The Lesbrary’s Favorite Sapphic Books We Read In 2022

a collage of the covers listed with the text The Lesbrary's Favorite Sapphic Books of 2022

I always enjoy looking back at my favourite reads of the year at about this time, and I read so many great queer books this year. The books on this list are not only books out in 2022, though most of them are; they’re just (some of) the sapphic books I read and loved this year. I’ve noted the book that came out before 2022. I kept this list to ten, though I could have added a lot more that I enjoyed. I roughly ranked them, but the spots are pretty arbitrary, because I recommend them all.

I’ve included excerpts from my reviews for each of these, but you can click through to see my full thoughts at the review page for each.

Also, scroll to the bottom for some of the other Lesbrary reviewers’ favourite sapphic books they read this year!

#10: Delilah Green Doesn’t Care by Ashley Herring Blake

the cover of Delilah Green Doesn’t Care

I love the YA books I’ve read by Ashley Herring Blake, so it was nice to see that her first adult romance is one I enjoyed just as much!

Both the main characters are well-rounded, and their romance was compelling, but the heart of the story to me was the sibling relationship between Astrid and her stepsister, Delilah. I love that all the characters in this book, even the side characters, feel like real people whose lives continue when they walk off the page. While this is a romance novel, it’s not the only thing going on in their lives: they’re also concerned about their families, friends, kid, career, etc.

The entire book had that absorbing “just one more chapter!” feel that kept me turning the pages into the night—and to be honest, that’s a very rare occurrence for me while reading! I was absorbed in the story and like I had lost time/forgot I was reading when I resurfaced, and I can’t wait to get my hands on the sequel.

Check out my full Lesbrary review for more!

#9: Eat the Rich by Sarah Gailey, Pius Bak, and Roman Titov

the cover of Eat the Rich

This was such a fun read. It’s an over-the-top, gruesome, funny, anti-capitalism, queer graphic novel that I enjoyed from beginning to end.

In just a few pages, I completely fell for Petal, who wears a “Loud and Queer” t-shirt and assures Joey that yes, she knows how awesome she is.

I picked this up during the October readathon, and it was the perfect choice as a quick, entertaining horror read that gripped me from the first page to the last.

I think I can safely say that if you like the title and cover, you’ll love this book.

Check out my full Lesbrary review for more!

#8: A Scatter of Light by Malinda Lo

the cover of A Scatter of Light by Malinda Lo

The motifs of astronomy, time, and art weave effortlessly through this pensive coming of age story. Despite everything going on, this is a quiet story about Aria coming to terms with herself–not just a label, but with her own emotions. A Scatter of Light captures the tumultuous, heady feeling of teenage first love: how it’s all-consuming, illogical, and often ephemeral while feeling like the most important thing in the world.

Despite this being a quietly unfolding story of self-discovery, I was rapt and couldn’t stop flipping the pages. If you appreciate introspective, character-driven YA, I can’t recommend this highly enough.

Check out my full Lesbrary review for more!

#7: The Very Nice Box by Laura Blackett and Eve Gleichman (2021)

The Very Nice Box cover

This was a surprise. When I think about this book, I remember listening to the audiobook as I fell asleep, about halfway through it. It’s a literary fiction title that had been fairly slow-paced up until that point. Suddenly, I sat bold upright in bed when the story suddenly changed–so much for falling asleep.

I will say I think this book works best if you go in without a ton of information, so if you’re up for a kind of weird slowly unfolding character-based queer story, I highly recommend checking this out sight unseen. It’s about Ava, a designer who works for STÄDA (which is pretty much Ikea), designing boxes, and who lives a highly regimented and isolated life in the aftereffects of trauma, until a new STÄDA employee pushes her out of her comfort zone.

Check out my full Lesbrary review for more!

#6: Our Wives Under the Sea by Julia Armfield

the cover of Our Wives Under the Sea

I cannot resist an underwater story, especially one with sapphic characters, so this gothic horror novel was one I had to pick up. In one point of view, we see from the perspective of a woman, Leah, trapped in a submarine for months on end. In the other, we see from her wife’s perspective, after Leah returns… changed.

While there are certainly unsettling scenes, this is also a story about love and grief. Miri’s experience with Leah is tangled up with her grieving her mother. The story unfolds in a distant, dreamlike way, and that grief suffuses everything. 

If you need your plots to have clearly explained answers, this may not be the story for you. But if you appreciate an atmospheric, gothic queer novel, I definitely recommend picking this up. It was exactly the moody, engrossing, unsettling story I was hoping for.

Check out my full Lesbrary review for more!

#5: Spear by Nicola Griffith

the cover of Spear by Nicola Griffith

This sapphic Arthurian retelling is one of the few books I’ve ever read that made me gasp out loud as I read it. I’m not usually an expressive reader, so that was a surprise. This novella is precisely plotted, both building up an expansive world and mythology while moving through a lean story that deserves its own spot among the most renowned Arthur legends. It feels timeless, but also has a depth that makes these people feel real and relatable.

This is a small book that packs a big punch, and I was surprised how moved I was by the love story, considering that romance didn’t play much of a role for the first section of the book. I am definitely now on board for anything Griffith writes, and I can’t wait to explore her backlist.

Check out my full Lesbrary review for more!

#4: Buffalo Is the New Buffalo by Chelsea Vowel

the cover of Buffalo is the New Buffalo

This is a collection of Métis futurism stories that rejects the concept that “education is the new buffalo” and instead imagines how Métis worldviews have survived colonialism in the past and present, and how they can influence the future.

One of my favourite things about this collection, and something that furthers that goal, is that the stories include footnotes and are each followed by an essay explaining Vowell’s thought process behind them. While the stories are fiction, there is a lot of research that went into many of them, and the footnotes explain which parts are based in fact and which were changed.

Chelsea Vowel is queer, and at least four of the stories are sapphic, though I recognize that this is applying terms from a completely different cultural context. In several stories, it’s just mentioned in passing that the main character is attracted to women, but in others, the character’s queerness is more central to the story.

