Looking for your next audiobook to listen to? We’ve got the 20 best LGBTQIA+ audiobooks in all genres picked out for you below. No matter if you’re in the mood for a cozy mystery or touching memoir, there’s a book on this list for you.
LGBTQIA+ literature has exploded across all genres in the last decade or so, and this publishing boom has seen more queer and trans authors nominated for major literary awards as well. It hasn’t been all sunshine and — pardon the pun — rainbows, however. Efforts to ban books increased wildly as of late; 1,573 books were challenged in U.S. schools and libraries last year — more than were challenged in the previous three years combined — and fully half of the recently most challenged books were targeted explicitly for their LGBTQIA+ content.
Queerphobic attacks extended to individual authors, as well. After she became the first trans woman to be nominated for the Women’s Prize for Fiction, Detransition, Baby author Torrey Peters found herself targeted by transphobic activists who misgendered her and called her nomination “an insult” to women writers.
Now, more than ever, it’s important to support LGBTQIA+ authors and their books. Do what’s right — and have a whole lot of fun — by checking out the titles below.
20 Best LGBTQIA+ Audiobooks in All Genres
Legends and Lattes is a cozy fantasy romance centered on an orc adventurer who retires from the hero’s life to open the very first coffee shop in the cosmopolitan city of Thune. Unfortunately for Viv, no one in Thune has ever heard of coffee before. With some help from her new employees — a handy hob carpenter named Cal and the breathtakingly beautiful Tandri — Viv manages to turn her business into one of Thune’s hottest attractions. But can her newfound fame and low-stakes glory weather the jealousy of a former comrade?
Black on Black: On Our Resilience and Brilliance in America by Daniel Black, read by JD Jackson (Essay Collection)
From the author of Perfect Peace and Don’t Cry for Me comes Black on Black, a collection of essays that centers on the experiences of queer Black men in America. Opening with a powerful indictment of the human condition in “Why I Write,” this collection is one of 2023’s most anticipated titles and a must-read for anyone looking to explore the wealth of queer nonfiction that often goes overlooked.
Lark and Kasim Start a Revolution by Kacen Callender, read by Qamar Yochanan (Coming-of-Age)
Kacen Callender’s Lark and Kasim Start a Revolution follows two teens whose flagging friendship is tested further by a social media hiccup. Lark is an aspiring author looking to build their social media following because they — erroneously — believe that is the only way for them to get a book deal. When their ex-BFF, Kasim, accidentally posts a viral confession of love to Lark’s Twitter account, Lark takes credit for the mistake, which gives them the opportunity to get cozy with their crush. Soon, Lark and Kasim’s friendship starts to look like it’s on the road to repair — even as they buckle beneath the pressures of social media fame.
The Secret Lives of Country Gentlemen by KJ Charles, read by Martyn Swain (Historical Romance)
A young baronet who has just inherited his father’s estate crosses paths with the rogue he once loved, in The Secret Lives of Country Gentlemen. Gareth is out of his element. He’s spent his whole life feeling disconnected from the people around him, and settling into his late father’s house at Romney Marsh hasn’t changed that. Until Joss Doomsday swoops back into his life, that is.
Longlisted for the National Book Award, Chen Chen’s When I Grow Up I Want to Be a List of Further Possibilities explores place, body, and belonging through a queer Asian American immigrant lens. This poetry collection revels in the raw place where the needs of childhood converge and conflict with the desires of adulthood.
Scorched Grace by Margot Douaihy, read by Mara Wilson (Thriller)
Margot Douaihy’s Scorched Grace centers on Sister Holiday, a lesbian punk rocker turned tattooed nun, who must investigate a string of arson cases targeting the Catholic school where she teaches music. Local law enforcement has begun to drag its feet despite the casualties, which means it’s up to this newly minted Sister to crack the case … even if that means pointing a finger at one of the three other members in her order.
Dead Collections by Isaac Fellman, read by Dani Martineck (Romance)
A trans vampire embarks on a once-in-a-lifetime romance with the widow of one of his favorite writers, in Dead Collections. Working as an archivist with a basement office is perfect for Sol, whose highly stigmatized illness makes him allergic to sunlight. He’s used to being separated from much of the outside world, and he’s not quite sure what to do when Elsie comes storming into his life. Her late wife was a TV writer whom Sol adored, and she’s come to donate her papers to the archive. But can bonding over one’s recently deceased spouse form a strong foundation for romance?
Hijab Butch Blues by Lamya H, read by Ashraf Shirazi (Memoir)
In this heartfelt memoir, Southeast Asian Muslim Lamya H recounts her middle- and high-school years in a “rich Arab country” in the Middle East. When an innocent crush on a teacher reveals that she likes girls, Lamya works extra hard to conceal her attractions. Quranic study offers some hope — particularly the story of Maryam, whose immaculate conception might be read as a revelation of queerness. Lamya finds community when she travels to the United States to attend college, but soon finds herself facing familiar forms of discrimination, in Hijab Butch Blues.
