Even if you’re not on board with committing to the exclusion of race-and/or-gender default-positioned writers, you can still commit to more diversity in your reading. I have only included books that I’ve read in this listing. Feel free to add your recommendations as well as weigh in on the ones given below. Please keep in mind that some of these authors may be problematic. Also, I might not be classifying some of them correctly because I don’t have all the racial or sexual identity information for all of them.
Non-Male Queer/LGBT Authors of Color
- The Stars Changeby Mary Ann Mohanraj
Delightfully sexy, Desi-centric, multi-layered, and well-written sci-fi novel. Plus, I can vouch for the author being a pretty cool person.
- Telepaths Don’t Need Safewords (The Kylaran Chronicles Book 1)by Cecelia Tan
A fun bit of BDSM erotica.
- I Can’t Think Straightby Shamim Sharif
The book and the movie about an Arab and a Desi girl falling for each other are both enjoyable if obnoxiously wealthy-centric in places.
- Made in India: Decolonizations, Queer Sexualities, Trans/national Projects (Comparative Feminist Studies)by Suparna Bhaskaran
Fascinating historical and contemporary account of queerness and trans issues on the Subcontinent.
- BITCHfest: Ten Years of Cultural Criticism from the Pages of Bitch Magazine
Many of Bitch Magazine’s writers are queer and/or people of color.
- The Mothers of Maya Diip by Suniti Namjoshi
This was the first real feminist novel I ever read as well as the first misandrist-dystopian one.
Non-Male Authors of Color
- Bad Feministby Roxane Gay
Excellent and timely work of non-fiction about the complexities of feminist identity, written in Gay’s typical accessible and intelligent style.
- Ms. Marvel Volume 1: No Normalby Sana Amanat, G. Willow Wilson, and Adrian Alphona
I initially subscribed to Kamala Khan’s story because I was worried it wouldn’t be profitable enough for Marvel to let it continue. My pessimism was misplaced. Everything about this comic is astoundingly well-done and the series has rocketed to incredible popularity on its merit and relatability. The creator, Sana Amanat, just got a promotion at Marvel because this was so successful. The writer, G. Willow Wilson, is a white convert to Islam and the artist, Adrian Alphona, is a man of color.
- Godless Americana: Race and Religious Rebels& Moral Combat: Black Atheists, Gender Politics, and the Values Warsby Sikivu Hutchinson
Both of these are must-reads for anyone concerned with the atheist movement and its intersection with racial justice.
- Hot & Heavy: Fierce Fat Girls on Life, Love & Fashionby Virgie Tovar
Virgie is a bad-ass. This anthology contains views from many perspectives: queer, self-accepting, struggling, body image issues, etc.
- Sexual Healing: A Novelby Jill Nelson
A very silly romp of a heterosexual-focused novel, but it’s fun.
- Bharati Mukherjee
Almost anything she’s written is interesting and compelling, although some of her novels get repetitive with their plot devices and storylines. I do advise content notices/trigger warnings all over the place because she writes a lot about sexual assault from a very heart-rendingly personal perspective.
- bell hooks
She is a(n unintentional) hoot on Twitter and is learning when it comes to trans issues, but her works are essential for anyone who cares about feminists of color and womanists.
- Fatima Mernissi
Her wit and non-fiction writing ability are both superb, and she has a lot of good things to say and teach about Moroccan women’s experiences.
- The Complete Persepolisby Marjane Satrapi
Autobiographical graphic novels are my weakness thanks to this series, which is about an Iranian woman’s life journey.
- Nervous Conditions by Tsitsi Dangarembga
One of the more memorable books I read in my African lit course. It’s a coming-of-age story about a young African girl.
- So Long a Letter
Another bit of African lit, this one styled as a letter between a woman and her best friend and dealing with issues like polygyny.
- It Does Not Die: A Romanceby Maitreyi Devi
A white man wrote a book exoticizing and fetishizing her teenage self through a disgusting “mysteries of the Orient” angle (even calling it “Bengal Nights), so she wrote the story from her own perspective and got it published. The lady is an inspiration to me.
- Their Eyes Were Watching Godby Zora Neale Hurston
It’s one of the few classic novels that I think is a classic for a reason. It’s concise and poetic with a compelling narrator.
- Soul Kissby Shay Youngblood
This was the first “dark” YA novel I read. It’s by and about a young woman of color. All the content notices/trigger warnings.
- Life Isn’t All Ha Ha Hee Heeby Meera Syal
Funny and touching story of friendship between British-Indian women.
