The most recommended gay books

Who picked these books? Meet our 119 experts.

119 authors created a book list connected to gay topics and characters, and here are their favorite gay books.
Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy books, we may earn an affiliate commission.

What type of gay book?

Loading...
Loading...

Book cover of The Long Call

Neil Plakcy Author Of Mahu

From my list on mysteries with gay cops.

Who am I?

My first published novel, Mahu, was about a gay cop coming out of the closet in Honolulu while investigating a dangerous case. I didn’t even realize there was a whole genre of gay mysteries until I’d finished it, but since then I have made it my business to read as much as I can of these books, both classics and new ones. My reading has deepened my understanding only of my protagonist’s life, but of my own.

Neil's book list on mysteries with gay cops

Neil Plakcy Why did Neil love this book?

I love this book because it’s a fascinating portrait of a gay cop that focuses more on his background growing up in a religious community than on his sexuality. The TV series does a better job of connecting the two, but I’m delighted that a best-selling author has dipped her toe into this genre. It’s also a cleverly-plotted mystery that kept me guessing.

By Ann Cleeves,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

AN INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER!
NOW A BRITBOX SERIOUS STARRING BEN ALDRIDGE AND PEARL MACKIE

The Long Call from Ann Cleeves―bestselling and award-winning author of the Vera and Shetland series, both of which are hit TV shows―introduces the first in a gripping new series, told with deep compassion and searing insight.

“In Matthew Venn, Ann has created a complex, daring, subtle character.” ―Louise Penny

"Matthew Venn is a keeper. A stunning debut for Cleeves’ latest crimefighter."―David Baldacci

In North Devon, where two rivers converge and run into the sea, Detective Matthew Venn stands outside the church as his estranged…


Book cover of Invisible Boys

Amra Pajalić Author Of Sabiha's Dilemma

From my list on YA fiction that represent marginalised communities.

Who am I?

I spent my adolescence reading young adult novels that featured characters who were nothing like me, and yearned to read about characters who shared my struggle in mediating my community’s cultural expectations as a first-generation Australia. This is the inspiration for writing own voices stories as these are the books I wished I’d been able to read. I draw on my Bosnian-Muslim cultural heritage to write own voices stories for young people, who like me, are searching to mediate their identity and take pride in their diverse culture. Own voices books are an opportunity to learn and celebrate culture and diversity, and to show young people that they are not alone in the world.

Amra's book list on YA fiction that represent marginalised communities

Amra Pajalić Why did Amra love this book?

Drawing on his own experiences Sheppard has written about three invisible boys who are dealing with being gay in an unforgiving country town that reminds me of the culture I grew up in with the lack of understanding and support for LGBTQI youth.

This is a page turner that deals with everything real: identity, belonging, family dysfunction, and masculinity. It is a book that will be a beacon of light to young people who are dealing with their own coming out journey, and a handbook to those who are allies and wish to support LGBTQI youth on their journey. It broke my heart and healed it again and Sheppard is an author that is on my must read list.

By Holden Sheppard,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

An emotional tale of identity, sexuality and suicide derived from personal experience about three teenage boys who struggle to come to terms with their homosexuality in a small Western Australian town. On the surface, nerd Zeke, punk Charlie and footy wannabe Hammer look like they have nothing in common. But scratch that surface and you’d find three boys in the throes of coming to terms with their homosexuality in a town where it is invisible. Invisible Boys is a raw, confronting YA novel that explores the complexities and trauma of rural gay identity with painful honesty, devastating consequences and, ultimately,…


Book cover of The Pink Triangle: The Nazi War Against Homosexuals

Jeffrey H. Jackson Author Of Paper Bullets: Two Artists Who Risked Their Lives to Defy the Nazis

From my list on challenge how your think about WWII in europe.

Who am I?

