25 LGBTQ+ Books You'll Want To Add To Your TBR List In 2023

Amidst the ongoing and alarming attempts to ban books in various states across the US, as well as continued attacks against the LGBTQ+ community, we feel it's the right time to champion some of the LGBTQ+ literature that has been and/or will be published this year, as well as their authors. From the uncovered personal histories of New York City lesbians to stories of trans-joy and success, these fiction and nonfiction books alike are worthwhile additions to any personal library or must-read list for 2023.

Scorched Grace by Margot Douaihy

When a New Orleans-based Catholic school becomes a target for arson, heavily tattooed and chain-smoking Sister Holiday decides to take investigative matters into her own hands, leading to shocking revelations among friends and colleagues. Author Margot Douaihy, a self-described "queer artist," earned a Ph.D. in Creative Writing which focused on the critical/craft study of lesbian crime fiction, "view[ing] constraints as generative-invitations to innovate within genre expectations and deepen reader engagement." On Instagram, Douaihy told followers: "As a lesbian, seeing myself represented in the media & culture is life-affirming. This need informed my crime novel, 'Scorched Grace'. It's vitally important for queer people to tell our own stories & push genre."

Tell Me I'm Worthless by Alison Rumfitt

Three friends — Alice, Ila, and Hannah — spend the night in an abandoned house, after which their lives are never the same. For Alice, this means endless partying, drinking herself to sleep, and selling videos for money. She cannot shake the haunting memories of what happened that night, but when Ila convinces her to return to the house and face their nightmare, Alice agrees to go.

This is Alison Rumfitt's second book, which her US publisher described as: "A dark, unflinching haunted house novel that takes readers from the well of the literary Gothic ... and out into the heart of the modern-day trans experience." To Rumfitt, it is "the novel I didn't know that I needed to write until it happened ..."

Homebodies by Tembe Denton-Hurst

In Tembe Denton-Hurst's debut novel "Homebodies" we meet Mickey Hayward, a young Black writer who abruptly loses her fancy media job, despite feeling like she was finally proving herself as a storyteller. As the manifesto she writes exposing racism in the industry as a response initially gets ignored, she is forced to reckon with her uncertain relationship and life in general in NYC. When her manifesto eventually affords her the public platform she once so wanted, complexity rears its unavoidable head. In her own words, Denton-Hurst says of this book: "It's a love story. It's a work story. It's a story about friends, about losing yourself, and the road back home. I wrote this one for the girls who look and love like me, but I hope anyone who reads it will find themselves in its pages."

Am I Trans Enough? How to Overcome Your Doubts and Find Your Authentic Self by Alo Johnston

Based on extensive research and hours of conversations with hundreds of trans individuals, this book works to prepare you for what might happen when you come out or begin to explore living as a trans person, as well as the challenges you will likely face. Regardless of where you are in the process — if at all — this self-help-style book can serve as your guide. Author Alo Johnston is a Latino trans man and a licensed marriage and family therapist, having received "specific, unique training in LGBTQ affirmative psychotherapy." He brings this expertise to his writing, and reminds his online followers: "You become by being who you are."

Hijab Butch Blues by Lamya H

This memoir is comprised of essays, beginning with Lamya's childhood and then covering her move to the US for college, followed by her early-adult life in New York City. This work recounts how this queer Muslim immigrant uses stories from the Quran to reckon with her own coming-of-age. Lamya (a pseudonym) now lives and works in NYC where she also engages in organizing work focused on creating spaces for LGBTQ+ Muslims, fighting Islamophobia, and abolishing prisons.

Dykette by Jenny Fran Davis

Sasha is a twenty-something professional living in Brooklyn with her partner. When an older lesbian couple invites them and a third couple to spend ten days at their country home over the holidays, Sasha is happy to accept. A complicated web of conflicting desires, jealousies, and self-expression emerges, threatening the longevity of each couple. Central is the question of identity as Davis herself explains, "Identifying as anything, really, is like a magic connection to the past and to the future. It narrativizes your life in a lot of ways. It provides real comfort, real security ... I think the magic of them is a little scary because they are not always as stable or permanent as we would like them to be."