- The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy
Roy is a class activist and rabble-rouser. This is the novel that led her to fame and with good reason.
Non-Male Queer/LGBT Authors
- Tales of the Pack Seriesby Allison Moon
Lesbian werewolf erotica. Need I say more?
- The Price of Saltby Patricia Highsmith
This is a lesbian pulp novel that is being made into a movie. It’s far less sordid than the term “pulp” would have you believe. I found it very realistic and touching.
- Rent Girlby Michelle Tea
Graphic novel account of being a lesbian sex worker with male clients.
- Excluded: Making Feminist and Queer Movements More Inclusive& Whipping Girl: A Transsexual Woman on Sexism and the Scapegoating of Femininity
by Julia Serano
If you need trans, feminism, and trans feminism 101, these are your books.
- Bending: Dirty Kinky Stories About Pain, Power, Religion, Unicorns, & Moreby Greta Christina
I wrote a bit of smut for this when it came out. I’ve since re-read the book at least 4 times. It’s good, it’s dirty, and it’s sexy.
- Fat: The Owner’s Manualby Ragen Chastain (also available for pay-what-you-can via her personal website)
An awesome introduction to body acceptance, fat acceptance, and Health at Every Size
- Bitches, Bimbos, and Ballbreakers: The Guerrilla Girls’ Illustrated Guide to Female Stereotypesby the Guerrilla Girls
GG’s feminism is very pop-culture riot-grrl style, and this book reflects that.
- Hanne Blank
I have adored every word she’s ever written. She is awesome at every topic she considers.
- Alison Bechdel
The Bechdel Test isn’t the only thing she’s done. Her graphic novel work is excellent.
- Am I Blue?: Coming Out from the Silence
This YA anthology was the first bit of queer reading I ever did. It shows its age but I think it’s still worth a look.
- Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistlestop Cafeby Fannie Flagg
The book is even gayer than the movie. Seriously.
- Indexingby Seanan McGuire
This is a great fantasy novel about a world where fairy tale tropes are real.
- The First Muslim: The Story of Muhammadby Lesley Hazleton
A good and fairly-balanced look at Muhammad’s life
- Howl’s Moving Castleby Diana Wynne Jones
The book is darker and less compassionate to Howl than the movie.
- Coming Clean: A Memoirby Kimberly Rae Miller
Compelling biographical work by the child of hoarders.
- X: The Erotic Treasuryedited by Susie Bright
Most of the stories in this are more disturbing than titillating. Seasoned Internet user that I am, I’m still haunted by one of them.
- The Good News Club: The Christian Right’s Stealth Assault on America’s Childrenby Katherine Stewart
If you want to be enraged about eroding church-state separation, this is for you.
- Marbles: Mania, Depression, Michelangelo, and Me: A Graphic Memoirby Ellen Forney
Excellent autobiographical graphic novel account of mental illness.
- Room: A Novelby Emma Donoghue
One of the few books I’ve read lately that I honestly couldn’t put down. Trigger warning/content notice.
- Abducted: How People Come to Believe They Were Kidnapped by Aliensby Susan A. Clancy
Clancy is personally a skeptic about alien abductions but she treats those who believe they do with respect and humanity. The book is a fascinating look at their perspectives.
- The Search for Philip K. Dickby Anne R. Dick
As much as I love his fiction, Dick was…. a dick, and this book is about why.
- An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madnessby Kay Redfield Jamison
Well-written autobiographical work on mental illness.
- The Sex Club (A Detective Jackson Mystery Book 1)by L. J. Sellers
This is a crime novel about an abortion clinic bombing. Much less salacious than the title would have you believe.
- Praise Jerusalem!: A Novelby Augusta Trobaugh
I like Southern novels about female friendships, and this one is funny and well-written.
- Witness for the Defense: The Accused, the Eyewitness and the Expert Who Puts Memory on Trialby Elizabeth Loftus
This book completely changed the way I think about memory and eyewitness testimony using science.
- Geek Love by Katherine Dunn
This novel is about a beyond fucked-up family of literal circus freaks.
- A Brother’s Priceby Wen Spencer
Another misandrist-dystopian sci-fi book. This one is set in a world where men are rare and so fetch a lot of money when sold.
- The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacksby Rebecca Skloot
If you care at all about science and ethics, read this. Eugenics is not some distant thing that only Nazis did or a long-ago thing in American history.
- Barbara Ehrenreich
She has written on a wide variety of topics and I’ve never read something by her that I didn’t like.
