As a person on the asexual spectrum, I didn’t grow up with a lot of media that reflected this part of my identity. Television and film constantly ignored, or worse, erased ace voices, so the only place left to turn to was books. Luckily today the field of aspec (aromantic/asexual) literature is steadily increasing, giving a new generation the kind of genuine reflection that they desperately need. From academic texts explaining the ins and outs of asexuality, to swoony romances, to high-stakes speculative adventures on Earth or in space, this list highlights some of the best diverse books featuring canonically aromantic and asexual characters!
by Alice Oseman
Top student Frances has a few secrets. For one, even though she presents herself as a no-nonsense academic, she has a deep and unfathomable love for her favorite pop-fiction podcast series, Universe City. And two, she has accidentally learned the identity of the anonymous creator of Universe City, who turns out to be a quiet student at her school named Aled. With this book, Alice Oseman has cemented themselves as one of my favorite authors of all time. In addition to showcasing a cast of incredible queer characters (including demisexual main characters!) the book features one of the most touching platonic relationships I’ve ever read. If you haven’t read this book yet, please go ahead and do it now!
by Maia Kobabe
Created by the incredible artist Maia Kobabe (pronouns: e/em/eir), Gender Queer is the real-life story of eir journey exploring gender, identity, and creativity. From a young age, Kobabe has always felt different, whether it comes to relationships or fitting in with the expectations of eir assigned gender. Yet learning and growing from books and surrounding queer media, Kobabe slowly starts to finds space for who e is, finding paths that move beyond any limited binaries. Gender Queer is a touching ode to self-exploration, reminding us to be gentle with ourselves, as we learn about nonbinary, asexual, and aromantic identities.
The Invisible Orientation: An Introduction to Asexuality
If you’re looking for an introductory text to asexuality, then this book is a pretty good place to go. Written by Lambda-Award nominated writer Julie Sondra Decker, The Invisible Orientation: An Introduction to Asexuality is a starter guide to the concept of asexuality, defining what it is, what it isn’t, and what to do when you or a loved one realizes they’re asexual. Decker’s book is a fitting educational aid, using her own real-life experiences as an aromantic asexual person, as well as references from those of other asexuals, to outline the nuances of a (still) mostly invisible orientation.
Ace: What Asexuality Reveals About Desire, Society, and the Meaning of Sex
by Angela Chen
Angela Chen’s book, Ace: What Asexuality Reveals About Desire, Society, and the Meaning of Sex, is a book that was long overdue for publication. Inspired by her own experiences as an asexual woman in an allosexual world, journalist Angela Chen has written an in-depth study on asexuality, commenting on how society conceptualizes identity around sexual attraction and desire, and what it means for those whose identity falls outside the “norm." Combining scientific research, cultural criticism, and personal interviews with a range of asexual voices, Chen’s book also highlights the diversity of the asexual community, highlighting how asexual identity intersects with gender, race, and disability.
How to Be Ace: A Memoir of Growing Up Asexual
by Rebecca Burgess
Looking for more graphic literature about asexuality? Try How to Be Ace: A Memoir of Growing Up Asexual. Written and illustrated by UK artist Rebecca Burgess, How to be Ace is a thoughtful meditation on their journey discovering how they were asexual in a culture obsessed with sex, navigating friendship and romance along the way. In addition to providing lovely asexual representation, Burgess’s book features honest depictions regarding mental health, discussing anxiety and OCD in a clear and personal light.
The Cybernetic Tea Shop
by Meredith Katz
When asexual technician Clara Gutierrez walks into Sal’s tea shop, she didn’t expect to find a sentient robot running the place…or a new love interest. If one could compare reading books to drinks, then reading Katz’s book is comparable to drinking a warm cup of tea, a beverage that will leave you warm and satisfied. In a world where asexuals are often compared to robots, deemed “unfeeling” or “cold” for not experiencing sexual attraction, it’s a joy reading a book centering two autonomous characters, one of whom is proudly asexual, finding genuine connection in a lonely world. A gentle and quiet novella about love, tea, and robots, The Cybernetic Tea Shop is sure to capture any nerdy ace’s heart.
Tash Hearts Tolstoy
by Kathryn Ormsbee
Literary nerd and amateur web series creator Natasha "Tash" Zelenka didn’t expect any of her digital content to make a stir online. But when her series Unhappy Families, based on an adaption of Leo Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina, attracts 40,000 describers and a nomination for best web series, she suddenly finds herself under a strange and new spotlight. As a heteroromantic asexual character, Tash offers much-needed representation, presenting clever insights into the world of web content, digital spaces, and asexuality along the way. If you’re looking for a charming read written by a demisexual author, then this book is a good place to go.
by Chip Zdarsky
As one of the most iconic characters in the American Archie comics, Jughead Jones acted as the snarky voice of reason to the lovesick Archie Andrews, preferring hamburgers to romance. When comics writer Chip Zdarsky announced in 2016 that he would write a series in which Jughead was canonically aromantic and asexual, thousands cheered to finally get the representation in comics that they were sorely missing. Despite mainstream media’s attempts to erase Jughead’s aspec identity, Zdarsky’s series offers up one of the best versions of Jughead, a caring friend with a ferocious appetite and sharp tongue for jokes.
by Alice Oseman
Not sure if I’m cheating by including another book on this list by the same author, but nevertheless I had to include it. Loveless is a classic coming-of-age story, in which Georgia Warr enters college with the intention of finding the kind of romance she’s always loved in her favorite romantic comedies. Yet when reality knocks down these expectations, Georgia must slowly come to terms with that fact that what she’s expected to want may not actually be what she wants at all. Oseman is a master at crafting character, creating epic teams of queer characters, including aromantic asexual Georgia.