The Male Gazed by Manuel Betancourt

Manuel Betancourt grew up in Bogotá, Colombia where he experienced constant social pressure to be big, strong, "manly", and straight. As he consumed pop culture, coming across many different ways of being a man, he found himself asking, "Do I want him or do I want to be him?" In this memoir-in-essays, Betancourt wrestles with the complexities of masculinity, from its frailties to its erotic potential, and ultimately warns against "internalizing too many toxic ideas about masculinity as a gay man."

The Late Americans by Brandon Taylor

The stories of several young friends come together in Brandon Taylor's second novel, which takes place in Iowa City. These friends and lovers find each of their lives at a crossroads, all the while surrounded and challenged by a group of artists, landlords, meatpacking workers, and others who bring life to the cafes, classrooms, and kitchens of the city. When the group heads off for a goodbye weekend together at a cabin, they emerge forever altered.

Asked how he would describe himself as a writer, Taylor replied: "I would say that I am a writer first and foremost of queer domestic fiction ... I'm very much a domestic realist but hopefully bringing something new to the tradition."

Lesbian Love Story: A Memoir in Archives by Amelia Possanza

After moving to Brooklyn and realizing that she was surrounded by brief mentions of queer stories, Possanza decided to return to the archives and uncover the personal histories of seven twentieth-century lesbians. Her journey takes Possanza from drag shows in Bushwick to the home of activists in Harlem, and along the way, these historical figures evolve from stories on the page to role models in her own life. Possanza subsequently adds her own story to the archive. "Lesbians," Possanza writes, "invent their own systems of love, even when they are at risk of losing everything." And it is these stories, both hers and her seven subjects, that have been so frequently overlooked by history.

A Trans Man Walks Into a Gay Bar: A Journey of Self (and Sexual) Discovery by Harry Nicholas

In this memoir, we follow Harry as he navigates contemporary gay culture as a trans, gay man. When a five-year relationship with his girlfriend ends, Harry finds himself not just single as an adult for the first time, but also as a transmasculine and newly out gay man. Harry wonders if the gay community will embrace him and if he will ever find love again. Ultimately, Harry's journey reminds us that "there is joy in finding who you are."

Pageboy: A Memoir by Elliot Page

Oscar-nominated lead from the film Juno, Elliot Page, has penned a memoir full of intimate personal stories chronicling his journey from childhood, through success, to the persistent pursuit of self. After years of silence and withstanding public pressures to perform, Elliot decided to seek out his place in this world. "Pageboy" is described as "a love letter to the power of being seen." Of the book, Page said, "The act of writing, reading, and sharing the multitude of our [trans] experiences is an important step in standing up to those who wish to silence and harm us. Books have helped me, saved me even, so I hope this can help someone feel less alone, feel seen, no matter who they are or what path they are on."

Sorry, Bro by Taleen Voskuni

When Armenian-American Nareh Bedrossian's non-Armenian boyfriend proposes to her, she realizes she needs to find a more suitable match. Her mother takes this quest seriously, bringing to her lists of eligible Armenian men and encouraging her to attend events where she can meet such men. In the end, it is Erebuni, her frequent wing woman at these gatherings, who captures Nareh's attention. Nareh is determined to not only embrace her roots and culture, but also her newly-surfaced bisexual self. Author Taleen Voskuni shared her hopes for the book, saying "I want so badly for non-Armenians to read this book and learn about who we are, have their curiosity sparked ... And I hope that Armenians will see themselves reflected in fiction in a way they haven't before."

