Find out what LGBT Novels are worth reading
When I’m not writing my own novels, I’m scouring the far-flung corners of the internet looking for good books to read. If you know me, you’ll understand my keen interest in finding good LGBT novels that are interesting on a deeper level than just cheap thrills. This, then, is my top 6 LGBT novels you need to read now.
Let’s ignore the plethora of gay vampire and werewolf books on the market for a moment. I have tried to seek out those novels that are much more meaningful. They don’t have to be wholesome but they do have to offer me something more than just sex for sex’s sake.
What didn’t make it?
With the release of Aciman’s Call Me By Your Name in cinemas around the world, I’ve added it to my Kindle. I’ll read it when I get a chance, so it hasn’t made this list so far. But I’m sure you’ll find something to read below from this list of LGBT-inspired novels.
Without further ado…
Annabel by Kathleen Winter
It’s bad enough growing up gay and not being able to understand who you really are. But for Annabel, AKA Wayne, who was born intersex (what used to be known as hermaphrodite for those not in the know) figuring life out was a little more difficult. Born with both sets of genitalia and raised as a boy, Wayne struggles with his true identity. Who is he? Male or female? Will ‘Annabel’ ever be capable of being loved for who she is?
I read this over a couple of nights and loved every word of it. As a reader, we truly get deep inside Wayne/Annabel’s head and it makes you wonder how any parent could force their child to live one way when the choice should have been theirs.
Vanity Fierce by Graeme Aitken
Blond, blue-eyed Stephen Spear was good at everything. He had the looks and the attitude to go far in life. But when he falls in love and finds his intentions unrequited, he realises he’s not the best at everything. But that won’t stop him from trying.
This was one of the first gay-themed novels I read and I admit to being marginally confused at first as to the differences between King’s Cross, London, and King’s Cross, Syndey (I was young and naive). I saw nothing of myself in Stephen Spear, the handsome, loved-by-all (except one, clearly) twenty-something star of the world, but I fell in love with him a little bit, myself.
The Absolutist by John Boyne
In 1919, twenty-year-old Tristan Sadler boards a train to bring a clutch of letters to Marian Bancroft, whose brother, Will, he fought alongside during the war. Will brought dishonour to his family name by declaring himself a conscientious objector. But Tristan carries more than Will’s letters with him on that train. He carries a story far greater than the pain of war. And he needs to tell Marian or risk losing himself.
John Boyne’s eloquence is exemplary in The Absolutist that you can feel the motion of the train as you ride alongside Tristan on his fated journey to the sister of a man he loved. Truly an epic that deserves a movie adaptation – if only they could promise to be faithful to the novel.
Deefur Dog by RJ Scott
Widowed and left with a child and a great Dane, Cameron Jackson was at wit’s end. Nannies came and went in less than a day and his world was crashing around him. Enter Jason, a skilled nanny and apparent dog whisperer, and slowly, Cameron’s heart might just begin to heal.
Let’s not forget the little fish here. This novel is quite short at only 116 pages, and written by an author whose name will only be familiar to you if you move in certain circles. But it more than makes up for it in its overarching and breathtaking characters who will face loss and, miraculously, come out the other side. And let’s face it, who wouldn’t love a great Dane called Deefur (D-for-dog, geddit?). I usually remove old books from my Kindle, but this one is sitting there to be read again.
The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller
Told from the perspective of the exiled prince, Patroclus, here we see Achilles as we’ve never seen him before. A fierce warrior, yes, born of a goddess, perfect in every way, destined for great things. But also tender, loving, childlike and impish at turns. Falling in love has never been so romantic. And not since Romeo and Juliet has it been so fated.
I fell in love with this novel immediately. We get to watch Achilles and Patroclus grow from innocent childhood friends into beasts of men whose might on the battlefield is rivalled by their love in the cover of night. Even knowing the story doomed from the start, I still found myself hoping Miller was rewriting The Iliad. I had hoped for a happy ending and got none – but that didn’t stop me loving the novel and re-reading it twice more.
Toby’s Lie by Daniel Vilmure
Toby Sligh’s world is crumbling. His mother is missing and his father is drowning his sorrows. And Toby’s best friend is doubling as a crack dealer. All Toby wants to do is dance with his boyfriend at prom. But when nothing is as it seems, and even an ageing Jesuit priest can’t help you, how do you share your secrets when everyone is hiding their own?
I bought this book in paperback back in 1998 or 99 and I still have it today, sitting pride of place on my “I’ll read these books again” shelf. And I have. In fact, as far as LGBT novels go, I’ve lost count the number of times I’ve read this. I keep coming back to it when I either run out of other books to read. Or when I can’t get my head into one for reasons beyond my understanding. Toby’s Lie grounds me, in some odd way. It’s an intelligent, witty, slang-filled thriller that has been described as ‘the Simpsons on cocaine’, but it’s much more than that. Given Vilmure’s lack of a back-catalogue, I’m surprised by this. Does no one else understand just how remarkable this novel is?
If you have read any of these LGBT novels, let us know what you thought. Or care to recommend another LGBT novel I may have missed? Let me know in the comments.