YA Bookshelf

The following is a list of YA (young adult) books that have LGBTQIA+ characters or themes:


Latin Novellas:

  • Ash, Rachel. Camilla. [Topic: a Latin novella about the asexual Amazon Camilla, inspired by Vergil's Aeneid] 
  • Belzer-Carroll, Arianne and Glasscho, Crispa. Carmen Megilli[Topic: a Latin novella about the coming-of-age-story of the trans man Megillus, inspired by the character in Lucian's works]
  • Cunning, Rachel Beth. Virgo Ardens. [Topic: a Latin novella about the coming-of-age story of the W/W couple Iphis & Ianthe, inspired by Ovid's myth]

EMERGING READERS:

  • Bateman, Teresa. Damon, Pythias, and the Test of Friendship. [Topic: a children's book about the strong bond between Damon and Pythias]
  • Hahn, Rebecca. The Shadow Behind the Stars [Topic: Chloe, goddess of fate, learns about love, empathy, and humanity when she meets a woman who survived a terrible ordeal. TRIGGER WARNING: themes of war and rape, but described in a level appropriate manner]
  • Lawrence, Caroline. The Night Raid [Topic: M/M: Nisus & Euryalus]
  • Lawrence, Caroline. Queen of the Silver Arrow [Topic: W/W: Camilla & Acca]
  • Leonard, Anya. Sappho: The Lost Poetess. [Topic: A Children's book on the life of the love poet Sappho]
  • Parmar, Shivani. Achilles & Patroclus: A Moment of Peace in a Lifetime of War. [Topic: M/M: Achilles and Patroclus. CONTENT WARNING: the "F word" is used once in dialogue on p. 21; otherwise suitable language for middle / high school audience]
  • Riordan, Rick. The Blood of Olympus: Heroes of Olympus #5 [Topic: one of the supporting characters is gay]
  • Riordan, Rick. The Trials of Apollo: The Hidden Oracle. [Topic: Apollo is pansexual, in love with both Hyacinthus and Daphne; his sister is asexual; his son is gay. TRIGGER WARNING: Daphne, typically portrayed as asexual, is portrayed as a heterosexual in this story]
  • Riordan, Rick. The Trials of Apollo: The Dark Prophecy. [Topic: Apollo is pansexual; his sister is asexual; the antagonist is gay; secondary characters include a lesbian couple]
  • Riordan, Rick. The Trials of Apollo: The Burning Maze. [Topic: Apollo is pansexual; his son is gay; multiple LGBTQIA+ secondary characters]
  • Riordan, Rick. The Trials of Apollo: The Tyrant's Tomb. [Topic: Apollo is pansexual; multiple LGBTQIA+ secondary characters]
  • Riordan, Rick. The Trials of Apollo: The Tower of Nero. [Topic: Apollo is pansexual; his son is gay].
  • Skelley, Billie Holladay. Hypatia: Ancient Alexandria's Female Scholar. [Topic: a biography of the famous asexual scholar Hypatia] 
  • Sutcliff, Rosemary. The Eagle of the Ninth. [Topic: M/M: asexual bond of love between protagonist and freedman Esca]
  • Thompson, Ryan. Achilles: Making of a Hero. [Topic: M/M: Achilles and Patroclus]


ADVANCED READERS:


