Discussion: Goodreads Awards 2020 & LGBT Books

We’re turning our awards into a yearly thing! Because really, if we spend all day every day promoting LGBT books, we should be able to celebrate them with awards, too! And what’s a better time to do it than the same as Goodreads’ Choice Awards.

The rules for the Goodreads’ Choice Awards stay the same: 20 categories and 15 books nominated in each in the first round. There are of course a few books nominated in more than one category, but for ease of conversation let’s say it’s 300 books.

Now. We know about a lot of LGBT books, but we’re aware it’s not possible we know about all of them that came out this year. Even with that in mind, and even only counting books that came out between January and October, we know about 1148. Just so you have some kind of frame of mind here.

Below you will find LGBT books nominated in each category. This year there is only one category without any LGBT nominees and that is Science & Technology, so frankly, that’s fair enough. Everything else? Well.

And of course! We prepared our own Alternative Choice Awards, where all the nominated books are LGBT. Below you have a link to cast your vote! Yes, you can write in your choices as well.

Vote in our LGBT Alternative Choice Awards!


1. Fiction

A Burning by Megha Majumdar (trans mc)
Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi (bi mc)
Anxious People by Fredrik Backman (wlw mc)


2. Mystery & Thriller

One by One by Ruth Ware (gay character)


3. Historical Fiction

The Pull of the Stars by Emma Donoghue (lesbian mc)
The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett (trans li)


4. Fantasy

The Empress of Salt and Fortune by Nghi Vo (nonbinary mc, wlw relationship)
The Bone Shard Daughter by Andrea Stewart (wlw relationship)
The City We Became by N. K. Jemisin (lesbian & trans characters)
The Empire of Gold by S. A. Chakraborty (bi character, gay character)
The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V. E. Schwab (pan mc)

The Once and Future Witches by Alix E. Harrow (lesbian mc)
The House on the Cerulean Sea by T. J. Klune (gay mc)
Black Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse (bi mc)


5. Romance

Something to Talk About by Meryl Wilsner (bi mc, lesbian mc)
Take a Hint, Dani Brown by Talia Hibbert (bi mc, m/f relationship)
Boyfriend Material by Alexis Hall (gay mc & li, gay & lesbian characters)


6. Science Fiction

Harrow the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir (lesbian mcs)
Hench by Natalie Zina Walschots (wlw mc)
The Space Between Worlds by Micaiah Johnson (bi mc, lesbian li)
Network Effect by Martha Wells (agender mc)
The Hidden Girl and Other Stories by Ken Liu (lgbt characters)

The Last Emperox by John Scalzi (bi mc)
The Vanishing Birds by Simon Jimenez (lesbian mc)


7. Horror

Plain Bad Heroines by Emily M. Danforth (lesbian mcs)
The Bright Lands by John Fram (gay mc, gay side characters)
The Hollow Places by T. Kingfisher (gay character)


8. Humour

Trixie and Katya’s Guide to Modern Womanhood by Trixie Mattel, Katya Zamolodchikova (drag queens; gay author)
Wow, No Thank You. by Samantha Irby (wlw author)
Born to be Public by Greg Mania (gay author)


9. Nonfiction

Here For It by R. Eric Thomas (gay author)


10. Memoir & Autobiography

All Boys Aren’t Blue by George M. Johnson (gay author)
Untamed by Glennon Doyle (wlw author)


11. History & Biography

Begin Again: James Baldwin’s America and Its Urgent Lessons for Our Own by Eddie S. Glaude Jr.


