38 books directly related to homosexuality 📚

All 38 homosexuality books as recommended by authors and experts. Updated weekly.

How to Be Gay

By David M. Halperin,

Book cover of How to Be Gay

Why this book?

As befitting the cheeky title, this book – about what it means to be, and to become, a gay man – is incisive, erudite, and a lot of fun to read. A pioneer of queer theory (and with this intervention, I suspect, a renegade from it), David Halperin is an unapologetic camp. He challenges received wisdom about how gay sensibility supposedly is misogynist, passé, irrelevant or dead, and his reflections on everything from Joan Crawford’s pizazz, to the current state of gay marriage, vacillate between being capacious and withering. “Sometimes I think homosexuality is wasted on gay people” he sniffs at one point, dispensing a delightful, and typically barbed, aperçu.


The Straight State: Sexuality and Citizenship in Twentieth-Century America

By Margot Canaday,

Book cover of The Straight State: Sexuality and Citizenship in Twentieth-Century America

Why this book?

Men, did you know that too little body hair or too much talkativeness could keep you from being admitted to the United States in the early 1900s? The Straight State will have readers shaking their heads at the outrageous presumptions that immigration inspectors applied to keep “degenerates” out of the country. This was the first time that federal officials had both the interest and power to create policies against homosexuality, and they were crassly influenced by the eugenics movement and hostility to the poor. Canaday also shows how early welfare policies perpetuated gender stereotypes and discrimination against sexual “deviants,” favoring the married over the single. I learned so much! 


Harry the Poisonous Centipede

By Lynne Reid Banks,

Book cover of Harry the Poisonous Centipede

Why this book?

I love bugs, and there just aren’t enough books out there about them. Harry the Poisonous Centipede is one my kids asked for over and over when they were little, and that I happily read them again and again. 

When Harry and his best friend George go up the Up Pipe, they find themselves in the dangerous world of the hoo-mans. My kids loved seeing the world through a centipede’s eyes, not to mention their unique centipedish way of speaking, and the scrapes Harry and George get themselves into (and out of) are incredibly entertaining. 


Beautiful Shadow: A Life of Patricia Highsmith

By Andrew Wilson,

Book cover of Beautiful Shadow: A Life of Patricia Highsmith

Why this book?

This book about the ultimate rebel woman Patricia Highsmith explores in depth the many ways Highsmith rejected social expectations of her time in terms of her gender, sexuality, and writing material. The biography does not shy away from presenting Highsmith in all her glorious complexity – equal parts humorous, wry, loathsome, disturbing. This was one of the first biographies that I read where I realized the power of archives, what they can reveal, and how enlightening they can be when used so brilliantly, as Andrew Wilson does here. 


Katy Has Two Grampas

By Julie Schanke Lyford, Robert A. Schanke, Mariia Luzina (illustrator)

Book cover of Katy Has Two Grampas

Why this book?

This is the first book to feature gay grandfathers, an overlooked and under-represented population in the literature. It is based on the author’s actual family experience, which allows the reader to experience the real emotions experienced by the characters. The author carefully takes the reader on a journey that will be relatable to anyone with an LGBTQ+ family member. This is a story that needs to be told and Schanke and Schanke do it beautifully.


A Queer History of the United States for Young People

By Michael Bronski,

Book cover of A Queer History of the United States for Young People

Why this book?

After reading all that historical fiction, you might be ready to learn more about the time periods and events that you’ve been introduced to. This non-fiction book is based on the author’s 2012 Stonewall Award-winning A Queer History of the United States and is adapted for teen readers. It includes some well-known figures, alongside profiles of many people that readers may never have heard of. Engaging and easy to read, this is a fascinating and richly detailed telling of queer American history, particularly in the years before the Stonewall Riots.


The Rebellious Tide

By Eddy Boudel Tan,

Book cover of The Rebellious Tide

Why this book?

The setup of The Rebellious Tide instantly made me want to read it. A man abandons his pregnant wife, and thirty years later Sebastien, their son, seeks him out, wanting an explanation and revenge. The father is the captain of a luxury liner cruising the Mediterranean, and Sebastien joins the crew to secretly stalk his father to find out what kind of person he is. The story is full of mystery and disturbing elements, not to mention fluid sexuality. Ultimately, Sebastien discovers something his father has hidden in the belly of the ship that makes him confront what he’s feared about his own identity. A new twist on a high seas mystery!  


