LSE - Small Logo
LSE - Small Logo

LSE Community

June 21st, 2023

Twelve recommended LGBTQ+ books for Pride Month 2023

0 comments | 6 shares

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

LSE Community

June 21st, 2023

Twelve recommended LGBTQ+ books for Pride Month 2023

0 comments | 6 shares

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

Spectrum is LSE’s LGBTQ+ staff network representing and supporting staff who are lesbian, gay, bi, trans and of any sexual orientation and gender identity. Spectrum is a recognised channel for inclusion at LSE and is open to all staff, LGBTQ+ and allies. Founded in May 2008, Spectrum builds on LSE’s rich LGBTQ+ history: the Gay Liberation Front in the UK was founded at LSE in 1970 and LSE Library holds one of Britain’s biggest LGBTQ+ collections

For Pride Month 2023, Spectrum members and the wider LSE community have recommended twelve LGBTQ+ books from a range of genres and disciplines to entertain, engage, inform and inspire.

Black Water Sister book cover with brightly coloured floral backgroundBlack Water Sister. Zen Cho. Penguin Random House. 2021.

This book seamlessly blends urban fantasy with LGBTQ+ themes, creating a compelling and thought-provoking narrative. Set against the sociopolitical backdrop of contemporary Malaysia. The story introduces readers to Jessamyn Teoh, a closeted lesbian who is haunted by her ancestral spirit, the tenacious, vengeful and powerful Black Water Sister. As Jessamyn grapples with her own sexuality and the weight of her heritage, readers are taken on a thrilling supernatural journey that explores the complexities of cultural expectations, love, identity, acceptance, familial ties, and the power of embracing one’s true self. Cho’s meticulous storytelling and vibrant characters make this book a remarkable read that both challenges and delights. A real page-turner!

Recommended by Amanda M. Gaddes, Deputy Department Manager, LSE Department of Health Policy

Queer City by Peter Ackroyd book coverQueer City. Peter Ackroyd. Penguin Random House. 2018.

Though imperfect in my view, a welcome reminder that, regardless of how different eras of society have perceived and treated it, queer life in London has always been an integral part of its social fabric.

Recommended by Alexander Wright, Programme Delivery Manager, LSE Marshall Institute



david bowie made me gay book cover featuring lightning bolt design.David Bowie Made Me Gay. Darryl W. Bullock. Duckworth. 2017.

I consider it queer tradition to treat pop music and its sacred vessels — pop stars — as gods of LGBTQ+ tradition. The reverence I have for my pop girlies (whether that’s the literal pop girls, like Dusty Springfield, Mother Monster, Charli XCX, or the pop girls in spirit, Robert Smith, Cocteau Twins or, say, Little Richard) is not unlike going to church — the emotional outpouring is probably similar — just with better hooks and bridges, tightly choreographed dance sequences, and an unflinching commitment to the Serve.

David Bowie Made Me Gay is a book about queer history, queer artists and the queer people who listened to their songs and found connection. It’s a really thoughtful collection of essays on just how gay music is and always has been, and why that’s so special.

Recommended by Eleonora Mignacca Internal Communications Officer, Communications Division

Priory of the orange tree book cover depicting priory building with a tower and a dragon wrapped around it.The Priory of the Orange Tree. Samantha Shannon. Bloomsbury 2020.

This book might seem intimidating at first, but I promise you are in for a treat! Samantha Shannon’s book has been praised as a “feminist retelling of George and the dragon” depicting royal struggles, dragons, and magic. Shannon’s new take is so appealing because it poses the question: If fantasy allows you to dive into any world you want, why not create one without systematic oppression of women and queer people? This book is the perfect escapism and offers a fresh new perspective on how inclusive and liberating fantasy can be! Also, who doesn’t like dragons?

Recommended by Isabel Lacurie, Marketing and Communications Manager, LSE Department of Philosophy, Logic and Scientific Method

The transgender issue book coverThe Transgender Issue: An Argument for Justice. Shon Faye. Penguin Random House. 2021.

In this ground-breaking book, Shon Faye reclaims the idea of the ‘transgender issue’ to uncover the reality of what it means to be trans in a transphobic society.

