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10 inspiring LGBTQ books to read this Pride Month and beyond

Lose yourself in the stories, past and present, of the queer community

From 1950s Paris to 2020 Newark, these LGBTQ books are a celebration of the lives and loves of the queer community. This past year has been a triumph for LGBTQ voices in the literary world, many of whom have released their first novels – Paris Lees’ hotly anticipated What It Feels Like For A Girl took seven years to write in fact. These stories shed light into the lives of Trans womxn, and are helping pave the way for future writers to tell theirs. Here are the best new and classic LGBTQ books to look back and remember those that came before.

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The Best LGBTQ Books
10 LGBTQ+ Books To Read This Pride 2021 and Beyond
What It Feels
Like For A Girl
by Paris Lees

Penguin Books (£17.99)

In her first book, Paris Lees – one of Britain’s most exciting young writers – looks back over her life, growing up in Hucknall, Nottinghamshire. What It Feels Like for a Girl is written in a chatty, Midlands dialect and starts with Lees as 13 year old  ‘Byron,’ and ends with her calling herself ‘Paris.’ We learn of her dysfunctional home life, discovering her chosen family in the gritty queer clubs and bars of the era, and a dark encounter that will lead to Lees spending 18 months in a youth detention centre.   

As the first openly trans woman to present on BBC Radio 1 and Channel 4, Lees’ coming of age story is heartbreaking at times, light and funny at others, and with classic songs of the early Noughties as chapter titles, it also offers a musical trip down memory lane.

10 LGBTQ+ Books To Read This Pride 2021 and Beyond
Detransition, Baby
by Torrey Peters

Profile Books Ltd (£12.99)

Torrey Peters is a Brooklyn-based, American writer and author, and her novel, Detransition, Baby, which was longlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction, brilliantly and fearlessly navigates the most dangerous taboos around gender, sex, and relationships in a thrillingly original and witty manner. 

Peters’s book elegantly plays with the structural conventions of literary realism, and centres on three women navigating queer relationships and parenthood. The narrative follows Ames (formerly “Amy”), who has detransitioned, Reese, a trans woman who wants a baby, and Ames’s pregnant partner, Katrina, who initially doesn’t know about her husband’s history as a trans it-girl.

10 LGBTQ+ Books To Read This Pride 2021 and Beyond
Sister Outsider
by Audre Lorde

Penguin Books Ltd (£9.99)

Audre Lorde was a revolutionary Black feminist; a self-described “black, lesbian, mother, warrior, poet,” whose activism and published work speaks to the injustices of racism, sexism, classism, capitalism, heterosexism, and homophobia. It was during the 1960s that her work was published regularly. 

In Sister Outsider, originally published in 1984, Lorde features 15 essays and speeches that illuminate her deep-seated and longstanding concerns about ways of increasing empowerment among minority women writers, as well as the absolute necessary analysis of the concept of difference – the difference felt according to sex, race, and economic status.

10 LGBTQ+ Books To Read This Pride 2021 and Beyond
Queer Intentions
by Amelia Abraham

Pan Macmillan (£8.49)

In this thought-provoking title, Amelia Abraham discusses what it means to be queer today, and how things have changed. But has same-sex marriage, improved media visibility and corporate endorsement helped? At what cost does this acceptance come? And who is getting left behind? These are just some of the questions pondered in Queer Intentions

Combining intrepid journalism with her own personal experience, Abraham takes the reader on a journey – from Los Angeles to Istanbul, from London to Stockholm and Belgrade – searching for the answers to these challenges faced daily by the LGBTQ+ community.

10 LGBTQ+ Books To Read This Pride 2021 and Beyond
All The Things
She Said
by Daisy Jones

Hodder & Stoughton (£14.99)

Daisy Jones is a South London-based writer and editor at VICE, whose work has a particular focus on LGBTQ+ culture, music, the internet and relationships. So naturally her first book, All The Things She Said, would be an exploration of queer culture for women and everyone in between. 

