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11 Queer Romance + YA Comfort Reads I Revisit on Bad Days

Reading has always been one of my favorite activities. As a kid, I would curl up just about anywhere and read. There used to be books stashed all over our house: between the mattress and the box spring, underneath the radiator. Even though there was no shortage of books at my disposal, I always returned to my favorites. To this day, I can’t tell you how many times I read Matilda or The Princess Diaries. Now that I’m older, my TBR is always a mile long, so I don’t reread books as often as I did as a kid, but when I find myself needing comfort from the atrocities of being an adult, these are the books I usually turn to.


Tell Me How You Really Feel by Aminah Mae Safi

Tell Me How You Really Feel by Aminah Mae Safi

I have read this book at least three times, if not more. Whenever I’m in a reading (or writing) slump, I return to this book. Safi masters both the art of tension and crafting a delicious slow burn romance. This is the book that taught me how utterly satisfying an enemies-to-lovers story can be. Sana is the epitome of the perfect cheerleader, and Rachel is the director with a chip on her shoulder. When they’re forced to work together, they realize that there’s always something else beneath the surface.


Once & Future by A.R. Capetta and Cory McCarthy

Once & Future by AR Capetta

I am not a fantasy reader, but this fantasy was so wonderful and so unbelievably queer. It’s a futuristic retelling of King Arthur, but there’s one notable difference: Young Arthur is now a teenage girl named Ari. And the wise wizard Merlin is a bumbling teenage boy. Throw in a capitalist corporation running the government, queer knights of the roundtable, and sizzling tension between Ari and Guinevere, and I was hooked.


Once Upon a Princess by Claire Lydon and Harper Bliss

Once Upon a Princess by Clare Lydon and Harper Bliss

This was the first sapphic romance I ever read, and it has always maintained a special place in my heart. I love the “secret royal falls in love with a commoner” trope, probably because I spent years of my life hoping I would marry a royal. When princess Olivia decides to escape her royal life in London for the quiet in Cornwall, she isn’t expecting to meet Rosie, a struggling cafe owner. Can their love overcome the challenge of duty?


Her Royal Highness by Rachel Hawkins

Her Royal Highness by Rachel Hawkins

I love an enemies-to-lovers romance, and this one is so much fun that it quickly became a favorite. Millie Quint is from Texas, and after her best friend (and ex-girlfriend?) Jude breaks her heart, she decides to take to the Scottish highlands to attend a boarding school that is going co-ed for the first time. She’s not expecting to be roommates with Flora, who is the literal princess of Scotland and a royal pain in the ass. Eventually, Millie finds herself in a situationship with Flora, but will it be different this time? Some things are worth fighting for.


Honor Girl by Maggie Thrash

Honor Girl by Maggie Thrash

In this graphic memoir, 15-year-old Maggie spends the summer as she always does, at Camp Bellflower for girls. But this summer is different. Not only does she find herself becoming an expert at the rifle range, but there’s an older female counselor named Erin who awakens something in Maggie that she’s not necessarily ready for.


Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston

the queer comfort read Red White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston

It feels like a cliché to include this book, because literally everyone loves it. There’s a movie adaptation that is so perfect. I will say, I read this book aloud to my fiancée when we first started dating, and it made her fall in love with me. Make of that what you will.


You Should See Me in a Crown by Leah Johnson

You Should See Me in a Crown by Leah Johnson

This book is truly just a joy to read, and turned me into an instant Leah Johnson stan. It was the only book I read during lockdown — it took me months, but I did it. Liz Lighty needs $10,000 to pay for college, and instead of burdening her family with the responsibility, she decides to run for prom queen to win the scholarship that is exactly $10,000. The only thing is, she doesn’t expect to fall in love with her competition.


Fresh by Margot Wood

Fresh by Margot Wood

New Adult is a genre that is woefully underdeveloped, but this book perfectly straddles the line of Young Adult and New Adult. Elliot is a college freshman who thinks more about partying and hooking up than she does about her schoolwork. And hook up she does. Elliot is a pansexual queen, but her best relationship is the love/hate one she has with her RA Rose. (I told y’all, I love an enemies-to-lovers story!) This is an adaptation of Jane Austen’s Emma and has a cool use of footnotes due to Elliot’s ADHD.


Delilah Green Doesn’t Care by Ashley Herring Blake

Delilah Green Doesn't Care by Ashley Herring Blake

Look, I would die for the ladies of Bright Falls okay? But the first book in the series definitely holds the tightest grip on my heart. It’s probably because of how much I related to Claire, the bisexual single mom who has kept a tight lock on her heart. But then brooding sexy Delilah Green shows up and throws her life into a tailspin.


Leah on the Offbeat by Becky Albertalli

Leah on the Offbeat by Becky Albertalli

I love the Creekwood kids, and after I read Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, Leah was absolutely my favorite. Giving her her own book was a brilliant decision, and I devoured it pretty quickly. It’s senior year, and things between her super tight friend group are starting to change, which always happens senior year. Leah doesn’t know if things will ever be the same, especially after she realizes that her feelings for one of her best friends are starting to change.