This was such a thought-provoking and memorable read, and I’m eagerly anticipating whatever Chelsea Vowel writes next.

Check out my full Lesbrary review for more!

#3: The Future Is Disabled by Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha

the cover of The Future is Disabled

This is a book by a queer, nonbinary author that doesn’t fit neatly under “sapphic”, but it was one of my favourites and is relevant to Lesbrary readers.

Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha is the author of two of my favourite books: Bodymap, a collection of poetry; and Care Work, a collection of essays about disability justice. So it’s no surprise that I loved their new essay collection about disability justice during the pandemic and in the future.

These essays, written from 2020 to 2022, discuss what the pandemic has been like for disabled people. They talk about how many friends and role models in disability justice have died in such a short time span, and the grief they are holding. These essays also argue that disabled ways of thinking and working are crucial in addressing the enormous problems we have right now.

This book both faces the deadly ableism of the world we live in head on while also imagining a hopeful future, one partly made up of already existing spaces, like disability justice art performances.

I can’t recommend this book highly enough. Every book I’ve read about disability justice has expanded my mind and made me see new possibilities for the world and the way I live in it, and I know I’ve only scraped the surface of the wisdom and collective knowledge of this movement.

Check out my full Lesbrary review for more!

#2: Light from Uncommon Stars by Ryka Aoki (2021)

the cover of Light from Uncommon Stars

This is the first book I read in 2022, and it was the best way to start out a reading year.

I loved this book, but it’s such a tricky, contradictory one to recommend. It’s about aliens and demons and curses, but it’s also a grounded, realistic character study. It’s hopeful and comforting, but it also contains abuse, bigotry, and a lot of brutal descriptions of transmisogyny. This disparate parts combine into a heartachingly affective story, but do be prepared to be reading about both the kindness and the cruelty of humanity.

This is gorgeous, multifaceted story that I bounced between wanting to read cover to cover in one sitting and setting aside for weeks because I wasn’t emotionally prepared to dive back into it. This is exactly the kind of challenging, hopeful, and unexpected story I want to read a lot more of.

Check out my full Lesbrary review for more!

#1: How Far the Light Reaches: A Life in Ten Sea Creatures by Sabrina Imbler

the cover of How Far the Light Reaches

This is another book by a queer, nonbinary author that I think Lesbrary readers will love.

This book is exactly why I don’t do my favourites list until this late in December: this was a December release, and it took my top spot!

I would be interested in either of these versions of How Far the Light Reaches, if the two had been separated: the memoir or the science. Imbler’s writing on marine biology is accessible and fascinating, so while it’s not my usual genre, I was completely pulled in. By braiding these two threads together, though, it’s more than the sum of its parts.

I savored reading this book, looking forward to ending each day with an essay. It’s philosophical, curious, thought-provoking, and kind. It explores queer people as shapeshifters, as swarms, as immortal. I never wanted it to end. Even if you aren’t usually a reader of science writing—I usually am not—I highly recommend picking this one up, and I can’t wait to see what Imbler writes next.

I also really appreciate the parallels between my #1 and #2 picks: one read in January, one read in December. Both dark covers with a fish. Both titles about light. Clearly, I have a type.

Check out my full Lesbrary review for more!

And now, for some of the other Lesbrary reviewers’ favourites of the year!

Meagan Kimberly‘s favourite sapphic book of 2022:

The Space Between Worlds cover

My favorite sapphic book of 2022 was definitely The Space Between Worlds (2020) by Micaiah Johnson. The story creates a rich multiverse narrative that shows how the tiniest details can alter the course of an individual’s life. It layers together questions of class divide, capitalism, power, ethics, family and so much more to create a complex and nuanced story. The pace slows down when necessary to let you catch your breath, but Johnson knows when to up the ante to get your heart racing. I never saw the plot twists coming, and yet they never felt out of left field, but more like an “aha” moment where I thought to myself, “Oh, I should have guessed!” Overall, it’s an incredible sci-fi novel and I will absolutely pick up the next book in the series.

Maggie’s favourite sapphic book of 2022:

the cover of Nona the Ninth

This was a banner year for sapphic books, but Nona the Ninth was among my most anticipated. The tagline on the cover reads “You will love Nona and Nona loves you,” and I was delighted to discover that I did indeed love Nona. Nona’s oddities and zest for life sustained the novel as it slowly fed you developments that had happened since Harrow the Ninth and backstory on the whole beginning of the necromancer universe, and I adored that voyage of discovery. I did a re-read of Gideon and Harrow right before my hold came in on Nona, and so every reference was both fulfilling and also led to more questions. This is a series that has changed the tone with every book and yet somehow succeeds in building an engrossing whole, and it’s also a series that rewards re-reads every time you get more material. Nona continues to build on this foundation, and it’s fascinating. The ending left me screaming. There are two kisses of a spoilery nature that had me absolutely on the floor. I simply cannot wait for the conclusion and also to do yet another re-read when I have all the information.

Casey Stepaniuk‘s favourite sapphic book of 2022:

the cover of All This Could Be Different

My pick is All This Could Be Different by Sarah Thankam Matthews. This is one of the best books I’ve ever read! It felt so viscerally real but at the same time so brilliantly crafted as a work of fiction. The sentences frequently stunned me with their sharp insight and beauty. The novel is an intimate, generous, and honest portrait of Sneha, a woman in her early 20s. Sneha is an aloof, emotionally cautious woman making her way in that daunting post-college period in an American recession as an immigrant from India. It puts as much emphasis on work, friendship, food, and other subjects often neglected in contemporary fiction as on Sneha’s major romantic relationship. I’ve never read such a millennial book, one that felt written by and for our generation, one that felt so recognizably like my own and my friends’ lives. What a gift.

If you like what we do here, support the Lesbrary on Patreon at $2 or more a month and be entered to win a queer women book every month. $10 and up patrons get guaranteed books throughout the year!

