By Amy Wright, Zoe Doyle and Ana Matute
To celebrate pride in books, take a look at these fantastic LGBTQIA+ romance novels. We’ve recommended six books that explore the joys of queer romances and are essential to any reading list.
Something to Talk About by Meryl Wilsner
Something to Talk About by Meryl Wilsner features Emma and Jo, two very different but very likeable characters. Emma is Hollywood writer Jo’s assistant, and after rumours start to spread that they are a couple, the two must navigate their way through unprompted gossip and paparazzi. However, as Emma and Jo spend more time together, the rumours seem less unrealistic the more the novel progresses. Something to Talk About is a feel-good novel that will have you rooting for Emma and Jo throughout, as their feelings for each other become increasingly harder to suppress. If you are looking for a cute romance with some laugh out loud moments, this could be the perfect read.
Less by Andrew Sean Greer
Less tells the story of Arthur Less, a middle aged writer who makes the decision to travel abroad after his boyfriend of several years leaves him to marry someone else. Whilst it is certainly full of humour, the book has a notable melancholy tone as Less experiences a bit of a midlife crisis. We follow Less on his chaotic travels as he encounters different people and finds himself involved in many hilarious mishaps. This Pulitzer prize-winning novel is heartwarming and profound, and the protagonist’s intriguing life will keep you engrossed to the end as he takes you around the world with him.
Kiss of the Spider Woman by Manuel Puig
A Latin-American novel about genre roles and sexuality. Kiss of the Spider Woman is set during the 70s in Argentina, a difficult political time full of repression. The story is a dialogue between two prisoners, Molina and Valentin. One is a homosexual and the other a left political activist, and the two converge in a long conversation full of personal experiences, and stories.
Manuel Puig approaches the figure of “loca” (crazy) in Latin America that is used to describe a gay man disparagingly. Here this idea of “loca” is related to being crazy in love or “locos de amor." At the same time, love is a figure that bursts into politics, showing that love speech can be a resistant speech.
Under the Udala Trees by Chinelo Okparanta
Inspired by Nigerian culture, this novel tells the story of Ijeoma, who leaves her country before Independence. When she falls in love with a girl from another ethnic group on this journey she realises that there is a structure behind relationships; here, love is under cultural control.
Under the Udala Trees is a profound story about culture and sexuality. Ijeoma's feelings will make her question her cultural traditions and beliefs, as she feels they are opposite to what is in her heart. It's a novel that explores through Ijeoma's journey of self-discovery, a country with solid religious traditions that control people's sexuality.
I Kissed Shara Wheeler by Casey McQuiston
This YA romantic comedy follows the overachieving Chloe Green who, after being uprooted from her life in Southern California by her mum, has set her eyes on winning valedictorian at Willowgrove Christian Academy. The only impediment? The prom queen Shara Wheeler. Just before graduation, however, Shara kisses Chloe and disappears, leaving a trail of cryptic notes behind. Chloe forms an unlikely alliance with Smith, Shara’s quarterback sweetheart and Rory, Shara’s neighbour with a crush. Together, they work to untangle the clues and find Shara so that Chloe can beat her fair-and-square. However, she begins to realise that there may be more to the town and Shara than she initially thought. As well as being a perfect fun summer read, this book also has great LGBTQIA+ representation, featuring a bisexual main character, a nonbinary side character and a Sapphic love interest.
The Girl from the Sea by Molly-Knox Ostertag
Fifteen-year-old Morgan is desperate to leave the island where she lives. She doesn’t feel understood by her friends, her divorced mum or her volatile brother. She is also harbouring a secret – that she wants to kiss another girl. One night, she encounters a mysterious girl called Keltie who saves her from drowning when she falls from the sea cliffs near her home. They quickly become friends but Keltie is hiding secrets of her own. From the author of The Witch Boy (another queer-friendly story I adored) this graphic novel is a lovely queer coming-of-age romance that deals with family, first love and accepting yourself for who you are. Morgan struggles with her identity and how to navigate her relationships while questioning her sexuality. This book is an instant serotonin boost and perfect if you want a low stakes, single volume story. The artwork is also so vibrant and playful and really brings the story to life.