The Gayest Gay Books for Hungry, Hungry Bookworms
We stan a literate king. And not just because the idea of a sexy librarian having their way with us in the stacks is a top-tier fantasy.
Queer media is more accessible than ever. LGBTQ storylines are on prime-time television, Oscar-worthy films, and chart-topping podcasts. Yet, there’s nothing quite like the intimacy of curling up with a captivating gay book. These aren’t just stories to get lost in — they’re lifelines and mirrors that dig deep into the diverse queer experience.
From trailblazing classics to dirty romance novels, here are our 30 best gay books to add to your reading list.
The 30 best LGBTQ books to get lost in
Forbidden lovers and cowboys and drag queens, oh my! Queer books have something for everybody. Put on your sexiest horn-rimmed glasses and check out some of our favorites.
1. Call Me By Your Name by André Aciman
Set in the sun-drenched Italian countryside, this book-turned-movie is about a passionate summer romance between a precocious 17-year-old and a charming American house guest. It’s a slow-burning tale about the intensity of first love and defining sexual experiences.
2. Giovanni’s Room by James Baldwin
There’s just something about Italian boys, huh?
James Baldwin’s masterful 1956 novel is as powerful as ever. It tells the story of an American expatriate in Paris who grapples with his sexuality and societal norms. His Italian lover’s room is the only space where he can embrace his queerness. Giovanni’s Room is a poignant, introspective story about the struggles of queer men in a time when homophobia was the rule.
3. City of Night by John Rechy
A raw look at 1960s underground queer culture, Rechy’s novel traces the life of a “Youngman,” a young gay hustler who travels across America’s “cities of night.” His anonymous protagonist searches for self-knowledge in a world of hookers, drag queens, and hustlers pushed to the limits of marginalization.
4. Dancer from the Dance by Andrew Holleran
Oh, to be a gay man in 1970s New York City. Holleran vibrantly captured the scene in this seminal work of gay literature. The book follows a young man consumed by the city’s discos, bathhouses, and orgies. It’s a story about the longing to connect and find meaning.
5. A Boy’s Own Story by Edmund White
This coming-of-age story set in the 1950s is the first of three semi-autobiographical novels from White. Its narrative is a deeply personal exploration of the yearning to be comfortable in your own skin — a universal queer tale that transcends time.
6. Maurice by E.M. Forster
Mirroring his own life in early 20th-century England, Forster explores self-acceptance and the search for happiness in a constraining society. Published posthumously, the optimistic tale exhibits a freedom Forster yearned to enjoy himself as a closeted gay man.
7. The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
Although Dorian Gray isn’t exactly written as a flaming queen, Wilde’s very subtextual nod to same-sex desire is likely due to the Victorian audience's stuffy views on homosexuality. A true queen before the term existed, Oscar Wilde’s most famous work is full of homoerotic desire and explorations of male identity.
8. The Line of Beauty by Alan Hollinghurst
Winner of the 2004 Booker Prize, Hollinghurst’s book is set during the HIV/AIDs crisis in 1980s London. The novel intricately weaves themes of class, politics, and sexuality with sharp commentary about the moral hypocrisy of the era.
9. Tales of the City by Armistead Maupin
For fans of the Netflix series starring Laura Linney and Elliot Page, Maupin’s pioneering fiction column is available in several compilations. For super fans, check out his memoir, Logical Family, about his journey from a conservative upbringing to a sexually free adulthood.
10. I Can’t Date Jesus by Michael Arceneaux
Arceneaux’s collection of essays is hilarious and soulful, exploring his path as a gay, Black man learning to embrace his identity. And by identity, he means putting all his faith into the Church of Beyoncé.
11. How to Write an Autobiographical Novel by Alexander Chee
Each essay in Chee’s collection is a standalone work of art. But, as a whole, his stories about hustling odd jobs, drag, and AIDS activism create a nuanced portrait of the life of an artist.
12. Zami by Audre Lorde
It’s fitting that the impossible-to-classify Audre Lorde wrote a genre-bender that blends memoir, mythology, and history. Although Zami speaks to the Black lesbian experience, her poetic exploration of empowerment and identity is universally queer.
13. Homie by Danez Smith
Chosen in Grindr’s “Read of The Month” series, this is a beautiful collection of poetry packed with humor, sexuality, and joy. Check our interview with Danez Smith to hear them read an excerpt.
