While we haven’t even finished our own set goals of books to read in 2022, we’re still anxiously looking ahead to 2023 and all that’s promised for release in the first part of the year. Fiction has become a haven for LGBTQ+ storytelling, especially in comparison to other mediums, creating platforms for diverse voices to tell stories that reach a wider group of people. There’s comfort in reading queer romance as it allows marginalized voices to occupy spaces so often dominated by heteronormative points of view. As a genre, romance has seemingly found a resurgence of publicly declared interest in the past few years, so there’s little surprise that queer romance has found an active and eagerly consumed audience.
Here are just 14 LGBTQ+ books, from fantasy to romantic comedies, that we’re adding to our must-have, pre-order now lists. It’s never too early to start building that To Be Read pile.
The Daughters of Izdihar by Hadeer Elsbai
Promising an enriched and textured world that plays with classic fantasy references while inspired by modern Egyptian history, Hadeer Elsbai debuts her first novel, and the first installment of a duology, The Daughters of Izdihar. A forbidden romance, two powerful women at the center, and regard for the significance of detailed world-building make the fantasy novel incredibly enticing.
Synopsis: As a waterweaver, Nehal can move and shape any water to her will, but she’s limited by her lack of formal education. She desires nothing more than to attend the newly opened Weaving Academy, take complete control of her powers, and pursue a glorious future on the battlefield with the first all-female military regiment. But her family cannot afford to let her go—crushed under her father’s gambling debt, Nehal is forcibly married into a wealthy merchant family. Her new spouse, Nico, is indifferent and distant and in love with another woman, a bookseller named Giorgina, an earthweaver whose powers are dangerously uncontrollable.
Release Date: January 10, 2023, via HarperCollins. Pre-Order Here
Glitterland by Alexis Hall
Alexis Hall might be one of the most prolific working authors today and it’s a cause for both celebration (because his books are wonderful) and also opening an inquiry into just how he manages to get it all done and sleep. This is apparent as Glitterland, a rerelease of the book, is just one of his books on this list, with 2022 alone has seen the release of four books from the author Something Fabulous, A Lady for a Duke, Boyfriend Material, and Paris Daillencourt is About to Crumble. His first published book, Glitterland sets the stage for what we’ve come to expect from the author with its quick wit, well-defined characters, and profound exploration of internal desires – be they romantic or otherwise. The new edition comes with a new cover and some extra content.
Synopsis: Once the golden boy of the English literary scene, now a clinically depressed writer of pulp crime fiction, Ash Winters has given up on hope, happiness, and—most of all—himself. He lives his life between the cycles of his illness, haunted by the ghosts of other people’s expectations.
Release Date: January 17, 2023, via Sourcebooks Casablanca. Pre-Order Here.
The Buried and the Bound by Rochelle Hassan
With delicate worldbuilding that refuses to rush, Rochelle Hassan has built an immaculately immersive story in The Buried and the Bound, a YA fantasy novel. Trading points of view between three teenagers, Aziza, Leo, and Tristan, readers will fall quickly into the mysteries they stumble onto, and their search for the truth leads them into increasing amounts of trouble. All three characters are engaging and as the first of a trilogy it certainly leaves readers eagerly anticipating the follow-up, but it’s how Hassan weaves the ways of this world that will fully capture the reader.
Synopsis: As the only hedgewitch in Blackthorn, Massachusetts—an uncommonly magical place—Aziza El-Amin has bargained with wood nymphs, rescued palm-sized fairies from house cats, banished flesh-eating shadows from the local park. But when a dark entity awakens in the forest outside of town, eroding the invisible boundary between the human world and fairyland, run-of-the-mill fae mischief turns into outright aggression, and the danger—to herself and others—becomes too great for her to handle alone.
Release Date: January 24, 2023, via Roaring Brook Press/Macmillan. Pre-Order Here.
Out of Character by Jenna Miller
Jenna Miller is poised for a fabulous breakthrough with her debut novel, Out of Character. An author who writes “Young Adult books about fat, queer, nerdy girls who deserve to be seen and have their voices heard,” she’s making a strong statement right out of the gate while refusing to make those aspects of her lead character, 17-year-old Cass Williams, all that defines her. It’s refreshing to see a story that melds modern-day fandom and community while representing areas of the said community that tend to go overlooked. It’s something that we should see more of in books period.