Jeffrey H. Jackson is a prolific author and award-winning Professor of History at Rhodes College. He has written several books about the history of Europe including Paper Bullets: Two Artists Who Risked Their Lives to Defy the Nazis, Paris Under Water: How the City of Light Survived the Great Flood of 1910, and Making Jazz French: Music and Modern Life in Interwar Paris. His writing has appeared in the Washington Post, CNN.com, TheHill.com, HistoryNewsNetwork.com, and in numerous other publications.

Jeffrey's book list on challenge how your think about WWII in europe

Jeffrey H. Jackson Why did Jeffrey love this book?

Hitler had ambivalent feelings about gay men, but Heinrich Himmler did not. The SS leader spearheaded the Nazi persecution of homosexuality in an effort to root out a perceived corruption that he believed was incompatible with the hyper-masculine doctrine of Nazism. A direct response to a flourishing gay culture in the 1920s and the medical study of “sexology,” gay men were rounded up and forced to wear the pink triangle as a sign of what the Nazis called their “degeneracy.”

By Richard Plant,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This is the first comprehensive book in English on the fate of the homosexuals in Nazi Germany. The author, a German refugee, examines the climate and conditions that gave rise to a vicious campaign against Germany's gays, as directed by Himmler and his SS--persecution that resulted in tens of thousands of arrests and thousands of deaths.

In this Nazi crusade, homosexual prisoners were confined to death camps where, forced to wear pink triangles, they constituted the lowest rung in the camp hierarchy. The horror of camp life is described through diaries, previously untranslated documents, and interviews with and letters from…


Book cover of The Saucer-Heads

George Bixley

New book alert!

What is my book about?

Hired to track down Finley, the missing boyfriend of tech worker Truax, investigator Slater Ibáñez soon discovers that the job isn’t really what he was asked to do.

The search for Finley leads him to an arcane book and the flying-saucer subculture, where a deep dive takes Slater out into the Mojave Desert, leaving him unsure of the precise boundaries of reality itself. With input from Doris and his operatives, and begrudging help from his romantic partner, Pike, to weasel him out of a jam, Slater cuts a dogged path to sort out what Truax really wants, and what Finley is really up to, all the while juggling high explosives, navigating his deepening narrative complex with Pike, and never failing to throw that punch.

Book cover of We Contain Multitudes

Michael Cart Author Of Young Adult Literature: From Romance to Realism

From my list on beautifully capturing gay teens’ lives and loves.

Who am I?

I’ve been a full-time writer since 1994 and have so far published twenty-seven books, three of them with gay themes: My Father’s Scar, a gay coming-of-age novel and two about LGBTQ+ issues: Top 250 LGTBQ Books for Teens and The Heart Has Its Reasons, a history of queer literature. I’ve been interested in this literature since I was a gay teen myself, because there were no YA books with queer characters then. I missed seeing my face in the pages of a good book and so I promised myself that when I became an adult. I would make sure there was an ample assortment for today’s queer kids. And, guess what? I’ve kept my promise!

Michael's book list on beautifully capturing gay teens’ lives and loves

Michael Cart Why did Michael love this book?

Here’s another book that I love because it’s a story about love, the love of two boys who are unlikely companions: one is a former football player, taciturn and withdrawn; the other is openly gay, a short, slender, fine-boned boy who idolizes the poet Walt Whitman, whose words become a leitmotif of this remarkable novel. Told in the form of. letters that the two boys exchange, it follows their emerging friendship as it gradually turns into a love that’s as poetic as Whitman’s well-chosen words. The relationship of the boys – who are characters to die for – is riveting and their story, unforgettable. Another terrific addition to gay literature for teens.   

By Sarah Henstra,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked We Contain Multitudes 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?