Danika reviews A Merry Little Meet Cute by Julie Murphy and Sierra Simone

the cover of A Merry Little Meet Cute

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Note: This a HarperCollins title. The HarperCollins union has been on strike since November 10th, asking for better pay, more diversity initiatives, and union protections. Learn more at their site.

I have never read (or watched) such a horny holiday romance.

This is an M/F bisexual/bisexual romance that follows Bee, a plus-size porn star, and Nolan, a former bad boy boy band member, as they film a Hallmark-esque Christmas movie together while trying to keep their scandals under wraps.

I really enjoyed both Bee and Nolan’s perspectives—it turns out that an easy way to have me like the male love interest in an M/F romance is to make him bisexual. Bee is trying simultaneously to act for the first time, hide her porn career from the squeaky-clean Hope Channel, and fight against sleeping with and/or falling for her costar. If people find out that they’re having sex, that will threaten the image rehabilitation they’re both trying to get from this movie.

Meanwhile, Nolan is also struggling not to fall into bed with his costar. But what he’s hiding from the Hope channel is his family situation. His mom has bipolar disorder, and he’s usually home with her and his teenage sister, helping out. His mom is amazing and capable, but requires some support, especially with her switching medications right now, and he feels incredibly guilty being away from home–but the only way to support the family is with this job.

I thought this aspect of the book is really well done. We see his mom as a three dimensional person who has been an amazing parent to Nolan, and he fights against the ableist ways people can paint her as a victim or helpless. He cares about his family so much, and he has trouble letting go and trusting that they can handle problems on their own–he especially feels guilty that his teenage sister has to be so capable. This subplot adds a lot of depth to an otherwise romp of a romance novel.

In addition to discussions about ableism, we also touch on fatphobia, biphobia, and misogyny. While Nolan has a scandal in his past involving speed skaters and an up-and-coming figure skater at the Olympics, it was the female figure skater whose career was threatened by the media coverage. And if Bee and Nolan’s secret comes out (that they’re sleeping together), Bee will be the one to take the brunt of the fallout. Also, Bee has experienced so much fatphobia on sets that she initially assumes Nolan’s discomfort meeting her is because he’s fatphobic, when really he is just losing his mind because he’s wildly attracted to her.

Nolan already followed Bee’s ClosedDoors account, which I thought might be a weird dynamic, but it is matched by Bee having been a big fan of Nolan’s boy band, with posters in her childhood bedroom and some fanfics written about him then, too. So they both have the same degree of parasocial relationship with each other going into it, and it doesn’t feel unbalanced. They both tease each other some about it when it comes out, and neither seems uncomfortable.

The sex scenes—of which there are many!–were a mixed bag. Some of them were truly steamy, while others had language that made me cringe. But overall, I though it was fun to read a Christmas romance that had so much sex and sexual tension, given that they’re usually so PG-13.

So, if you want a last-minute queer holiday romance read, I highly recommend this one.

Giveaway of 3 Signed Copies of Sapphic Romance! (SPONSORED POST)

To celebrate the release of Fire, Water, and Rock, Alaina Erdell is giving away three signed copies.

When budding geologist Jessica Sterling arrives to work on her thesis while camping in Washington’s Dry Falls State Park for the summer, she shatters park ranger Clare DeVere’s hope for an uneventful season.

Read more about this age-gap, contemporary sapphic romance here.

Alaina will choose three winners from her list of newsletter subscribers on January 1st using a random number generator.

Subscribe by midnight EST on December 31st to be eligible. Are you already subscribed? Perfect! You’re automatically entered into the drawing. Subscribers receive less than ten emails per year.

Subscribe here.

Danika reviews How Far the Light Reaches: A Life in Ten Sea Creatures by Sabrina Imbler

the cover of How Far the Light Reaches

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This may be my favourite book I’ve read this year, and there’s been some stiff competition.

How Far the Light Reaches is exactly what the subtitle promises: a life in ten sea creatures. It weaves together facts about aquatic animals with related stories from the author’s own life. For example, the beginning essay is about feral goldfish: how these goldfish released into the wild—which we think of as short-lived, delicate animals—are actually extremely hardy, taking over ecosystems and growing to huge sizes. In the same essay, Imbler describes queer communities: “Imagine having the power to become resilient to all that is hostile to us.”

This is an immersive, gorgeous book that reminded me of Why Fish Don’t Exist by Lulu Miller, which I also loved. Clearly, I need to pick up more memoirs infused with writing about nature and animals. I would be interested in either of these versions of How Far the Light Reaches, if the two had been separated: the memoir or the science. Imbler’s writing on marine biology is accessible and fascinating, so while it’s not my usual genre, I was completely pulled in. By braiding these two threads together, though, it’s more than the sum of its parts.

Essays structured like this could be gimmicky, but this book doesn’t use easy metaphors or simplify the biology side to lend itself better to the accompanying social commentary. Imbler, a science writer/reporter, shows their deep appreciation for these animals in their own right, and the two approaches complement each other without being reductive.

Their writing is in turns beautiful, funny, and striking, with so much packed into spare sentences. Like this passage: “Before the class, M knew how to draw whales and I did not. After the class, I was in love with M and they were not in love with me.” Even without any other context, it’s still so affective. And I had to laugh at their description of returning home to visit and checking dating apps: “I told myself I was there to see my old classmates, to see who was newly hot, newly gay, or both.”

While the queer content in Why Fish Don’t Exist was a bonus I wasn’t expecting later in the book, in How Far the Light Reaches, it’s at the heart of the book. It’s a gloriously queer narrative, exploring Imbler’s relationships, gender, and queer community more generally. They also discuss their mixed race identity, both personally and in relation to their mixed race partner. In one essay, they write about how to give a necropsy report of dead whales, and then they reiterate different versions of the necropsy report of a previous relationship (M, mentioned above), giving a different proposed cause of death each time.

