Your Curated Queer TBR for February

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Laura Sackton

Senior Contributor

Laura Sackton is a queer book nerd and freelance writer, known on the internet for loving winter, despising summer, and going overboard with extravagant baking projects. In addition to her work at Book Riot, she reviews for BookPage and AudioFile, and writes a weekly newsletter, Books & Bakes, celebrating queer lit and tasty treats. You can catch her on Instagram shouting about the queer books she loves and sharing photos of the walks she takes in the hills of Western Mass (while listening to audiobooks, of course).

Sometimes people ask me if I’m a mood reader or a TBR-maker, and I never know how to answer because I don’t really understand the question — I’m both! I’m constantly making TBRs for myself (yearly, monthly, weekly), and I’m also constantly ignoring those TBRs and reading random library books instead. I read what I feel like reading, and I like having lists of options.

If you’re like me, this list is for you! It’s a queer TBR for February that celebrates the month and the season. I’ve chosen books that honor queer Black history for Black history month, books with wintery themes, romances (and anti-romances!) for Valentine’s Day, and, of course, some fantastic new releases. If you’re looking to read seasonally, or if you’re the kind of reader who enjoys themed reading, I hope this list will help you craft the perfect February TBR. If you’re a staunch mood reader, I hope you’ll still find something great to suit your February whims.

Of course, what’s most exciting about making these monthly queer book lists is just how many books there are to choose from! We are positively swimming in new queer books, and — you guessed it — the sea of queer backlist titles isn’t getting any smaller, either. There’s a book here for every reader, no matter what kind of queer lit you’re craving.

Get Excited About New Releases

Cover of Choosing Family

Choosing Family by Francesca T. Royster (February 7)

In this beautiful and vulnerable memoir, Royster writes about her winding journey to motherhood. She shares the story of how she and her white partner adopted their daughter, as well as stories from her childhood and family history. She explores the many ways that Black families and queer families have always fought back against the rigid, heteronormative ideas about kinship imposed on them. It’s a wise, open, and hopeful book about what it means to build family with intention and care.

Hijab Butch Blues book cover

Hijab Butch Blues by Lamya H (February 7)

In this memoir-in-essays, Lamya H uses stories from the Quran to examine their own life and the ways their many identities — Muslim, queer, immigrant — intersect. It’s a powerful story about self-discovery, belonging, and community. Lamya H rejects easy binaries, instead sharing a rich, complicated portrait of their messy and multifaceted life.

Cover of Endpapers

Endpapers by Jennifer Savran Kelly (February 7)

I love books about authors/characters who work in publishing, but I don’t think I’ve ever read a novel about a book conservator, so I’m especially excited about this one! Dawn is a bookbinder with a great job at Met, but she’s feeling stuck — in her gender, her relationship, her work, and her art. When she finds an old queer love letter, her obsession with discovering who wrote it turns out to be just the thing she needs to get unstuck and figure out who she truly wants to be.

Honor Black History Month

Wayward Lives, Beautiful Experiments cover

Wayward Lives, Beautiful Experiments by Saidiya Hartman

In this illuminating history, Hartman explores the radical lives of young Black women in New York and Philadelphia during the early 20th century. She shares stories of women who broke away from expected racial and gender norms, creating queer and creative networks of kinship and support. It’s hefty, thoughtfully researched, and moving work of scholarship that reexamines the prevalent, simple story about early 20th century Black life and tells a much more nuanced and complicated one.

Cover of Miss Major Speaks

Miss Major Speaks by Miss Major with Toshio Meronek

When a queer elder speaks, it’s up to all of us to listen. In this memoir, legendary Black trans activist Miss Major shares her story, as well as the many lessons she’s learned along the way. She offers firsthand accounts of defining moments and periods in queer history — the Stonewall Riots, 1960s ballroom culture, and the AIDS epidemic. This is the best kind of history book, written by someone who lived through it.

Read a Romance for Valentine’s Day…

A Dash of Salt and Pepper book cover

A Dash of Salt and Pepper by Kosoko Jackson

If you’re looking for a fun, low-angst, lighthearted romance to read for Valentine’s Day, look no further. Xavier is not exactly thrilled to be back in his tiny Maine hometown, living with his parents. He’s just gone through a bad breakup and he really needs a job — so he starts working as a prep cook at a new restaurant in town, owned by hotshot chef and single-dad Logan. Xavier is just going to save up enough money to get the hell out again. He’s definitely not going to stay. Or fall in love. Or anything like that. This novel is sweet and funny and silly and yes, there’s a lot of delicious food descriptions.

…or Don’t!

Kings of B'More cover

Kings of B’More by R. Eric Thomas

Valentine’s Day not your thing? That is totally fair! Why not pick up a book that isn’t about romance at all? This joyful YA novel centers friendship — something that is absolutely as important as romance, even if there still aren’t enough books written about it. Black queer besties Harrison and Linus are just trying to have one perfect day before Linus moves to a different state. But things keep getting in their way — small, silly obstacles as well as real, devastating injustices. It’s such a moving and honest portrayal of queer teenage friendship.

Celebrate Audre Lorde’s Birthday!

Sister Outsider by Audre Lorde - cover

Sister Outsider by Audre Lorde

Black lesbian poet and writer Audre Lorde was born on February 18! You could easily spend the whole month reading through her many brilliant books, but if you’re looking for somewhere to start, you can’t go wrong with Sister Outsider. This collection of essays and speeches makes for a thorough introduction to her thinking on race, art, womanhood, feminism, queerness, activism, and more.

Read a Short Book (for the Shortest Month)

Cover of Hot, Wet, and Shaking

Hot, Wet, & Shaking by Kaleigh Trace

February is the shortest month, which makes it a great time to read short books. (Don’t question my logic here, just go with it.) This collection of essays about sex, disability, and queerness seems to have flown a bit under the radar. It absolutely deserves all the attention, though. Trace writes with a lot of humor about her changing relationship to her disabled body, ableist ideas about sex and desire, working at a sex shop, exploring her queerness, and more. It’s lighthearted and fun, but also informative and thought-provoking.

A graphic of the cover of La Bastarda by Trifonia Melibea Obono

La Bastarda by Trifonia Melibea Obono, Translated by Lawrence Schimel

If nonfiction isn’t your thing, but you’re still looking for a short read, this novella — the first book by an Equatorial Guinean woman to be translated into English — packs a punch in under 100 pages. It’s about a queer teenager, Okomo, who lives with her strict grandparents in a small village. She’s trying to find the space to be and express herself amidst rigid cultural expectations. Though this short book deals with some heavy subjects, it is overflowing with queer love, as Okomo eventually finds belonging with a queer family of her own.

Read a Wintery Book

Cover of Small Beauty

Small Beauty by Jia Qing Wilson-Yang

This quiet character study is set in a small Canadian town, and mostly takes place over the course of a long winter. Mei is a trans Asian Canadian woman who moves back to the town she grew up in after her cousin dies and leaves her his house. What follows is a gorgeous mediation on grief, family, lineage, home, and memory.

Looking for more queer books to fill up your February TBR? Check out this list of the best LGBTQ+ books of 2022, in case you missed a few! And if you’re in the mood to preorder some great queer books, we’ve got you covered with these 2023 LGBTQ books, and these indie queer books out this year!