This post is also a little slow, as Pride month I believe is largely American-focussed (here in Australia we generally celebrate in our Summer, which isn’t for some time). I did intend to do more LGBTAIQ+ focussed book reviews and content this month, but the Black Lives Matter protests going on worldwide (deservedly) captured more attention, so it is only now that I find myself writing this post. Nevertheless, reading books that feature gender and sexual minorities*, or are written by people who are themselves part of the LGBTAIQ+ community, is something that should happen year-round.
I’ll also mention (if the information is publicly available) whether or not the author of the work/s identifies as a part of the community, as I myself enjoy supporting diversity in authors, as well as the worlds that they create, and I know some other people do as well. Now that we have that out of the way, here are some recommendations on books to read if you are interested in reading books with GSM characters and/or authors.
The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon
I loved the way the world itself in this novel was inclusive of LGBTAIQ+ characters, and I enjoyed the more equal treatment among genders that was also present within the societies of the novel. This is a classic fantasy story, complete with prophecies, dragons, witches and ancient threats arising anew. The Priory of the Orange Tree also includes well as romance, intrigue, betrayal and characters overcoming biases to benefit and protect everyone. I’m unsure as to whether Samantha Shannon is herself a member of the LGBTAIQ+ community, but the representation in this book is done very well. I also appreciated the complete lack of sexual violence in this book. I’ve reviewed The Priory of the Orange Tree here, if you’d like a more thorough review.
I haven’t read any books of the author’s The Bone Season series, but I believe it also contains on-page GSM representation.
The Villains series by VE Schwab
I’m including this book selfishly, because asexual representation is rare and it’s done well in this series. Also I have no one favourite book, but if I had to choose, Vicious would be in with a strong chance. The Villains series is an amazing modern sci fi story, with a lot of comic book imagery, adorable found family, deep philosophical quandaries and thoroughly sympathetic people doing morally ambiguous things. I’ve reviewed Vengeful (book 2) here, though you should absolutely start at book one (Vicious) if you’re interested.
Victoria Schwab is herself a member of the LGBTAIQ+ community, and has spoken out publicly against the Russian censorship of some of the relationships in her work. The Shades of Magic series by VE Schwab also contains GSM characters, though it is YA, which I know some people prefer not to read.
The Skulduggery Pleasant Series by Derek Landy
If you don’t like YA or ridiculous fantasy elements (one of the main characters in this book is a talking skeleton), this series may not be for you but as someone who adores banter, character development and loveable rogues, I had to include this series. A large number of the characters this series focusses on are gender or sexual minorities, and I loved the almost complete lack of angst surrounding this fact. There’s a lot of bi representation in this series, with some trans and non-binary characters also included in later novels. The series is an adventure-coming of age series, with a lot of philosophical musing about race, power, corruption, and other thoroughly timely themes.
The Demon Road series by Derek Landy is also YA, this time with a lesbian protagonist—very much a rarity in my experience. It contains ridiculously entertaining conversation between characters, graphic violence and feminist rants—what more could you ask for? If you enjoy Richard Kadrey’s Sandman Slim or David Wong’s John Dies at the End novels, consider reading the Demon Road series by Derek Landy.
The Parasol Protectorate Series by Gail Carriger
The Custard Protocol series by this author has more POV GSM characters, but the Parasol Protectorate series still has it’s fair share, and as it chronologically comes first (the main characters in the Parasol Protectorate series are the parents of a number of characters in the books of the Custard Protocol). This article was meant to be suggesting books with good LGBTAIQ+ representation, but I guess I’m just recommending fun, found family stories that follow ridiculous people doing ridiculous, often heroic things. So be it!
Gail Carriger is another author that writes interesting, well-rounded characters exchanging quips and gallivanting around. Her Parasol Protectorate and Custard Protocol books occur in a steampunk Victorian era, and include vampires, werewolves, and a variety of other supernatural creatures. The books are packed with strong female characters and non-traditional characters, and I loved the casual inclusion of trans identities within non-European cultures that occurs in the Custard Protocol series. Any reviews of books from these series can be found here: Competence (Custard Protocol #3), Reticence (Custard Protocol #4).
Gail Carriger also writes explicit LGBTAIQ+ romances under the name GL Carriger, and has released a sci fi novel called The Fifth Gender which I intend to read in the near future (I’m just waiting for it to arrive).
The October Daye series by Seanan McGuire
Seanan McGuire (who also writes as Mira Grant) is demisexual, biromantic, and an extremely prolific writer. Her books have gender and sexual minorities of all stripes, and she often challenges complex social issues with her writing.
The October Daye series is an urban fantasy, fairytale-noir story about a changeling detective who solves crimes that involve members of her mothers race, often revolving around missing children. Despite the often heavy themes, the writing remains upbeat, humorous and narratively satisfying.
The Wayward Children series has one of the few asexual narrators I’ve encountered, though the narrators (and their sexualities) do change from book to book. It’s a rich and poetic series challenging the gendered messages passed on in fairytales, with classic coming-of-age touches.
As Mira Grant she writes sci-fi/horror, and the fourth book of her incredible zombie-journalism Newsflesh series has a non-binary main character, with various LGBTAIQ+ characters also present throughout.
Seanan McGuire has also written other series, and too many short stories to count, a number of which are available for free online if you’d like to see what you think of her writing style.
If you prefer short form fiction, the Beyond the Sun, Above the Moon Anthology (which I reviewed here ) is a great way to read short stories from a variety of GSM authors with just one purchase.
In an effort not to ramble on about the series that I always recommend, I didn’t properly include Yoon Ha Lee in this list, despite the incredible quality and diversity of his work. He is included in my recent recommendations for the Asian readathon however, if you’d like a quick overview of his books as I have done with the other authors on this list.
*I prefer the catch-all term ‘Gender and Sexual Minorities’ because it’s more inclusive, quicker to say and write, and I think still captures the essence of the longer, more specific acronyms that—like it or not—are usually shortened