Remember being young, curious and in dire need of books about queer people whom you felt you could identify with? And remember feeling pretty disappointed seeing that the role of most queer characters in novels didn’t extend much past the “gay best friend”? Luckily, that is no longer the case, as more novels featuring interesting and diverse LGBTQ+ characters are being published, talked about and even sold in mainstream bookstores. Here are a few great picks!
1. Nevada by Imogen Binnie
Nevada is a story about Maria Griffiths, a trans woman who lives in New York with her girlfriend. When Maria finds out her girlfriend lied to her, Maria sets out on an adventure around her city that eventually extends out around the country that will change her life forever. Aside from the great plot, Nevada also speaks about the difficulties of transitioning and living as an out trans woman.
2. Blue Is the Warmest Color by Julie Maroh
For those who like a quick read, here’s a book for you. This graphic novel is by no means an easy read, though, as it portrays an honest but difficult relationship between two young girls. Originally written in French, it’s the story of Clementine, an average girl attending high school. After taking a trip to a gay bar with her best friend, she stumbles upon Emma, a cool punk girl whom she immediately falls for. Their relationship tests their families, their friends and their entire world and identities before coming to a dramatic and surprising conclusion. This graphic novel was turned into a romantic French drama in 2013, which won the Palme d’Or at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival.
3. Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit by Jeanette Winterson
Jeannette grows up an orphan in a strict family who is largely associated with the church. She’s very devout and obedient—or else she’ll face the wrath of her adoptive mother. Jeannette does have faith in the church, the people there and God, but an experience with another woman completely stops her in her tracks and causes her to rethink her entire belief system. This novel is fiction, but is largely based on the experiences in the author’s life. A television adaptation was made and aired in 1990, and in 2011 Jeannette Winterson wrote a parallel nonfiction autobiography of her life at the time called Why Be Happy When You Can Be Normal?
4. The Night Watch by Sarah Waters
Lovers of historical fiction, this is a book for you! This novel’s setting begins in 1947 and goes back in time to end with its beginning in 1941. The Night Watch is about four individuals living out their lives in London in the midst of a large and important historical event. As the novel moves forwards but the time moves backwards, you witness an interesting development of all the characters, their relationships, their lives and their connections to one another. The Night Watch won the Lambda Literary Award for Lesbian Fiction in 2007.
5. The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily M. Danforth
When her parents die abruptly in a car accident, Cameron feels relief, rather than sadness—relief that they’ll never know that just hours ago their daughter was kissing another girl. Cameron is sent to live with her caring but conservative aunt and her grandmother as she tries to forget her past and blend in. That proves to be difficult when she meets a beautiful new girl—one with a boyfriend. The two form an unexpected friendship, one which leaves room for more to develop, until Cameron’s aunt finds out about them and sends her away to be “fixed.” This is a novel about self-discovery and the courage to live life by your own rules.
6. Adaptation by Malinda Lo
Into mysteries, government conspiracies and aliens? This YA novel has all that and more! Reese isn’t sure what to think when she and her debate team partner wake up in a military hospital after an accident with no recollection of what happened prior to that. When she’s sent back home to San Francisco, she meets the mysterious new girl Amber Gray and her search for the truth is sent into a completely different direction. Who is Amber? What is the government hiding about their accident? And what’s up with all those birds crashing into planes? The best part about this novel: It features a bisexual character whose identity is neither dismissed nor glossed over. Perfect!
“This book was great. It’s so difficult to find LGBT novels with a bisexual person in them, and as a bisexual girl myself, it’s pretty upsetting,” says Josephine, a student at Seneca College. “I loved the characters in this book, and the plot was really interesting as well.”
7. Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides
In 1974, Calliope Stephanides, a student at a girls' school, becomes attracted to her female classmate. However, as their relationship develops, but Callie’s body doesn’t, Callie starts to think she isn’t like other girls. In fact, Callie finds out that she is intersex, and she’s suddenly extremely confused about her gender identity. This novel about intricate and complicated relationships truly questions just what gender is.
This is just a short list of the many books you can find containing LGBTQ+ characters! Need more? Check out these resources:
1. The Lesbrary
The Lesbrary is a book blog that features books with lesbian and bisexual characters. The website is mostly made up of reviews made by a variety of different bloggers. You can find many different genres and types of books with the help of this site!
Affinity is a company that publishes lesbian literature in the form of e-books. Affinity gives the authors the utmost control over their own work to provide readers with quality material. The books are all affordable, and there’s even a section of free books! Yay!
3. Bella Books
Through print, e-books, translations and distribution, Bella strives to reach lesbian readers across the world. Bella Books partners with many publishers to bring great fiction to all their readers. Search through a multitude of books and authors, choose a format and purchase it affordably!