February marks the start of LGBTQIA+ History Month, where we look back and reflect on the history of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and other communities. We’ve put together a list of the best LGBTQIA+ books to read this February and beyond, that we hope will inform, inspire, entertain and educate.
We’ve included a lot of different titles, covering many genres and eras, as well as fiction, non-fiction, poetry and even memoirs, so there's something for everyone.
If you’re into something a little more classic, we have popped in some popular reads from Virginia Woolf and James Baldwin, and we’ve featured a graphic novel (if you’re willing to give one a go). Illustrator Alison Bechdel’s memoir, which inspired the hit musical, Fun Home, is also a hilarious read.
Mesmerising alternative titles like the punk Tell Me I’m Worthless and the Japanese best-seller Kitchen have also been included in our list of the best LGBTQIA+ books. And we haven't forgotten some award winning books, like Bernadine Evaristo’s vibrant 2019 novel Girl, Woman, Other and Michael Cunningham’s Pulitzer-winning The Hours.
Here's our favourite LGBTQIA+ books, we hope you love them too!
SHOP: The best LGBTQIA+ books to get reading this month
Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe - Benjamin Alire Sáenz
Winner of the Stonewall Book Award in 2013, this novel is a favourite within the community. Teens Aristotle and Dante meet at the swimming pool but they have nothing in common. As they begin to spend more of their time together, they develop a special bond, an unbreakable friendship. And it is through this that Ari and Dante will learn the most important truths about the universe, themselves and the kind of people they want to be.
If you love a little romance, then we have rounded up 19 LGBTQIA+ romance novels to get stuck into.
**One reader reviewer said: "**This story is one of a kind. I loved how the tension built. The ending was beautiful. I can't wait for the movie! Beautiful, rugged, truthful story of romance between two teenage boys who are on the journey to knowing themselves."
Tales of the City – Armistead Maupin
Tales of the City is the first novel in the nine-novel series by Armistead Maupin. Set in 1970s San Francisco, it follows the residents of a small apartment complex at 28 Barbary Lane, including the eccentric landlady, Anna Madrigal, and has plenty of LGBTQIA+ characters to fall in love with. There's even a limited series adaptation on Netflix starring Laura Linney.
One reader review said: "Read this yet again after a gap of many years and loved it just as much if not more than the first time. The world is a better place for these Tales of the City. Thank you Armistead Maupin from the bottom of my heart."
They Both Die at the End – Adam Silvera
Adam Silvera's novel is a favourite online and there's a reason why. On September 5th, a little after midnight, Death-Cast calls Mateo and Rufus to give them some news: they're going to die today. Mateo and Rufus are total strangers, but both looking to make a new friend on their End Day. Luckily, there's an app for that and it's called the Last Friend. Through it, Rufus and Mateo are about to meet up for one last great adventure - to live a lifetime in one day.
One reader review said: "Beautiful and tragic. The story of two young men who meet on the last day their lives and fall in love. Thanks, Mr Silvera. I needed those tears to fall."
Fun Home: A Family Home Tragicomic – Alison Bechdel
Did you know that: this graphic novel inspired the hit-musical Fun Home? Fun Home: A Family Home Tragicomic is a coming-of-age memoir by illustrator Alison Bechdel. Bechdel's book addresses themes of sexuality, gender roles, dysfunctional family life and mental health.
One reader review said: "Beautifully illustrated graphic novel dealing with potentially traumatic childhood and young LGBTQ adulthood in sensitive and fascinating way - something to treasure."
All My Mother's Lovers: A Novel - Ilana Masad
Masad's witty novel All My Mother's Lovers is a story about grief, family and sexuality. Maggie's mother, who never fully accepted her, has died. Now back at home, Maggie discovers five envelopes, each addressed to a man she's never heard of. So, Maggie is determined to hand-deliver the letters and find out what these men meant to her mother. However, this destroys everything she thought she knew about her parents' marriage.
One reader review said: "I really enjoyed this book. It was a easy read. Hope the author publishes another book because I definitely will read it."
Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda – Becky Albertalli
Those of you familiar with Love, Simon may recognise this popular teen fiction novel by Becky Albertalli. If you don't know about this book already, it follows a closeted gay high-schooler, Simon. When a private email falls into the wrong hands, his sexuality is at risk of getting out. Simon is being blackmailed by class clown Martin and at this rate, his sexual identity and secret pen-pal, Blue, will become everyone's business.
One reader review said: "What a sweet, funny, delight of a book! Simon and his friends, and even his enemy (!), are wonderful, captivating characters who won me over immediately. Simon's online romance with the mysterious 'Blue' is adorable and I loved trying to guess Blue's identity (fyi – I was wrong!)."
The Song of Achilles – Madeline Miller
If you're a fan of Grecian fantasy and epic adventures, The Song of Achilles may be for you. Achilles, the son of the cruel sea goddess Thetis and legendary king Peleus, and young prince Patroclus are brought together and they form an inseparable bond. Trained by the in war and medicine, the young men join the cause to save Helen of Sparta, will this test their fate?
One reader review said: "Beautiful writing and an interesting twist on an ancient narrative that I found very poignant. I was moved to tears at the end."
Girl, Woman, Other – Bernadine Evaristo
Bernadine Evaristo's novel Girl, Woman, Other is like poetry. So beautifully written, this book follows the lives and struggles of twelve different characters. Mostly women, black and British, they tell the stories of their families, friends and lovers, across the country and through the years. Winner of the Booker Prize, this book makes a sensational read.
One reader review said: "Girl, Woman, Other is a genuinely wonderful book. It is a book which confounds expectations. It is an experimental, unconventionally constructed work, but it is also very approachable, and at heart, a damn good story."
The Transgender Issue – Shon Faye
The Transgender Issue was published in 2021 and it was very popular. In her first book, Faye looks at what it means to be transgender in the UK right now and offers a healthier conversation about British trans life. Take a look.
One reader review said: "A well balanced researched book on what it means to be trans in Britain. This book has the potential to change the world and I would thoroughly recommend it. I have had my eyes opened."
Kitchen – Banana Yoshimoto
Banana Yoshimoto's Kitchen was an instant hit in Japan when it was released in 1987. A bestseller for a number of years, it won two of Japan's most prestigious literary prizes. Kitchen tells two short stories about mothers, transsexuality, bereavement, kitchens, love and tragedy in contemporary Japan. A fan of Japanese culture? Check out this epic bestseller by Banana Yoshimoto.
One reader review said: "Written so simply and beautifully, this book was first recommended to me when I was buying a book by Haruki Murakami and it's since been the book I've re-read and bought for other people most. Sure, you can read it in a day or so, but the thoughts it leaves you with will stay with you for much longer. Existential and deep, but easily accessible."
Red, White & Royal Blue - Casey McQuinston
From titles like One Last Stop to Red, White & Royal Blue, Casey McQuinston is writing immensely popular books. Let's ask ourselves this: What happens when America's First Son falls in love with the Prince of Wales?If you like some royal romance, this book is a good pick.
One reader review said: "Beautiful book and such a good read. I'm absolutely obsessed with it!"
Call Me by Your Name – Andre Aciman
Call Me By Your Name has been made a popular film, starring Armie Hammer and Timothée Chalamet. Under the heat of the Italian sun, on the Italian Riviera, Elio falls for Oliver. They embark on a journey of self-discovery and romance.
One reader review said: "It's very rare I feel compelled to review a book but this is no ordinary read.
As someone who recently came out and has spent many years working out who I really am, this was a tour de force that woke up every fibre of my heart and described exactly the kind of love I believe in so much."
None of the Above - Travis Alabanza
Stunning audiences with Edinburgh Fringe fave Burgerz and most recently Overflow at the Bush Theatre, Travis is one of the UK's best queer writers. Alabanza has recently revealed that their book, None of the Above, is going to come out this year. Alabanza enters upon a thought-provoking discussion of non-binary identity and the impact of society's attitudes on their existence. This is a pre-order, but it will be worth the wait.
One reader review said: "This is a unique style of book that explores gender from different angles but all being based around Travis’ personal experiences and opinions. It’s very focused on the gender binary and how it can be such a limiting and toxic thing BUT also how many people can find it helpful and comforting. I feel as though this is a really useful book for cisgender people to read to try and understand gender identities that aren’t so frequently given the time of day."
