibly funny, at others, heartrending' Sarah Winman, author of When God Was a Rabbit

Forced to flee the scandal brewing in her hometown, Catherine Goggin finds herself pregnant and alone, in search of a new life at just sixteen. She knows she has no choice but to believe that the nun she entrusts her child to will find him a better life.

Cyril Avery is not a real Avery, or so his parents are constantly reminding him. Adopted as a baby, he's never quite felt at home with the family that treats him more as…


Book cover of A Man Called Ove

Daniel J. Barrett Author Of Efficient Linux at the Command Line: Boost Your Command-Line Skills

From my list on quirky people and their adventures.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a nonfiction author, I’ve always been mystified by fictional character development. What qualities make one character fascinating and another a dud? How do great writers make us fall in love with their creations? If I had one wish as an author, it would be to create one truly beloved character. I particularly like quirky nonconformists who forge their own paths, making mistakes along the way, yet they remain sympathetic. When I finish reading the story, I miss their company. My five recommended books include some of my favorite characters in modern literature.

Daniel's book list on quirky people and their adventures

Daniel J. Barrett Why did Daniel love this book?

At first, the main character, Ove, seemed like a curmudgeon whose odd behavior infuriated and confused people around him (in humorous ways).

As I read further, I learned that his every quirk had a deep and satisfying reason. I also loved how the story was filled with kindness. The author, Fredrik Backman, is the king of quirky character development. I’ve read this book four times.

By Fredrik Backman,

Why should I read it?

19 authors picked A Man Called Ove as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'THE PERFECT HOLIDAY READ' Evening Standard

'A JOY FROM START TO FINISH' - Gavin Extence, author of THE UNIVERSE VERSUS ALEX WOODS

There is something about Ove.

At first sight, he is almost certainly the grumpiest man you will ever meet. He thinks himself surrounded by idiots - neighbours who can't reverse a trailer properly, joggers, shop assistants who talk in code, and the perpetrators of the vicious coup d'etat that ousted him as Chairman of the Residents' Association. He will persist in making his daily inspection rounds of the local streets.

But isn't it rare, these days, to find…


Book cover of The Price of Salt: Or Carol

Mari SanGiovanni Author Of Greetings From Jamaica, Wish You Were Queer

From my list on LGBTQ+ books that are also movies (…or should be).

Why am I passionate about this?

When I was young and just figuring out the whole gay thing, I had to cross state lines to see the one gay movie and smuggle out the one library book I was too afraid to check out. In the 1970s and 80s I grew up knowing I was part of a group that was rarely talked about, aside from jokes. I've enjoyed so many stories that didn't represent me. If the struggle is real, I want to see, hear, and feel the whole messy bunch of it. I like the uncomfortable process of writing, and make promises that I later break: I can always tone this part down later…and then I never do.

Mari's book list on LGBTQ+ books that are also movies (…or should be)

Mari SanGiovanni Why did Mari love this book?

Groundbreaking at the time, simply because it featured a happy ending between two women…what a concept! Seems like this should not have been a tall order, yet, in 1952, it was a revolutionary idea that a lesbian love story would not end with tragedy which was the recipe of the day if a writer dared to write about forbidden love. 

If you are addicted to push/pull in romance stories where the stakes are high but the characters are willing to jump higher, you may fall in love with this book. 

The novel was mesmerizing and lovingly translated into film. Hollywood learned that if you want a straight audience to easily imagine how a woman who had been living a straight life previously (though not authentically) could fall for another woman, simply cast Cate Blanchett in the film and, boom, everyone gets it.

By Patricia Highsmith,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Price of Salt as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

WITH A NEW FOREWORD BY VAL McDERMID

Therese is just an ordinary sales assistant working in a New York department store when a beautiful, alluring woman in her thirties walks up to her counter. Standing there, Therese is wholly unprepared for the first shock of love. Therese is an awkward nineteen-year-old with a job she hates and a boyfriend she doesn't love; Carol is a sophisticated, bored suburban housewife in the throes of a divorce and a custody battle for her only daughter. As Therese becomes irresistibly drawn into Carol's world, she soon realizes how much they both stand to…


Book cover of Rise to the Sun

Llinos Cathryn Thomas Author Of A Duet for Invisible Strings

From my list on mixing music and romance.

Why am I passionate about this?

It’s often been said of musical theatre that the point when the characters begin to sing is the point their emotions become too much to express in words alone. I think that’s one reason I’m so obsessed with books about people connecting over music, art, and performance—it allows for so much passion and intensity. Having sung and played instruments over the years, I know how powerful it can feel to make music with other people, even when you’re not in love! These days, though, I spend more time reading and writing about music than I do playing it.

Llinos' book list on mixing music and romance

Llinos Cathryn Thomas Why did Llinos love this book?

This Young Adult romance takes place over the course of a single weekend, and it captures the urgency of young love perfectly. Sure Olivia and Toni fall hard and fast, but it’s no wonder—a great music festival can pull you far enough from your day-to-day that you feel as though you’ve been there a lifetime, even as an adult. And this book captures that so clearly, bringing you right into both girls’ perspectives, letting you feel every triumph and every moment of despair as they chase their dreams, musical and otherwise, and figure out who they are.

By Leah Johnson,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Rise to the Sun 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 stunning novel about being brave enough to be true
to yourself, and learning to find joy even when times are unimaginably
dark.
Three days.

Two girls.

One life-changing music festival.

