10 Queer Books To Read Right Now To Make Your April TBR Bloom

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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).

April is officially the beginning of spring! And whether you’re ready to leave winter behind forever, or you view the approach of summer with increasing dread (I see you), spring is a great time for readers. It’s the season for long evening strolls listening to audiobooks and leisurely weekend afternoons spent reading on your favorite coffeeshop’s patio. It’s almost time to break out the hammocks and set up all the dusty porch furniture! I personally love the way spring gets me excited about being out in the world again — after month spent reading curled up on my couch, it’s invigorating to want to read…well, anywhere else.

There are, of course, tons of queer books to get excited about this April! The new releases this month are downright spectacular — two of my favorite authors have new books coming out. I’ve also got a few recommendations for queer books to read for National Poetry Month and some ideas for how to wish a queer legend a very happy birthday. Interested in reading some of books from the many prize longlists that were recently announced? I’ve got you covered with both historical fiction and nonfiction. And don’t worry, gardeners: I know it’s your season, and yes, I have a queer must-read for plant lovers, too!

Get Excited About New Releases

Cover of The People Who Report More Stress

The People Who Report More Stress by Alejandro Varela (April 4)

If you loved Varela’s debut, The Town of Babylon (and if you haven’t read it, get on that!) you’re going to love his first story collection, too. It’s a wise, funny, and honest look at queer immigrant life in New York City and beyond. Varela’s characters have anxiety spirals on the subway, deal with racist parents at their kids’ schools, navigate the strange world of UN hookups, and more. His writing is sharp and tender and full of observations about life that both sting and soothe.

Cover of Any Other City

Any Other City by Hazel Jane Plante (April 18)

Little Blue Encyclopedia (for Vivian) is one of my favorite novels of all time, so just imagine the noise I made when I heard about Plante’s new novel! This one is is written as a fiction memoir. Tracy St. Cyr arrives in a new city and soon finds a home among a group of trans women, including a beloved and famous artist, who takes her under her wing. The novel unfolds over several decades, as Tracy’s career takes off. It’s a book about art, friendship, and trans kinship — all of which are things I adored in Little Blue.

Cover of Rosewater

Rosewater by Liv Little (April 25)

This debut novel follows Elsie, a twentysomething queer Black Londoner who writes poetry and longs for a life of making art that matters. But she’s stuck working a low wage job, and when she’s evicted, everything she’s dealing with becomes that much harder. She finds temporary refuge with a childhood friend, a rekindled relationship that helps her find the things she’s been looking for all along. It’s a coming-into-self book about friendship, struggle, healing, and the magic of poetry.

For even more queer new releases, sign up for the Our Queerest Shelves newsletter and get queer new releases and recommendations in your inbox twice a week!

As always, you can find a full list of new releases in the magical New Release Index, carefully curated by your favorite Book Riot editors, organized by genre and release date — there’s also an LGBTQ filter, so you can search just for queer new releases!

Delve into Poetry for National Poetry Month

Cover of Brother Sleep

Brother Sleep by Aldo Amparán

This gorgeous collection of poetry is about language, grief, border identity, queerness, masculinity, and so much more. Amparán weaves Spanish and English together into bright, startling poems that cut and mend. The speaker mourns the death of his brother, struggles to find a home for himself in language and art, explores queer desire, and exposes the legacies of violence enacted on Mexican, Mexican American, and queer people along the U.S. Mexico border.

Cover of Crossfire

Crossfire by Staceyann Chin

If you’re looking for a poetry book to carry you through the entire month, this volume of Chin’s collected poetry, which spans decades, is perfect. Chin’s poems are long and conversational and intimate; it’s easy to imagine her performing them as spoken word. She writes about her mother, Black lesbian identity, queer joy, Jamaica, activism, New York City, becoming a poet, and so much more. Her words are angry and loving and precise and full of heart.

Looking for more queer poetry? Check out 20 Must-Read Queer Poetry Collections and 20 Must-Read Poetry Collections by Queer Women.

Wish Harry Hay a Happy Birthday!

Cover of Radically Gay

Radically Gay By Harry Hay, edited by Will Roscoe

Gay activist Harry Hay was born on April 7. Hay co-founded the Mattachine Society, the first nationally recognized gay rights organization in the U.S. He was also the founder of the Radical Faeries, a network of mostly gay men focused on radical queer liberation and secular spirituality. The Faeries are still around today! This book collects Hay’s various speeches and other writings. It’s a fascinating look into the eventful life of a thinker and activist who’s had a profound affect on gay life.

Cover of The Faggots and Their Friends Between Revolutions

The Faggots & Their Friends Between Revolutions by Larry Mitchell

This playful, sexy, joyful, silly novel, first published in 1977 and finally reissued in 2020 by Nightboat Books, depicts life on a queer commune, and is inspired by/deeply steeped in radical faerie communities and traditions. The book itself is nearly impossible to describe, but it’s an ode to queer survival and queer joy, a call for solidarity, and a roadmap for community care in the face of overwhelming violence.

Read a Few Prize-Nominated Books

the cover of The Sleeping Car Porter

The Sleeping Car Porter by Suzette Mayr

Winner of the 2022 Scotiabank Giller Prize, this historical novel was also recently longlisted for the 2023 Carol Shields Prize for fiction! Set on a four-day train journey across Canada in the 1920s, it follows Baxter, a queer sleeping car porter who’s saving money for dentistry school. It’s a haunting, close, claustrophobic read, and the near-endless depictions of the racism Baxter faces are relentless. Mayr’s writing mirrors the movement of the train, as well as Baxter’s sleep-deprived, hallucinatory state of mind. It’s a brilliant, moving book full of unexpected layers.

Book cover of How Far the Light Reaches by Sabrina Imbler

How Far the Light Reaches by Sabrina Imbler

This essay collection is a 2023 Lambda Award finalist in LGBTQ+ Nonfiction, but as far as I’m concerned, it should be a finalist for every award ever. Imbler combines thoughtful, creative science writing about sea creatures with stories from their own life. They write about deep sea vents and the sacredness of queer spaces; a mother octopus and disordered eating. The connections are startling and new. Nothing I can write about it will do this book justice. It’s a queer portal into new worlds and possibilities, an example of what happens when writers dare to bust through genre expectations.

Read a Plant-Centric Book for Spring

Cover of In the Field

In the Field by Rachel Pastan

If you’re looking for a book that celebrates plants in honor of spring, this is a fantastic, under-the-radar gem. It’s a historical novel based on the life of Nobel Prize-winning geneticist Barbara McClintock. Pastan’s protagonist, Kate Croft, arrives at Cornell in the early 1920s, where she falls in love with biology. Over the course of her career, she meets with resistance at every turn, as the men in her field disrespect her, belittle her, and ignore her. You should be prepared to yell while reading this — it’s infuriating — but it’s also a beautiful story about a determined gay scientist and her deep love of the natural world.

Looking for more queer books to read this spring? There are lots of great books on last year’s Queer TBR for Spring that you might want to pick up if you haven’t already! Or check out last month’s list of must-read queer books, which includes some exciting new releases.