  • Adderley, Michael. Certamen: A Novel. [Topic: Excellent representation of LGBTQIA+ characters and allies in this novel. Many of the main characters are LGBTQIA+, including a pansexual person of color, an openly gay young man, and a teenager questioning his own sexuality.]
  • Alvear Shecter, Vicky. Curses and Smoke: A Novel of Pompeii. [Topic: role of women in ancient Rome; an unrequited M/M love triangle]
  • Belzer-Carroll, Arianne and Glasscho, Crispa. Carmen Megilli. [Topic: a Latin novella about the coming-of-age-story of the trans man Megillus, inspired by the character in Lucian's works]
  • Binyon, Laurence. Penthesilea. [Topic: a modern retelling of the events of Quintus Smyrnaeus' Posthomerica Book I.  It explores the relationship between Penthesilea and Andromache, as well as the role of women in the ancient world] 
  • Calimach, Andrew. Lovers' Legends: The Gay Greek Myths. [Topic: M/M, a collection of primary sources and retellings of Greek myths that have same sex love stories]
  • Coombe, Clare. Camilla. [Topic: W/W retelling of Vergil's Aeneid from the perspective of Camilla's lover Acca. An excellent novel, but the reader should be aware that there are some steamy-yet-not-explicit romance scenes, and the "F   word" used four times]
  • Cunning, Rachel Beth. Virgo Ardens. [Topic: W/W tale of Iphis & Ianthe]
  • Diemer, S. E. The Dark Wife. [Topic: W/W: A retelling of the abduction of Persephone myth where Hades is a goddess. TRIGGER WARNING: this book deals with Zeus' numerous sexual assaults and the imbalance of power of women in the ancient world].
  • Donne, John. Sappho to Philaenis. [Topic: W/W: a poem in which the narrator Sappho yearns for her lover Philaenis. Contains some steamy imagery, but nothing explicit.] 
  • Dzielska, Maria. Hypatia of Alexandria. [Topic: a nonfiction book that explores primary sources of the asexual scholar Hypatia, as well as her portrayal in literature through the ages.]
  • Edwards, Samuel Achilles. Caeneus. [Topic: a screenplay about the myth of the trans warrior Caeneus; includes an M/M affair between him and Nestor, the gender fluid prophet Tiresias, as well as a W/W relationship between his sister Dotis and Medea. Tactfully yet beautifully deals with the trans experience, including complex relationships between a trans person and their family members, as well as juggling a blossoming relationship while navigating self-discovery. Love scenes include hand holding and kissing. Perfect for performance at the high-school level]
  • Euripides. Hippolytus. [Topic: Hippolytus is asexual] 
  • Euripides. Ion. [Topic: gender roles, double standards of sex and gender in the ancient world]
  • Frye, Ellen. The Other Sappho. [Topic: W/W, treatment of women in the ancient world: in going on a quest to visit the famous Sappho, the poet Lykainia finds herself and her own voice] 
  • Goodloe, Abbe Carter. Antinous: A Tragedy (1891). [Topic: the death of Antinous to court intrigue. A surprisingly progressive and empathetic take on the relationship between Hadrian and Antinous]
  • Graham, Jo. Stealing Fire. [Topic: M/M: former slave Lydias and eunuch Bagoas navigate the collapsing world of Alexander the Great's empire after the death of their leader. CONTENT WARNING: the "f   word" occurs several times throughout the book in dialog]
  • HD. Collected Poems of H.D. (1925). [Topic: poetry heavily influenced by Sappho]
  • HD. Hippolytus Temporizes and Ion. [Topic: translations and reinterpretations of two classic plays by the Greek tragedian Euripides, which deal with gender roles and sexuality]
  • HD. The Wise Sappho. [An essay about the writing and impact of Sappho]
  • Jenkins, K. Iphis and Ianthe. [Topic: a retelling of the myth of Iphis and Ianthe, where Iphis is an intersex child torn between fulfilling their love for Ianthe and obeying their parents' pressures on them to be a perfect "son"]
  • Johnson, Marguerite. Ancients in Action: Sappho. [Topic: a scholarly analysis of the life, poetry, and impact of the Greek poet Sappho. Although it deals with themes of Sappho's sexuality and sexuality in the ancient world, it does so in a scholarly manner. Written with a high school readability level.] 
  • LeGuin, Ursula K. Lavinia. [Topic: Role of Women in the Ancient World; Aeneas' son is gay]