Between Ghosts

By Garrett Leigh,

Book cover of Between Ghosts

Why this book?

I stumbled over this book and soon found myself hooked. It’s a romance, yes, but the research into conflict and its effects put it up there on my list of thrillers. It’s not strictly speaking a thriller, it’s more of a military action story and romance, but the characters are wonderful. The way they react to the war zone conflict, the effect it has on the unit and the reporter embedded with them, it has a wonderful ring of truth. And that’s what I’m always looking for in a good romance, the ring of truth. You have to really feel the RPGs coming in, and Garrett does an amazing job of making you really feel it.


Wave Goodbye to Charlie

By Eric Arvin,

Book cover of Wave Goodbye to Charlie

Why this book?

Charlie is homeless and lives in an abandoned carnival, just one of the places full of wonder and mystery in this novel. He is sometimes fed by a mature-aged gay couple and has an unrequited love. But he dies and we continue reading his story in a surreal version of the world he inhabited while alive. Yes, Charlie is a ghost. The carnival he still lives in has a life of its own, and he needs to protect the living who showed him kindness. A truly beautiful tale.


Simple Justice

By John Morgan Wilson,

Book cover of Simple Justice

Why this book?

Benjamin Justice is a broken man—a former prize-winning journalist whose career (and life) has been shattered by the death of his lover and a scandal surrounding his best-known writing. Recruited by his former boss to assist an up-and-coming journalist, Ben finds himself investigating a murder that occurred outside a gay bar. The series is tightly written and casts a dark glamor across gay life in ’90s California.


The Boy from the Mish

By Gary Lonesborough,

Book cover of The Boy from the Mish

Why this book?

This is a heartwarming contemporary story about a gay Aboriginal teen exploring his sexuality and falling in love for the first time, set against the vivid backdrop of a fictional, rural Indigenous community. It’s evocative and heady and compelling. It’s one of those stories that makes you want to reach into the book and hug all the characters and tell them everything is going to be okay. Such an important story from a brilliant new voice in Australian YA.


The Picture of Dorian Gray

By Oscar Wilde,

Book cover of The Picture of Dorian Gray

Why this book?

A clever account of vanity-gone wrong, I thought this novel was a great metaphor for how becoming obsessed with appearances (or just yourself in general) can have consequences. Dorian is so vain that he sells his soul in order to stay young and beautiful, all while his beautiful portrait ages and takes the brunt of his amoral lifestyle. What’s amazing about this story is not only does Dorian’s portrait suffer consequences – showing his true ugliness with each immoral act – but the characters around Dorian suffer as well, some of them terribly. It’s a very good reminder that not everything beautiful is good.


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.


Fourteen

By Shannon Molloy,

Book cover of Fourteen

Why this book?

This is a stunning and heart-wrenching memoir about growing up gay in an all-boys Catholic school. Written by an award-winning Aussie journalist, the story delves into the challenges of coming to terms with your sexuality as a fourteen-year-old boy, when you’re surrounded by rugby-obsessed schoolmates and rigid views of masculinity. It’s a heartbreaking book, but ultimately hopeful, and it’s one that every Australian (and non-Australian!) needs to read.


Death in Venice

By Thomas Mann, Stanley Appelbaum (translator),

Book cover of Death in Venice

Why this book?

There are so many amazing books set in Venice, but no list is complete without Thomas Mann's Death in Venice. It’s a literary classic from 1912 that not only stands the test of time, it exceeds the hype. Death in Venice follows Gustav von Aschenbach, a famous author who travels to Venice in search of inspiration. Instead, he finds obsession. Death in Venice is erotic and dark, but what I love most about this book is how it captures the city’s bewitching personality. 


The Vast Fields of Ordinary

By Nick Burd,

Book cover of The Vast Fields of Ordinary

Why this book?

One of my favourite YA novels ever! The narration in this book truly comes alive. Reading it, the narrator Dade just popped right out of the page and into my inner reading voice. He was so vibrant and full of personality, and while his misadventures were very unlike my own experiences, I still felt a connection to him. I was hooked from beginning to end! This book also inspired me to get back into writing my own novel, so it has a really special place in my heart.