She Gets the Girl by Rachael Lippincott and Alyson Derrick

the queer comfort read She Gets the Girl by Rachael Lippincott and Alyson Derrick

This is a recent favorite that will absolutely be a book I return to because I loved it so much. Written by actual wives in a dual POV, Alex is a brash, chaotic flirt, and Molly is the exact opposite. When Alex agrees to help Molly land the girl of her dreams in an attempt to prove that she’s not selfish to her ex (which hopefully won’t be permanent), both girls get more than they bargained for.


What are the queer comfort reads you return to over and over?

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Sa'iyda Shabazz

Sa'iyda is a writer and mom who lives in LA with her partner, son and 3 adorable, albeit very extra animals. She has yet to meet a chocolate chip cookie she doesn't like, spends her free time (lol) reading as many queer romances as she can, and has spent the better part of her life obsessed with late 90s pop culture.

Sa'iyda has written 102 articles for us.

10 Comments

  1. so many good recs here (and you should see me in a crown 100% on my list too)
    restraining myself to just a few more –

    – i’ll be the one by lyla lee
    – loveless by alice oseman
    – juliet takes a breath by gabby rivera (this book has my whole heart forever)
    – a psalm for the wild-built by becky chambers
    – the phoebe and her unicorn series by dana simpson (not overtly queer, but simpson is a trans artist and this all-ages comic is as smart and funny and heartfelt as calvin and hobbes, but the main character is less of a jerk)
    – anything by samantha irby

  2. What timing! life has been hard and reading fluffy lil gay books has been the only thing I can handle.

    I literally read Red, White, and Royal Blue TWICE this week. I don’t know why. It’s like a security blanket. Or a warm cup of tea. Or something. don’t ask

    When I’m less in a slump and can actually read new-to-me things rather than re-read old favorites, I’ve also liked
    Imogen, Obviously
    You Don’t Have a Shot
    The Lesbiana’s Guide to Catholic School

    Not sure if You Should See Me in a Crown is totally feel good, but I do desperately want to stock it in the waiting room of our hematology/sickle cell clinic.

  3. Awesome!

    Others that haven’t been mentioned in the comments.

    Few Young Adult that I recommend.

    ‘Margo Zimmerman Gets the Girl’ by Brianna R. Shrum

    ‘The Henna Wars’ by Adiba Jaigirdar

    The Falling in Love Montage by Ciara Smyth

    Some Adult

    Satisfaction Guaranteed by Karelia Stetz-Waters

    One Weekend in Aspen by Jaime Clevenger

    No Strings by Lucy Bexley

    Sprinkled in the Stars by Violet Morley

    Camp Lost and Found by Georgia Beers

    Finding Jessica Lambert by Clare Ashton

  4. I love specific lists like this! I’ve read maybe 1/3 of your list – and this may prompt me to actually read Tell Me How You Really Feel by Aminah Mae Safi – it’s been on my TBR for ages.

    I’ve recently realized that I don’t reread the way I used to. I used to have quite a few comfort reread books that I cycled through regularly but that was at least 10 years ago.

    That said, according to my StoryGraph stats, I’ve been re-reading 3 books per year for the last 3 years.

    Favorite recent rereads:

    Take a Hint, Dani Brown (The Brown Sisters #2) by Talia Hibbert – bi m/f romance. The other books in the series are straight romances but this one is standalone and awesome.

    Cat Sebastian! She writes queer historical romance set in 20th C America and 19th C Regency England and they are all delightful. I will probably re-read most of them eventuall. I re-read her Turner Series (m/m Regency romances) last year and it really was a balm.
    And I re-read her novella, Tommy Cabot Was Here – Friends to lovers / 2nd chance romance set in 1959 in an elite New England boarding school. It’s kind of like if the boys in A Separate Peace had acted on all of that UST in school and it had ended kind of badly between them (but with both of them alive! and with their lives not ruined or anything). And then they reunited 15 years later as adults – with one of them a teacher at the school and the other the father of one of his students.

    I own a few books that I’ve purchased after reading the library book, just so that I can re-read them (although I haven’t actually re-read them yet):

    Kiss Her Once For Me by Alison Cochran – Sapphic holiday romance

    This is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone – Sapphic time travel, enemies to lovers ssf between two post human beings

    The Unbalancing by R.B. Lemberg – queer high fantasy Sapphic romance

  5. Good list! Some of the books named are on my Kindle and I never quite manage to delete them when I need space – I know I’m going to comfort read a chapter or two from them again at some point.

    Two more books from the “never quite manage to delete” category:

    “One Day You’ll Leave Me” by Debra Flores: Hard to describe this one, but it’s a wonderfully strange and beautiful story. I’ve gone back to this book a number of times.

    “When You Least Expect It” by Haley Cass: One of the slowest of the slow burn romances I’ve read. Plus a cute kid.

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