Fieldwork: A Forager's Memoir by Iliana Regan

From National Book Award-nominee and Michelin star-winning chef, we get this memoir of Iliana Regan's life as a forager, with its roots among ancestors in Eastern Europe, through her childhood in rural Indiana, and into her more recent life in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, where she and her wife opened an Inn serving forage-based meals. The book ultimately explores how the author's gender identity informed her work as a chef and her experience of the natural world. Announcing the release of the memoir to followers on Instagram, Regan shares that it took 17 drafts to complete, explaining that "a big part of my process is to re-write." 

All the Things They Said We Couldn't Have: Stories of Trans Joy by T.C. Oakes-Monger

This series of uplifting and thoughtful essays walks the reader through the seasons, from fall to summer, using each season to explore phases of the trans experience. The fall witnesses a shedding of identity, the winter is the darkness, the spring is newness, and finally, summer brings joy. Author T.C. Oakes-Monger is an educator and speaker on health inequalities, LGBTQ+ rights, and trans joy. Of the collection they write, "This book is about how being trans means entering a community of people who care for each other so deeply, and how I have learned from them new ways to be, to love, to challenge, to have solidarity."

Endpapers by Jennifer Savran Kelly

Dawn Levit is a bookbinder who works in conservation at the Met. It's the early 2000s and both her artistic endeavors and her gender identity feel off. Her queer relationship is falling apart, and her workplace makes her feel increasingly performative. One day, she finds something hidden in an old book: the torn-off cover of a '50s lesbian pulp novel, Turn Her About, with a love letter attached to the back. As Dawn searches for the author of the letter, she also begins a search for herself, all the while suspecting that the mysterious author has guidance to offer her. One bookstore staff member had this to say about the book: "[It is] a beautiful rumination on art and purpose, gender and expression, sexuality and attraction, and the importance of continued connection to queer history."

Up With the Sun by Thomas Mallon

This novel fictionalizes the real life of Dick Kallman — an up-and-coming actor in the '50s and '60s — who found brief success, only to then gradually fade from the public eye until his murder in 1980. Told in part through the eyes of his longtime acquaintance Matt Liannetto, we not only witness Kallman's interactions with such stars as Lucille Ball and Judy Garland, but also the ways in which the competitive environment shaped him, for better or worse. By the end of the novel, author Thomas Mallon brings the reader right up to the start of the AIDS epidemic in New York — something he himself lived through. "Up With the Sun" is one of Mallon's 11 novels to date, and it again demonstrates his proficiency at the historical novel.

Your Driver Is Waiting by Priya Guns

This debut novel by Priya Guns, an actor and writer raised in Toronto, is a social satire inspired by the 1970s film Taxi Driver. The protagonist, Damani, is living paycheck to paycheck in a basement, caring for her mother in the aftermath of her father's passing, and driving for an app that keeps slashing her pay. One day she gives a ride to Jolene, a self-proclaimed ally who also happens to be white and wealthy. Their romance builds until Jolene crosses a line, and things spiral from there. Priya wrote, "We're seeing more working-class stories in fiction that are not holding back ... giving us the invitation to think outside the box about what our futures could look like, and I hope my book can make people think outside of their usual perspective."

I'm Never Fine by Joseph Lezza

This book is a collage memoir made up of essays and poetry, where the author looks back in time in order to ensure he can keep moving forward. Lezza realizes that he is not in fact, "fine," after watching his father succumb to cancer; a fact made clear by the murderous rage he experiences in the face of an overzealous Costco greeter, or slow-moving retiree in the self-checkout lane. He decides to go in search of feeling beyond anger, and ends up exploring his own grief. When describing the process of writing the book, Lezza told his followers, "I had no idea how hard the work would be, how necessary it would be, and how much I would learn and grow from all of it."

Who Does That B**** Think She Is?: Doris Fish and the Rise of Drag by Craig Seligman

Doris Fish (born Philip Mills) was born in Sydney, Australia to a middle-class Catholic family in 1952. He proved himself a successful performer in Sydney with a troupe of drag queens, before moving to San Francisco in the '70s where he became something of a queer legend. Author Craig  Seligman uses interviews with Fish's friends and family to bring this icon's story to life. He weaves in the history of drag performance and its intersection with the AIDS epidemic, ultimately making a case for drag as "political theater" with the potential to not only "rail against society, but to change it."

