17 Books With LGBT Characters That Will Actually Change Your Life

Here’s your queer reading shopping list.

We recently asked members of the BuzzFeed Community what their favorite books with great LGBTQ lead characters are. Here are some of the most popular recommendations!

1. I’ll Give You The Sun, Jandy Nelson

What it’s about: A story that follows the relationship between fraternal twins Jude and Noah, the latter of whom falls in love with the boy next door.

What readers say about it:

“Even as a lesbian myself, I’ve never been all that into LGBT books. However, I found myself drawn into the book immediately, and I ended up reading it in a weekend.” — 20hannahmk

“It is written so beautifully and the main character struggles with his LGBT identity. It is my favorite book and I highly recommend it!!” — sydneys4a4c089c2

2. The Miseducation of Cameron Post, Emily M. Danforth

What it’s about: Orphaned by a tragic car accident, Cameron Post moves in with her old-fashioned grandmother and aunt, falls in love with her (female) best friend, and is sent to a religious conversion camp meant to “cure” her homosexuality.

What readers say about it:

“Although there’s some romancey stuff, the book is mainly about her self discovery. It helped me a lot when I was coming out and is a fantastic read.” — oneyellowumbrella

“I cried multiple times at work while reading it on my lunch break.” — katelinr2

3. More Than This, Patrick Ness

What it’s about: A young man named Seth —who happens to be gay — drowns, but when he somehow wakes up again, the world around him is completely different from how he left it.

What readers say about it:

“It’s a really interesting story. The protagonist is gay but his orientation is far from his defining trait and only part of a well developed character and a deep, involving story.” — Lamialamia

“It’s an incredibly though-provoking book and changed my view of the world as well as broke my heart.” — astridscarlettredd

4. I Am J, Cris Beam

What it’s about: J is a boy who feels he was born as a girl by mistake, and decides to hide his body from the world — until his best friend disappears, and he decides it’s time to be who he really is.

What readers say about it:

“The main character is a trans man of color coming to terms with his identity. It’s hearbreaking at times but triumphant at others.” — Simone Brady (Facebook)

“Hands down, best book.” — sgles96

5. Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, Becky Albertalli

What it’s about: A coming-of-age, coming-out, and young love story about sixteen-year-old drama enthusiast Simon Spier.

What readers say about it:

“The first time I’ve ever seen myself in a book. It feels good to get that representation in a character that has the same personality as me.” — Bradmoji

“This book is truly amazing. One of my favorites.” — Futureshakespeare

“Simon is such a hilarious, relatable character and his awkward moments really add to the believability of this story, making it one with a message that will stick with you forever.” — leahm440204c92

6. The Song of Achilles, Madeline Miller

What it’s about: A reimagining of The Illiad that explores the legend of Achilles — and his relationship with Patroclus.

What readers say about it:

“It tackles LGBT relationships in a time where they were rare. Very, very good book!!!” — alicee4c4a95737

“Heartbreakingly beautiful and engaging, with injections of both aching sorrow and intense passion.” — actuallyanegg

7. Carry On, Rainbow Rowell

What it’s about: A student at the Watford School of Magic, Simon Snow is the Chosen One, but possibly the worst one ever — according to his roommate, Baz, with whom he has a contentious (and increasingly complicated) relationship.

What readers say about it:

Carry On is about gay wizards; in other words, the best in every way.” — Katelyn

8. Clariel, Garth Nix

What it’s about: Clariel is the daughter of one of the most prominent families in the Old Kingdom — with ties to the King himself, against whom there is a nefarious plot brewing. A story of adventure and magic with a strong female heroine.

What readers say about it:

“The protagonist is unashamedly and openly aromantic and asexual.” — c4d82a7f8a

9. Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, Benjamin Alire Sáenz

What it’s about: Two teenage boys, with seemingly nothing in common — sullen Aristotle, whose brother is in prison, and Dante, a know-it-all — meet at a swimming pool, become friends, and later, become more.

What readers say about it:

“I laughed, I cried, I cried some more at the sheer beauty of this book.” — OpalMagic

“Oh my gosh, this is probably my favorite book of 2015, if not all time.” — arleneigwe

10. For Today I Am A Boy, Kim Fu

What it’s about: Despite being given the Chinese name Juan Chaun (for “powerful king”) at birth, and in spite of a father’s dreams for his only “son,” Juan Chaun (aka “Peter”) knows she is really a girl.

What readers say about it:

“It’s about a trans girl living her life as a boy before transitioning, trying to balance her own happiness with the expectations of her parents and society. It’s one of the best books I’ve read this year!” — Brittany J.

11. The Price of Salt, Patricia Highsmith

What it’s about: Now adapted to film (as Carol), this story traces the relationship between young shopgirl Therese, and a wealthy older woman (Carol) going through a bitter divorce.

What readers say about it:

“One of the most realistic, sincere, pure books featuring a lesbian relationship I have ever read.” — alexxzinik

“I fell in love with the book the first page in.” — riverdusk

12. Two Boys Kissing, David Levithan

What it’s about: Harry and Craig, two seventeen-year-old boys, decide to participate in a 32-hour kissing marathon in order to set a new Guinness World Record.

What readers say about it:

“This book deals with a lot of prominent issues, and Levithan is a brilliant author inside and out.” — b40d77b869

“Extremely well written. It doesn’t end tragically, which I appreciate.” — gabrielamp

13. Keeping You A Secret, Julie Anne Peters

What it’s about: Student Council president Holland Jaeger has a steady boyfriend and a promising academic future, but her vision for her future changes in unexpected ways when Cece Goddard moves to her school, and the two develop feelings for each other.

What readers say about it:

“This book helped me to come out and has become even more relevant now that I’m in a committed relationship!” — amyk405d63534

“I first read it 10 years ago when I was 17. This book helped me though high school. I reread every once and awhile.” — costasamantha28

14. Hero, Perry Moore

What it’s about: Thom Creed has special powers, and he’s been asked to join a secret society of superheroes called The League. But the League spurned Thom’s dad, making him resentful of the group, and making Thom afraid to tell his father — and then there’s also the fact that Thom is gay.

What readers say about it:

“Thomas is a teenager trying to learn about his powers and face his sexuality while living with his disgraced hero and homophobic father.” — DoomKnight

15. Ash, Malinda Lo

What it’s about: A modern retelling of Cinderella, this is a story about Ash, a daughter left in the care of her cruel stepmother after her father’s death. Things change for Ash when she meets Kaisa, the King’s Huntress.

What readers say about it:

“It has a beautiful plot and many twists. There are good chunks that stray from the original Cinderella tale, which kept me riveted the whole time.” — oliviasasak

16. Grasshopper Jungle, Andrew Smith

What it’s about: In a small town in Iowa, a boy named Austin and his best friend, Robby, have somehow let an army of six-foot-tall praying mantises loose, and they’re very hungry, and very, uh, horny.

What readers say about it:

“It’s so funny and weird and different and one of my all time favorite books ever.” — laurag45b038b6a

“There aren’t many sci-fi books out there for young LGBTQ teens, and when there are, the character in question is usually just a caricature of a real person. In Grasshopper Jungle the main character is torn between his male and his female best friends, a situation many people find themselves in.” — swordwieldingthespian

17. Annie On My Mind, Nancy Garden

What it’s about: First published in 1982, this story follows a friendship between two teenage girls that develops into something more — and the pressures they face from family and school as a result.

What readers say about it:

“An absolute classic; so sweet and full of feeling!!” — brodiemears

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