Happy Pride Month, everyone! We’re celebrating June with a round up of some of our favorite books that feature LGBTQA+ characters or themes. And honestly, there were a LOT of good ones to choose from! So in no particular order (just kidding, they’re alphabetical), here are our top 25 picks for Pride Month:
1. Ace of Shades by Amanda Foody
Enne Salta’s adopted mother has gone missing, and Enne is on a mission to find her, even if it means traveling to the shady city of New Reynes—referred to by most as the City of Sin. Enne’s no shrinking violet, but she’s grown up in society and, naturally, is immediately in over her head once she arrives.
Her only lead is a name in a letter her mother left behind, but when she meets Levi Glaisyer, a street lord and “friend” of her mother’s, Enne begins to realize that her mother might not have been completely truthful with her … about anything.
2. Adaptation by Malinda Lo
Reese Holloway is in Phoenix for debate nationals when birds all across North America go berserk, hurling themselves into airplanes and causing the greatest avian panic outside of a Hitchcock film. She and her debate partner David are driving home to San Francisco, when their car crashes and a stay in a military hospital leaves them both… different. And under orders not to talk about the government’s involvement in any of it.
The strangeness seems to have followed Reese and David back to San Francisco, with city-wide curfews, dead birds rounded up by hazmat teams, and a sneaking suspicion that they’re being monitored. As Reese delves deeper into what’s really happening, she grows closer to uncovering a long-hidden conspiracy that puts her entire world view into question.
3. Ask the Passengers by A.S. King
Astrid’s family moved from NYC to Small Town, PA when she was an adolescent, and she still doesn’t fit in. There’s the fact that no matter how hard her mom tries, everybody — including her family — still sees her as the uptight New York bitch. And there’s the fact that her dad has developed his own way of dealing with things that involves him disappearing into the garage and coming back reeking of pot smoke. There’s the fact that her little sister Ellis has totally become one of THEM — the small-town girls — and fits in famously. And then there’s the fact that Astrid might be in love with her co-worker, Dee.
4. Almost Perfect by Brian Katcher
Logan Witherspoon recently discovered that his girlfriend of three years cheated on him. But things start to look up when a new student breezes through the halls of his small-town high school. Sage Hendricks befriends Logan at a time when he no longer trusts or believes in people. Sage has been homeschooled for a number of years and her parents have forbidden her to date anyone, but she won’t tell Logan why. One day, Logan acts on his growing feelings for Sage. Moments later, he wishes he never had. Sage finally discloses her big secret: she’s actually a boy. Enraged, frightened, and feeling betrayed, Logan lashes out at Sage and disowns her. But once Logan comes to terms with what happened, he reaches out to Sage in an attempt to understand her situation. But Logan has no idea how rocky the road back to friendship will be.
5. Aristotle and Dante Discover The Secrets of The Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz
This is the story of two unlikely best friends – Dante is open, optimistic, confident, and talented. Aristotle – Ari – is not, or thinks as much. Ari’s older brother is in prison, he’s the youngest brother of several much-older siblings, and his father suffers from Vietnam-era PTSD. Dante’s parents are warm and demonstrative with both him and Ari. When Ari meets Dante, the two unusually-named boys see something in each other that the other lacks.
6. Beauty Queens by Libba Bray
The contestants of the Miss Teen Dream Pageant thought that their biggest struggle would be perfecting their circle-turn and ensuring that their hair stayed perfectly flat-ironed throughout the competition. That all changed when their plane crashed into a presumably deserted island and the few survivors had a big wake-up call in the form of giant snakes and mysterious experiments on the island.
Miss Texas, Miss New Mexico, Miss Rhode Island and the others must now join together to survive, but will the stress of island living – or the arrival of sexy pirates – prove too much for these pageant girls?
7. Carry On by Rainbow Rowell
Rainbow Rowell created the concept of Simon Snow as a book within a book (Fangirl). He’s basically a Harry Potter, an orphan who grew up unwanted until the day he learned that magic lives in his blood. And not just any kind of magic–the most powerful magic the world has ever seen. He’s the Chosen One, so he’s sent off to Watford, a boarding school for wizards, where he befriends Penelope (Hermione), courts Agatha (Cho Chang), squares off with his vampire roommate Baz (Draco) and battles against the Insidious Humdrum (Voldemort), all while seeking the approval of the Mage (Dumbedore), the closest thing he has to a father figure. Carry On begins with his last year at Watford, when the wizarding world is falling apart in the face of the Humdrum’s threats…While the skeleton of the story will certainly remind you of those days at Hogwarts, the heart and soul of it is wholly original, particularly when it comes to the relationship between Simon and Baz.
8. Everything Leads to You by Nina LaCour
Before Emi’s brother Toby leaves the country for three months, he says that she and her BFF Charlotte can stay in his apartment—as long as they do something epic with the place while he’s gone. Neither Emi nor Charlotte know quite what that means, or what they’ll do during the summer to fulfill Toby’s request, but when they find a mysterious letter at a Hollywood estate sale—a letter that leads them to a girl named Ava—they might have found a place to start.
