It’s finally June and that means Pride month, one of the most joyous months of the year! While there is a lot of big scary stuff going on in the world, I hope that you get the chance to still celebrate Pride and indulge in some queer joy this month. One thing that always brings me joy is BOOKS, particularly queer books, and I’m always on the hunt for more to read. It can also be fun to take this month as an opportunity to challenge yourself and your reading, or push yourself outside of your comfort zone…or just catch up on that towering TBR pile! That’s where the A-Z challenges come in!
A-Z reading challenges can be as structured or as casual as you’d like them to be, which is why I find them fun. Essentially, you pick a book to correspond with each letter of the alphabet. You can go in alphabetical order or read all over, but either way you’re going to be reading 26 great books. I came up with an A-Z reading list for queer YA books, and let me tell you, it was really hard to narrow it down, because there are just so many great books out there! But I tried to include a nice mix of representations, new and classic books, and books that cross a wide swath of genres. Even if you aren’t up for an A-Z challenge — or maybe you want to come up with your own — there’s guaranteed to be something amazing here for everyone!
Annie on My Mind by Nancy Garden
This classic young adult novel is worth a read for its lovely depiction of young love, and for its historical importance — it was one of the first YA books about a same-sex couple falling in love that doesn’t have a sad or tragic ending. It tells the story of Liza and Annie, two New York City teens who fall in love.
Boy Meets Boy by David Levithan
This Lambda Literary Award-winning novel was a revelation when it released in 2003. It’s about Paul, who is openly gay and lives in an accepting town where being gay isn’t a big deal. When he blows his opportunity at getting with the guy of his dreams, he puts it all on the line for a second chance.
Cinderella is Dead by Kalynn Bayron
In this fantasy, Sophia lives 200 years after Cinderella has found her prince, and now all the eligible young women in the kingdom must appear at the annual ball to be matched to future husbands. This is a problem for Sophia, who’d much rather marry her childhood friend Erin, and when she runs away from the ball, she discovers a much darker secret about Cinderella’s legacy.
Darius the Great is Not Okay by Adib Khorram
Darius is Iranian American, and he never feels like he’s “enough” in the U.S. or to his Iranian family. But an unexpected trip to Iran to visit his grandparents opens up his perspective, especially when he makes friends with his grandparents’ neighbor, a guy his own age.
Epically Earnest by Molly Horan
In this retelling of The Importance of Being Earnest, Jane is somewhat famous for one thing: being found as a baby in a designer bag at a train station. Now she’s wondering if she should look for her biological parents, or if her best friend Algie is just pushing for her to do so. Add to this a crush on Algie’s cousin Gwen, and Jane has a lot on her plate.
Flip the Script by Lyla Lee
Hana is a lead actress in a popular new K-drama, and she’s crushing it. She doesn’t mind terribly that her co-star Bryan is falling for her, but when the showrunners bring on a new actress to be on-screen rival, Hana is surprised to find herself falling for the new girl.
Ghost Wood Song by Erica Waters
Shady has the power to summon ghosts by playing a fiddle she inherited from her father, but she’d rather ignore this particular talent as it only seems to make life more complicated. But when her brother is accused of murder, Shady will have to face the ghosts to find the truth.
Hani and Ishu’s Guide to Fake Dating by Adiba Jaigirdar
Ishu and Hani may be the only Brown girls at their Irish school, but that doesn’t mean they’re friends. But when Hani comes out as bisexual to her friends and they don’t believe her because she’s never dated a girl, Hani panics and pretends Ishu is her girlfriend. Ishu doesn’t love the deception, but she could use some social clout that Hani has to offer, and the pair strike a deal that gets complicated when they catch feelings.
I Wish You All the Best by Mason Deaver
One of the first YA books with a nonbinary protagonist, this book follows Ben, who comes out as nonbinary and is kicked out of their parents’ house. Taking refuge with their older sister Hannah, Ben starts fresh at a new school determined to keep their head down. But when they meet Nathan, an outgoing guy who tries to connect with Ben, Ben has to decide if it’s worth the risk to open themself up to Nathan.
Jay’s Gay Agenda by Jason June
Jay is the only out kid in his small town, and he dreams of dating misadventures like the ones his peers are always talking about. So when his family unexpectedly moves to Seattle during his senior year, Jay has a bucket list of things he wants to do. But what happens when his connection with one guy in particular conflicts with his own dating agenda?
Kings of B’more by R. Eric Thomas
Harrison isn’t exactly looking forward to all the chaos that starting junior year will bring, but at least he’ll have his best friend Linus by his side, and they have a whole summer before facing it. Then Linus drops a bombshell: he’s moving. Harrison attempts to pack in all of the fun and adventure they were meant to have in just a few short days, leading them on the most epic Pride celebration ever.