Confidence by Rafael Frumkin

Things are not going well for seventeen-year-old Ezra Green: He's snaggle-toothed, almost legally blind, carries an internet addiction, and finds himself at Last Chance Camp — the stop before juvie. While there he meets Orson, a brilliant, handsome hustler with whom he begins the professional life of a scam artist. When they embark upon their biggest scam yet, life gets rather out of hand. 

Author Rafael Frumkin said of the themes touched on in the book: "I think we are very much living in the age of the scam ... Confidence-people abound. This is nothing new, except now people are really starting to take notice ... It's good to wonder why the system is so oppressive." Frumkin then adds: "Reading these narratives that are queer, but aren't exclusively about queerness I think can really inspire people to normalize queerness itself, especially in an age when LGBTQIAS+ rights are so under attack."

Tweakerworld: A Memoir by Jason Yamas

Not long after moving to Berkeley, California, Jason's Adderall addiction morphs into a crystal meth binge. Under the pretense of conducting research, Jason becomes a meth dealer, only to find that he is surprisingly good at this new 'gig,' eventually taking over the entire meth market for San Francisco's gay community. As concerned friends and family attempt to intervene, Jason continues to chase the enticing underground of Tweakerworld. About the memoir, Jason explained, "This book is not about recovery. It's about the scourge that meth is becoming on today's gay community, its intersection with unsafe sex practices and mental illness ... We all make mistakes. The ones I made could've been deadly. But I survived. And thanks to help from so many, I now have the proud honor of sharing my journey and shining a bright light on this muzzled epidemic."

Flux by Jinwoo Chong

This debut novel by Jinwoo Chung starts four days before Christmas when three characters — Bo, Brandon, and Blue — each experience a significant challenge. As the story progresses, their lives begin to intersect, exposing a network of secrets and new technology that threatens to disrupt life itself. The book is described as both "a haunting and sometimes shocking exploration of the cyclical nature of grief," as well as a look at "the pervasive nature of whiteness within the development of Asian identity in America."

The People Who Report More Stress: Stories by Alejandro Varela

Written by the author of "The Town of Babylon" (a finalist for the National Book Award), this collection of humorous and quirky stories addresses issues such as parenting, long-term relationships, systemic and interpersonal racism, and class conflict. "The People Who Report More Stress" skillfully portrays the frustration of knowing both the problems and solutions to our society's inequities, while remaining unable to change them. Of the 13 pieces in this collection, Varela wrote, "They're all about class jumping and the disorientation of landing in the unfamiliar. They're neurotic, sexy, annoying, and, hopefully, funny."

Any Other City by Hazel Jane Plante

This book is a fictional memoir that has two sides (an A and a B, similar to a cassette tape) written by Tracy St. Cyr, a musician in an indie rock band called Static Saints. Side A depicts her life starting in the early '90s when she arrives in the city as a fledgling artist, soon to join a group of trans women and fellow artists. Side B fasts forward to 2019, with Tracy now a semi-famous musician, and healing from trauma. Writing the memoir allows Tracy to see how the past informs the present, and how to gain power by viewing the past with honesty.

Plante herself is both a writer and a musician. Of her relationship with art she has said, "... I've had a longer relationship with art and pop culture than pretty much any individual person in my life. Art and pop culture are always there when I need them, y'know?"

The Celebrants by Steven Rowley

As five friends face a new decade, 28 years since they all graduated together from college, they do what they've done many times over the years: reunite in Big Sur, California. It had become something of a tradition, throwing each other "living funerals" as a way of celebrating their lives now. But this year, something is different. Instead of honoring a recent wedding or pulling someone back together after a divorce, one friend is hiding a secret that could change their overall relationship for good. This tribute to adult friendship is at times funny and witty, and at others sobering and honest.