Eighteen-year-old Henry “Monty” Montague was born into the upper crust of 18th century British society. He wants nothing more than to drink and carouse with his best buddy Percy. His father is desperately disappointed in his son, but has to put up with him, as he’s the only one who can inherit the family’s vast estate someday (not his younger sister Felicity. Who ever heard of putting a girl in charge of something like that?). Except the Montagues were just blessed with an unexpected new son. Suddenly, there’s a potential other heir. Monty better get his act in order if he doesn’t want to be disinherited.
Monty is about to embark on The Grand Tour, and looks forward to a year of partying in all the European capitals with Percy before returning back home to business. Unfortunately, his father lays down the law. They’re going to be accompanied by a chaperone who intends to ensure that there is no drinking, gambling, loose women, smoking, or any of Monty’s other many vices. No, they’ll be visiting concerts, lectures, museums, and fancy balls. To make matters worse, Felicity, his snotty, uptight sister, will be accompanying them on her way to finishing school in Marseilles. Great. Just great.
Of course, Monty immediately gets off on the wrong foot. At a reception in Paris, he not only manages to appear at the Palace of Versailles buck naked, but causes an international incident that forces him to flee the city with a lot of angry people on his heels. Soon he, Percy, and Felicity are so embroiled in international political scandal that they may not be able to return home, if they even make it out alive.
10. I’ll Give You The Sun by Jandy Nelson
Together even before they were born, twins Noah and Jude share a bond that seems unbreakable. They’re different, to be sure– Jude is a badass surfer girl, pretty and popular, while Noah is a weirdo loner, desperate to hide his growing attraction to boys– but their connection keeps these diverging worlds tethered together. Until the day they betray each other, and the universe, in turn, betrays them.
Now Noah is the king of campus, and Jude is the outcast, with only the ghost of her grandmother to keep her company. Their lives, just like the ties that bind them, are broken, and the hope of healing lies not in putting the pieces back together, but in rearranging them completely.
11. If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo
Newly arrived in Lambertville, GA, Amanda Hardy is looking for a fresh start when she goes to live with her dad. Being the new kid is never easy—esp. during your senior year—but Amanda’s determined not to get too close to anyone. Complicating that plan is her growing relationship with the sweet and kind-hearted Grant. As understanding as Grant may seem, Amanda is still apprehensive about telling him her biggest secret: she was assigned male at birth. Would Amanda’s new life and new romance survive if the truth comes out?
12. Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Córdova
Alex Mortiz hates magic. Or, rather, she’s never had a good experience with it. And she’s not about to start now, as she performs a spell to get rid of her power at her Deathday celebration (a rite of passage for brujas and brujos)… which backfires SPECTACULARLY, with her entire family disappearing before her eyes. To get them back, Alex must travel to Los Lagos, a strange and dangerous realm in which magic reigns supreme – and hers attracts the attention of its most sinister and powerful creature.
13. Let’s Talk About Love by Claire Kann
After getting burned too many times in relationships—most recently when she (sort of) confessed her asexuality to her now ex-girlfriend—Alice is done with dating. She’s just going to live with her best friends and work at the library over the summer after her freshman year of college.
But then she meets Takumi and develops full-blown, all-consuming feels for him. As the two of them grow closer, will Alice risk her heart again for the possibility of finally being in a relationship on her terms?
14. Little & Lion by Brandy Colbert
After a year away at boarding school in Massachusetts, Suzette has returned home to Los Angeles for the summer. A lot has changed in that time – herself included – but nothing has Suzette as nervous as being reunited with her stepbrother, Lionel. Even though they’ve been best friends from the day their two families became one, Suzette hasn’t been around much since Lionel was diagnosed with bipolar. Wanting to be supportive of her brother, Suzette soon finds herself facing the difficult choice of compromising his trust or his well-being – all while trying to reconcile different aspects of her own identity and sexuality.
15. Meet Cute by Various Authors
There’s a time in every romance when the butterflies in your stomach are only just beginning to take flight. The stories in Meet Cute are 14 different examples of those first moments of romance and the many different ways two people can find the start of what might just turn out to be love.
16. Ramona Blue by Julie Murphy
Living in Eulogy, Mississippi as a lesbian isn’t exactly smooth sailing, but Ramona Leroux takes great pride in the label. In many ways, it defines her, and while her mother, who left the family after Katrina, treats it as a phase, Ramona has supportive friends (two of which are gay) and a loving father and older sister, Hattie, with whom she shares a trailer. She feels at home in the small beach community, bouncing between her two jobs and attending school, but she had big plans to bust out… until Hattie got pregnant.
Facing a more limited future, Ramona wrestles with her roles as a provider for her family, as a partner in raising Hattie’s child, as a girlfriend left behind after each summer romance. Her sexual orientation is the one bedrock she can cling to, but when her childhood bestie Freddie moves back to town and rekindles their friendship, even that aspect of herself comes into question. Turns out, it’s easier to be a lesbian in the South than a girl in search of her identity.
