14 Highly Anticipated LGBTQ+ Books Coming This Spring
Get excited about a new season of queer fiction, poetry, and memoir
Spring is coming, which means it’s a new season, which means we’ve got a new crop of LGBTQ+ books sprouting up. While there are never enough books from LGBTQ+ authors (especially from the + side), representation is slowly increasing (though it remains very white). However, 2020 is shaping up to be one of the best years for queer lit maybe ever, so here are 15 of the most anticipated LGBTQ+ books for your blossoming literary heart.
Don’t You Know I Love You by Laura Bogart (3/17)
This debut novel from Laura Bogart, whose essays and criticism around sizeism and body image (among other things) can be found across the internet, is a gut-punch of a book—in a good way. After a car accident leaves Angelina Moltisanti’s wrist fractured and her artist dreams dashed, she must also move back in with her charming and abusive father. When she meets another artist named Janet, she finds her world expanding in ways that help her unsettle the dynamics that keep her tethered to her father. Deftly navigating the hard and soft and complicated aspects of living in a body and feeling broken, Bogart’s lucid writing carries the reader through a story that is both challenging and elegant, and beautifully queer.
Save Yourself by Cameron Esposito (3/24)
Unless you’ve been under a rock for the past decade, you know Cameron Esposito as one of our mainstream-famous queers, rocking the world with her innovative standup, her interview podcast Queery, and the tragically short-lived TV show Take My Wife. In Save Yourself, Esposito brings her signature sharp-as-nails humor and deeply resonant insight into a memoir about growing up Catholic, and how that helped her be gay. (Well, sort of.) It’s definitely in line with a lot of celebrity memoirs, in that it’s filled with anecdotes and stories, but Esposito’s voice is singular enough to carry this book right past your ribcage and into your queer heart.
Wow, No Thank You by Samantha Irby (3/31)
Speaking of comedians, if you haven’t read Samantha Irby’s previous essay collections Meaty (2013) and We Are Never Meeting In Real Life (2017), you’re missing out. She’s one of the wittiest and most incisive essayists out there, writing on everything from Hollywood to animal hospitals to physical illness to lesbian bed death. This latest collection is hilarious, relatable, and surprisingly heartfelt in random corners, just as you’d expect from a writer of this caliber.
Diary of a Drag Queen by Crystal Rasmussen and Tom Rasmussen (4/7)
Written by journalist and queer performer Tom Rasmussen and their drag persona Crystal, this book is a fast-paced, humor-laced memoir that reads like an epistolary novel. Charting a year in Tom and Crystal’s life from their birthplace in northern England to London to the fashion industry in New York and back again, this book is a quick jab of sex, playfulness, and in many ways, coming of age as a queer person—again.
How Much of These Hills Is Gold by C Pam Zhang (4/7)
This stunning debut novel is not marketed as queer, but it is one of the queerest things I’ve ever read in that it joyfully centers a gender nonconforming character, and in that its writing is absolute fire. Following two pre-adolescent Chinese-American siblings during the Gold Rush somewhere in the southwest United States, the story starts out with the pair hauling a trunk containing their father’s corpse into the desert hills, and goes to the most unexpected and dazzling places that I’m hesitant to say more. Just read this one. When you read it, you’ll know.
Junebat by John Elizabeth Stintzi (4/7)
John Elizabeth Stintzi’s got two books releasing within a month of each other (their novel Vanishing Monuments comes out May 5), and this poetry collection is bound to be a literary north star for nonbinary folks, especially creative ones, who grapple with mental illness. Moving among the various planes of depression and isolation, love and freedom, this book breaks down those gender walls we all find ourselves in sometimes and celebrates self-determination in the form of a mythical creature called a Junebat (but really, we’re all mythical creatures).
Kept Animals by Kate Milliken (4/21)
In 1993, the Old Topanga Canyon fire ravaged 18,000 acres of southern California landscape. Kept Animals takes place in the months leading up to that event, following three teenage girls whose lives orbit a horse ranch. Rory Ramos works as a ranch hand at her stepfather’s stable where June Fisk rides competitively; Vivian Price lives down the hill with her movie-star father. As Rory finds herself increasingly drawn to Vivian, her stepfather gets into a car accident that leaves his body wrecked and Rory, June, and Vivian spinning closer together. This is a coming of age novel with spot-on narrative pacing and intriguing characters, set in a time and a place that are characters in themselves. It’s a thrilling read with a breathless climax.
