Happy Pride Y'all!
There's a lot to celebrate and there's a lot we still need to fight for! Whether your an ally or a fellow queer, thank you for being you!
The number of queer books we've seen published in the past few years has absolutely grown. And we've started to see more and more identities showing up on the page. Which is fantastic! I'm here to give you 25 backlist books featuring queer characters and stories. Backlist sales are super important to authors! So while you're picking up their latest and greatest release, pick up their other books too. You're going to make them very happy if you do!
All right kids, let's dive in!
1) Tarnished Are the Stars by Rosiee Thor: SAPPHIC SPACE OPERA. Anna has a clockwork heart (!!!) and deals in blackmarket tech. Nathaniel is the aristocrat's son who wants to arrest Anna to prove to his dad that he's capable. Eliza is the assassin posing as Nathaniel's wife-to-be...shenanigans ensue. This beautiful novel has a lovely conversation about sexuality and is just perfect.
2) Sawkill Girls by Claire Legrand: What if there was a horror novel that tore apart the patriarchy and was super queer? Well, you don't have to wonder because Sawkill Girls exists! Marion, Zoey, and Val are the newbie, the pariah, and the queen bee...the island of Sawkill Rock will bring them together and tear them apart. Their survival hinges on whether or not they can break free from it's patriarchal hold...This novel is mindblowing. And creepy. It ranks a solid 8/10 on the creepy scale for me (remember I'm a baby!)
3) The Mermaid, The Witch, & The Sea by Maggie Tokuda-Hall: This is a book I wish I hadn't read so that I could read it again for the first time. The main character is a gender fluid pirate..YES YOU READ THAT RIGHT. This book is a beautiful look at what makes you who you are and the joy of finding those who love you just as you are. it's also tragic. It destroyed me in the absolute best way possible. (The companion novel comes out later this year and I am so EXCITED)
4) Ghost Wood Song by Erica Waters: Okay, so Shady Grove (amazing name, right???) can summon ghosts when she plays her daddy's fiddle...you can see where this is going, right? This book is so beautifully written. Every page is not only lyrical, but it's filled with Shady's coming of age as a bi-disaster. Fantastic, it will haunt you in the best way possible.
5) Miss Meteor by Tehlor Kay Mejia and Anna Marie Mclemore: Best friends? Beauty pageants? Aliens? Queer friendships? If any of those things are your jam, this book is for you. This is a fun read with friendship with female friendship at it's core. You'll laugh and cry (both from laughing and from some heart touching moments) and have a great time. Definitely add this to your TBR!
6) Star Crossed by Barbara Dee: A middle grade Romeo & Juliet retelling that is adorable and no one dies! 12 year old Mattie is not only trying to put on the best performance of her life in the school play, but she's dealing with figuring out her crushes on both boys and girls. This is a perfect story about first crushes, friends, and figuring out your feelings!
7) A Touch of Ruckus by Ash Van Otterloo: Queer stories that feature Appalachian Culture? YES PLEASE! In this brilliant book, Tennessee, Tennie, can see an objects history when she touches it--keeping that a secret from her family and her new friend Fox is difficult, especially when it could be the key to saving her family's home. This book is another one that examines those first crush/new friendship feelings and how the tend to blur.
8) Rise to the Sun by Leah Johnson: This delightful Sapphic rom-com follows Olivia and Toni as they can't seem to stop running into each other at a music festival. I laughed so much at all the bad jokes and I really loved the way Olivia processed her thoughts on love and life. It's beautiful.
9) Autoboyography by Christina Lauren: Ooof. This book packs a punch. It's a fabulous examination of processing identities, falling in love, and honoring the truest version of yourself. Tanner's self reflection was such a joy to read.
10) Death Prefers Blondes by Caleb Roehrig: Drag Queens, a heist, & a Hamlet retelling!!!!! Do I really need to say more?? This brilliant novel is a delightful frolic and a love letter to Drag Queens. Bonus points for pulling off a heist in novel form, a feat that is not easy to do!
11) Here the Whole Time by Vitor Martins: This book is an ode to first crushes, gay panic, and body positivity. This is one of those books where I have it tabbed and highlighted. There are moments where I swear Martins took things right from my brain. If you're in the mood for a heartwarming story, this is the one for you.
12) Indivisible by Daniel Aleman: When Mateo's father is deported by ICE, it's up to him to take care of himself and his little sister. This novel needs to be in high school curriculums. It tackles identity, family, loyalty, and being yourself in a world that isn't ready to accept your brilliance.
13) The Magic Fish by Trung Le Nguyen: This story seamlessly combines Vietnamese fairytales with Tiến's quest to understand himself and express himself to his mother. It's a beautiful story about family and love.
14) Nubia by L.L. McKinney, Illustrated by Robyn Smith: This is for all you Wonder Woman fans out there. Follow Nubia as she navigates uncovering her super powers, crushing on a friend, and calling out systemic racism.
15) The Prince and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang: This graphic novel is basically a classic now. It explores friendship and family and the beautiful art of Drag.
16) A Clash of Steel by C.B. Lee: This brilliant reimagining of Treasure Island is such a delight. Add in a Sapphic romance and it's *chef's kiss* PERFECT. A perfect book for anyone who wishes the classics were queerer.
17) Valiant Ladies by Melissa Grey: This is a book that flew under the radar and I have no idea why because it is a DELIGHT. Friends to lovers, taking down the patriarchy, excellent banter. Seriously, you all need to stop whatever you're doing and read this book RIGHT NOW.
Novels in Verse!
18) The Girl and the Goddess by Nikita Gill: If you haven't read Nikita Gill, you're missing out. In The Girl and the Goddess, Gill has created a poignant coming of age story that will resonate with your soul. You can't see all my sticky tabs, but I have so many marked passages in this book. Absolutely stunning.
19) Technically You Started It by Lana Wood Johnson: Okay, so this is actually written entirely in text messages...and it's so good!!! You've got snarky banter, mistaken identities, and a hate each other to friends to lovers that is just fantastic.
20 &21 )Scavenge the Stars & Ravage the Dark by Tara Sim: This duology is a brilliant retelling of The Count of Monte Cristo--a personal favorite. Add just a touch of alchemy and you have a masterpiece of a revenge story.
22 & 23) These Feathered Flames & This Cursed Crown by Alexandra Overy: This duology is a reimagining of the firebird mythology and features costly magic, courtly intrigue, sisterly love, slow burn Sapphic romance, and bears! (that you ride!!!)
24) Miss Memory Lane by Colton Haynes: I first discovered Colton Haynes while watching Arrow. I loved his character, Roy. When I found out he had a memoir coming out, I couldn't wait to read and I was NOT disappointed. His story was riveting and is one of personal tragedy and triumph. Definitely look at the content warnings for this one. It's brutal at times.
25) Hijab Butch Blues by Lamya H.: I found this memoir through the Advanced Educator Listening ARCS program with Libro. Hands down one of the best books I've ever read and a perfect read for queer teens struggling to make sense of themselves and the world they live in. Lamya's journey to understanding herself and her sexuality is one of hope and beauty.
What backlist books do you recommend? Let me know in the comments! Happy reading folx!