Pride 2023 Book List: Queering your Shelves

Alexandra Theroux

Operations Manager

Photo of Haley Moriarity in front of the ocean

Haley Moriarity

Digital Marketing and Admin Coordinator

A few years ago, IONS shared a blog during Pride Month which focused on decolonizing our bookshelves and the importance of being intentional about the media we consume (which you should definitely check out here for lots of great information and more recommendations). For people in the community impact sector, it is especially important to read diverse authors. It is a way to gain insight on the lives and experiences of our community members, and help us all do better and more inclusive work. A lot has changed since last year at IONS – a new organization identity, new team members, and of course – new books! We wanted to revisit the idea and create an updated list of amazing titles from talented, diverse, queer authors, along with some helpful reflections on your reading habits. 

Thoughts from Haley

After a few years of academic burnout, I was finally able to get back into reading for fun last year. I read 30 books in 2022 and at the end realized I had only read stories from diverse, queer, trans, Indigenous, Black, or female authors. I had sought out books from authors that didn’t look like me and who had different lived experiences than me. But I was also able to read so many stories by queer authors or with queer characters that I related to as a queer person – representation I didn’t have growing up.  

I didn’t fully accept I was queer until I was 20. Since coming out, I have often reflected on what could’ve helped me accept myself sooner. And, having access to more queer media at a young age would have significantly changed my perception on what my identity could look like. So often I found myself saying, “Well I could never be gay (gay being the only word I had) because I don’t look like [insert the very few examples I knew].” Along with allowing me to see characters that felt how I felt, queer representation would of also provided me access to the vocabulary I was lacking. I didn’t have the language to explain how I felt and so I just never felt comfortable bringing it up. Words are powerful and can be instrumental in someone finding their own autonomy, and queer representation would have helped me find that sooner. 

Thoughts from Alexandra

In 2021 I was excited to write the original blog pulling together lists of books by and about queer people. In that blog I shared my learnings and intentions for expanding the diversity of my bookshelf – not only with 2SLGBTQIA+ authors and stories but also with authors and characters who are Black, Indigenous, and/or racialized. Being a giant stats nerd, I looked for ways to track my progress with this change – a kind of way but to hold myself accountable to seeking and continuously reading more diverse stories. 

Since writing that blog, I discovered Storygraph (which is like Goodreads but created by a Black woman!). I began using tracking the various authors I’ve been reading. I use this information to evaluate my progress throughout the year, create informal lists of Asian or Black or other diverse authors to share with folks, and to note when I’m reading more stories by people like me so I can be more intentional about looking for different narratives. At the end of every year, I review and reflect on my reading stats (see my 2021 stats here for an example). 

These stories have helped me to better understand the issues and perspectives of people whose experiences are so far from my own which makes it easier to empathize and recognize my own biases in day-to-day life. Reading more diverse stories – both fiction and nonfiction – has helped me to explore new ways of being, and I think that’s always a good thing. 

Banned Books – What’s the Big Deal?

In 2022, the American Library Association documented the highest number of attempted book bans since the association began tracking in 2001. This was a 75% jump from 2021 with over half of the top 10 most challenged books containing 2SLGBTQIA+ content. The concept of banned books is most often heard in the context of the United States; however, this issue is closer to home than you might think. There have been protests across Canada (which have ramped up in the past year), fighting to remove 2SLGBTQIA+ related content from libraries and sexual education curriculums in schools. Hateful homophobic and transphobic rhetoric is being pushed and putting the livelihood of queer and trans youth at risk. It’s terrifying and something we cannot let go unchecked. 

Banning books specifically because it is written by a queer or trans author or contains queer or trans characters takes away a young person’s opportunity to see themselves represented ability and/or to learn about experiences outside of their own.  


Queering Your Bookshelf

People tend to gravitate towards stories that they can see themselves in, which is not inherently bad, but it does mean you might have to be more intentional about the types of media you are consuming. We also tend to stick with books we think we will like, so genre hopping or picking up a different type of read isn’t always appealing. However, there are queer books in every genre you can imagine! It just might take a bit more searching to find a book in a genre that you love. 

We came up with a list of questions to help you be more intentional with your reading habits. These questions can apply to all types of media (movies, TV shows, music, who your favourite Tik Tok influencers are, etc.) and all sorts of different identities, not just the 2SLGBTQIA+ community.  

