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20 Must-Read Asexual Books for Ace Week

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Rachel Brittain

Contributing Editor

Rachel is a writer from Arkansas, most at home surrounded by forests and animals much like a Disney Princess. She spends most of her time writing stories and playing around in imaginary worlds. You can follow her writing at rachelbrittain.com. Twitter and Instagram: @rachelsbrittain

Finding asexual representation in fiction sometimes feels like looking for a needle in a stack of endless needles. Unlike some other queer representation, asexuality doesn’t always leap off the page. You can’t necessarily tell if a story will include asexual or aromantic representation from the blurb or bio alone, and that’s assuming asexuality is ever explicitly mentioned. Plenty of books deal in subtext. But asexual books are very much out there and for Ace Week this October we want to celebrate the plethora of great representation on offer!

Not only are there books featuring great ace-spec representation across the entire gamut of genres, there are actually so many that I couldn’t include all of them on this list. That’s right, folks, I had more than enough asexual books to pick from for this must-read list, and the pickings weren’t even all that slim. Though asexuality lags in on-page representation behind many other LGBTQ+ identities, like those other identities we’re continuing to see more and more queer representation in fiction. Hallelujah!

I did my best to include the specific flavor of representation in all of the books and made note of books containing explicit sex scenes wherever possible. And on that note, an important disclaimer:

Please, please, note not all ace-spec people are sex-repulsed. That does not invalidate their identity! A number of these books include characters who have sex and even enjoy sex. It’s totally valid to avoid those if reading sex scenes isn’t for you. But it’s not okay to invalidate the experience of ace-spec people who do. I’ll add an asterisk for all the books I know contain explicit sex so people can avoid that as needed. Remember, my dears: read what you want to read and let others read what they want to read. It’s that simple.

Young Adult

Summer Bird Blue Cover

Summer Bird Blue by Akemi Dawn Bowman

Rep: ace protagonist

After her little sister dies in a car accident, Rumi Seto loses her best friend, her passion for music, and her mom in one fell swoop. Consumed with her own grief, Rumi’s mom sends her to live with her aunt in Hawaii. And the one thing that has always brought her joy — the music she made with her sister — is completely lost to her. It’s only as she begins opening up with a grieving elderly neighbor and the surfer boy next door that Rumi begins to realize life is still worth living even in the midst of overwhelming grief.

Loveless Cover

Loveless by Alice Oseman

Rep: aroace protagonist

The author of Heartstopper has also written a sweet YA novel about finding connection and love outside of sexual and romantic attraction. Georgia has never understood why she doesn’t crush like her other friends do, but kissing and dating — not to mention sex — have just never been appealing to her. It’s not until she discovers the A in LGBTQIA in college that her experiences finally click. And now that she understands herself, maybe she can finally live her life the way she’s always wanted.

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Meet Cute Diary by Emery Lee

Rep: ace love interest

Noah Ramirez loves championing stories of trans happily ever afters on his blog, Meet Cute Diary. There’s just one problem: all the stories are fake. In fact, Noah’s still too deep in the closet to have any stories of his own to even tell. His saving grace is Drew, who agrees to fake-date Noah after an internet troll exposes the blog as fiction. But with very real feelings beginning to grow between them, maybe this fictional romance is about to become all too real.

The Reckless Kind Cover

The Reckless Kind by Carly Heath

Rep: ace protagonist and queerplatonic triad

In this queer historical YA novel set in turn of the 20th century Norway, a girl runs away with her best friend from the theater and her secret boyfriend to escape an unwanted betrothal. The three only have one shot to accrue enough kroner to survive: they must enter the village’s annual horse race — and win.

Forward March Cover

Forward March by Skye Quinlan

Rep: asexual protagonist

A marching band geek is trying to weather the storm of her father’s Republican presidential campaign when a fake dating profile threatens to derail her senior year. Harper isn’t sure whether she likes anyone yet, much less girls, but when she starts getting to know the drumline leader who swiped right on her fake profile, she decides this girl might be worth risking her heart — and her father’s political ambitions.

