LGBTQ+ Book Recommendations

February’s over halfway done. You’re buried in homework. You have no social life. You barely have time to check Tumblr between classes. The last thing on your mind is reading for pleasure. But if you’re anything like me, the fact that your Goodreads Challenge graph is telling you you’re two/three/four books behind your goal bothers you a lot.

You may ask, how do I fix this when I don’t have the time? Well, I’ll tell you the secret to reading while school is in session: a really good book.

Now you’re probably asking if that’s the point of this post, why is it called LGBTQ+ Book Recommendations? Well, I love a classic, cliché YA romance as much of the next girl (sarcasm not intended) but the books that I love, the books that keep me reading late into the night, the books make me want to write, are those featuring LGBTQ+ characters and romances. Since I am bisexual, maybe I’m just on a search for representation. Or maybe these books just have to try harder to get published so the writing is better. Or maybe they’re just good books and the orientations of their characters is a bonus. Who knows?

The goal remains the same: recommend some really good books that’ll get you through your reading slump and make you succeed in your Goodreads Challenge. So, without further ado, here are some of my favourites.

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe – Benjamin Alire Sáenz

Ari and Dante become friends over the summer when Dante offers to teach Ari how to swim. The boys quickly become best friends and are practically inseparable by the end of the summer. Their friendship is but one of the plotlines in this book, which also deal with issues of self-love and family problems. Written in achingly tender prose with a lot of love given to its characters, Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe will teach you things about love and life that you didn’t even know you needed to be taught.

  • Relationship: M/M, Ari/Dante
  • Genre: Realistic YA
  • # of Books: 1
  • Why I Love It: It is not at all an overstatement for me to say that this book saved my life. Never have I come across a book that is so well-written without being pretentious and never have I read a book that treated its characters with so much love.
  • Pro Tip: Don’t let the awards on the cover scare you!!! I had this book in my to-be-read pile forever because the number of awards on the cover and all the hype around it made me really scared it couldn’t possibly live up to its reputation. It does. It surpasses its reputation. Trust me.
  • A Secret: Don’t be too hard on Ari. He’s trying.

I’ll Give You The Sun – Jandy Nelson

NoahandJude are twin siblings who over the course of the book slowly become Noah and Jude. Written in alternating POVs with three years separating the siblings’ narrations, this book tells the story of a family that is torn apart by sibling rivalry and parental strife. It is also steeped in metaphor and a love of art in a way that’ll make even the least artistically inclined people want to pick up a paintbrush.

  • Relationship: M/M, Noah/Brian
  • Genre: Realistic YA
  • # of Books: 1
  • Why I Love It: This is an incredibly realistic story written in an unrealistic manner. It will crack you open and then pour in love. The love stories in it are adorable and the overall plot is so well-woven that when you hit the twist you will be simultaneously bowled over by surprise and how much you should have seen it coming.
  • Pro Tip: Switching from Noah’s narration to Jude’s can be a little tricky since they aren’t in the same year. Trust the book to guide you back into the right moment. The author knows what she’s doing.
  • A Secret: There are ghosts?

The Abyss Surrounds Us – Emily Skrutskie

Pirates! Sea monsters! Lesbians! Oh my! Cas is a Reckoner trainer sent on her first solo mission at seventeen. When the cruise ship she’s on board comes under attack, she’s taken hostage by pirates who have somehow managed to get their hands on a Reckoner of their own. Her life is suddenly tied to two living beings: Bao, a vicious baby Reckoner and Swift, a surly pirate in line to take over the ship. As Cas learns to survive aboard the ship, she gets a little too close to the two beings keeping her alive.

  • Relationship: F/F, Cas/Swift
  • Genre: Fantasy YA
  • # of Books: 2
  • Why I Love It: Pirates, sea monsters, lesbians, what more can you actually ask for in a book? Bao is adorable. Cas and Swift have an incredible dynamic. The pirate ship is one of the coolest settings I’ve encountered in a book. You can’t go wrong with this one.
  • Pro Tip: Check out the map at the start of the book and things are going to make a lot more sense.
  • A Secret: Bao is named after sticky buns. His nickname, Bao Bao, means “precious baby.”

All For The Game – Nora Sakavic

Neil Josten has been on the run for most of his life. Neil Josten isn’t even his real name. His mom taught him how to run and the first rule? Don’t do anything to garner attention. But Neil joins his high school Exy team (a fake sport made up for these books) and gets noticed by a scout for the Palmetto State Foxes. The catch? The captain of his new team, Kevin Day, knew Neil when they were kids.

  • Relationship: M/M, Neil/Andrew
  • Genre: Realistic YA
  • # of Books: 3
  • Why I Love It: The foxes are some of the strongest human beings you will have the pleasure to read about in your life. The Palmetto State Foxes are made up of kids from broken homes, so the team doubles as a sort of foster home. You’ll want to take care of every last one of them and the sad part is, you can’t. Life sucks sometimes. 
  • Pro Tip: These books are dark. Please check the trigger warnings before you read them. Also, when looking for them, search the first book’s title “The Foxhole Court” and remember these are eBooks, although you can buy paperback copies on Amazon.
  • A Secret: Andrew Minyard is not a monster.

Carry On – Rainbow Rowell

Simon Snow is absolutely certain that his roommate and sworn enemy, Baz Pitch, is a vampire. So when Baz doesn’t show up on the first day of classes, when he doesn’t show up for weeks, Simon gets maybe just a little bit obsessive. Of course, all of this is happening while the Insidious Humdrum wreaks havoc on the magic world and Simon, as the Chosen One, needs to put a stop to it.