Officer Clemmons by Dr. François Clemmons (5/5)
Dr. François Clemmons created the role of Officer Clemmons on Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, the first recurring role for a Black character on a children’s program. A musician by training and trade, Clemmons is also gay and proud. This memoir is a map of a vibrant and complex life told in a vibrant and complex voice, from childhood loss to a moving friendship with Fred Rogers to a career in music that involved global travel and a life marked by creativity. Clemmons is a skilled storyteller, and this memoir sings.
After Rubén by Francisco Aragón (5/5)
For those of us who are into boundary-breaking linguistic fun times, Francisco Aragón is a poet to read. His latest collection translates and plays with the poetry of Spanish-language poet Rubén Darío. Invoking places like Aragón’s native San Francisco and his parents’ native Nicaragua, and traveling through time and across space, After Rubén is an homage, and its own contribution, to queer Latinx poetry.
The Fixed Stars by Molly Wizenberg (5/12)
Molly Wizenberg is best known for her popular food blog, Orangette; for her previous memoirs, A Homemade Life and Delancey; and for the restaurant she opened with her then-husband (also called Delancey). However, The Fixed Stars is not a food book. It’s about evolving, fluid identity, something Wizenberg found herself thinking about for the first time at age 36 when she fell in love with a woman. Wizenberg is an excellent writer; her meditations on what it means to know yourself—or think you know yourself—and how unpredictable and exciting life really is are a joy to read.
The Thirty Names of Night by Zeyn Joukhadar (5/19)
The author of 2018’s hit novel The Map of Salt and Stars is back with a book that is pure magic. Centered on a closeted Syrian-American trans boy whose ornithologist mother has died, and who is now his grandmother’s caretaker, this book is bursting at the seams with art, symbolism, mystery, family, secrets, of course, birds. Nadir is one of the most compelling characters to come out of fiction in a long while (see also: Sam from How Much of These Hills is Gold). An unforgettable and queer as hell novel, this one is a must-read.
All My Mother’s Lovers by Ilana Masad (5/26)
In addition to writing fiction and nonfiction, Ilana Masad is one of the best contemporary book critics out there, and her debut novel is evidence that all that reading has done her good. (Brandon Taylor, author of the brand-new Real Life, called her a genius in a recent interview, so that tells you something.) Maggie Krause is 27 when her mother dies in a car crash, pretty much at the moment she’s finally exploring intimacy with a new partner, Lucia. (The book opens with a lesbian sex scene that will suck you right in, no pun intended.) Returning home to her parents’ house, Maggie finds a series of sealed letters to other men who are not her father that her mother left with her will. Over the course of the funeral and shiva, Maggie embarks on a journey to deliver these letters, revealing all kinds of secrets—about everything and everyone. Brimming with enveloping writing, this is another don’t-miss.
You Exist Too Much by Zaina Arafat (6/9)
Zaina Arafat has been a prolific writer and teacher for years, and in her debut novel, we follow a queer Palestinian-American protagonist who tries all kinds of (sometimes unexpected, sometimes strange) ways to cope with what she has always been told is too much desire—too much existing. The unnamed narrator is flawed, to be sure, and the story itself plays a little off of bisexual tropes, but the writing here is electric and carries the narrative all the way through. This is an exciting and dynamic book that explores intersectional identity and human longing extremely well.
Pizza Girl by Jean Kyoung Frazier (6/9)
Another voltaic debut to look out for, Pizza Girl is just the right blend of angst, humor, commentary, vulnerability, and bildungsroman to satisfy a craving for something that’s not actually that cheesy but is very warm and saucy. The protagonist—18 and pregnant, living with her boyfriend and her mom, working at a pizza place—receives a strange order from a new woman in town, Jenny. Jenny is a stay-at-home mom, and quickly becomes the object of fixation as the narrator navigates the rocky terrain of impending motherhood, growing up, and growing into herself. Frazier is an author to watch.