God’s Children Are Little Broken Things by Arinze Ifeakandu, read by Mirron Willis (Short-Story Collection)
The stories in this 2022 collection revolve around queer life in modern-day Nigeria. In God’s Children Are Little Broken Things, Kirkus Prize finalist Arinze Ifeakandu explores the joys, heartbreaks, and terrors of short-term flings and lengthy engagements, all set against the backdrop of a bitterly queerphobic world.
Damien Lewis profiles Josephine Baker in Agent Josephine, an all-new biography of the glamorous dancer and resistance fighter. Her talents made her famous across Europe, but she — like all other Jewish entertainers and entertainers of color — was banned from performing in German-occupied France. By that time, Baker was already working as an Allied spy. As France fell to Nazi occupation and collaboration, she became a Resistance fighter — one whose celebrity gave her access to the rich and powerful.
Jeremy Atherton Lin explores the history of gay nightlife and culture in this National Book Critics Circle Award winner. Gay Bar traces the history of gay social spaces, from clandestine rendezvous points in 18th-century Europe to New York City bathhouses at the height of the AIDS epidemic. Influenced by the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on queer culture, this is a must-read as the future of indoor entertainment remains uncertain.
Self-Made Boys: A Great Gatsby Remix by Anna-Marie McLemore, read by Avi Roque and Kyla Garcia (YA Historical)
Self-Made Boys re-envisions F. Scott Fitzgerald’s most famous novel through a queer, trans lens. Nick Caraveo has just arrived in New York, where he hopes to build a new life as a stealth man and make enough money to support his family back home in Minnesota. In the Big Apple, he finds his cousin engaged to a white man who is ostensibly unaware of her Latin heritage and living near Jay Gatsby, a mysterious — and mysteriously wealthy — trans man.
A Marvellous Light by Freya Marske, read by David Thorpe (Fantasy)
The first installment in Freya Marske’s Last Binding series, A Marvellous Light centers on Robin Blyth, a newly titled baronet who’s accidentally sent to a magical underworld on behalf of Parliament. There, he meets Edwin, a grumpy civil servant to magical society, who doesn’t seem particularly enthused by Robin’s presence. Since the baronet’s predecessor has mysteriously vanished, however, Robin is the only help Edwin has at hand — and Edwin may be the only person who can help him to understand the strange visions he’s begun to have.
The Mimicking of Known Successes by Malka Older, read by Lindsey Dorcus (Cozy Mystery)
Cozy mystery meets queer romance in The Mimicking of Known Successes. Long after Earth became uninhabitable, humanity settled in an intricate network of railway-connected colonies surrounding Jupiter. When a man disappears from one of the trains, a detective named Mossa must team up with one of his colleagues — her ex-girlfriend, Pleiti — to solve the mystery. There’s still chemistry between the two, but any potential rekindling of their relationship must first survive the strain of the investigation.
Vagabonds! by Eloghosa Osunde, read by Arit Okpo, Atta Otigba, Eloghosa Osunde, Ifeyinwa Unachukwu, Obongjayar, and Sheila Chukwulozie (Literary Fiction)
Another book centered on queer life in Nigeria, Eloghosa Osunde’s Vagabonds! serves up a fabulist vision of Lagos’ unseen alleyways and underworlds. Here, men lose their voices forever when they’re paid for silence, and women fly away to escape domestic violence. The heroes and victims here are the queer, trans, gender non-conforming, and otherwise marginalized people eking out their livings in the Nigerian metropolis.
The Verifiers by Jane Pek, read by Eunice Wong (Mystery)
The Verifiers follows Claudia, a private investigator whose job is to profile potential dating app matches for her clients. She’s good at what she does, but her reputation is about to take a ding. See, a client has just died in an apparent suicide, and Claudia will be forced to break protocol if she wants to get to the bottom of what really happened. Further complicating matters is Claudia’s own secrets — which largely revolve around her inability to please her conservative Chinese family.
Your Mind Is a Terrible Thing by Hailey Piper, read by Laura Lockwood (Science Fiction)
A communications specialist aboard a spaceship full of corpses finds themself alone and facing a horrifying threat in Your Mind Is a Terrible Thing. Hours after a romantic engagement with the ship’s psychologist, Alto awakes to an empty room and an emptier ship. The rest of the crew has disappeared, replaced by tentacled aliens that resemble massive brains — and can get inside Alto’s.
Solomon’s Crown by Natasha Siegel, read by Ben Allen and Steve West (Historical Fiction)
Natasha Siegel’s Solomon’s Crown sheds some light on the unconventional relationship between King Philip II of France and Richard the Lionheart. Philip’s predecessor ceded French land to England. Determined to reclaim what is rightfully his, the newly crowned king makes an unlikely alliance with Henry’s son, the handsome Richard. But when his older brother dies unexpectedly, Richard finds himself poised to take the throne — and unsure of what the future may hold for his budding relationship with Philip.