I savored reading this book, looking forward to ending each day with an essay. It’s philosophical, curious, thought-provoking, and kind. It explores queer people as shapeshifters, as swarms, as immortal. I never wanted it to end. Even if you aren’t usually a reader of science writing—I usually am not—I highly recommend picking this one up, and I can’t wait to see what Imbler writes next.

Content warnings: discussion of weight and weight loss, fatphobia, war

22 Bi and Lesbian Books Out In December 2022!

a collage of the covers listed with the text Sapphic Books Out in December

December is a slow publishing time, but there are still some gems out this month you shouldn’t miss! It’s not always easy to find out which new releases have queer representation, or what kind of representation they have. So here’s a big list of bi and lesbian books out this month, sorted by genre. I’ve highlighted a few of the books I’m most interested in and included the publisher’s description of those, but click through to see the other titles’ blurbs.

As always, if you can get these through an indie bookstore, that is ideal, but if you can’t, the titles and covers are linked to my Amazon affiliate link. If you click through and buy something, I’ll get a small percentage.

This month includes a thoughtful literary fiction book about growing up as a queer Muslim girl in 80s Queens, a queer YA heist story on the Titanic, a bunch of new yuri manga titles, a nonbinary essay collection that stole my top spot for favorite books I’ve read this year, and some just-in-time F/F Christmas romances. On to the books!

Adult

Fiction and SFF

the cover of Roses, in the Mouth of a Lion

Roses, in the Mouth of a Lion by Bushra Rehman (Sapphic Literary Fiction)

For readers of On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous and My Brilliant Friend, Bushra Rehman’s Roses, in the Mouth of a Lion is an unforgettable story about female friendship and queer love

Razia Mirza grows up amid the wild grape vines and backyard sunflowers of Corona, Queens, with her best friend, Saima, by her side. When a family rift drives the girls apart, Razia’s heart is broken. She finds solace in Taslima, a new girl in her close-knit Pakistani-American community. They embark on a series of small rebellions: listening to scandalous music, wearing miniskirts, and cutting school to explore the city.

When Razia is accepted to Stuyvesant, a prestigious high school in Manhattan, the gulf between the person she is and the daughter her parents want her to be, widens. At Stuyvesant, Razia meets Angela and is attracted to her in a way that blossoms into a new understanding. When their relationship is discovered by an Aunty in the community, Razia must choose between her family and her own future.

Punctuated by both joy and loss, full of ’80s music and beloved novels, Roses, in the Mouth of a Lion is a new classic: a fiercely compassionate coming-of-age story of a girl struggling to reconcile her heritage and faith with her desire to be true to herself.

the cover of The Ivory Tomb

Romance

the cover of Picture-Perfect Christmas

Picture-Perfect Christmas by Charlotte Greene (F/F Holiday Romance)

When Nicole Steele left the small mountain town of Glenwood Springs, Colorado, she thought she’d never look back. Almost twenty years later, all she wants is to move home. She’s delighted to be hired to take photographs for Glenwood’s new tourism campaign. Instead of her usual week-long visit, she gets to spend the entire holiday season in town. But there’s a hitch: Quinn Zelinski.

Quinn’s working on the tourism project, too, and she and Nicole have a history: high school rivalry, teenage longing, and one memorable kiss. Then Nicole left for college, Quinn stayed, and except for a few fleeting glimpses, they haven’t seen or spoken to each other since.

Nicole and Quinn can’t avoid each other forever, and the magic of the Christmas season might rekindle the romance between them if they don’t let old hurts and rivalry ruin a picture-perfect reunion.

the cover of Camp Lost and Found
the cover of Reindeer Games
the cover of I Saw Mommy Kissing the Nanny
the cover of Only This Summer
the cover of Best Lesbian Erotica of the Year, Volume 7

Young Adult and Children’s Books

the cover of A Million to One by Adiba Jaigirdar

A Million to One by Adiba Jaigirdar (YA Historical Thriller)

Josefa is an unapologetic and charismatic thief, who loves the thrill of the chase. She has her eye on her biggest mark yet—the RMS Titanic, the most luxurious ship in the world. But she isn’t interested in stealing from wealthy first-class passengers onboard. No, she’s out for the ultimate prize: the Rubiyat, a one of a kind book encrusted with gems that’s worth millions.

Josefa can’t score it alone, so she enlists a team of girls with unique talents: Hinnah, a daring acrobat and contortionist; Violet, an actress and expert dissembler; and Emilie, an artist who can replicate any drawing by hand.

They couldn’t be more different and yet they have one very important thing in common: their lives depend on breaking into the vault and capturing the Rubiyat. But careless mistakes, old grudges, and new romance threaten to jeopardize everything they’ve worked for and put them in incredible danger when tragedy strikes.

While the odds of pulling off the heist are slim, the odds of survival are even slimmer…

the cover of This Cursed Crown
the cover of Together: A First Conversation About Love

Comics, Graphic Novels, and Manga

Run Away With Me, Girl Vol. cover

Run Away With Me, Girl Vol. 1 by Battan (Yuri Manga)

A dramatic, funny, and painful romance manga between two women about how, sometimes, you need to run away in order to find where you truly belong. Perfect for fans of coming-out yuri like How Do We Relationship? and masters of adult drama like Akiko Higashimura (Princess Jellyfish) and Takako Shimura (Even Though We’re Adults).

You know that one person you just can’t forget? Not the one that got away, but the one you had, until suddenly you didn’t?

Maki’s first love was her high school classmate, a girl named Midori. But Midori broke up with Maki at graduation, saying they were now “too old to be fooling around dating girls.” Ten years later, Maki still can’t get Midori off her mind, and when the two women reconnect after a chance encounter, Maki realizes that, while her feelings haven’t changed, Midori has long moved on—in fact, she’s engaged. Yet the more Maki hears Midori talk about her soon-to-be-husband, the more red flags she notices. And Midori has another secret, one she hasn’t yet shared with Maki. Will it be the last blow to Maki’s hopes that their romance might be rekindled? Or will it be the push that sets them on a new path—one they’ll travel together?

the cover of My Cute Little Kitten Vol 1

My Cute Little Kitten, Vol. 1 by Milk Morinaga (Yuri Manga)

A budding romance between female roommates is spurred on by the rescue of a rambunctious kitten in this yuri/Girls’ Love romcom. By the beloved creator of Girl Friends!

