For years LGBTQ+ fiction books have had the reputation of having a tragic ending, with the likes of Brokeback Mountain and The Song of Achilles amongst the most popular.
And while there’s nothing wrong with these stories, they can make you feel like it’s impossible to read an LGBTQ+ fiction book without it being depressing.
But in recent years a spotlight has been put on LGBTQ+ fiction that has a lighter tone, with Alice Oseman’s Hearstopper and its Netflix adaptation leading the way.
To celebrate this, we’ve put together a list of five more positive LGBTQ+ fiction books that you can add to your to be read list (they won’t leave you feeling sad – we promise!) ranked according to their rating on GoodReads.
1. The Binding by Bridget Collins – 3.91/5
Set in a fantasy version of 19th Century Britain, The Binding centres around a man named Emmett, who is sent off by his family for a reason unknown even to him.
He finds himself as an apprentice to a book binder, and soon finds there is more to his job than meets the eye.
In Collins universe, people can talk to book makers about their traumatic stories, and once they are written down, the person will no longer remember what caused their trauma in the first place.
These books are then lovingly looked after by Emmett and his master. But what will happen when Emmett finds a book with his name on it?
Both striking and original, though this book starts sombre and has some quite heavy themes, it is delightfully optimistic in tone and will thrill anyone looking to read their next LGBTQ+ fantasy hit.
2. Less by Andrew Sean Greer – 3.65/5
Winner of the 2018 Pulitzer Prize for fiction, Greer’s novel is a satire that follows the life of Arthur Less, an almost 50-year-old author who is unhappy with his life.
After his latest book was rejected by publishers, Arthur finds out that his ex-lover, Freddy Pelu, is getting hitched. To escape having to attend the wedding Arthur decides to take a trip abroad, through Europe, Africa and India, attending the sort of literary events he usually avoids like the plague.
Though this book involves some tragedy and sadness, it’s also very funny and is ultimately a story about finding love despite your own flaws sometimes hampering things.
3. Maurice by E.M. Forster – 4.07/5
Perhaps the most intriguing book on this list, Maurice was finished by Forster in 1914, but wasn’t published until 1971, long after the author’s death.
Forster only wanted the book published posthumously because he knew that publishers in his time would have likely rejected the work, and even if he had managed to get it published, he didn’t believe that the British public was ready for a gay romance book where the characters don’t get a miserable ending.
Inspired by the lives of Forster’s real life friends Edward Carpenter and George Merrill, two early gay activists, Maurice follows the life of a man named Maurice Hall, through school and university during the early 1900’s.
At university Maurice realises more about his sexuality through reading ancient Greek writings on same sex loves. Then through trials and tribulations, including trying to ‘cure’ himself, Maurice starts a relationship with his wealthy friend’s groundskeeper, named Alec Scudder.
A book about the struggles of love through both homosexual and class discrimination, Maurice is an intriguing insight into how happiness can be achieved, even in the most difficult of circumstances.
4. Once and Future by Amy Rose Capetta and Cory McCarthy – 3.56/5
For those who like sci-fi and dystopian fiction, this is the one for you. Set in the far-flung future, the universe is ruled over by the ruthless Mercer corporation, driven only by power and profit.
Arise Ari Helix, a queer teenager who turns out to be the latest incarnation of King Arthur, can she and her merry band save the universe?
What makes this tale so refreshing is that it offers the anti-capitalist escapism young readers crave in a universe where no discrimination of race, gender or sexual identity exists.
5. Tell Me It’s Real by T.J. Klune – 4.25/5
Perfect for those looking to escape the boredom of a nine to five job, Tell Me Its Real follows the life of Paul Auster, a man in his early 30’s stuck in a dead-end office job.
His life changes when he encounters the sexy Vince Taylor, who becomes infatuated with him – though Paul can’t see why for the life of him.
A really funny and sometimes ridiculous book, it’s a great comfort read for those looking for something a little less heavy.
If you liked this post then read Why the rise in LGBTQ+ romance novels is important or Five books to read when you’re feeling ‘spicy’ next.
Arthur is a journalism student at The University of Sheffield. As well as being a founding member of BLOT, he has also written for Forge Press, Sheff Central and One2Football. His hobbies include climbing, going to gigs and of course, reading.
Favourite genres: Magical Realism and Historical Fiction.