The Bridegroom: Stories

By Ha Jin,

Book cover of The Bridegroom: Stories

Why this book?

Ha Jin is a writer close to my heart. I find his spare prose and his trenchant images extremely effective in portraying the oppression of the Chinese regime. In The Bridegroom, Ha Jin uses twelve stories to show a China in transition from a society that’s just emerged from the cultural revolution to a more modern land where Western-style chicken restaurants, with their capitalist modes of operation, disrupt the accepted order of things. The Bridegroom has everything a good story collection is supposed to have: memorable characters, interesting situations, good doses of humor, and resonant images. It’s a book I have learned much from and one repeatedly taught in my classes. 


Two Dads: A Book About Adoption

By Carolyn Robertson, Sophie Humphreys (illustrator),

Book cover of Two Dads: A Book About Adoption

Why this book?

This book gets triple points in my opinion, as it specifically addresses adoption by two dads who are an interracial couple. There are very few children’s books that cover all of these topics and even fewer that do it as simplistic and easy as this one. We have this one in our personal library and it has been one of our go-to books for helping our own daughter who my husband and I adopted.  


Reforged

By Seth Haddon,

Book cover of Reforged

Why this book?

This is a book I’m particularly excited to share because I was given the chance to read it in advance of its release. And I can say that it’s fabulous fun! A swords and sorcery tale brimming with assassins, magical music, battles for a throne, and dynamic lovers!

Balen is a gallant paladin who has made tough sacrifices to win his post as the king’s personal guard. One of the most painful of those sacrifices was leaving his witty and musically talented lover, Zavrius. So imagine his shock and chagrin after a series of mysterious assassinations leave Zaverius as the sole heir to the throne and Balen sworn to never leave his side! Awkward doesn’t even begin to describe it…but in the very best way — I promise!

The banter between the characters never failed to make me smile. And I adored that I could side with Zavrius for a chapter but then understand Balen’s point of view perfectly in the next chapter. Between snappy dialogue, epic battles, and more than a few heartfelt moments I couldn’t have been more happy, following along as Balen and Zavrius reclaimed their love.

(Reforged is available for preorder already and will be released on October 4th, 2022, so mark your calendars and don’t miss out!)


Beyond Belief: Moors Murders

By Emlyn Williams,

Book cover of Beyond Belief: Moors Murders

Why this book?

This is an old book, but it digs deep into the fragility of the human spirit. As Emlyn states in the foreword: "The proper study of mankind is man. And man cannot be ignored because he has become vile. Woman neither.” Perhaps nowadays we should say the proper study of humankind is humans. Whatever way you’d like to put it, the sentiment behind the pronouns rings true. It’s written as a fictional novel but it follows the crimes of Myra Hindley and her sadistic lover, Ian Brady. Emlyn Williams does a fine job of laying out everything that stoked the fire of that ill-fated and dangerous friendship. What do you come away with? How a human being can fall apart into something inhumane. 


The Thief's Journal

By Jean Genet,

Book cover of The Thief's Journal

Why this book?

The French have a peculiar sadomasochism, where they venerate the destitute, elevate them to romantic icons, and then wait to be spat on, by the very thing they applaud. This is Genet in a nutshell, a bourgeois-hating novelist and playwright (who makes Joe Orton sound like an infantile literary masturbator), who got around to putting his life down on paper with this novel, The Thief’s Journal. It is post-Celine, and predates Dirty Realism, and has caustic revelations of a petty criminal. He finds virtue in the sewers of Paris and Europe, like a Phantom dwelling artist whose dishonesty is part of a performance art exhibition. 


Memoirs of Hadrian

By Marguerite Yourcenar, Grace Frick,

Book cover of Memoirs of Hadrian

Why this book?

This splendid work of fiction recreates the times of the Roman Emperor Hadrian. I list it as one of the perceptions I relate in my book is how when I began reading intensely from 12 on I did so first to escape the reality around me, and then, with growing astonishment, to explore how extraordinarily varied reality was, and that what seemed impossible, or fantasy, had in many cases and at other times, been real—as the life of Hadrian had been. This had the effect of reducing the force of the claims of those around me that our reality was Reality: I began to realize 'Reality' contains multiple realities, both in the past and present, and that I need not be bound by the one I found myself within.