Rena has had a crush on her roommate Yuna since college, but Yuna has never noticed. One night, Yuna brings home a tiny kitten, even though their apartment doesn’t allow pets! Rena decides it would be better to let Yuna find her own place. But when Yuna says she wants to stay with Rena forever, Rena’s feelings are forced to the surface. Can Rena make Yuna understand what being together forever really means?

the cover of The Legend of Korra Patterns in Time
the cover of The Two of Them Are Pretty Much Like This, Vol. 2
the cover of Citrus Plus, Vol. 4
the cover of Whisper Me a Love Song, Vol. 6
the cover of The Summer You Were There, Vol. 2
the cover of Hello, Melancholic! Vol. 3
the cover of Adachi and Shimamura (Light Novel) Vol. 10

Nonfiction

the cover of How Far the Light Reaches

How Far the Light Reaches: A Life in Ten Sea Creatures by Sabrina Imbler (Queer Nonbinary Essay Collection)

TIME Must-Read Book of the Year  •  A PEOPLE Best New Book  •  A Barnes & Noble Best Book of 2022  •  An Indie Next Pick  •  One of Winter’s Most Eagerly Anticipated Books: VANITY FAIR, VULTURE

A queer, mixed race writer working in a largely white, male field, science and conservation journalist Sabrina Imbler has always been drawn to the mystery of life in the sea, and particularly to creatures living in hostile or remote environments. Each essay in their debut collection profiles one such creature, including:

  • the mother octopus who starves herself while watching over her eggs,
  • the Chinese sturgeon whose migration route has been decimated by pollution and dams,
  • the bizarre, predatory Bobbitt worm (named after Lorena),
  • the common goldfish that flourishes in the wild,
  • and more.

Imbler discovers that some of the most radical models of family, community, and care can be found in the sea, from gelatinous chains that are both individual organisms and colonies of clones to deep-sea crabs that have no need for the sun, nourished instead by the chemicals and heat throbbing from the core of the Earth. Exploring themes of adaptation, survival, sexuality, and care, and weaving the wonders of marine biology with stories of their own family, relationships, and coming of age, How Far the Light Reaches is a shimmering, otherworldly debut that attunes us to new visions of our world and its miracles.

This may be my favorite book I’ve read all year! Check out my review for my thoughts.

the cover of Young Bloomsbury

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A previous version of this post included Home for the Holidays by Erin Zak, but that book will not be published until next year.

Danika reviews A Million to One by Adiba Jaigirdar

the cover of A Million to One by Adiba Jaigirdar

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This is a YA sapphic heist story set on the Titanic. I’m sure most of you have already stopped reading to go add it to your wishlist, but just in case, I’ll keep going.

This is from the author of The Henna Wars and Hani and Ishu’s Guide to Fake Dating, but while there is a romantic subplot in A Million To One, it’s not the focus as it was in her previous two books. This follows four point of view characters, all of whom have their own reasons for wanting to pull off a heist that could set them up for life opportunities that have previously been unimaginable.

Josefa is the mastermind and leader of the operation. Thievery is how she gets by day-to-day, and this is the job that’s going to change anything. She wants to steal the Rubaiyat, a jewel-encrusted book being transported that is worth more than any jewelry the first class passengers are wearing. She’s already managed to steal some tickets, but she can’t pull off this heist alone.

The easy choice to join her is Violet, a friend who has helped her out on several other jobs before. Violet is a very convincing actress, making her the perfect choice to be the face of the operation. She can charm almost anyone, which will help get them out of any tight spots. In her real life, though, Violet is closed off and suspicious, especially of the much less seasoned additions to their team.

The next person Josefa recruits is Hinnah, a circus performer and contortionist. In order to steal the Rubaiyat, they need someone who can fit into tight spaces. She’s eager to walk away from her life and pursue something new, even though she’s never done anything like this before.

Emilie is the last addition to the team, and the most unlikely. She’s a painter who is feeling lost after her father died. She lives in a different world than the other three young women, making Violet suspicious of her motives and capabilities. Still, Josefa is adamant that they need someone to forge a convincing copy of the Rubaiyat to buy them time. And it doesn’t hurt that she also has a crush on Emilie and has been looking for an excuse to spend more time with her.

Each chapter begins with a countdown (3 DAYS, 7 HOURS, 25 MINUTES), because, of course, this is a Titanic story. While the characters are busy trying to pull off a heist, we know there’s something much bigger and more dangerous approaching. Meanwhile, they have to dodge the Matron suspicious of four young women travelling without an escort as they navigate their tenuous relationships with each other–including a budding romance. And they’re all keeping secrets about what really brought them to this mission.

As with Jaigirdar’s previous books, the main characters all live in Ireland. Josefa is originally from Spain, Emilie is part Haitian and part French, Violet is from Croatia, and Hinnah is from India.

I found it interesting how this diverse group in a very rich, white environment was written. Racism is mentioned in the novel, but it doesn’t play much of a role while they’re on the Titanic, and as far as I remember, homophobia isn’t mentioned at all. I can’t imagine I would have enjoyed a book that realistically describes how queer women of colour would have been treated in this situation, but it feels like this exists somewhere between an alternate history and a realistic depiction, which was a little hard to pin down for me.

If the premise intrigues you, definitely pick this one up, though of course keep in mind that it takes place on the Titanic, so you know how it will end. I sometimes felt like I wanted to spend more time with the characters and their relationships to each other, but that’s a function of the genre, I think: it’s more focused on the plot than the characters, especially with four POVs to juggle in a fairly short book.

… Did I mention this is a sapphic YA heist on the Titanic?