  • Lyly, John. Galatea. [Topic: 16th century drama that retells the myth of Iphis & Ianthe]
  • Lynn, Hannah. Queens of Themiscyra. [Topic: a retelling of the sisters Hippolyte, Antiope, and Penthesilea. A great novel about Amazons, that portrays them as people without voyeurism or oversexualizing them. There are two relationships in the novel; the heterosexual relationship between Hippolyte and Theseus has a PG-13 rated heat level, and the lesbian relationship between Penthesilea and Cletes has a PG rated heat level.]
  • Pavese, Cesare. Dialogues with Leuco. [Topic: Modeled on Lucian's "Dialogues of the Gods," the author creates dialogues between two mythological figures to expound on life and love. "Sea Foam," a dialogue between the asexual nymph Britomartis and the poet Sappho, is an excellent supplemental story for a classroom discussion on the role of women in the ancient world. This book also covers mythological figures Hippolytus, Hyacinthus, and Tiresias.]
  • Portman, Bridgette Dutta. Caeneus and Poseidon. [Topic: a play about the trans warrior Caeneus and his transformation, which explores the treatment of trans people as well as gender roles in ancient Greek mythology. CONTENT WARNING: carefully and tactfully deals with themes of rape, trauma, and transphobia]
  • Pressfield, Steven. Last of the Amazons. [Topic: Gender Roles / Amazons; loving relationships between Amazons; one Amazon is asexual]
  • Renault, Mary. Fire From Heaven. [Topic: M/M: the first book in the Alexander the Great trilogy; this book explores Alexander the Great's first twenty years of life, including his relationship with Hephaestion. It covers some intense themes (child abuse, the brutality of war, etc.) but in a tactful, non-exploitative manner]
  • Renault, Mary. The Bull From the Sea. [Topic: M/M: Theseus & Pirithoos; Gender Roles: Amazons; Secondary characters are same-sex couple; Hippolytus (Theseus' son) is asexual; Akamas (Theseus' son) is gay]
  • Renault, Mary. The Last of the Wine. [Topic: M/M: the life of Alexias, a 5th century Athenian youth]
  • Roche, Paul (translator). The Love Songs of Sappho. [W/W: translation of Sappho and other archaic Greek fragments on love and women].
  • Schlitz, Laura Amy. Amber and Clay. [Topic: role of women and slavery in 5th century BCE Athens; theme of Plato's idea of soulmates as the main theme of the book; explores the relationship of Socrates and Alcibiades].
  • Smith, Ali. Girl Meets Boy. [Topic: a modern retelling of the myth of Iphis & Ianthe. It deals with difficult topics like gender inequality, homophobia, and sexual harassment in the workplace in a tactful manner.] 
  • Sueng, Siryn. Young King Arthur and the Round Table Knights. [Topic: M/M: a retelling of the King Arthur myth with Arthur having a crush on one of his knights]
  • Swinburne, Algernon Charles. Anactoria. [Topic: in this poem, Sappho processes her emotions while dealing with her lover Anactoria's infidelity]
  • Swinburne, Algernon Charles. Atalanta in Calydon. [Topic: asexual warrior Atalanta; the role of women and motherhood in the ancient world]
  • Tammi, Elizabeth. Outrun the Wind. [Topic: W/W retelling of the myth of Atalanta]
  • Tedesco, Mark. I am John, I am Paul: A Story of Two Soldiers in Ancient Rome. [Topic: John and Paul are asexual life partners living during the age of Constantine].
  • Toland, John. Hypatia, or The History of a Most Beautiful Most Vertuous, Most Learned, and Every Way Accomplish'd Lady; Who Was Torn to Pieces by the Clergy of Alexandria, to Gratify the Pride, Emulation and Cruelty of their Archbishop, Commonly but Undeservedly Styled St. Cyril. [Topic: an 18th century essay on the asexual scholar Hypatia]
  • Valleroy, T. R. Silent Knight. [Topic: M/M: set in Medieval France. A baker's son falls in love with a knight]
  • Yourcenar, Marguerite. Fires. [Topic: essays on the theme of love as a disease, with retellings of the myths of Phaedra/Hippolytus, Phaedo/Socrates, Achilles/Diadamia, Achilles/Patroclus, Sappho/Attis; etc. TRIGGER WARNING: the essay on Phaedo discusses, albeit tactfully, Phaedo's enslavement and subsequent sexual abuse] 
  • Yourcenar, Marguerite. Memoirs of Hadrian. [Topic: life of the Emperor Hadrian; relationship with Antinous].