The Hours - Michael Cunningham
The Hours is a Pulitzer Prize Winner. Cunningham's book concerns three generations of women affected by the classic novel Mrs Dalloway by Virginia Woolf. It's really beautiful. The Oscar-winning film adaptation stars iconic actresses Meryl Streep, Nicole Kidman and Julianne Moore in the main roles.
One reader review said: "Cunningham has forged a masterful novel which melds ideas of creativity, failure, love, suicide, depression and gender, and has done so in a manner that manages to be profoundly moving in just a little over 200 pages."
Middlesex – Jeffrey Eugenides
Middlesex is loosely based on aspects of Jeffrey Eugenides' life and observations of his Greek heritage. A coming-of-age story, the 21st-century novel chronicles narrator and protagonist Cal – who is an intersex man of Greek descent.
One reader review said: "A book that stayed with me long after I finished it. I didn't want to start reading anything else so as not to dispel the magic."
Tell Me I’m Worthless – Alison Rumfitt
Alison Rumfitt's debut is devastating. Tell Me I'm Worthless is about Alice, a transgender woman, who spent one night in an abandoned house with her friends Ila and Hannah. Since then, things have not been going well. Alice is living a haunted existence. Alice and Ila, estranged, reunite at the house to rescue Hannah – but the house has other plans for them. Political, gritty and dark, this book is an important book to read.Editor's favourite.
One reader review said: "Tell Me I'm Worthless is one of the best books I've read this year, and definitely the most harrowing."
Giovanni’s Room – James Baldwin
Giovanni's Room is a 1956 novel by legendary queer writer James Baldwin. This novel focuses on the events in the life of an American man living in Paris and his feelings and frustrations with his relationships with other men in his life, namely an Italian bartender named Giovanni whom he meets at a Parisian gay bar.
One reader review said: "Giovanni's Room is a stunning story of homosexuality, the stigma surrounding LGBTQ romances and a love triangle."
The Line of Beauty – Alan Hollinghurst
Alongside his other titles such as The Swimming Pool Library, Hollinghurst has established himself as a great writer in the canon of modern, gay fiction. Man Booker Prize-winning novel The Line of Beauty is Hollinghurst at his very best. The story surrounds the young gay protagonist, Nick Guest, during the 1980s. The book explores the realities of his sexuality and gay life with the AIDS crisis forming a backdrop to the book's conclusion.
One reader review said: "I avoided this book for a long time because of my own issues with the period it covers. The wait has been worth it, with the evocation of that time almost sending a chill down the spine. Nicks character is beautifully drawn, both as the device for shining a light on others' behaviour and as a protagonist, and Hollinghurst manages to create both momentum and crippling inertia in equal measures."
Orlando - Virginia Woolf
If you're a fan of work that plays with gender, Woolf's Orlando makes a really interesting read. When the book begins, Orlando is a young nobleman during the time of Queen Elizabeth's court. Strangely, by the end of the novel, he will have transformed into a modern, 36-year-old woman and three centuries will have passed.
One reader review said: "If you like Virginia Woolf, gender studies, feminism, philosophy or the Bloomsbury Group this is an awesome short book."
The Essential Emily Dickinson
Though this is not a novel, Dickinson is so influential in American poetry for so many reasons. If you like to read poetry or fancy getting into it, Dickinson is a nice place to start. There's even a TV show about her life, appropriately named Dickinson.
One reader review said: "Every poem I remember liking by Dickinson except one ("I like to see it lap the miles") is here. The poems are arranged chronologically, with Dickinson's punctuation, no titles. I think this little book is wonderful."
What is LGBTQIA+ month?
Founded in 1994, LGBT History Month is an annual month-long observance of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender history, and the history of the gay rights and related civil rights movements.
Why is it important to observe?
LGBTQIA+ History Month provides a platform to remember the progress that LGBTQIA+ people have made and serves as a reminder to uplift these voices. Though we have witnessed some progress, LGBTQIA+ people still face discrimination today. In fact, hate crimes have been on the rise.
By making sure we support and amplify marginalised voices, we’re creating a fairer world with solidarity and understanding; a world where everybody feels heard, valued and respected.