Science Fiction and Fantasy

Elatsoe Cover

Elatsoe by Darcie Little Badger

Rep: aroace protagonist

In a version of America where stories come to life, a Lipan Apache girl with the power to raise the ghosts of dead animals searches for answers after the death of her cousin. But there are people in the small town where he lived who don’t want anyone to come poking around in their business — especially nosy young girls asking questions. And the secrets they’re hiding are even more horrifying than Elatsoe could’ve imagined.

Firebreak Cover

Firebreak by Nicole Kornher-Stace

Rep: aroace protagonist

An orphan of the corporate wars obsessed with a popular VR war game everyone uses to escape from the terrible reality of day to day, Mallory craves glimpses of the celebrity supersoldiers that sometimes appear in-game. But then she discovers that the SpecOps operatives weren’t grown in a lab like the public has always been told, but are kids who were kidnapped, augmented, and tortured to become the soldiers they are today. In a world where companies control everything, speaking out against them is unthinkable. But staying silent when Mallory knows the truth isn’t possible either.

To Be Taught, If Fortunate Cover

To Be Taught, If Fortunate by Becky Chambers

Rep: multiple ace characters

This dreamy sci-fi novella follows a cast of scientist astronauts exploring new planets and changing themselves in order to adapt to these extreme alien environments. It’s just as thoughtful and intriguing as Chambers other work (like the Wayfarers series) and features multiple ace-spec characters.

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The Circus Infinite by Khan Wong

Rep: asexual protagonist

Amidst the bustle of a pleasure moon, a mixed-species fugitive like Jes can become lost in the crowd. Which is exactly what he needs in order to escape those who wish to tear him apart to study his gravity powers. When the crime boss in charge of the circus where Jes works discovers the bounty on his head, he’s given an ultimatum: do whatever is asked of him or be given up for vivisection. But if Jes and his friends at the circus can work together to bring down the mobster for good, maybe he can finally settle down and call this place home.

The Bruising of Qilwa Book Cover

The Bruising of Qilwa by Naseem Jamnia

Rep: aroace protagonist

A nonbinary refugee and practitioner of blood magic discovers a strange new disease in this novella set in a queernormative Persian-inspired world. Firuz-e Jafari escaped the slaughter of traditional Sassanian blood magic user in their homeland to come to Free Democratic City-State of Qilwa. Here, they are even able to work at a healing clinic. But when Firuz and their employer discover a strange new disease that leaves its victims covered in bruises, age-old prejudice against blood magic practitioners spreads and leads to terrifying accusations. In order to survive and search for answers about this disease, Firuz will have to break an unending cycle of prejudice to create a fresh start for themself and their found family.

Adult Romance

The Charm Offensive Book Cover

The Charm Offensive by Alison Cochrun*

Rep: demisexual protagonist

Charlie didn’t sign on as the newest contestant on Ever After because he believes it will help him find true love; he just needs to fix his image after being ousted from the tech company he co-founded. But for producer Dev, the happily ever afters he helps create are more than real. They remind him that fairy tales can still happen. And when Charlie’s awkwardness and anxiety threaten to derail the newest season, Dev is tasked with helping him get comfortable in front of the camera. Falling in love — especially with a contestant — definitely wasn’t part of the plan. But sometimes true love happens when you least expect it.

Soft on Soft Cover

Soft on Soft by Mina Waheed

Rep: demisexual protagonist

This super sweet, low-angst romance centers on two fat, queer women of color (one Black and one Persian-Arab) who fall in love and find their happy ending with hardly any drama. There’s also anxiety representation. It’s just pure fluffy romance goodness.

