10 books to read during Pride Month

10 books that guarantee queer representation and a great story — all under 400 pages.


Cody Blissett

Photo illustration by Cody Blissett

Anupama Choudhury, Arts Reporter

The Stonewall Riots of June 1969 were a landmark public demonstration for queer rights, and we now know the month as one dedicated to pride. However, the celebration of LGBTQ+ stories and experiences has been around much longer than that, and is carefully documented in the folds of novels, poetry, and memoirs. These 10 book recommendations delve even further into queer culture: 

  • “After Sappho” (2022): Author Selby Wynn Schwartz offers a series of cascading vignettes and accounts of women: sapphists, feminists and trailblazers from the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries who fought and campaigned for their right to simply exist and be treated with dignity. One finds strength in the fiery passion of Lina Poletti and Romaine Brooks, a hearth in the sensual camaraderie of Natalie Barney and Eva Palmer, and solace in the words of Virginia Woolf and Sibilla Aleramo, and discovers the true meaning of embodying the spirit of Sappho.
  • “Orlando” (1928): Inspired by her lover, Vita Sackville-West, Virginia Woolf’s novel “Orlando” is easily portrayed as one of the longest love letters of the English language. It is a pioneering novel in queer literature with a protagonist that inexplicably changes from a man into a woman overnight and is bursting with representation for non-binary and genderfluid individuals. With one of the most complex and intricately woven characters of all time, this novel is rightly regarded as one of the classic novels in queer culture.
  • “Loveless” (2020): Alice Oseman provides an account of a girl named Georgia while she finds her calling and discovers her true self as she navigates life in college. This novel —albeit with its harsh title — carries Oseman’s signature heartfelt writing that gives the reader a sense of warmth and belonging, all while getting to know a girl figuring out her life as a young adult, her experiences with her peers, and above all, coming to terms with her aromantic-asexual identity.
  • “The Price of Salt” (1952): Considered a radical piece of writing during its first release, Patricia Highsmith’s finest work is now best remembered as the 2015 film “Carol” starring Cate Blanchette and Rooney Mara. It follows Therese Belivet, a stage designer with a seemingly plain and routine life that is disrupted by the arrival of Carol Aird, an alluring suburban divorcee. The novel traces the two falling in love and traveling across the U.S., pursued by Carol’s past, and is a riveting tale of choosing between life and love.
  • “Paul Takes the Form of a Mortal Girl” (2017): Andrea Lawlor’s debut novel is not for the faint-hearted. Reminiscent of Woolf’s “Orlando,” the main character is a shapeshifter taking on the forms of Paul and Polly whenever they please. The book begins in the university town of Iowa City and takes the reader through the checkpoints of Paul/Polly’s life and ends in San Francisco, leaving behind a trail of gay clubs, politics, and partying, and diving in and out of queer struggles and pleasure.
  • “The Color Purple” (1982): Alice Walker’s classic that traces the lives of sisters Celie and Nettie in rural Georgia and their experiences as Black women. However, at the heart of the tale lies a love story between Celie and Shug Avery, the local songstress by day and seductive role model by night. This novel is filled with compassion, loyalty, and heart wrenching discourse about injustice and God.
  • “The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo” (2017): It is author Taylor Jenkin Reid’s world; we are just living in it. Reid does a phenomenal job of portraying the glitz and glamor of the Golden Age of Hollywood through the lens of Evelyn Hugo, a woman fueled by determination and grit, fixated on making it in an unforgiving industry. This novel is also one of the most wonderful examples of bisexual representation and recounts the Stonewall Riots in intricate detail. The underlying tone of feminism and the strong message of staying true to every facet of one’s being qualifies this book as a modern classic for our generation. 
  • “Giovanni’s Room” (1956): James Baldwin is considered an integral part of queer literature and his most renowned work serves as proof of his standing. It follows David, a man recently engaged in contemporary Paris. It is a highly controversial novel, debated even today, and deals with the incredibly vulnerable subjects of internalized homophobia, political policies towards sexual liberation, and how one man’s actions and thought process affects all those around him.
  • “Felix Ever After” (2020): This is a young adult novel that is relatively light-hearted yet tackles serious issues and is an important part of transgender literature. Author Kacen Callender introduces teen protagonist Felix, who is Black, queer, and transgender. They have never been in love but hope to be. The book provides an invigorating insight into the life of a teenage trans individual on the brink of growing up, grappling with sexuality, identity, and the lingering notions of the impending future.
  •  “Maurice” (1971): This novel was finished in 1914 but E.M. Forster insisted that it remain unpublished until his death in 1970, lest it ruin his career. Such is the power of this novel, laced with vulnerability, longing, and scandal. Set during the Edwardian era and in the background of the First World War, the novel traces the life of the titular character Maurice as he navigates his identity and sexuality, and the consequences that come along with it.