Lesbian and bi culture is ever evolving, however, stereotypes continue to be outdated and, undeniably, wrong.  Jones picks at the portrayal of queer women in the media, and sheds light on what its like to come out, to date, and how physical nightlife spaces have evolved into online communities, as well as how mental health issues are disproportionatly affecting LGBTQ+ people. 

10 LGBTQ+ Books To Read This Pride 2021 and Beyond
The Transgender Issue
by Shon Faye

Penguin Books Ltd (£17.99)

In this thought-provoking title, Amelia Abraham discusses what it means to be queer today, and how things have changed. But has same-sex marriage, improved media visibility and corporate endorsement helped? At what cost does this acceptance come? And who is getting left behind? These are just some of the questions pondered in Queer Intentions

Combining intrepid journalism with her own personal experience, Abraham takes the reader on a journey – from Los Angeles to Istanbul, from London to Stockholm and Belgrade – searching for the answers to these challenges faced daily by the LGBTQ+ community. 



10 LGBTQ+ Books To Read This Pride 2021 and Beyond
Black Girl,
Call Home
by Jasmine Mans

Penguin Putnam Inc (£12.99)

Spoken word poet Jasmine Mans’ – who hails from Newark, New Jersey – latest, Black Girl, Call Home has received many accolades, including one of the most anticipated books of 2021 by Oprah Magazine. Previously Mans caught attention with her poem and video, Footnotes for Kanye, a cultural commentary on Kanye West in which she aired her grievances with him at marrying Kim Kardashian. 

In this collection of poems, however, Mans explores the narratives of different aspects of her identity and the path to adulthood as a young, queer Black woman. Much like her previous work, it is a love letter to any woman on a journey to find truth, belonging, and healing in the world we live in today.

10 LGBTQ+ Books To Read This Pride 2021 and Beyond
Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit
by Jeanette Winterson

Vintage Publishing (£8.99)

Jeanette Winterson’s beloved book is a zealous, funny, and poignant retelling of Winterson’s own life that tackles expansive themes of dogmatic religion and burgeoning sexuality. The British writer and activist was first published in 1985, with Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit, her first novel, to critical and international acclaim, winning Winterson the prestigious Whitbread Prize for best first fiction. 

In Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit (which was also adapted to a docuseries of the same name by the BBC in 1989), a sixteen-year-old Jeanette decides to leave the church, her home and her family, for the young woman she loves.

10 LGBTQ+ Books To Read This Pride 2021 and Beyond
Giovanni's Room
by James Baldwin

Penguin Books Ltd (£8.99)

Originally published in 1956, James Baldwin’s Giovanni’s Room, was beautifully bold and controversial when it came out. The American novelist, essayist, playwright, and poet often offered a vital literary voice during the era of civil rights activism in the 1950s and 1960s.

In this, his haunting second novel, Baldwin tells the story of an American in 1950s Paris, who finds himself unable to repress his impulses, despite his determination to live the conventional life he envisions for himself. It’s an exploration into the mystery of love and passion, and a complex story of death and desire that’s become a pinnacle of LGBTQ+ literacy.

10 LGBTQ+ Books To Read This Pride 2021 and Beyond
Unicorn: The Memoir of a Muslim Drag Queen
by Amrou Al-Kadhi

HarperCollins (£8.99)

Amrou Al-Kadhi, a screenwriter 60% of the time, and a drag queen the rest, is unquestionably open and raw in their first book – Al-Kadhi is gender-nonconforming, prefers the pronoun “they,” and goes on to explain and mediate on the subject of gender throughout. 

When writing the memoir, Al-Kadhi was 29, looking back at their life, which started in Dubai, then Bahrain, before moving to London. The British Iraqi is gay, muslim, educated at the infamous Eton boarding school for boys, a twin, a writer, an actor and drag performer, so naturally there’s a lot to cover. It starts with Al-Kadhi knowing they were gay when, aged ten, they first laid eyes on Macaulay Culkin in Home Alone – it was love at first sight – and when their parents weren’t too thrilled, they began searching for love and belonging in all the wrong places.

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