The Lavender Scare: The Cold War Persecution of Gays and Lesbians in the Federal Government

By David K. Johnson,

Book cover of The Lavender Scare: The Cold War Persecution of Gays and Lesbians in the Federal Government

Why this book?

 Johnson was among the first historians to demonstrate that the McCarthy-era witch hunts of gay and lesbian federal employees were as virulent and obsessive as the witch hunts of suspected communists. The merciless persecution of government workers suspected of being homosexual led to tragedies of ruined lives and suicides. But, as Johnson shows, it also helped politicize the victims, making them aware of themselves as a gay and lesbian community that must fight for civil rights.


The Pink Triangle: The Nazi War Against Homosexuals

By Richard Plant,

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

Why 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.”


What's Left of the Night

By Ersi Sotiropoulos, Karen Emmerich (translator),

Book cover of What's Left of the Night

Why this book?

What's Left of the Night gives an imagined account of the young Cavafy's three-day visit to Paris in 1897. This trip proved to be an important journey for the then-unknown Greek poet who was in search of his poetic voice among other things.

The book is about the artist, as well as any ordinary human being, who yearns to reach his/her own higher potential or to live for something higher and for a moment he/she does. This literary work of genius is a hymn to the irremediable desire of the humble soul that reaches for the stars, despite the fact that in the majority, or almost all, of its life lives in the gutter.


Fadeout

By Joseph Hansen,

Book cover of Fadeout

Why this book?

Fadeout is the first book in Hansen’s Dave Brandstetter mysteries. The protagonist, an openly gay insurance investigator in 1970s California, is convinced that a man who has been reported dead is actually still alive, and he must hurry to find him. Another classic in the gay mystery canon, Fadeout is vividly noir, grittily honest, and rejects cliches and stereotypes in a way that is still shocking over fifty years later.


Coming Out Under Fire: The History of Gay Men and Women in World War II

By Allan Bérubé,

Book cover of Coming Out Under Fire: The History of Gay Men and Women in World War II

Why this book?

A classic work of war and society by a brilliant scholar of the gay experience during World War II. This deeply researched, lively book tells the personal stories of the gay men and women who were swept into military service in the 1940s. Berube documents how wartime induction put the military at the forefront of defining concepts of homosexuality at mid-century, and he describes the ambiguities and ambivalences that wartime service produced, both for the military and for gay service personnel. While the war brought hundreds of thousands of queer young people together and allowed them chances to create a vibrant new gay life, the military also grew increasingly repressive about homosexuality and instituted policies and practices to diagnose, disparage, and discharge gay men and women.


Edgeplay

By Annabel Allan,

Book cover of Edgeplay

Why this book?

I personally recommend Edgeplay by Annabel Allan to readers who enjoy high-quality erotic and BDSM romance readers. The chemistry between Ava Goode and her hunky lover, Gabriel Burton, is a passionate one that sizzles, not fizzles. Gabriel is a high-powered CEO who dares to try new kinky things in the bedroom with Ava. He knows when to be bad, and he knows when to be good. Ava personifies empowerment – she’s a real hero with a strong voice, and she's no damsel in distress. This is great, as I’m not a fan of weak voices. Edgeplay accurately portrays BDSM—the author has done her research into the lifestyle and knows what she's writing about.


Killer on the Road

By James Ellroy,

Book cover of Killer on the Road

Why this book?

This book blew my mind when I first read it. In my opinion, it is one of the most visceral, scary, and under-rated serial killer novels of all time. Published in 1986 in the midst of America’s much-hyped real and fictional serial killer ‘epidemic,’ Killer on the Road stands out as a first-person serial-killer narrative, as well as putting forward a new kind of character (for the 1980s) – the homosexual serial murderer. In this novel, Ellroy delves into the phenomenon of motiveless serial murder from the perspective of the killer on a subversive journey through a hellish suburban America. From the prologue to the epilogue the reader is presented an interior world-view saturated with violence and nightmarish insights into the psychopathology of a disturbed killer. 


Pablo Neruda: Poet of the People

By Monica Brown, Julie Paschkis (illustrator),

Book cover of Pablo Neruda: Poet of the People

Why this book?

Monica Brown’s picture book biography of Pablo Neruda is a wonderfully written account of his life and the creation of his beautiful writing and poems that sing, even under the weight of tremendous struggles. The lyrical text soars on the page while Julie Paschkis’ colorful illustrations capture the heart and soul of the poet of the people. This is a must-read!


