Last year around this time, I posted part 1 of If you liked this, try this: LGBTQ+ books. And fun fact, that is the most viewed post on my blog!
So I have returned in celebration of Pride month to bring you ten more recommendations of LGBTQ+ books based on semi-popular (mostly) non-LGBTQ+ books. The title kind of says it all, so without further ado, let’s get into this post!
If you liked the Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordan…
Similarities: snarky narrator, magical training camp, great group of friends, following characters through teen years
If you, like me, have spent a not insignificant portion of your life trying to recapture the joy of reading Percy Jackson for the first time, I have good news for you! And that good news is In Other Lands, a hilarious portal fantasy with a bisexual main character and one of my favorite slow-burn romances. Seriously, I cannot recommend this enough.
If you liked An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir…
Similarities: fighting against an oppressive regime, characters on opposite sides of a conflict falling in love
Dark, oppressive fantasy-esque world with unique worldbuilding? Check. Two people who are technically enemies and who probably should not be falling in love, but do anyway? Definitely check. Both of these books have a similar feel in my mind, so I’m sure that if you liked one, you’ll like the other! And Crier’s War features a main sapphic relationship.
If you liked Vicious by V.E. Schwab…
Similarities: dark academia, morally gray characters
Even though If We Were Villains doesn’t have the supernatural elements of Vicious, the two would most likely appeal to similar readers. If We Were Villains centers around a group of Shakespearean actors and a mysterious death that occurs on their campus, while Vicious is about the rivalry between two superhumans after a mysterious death on their campus. Hmmm. Also, both start with the main character leaving prison after ten years. Coincidence??
If you liked Sadie by Courtney Summers…
Similarities: road trip, survivors of sexual assault, emphasis on female friendships
Although Sadie is more focused on the revenge aspect, both of these stories center around women recovering (in their own way) from sexual assault. Sometimes that means hunting down a pedophile, sometimes it means rescuing a magical cat. Also, both of these books made me cry, so there’s that. As I recall, it’s hinted that Sadie is queer, though Are You Listening? deals more with the two main characters’ queer identities.
If you liked Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor…
Similarities: bookish protagonist discovering magic, rich worldbuilding of legends and stories
For both of these books, the word “dreamy” feels like the perfect descriptor, with beautiful language that you can just fall into. Even though Strange the Dreamer is more high fantasy, The Starless Sea is just as fantastical and magic. Not to mention that Lazlo Strange and Zachary Ezra Rawlins would probably get along really well. The Starless Sea features a gay main character and a prominent queer relationship.
If you liked Turtles All the Way Down by John Green…
Similarities: emphasis on mental health, introspective writing
Yes, I used Turtles All the Way Down in part 1 of this, but I couldn’t think of any better comparison! While Turtles deals with the main character’s OCD, Hurricane Season is about a young girl and her relationship with her father, who has bipolar disorder. These are both incredibly well written books that will hit you right in the heart. In Hurricane Season, we have a sapphic main character and several other major queer characters.
If you liked The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo…
Similarities: New York City setting, children of immigrants finding their voice
I cannot pass up the opportunity to recommend both of these books, because they’re both incredible! They might have quite different stories, but they each left me with similar feelings, and both deal heavily with race and navigating you cultural identity within New York City. Like a Love Story focuses on several gay characters and centers around the AIDs crisis of the 80s and 90s.
If you liked Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones…
Similarities: whimsical and magical writing, great characters, found family
I mean, even their covers look similar. It was meant to be. Once again, this is more a case of the themes and general feel of these books that tie them together, rather that specific plot things. Both are overflowing with heart, and The House in the Cerulean Sea — all about a social worker sent to oversee a remote orphanage of magical children — feels a lot like Howl’s Moving Castle for an adult audience.
If you liked The Diviners by Libba Bray…
Similarities: ghosts, teenagers with special abilities
Even though The Diviners takes place in 1920s New York and Cemetery Boys takes place in present day Los Angeles, they have similar spooky vibes. I have no doubt that anyone who enjoyed the ghostly and mystery aspects of The Diviners will also love Cemetery Boys, which is all about a trans boy and the ghost that he accidentally raises trying to figure out mysterious disappearances.
If you liked The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky…
Similarities: coming-of-age stories, finding community, emphasis on friendships
In many ways, You Know Me Well — which follows two teenagers becoming friends during San Francisco’s Pride — feels like the descendant of a book like The Perks of Being a Wallflower, which laid the foundation for so much of today’s YA contemporary. Both are quite short stories that pack an emotional punch and deal heavily with growing up and the strange feeling of being young and not quite sure who you are yet.
Have you read any of these books? What LGBTQ+ books do you recommend?