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12 Must-Read Books During LGBT month

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This June we are proudly celebrating the diversity of gender, sexuality and identity around the world. To mark Pride Month, we have compiled a list of the most prominent LGBT books that will appeal to fans of Western adventure, romance, young adult fiction and even magical realism.

Maurice by E. M. Forster


Image credit: Penguin Classics

“This is a beautiful short story of a gay man's search for love. Because it's set at the start of the 20th century, the main character, Maurice, doesn't know the name for what he feels. Through his eyes, we see the discovery of his affections for other men, in contrast to what society, church and government expects from him. The themes of gay men’s secret society in prudish England and the hypocrisy of the bourgeois pop up throughout the novel. We see how trapped he is by class, and how he ultimately must give up his social status if he wants to be free to love…”- Ollie

Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides


Image credit: Picador USA

I was born twice: first, as a baby girl, on a remarkably smogless Detroit day of January 1960; and then again, as a teenage boy, in an emergency room near Petoskey, Michigan, in August of l974.

So begins the breathtaking story of Calliope Stephanides and her truly unique family secret, born on the slopes of Mount Olympus and passed on through three generations. Growing up in 70s Michigan, Calliope’s special inheritance will turn her into Cal, a transgender narrator of this inter-generational epic of immigrant life in 20th century America.

The Color Purple by Alice Walker


Image credit: Penguin Random House

“An inspiring story from a realistic and straightforward writer, Alice Walker created a novel that will truly stand the test of time, which is probably why it won the Pulitzer prize upon its publication.

'The Color Purple' tells the story of Celie, a black woman with nothing to live for but God until, of course, Miss Shug Avery enters her life and changes her whole perspective on love, life, sexuality, spirituality and the ideals between a man and a woman. If you are going to read one novel in your life, this should be it...truly awe-inspiring.”- Bookfanatic

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde


Image credit: Arkham Cover

Oscar Wilde’s tale of vanity and eternal youth sparked controversy in 19th century England. Many considered the novel, exploring selfishness, cruelty and homosexuality to have a corrupting effect undermining the morals of the society. The life of Dorian Gray changes dramatically upon his arrival in London, where he is introduced to a superficial circle of friends, bringing the worst out of him. In his shallow obsession with youth and beauty, Gray commissions his portrait destined to preserve his youth. But how far will Dorian go to satisfy his ego?

Orlando by Virginia Woolf


Image credit: Penguin Classics

“Published in 1928, toward the end of the most productive stage of Woolf's career as a writer, Orlando doubles as national history and romance: the playful and ironic novel famously centers on protagonist’s transgender journey, near the start of the 18th century, but most of the story deals with Orlando's different loves and England's changing social norms over the course of three centuries. The gender change and kaleidoscopic setting afford Woolf the chance to examine themes especially relevant to women in the 1920s, such as bodily autonomy or marriage, from several historical and social vantage points. In contrast to Woolf's other works of fiction, the novel is rather fun to read as well as written in an accessible style, making Orlando the ideal introduction to her later work.”- Michael

Sarahland by Sam Cohen


Image credit: Grand Central Publishing

In Sarahland, Sam Cohen brilliantly and often hilariously explores the ways in which traditional stories have failed us. In one story, a Jewish college Sarah passively consents to a form-life in pursuit of an MRS degree and is swept into a culture of normalized sexual violence. Another reveals a version of Sarah finding pleasure-and a new set of problems-by playing dead for a wealthy necrophiliac. A Buffy-loving Sarah uses fan fiction to work through romantic obsession. As the collection progresses, readers witness as the ever-evolving "Sarah" gets recast: as a bible-era transexual woman, an ageing lesbian literally growing roots, a being who transcends the earth as we know it. While Cohen presents a world that will clearly someday end, "Sarah" will continue.

The Girls I’ve Been by Tess Sharpe


Image credit: Hodder Children's Books

“The Girls I’ve Been follows Nora, the daughter of a con artist, who gets caught in the middle of a bank heist with her girlfriend Iris and ex-boyfriend-but-still-friend Wes. Tess Sharpe’s books are always cutting, both her characters and her writing sharp and smart, and this is especially true in this novel. Her portrayal of messy bisexual girls, a little broken and battered but still fighting to survive is scintillating. The way she writes trauma and abuse in The Girls I’ve Been is heartbreaking and nuanced. Sharpe never shies away from the messier sides of survival and treats characters with so much grace and respect.” - May

Aristotle and Dante Discover The Secrets of The Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz


Image credit: Astria Books

Aristotle is an angry teen with a brother in prison. Dante is a know-it-all who has a unique perspective on life. When the two meet at the swimming pool, they seem to have nothing in common. But as the loners start spending time together, they develop a special friendship – the kind that changes lives and lasts a lifetime. And it is through this friendship that Ari and Dante will learn the most important truths about the universe, themselves and the kind of people they want to be. This incredibly moving and powerful Printz Honor Book follows two teen boys learning to open themselves up to homosexuality, despite the world being against them.

This Is How It Always Is by Laurie Frankel


Image credit: Headline Publishing Group

“After four boys, Rosie and Penn are sure their fifth child will be a girl... until Claude arrives. It will be a few more years before they realize that their first predictions weren't exactly wrong. Drawing from her own experiences, the author explores how the family reacts to the realization that Claude (now Poppy) is transgender. Rosie and Penn instinctively try to protect their child by moving to the supposedly more liberal Seattle. However, instead of celebrating who Poppy is, they keep it a secret and urge her brothers to do the same.”- Emily May

The Price of Salt by Patricia Highsmith


Image credit: W.W. Norton & Company

The ground-breaking novel focuses on Therese Belivet, a young aspiring designer, who falls in love with Carol Aird, an older married socialite. As their romance unfolds, their happiness is interrupted by Carol’s husband, collecting evidence of his wife’s bisexual nature in the legal battle for the custody of their daughter. Carol is torn between her love for Therese and her child, making the situation tragic. Patricia Highsmith’s writing style allows the book lovers to explore the dynamics of the relationship between two main characters by reading between the lines. The love story, set in 1950s New York, marks the shift in social attitude toward same-sex couples.

Carmilla by Sheridan LeFanu


Image credit: Scarlet_Gothica

If a mere sight of blood sends you into a frenzy, then this Gothic novella is guaranteed to satisfy your nocturnal cravings. Published long before Bram Stoker’s Dracula saw the light of day, “Carmilla” represents a prelude to all other vampire-based stories written in the 19th century. LeFanu’s sordid tale of horror is centred around the ghoulish Countess of Karnstein and the object of her desires — Laura, whose innocence the vampire finds impossible to resist. Garnished with disturbing descriptions of violence and Gothic scenes of seduction, the author doesn’t spare any details of this intoxicating lesbian liaison.

Purposely provocative, this legendary masterpiece will become a mouth-wateringly guilty pleasure that readers will be eager to sink their teeth into.

Outlawed by Anna North


Image credit: Bloomsbury Publishing

“It’s 1894 and after a year of marriage and failure to get pregnant, Ada is forced to leave her hometown under suspicions of being a barren witch. She spends a little time in a convent then moves on to join the Hole in the Wall Gang, a group of outcast women, displaced from their various hometowns for suspicions of witchcraft or other frowned upon reasons. The gang gets by through robberies and set jobs under the leadership of The Kid, a former preacher. Here, they devise a big plan to change their way of life, forge strong friendships and discover the joys of same-sex relationship.”- Brandice

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