Take a minute to reflect on your reading habits and think about the following questions: 

    • Do the books you read depict 2SLGBTQIA+ characters? 
    • Do you read books from authors within the 2SLGBTQIA+ community?  
    • Is there intentionality around the authors you read, have you looked up where they stand on social issues or things you care about? 
    • Do you read non-fiction AND fiction books from authors in the 2SLGBTQIA+ community? 
    • Do you read books that contain stories of 2SLGBTQIA+ joy and not just 2SLGBTQIA+ hardships? 
    • How could first-voice 2SLGBTQIA+ stories (fiction and non-fiction) help you learn about the community? How can this representation impact society and the role you want to play?  

    Note: the point of this reflection is to engage in critical thinking when you are reading. Reading books written by openly queer authors is great! But people do not owe you an explanation of their sexuality or identity. When you’re unsure about the lived experiences of an author or whether you should consider a book, a scan of google and reviews can be helpful in seeing how a particular community feels about the representation in the book. 


    We challenge you to read a book written by a queer or trans author that features queer or trans characters or content (maybe you’ll find a good fit for you in the list below!). If you already have a shelf full of 2SLGBTQIA+ books, pass this challenge (and maybe some recs) on to a friend or colleague.

    2SLGBTQIA+ Books we Love:

    If you have books that you’re reading or want to share please post them in the comments!

    Cover of book "This is How you Lose the Time War", labelled as Haley's Fav

    This is How you Lose the Time War

    By Amal El-Mothar and Max Gladstone

    Cover of book "Girls Can Kiss Now" labelled Alexandra's fav

    Girls Can Kiss Now

    By Jill Gutowitz

    Cover of book "In the Dream House" labelled Haley's Fav

    In the Dream House

    By Carmen Maria Machado

    Cover of book "No Gods, No Monsters" labelled Alexandra's fav

    No Gods, No Monsters

    By Cadwell Turnbull

    book cover "a quick and easy guide to queer and trans identities" labelled non fiction/reference

    A Quick & Easy Guide to Queeer & Trans Identities

    By Mady G and J.R. Zuckerberg

    Cover of book "I hope we choose love" labelled non-fiction reference

    I Hope We Choose Love

    By Kai Cheng Thom

    Book cover of "ACE" labelled non-fiction/refrence


    By Angela Chen

    Cover of book "stone butch blues" labelled fiction

    Stone Butch Blues

    By Leslie Feinberg

    cover of book "jonny applesed" labelled as fiction


    By April Daniels

    Cover of book "how to be a normal person" labelled fiction

    How to be a Normal Person

    By T.J. Klune

    Cover of book "daughters of the deer" labelled as fiction

    Daughters of the Deer

    By Danielle Daniel

    Book cover of "the priory of the orange tree" labelled sci-fi/fantasy

    The Priory of the Orange Tree

    By Samantha Shannon

    Honey Girl – Morgan Rogers

    The Vanished Birds

    By Simon Jimenez

    Book cover of "bath haus" labelled as mystery/thriller

    Ace of Spades

    By Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé

    Cover of book manhunt labelled mystery/thriller


    By Gretchen Felker-Martin

    Book cover of "the lesbiana's guide to catholic school" labelled as young adult

    The Lesbiana’s Guide to Catholic School

    By Sonora Reyes

    Book cover of "heartstopper" labelled as young adult

    Heartstopper: Graphic Novel Series

    By Alice Oseman

    Cover of book "the seven husbands of evelyn hugo" labelled honourable mention

    The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo

    By Taylor Jenkins Reid

    Cover of book "The Song of Achilles" labelled honourable mention

    The Song of Achilles

    By Madeline Miller

    Additional Book Lists From IONS

    Looking for more representation in your reads? Our team has created book lists for Black History Month, Asian History Month, and Indigenous History Month:

    Looking for even more books? Join ExploratIONS: A JEDDI Book Club for Community! Sign up here to be added to a community of readers. Stay tuned for resources, reflections, and updates on the next reading! 

    Written by:

    Alexandra Theroux

    Operations Manager

    Alexandra supports the internal operations of IONS including financial management, systems management, and development and implementation of policies and procedures. She also applies her artistic talent to elevate our communications. 

    Photo of Haley Moriarity in front of the ocean

    Haley Moriarity

    Digital Marketing and Admin Coordinator

    Haley supports many aspects of IONS’ work including communications, events and learning, and operations. Her organization, tech-savviness, and creativity is a huge win for the team!