Synopsis: If you asked seventeen-year-old Cass Williams to describe herself, she’d happily tell you she’s fat, queer, and obsessed with the Tide Wars books. What she won’t tell you—or anyone in her life—is that she’s part of an online Tide Wars roleplay community. Sure, it’s nerdy as hell, but when she’s behind the screen writing scenes as Captain Aresha, she doesn’t have to think about her mother who walked out or how unexpectedly stressful it is dating resident cool girl Taylor Cooper.
Release Date: February 7, 2023, via Quill Tree Books (HarperCollins). Pre-Order Here
Always the Almost by Edward Underhill
Another author making their YA debut, Edward Underhill’s Always the Almost looks to mix passions with the love of writing and music (Underhill is a composer too.) Following sixteen-year-old Miles Jacobson, the book follows the pianist after he was broken up with after coming out as trans to his boyfriend, the story seeks to embrace queer joy following in the wake of heartache.
Synopsis: A trans pianist makes a New Year’s resolution on a frozen Wisconsin night to win regionals and win back his ex, but a new boy complicates things.
Release Date: February 14, 2023, via Wednesday Books/Macmillan. Pre-Order Here
Frontier by Grace Curtis
We’re taught not to judge a book by its cover, but it’s something we’re all guilty of and I won’t lie and say that the picturesque image of the silhouette of a woman against a towering moon wasn’t somewhat of a draw. At the very least, it makes the reader stop and pauses to look into the selection more. Written by Grace Curtis, Frontier is for those who love genre-blended concoctions that defiantly refuse to be categorized. A queer, post-apocalyptic Western with romance? What more could you ask for?
Synopsis: Saints and preachers, librarians and horse thieves, lawmakers and lawbreakers, and a crash-surviving spaceborn vagrant searching for her lover on a scarred Earth.
Release Date: February 14, 2023, via Solaris – Pre-Order Here
Project Nought by Chelsey Furedi
With an enormous, pre-existing following for the creator community Tapas, having scored 1.5 million views as a webcomic, Chelsey Furedi’s upcoming debut graphic novel, Project Nought, is one of the must-grabs of the next year. Melding science-fiction with coming-of-age stories through the graphic novel medium, it looks to be an engaging, fast-paced read with characters we’ll grow quickly attached to.
Synopsis: Tech conglomerate Chronotech sponsors a time-travel program to help students in 2122 learn what history was like. Before returning to the 1990s, Ren learns that his memory will be wiped of all things 2122. Adding to Ren’s complicated feels, he’s forming a crush on his student guide, Mars. Soon he has a bigger problem on his hands: What if Chronotech isn’t the benevolent organization they claim to be, and he and his fellow subjects are in great danger?
Release Date: February 21, 2023, via HarperCollins. Pre-Order Here
If I Can Give You That by Michael Gray Bulla
With a keen, introspective focus on gender identity, sexuality, friendship, and family, found and otherwise, Michael Gray Bualla explores the complexities and significance of community. For fans of the author’s 2019 poetry collection, Letters to the Home, If I Can Give You That, a break from poetry and into the land of YA, is a natural follow-up as he continues to establish himself as an insightful literary voice.
Synopsis: Seventeen-year-old Gael is used to keeping to himself. Though his best friend convinces him to attend a meeting of Plus, a support group for LGBTQIA+ teens, Gael doesn’t plan on sharing much. Where would he even start? But after meeting easygoing Declan, Gael is welcomed into a new circle of friends who make him want to open up. As Gael’s friendship with Declan develops into something more, he finds himself caught between his mother’s worsening mental health and his father’s attempts to reconnect.
Release Date: February 28, 2023, via HarperCollins. Pre-Order Here
Ander + Santi Were Here by Jonny Graza Villa
Listed as for fans of Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, coming-of-age YA enthusiasts should be on the lookout for Ander + Santi Were Here. Written by Jonny Graza Villa, the story follows Ander, a nonbinary Mexican American who begins to fall in love with a shy new waiter working at their family’s taqueria. This is Villa’s latest novel following his 2021 release, Fifteen Hundred Miles from the Sun.
Synopsis: To keep Ander from becoming complacent during their gap year, their family “fires” them so they can transition from restaurant life to focusing on their murals and prepare for college. That is, until they meet Santiago Garcia, the hot new waiter. Falling for each other becomes as natural as breathing. Through Santi’s eyes, Ander starts to understand who they are and want to be as an artist, and Ander becomes Santi’s first steps toward making Santos Vista and the United States feel like home. Until ICE agents come for Santi, and Ander realizes how fragile that sense of home is. How love can only hold on so long when the whole world is against them. And when, eventually, the world starts to win.