26 Bi and Lesbian Books Out November 2022!

a collage of the covers listed with the text Sapphic Books Out In November!

Would you believe that more than 26 sapphic books come out this month? It’s true! Unfortunately, it’s not always easy to find out which books have queer representation, or what kind of representation they have. So here’s a big list of bi and lesbian books out this month, sorted by genre. I’ve highlighted a few of the books I’m most interested in and included the publisher’s description of those, but click through to see the other titles’ blurbs!

November and December are usually quieter months in publishing, and there are certainly fewer new releases than there were in October, but there are some of the most-anticipated releases of the year coming out this month, including the next book in the Delilah Green Doesn’t Care series and several holiday romances.

As always, if you can get these through an indie bookstore, that is ideal, but if you can’t, the titles and covers are linked to my Amazon affiliate link. If you click through and buy something, I’ll get a small percentage. On to the books!

Adult

Romance

the cover of Astrid Parker Doesn't Fail

Astrid Parker Doesn’t Fail by Ashley Herring Blake (F/F Romance)

An interior designer who is never without the perfect plan learns to renovate her love life without one in this new romantic comedy by Ashley Herring Blake, author of Delilah Green Doesn’t Care.
 
For Astrid Parker, failure is unacceptable. Ever since she broke up with her fiancé a year ago, she’s been focused on her career—her friends might say she’s obsessed, but she knows she’s just driven. When Pru Everwood asks her to be the designer for the Everwood Inn’s renovation, which will be featured on a popular HGTV show, Innside America, Astrid is thrilled. Not only will the project distract her from her failed engagement and help her struggling business, but her perpetually displeased mother might finally give her a nod of approval.
 
However, Astrid never planned on Jordan Everwood, Pru’s granddaughter and the lead carpenter for the renovation, who despises every modern design decision Astrid makes. Jordan is determined to preserve the history of her family’s inn, particularly as the rest of her life is in shambles. When that determination turns into some light sabotage to ruffle Astrid’s perfect little feathers, the showrunners ask them to play up the tension. But somewhere along the way, their dislike for each other evolves into something quite different, and Astrid must decide what success truly means. Is she going to pursue the life that she’s expected to lead or the one that she wants?

the cover of Kiss Her Once for Me

Kiss Her Once for Me by Alison Cochrun (F/F Romance)

The author of the “swoon-worthy debut” (Harper’s BazaarThe Charm Offensive returns with a festive romantic comedy about a woman who fakes an engagement with her landlord…only to fall for his sister.

One year ago, recent Portland transplant Ellie Oliver had her dream job in animation and a Christmas Eve meet-cute with a woman at a bookstore that led her to fall in love over the course of a single night. But after a betrayal the next morning and the loss of her job soon after, she finds herself adrift, alone, and desperate for money.

Finding work at a local coffee shop, she’s just getting through the days—until Andrew, the shop’s landlord, proposes a shocking, drunken plan: a marriage of convenience that will give him his recent inheritance and alleviate Ellie’s financial woes and isolation. They make a plan to spend the holidays together at his family cabin to keep up the ruse. But when Andrew introduces his new fiancée to his sister, Ellie is shocked to discover it’s Jack—the mysterious woman she fell for over the course of one magical Christmas Eve the year before. Now, Ellie must choose between the safety of a fake relationship and the risk of something real.

Perfect for fans of Written in the Stars and One Day in DecemberKiss Her Once for Me is the queer holiday rom-com that you’ll want to cozy up with next to the fire.

the cover of The Forever Factor
the cover of Calling the Shot
the cover of Two Wrongs Make a Right
the cover of Securing Ava

Fiction

the cover of Small Game
the cover of Girlcrush
  • Small Game by Blair Braverman (Sapphic Survival Thriller)
  • Girlcrush by Florence Given (Bisexual Jekyll & Hyde Retelling)

Fantasy

the cover of Even Though I Knew the End

Even Though I Knew the End by C.L. Polk (F/F Vampire Noir)

A magical detective dives into the affairs of Chicago’s divine monsters to secure a future with the love of her life. This sapphic period piece will dazzle anyone looking for mystery, intrigue, romance, magic, or all of the above.

An exiled augur who sold her soul to save her brother’s life is offered one last job before serving an eternity in hell. When she turns it down, her client sweetens the pot by offering up the one payment she can’t resist—the chance to have a future where she grows old with the woman she loves.

To succeed, she is given three days to track down the White City Vampire, Chicago’s most notorious serial killer. If she fails, only hell and heartbreak await.

the cover of The World We Make
the cover of A Restless Truth

Science Fiction

the cover of The Red Scholar's Wake

The Red Scholar’s Wake by Aliette de Bodard (Lesbian Space Opera)

Xích Si: bot maker, data analyst, mother, scavenger. But those days are over now-her ship has just been captured by the Red Banner pirate fleet, famous for their double-dealing and cruelty. Xích Si expects to be tortured to death-only for the pirates’ enigmatic leader, Rice Fish, to arrive with a different and shocking proposition: an arranged marriage between Xích Si and herself.

Rice Fish: sentient ship, leader of the infamous Red Banner pirate fleet, wife of the Red Scholar. Or at least, she was the latter before her wife died under suspicious circumstances. Now isolated and alone, Rice Fish wants Xích Si’s help to find out who struck against them and why. Marrying Xích Si means Rice Fish can offer Xích Si protection, in exchange for Xích Si’s technical fluency: a business arrangement with nothing more to it.

But as the investigation goes on, Rice Fish and Xích Si find themselves falling for each other. As the interstellar war against piracy intensifies and the five fleets start fighting each other, they will have to make a stand-and to decide what kind of future they have together…

An exciting space opera and a beautiful romance, from an exceptional SF author.

the cover of Màgòdiz
the cover of The Stars Undying
the cover of Born Andromeda

Comics, Graphic Novels, and Manga

the cover of The Legend of Korra: Patterns in Time

The Legend of Korra: Patterns in Time by Michael Dante DiMartino, Bryan Konietzko, Heather Campbell, Jayd Ait-Kaci, and Killian Ng (Sapphic Graphic Novel)

Celebrate new stories from The Legend of Korra!