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That Kind of Guy by Talia Hibbert AOC*

Rep: demisexual protagonist

Did you know the queen of steamy romances, Talia Hibbert, has a romance featuring a demisexual blacksmith who falls for an older, divorced author? Because you should. Rae refuses to go to an awards ceremony alone while her ex-husband parades around with his new wife. Enter: Zach Davis, her hot new best friend who is the king of casual hookups despite feeling empty without the emotional connection he craves. Zach agrees to be her date and her fake boyfriend. But is this pretend relationship just the first step toward something real?

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The Romantic Agenda by Claire Kann

Rep: asexual protagonist

The author of Let’s Talk About Love and If It Makes You Happy makes her adult debut with this sweet ace romance. Joy is in love with her best friend, Malcolm, but now he’s in love with somebody else. A weekend getaway might be her final chance to show him how she really feels, but then she meets Fox, who offers to pretend to be dating her to make Malcolm jealous. For the first time ever, Joy isn’t the third wheel. And Fox makes her feel seen and happy. Is it possible Joy’s been the one looking for love in all the wrong places all along?

Never Been Kissed Book Cover

Never Been Kissed by Timothy Janovsky

Rep: demisexual protagonist

This former friends to romantic partners story follows movie-obsessed Wren Roland who drunkenly sends out emails to all the guys he’s almost kissed. Almost, because Wren’s never kissed anyone. As if that wasn’t bad enough, he soon finds out that his former best friend (and recipient of one of the aforementioned emails) will be working alongside him at his beloved local drive-in movie theater this summer. Is he in for months of humiliation or could the feelings he once harbored for his high school friend finally be rekindled?

Cupid Calling Book Cover

Cupid Calling by Viano Oniomoh (October 25, 2022)

Rep: demisexual protagonist

Two contestants on a reality dating show expect to vie for the affections of a bachelorette among twenty-eight other bachelors. Ejiro Odavwaro is hoping to find love. Obiora Anozie is just looking for a free vacation. But what neither of them could’ve anticipated was that they’d be falling for each other.

Nonfiction

Ace by Angela Chen Cover

Ace: What Asexuality Reveals About Desire, Society, and the Meaning of Sex by Angela Chen

This is the first nonfiction book I ever read on asexuality, and it was really eye-opening. Chen combines her own experience as an asexual person with research and accounts from other ace-spec people to explain in really easy to understand terms what sexual attraction is and what it means to go through the world without experiencing it. It’s a great read both for ace people trying to better understand themselves as well as others looking for a better understanding of what it means to be asexual.

Ace Voices Book Cover

Ace Voices: What it Means to Be Asexual, Aromantic, Demi or Grey-Ace by Eris Young

The ace community explains what it means to be the ace spectrum in their own words through a series of interviews put together by Eris Young. Chapters cover everything from dating and sex to what it means to be black and ace, queer and ace, or even multi-partnered and ace. It’s a book all about aces, by aces, and for aces.

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Asexual Erotics by Ela Przbylo

This book examines eroticisms from an asexual perspective. It draws from Audre Lorde’s work to propose an alternate approach to discussing intimacy beyond sex and sexuality that Przbylo calls “asexual erotics.” Is there an alternative to compulsory sexuality? And what does that look like? That is exactly what Przbylo aims to explore by examining a range of feminist, queer, and anti-racism movements and proving compulsory sexuality is detrimental to all people, whether asexual or not.

Refusing Compulsory Sexuality Book Cover

Refusing Compulsory Sexuality by Sherronda J. Brown

This Black feminist exploration of asexuality brings a much-needed intersectional eye to the issues of compulsory sexuality and sex-obsessed culture. Sherronda J. Brown argues that the idea that everyone wants sex and has to have it to live a fulfilled life is tied to a wide range of systems and constructs from capitalism and race to gender and queerness. It’s an absolutely necessary read for ace-spec, queer, and curious readers wanting to learn more about race and sexuality in America.

Explore even more asexual books with these other Book Riot lists:

8 Asexual Books to Help You Celebrate Pride Month

7 Fantasy Books with Asexual Leads

Reading Aromantic and Asexual Representation into Texts