Release Date: April 4, 2023, via St. Martin’s Publishing Group. Pre-Order Here
Something Spectacular by Alexis Hall
Not much is yet known about Something Spectacular, the follow-up to Alexis Hall’s Something Fabulous from earlier this year. That said, if this wasn’t already apparent, we would read just about anything that Hall publishes, so this will be a quick addition to the To Be Read pile, especially considering the raucous romp of fun the first installment turned out to be.
Synopsis: Per Hall’s website, the follow-up novel will be “Peggy and Orfeo’s book”, two side characters from Something Fabulous.
Release Date: April 11, 2023, via Amazon Publishing. Pre-Order Here
Bianca Torre is Afraid of Everything by Justine Pucella Wrans
It’s the synopsis that really sells this, the debut novel from Justine Pucella Wrans. The mix between the macabre (murder mystery) and sweet (a birding group for teenages?!) suggests absolute magic and mayhem and all that falls in between, with a relatable anxious protagonist for readers to latch onto. If I’m being honest, it’s the birding part that guts me. Sometimes the best thing a debut book can do is surprise, no matter how small that surprise is.
Synopsis: Bianca Torre is an anxious, introverted nonbinary teen birder somehow finds themself investigating a murder with their neighbor/fellow anime lover, all while falling for a cute girl from their birding group…and trying not to get killed next.
Release Date: April 10, 2023, via HarperCollins. Pre-Order Here.
In the Lives of Puppets by TJ Klune
While Under the Whispering Door didn’t contain the same multitudes of magic that his much-talked-about The House in the Cerulean Sea, it didn’t darken the appeal of a new T.J. Klune novel. In the Lives of Puppets looks to follow a similar thread of storytelling, with Klune’s wit and worldbuilding abilities fostering yet another story of found family. With prose that evokes Neil Gaiman finesse with a personalized abundance of heart, Klune’s novels have become absolute must-reads.
Synopsis: In a strange little home built into the branches of a grove of trees, live three robots—fatherly inventor android Giovanni Lawson, a pleasantly sadistic nurse machine, and a small vacuum desperate for love and attention. Victor Lawson, a human, lives there too. They’re a family, hidden and safe. Things change the day Vic salvages and repairs an unfamiliar android labeled “HAP,” when he learns of a shared dark past between Hap and Gio–a past spent hunting humans.
Release Date: April 25, 2023, via Tor Publishing Group. Pre-Order Here.
If I See You Again Tomorrow by Robbie Couch
Fittingly, we seem unable to ever escape the time-loop plot device – in books as well as other media. This isn’t inherently a bad thing but it requires a deft hand to render it fresh and engaging when we’ve seen it many a time before. In If I See You Again Tomorrow, The Sky Blues and Blaine for the Win author Robbin Couch plays with that familiarity but infuses it with the charm of YA romance. The trope of forced proximity, especially in a time loop where the two main characters only have one another to rely on, works for a reason as it builds tension effortlessly. We’ve seen it before, but it’s a classic framing tool for a reason – it works.
Synopsis: For some reason, Clark has woken up and relived the same monotonous Monday 309 times. Until Day 310 turns out to be…different. Suddenly, his usual torturous math class is interrupted by an anomaly—a boy he’s never seen before in all his previous Mondays.
Release Date: April 18, 2023, via Simon and Schuster. Pre-Order Here.
The Fiancee Farce by Alexandria Bellefleur
A steamy, Sapphic romance from Count Your Lucky Stars author Alexandria Bellefleur, The Fiancee Farce tackles the well-worn, well-loved, trope of fake relationships. The quiet bookseller falling for the larger-than-life romance novel cover model? Sign me up. There’s comfort in tropes, especially in books, and, when executed well, they provide some of the best avenues of escape.
Synopsis: Tansy Adams’ greatest love is her family’s bookstore, passed down from her late father. But when it comes to actual romance… Tansy can’t get past the first chapter. Tired of her stepfamily’s questions about her love life, Tansy invents Gemma, a fake girlfriend inspired by the stunning cover model on a bestselling book. They’ll never actually meet, so what’s the harm in a little fib? Yet when real-life Gemma crosses Tansy’s path, her white lie nearly implodes.
Release Date: April 18, 2023, via HarperCollins. Pre-Order Here.
Feature Image Courtesy of HarperCollins, Sourcebooks Casablanca, Roaring Book Press/Macmillan, St. Martins Publishing Group