9 Best Selling LGBTQ Books: Celebrate Love With A Great Story

Discover our top guide to the best selling LGBTQ books and add them to your reading list!

A century ago, LGBTQ+ writers could only hint at non-heteronormative relationships and identities. In the last few decades, their voices and perspectives have at last become a respected part of the literary world. In the early years, gay characters were often converted in the plot or met with tragedy.

Later, queer stories were typically about coming out, bullying, abandonment, fear, or rejection. However, nowadays more and more gay literature confronts many of the same issues that have filled the pages of books for centuries – finding love, coming of age, parenting, and happily ever after – only from a queer perspective. 

The best-selling LGBTQ+ books provide a glimpse into the history of queer culture. Most importantly, however, they also offer the kind of representation, particularly for youth, that fosters self-esteem and allows readers to develop empathy for others. If you’re interested in this topic, you might enjoy our round-up of the best gay romance authors!

Here Are The Best Selling LGBTQ Books

1. The Price of Salt by Patricia Highsmith, 1952

Patricia Highsmith
Patricia Highsmith via Wikipedia, Public Domain

In Patricia Highsmith’s pioneering tale of lesbian romance, The Price of Salt, a young department store clerk, Therese, has a chance encounter with a disillusioned housewife named Carol. Their meeting sparks a taboo romance, a cross-country chase, and an impossible choice. The novel was immediately met with the LGBT community’s acclaim because, unlike virtually all previously published gay fiction, this love story does not end in the conversion or tragic death of its queer protagonist. The 2016 film adaptation was nominated for six Academy Awards. 

“I feel I stand in a desert with my hands outstretched, and you are raining down upon me.”

Patricia Highsmith, The Price of Salt
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The Price of Salt
  • Patricia Highsmith (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 224 Pages - 03/24/2024 (Publication Date) - CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (Publisher)

2. Giovanni’s Room by James Baldwin, 1956

James Baldwin
James Baldwin via Wikipedia, Public Domain

It’s the 1950s in Paris, and a young man, David, has just proposed to his girlfriend. While she’s away, he finds himself in a Bohemian bar, inexplicably drawn to the bartender, a gay man named Giovanni. As David’s story unfolds, one of America’s most beloved writers, James Baldwin, explores the shortcomings of conventional morality, the complexities of discovering one’s own identity, and the difficulties of navigating the human heart. Giovanni’s Room was and remained one of Baldwin’s most provocative and powerful works. 

“People can’t, unhappily, invent their mooring posts, their lovers, and their friends, anymore than they can invent their parents. Life gives these and also takes them away and the great difficulty is to say Yes to life.”

James Baldwin, Giovanni’s Room
James Baldwin Giovanni's Room /anglais
  • BALDWIN JAMES (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 160 Pages - 07/26/2007 (Publication Date) - PENGUIN UK (Publisher)

3. Annie on My Mind by Nancy Garden, 1982

Perhaps no book has done more for young adult LGBT fiction than Nancy Garden’s groundbreaking Annie on My Mind. Two teenage girls from very different backgrounds in New York City meet at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and form an instant bond that soon blossoms into something more.

Unlike the typical queer cautionary tales of the era, this is a hopeful story about the intoxicating sweetness of first love. This must-read book was banned, burned, and eventually at the center of a federal censorship case. Still, it has endured and become a beloved classic. 

“Don’t punish yourselves for people’s ignorant reactions to what we all are. Don’t let ignorance win. Let love.”

Nancy Garden, Annie on My Mind
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Annie on My Mind
  • Garden, Nancy (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 272 Pages - 02/20/2007 (Publication Date) - Square Fish (Publisher)

4. Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic by Alison Bechdel, 2006

Alison Bechdel
Alison Bechdel via Wikipedia, Public Domain

Alison Bechdel’s father was a third-generation mortician running the family funeral home (fun home!) in Beech Creek, Pennsylvania. He was also gay, but Alison wouldn’t learn this until she had gone away to college and come out herself. A few weeks later, her father passed away, leaving Alison with more questions than answers.

Equal parts graphic novel, and memoir, Fun Home is Bechdel’s funny, endearing, deeply personal exploration of her relationship with her late father. The book was on the New York Times Bestseller list for two weeks, was made into a Broadway musical, and has received numerous awards, including the LAMBDA Literary Award and the Stonewall Book Award. 

“I suppose that a lifetime spent hiding one’s erotic truth could have a cumulative renunciatory effect. Sexual shame is in itself a kind of death.”

Alison Bechdel, Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic
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Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic
  • Bechdel, Alison (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 232 Pages - 06/05/2007 (Publication Date) - Mariner Books Classics (Publisher)

5. Call Me By Your Name by André Aciman, 2007

André Aciman
André Aciman via Wikipedia, Public Domain

André Aciman’s Call Me By Your Name is the tale of a sultry summer romance between precocious 17-year-old Elio and Oliver, a 24-year-old graduate student. Set in the Italian Rivera, this coming-of-age story is an achingly real deep dive into the intense passion and heartbreak of first love. Many have expressed concern about the age difference between the characters. Yet, the novel has been internationally lauded as a classic. The 2017 film adaptation of the novel received a standing ovation at both the Sundance Film Festival and the New York Film Festival and was nominated for four Academy Awards. 