Chlorine by Jade Song, read by Catherine Ho and Imani Parks (Horror)
A coming-of-age tale of mermaids and body horror, Chlorine is a profoundly unsettling tale with a queer girl’s coming-of-age at its center. Ren Yu has always felt a strong connection to the deep. As a result, she pushes her body to its limits after she joins the high school swim team, determined to be the very best. Pressure mounts as Ren and her teammates develop psychological scars, their swim coach begins to exhibit inappropriate behavior, and Ren’s parents’ marriage founders — all culminating in a shocking, horror-movie-worthy twist.
As You Walk On By by Julian Winters, read by André Santana (YA Contemporary)
A disastrous promposal gives way to a night of confessions and connection in this YA novel from the author of Running with Lions. A 17-year-old student at a Louisville magnet school, Theo hasn’t had it as easy as some of his classmates. His dad’s trying hard to be a good single parent, and his expectations for Theo drive the teen to perform at the top of his academic and athletic potential — occasionally to his social detriment. After Theo embarrasses himself at a party, what started as a seemingly innocent dare begins to look malicious around the edges, and he must reconsider his relationships with several of his closest friends, in As You Walk On By.
We hope these books have inspired you to explore the full breadth of LGBTQIA+ literature.
Find answers to your biggest questions about audiobooks below.
Are audiobooks better or worse than reading?
The simple answer to this question is yes.
Every reader is different, meaning that, where some people learn better by listening to an audiobook or lecture, others prefer reading books and papers, taking notes, or getting their hands dirty with a physical project. Readers who are blind or have low vision may prefer audiobooks to Braille texts, which can be cumbersome to travel with and difficult to obtain. Those who are d/Deaf or have hearing loss, meanwhile, may find audiobooks to be completely inaccessible.
In addition, research has shown little difference between e-book readers and audiobook listeners with regard to information retention. Bloomsburg University’s Beth Rogowsky, who co-authored a 2016 study on learning and modality, told Time in 2018 that she and her colleagues “found no significant differences in comprehension between reading, listening, or reading and listening simultaneously.”
That’s not to say that reading should always be viewed through the lens of study, however. Thinking of reading a text as being meaningful only if some piece of information has been retained from it is problematic, at best, as WIRED advice columnist Meghan O’Gieblyn points out. O’Gieblyn writes that “[T]he obsession with retention assumes that the purpose of reading is to absorb knowledge or nuggets of trivia that one can use to demonstrate cultural literacy or being ‘well read.’ What all of this obscures is the possibility that books might be a source of intrinsic pleasure, an end in themselves.”
So trust us when we say that, no matter how you choose to consume your books, you can disregard the naysayers who think it’s their way or the highway.
Is it considered reading when you listen to an audiobook?
Yes! Research has found few differences in how our brains process information while reading vs. listening. At the end of the day, you’re still enjoying a book, and that’s called reading, no matter how you slice it.
Is it faster to read or listen to a book?
The answer to this question, again, varies from person to person. Some people are just naturally fast readers; others have trained themselves to be so.
Speed-reader or not, you may be able to read a book faster than you can listen to it if you use Kindle’s Word Runner function. This feature displays one word at a time on the screen, allowing you to keep your eyes still while the book plays out in front of you at a variable speed of 50 to 900 words per minute.
Of course, audiobooks also come with speed controls. Audible users can set their audiobook narration anywhere between one-half and three-and-a-half times the normal speed, in 10% increments. Libby’s playback speed is finer-grained, with 5% increments between 60–300%. If your brain processes audio faster than visual text, audiobooks may be the better option for you.
Is it good to listen to audiobooks while sleeping?
According to Sleep Advisor, “Audiobooks could help wean sleepers off of blue light disturbances like social media, TV, or other sleep-zapping mediums.” There are a few downsides, particularly for light sleepers, but any potential negative side effects appear to be pretty rare overall.
Can you actually learn a language while sleeping?
We’ve all seen the recorded books that promise to teach you a second — or third, or fourth — language while you sleep, but is that actually possible? We know that students tend to perform better on tests when they study before bed, but learning an entirely new language would almost certainly be impossible — at least for those who couldn’t pay for specialized treatment.
A recent peer-reviewed study published in Current Biology found that participants could form associations between made-up words and real words in their sleep. This was the case only if the recordings aligned with the peaks of participants’ slow-wave sleep periods, however. Since those peaks only last for approximately 500 milliseconds each, the timing for hypnopedia, a.k.a. sleep-learning, must be personalized and exact — a tall order for a program looking to produce results for the masses.