17. Reign of the Fallen by Sarah Glenn Marsh
In the kingdom of Karthia, change is outlawed, including death. Thanks to the abilities of necromancers who can travel into the Deadlands and bring spirits back to their bodies, few people in Karthia ever die for long. (As long as your family can afford the raising, that is.)
Odessa, the Sparrow, is the favorite master necromancer of King Wylding, who’s died an innumerable number of times. On what should be another routine raising of the king, Odessa is shocked when a fellow necromancer dies, apparently thanks to a Shade—the deadly, animalistic creatures the Dead turn into if a member of the living see underneath their shrouds. When the Shade attacks continue to increase in number, Odessa must investigate, for king and country.
18. Ship It by Britta Lundin
At her small town high school, Claire’s a misfit, prickly and friendless. But on Tumblr, she’s heart-of-lightness, a writer whose slashfic for first season supernatural thriller Demon Heart has tens of thousands of followers. After attending her first comic con and making waves at the Demon Heart panel, Claire’s asked to join the endangered show’s publicity tour – where she must confront the subjects of her fic, attempt to convince the macho showrunner to make her ship the real deal, and examine her emerging feelings for fellow fan Tess.
19. Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli
Simon Spier has a problem. It’s not that he’s gay or that he hasn’t told anyone about it. It’s not that he’s been baring his soul via emails to Blue, the pen name of a classmate that’s also in the closet. No — Simon’s problem is that all these secrets have been discovered by class clown Martin Addison, who’s blackmailing Simon for help with his own love life. To protect his own privacy and that of the guy he’s totally crushing on (whomever he might be), what choice does Simon have but to play along?
20. Tash Hearts Tolstoy by Kathryn Ormsbee
Natasha “Tash” Zelenka loves Leo Tolstoy. So much so that she and her best friend Jack decided to create a webseries adaptation of Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina called Unhappy Families. Although the girls are super proud of their work, the production isn’t seeing a lot of traffic—until a famous YouTuber gives the series a shout out on her own channel. Soon, Tash and Jack can barely keep up with the growing fanbase, and they’re forced to deal with all that comes with “fame,” lovers and haters, both.
One perk of the sudden rise in popularity is a personal connection to another YouTube star, Thom, whom Tash quickly develops a crush on, and who seems to return the feelings. When Unhappy Families is nominated for an award, Tash is excited to attend the ceremony, where she’ll finally get to meet Thom in person, but she’s also nervous what her somewhat recent discovery about her sexuality—she’s romantic asexual—might mean for said meeting, and any sort of relationship the two might have.
21. Tell Me Again How A Crush Should Feel by Sara Farizan
Leila Azadi has made it to her junior year at Armstead Academy without crushing on anyone. Good thing, too — she already feels enough like an outsider because she’s Persian, she doesn’t need her classmates to know she likes girls as well. But when she becomes friends with the beautiful new girl at school — and maybe becoming more than friends?! — Leila finds herself taking risks that she never would otherwise.
22. They Both Die At The End by Adam Silvera
In an alternate contemporary timeline, everyone gets advance warning of their death. Just after midnight, you receive a phone call from Death-Cast, informing you that you are going to die today. No details, no specific time. Have a nice day.
Two older teens, Rufus and Mateo, are hit with this bad news. Using a social media app, they connect and decide to spend their last 24 or so hours getting the most out of what little time is left to them.
23. Queer There and Everywhere by Sarah Prager
Biographies of 23 famous LGBTQ people, including Frida Kahlo, Alan Turing, Harvey Milk, and George Takei. Also included is a brief history of LGBTQ people, the current status of LGBTQ rights, and a glossary.
24. Wild Beauty by Anna-Marie McLemore
Estrella Nomeolvides is one of five cousins who live with their five mothers and their five mothers. The cousins are the youngest generation of Nomeolvides women living on the La Pradera estate, and using their gifts for growing flowers to make a once barren landscape a stunning garden. But their gifts come with a price, which is often paid by the men they love most.
When the five young women realize they’re all in love with the same person, they make sacrifices to La Pradera to keep them safe. And when a mysterious boy appears, seemingly from the ground itself, secrets—both the family’s and the land’s—begin to unravel.
25. Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan
Will Grayson is an indie music nerd determined to avoid as many social and emotional commitments as possible. Will Grayson is also a secretly gay, extremely depressed dude who spends most of his time chatting with his internet boyfriend. While these two Wills may seem kinda different, they actually have a lot in common, such as:
• a total disregard for the value of high school
• an inability to effectively deal with girls
• a v. shallow grasp of what “love” means
• and, last but certainly not least, a life-changing relationship with Tiny Cooper, the most awesome gay character I have ever seen in a YA novel.
Through a series of random events, our two Will Graysons finally meet, and since David Levithan and John Green wrote this story, it should come as no surprise to you that what follows is totally and absolutely fantastic.
Did your fave LGBTQA+ books make the list? If we missed something, tell us in the comments! And if you’re looking for even more Pride Months reads, browse our LGBTQ tag for more reviews!