13. Food & Cookbooks

Ottolenghi Flavor by Yotam Ottolenghi (mlm author)


14. Graphic Novels & Comics

Heartstopper, Vol. 3 by Alice Oseman (gay mc, bi mc)
The Fire Never Goes Out by Noelle Stevenson (memoir; wlw author)
The Times I Knew I Was Gay by Eleanor Crewes (memoir; wlw author)
Check Please, Vol. 2 by Ngozi Ukazu (gay mcs)
Harleen by Stjepan Šejić (canonically wlw mc)
The Low Low Woods by Carmen Maria Machado & DaNi (wlw mcs)


15. Poetry

Postcolonial Love Poem by Natalie Diaz (wlw author)
Homie by Danez Smith (mlm author)


16. Debut Novel

The Bone Shard Daughter by Andrea Stewart (wlw relationship)
Real Life by Brandon Taylor (gay mc)
Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas (gay trans mc, gay li)
A Burning by Megha Majumdar (trans mc)
How Much of These Hills Is Gold by C Pam Zhang (trans mc)


17. Young Adult Fiction

The Gravity of Us by Phil Stamper (mlm mc, gay li)
Felix Ever After by Kacen Callender (trans mlm demiboy mc, gay lis)
Only Mostly Devastated by Sophie Gonzales (gay mc, bi li)
The Henna Wars by Adiba Jaigirdar (lesbian mc, bi li)
You Should See Me in a Crown by Leah Johnson (bi mc, wlw li)
Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo (lesbian mc, wlw li)


18. Young Adult Fantasy & Science Fiction

Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas (gay trans mc, gay li)
Legendborn by Tracy Deonn (bi li, gay, lesbian & nonbinary characters)
Girl, Serpent, Thorn by Melissa Bashardoust (bi mc, wlw li)
Cinderella is Dead by Kalynn Bayron (lesbian mc & li)
These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong (mlm mcs, trans mc)
Chain of Gold by Cassandra Clare (wlw mc, bi mc, mlm characters)


19. Middle Grade & Children’s

The Tower of Nero by Rick Riordan (bi mc, mlm & wlw characters)
King and the Dragonflies by Kacen Callender (gay mc)
Aru Shah and the Tree of Wishes by Roshani Chokshi (bi character)
Hollowpox: The Hunt for Morrigan Crow by Jessica Townsend (wlw relationship)
One True King by Soman Chainani (bi character)
The List of Things That Will Not Change by Rebecca Stead (mlm parent)


20. Picture Books

Julián at the Wedding by Jessica Love (gnc mc, wlw characters)


There are 67 LGBT books nominated this year for Goodreads Choice Awards. (Actually even 64 since three books are nominated twice. But let’s go with the bigger number, since a nomination is a book included; it counts.) That’s 22% of the total. Not even 1/3. It’s a slightly better score than last year’s, when it was 51 books but…

What are the categories with the most LGBT books and are they different than last year? This time the winners are: fantasy (8 books), science-fiction (7 books), and 4 categories with six books each: graphic novels & comics, YA fiction, YA fantasy & science-fiction, and middle grade & children’s.

Those are not the same categories that were the most popular last year. In 2019 YA fiction, YA fantasy & science-fiction, and middle grade & children’s all had less nominees (2, 4, and 3 accordingly). Funnily, graphic novels & comics had the exact same number, and the difference in fantasy and science-fiction was minimal (2 more fantasy books this year and 1 less sci-fi book).

So are there categories where last year we actually had more LGBT nominees than this year? Apart from science-fiction? Yes. Memoirs & autobiographies with 6 titles last year and barely 2 this year, and poetry with one less title this year.

The biggest growth clearly happened in the YA and middle grade section. We went from 9 books in those three categories to 18. That’s twice as many! Sounds great, but if you take a look at the compilation posts I’ve made, we had way over a 150 LGBT YA books coming out this year. (January-June & July-December releases.) And that’s not even counting middle grade novels…

I’m not trying to say only LGBT books should be nominated in Goodreads’ Choice Awards. Of course not! But I am saying that the choices we got there are a tiny piece of what we could have gotten.

And it’s another year where there is a bunch of LGBT books nominated in fantasy & sci-fi section, but in categories such as romance, historical fiction, mystery etc. there are barely one or two in each. It almost feels like they’re saying it’s fine for LGBT characters to exist in made-up worlds but not in the real one.

Anyway, I might be complaining, but I really am glad we got more LGBT nominees this year. I just hope it stays a trend and in 2021 it’s gonna be more like a quarter (or more?) books nominated.

In any case, read more LGBT books, vote in our Alternative Choice Awards, check out last year’s post for detailed info, and if you enjoyed this post, please consider supporting me on ko-fi.


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