“If I could have him like this in my dreams every night of my life, I’d stake my entire life on dreams and be done with the rest.”

André Aciman, Call Me by Your Name
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Call Me by Your Name: A Novel
  • Aciman, André (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 256 Pages - 10/03/2017 (Publication Date) - Picador (Publisher)

6. The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily Danforth, 2012

When Emily Danforth was 25, a gay teenager named Zach Stark was in the news because his parents had sent him to a religious-based conversion therapy camp against his will. The incident inspired Danforth to write The Miseducation of Cameron Post, a young adult novel about a teenage girl whose family sends her to a similar camp after discovering her lesbian relationship. The book was made into a film that debuted at the Sundance Film Festival in 2018. There it won the festival’s highest honor, The U.S. Grand Jury Prize. 

“Maybe I still haven’t become me. I don’t know how you tell for sure when you finally have.”

Emily M. Danforth, The Miseducation of Cameron Post
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The Miseducation of Cameron Post
  • Used Book in Good Condition
  • Danforth, Emily M. (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 480 Pages - 05/28/2013 (Publication Date) - Balzer + Bray (Publisher)

7. Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz, 2012

Benjamin Alire Sáenz
Benjamin Alire Sáenz via Wikipedia, Public Domain

Image description: A book cover with an illustration of a vintage red truck parked in a grassy field at dusk. In the dark sky above the truck are script letters that read “Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe,” surrounded by drawings of hieroglyphics, stars, sun, moon, and other small symbols and geometric patterns. 

In Benjamin Alire Sáenz’s Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, two teenage boys, who initially seem to have nothing in common but their parent’s affinity for classical names, develop a powerful, beautiful bond. The boys must endure tragedy, heartbreak, and all the complexities of discovering one’s identity, but what makes this book remarkable is that they have the support of their families along the way. The book won critical acclaim and numerous awards, including the Stonewall Book Award for LGBT fiction. The film adaptation premiered in September of 2022 in Toronto. 

“I bet you could sometimes find all the mysteries of the universe in someone’s hand.”

Benjamin Alire Sáenz, Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe
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Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe
  • Easy to read text
  • It can be a gift option
  • This product will be an excellent pick for you
  • Sáenz, Benjamin Alire (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)

8. Red, White, and Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston, 2019

Casey McQuiston
Casey McQuiston via Wikipedia, Public Domain

Casey Mcquiston’s debut novel, Red, White, and Royal Blue is a hilarious, touching rom-com that became an instant bestseller. The president’s son has it all, good looks, charm, and popularity. Still, he also has a nemesis – the equally dashing Prince Henry. When the two are photographed having an altercation, their families attempt to repair the public relations snafu by concocting a made-for-social-media friendship. Little do they know that it will become so much more. The novel made the New York Times Bestseller list in June 2019. Production on the film adaptation concluded in late 2022, and a 2023 release is expected. 

“Straight people, he thinks, probably don’t spend this much time convincing themselves that they’re straight.”

Casey McQuiston, Red, White & Royal Blue
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Red, White & Royal Blue: A Novel
  • Reading books is a kind of enjoyment
  • This product will be an excellent pick for you
  • This product will be an excellent pick for you
  • McQuiston, Casey (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)

9. Detransition, Baby by Torrey Peters, 2021

Torrey Peters
Torrey Peters via Wikipedia, Public Domain

Image description: A book cover with abstract illustrations of female faces overlapping one another in shades of pink, yellow, blue, and green. The words “National Bestseller – Detransition, Baby – A Novel – Torrey Peters” are printed over the faces. 

In 2021, Torry Peters became the first openly transgender woman to publish with one of the “big five” American publishing houses with her novel, Detransition, Baby. The story follows three women grappling with what it means to be female. Reese and Amy’s long-term relationship is falling apart because Amy has recently de-transitioned and become Ames. Ames grapples with the pain of losing Reese by having an affair with his boss, Katrina.

Although a baby was all Reese had hoped for, Katrina was not sure she wanted to continue the pregnancy. Can they find a way to form a modern family? Detransition, Baby was named one of the year’s best books by more than 20 national publications, including NPR, Time, Vogue, and Esquire. If you love romance novels, you’ll enjoy our round-up of the best romance authors!

“Many people think a trans woman’s deepest desire is to live in her true gender, but actually it is to always stand in good lighting.”

Torrey Peters, Detransition, Baby
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Detransition, Baby: A Novel
  • Peters, Torrey (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 368 Pages - 10/05/2021 (Publication Date) - One World (Publisher)

Author

  • Stefani is a freelance writer who specializes in lifestyle and literary pieces. She worked for several years as a high school English teacher before becoming a full-time writer. Stefani is pursuing a graduate degree in English literature focusing on contemporary poetry. When not writing, you can find her in the garden, making plans for her next road trip, or in her workshop, where she restores vintage and antique furniture.

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