Jonathan Hopkirk and Adam 'Kurl' Kurlansky are partnered in English class, writing letters to one another in a weekly pen pal assignment. With each letter, the two begin to develop a friendship that grows into love. But with homophobia, bullying, and familial abuse, Jonathan and Kurl must struggle to overcome their conflicts and hold onto their relationship, and each other.We Contain Multitudes is the sort of novel that has readers falling in love with their characters, becoming so invested in their stories and conflicts that it's impossible to put the book down. The literary languages and references throughout (particularly to…


Book cover of Swerve: The Story of an Orphan Boy

Jeff Stookey Author Of Dangerous Medicine

From Jeff's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Who am I?

Author Historical fiction writer Gay male Reader History buff Curious human

Jeff's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Jeff Stookey Why did Jeff love this book?

My favorite things about this memoir are its humor and Franklyn’s literary voice, which is distinctive and authentic.

I was horrified and heartbroken reading about the abandonment and abuse he experienced as an effeminate gay boy, yet in the face of all that, he maintains a comic outlook. As a devoutly trained boy moving through a series of Catholic schools, he struggles inwardly with his sexual orientation and his faith.

I was shocked to learn about the lamentable US foster care system of the 1950s, but I had to keep reading to see how Franklyn would survive and where he would wind up. In the end, you will find him a compassionate and perceptive observer.

Book cover of Body Music

Joris Bas Backer Author Of Kisses For Jet: A Coming-of-Gender Story

From my list on authentic transgender characters.

Who am I?

I'm a cartoonist with a transgender-biography and I write trans characters into my stories. Even though I value the growing awareness of transgender representation by all writers, those that were written by people with trans-experience carry special significance. I've written a graphic novel and many autobiographical, fictional, and documentary short stories. These works have centered on the themes sexual identity, gender roles, youth culture, family, social structures, and social history. With my work I aim to shed light on issues that are lesser known, with a strong social focus and the intention of using the storytelling medium and the comic format as a way of making the complex understandable.

Joris' book list on authentic transgender characters

Joris Bas Backer Why did Joris love this book?

Body Music is a lyrical compilation of short stories that play in the city life of Montreal. Each story is a small insight into the intimacy shared between two or more people. Very tenderly the author shows how love and connection are as unique and personal as people are different. It was heart-warming to read trans characters who were just one more way in the myriad of ways of being human. 

By Julie Maroh, David Homel (translator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Julie Maroh's first book, Blue Is the Warmest Color, was a graphic novel phenomenon; it was a New York Times bestseller and the controversial film adaptation by French director Abdellatif Kechiche won the Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival in 2013. Maroh's latest book, Body Music, marks her return to the kind of soft, warm palette and impressionistic sensibility that made her debut book so sensational.


Set in the languid, European-like neighborhoods of Montreal, Body Music is a beautiful and moving meditation on love and desire as expressed in their many different forms?between women, men, and gender non-conformists alike,…


Book cover of The Angels Within

Sally Berneathy Author Of Death by Chocolate

From Sally's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Who am I?

Author Entertaining Storyteller Chocolate fanatic Friend Voracious reader

Sally's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Sally Berneathy Why did Sally love this book?

This book begins with the compelling, captivating story of a woman accepting that she is gay and dealing with the turbulence this causes in her life.

That’s enthralling…but then the character falls in love with a woman who has some strange traits. Turns out she has eight different personalities!

However, if the characters were not gay, this would still be a compelling, captivating story of human interactions. I laughed and cried and rejoiced with the characters.

Book cover of No Straight Lines: Four Decades of Queer Comics

Meg-John Barker Author Of Sexuality: A Graphic Guide

From my list on comic books about sexuality.

Who am I?

I’m a queer writer who is passionate about getting good awareness of gender, sexuality, relationships and mental health out there into the world. I create comics, zines, blog posts, and self-help style books to try to reach as wide an audience as possible, bringing together the work of activists, scholars, therapists, and creators - and drawing on a diverse range of knowledge and experiences - in the hope of helping us all understand ourselves and our world better.

Meg-John's book list on comic books about sexuality

Meg-John Barker Why did Meg-John love this book?