Recommended by Dr Hakan Seckinelgin Associate Professor in International Social Policy, LSE Department of Social Policy


When Katie met Cassidy book cover image of two pairs of lips kissing,When Katie met CassidyCamille Perri. Penguin Random House. 2018. 

This book is like a made-for-TV Sunday rom-com of fiction. I only read it as Queer Twitter had already decisively cast the never-to-be-made film adaptation with some of my favourite actresses and I needed to be in the know.  I was, however, pleasantly surprised.

The story follows Katie who has recently been dumped by her boyfriend randomly decides to go on a date with an alluring and mysterious woman. It touches on themes of coming out, gender, LGBTQ+ ageing, finding your sexuality, lesbian culture, and the importance of community. It will not change your life, but it is a light and entertaining read worthy of chucking in your suitcase this summer.

Recommended by Amanda M. Gaddes, Deputy Department Manager, LSE Department of Health Policy

The left hand of darkness ursula k, leguin book cover

The Left Hand of Darkness. Ursula K. Le Guin. Penguin Random House. 2016. (Originally published by Ace Books in 1969).

An excellent science fiction work in it’s own right which also included a race without a fixed gender as central to the story. Released in 1969, it subsequently prompted some interesting debate on the use of pronouns which could be seen as part of the journey to our current usage.

Recommended by Alexander Wright, Programme Delivery Manager, LSE Marshall Institute

It came from the closet book cover image with graphic design of tombstone and zombie hand rising from the ground.

It Came from the Closet: Queer Reflections on Horror. Joe Valese (ed.) The Feminist Press. 2022.

Like many nascent queers, I spent a whole lot of my adolescent years hunting down whatever gay content I could find, no matter how coded or impractical. One of these ways was through watching horror movies. Another way was by overthinking.

Luckily, so did these fabulous queer and trans writers who come together in this collection of essays analysing their favourite horror movies and how they speak for the queer experience. Featuring essays on HalloweenHereditaryJennifer’s Body and more, It Came from the Closet is subversive and cool, fun and empowering, queer as hell.

Recommended by Eleonora Mignacca Internal Communications Officer, Communications Division

despised and rejected book cover

Despised and Rejected. Rose Allatini. Persephone Books. 2018. (Originally published by C.W. Daniel in 1918).

This book was originally published in June 1918 under the pseudonym A.T. Fitzroy and was banned three months afterwards. It is a landmark in gay and lesbian literature, and in the literature of pacifism.

Recommended by Dr Hakan Seckinelgin, Associate Professor in International Social Policy, LSE Department of Social Policy


Last (but certainly not least) are a selection of recommendations from LSE Department of Methodology. Methodology decided to set up an LGBTQ+ bookshelf during LGBTQ+ History Month 2023, sourcing recommendations from students and colleagues in the Department. The result is a diverse collection of mostly academic (sometimes methodological) LGBTQ+ texts which you can find on a physical shelf in the Department (pictured below). Here are three highlights from the shelf:

Queer and Trans People of Colour in the UK book cover                  None of the above pink book cover                  Crip theory book cover (brown, blue, red and green)

Queer and Trans People of Colour in the UK: Possibilities for Intersectional Richness. Stephanie Davis. Routledge. 2023.

None of the Above: Reflections on Life Beyond the Binary. Travis Alabanza. Canongate Books. 2022.

Crip Theory: Cultural Signs of Queerness and Disability. Robert McRuer. New York University Press. 2006.

For the full list of books or if you would like to visit the bookshelf, get in touch with Olivia Talland.

The LGBTQ+ bookshelf at the LSE Department of Methodology. Image credit: Olivia Talland.


LSE Review of Books thanks all the members of the LSE community who contributed to this reading list with their book recommendations.

Note: This reading list gives the views of the contributors, and not the position of the LSE Review of Books blog, or of the London School of Economics.

Main mage Credit: Olivia Talland.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

About the author

Two grey pencils on yellow background

LSE Community

This post was brought together by the LSE community.

Posted In: Contributions from LSE Staff and Students | Gender and Sexuality | LGBTQ+ | Reading Lists

Leave a Reply

Subscribe via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 UK: England & Wales
This work by LSE Review of Books is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 UK: England & Wales.