AT THE DISCRETION OF TEACHER / GUARDIAN: 

***These books are valuable sources of discussion and analysis, but may contain foul language and / or explicit sex scenes. To be used in classrooms / school libraries at the discretion of administration / teacher / guardian***

* Beutner, Katherine. Alcestis. [Topic: Alcestis and Persephone become lovers; Alcestis' husband Admetus is a lover of Apollo; role of women in the ancient world. There are a couple of steamy-yet-not-explicit romance scenes that may not be suitable for a classroom setting].
* Carpenter, Edward. Iolaus: An Anthology of Friendship. [Topic: a collection of homoerotic quotes from diverse cultures and historical time periods under the guise of "friendship." Although this work does not have any explicit passages, there are a handful of references to the ancient Greek erastes / eromenos relationship, which may not be a suitable topic for the classroom].
* Graham, Jo. Black Ships. [Topic: a retelling of the Aeneid from the perspective of the Sibyl Gull. Discusses wartime rape, slavery, and toxic relationships in a frank but tactful manner; there is one steamy-yet-not-explicit romance scene that may not be suitable for the classroom setting, and the "F-word" used once in dialogue.]
* Justice, Faith. Sword of the Gladiatrix. [Topic: W/W a historical fiction novel about an African gladiatrix's love affair with a gladiatrix from Briton. Due to the frank language and some steamy love scenes, this may not be suitable for the classroom setting, but older readers may enjoy reading a book that portrays a BIPOC protagonist in a positive / non-voyeuristic / non-objectified / non-victimized way.]
* Krishna, Swapna and Northington, Jenn. Sword, Stone, Table. [Topic: an anthology of Arthurian lore reimagined with diverse characters. There are numerous stories with gay protagonists. Although this book in its entirety is not suitable for the classroom, many of the stories would make meaningful supplemental readings for a unit on King Arthur. CONTENT WARNING: there are a couple of steamy-yet-not-explicit romantic scenes that may not be suitable for a classroom setting; furthermore, there are numerous "F-word" expletives used throughout a few of the stories.]
* MacLaughlin, Nina. Wake, Siren: Ovid Resung. [Topic: trans characters Tiresias, Caeneus, and Iphis. As a modern retelling of Ovid's Metamorphoses in the perspective of each myth's victim, there are frequent and frank accounts of sexual assault. Although this book in its entirety is not suitable for the classroom, there are many individual myths that can be incorporated into high school curriculum for engaging classroom discussions on gender and sexuality in the ancient world].
Miller, Madeline. The Song of Achilles. [Topic: M/M: Patroclus & Achilles. This award-winning novel does a beautiful job bringing to life Patroclus' love for Achilles; however, it may not be suitable for the classroom due to a couple of explicit lovemaking scenes ]
* Rayor, Diane J. Sappho's Lyre: Archaic Lyric and Women Poets of Ancient Greece. [Topic: an excellent collection of translated poems of ancient women poets, including Sappho. It is a perfect resource for high-school age scholars seeking primary sources of women authors; the content is varied but classroom appropriate, with the sole exception of the Cologne Epode of Archilochus, which is explicitly erotic and may not be suitable for the classroom]
* Rebele-Henry, Brynne. Orpheus Girl. [Topic: a modern retelling of the Orpheus myth, this coming-of-age story involves the teenage lesbian protagonist taken against her will to a conversion therapy program. Due to the violent nature of the book, this may not be suitable for the classroom.]
* Renault, Mary. The Persian Boy. [Topic: the eunuch Bagoas' life and love affair with Alexander the Great. Beautifully written, but contains upsetting content (i.e., Bagoas' enslavement, castration, and being abused as a teenage sex worker). While the writing is not explicit or graphic, the topic is nevertheless disturbing and should only be read by an older reader ]
* Tarr, Judith. Lord of the Two Lands. [Topic: a historical fantasy about an Egyptian healer who accompanies Alexander the Great on his conquest of Persia and Egypt. In this novel, Alexander the Great is openly gay and the pressure to give up Hephaestion and marry / produce an heir is a major plot point of the novel. CONTENT WARNING: There is a steamy love scene between the protagonist and her husband that might not be suitable for the classroom]. 
* Tempest, Kae. Hold Your Own. [Topic: a volume of poetry exploring gender and sexuality through the myth of the gender-fluid prophet Tiresias. Although the entirety of the book may not be appropriate for the classroom due to the content of some poems (explicit language and sexual situations), the Tiresias cycle is a beautiful example of gender exploration and a perfect supplement for expanding the impact of Tiresias in Greco-Roman myth and culture]
* VanPatten, Bill. Seidon's Tale. [M/M: the god Poseidon recounts his life, including his love for Pelops. Although the dialog contains some expletives and frank discussion of sexual relationships, the themes of found family and the importance of interpersonal connections make this award-winning novel a beautiful and uplifting read]