The Price of Salt: Or Carol

By Patricia Highsmith,

Book cover of The Price of Salt: Or Carol

Why 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.


The Front Runner

By Patricia Nell Warren,

Book cover of The Front Runner

Why this book?

A tale of three American athletes and their coach, all gay, and told from the POV of the coach. Included because, to me, it is a piece of queer fiction history. It was published in the seventies pre the nationwide legalisation of gay sex in the United States. Gay friends have told me how important it was for them to read The Front Runner back then. It’s all about the validation that arises from seeing people like oneself in print, as aces know. There’s nothing on the page to worry aces. The only worrying thing is that sportspeople still have homophobia to contend with.


The Woman Destroyed

By Beauvoir Simone De,

Book cover of The Woman Destroyed

Why this book?

Abandonment and the end of love terrify me. In The Woman Destroyed, the happy diary of a fifty-year-old woman turns into a descent into hell when Beauvoir's narrator finds out that her husband is having an affair and is actually leaving her. Beauvoir wrote it in order to send a feminist message to women in the fifties, to convince them to get a job and define their identity outside their family life. I wonder, however, whether the intensity of the grief we feel in that novella wasn't experienced by Beauvoir herself the summer when her American lover, the novelist Nelson Algren, broke up their transcontinental passion of four years. 


The Stuffed Coffin

By Dieter Moitzi,

Book cover of The Stuffed Coffin

Why this book?

I’m a gay writer living in France, so of course, I had to read The Stuffed Coffin when it won France’s national 2019 Prize for Gay Thriller. And as a bonus, it’s set in Greece, the country which stole my heart long ago. After breaking up with his boyfriend, Damien needs to get away and chooses a bucolic Greek village next to the sea. His first night there, he falls for a handsome youth, Nikos, but their relationship is anything but simple. Meanwhile, bodies start appearing: drowned, run over, whatever. It’s hardly the calm respite Damien envisioned but readers will definitely enjoy this sometimes-quirky and definitely entertaining read.


The Well of Loneliness

By Radclyffe Hall,

Book cover of The Well of Loneliness

Why this book?

The Well of Loneliness, written in 1928 was banned upon publication because of its lesbian theme. I think the banning of this book brought it enough publicity to make it a must read. It is the story of Stephen Gordon, an Englishwoman who struggles to be who she knows she is in her upper-class society. Stephen’s strength and compassion, and her courage kept me reading while I was in the early stages of my own discovery.


On Intimate Terms

By Beverly Burch,

Book cover of On Intimate Terms

Why this book?

I found this to be an interesting read about how people are drawn to each other regardless of gender. It also discusses the special attractions between women who have been attracted to other women from an early age and those who once considered themselves heterosexual as I did.


Maurice

By E.M. Forster,

Book cover of Maurice

Why this book?

The first gay novel that moved me to weep and allowed me to embrace myself as a hopeless romantic, Forster’s tale of manners, homophobia, and longing set in early 20th century England is a treasure. The story moves briskly, and the writing is assured, but it is the journey of the title character and his ultimate illicit affair with under-gamekeeper Alec Scutter that gives the novel its heart. A great read for everyone, but particularly for the younger LGBTQ set so they can glimpse the lengths their gay ancestors went to (let alone the risks!) to find happiness. Once you read the book, check out the lush film adaption by Merchant Ivory. 


My Lovely Mamá!

By Mathilde,

Book cover of My Lovely Mamá!

Why this book?

My Lovely Mamá! parodies the decadence and ennui of Bonjour Tristesse. The narrative toys with the sort of decadence Sagan captures, by having Mathilde believe her mother is having an affair and hence attempt, unsuccessfully, to seduce her mother’s lover. The very funny novel hyperbolizes the world-weariness of Sagan’s characters. “I was terribly immature last September,” Mathilde writes, “I’ve aged a lot since then. Inwardly I’m an old, old woman now.” While it parodies certain tropes of teen girl fiction, My Lovely Mamá! nonetheless gives voice to authentic adolescent feelings, especially about sexual desire. When Mathilde receives a marriage proposal, she opts to keep things open-ended, maintaining her freedom: “I was only seventeen and everything was only just beginning, after all.”