We love books here at HELLO! so naturally Bookshop Day is one of our favourite days of the year. LGBTQ+ books are currently enjoying a renaissance period, I currently have six on my bookshelf for me to read with countless more on wishlists.
But sometimes it can be difficuly to track these books down, hidden away with the rest of the romances, crime or young adult fiction, so where are the best places to head where you're surrounded entirely by tomes with queer themes? Thankfully, we've curated a guide for you below that pinpoints nine bookshops to visit if you want some LGBTQ+ books in your life...
Gay's the Word, London
Located at 66 Marchmont Street in Bloomsbury, Gay's the Word is the oldest LGBTQ+ bookshop in the UK, being founded by the Gay Icebreakers back in 1979. The store often hosts LGBTQ+ events, alongside selling all kinds of genres from fiction to poetry to non-fiction. During one of my visits, friendly staff members helped me find the book that would most appeal to me, so I can confirm their website is true when they say they offer "a genuinely warm, welcoming atmosphere".
Category Is Books, Glasgow
Founded in 2018 and located at 34 Allison Street in Glasgow, Category Is Books has transformed the bookselling world in Scotland. The independent bookstore makes sure that all of its books either deal with LGBTQ+ themes or was written by an author from the community. Much like Gay's the Word, they also offer various events including yoga and its own pop-up barbershop.
Juno Books, Sheffield
Found at 24 Chapel Walk, Sheffield, Juno Books is proudly queer and proudly feminist. The store's manifesto pledged to sell books from a majority queer or female authorship and also carries books on intersectional issues. The store was founded by Rosie May and Sarah Scales and the store will be celebrating its one-year anniversary at the weekend.
Speaking to HELLO!, the pair said: "It was a dream for us to create a space which sold the best new literature, so much of which come from queer, trans, feminist authors. We wanted to make a place where people could see themselves and their lives reflected back at them from the shelves, meet and make friends while browsing and to offer a range of accessible, friendly events from a queer bookgroup, a craft group and talks on queer history.
"We wanted Juno Books to be a place for community building, to share ideas and bring people together. We've been open a year now, and while it hasn't always been easy (especially with the cost of living crisis) we've met so many great people, read so many amazing books, and had so much support from everyone from Bookshop.org who we sell through online and who give us a generous cut of the takings, to famous authors and film directors, to the local church and a woman who brings us Werther's originals on a weekly basis! We have lots of plans for the future to build on what we've started from book box subscriptions to large events. There is such an appetite for queer books, simply because they offer some of the freshest writing around."
It's not just big cities that host queer bookstores as Gay-on-Wye opened in Hay-in-Wye, Wales, back in August at 3 Lion Street, Hay-on-Wye. Speaking to HELLO!, the founder, Thomas Owen said: "Supporting queer independent businesses is vital not only for the survival of the high street, but because it fosters diversity and inclusion, offering unique products and services that reflect the LGBTQ+ community's perspectives and needs.
"It helps create economic opportunities and stability for queer entrepreneurs, contributing to a more equitable society. Additionally, supporting these businesses sends a powerful message of solidarity. The online retail platform Bookshop.org is at the forefront of this movement supporting the LGBTQ+ community to access thousands of queer titles, supporting LGBTQ+ authors and reinforcing the importance of LGBTQ+ rights and acceptance in all aspects of life.
"Customers can expect a welcoming and inclusive environment in Gay on Wye, where they can find a diverse range of literature and resources that represent various aspects of the queer experience. We offer a curated selection of books, Graphic Novels, and other items that explore LGBTQ+ history, fiction, non-fiction, and intersectional topics. Additionally, our visitors may find a supportive and knowledgeable staff who can recommend titles and provide a safe space for dialogue and community engagement and to spread joy."
Queer Lit, Manchester
When I visited Queer Lit in Manchester during Manchester Pride, I wasn't even intending to buy a book, but instead left very happily with a purchase. Favoured by queer authors, you'll find many hanging out in the store that will be able to help with any recommendation you need. Found at 27 Great Ancoats Street, the North West-based store offers over 4,000 titles, so plenty to get lost in!
The Common Press, London
Gay's the Word isn't the only LGBTQ+ bookshop in London as at 118 Bethnal Green Road, you can also find The Common Press. Like many of the bookshops on this list, it's not just books that you can find here, there's also a fully equipped events space and even some podcast recording rooms that you can rent out!
The Queery, Brighton
Found at 46 George Street, Kemptown, this Brighton-based radical bookshop is volunteer run and offers workshops, support groups, a vegan cafe and film nights, alongside the dozens of queer-themed books that it stocks.
The Old Queeriosity, Plymouth
Found at 41 Bretonside, Plymouth this little store is mostly online-based with dozens of LGBTQ+ books to choose from. Their website carries plenty of recommendations, and with Halloween just around the corner, it's the perfect place to spot your next spooky read!
The Bookish Type, Leeds
If you're in Leeds, make sure to stop by 77a Great George Street, and with its bright-pink walls, you won't miss it! The store originally started as a pop-up stall before its popularity exploded and wants to make sure that members of the queer community see themselves represented in the books that they're reading. The store also hosts Second Hand Sundays, selling secondhand books to raise money for LGBTQ+ grassroots organisations.