Your favorite characters from Team Avatar and beyond are here in this collection of stories, from the heartwarming to the hilarious. Join Korra, Asami, Mako, Bolin, Tenzin, and more familiar faces from The Legend of Korra, featured in stories specially crafted by a bevy of talented comics creators! Be sure to add these all-new stories to your Avatar Legends library!

the boxset of Love and Rockets: the First Fifty
the cover of I Can't Believe I Slept With You! Vol. 3
the cover of Catch These Hands, Vol. 3
the cover of Futari Escape

Young Adult

YA Contemporary

the cover of How to Excavate a Heart

How to Excavate a Heart by Jake Maia Arlow (Lesbian F/F YA Contemporary)

Stonewall Honor author Jake Maia Arlow delivers a sapphic Jewish twist on the classic Christmas rom-com in a read perfect for fans of Kelly Quindlen and Casey McQuiston.

It all starts when Shani runs into May. Like, literally. With her mom’s Subaru.

Attempted vehicular manslaughter was not part of Shani’s plan. She was supposed to be focusing on her monthlong paleoichthyology internship. She was going to spend all her time thinking about dead fish and not at all about how she was unceremoniously dumped days before winter break.

It could be going better.

But when a dog-walking gig puts her back in May’s path, the fossils she’s meant to be diligently studying are pushed to the side—along with the breakup.

Then they’re snowed in together on Christmas Eve. As things start to feel more serious, though, Shani’s hurt over her ex-girlfriend’s rejection comes rushing back. Is she ready to try a committed relationship again, or is she okay with this just being a passing winter fling?

the cover of We Deserve Monuments

We Deserve Monuments by Jas Hammonds (F/F YA Contemporary)

What’s more important: Knowing the truth or keeping the peace?

Seventeen-year-old Avery Anderson is convinced her senior year is ruined when she’s uprooted from her life in DC and forced into the hostile home of her terminally ill grandmother, Mama Letty. The tension between Avery’s mom and Mama Letty makes for a frosty arrival and unearths past drama they refuse to talk about. Every time Avery tries to look deeper, she’s turned away, leaving her desperate to learn the secrets that split her family in two.

While tempers flare in her avoidant family, Avery finds friendship in unexpected places: in Simone Cole, her captivating next-door neighbor, and Jade Oliver, daughter of the town’s most prominent family―whose mother’s murder remains unsolved.

As the three girls grow closer―Avery and Simone’s friendship blossoming into romance―the sharp-edged opinions of their small southern town begin to hint at something insidious underneath. The racist history of Bardell, Georgia is rooted in Avery’s family in ways she can’t even imagine. With Mama Letty’s health dwindling every day, Avery must decide if digging for the truth is worth toppling the delicate relationships she’s built in Bardell―or if some things are better left buried.

YA Genre Fiction

the cover of Reader, I Murdered Him

Reader, I Murdered Him by Betsy Cornwell (Sapphic YA Historical Thriller)

In this daring tale of female agency and revenge from a New York Times bestselling author, a girl becomes a teenage vigilante who roams Victorian England using her privilege and power to punish her friends’ abusive suitors and keep other young women safe.

Adele grew up in the shadows—first watching from backstage at her mother’s Parisian dance halls, then wandering around the gloomy, haunted rooms of her father’s manor. When she’s finally sent away to boarding school in London, she’s happy to enter the brightly lit world of society girls and their wealthy suitors. 

Yet there are shadows there, too. Many of the men that try to charm Adele’s new friends do so with dark intentions. After a violent assault, she turns to a roguish young con woman for help. Together, they become vigilantes meting out justice. But can Adele save herself from the same fate as those she protects?

With a queer romance at its heart, this lush historical thriller offers readers an irresistible mix of vengeance and empowerment.

the cover of The Wicked Remain

Nonfiction

the cover of Holding Space

Holding Space: Life and Love Through a Queer Lens by Ryan Pfluger (Queer Photography)

Featuring 100 stunning color photographs of queer, interracial couples taken by a renowned photographer for the New York Times Magazine, Time, Rolling Stone, and more, this incredible photo and story collection depicts modern love and relationships in all their joy, vulnerability, and affection.
 
Throughout 2020 and 2021, during a time of intense personal and political upheaval, artist, advocate, and photographer Ryan Pfluger set out to capture intimate images of queer, interracial couples, along with personal insight into their relationships in today’s world. Featured together for the first time in Holding Space, this unique collection of modern love in its many forms across the spectrum of race, sexuality, and gender identity and gives space to these couples to share short, revealing stories about their relationships.
 
The photos in this collection, and the people in them, can be startling in their openness, playful in their poses, and tender to their core. Pfluger has captured the magic, honesty, and beauty of love in today’s queer culture.
 
With a Foreword by Janicza Bravo and an essay by Brandon Kyle Goodman

the cover of The World Keeps Ending, and the World Goes On

Check out more LGBTQ new releases by signing up for Our Queerest Shelves, my LGBTQ book newsletter at Book Riot!

Support the Lesbrary on Patreon to get queer books in the mail throughout the year!

Danika reviews Eat the Rich by Sarah Gailey, Pius Bak, and Roman Titov

the cover of Eat the Rich, showing a skewer with meat, an eyeball, and a finger on it

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It’s Halloween, and I know exactly which book you should read cover to cover today.

Joey is meeting her boyfriend’s family, and it’s understandably stressful. They’re wealthy; she’s not. He’s worried about trying to stay sober back there. She wants to impress them. But she’s on her way to becoming a lawyer, so she’ll be joining the elites soon. She’s up to the challenge of learning how to blend in.