All the Wrong Places
by Ann Gallagher
When skateboarder Brennan Cross gets broken up with for the third time, he begins to wonder if his lack of interest in the bedroom has anything to do with it. So when he ventures into a sex shop looking for answers, he didn’t expect to find the asexual sales clerk, Zafir Hamady. When Zafir introduces the idea that Brennan may be asexual himself, suddenly this athlete’s ideas about love, sex, and romance turn upside down. While I am not normally one for book covers with models on the cover, I genuinely enjoyed this book, which was a sweet and quiet romance between two male asexual characters (a rarity in fiction!).
by Darcie Little Badger
Seventeen-year-old Elatsoe (Ellie) has always grown up with ghosts, be it the phantoms of beloved pets, like her English Springer Spaniel Kirby, or the human spirits around her. Yet when a beloved cousin is mysteriously murdered, Elatsoe must put her abilities to the test to bring justice to her family and to her community. Featuring an aromantic asexual Lipan Apache lead and written by a Lipan Apache asexual author, Elatsoe is a well-needed addition to the realm of speculative fiction and young adult literature.
Every Heart a Doorway
by Seanan McGuire
What happens when you’re kicked out of Oz or Wonderland? At the unique boarding school, Eleanor West's Home for Wayward Children, a home hidden away from the outside world, a group of young adults ask themselves this very question. Like her fellow students, Nancy Whitman is an exile from a magical world, a human who stepped through a magical portal to a world she once loved only to be ripped away from it and returned to the mundane world. As an asexual person looking for representation, I found myself coming across this title on almost every list I read, and having read this book, I can see why. Seanan McGuire has created an intriguing world with a memorable ace lead, asking the question of what’s “real” and what’s “fantasy.”
Tarnished Are the Stars
by Rosiee Thorr
Described as a sci-fi romp with a very queer cast, Tarnished Are the Stars is an LGBTQ+ young adult adventure book that takes place in the outer reaches of space. Featuring a set of queer characters, including aro/ace Nathaniel, Thor weaves a speculative fiction world where those considered outsiders find family in each other. In an interview, the author stated that they wrote this book “for the teen version of myself who didn’t know she could be aromantic, asexual, and also queer,” and if that alone doesn’t make you want to read this book, I don't know what will.
The Last 8
by Laura Pohl
When eight teenagers are left alone on planet Earth after an alien attack, suddenly they must figure out how to survive in a hostile world without destroying each other in the process. Among the last eight is Clover Martinez, an aromantic Mexican American girl whose survivor tendencies pre-alien invasion come into use in this new dystopian world. Featuring another ensemble queer cast by an aspec author, The Last 8 is definitely a story worth checking out.
Let's Talk About Love
by Claire Kann
All college student Alice wants is a little love. That doesn’t seem like too much to ask for it, is it? As a Black biromantic asexual woman, she knows that finding love might be a little trickier. After breaking up with her girlfriend over irreconcilable differences, Alice vows to swear off love and all romantic endeavors…that is, until she meets Takumi, a handsome summer employee at the library where she works. Between schools, friends, and finding the boy of her dreams, Alice has a stressful summer ahead of her. Let’s Talk About Love is a thoughtful read about the trials of dating while asexual, and the need in many of us to have a little swoon in our lives.
Hazel's Theory of Evolution
by Lisa Jenn Bigelow
Looking for a highly acclaimed middle-grade read featuring a refreshingly honest and compelling aro-ace protagonist? Look no further than Hazel's Theory of Evolution. Lisa Jenn Bigelow’s Lambda Award–winning novel centers on 13-year-old Hazel Brownlee-Wellington as she navigates her last year of middle school and some big changes in her family and personal life. As a protagonist, Hazel is blunt, tender, and bright, a girl who’s more comfortable around animals than people (which mood), and her journey toward learning about life and love will firmly endear any reader’s heart.
The Sound of Stars
by Alechia Dow
Seventeen-year-old Janelle “Ellie” Baker is one of the many human beings trapped in New York City after a hostile takeover from an alien population known as the Ilori. Forbidden by their alien takeover to have or consume human art of any kind, from music to literature, Ellie hides a secret library in her apartment, preserving the words she loves despite the risk to her very life. Yet when an alien known as M0Rr1S discovers Ellie’s illegal library, the stakes are even higher. Yet, rather than turning her in, M0Rr1S turns out to bond with Ellie over their love of art, a love that soon goes beyond music and books. The Sound of Stars is a potent young adult novel exploring the violence of colonialism and power of creative expression through a speculative fiction lens with a memorable demisexual lead to boot.