The idea of read-alikes can be a dangerous one in the bookish world. We all approach books in our own ways. Two books I think are similar might feel completely different to you. I might be looking for a novel that gives me the same feeling as one I just loved, and you might be looking for one that has the same themes, tone, or structure.
I’ve found that I’m often more satisfied by read-alike recommendations if I’m already expecting the two books to be different in some important ways. That’s why giving graphic novel/comic read-alike suggestions for non-graphic books works so well. Both forms of storytelling can share similar themes, settings, characters, vibes. There are comics set in space, college, small towns, big cities, and magical kingdoms, just like any other kind of book. Graphic novels come in all genres and offer all vibes: creepy, heartwarming, bizarre, unsettling, fun, serious. But reading sequential art is also its own unique experience. I don’t expect a graphic novel to be just like a non-graphic novel. It’s easier to turn off the part of my brain that’s always comparing, and just enjoy the recommendation.
So, if you’re looking for some fantastic queer comics and graphic novels to read based on your favorite queer books, I hope this list will help. I’ve mostly matched the books based on the feelings they evoke and the overall themes, rather than their specific plots.
If you loved In the Dream House by Carmen Maria Machado, read:
Death Threat by Vivek Shraya and Ness Lee
If you’re still thinking about the unusual structure of In the Dream House, and the way Machado interrogates the ideas of storytelling, narrative, history, and art-marking, I highly recommend this fascinating book. After Shraya started receiving violent messages and death threats on the internet, she decided to write about it. This graphic memoir includes the sender’s messages, repurposed. It’s an unsettling but powerful book about what it means to be an artist and the purpose and meaning of art itself.
If you loved Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas, read:
You Brought Me the Ocean by Alex Sanchez and Julie Maroh
This beautiful YA graphic novel has some of the same themes as Cemetery Boys: a teenager discovering truths about his history and his family, a sweet love story, and an emphasis on the importance of friendship. There’s just a little big of magic, too. Like Cemetery Boys, this book is a lovely blend of coming-of-age drama and romance, and Sanchez handles the complicated family dynamics so thoughtfully.
If you loved A World Between by Emily Hashimoto, read:
Stone Fruit by Lei Lai
The layered and ever-shifting relationship between two queer woman is at the heart of A World Between, and it is also the heart of this beautiful story about queer and bio family, aunthood, mental health, and partnership. Ray and Bron find joy in their playful, magical afternoons with Ray’s niece Nessie, but the way they both feel about her can’t fix the underlying problems in their relationship.
If you loved Summer of Salt by Katrina Leno, read:
The Girl from the Sea by Molly Knox Ostertag
Old magic, a life-changing summer, a small island community, and a sapphic love story: what more could you want from a book? Like Summer of Salt, this graphic novel about a girl who falls in love with a selkie is a quiet, character-driven novel. The rhythm of the sea permeates every page, and every illustration.
If you loved Life as a Unicorn by Amrou Al-Kadhi, read:
My Life in Transition by Julia Kaye
This collection of slice-of-life comics about Julia Kaye’s life as a trans woman is hilarious and observant, sometimes silly and sometimes serious. Kaye captures so many ordinary moments so perfectly, and she gives equal weight to moments of struggle and heartache and moments of queer and trans joy. Like Life as a Unicorn, this is a book that doesn’t always take itself too seriously, but also doesn’t shy away from the hardest parts of life as a trans or nonbinary person.
If you loved The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers, read:
On a Sunbeam by Tillie Walden
Becky Chambers is one of the reigning queens of found family in space — and so is Tillie Walden. Mia is determined to find her first love, a woman she knew at boarding school, and so she joins the crew of a spaceship that travels the galaxy, renovating old, deserted buildings on distant planets. On the spaceship, she finds something she didn’t know she was looking for: queer family.
If you loved A Lesson in Vengeance by Victoria Lee, read:
The Low, Low Woods by Carmen Maria Machado and DaNi
A Lesson in Vengeance is mostly vibes: creepy and unsettling, with a dark undercurrent of mystery and violence running through the whole story. The Low, Low Woods is like that, too. Best friends El and Octavia set out to discover why they suddenly have no memory of a whole afternoon they spent at the movies, and discover the terrifying secret of their hometown.
If you loved When the Moon Was Ours by Anna-Marie McLemore, read:
The Magic Fish by Trung Le Nguyen
Anna-Marie McLemore weaves stories like no other writer I know. When the Moon Was Ours is a lush, lyrical novel about stories: the stories we tell about ourselves, the stories other people tell about us, the stories we grow up with, and the stories we create. The Magic Fish is also about the power of stories. Tien is a Vietnamese boy who doesn’t know how to tell his parents that he’s gay. So he uses a language that they all understand intimately: fairy tales. The book has a magical, otherworldly feel, but it’s deeply grounded in the contemporary experiences of Tien and his immigrant family.