It goes about as well as you’d expect at first. Joey feels judged and out of place. She becomes friends with the family’s nanny, Petal, even as Petal advises her that being seen with the help will not be good for her standing in this society. As she explains this to Joey, the baby picks up what appears to be a human jawbone on the beach and begins playing with it…

This is a short graphic novel, so I don’t want to spoil anything, but I think you can probably guess that this rich community is eating people; it’s revealed pretty quickly. The twist (mid-story spoiler) is that it’s not a secret. It’s in their contracts. You retire, and you get hunted for sport and eaten. But in the meantime, you get paid well, you get good health benefits, etc. For some people, it’s the best option on the table. That’s capitalism for you. (end of spoilers)

This an over-the-top, gruesome, funny, anti-capitalism, queer graphic novel that I enjoyed from beginning to end. In just a few pages, I completely fell for Petal, who wears a “Loud and Queer” t-shirt and assures Joey that yes, she knows how awesome she is. I think I can safely say that if you like the title and cover, you’ll love this book, and it’s such a fun one-sitting Halloween read.

Danika reviews The Restless Dark by Erica Waters

the cover of The Restless Dark

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During October this year, I tried to pack my TBR with seasonal, Halloween-adjacent reads, and The Restless Dark looked like the perfect match. It’s a sapphic YA horror/thriller book set at a true crime podcast event where listeners compete to try to find the unrecovered bones of a serial killer. As the retreat continues, though, it begins to seem like the danger isn’t past…

Lucy only narrowly escaped being one of the Cloudkiss Killer’s victims, and she was the last person to see him alive. She’s gone on this retreat not out a love of true crime — a genre that’s profited off and sensationalized her trauma — but because she hopes to find closure. Carolina, the other point of view character, has come to try to assure herself she’s nothing like the Cloudkiss Killer, even though she may have killed her boyfriend. (Or maybe it was an accident? She can’t remember.)

Lucy and Carolina end up in a group with Maggie, a psychology student writing a paper about all the fascinating characters at this retreat. They almost immediately end up in a tense dynamic with each other: both Caroline and Maggie are interested in Lucy, but Lucy falls for Maggie. She appreciates that Maggie gives her agency, and she’s frustrated that Carolina keeps trying to protect her. She doesn’t want to feel like a victim anymore. Carolina, though, is worried that Lucy is beginning to become violent herself, and she knows how much that can destroy your psyche, because that’s what she’s going through.

This plays out at Cloudkiss Canyon, which the locals all avoid. It’s coated with an ever-present, unexplained fog, and the legend is that the fog will show you your true self, the one you fear and avoid, if you let it. There’s a dreamlike quality to their time here, and it’s unclear if something supernatural is happening or not. Carolina, especially, seems to be losing time, which is all the more worrying when it becomes obvious someone is hurting people at the retreat.

The setting and danger contribute to a tense, claustrophobic environment where everyone starts to turn on each other. They seem to be acting out of character — is it the fog affecting them, or is this who they really are?

This isn’t a mystery; I found it pretty easy to predict who was responsible for everything going wrong, but in a way, that just contributed to the tension, and I found myself compelled to keep reading just to get to the point where it all came to a head.

The Restless Dark is a moody, atmospheric story perfect for fall reading. I was completely absorbed while reading it, even if it’s not a book I found especially memorable. If you’re looking for a fall read that’s chilling without being gory, this is a great choice — and I always appreciate an F/F/F love triangle.

Danika reviews House of Hunger by Alexis Henderson

the cover of House of Hunger

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On paper, this should have been the perfect book for me to read Halloween month. I’m fascinated by the historical figure of Elizabeth Bathory, I love a (fictional) obsessive and unhealthy sapphic relationship, and this sounds like it would be a blood-soaked, sexy Gothic in the vein of A Dowry of Blood by S.T. Gibson. Unfortunately, although I liked House of Hunger, I ended up feeling like it pulled its punches a bit, not quite living up to my expectations.

I find this a difficult book to categorize. At first, I thought it was YA: we have a 19-year-old protagonist, and the cover seemed like a YA style to me. It wasn’t until a scene mentioned snorting lines of cocaine that I realized… this definitely isn’t YA, though it does have a very readable writing style.

This is set in a fictional world that reminded me of Victorian England. Marion lives in the South, where she is barely scraping by working as a maid and caring for her angry, addicted, ill older brother. Her employer and her brother are cruel to her, she has no real friends, and she feel like she has no options. So when the opportunity arises for her to apply to be a blood maid, she takes it. She would live in the North in luxury, with enough money to pay for her brother’s treatment. Sure, it means her employers drink her blood for its health benefits, but that doesn’t seem much worse than the job she has now.

Her blood is deemed to be particularly high quality, and she is taken to the home of Countess Lisavet (the Elizabeth Bathory stand-in). There, she joins a harem of blood maids, all desperately in love with Lisavet, craving her attention. Marion falls hard, even as she struggles in this cut-throat world of wealth that’s so different than what she’s known. This is where I have some difficulties with the book: it sounds like it would be a scandalous story of orgies, drugs, and blood, but while there is the occasional unsettling and gory scene as well as brief mentions of sex, it isn’t nearly as dark as I expected. On the other hand, there are enough mentions and occasional scenes that I wouldn’t recommend this to teen readers or people sensitive to horror, which puts it in a tricky in-between spot to me.

The setting and plot were just what I wanted from it: the claustrophobia and helplessness as the blood maids slowly waste away, the passion and sudden cruelty of Lisavet, the dangerous devotion Marion has for her, the slowly-dawning realization that staying will eventually destroy her — but I didn’t connect with it as much as I expected. I felt a bit of distance from the story. This is one that I would love to see on the big screen, because I think it would be beautiful and haunting. But the audiobook didn’t really grab me.

Those are pretty minor complaints, though, so if the premise appeals to you, I still recommend picking it up. And of course, I love a good capitalism and racism commentary: the rich are literally feeding on the poor (especially poor Black women) and draining the life out of them. I think I just came in with such high expectations that even a good book fell a little bit short for me.