  • Relationship: M/M, Simon/Baz
  • Genre: Fantasy YA
  • # of Books: 1
  • Why I Love It: This is book is so funny and features one of the most painful slow burn relationships I’ve read in published fiction. It’s ridiculous but it’s heartfelt. And if you’re a sucker for hate ships like I am, you’ve hit the jackpot.
  • Pro Tip: Simon’s an idiot. The sooner you accept it, the better off you’ll be.
  • A Secret: This is a Harry Potter parody. I tell you this because if you don’t go in knowing it, you will drive yourself insane wondering whether or not it’s a Harry Potter parody. It is. Take a breath. We’re all good here.

The Raven Cycle – Maggie Stiefvater

Blue Sargent is cursed to kill her true love when she kisses him. And then, when she sees the ghost of Gansey on St. Mark’s Eve, she knows: he’s either her true love or she kills him. This prophecy leads into an incredible adventure to search for a dead Welsh king and one of the strongest groups of friends you will ever read about.

  • Relationship: M/M, Ronan/Adam
  • Genre: Fantasy YA
  • # of Books: 4
  • Why I Love It: *sobs* I read the first three books in about a week and half two Decembers ago when I definitely should have been studying for finals. These books are addicting. They’re fast-paced. The characters are complex and interesting. The flirtations will kill you. You will have adopted six new children by the end of these books and you will cry. A lot.
  • Pro Tip: You have an optional seventh child in Kavinsky. Treat him well. I love him.
  • A Secret: Ronan’s going to tell you all the secrets by the end of book two 😉

The Six of Crows Duology – Leigh Bardugo

A gang of criminals. An impossible job. Money on the line. What could possibly go wrong? Kaz Brekker, one of the most dangerous men in the Barrel, has assembled a band of misfits to break into an impenetrable prison. The reward? 30 million Kruge.

  • Relationship: M/M, Jesper/Wylan
  • Genre: Fantasy YA
  • # of Books: 2
  • Why I Love It: I keep saying this but these are my children. Kaz is your classic dead-eyed bad boy with one exception: he’s actually a bad man. Nina is loveable, funny, sexy, and can kill you with her mind. Jesper is a sharpshooter, a gambler, and a total flirt. Inej, the Wraith, is everything you could want out of a badass female protagonist and she’s got the moral code to back it up. Matthias is… Matthias but we love him anyways. And Wylan? Aww, my babe.
  • Pro Tip: This just gets gayer the further you get into the books.
  • A Secret: I’m not actually finished the second book yet. So I’m sorry if I’ve messed anything up here.

George – Alex Gino

George is a girl born into a boy’s body. More than anything, she wants to play Charlotte in her school play, but everyone tells her she can’t do it because she’s a boy. This book is a journey of self-acceptance and shows that when you’re true to yourself, good things can happen.

  • Relationship: N/A
  • Genre: Realistic MG
  • # of Books: 1
  • Why I Love It: This book is so sweet and has such a good message for kids out there who need to know they’re not alone.
  • Pro Tip: Go ahead and read it fast. It’s a short book and you can finish it in a couple of hours.
  • A Secret: George has a lot of support. 

Afterworlds – Scott Westerfeld

Darcy Patel is living the dream: her NaNoWriMo novel is getting published and she’s moving to New York to work through the editing process. While Darcy navigates the publishing world, the reader gets to read the book she’s working on – a YA novel about a girl who, after being caught in a terrorist attack, can see ghosts.

  • Relationship: F/F, Darcy/Imogen
  • Genre: Realistic YA/Fantasy YA
  • # of Books: 1 (?)
  • Why I Love It: I’ll admit, a lot of my love for this book comes from my aspirations to be a writer myself. It’s a lot of fun to see the ins and outs of the publishing industry from the prospective of a naive young author (although things are a little easier for Darcy than is perfectly realistic). But on top of that, you get all the fun of a realistic relationship between two girls and all the fun of a cliché YA fantasy. It’s the best of both worlds and it does it seamlessly.
  • Pro Tip: The version of Darcy’s book that you’re reading is the edited version. I tell you this because it can get confusing when Darcy’s talking about notes on her first draft and you read none of what she’s talking about.
  • A Secret: Darcy’s demisexual!!!

Openly Straight – Bill Konigsberg

Rafe has been out since eighth grade. He’s been “the gay kid” for a long time now and he’s sick and tired of it. So when he transfers to a boarding school far from home, he decides to keep his sexuality a secret. It’s a good plan until he has to start lying to keep from outing himself and he falls in love with his new best friend.

  • Relationship: M/M, Rafe/Ben
  • Genre: Realistic YA
  • # of Books: 2 (the second book isn’t out yet, but soon)
  • Why I Love It: This book is funny, honest, and a ride from start to finish. Do you want all the fun of secret crushes without the angst of the main character not knowing whether or not they’re gay? You’re in the right place. Rafe and Ben’s friendship is everything. And watching Rafe come to terms with who he is all over again will break your heart in all the right places.
  • Pro Tip: Keep tissues handy.
  • A Secret: While the premise may seem ridiculous off the bat, Rafe’s reasoning makes a lot of sense.


Obviously, I have missed a ton of really great books. (Can you believe I forgot The Song of Achilles? Or Will Grayson, Will Grayson? I ask your forgiveness for these egregious oversights.) What you have here is ten of my personal favourites. A lot of them are very popular and some of them definitely don’t have their LGBTQ+ relationships at the forefront. Hopefully you’ve found something you want to read and you can go right ahead and kick your Goodreads Challenge in the butt.

Happy Reading!

You may also like...