- This Common Secret: My Journey as an Abortion Doctorby Susan Wicklund & Alex Kesselheim
A personal account that serves as an important part of the contemporary American history of reproductive justice.
- Paradise Beneath Her Feet: How Women Are Transforming the Middle East by Isobel Coleman
Anyone who thinks that women are uniformly subjugated and aren’t working for their rights in the Middle East is wrong. This proves it.
- Click: When We Knew We Were Feministsedited by J. Courtney Sullivan & Courtney E. Martin
Who doesn’t like a little feminist navel-gazing from time to time?
- Wifework: What Marriage Really Means for Womenby Susan Maushart
To all those MGTOWs who think that marriage is a trap for men that benefits women, here are some statistics proving them wrong.
- Jane Yolen
She has a real gift for retelling old tales in contemporary and fantastical ways.
- Francesca Lia Block
Her writings about LA are magical-realism and fantasy -tinged. I enjoy her depictions of female friendships quite a bit.
- Stephanie Coontz
She’s an accomplished historical myth-buster, especially on the topic of marriage.
- Ritual of Proofby Dara Joy
Yet another misandrist-dystopian sci-fi book, and another where men are rare, but in this one, the twist is that cis men have a “hymen” of sorts.
- Not in Front of the Children: ‘Indecency,’ Censorship, and the Innocence of Youthby Marjorie Heins
An interesting overview of contemporary American censorship. This book inspired me to teach a class on philosophy and censorship when I was an undergraduate student.
- Gathering Blueby Lois Lowry
We all know The Giver, but Lowry’s follow-up centers around a young woman.
- The Thirty-Third Marriage of Donia Nourby H.Z. Ilmi
One of the best things I’ve read in my life, no joke. It’s a snarky and clever and interesting sci-fi novel about aliens, Islamism, atheism, and gender issues.
- The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancerby Siddhartha Mukherjee
Historical and contemporary account of cancer as a disease and phenomenon.
- The City of Devi: A Novelby Manil Suri
Sci-fi/dystopian work set in India.
- Someone Knows My Name: A Novelby Lawrence Hill
This was called “The Book of Negroes” in its native Canada and is about a slave in North America.
- The Reluctant Fundamentalistby Mohsin Hamid
A fascinating novel on Islamism and Muslim experiences in the West.
- The Ground Beneath Her Feet: A Novelby Salman Rushdie
With all due respect, Rushdie is something of a Male Novelist™. This book is the least Male-Novelist-y of his works that I’ve read and is an enjoyable retelling of the Orpheus myth through the lens of Bollywood.
- Twenty Three Years: A Study of the Prophetic Career of Mohammadby Ali Dashti
An Iranian freethinker’s account of Muhammad’s life.
- A Suitable Boyby Vikram Seth
Sweeping family saga (aka doorstop) of a novel, but full of very vivid characters.
- The Lonely Londoners
Short novel about African immigrant experience in England.
The satire on African politics is wickedly good.
- The Autobiography of Malcolm X: As Told to Alex Haley
A must-read slice of American history.
- Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention
A more skeptical look at Malcolm X’s life from a scholar who devoted decades of his life to compiling evidence.
- Saga, Vol. 1by Brian K. Vaughan & Fiona Staples
While the writer for this sci-fi comic is a man, the artist is a woman. Plus, it depicts people of color and aliens having awesome and weird sex and living their lives. There’s a lot of humor and raunch and heart to Saga.
- Zeitoun& What is the Whatby Dave Eggars
In the former, Eggars covers the story of an Arab man wrongfully accused of terrorism and imprisoned in the wake of Hurricane Katrina all because he helped save people from the flooding (no exaggeration there). The latter is about the life of a former refugee from Africa who now lives in the US.
- Islamic Homosexualities: Culture, History, and Literatureedited by Will Roscoe & Stephen O. Murray
This book lays waste to the myth that being a queer/LGBT Muslim is or has ever been an oxymoron.
- Muhammad and the Golden Bough: Reconstructing Arabian Mythby Jaroslav Stetkevych
There’s very little we know about pre-Islamic Arabia, but this book has a lot about the topic.
- Sixteen: Short Stories by Outstanding Writers for Young Adults
Some of the authors in this YA anthology are women. It shows its age but contains one of my favorite speculative fiction stories ever, about a world where sex and opinion-sharing are swapped in terms of taboos.
Clicking the above links might lead to a little Amazon credit for me. Consider that I spent 5 hours compiling this list.