Toni is grieving the loss of her roadie father
and needing to figure out where her life will go from here - and
she's desperate to get back to loving music. Olivia is a hopeless
romantic whose heart has just taken a beating
(again) and is beginning to feel like she'll always be a square
peg in a round hole - but the Farmland Music and Arts Festival is…


Book cover of The Girls I’ve Been

Julia Stone Author Of The Accident

From my list on a character pretending to be someone they’re not.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a psychologist by profession and I’m fascinated by the way personalities develop and change with life events. In novels, I’m drawn towards wounded characters who are searching for something to make them feel whole. Common issues I see in my psychotherapy work include imposter syndrome, low self-esteem, feelings of not being good enough. Many people try to hide their vulnerability behind a mask, faking confidence or bravado, or pretending to be something they’re not. But these fictional characters take it up a level, one small step at a time, until the lies build and they end up in a web of deceit with no way out.

Julia's book list on a character pretending to be someone they’re not

Julia Stone Why did Julia love this book?

This book is aimed at a young adult audience, and it’s a fun pacey read. The author uses a ticking clock in her chapter titles – ‘(12 minutes captive) 1 lighter; no plan’ – which ups the tension. There are two stories running in parallel – the current events in a bank and the back story of Nora’s life. I enjoyed the small glimpses of the protagonist’s childhood and I was dying to know more about the relationship with her mother. Why did the mother force Nora to assume so many different identities? Who is Nora really?

By Tess Sharpe,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Girls I’ve Been as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 14, 15, 16, and 17.

What is this book about?

Soon to be a Netflix film starring Stranger Things' Millie Bobby Brown - this must-read psychological thriller, perfect for fans of One of Us Is Lying, will leave you guessing until the final page.
'Unlike anything I've read before... immediate, gripping, incredibly tense, heart-breaking, heart-warming and FUN! ' - Holly Jackson, author of A Good Girl's Guide to Murder

As an ex con artist, Nora has always got herself out of tricky situations. But the ultimate test lies in wait when she's taken hostage in a bank heist. And this time, Nora doesn't have an escape plan ...

Meet Nora.…


Book cover of Gender Queer: A Memoir

Zoë Bossiere Author Of Cactus Country: A Boyhood Memoir

From my list on coming of age memoirs about trans kids actually written by trans people.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a kid, I didn’t identify with the gender I was assigned at birth. Even without the language to describe who I really was, I was always on the lookout for stories about other people who felt like I did—for stories, in other words, like the ones on this list. But I never found them. As the books below beautifully illustrate, the spectrum of transgender experience, and our childhoods in particular, are so rich and diverse. My hope is for these and other books like Cactus Country to encourage more trans and queer people to tell their stories so that kids like us can find characters that represent them. 

Zoë's book list on coming of age memoirs about trans kids actually written by trans people

Zoë Bossiere Why did Zoë love this book?

Maia Kobabe’s book is the book I wish I could’ve read growing up. I was struck so many times by the similarities Kobabe’s story shared with mine, as a kid with many of the same questions and feelings about my gender that e did.

With immersive and evocative illustrations that I couldn’t help but linger over, Kobabe’s graphic memoir took me on a refreshingly frank gender journey that was never afraid to delve into the uncomfortable.

It is also the most challenged and banned book in the country at the moment, which I think speaks volumes about the story’s capacity to change lives.

By Maia Kobabe,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked Gender Queer as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 16, and 17.

What is this book about?

In 2014, Maia Kobabe, who uses e/em/eir pronouns, thought that a comic of reading statistics would be the last autobiographical comic e would ever write. At the time, it was the only thing e felt comfortable with strangers knowing about em. Now, Gender Queer is here. Maia's intensely cathartic autobiography charts eir journey of self-identity, which includes the mortification and confusion of adolescent crushes, grappling with how to come out to family and society, bonding with friends over erotic gay fanfiction, and facing the trauma and fundamental violation of pap smears. Started as a way to explain to eir family…


Book cover of Flannery O'Connor Collected Works

Brian Malloy Author Of After Francesco

From my list on that mix comedy and tragedy.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a gay Midwestern novelist who finds that literary fiction is often humorless, with a narrow emotional range that begins with ennui and ends in despair. If you're weary of trauma porn and want to read books with a broad emotional range, this list of recommendations is for you. My favorite writers ably mix laughter and tears, and are able to find the funny in just about anything life can throw at us. 

Brian's book list on that mix comedy and tragedy

Brian Malloy Why did Brian love this book?

If you’re older, you probably read O’Connor’s short story “A Good Man is Hard to Find” for one or more lit classes; if you’re younger, you may have never heard of her as she is now “problematic” according to the unfunny woke-on-steroids crowd. I love O’Connor because I love characters with moral failings, I love mordant humor, and I love the possibility that even the most irredeemable among us can experience moments of grace. The brief details in her stories do such heavy lifting in terms of irony, for example when a Wellesley undergrad hits Mrs. Turpin in the head with a copy of Human Development in the short story “Revelation.” The action itself – a privileged white college student from an elite school inflicting violence upon a rural white woman – also speaks to our ongoing culture wars. 

By Flannery O'Connor,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Flannery O'Connor Collected Works as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In her short lifetime, Flannery O’Connor became one of the most distinctive American writers of the twentieth century. By birth a native of Georgia and a Roman Catholic, O’Connor depicts, in all its comic and horrendous incongruity, the limits of worldly wisdom and the mysteries of divine grace in the “Christ-haunted” Protestant South. This Library of America collection, the most comprehensive ever published, contains all of her novels and short-story collections, as well as nine other stories, eight of her most important essays, and a selection of 259 witty, spirited, and revealing letters, twenty-one published here for the first time.…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in LGBTQ+ topics and characters, lesbian topics and characters, and coming of age?

11,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about LGBTQ+ topics and characters, lesbian topics and characters, and coming of age.

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