The Lesbiana’s Guide to Catholic School by Sonora Reyes
This award-winning novel follows Yami, a closeted lesbian who transfers to Catholic school with her little brother. Determined to play it straight and just survive until graduation, she’s unprepared for what happens when she meets the pretty, intriguing, out and proud girl of her dreams.
Meet Cute Diary by Emery Lee
Noah is the author of a blog full of trans happily ever after stories…but they’re fiction. He didn’t mean to deceive people, he just wanted to write some romance stories as a way of holding out hope for love. But when a troll exposes Noah, he’s desperate to save face, so he embarks on a fake dating scheme that will have a few unexpected twists.
Not My Problem by Ciara Smyth
When Aideen helps an overwhelmed Meabh orchestrate an injury to get out of some extracurriculars, Aideen thinks that will be the end of it…but then other classmates want Aideen’s “help,” and she soon has her hands full with hijinks that might spin out of control if she’s not careful.
Of Fire and Stars by Audrey Coulthurst
Denna has been betrothed to the prince from the neighboring kingdom, and she knows her duty is to leave her home and make this political alliance. The only problem? She possesses magic that is illegal in her new country. She tries to keep it hidden, but when she meets her fiancé’s sister and begins to fall for the beautiful, tempestuous Mare, Denna finds keeping secrets harder than she imagined.
Pet by Akwaeke Emezi
Set in a utopian world without violence or war, Jam, who is trans, has grown up learning about how the angels banished the monsters from their home. So Jam is shocked when a drop of her blood summons a monstrous creature who claims there is one monster still left, and it’s up to Jam to hunt it.
Queer Ducks and Other Animals by Eliot Schrefer
Same-sex attraction is not unique to homo sapiens, and in this witty and engaging award-winning nonfiction title, Schrefer presents historical, scientific, and anthropological research on queer creatures throughout the animal kingdom.
Running with Lions by Julian Winters
Sebastian is excited for a senior year full of soccer where he doesn’t have to hide who he is from his coach or teammates. But when an ex-friend joins the team, Sebastian is afraid that past drama will catch up with him, so he sets out to regain his ex-friend’s trust with some surprising results.
A Scatter of Light by Malinda Lo
Aria has been sent to California to spend the summer with her grandmother after an unfortunate incident at a graduation party got back to her parents. She loves her grandmother, but this was not the summer she had in mind. But when she meets her grandmother’s gardener, Steph, Aria can’t help but feel a magnetic pull toward her as she reckons with what she thought she knew about herself, her friendships, and her family.
They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera
Mateo and Rufus don’t know each other, but when they receive the news that they’ll die today, they connect via an app just for people who are about to die. Even though they are strangers, they head out on a grand adventure to cram as much living as they possibly can in just one day.
The (Un)Popular Vote by Jasper Sanchez
Mark is a trans guy starting over at a new school, pretending to be cis because his politician dad is uncomfortable with Mark’s identity. Mark just wants to keep a low profile, but when an awful student at his school runs for student president, Mark tosses his hat in the ring. As the campaign heats up, Mark makes friends and might even find love, but when someone goes digging into his past, he’s at risk of losing it all.
Victories Greater Than Death by Charlie Jane Anders
Tina may look like a normal human teenage girl, but in reality, she’s the clone of an alien masquerading as a hero. She is also the keeper of an intergalactic beacon, and if she ever needs to save the universe, all she needs to do is press the button to save everyone from evil. But when the beacon activates, even Tina is unprepared for what happens next.
When the Moon Was Ours by Anna-Marie McLemore
Miel and Sam are best friends turned lovers. Everyone knows they’re strange and mysterious but meant to be together. When the Bronner sisters, rumored to be witches, set their sights on Sam and want the roses that Miel can grow from her wrists, the couple is in grave danger…unless they can uncover the truth to fight the sisters.
The Extraordinaries by TJ Klune
Nick is a big superhero fan boy and fan fiction writer, and he’s crushing big time on his city’s most famous superhero. The crush only grows when Nick has a chance encounter with him, and he sets out to prove himself worthy of his love, with the reluctant help of his best friend.
You Should See Me in a Crown by Leah Johnson
Liz has a plan for getting out of town, and it involves a scholarship to her dream school. But when her financial aid falls through, she’s desperate…until she remembers that prom king and queen are awarded college scholarships. Although she is not the prom queen type in her small, white Midwestern town, Liz sets out to win the crown — and finds herself running against a very cute new girl.
Zara Hossain Is Here by Sabina Khan
Zara and her family live in Texas, and while life isn’t exactly easy for Muslims in her town, she tries to keep a low profile so as not to jeopardize her family’s immigration process. But when she speaks up about bullying, it sets off a chain of events that quickly spiral out of control.