No Straight Lines brings together multiple comic creators from four decades of comics by and about LGBTQ+ people. If you want to get a sense of how the queer community has developed and changed over time, and how comics have reflected - and impacted - that, then this anthology is definitely the place to go. 

From early underground gay and lesbian comics, through responses to the AIDS crisis, to more recent webcomics and trans memoirs, this book takes the reader on a historical journey and introduces them to many creators of fictional and non-fictional comics who they may well want to read more from.

By Justin Hall,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked No Straight Lines as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Collecting the world's greatest LGBT comics under one cover.

Queer cartooning encompasses some of the best and most interesting comics of the last four decades, with creators tackling complex issues of identity and a changing society with intelligence, humor, and imagination. This book celebrates this vibrant artistic underground by gathering together a collection of excellent stories that can be enjoyed by all.

No Straight Lines showcases major names such as Alison Bechdel (whose book Fun Home was named Time Magazine’s 2006 Book of the Year), Howard Cruse (whose groundbreaking Stuck Rubber Baby is now back in print), and Ralf Koenig…


Book cover of Boy Underground

Ellen Barker Author Of East of Troost

From my list on dogs as supporting characters.

Who am I?

Dogs make great supporting characters, adding drama or humor or pathos, and revealing so much about the humans in the story. I discovered this in writing my first novel: The narrator’s dog keeps her grounded when things go wrong and makes it possible for her to keep going through difficult times. For the reader, he provides levity and depth without turning it into a book about a dog. I had a great model – I used my own dog Boris, even appropriating his name. I think of the fictional Boris as real-life Boris’s best self.

Ellen's book list on dogs as supporting characters

Ellen Barker Why did Ellen love this book?

Boy Underground is a coming-of-age story of four teen-aged boys in rural California who each go underground at some point, literally or figuratively.

Akira is a terrier and can’t go with her family when they are forced into a Japanese internment camp, and she, too, goes underground.

Catherine Ryan Hyde unfolds this story with a subtle voice that resonates with compassion for the boy hiding from the law, the boy sent to the camp, the boy living with his own secret, and the boy who drops out of school to enlist.

And the dog, who is a pawn in the great drama of WWII as it plays out in this remote corner of America.

By Catherine Ryan Hyde,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

During WWII, a teenage boy finds his voice, the courage of his convictions, and friends for life in an emotional and uplifting novel by the New York Times and #1 Amazon Charts bestselling author.

1941. Steven Katz is the son of prosperous landowners in rural California. Although his parents don't approve, he's found true friends in Nick, Suki, and Ollie, sons of field workers. The group is inseparable. But Steven is in turmoil. He's beginning to acknowledge that his feelings for Nick amount to more than friendship.

When the bombing of Pearl Harbor draws the US into World War II,…


Book cover of How to Write an Autobiographical Novel: Essays

Vanessa McGrady Author Of Rock Needs River: A Memoir About a Very Open Adoption

From Vanessa's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Who am I?

Author Creative Skeptical of authority Spouse Dogmama Mom

Vanessa's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Vanessa McGrady Why did Vanessa love this book?

First, Chee is a beautiful writer. He’s so deft and brings you right in. But I also loved this book because it was inspirational to me. He made an essay collection seem simple and accessible in a way it hadn’t before. I’m working on one now!

By Alexander Chee,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked How to Write an Autobiographical Novel as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Shortlisted for the PEN/Diamonstein-Spielvogel Award for the Art of the Essay

Named a Best Book of 2018 by TIME, Washington Post, Entertainment Weekly, Wired, Esquire, Buzzfeed, Paste, Bitch, Bustle, The Chicago Review of Books and iBooks

As a novelist, Alexander Chee has been described as 'masterful' by Roxane Gay, 'incendiary' by the New York Times, and 'brilliant' by the Washington Post. With How to Write an Autobiographical Novel, his first collection of nonfiction, he secures his place as one of the finest essayists of his generation.

How to Write an Autobiographical Novel is the author's exploration of the entangling of…