10 LGBTQ+ books to read in 2021

As Pride Month closes, we are highlighting new releases that tell stories of perseverance, hatred, strength and love from the LGBTQ+ community. After a stormy, intense year, it’s refreshing to have a month centered around hope and prosperity. COVID-19 continues to halt Pride celebrations around the country, but these readings stand as a testament that many in the LGBTQ+ community already know: Pride can’t be canceled.

Click the titles to request the books from our collection or purchase from Amazon.

Let’s Get Back to the Party by Zak Salih

In the weeks after the Obergefell Supreme Court decision, two gay men—high school teacher Sebastian and his childhood friend Oscar—struggle to articulate what it means to be a “queer” “adult.” For Sebastian, it means belonging, domesticity, the newly legitimized right to marry; for Oscar, it means nightlife, found family, all the aspects of gay culture that have begun to fall out of fashion as queer men are increasingly assimilated into the mainstream. The result is a book for everyone who both craves and fears intimacy.

Last Call: A True Story of Love, Lust, and Murder in Queer New York by Elon Green

Sure, Elon Green’s meticulously researched account of the Last Call Killer is a gripping true-crime read, but it’s also so much more. Last Call is as much a story about a serial killer as it is about the forgotten lives and deaths of those he preyed upon: gay men in New York at the height of the AIDS epidemic. Far more than just a catch-a-killer tale, this book is a monument to the glittering, vibrant world created by a community well acquainted with mortality.

We Are Watching Eliza Bright by A.E. Osworth

Sure, A.E. Osworth’s exhilarating debut is a Gamergate-inspired thriller about a female video game developer whose decision to stand up to workplace harassment spirals out of control, with devastating consequences for all involved. But it’s also a book about the LGBTQ+ cyber-anarchist collective that comes to Eliza’s aid, in the process showing her—and all of us—that a better, queerer world is possible.

Hola Papi: How to Come Out in a Walmart Parking Lot and Other Life Lessons by John Paul Brammer

An outgrowth from John Paul Brammer’s advice column of the same name, Hola Papi is part words of wisdom, part raucous memoir careening through the misadventures of queer youth. Taken together, that adds up to a warm, witty compendium of hard-won life lessons, ripped directly from the annals of Brammer’s own experiences as a biracial gay man.

Dear Senthuran: A Black Spirit Memoir by Akwaeke Emezi

Though their debut book—2018’s Freshwater—has often been described as an autobiographical novel, Akwaeke Emezi’s newest release marks the prolific writer’s first explicit foray into memoir. Told through a series of letters, Dear Senthuran tracks Emezi’s own journey coming into their spirit, body, gender, and creative power.

The Natural Mother of the Child: A Memoir of Nonbinary Parenthood by Krys Malcolm Belc

Krys Malcolm Belc’s singular memoir-in-essays traces how his experiences conceiving, birthing, and breastfeeding a child helped to clarify his gender identity. A white nonbinary transmasc person, Belc is listed on his son Samson’s legal documents as “the natural mother of the child”—but “motherhood” doesn’t describe Belc’s own experience of pregnancy and parenting. The Natural Mother of the Child attempts to bridge that gap, offering an alternative interpretation of what it means to grow a family.

We Play Ourselves by Jen Silverman

In We Play Ourselves, Silverman—a queer, New York–based playwright who writes for TV and film in Los Angeles—pens a story about a queer playwright who decides to flee New York for L.A. in the wake of a personal scandal. In the City of Angels, protagonist Cass gets drawn into the orbit of her filmmaker neighbor, Caroline. Over time, as Cass begins to understand how deeply Caroline is manipulating the teen girls starring in her latest film, Cass begins to wonder: When working in the name of art, how far is too far?

Love Is an Ex-Country by Randa Jarrar

When it comes to great American road trip stories, we’re letting fat, queer, Muslim-Arab single mothers drive the car, as Randa Jarrar says. Ex-country follows the author on her 2016 journey from California to her parents’ house in Connecticut, complete with pit stops to destroy wayward Confederate flags and reflect on traumatic childhood memories. The result is at once a scathing critique of American culture and a joyful celebration of life.

Future Feeling by Joss Lake

Pen is a disaffected Bushwickian dog walker who spends his free time obsessing over holograms of his idol, Aiden Chase. After a particularly disappointing real-life encounter with Aiden, Pen enlists his roommates to help him hex the transmasc influencer—but their curse goes awry, accidentally sending a third trans man named Blithe into the Shadowlands.

Let the Record Show: A Political History of ACT UP New York, 1987-1993 by Sarah Schulman

After more than a year of watching political pundits trip over themselves to opine on air about the worst pandemic in human memory, a history of ACT UP—the activist group instrumental in confronting the American AIDS crisis at its height—feels particularly timely. Sarah Schulman’s vital survey of a terrifying time reminds us that queer people have long known a thing or two about living through a devastating plague.

The Recent East by Thomas Grattan

Thomas Grattan’s debut novel takes the “decades-spanning family saga” genre to new queer heights. After the fall of the Berlin Wall, Beate Haas returns with her two teenage children to her native East Germany for the first time since her family fled when she was a child. Beate’s gay son, Michael, soon falls in with a crowd of wannabe anarchists, while her daughter, Adela, becomes fascinated by the Holocaust. Over the decades, the abandoned German town transforms around them, welcoming first refugees, then neo-Nazis, and eventually chic vacationers seeking the seaside air.