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.

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