14. On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong
A profoundly moving novel written as a letter from a son to his illiterate mother, Vuong’s poetic prose captures the complexities of love, trauma, and the immigrant experience. It’s the kind of read that heals and transforms.
15. Bad Girls by Camila Sosa Villada
Argentine writer Camila Sosa Villada explores a magical yet all-too-real story about a group of transgender sex workers. The lyrical novel weaves joy into tragedy, painting a beautiful portrait of a community often marginalized and misunderstood.
16. Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides
This Pulitzer Prize-winning book was described as a “vastly realized, multi-generational novel as highspirited as it is intelligent” by the Pulitzer Board. It follows several generations of a Greek-American family searching for the American Dream, captured through the lens of the body image, adolescence, and sexuality of its intersex protagonist.
17. In One Person by John Irving
This portrait of the life and loves of a bisexual man is about the fluidity of gender and desire. Irving’s signature quirky style captures what it’s like to feel like you don’t fit neatly in a box.
18. Red, White, & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston
Before it became a movie, Red, White, & Royal Blue was one of the best romance books for adults. The comedy follows a cross-cultural romance between America’s First Son and a British prince.
19. Heartstopper by Alice Oseman
The webcomic turned graphic novel series turned amazing gay TV show, Heartstopper is an innovator in the YA fiction sphere. It portrays the blossoming romance between two British teens — a gorgeous tale of friendship, self-love, and gender identity.
20. I’m So (Not) Over You by Kosoko Jackson
Another YA hit novelist, Jackson writes stories that center queer African-American protagonists. With Atlanta’s vibrant Black social scene as the backdrop, this novel is a charming story about ex-boyfriends who decide to give love another chance. Only in fiction, right?
21. Fierce Femmes and Notorious Liars by Kai Cheng Thom
A foray into the slightly surreal literature, this book tells the story of a young trans girl who runs away from home to join a vigilante gang of transfemmes. It’s the resistance tale we’ve all been yearning for.
22. Real Life by Brandon Taylor
One of Grindr’s favorite queer books of 2020, Real Life is an absorbing novel about a gay, Black university student from Alabama. In a predominantly white, Midwestern social circle, he’s confronted with notions of race, sexuality, and the painful pursuit to belong.
23. The Guncle by Steven Rowley
When tragedy strikes, a formerly famous TV star and cool gay uncle takes over the parenting duties of his niece and nephew. Filled with heart-warming hijinks fit for Lifetime, it’s the literary equivalent of your favorite Pride ballad.
24. Hola Papi by John Paul Brammer
The “Chicano Carrie Bradshaw” will have you laughing until it hurts. If you have ever wondered what it’s like to come out in a Walmart parking lot, this book is for you.
25. Tranny by Laura Jane Grace
Named one of Billboard’s “100 Greatest Music Books of All Time,” this powerful memoir is about Grace’s journey of self-discovery as a trans woman in the punk rock scene. It’s a candid portrayal of gender dysphoria that sheds light on transitioning when you feel like all eyes are on you.
26. The Stonewall Reader
Drawing from the New York Public Library’s archives, this anthology collection of firsthand accounts, diary entries, and articles documents the lead-up and aftermath of the Stonewall Riots. It's a must-read for the gay history buff.
27. By the Currawong’s Call by Welton B. Marsland
An Anglican priest and a police sergeant in rural 1890s Australia risk it all to go balls deep in the bush. If you’re looking for something equal parts sensual and spicy, this is a must-have gay romance.
28. The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller
Imagine the Greek epic Achilles told like a gay, coming-of-age Cinderella love story. Whip out those swords and kiss! If that’s not your definition of a top romance book, we don’t know what else to say.
29. The Crown of the Summer Court by Astolat
If you’re looking for free gay sex stories, fan fiction is a great place to look. Astolat writes for several fandoms, including Game of Thrones and Captain America. This King of Camelot tale casts Arthur as a bottom who gets stuffed by Merlin’s magic wand. Check out all his stories in his personal archive.
30. Captive Prince by S.U. Pacat
If you’re looking for some erotic smut, the Captive Prince series is a slow-burning romance full of hunky tops, captive-captor fantasies, and a lot of dicks. Lucky for you, there are enough sexy princes to fill a trilogy.
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Now that you have 30 gay books to satiate your hard-on for literature, it’s time to heat up that Kindle or head to your local library.
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