Manga-Curious: 5 Yuri Manga for First-Time Readers

For the longest time, I found manga intimidating, especially with the stereotype of manga being either sex fantasies for men or action-packed sagas. However, once I got past that initial fear (thanks to a coworker who helped me find some calmer titles to start off with), I found that manga, just like most formats, is more than just one genre. There are subgenres that where the plots are geared towards specific ages, with examples like:

  • kodomomuke (cutesy manga meant for young children), 
  • shonen (adventure stories marketed to teen boys), 
  • shojo (stories centered around exploration of relationships geared towards teen girls), 
  • seinen (adult fiction geared towards adult men), and 
  • josei (adult fiction centered around relationships marketed to adult women). 

Nowadays, I love narratives that center around personal relationships (platonic or romantic), which can be found more typically in shojo and josei works. If you want to get even more specific with it, there are sub-subgenres for romantic/sexual identities, such as BL (boy love) and yuri (sapphic). I think that is so cool, especially since I had started reading manga thinking that it was entirely centered on what men wanted to read and wouldn’t feature much, if any, queerness. If you want to get into manga, but don’t want to start with One Piece, never fear! Here are five of my favorite yuri manga that are great for people who haven’t read much manga before! 

Monthly In The Garden with My Landlord series by Yodokawa

Monthly in the Garden with My Landlord, Vol. 1 cover

After getting out of an unhealthy relationship with her ex-girlfriend, Asako Suga wants a completely fresh start and decides to move to into a cute house. The only thing she didn’t count on was that the house came with a cute live-in landlord, who seems to be hiding a secret about her past. As the two live together and learn more about each other, Asako and Miyako become closer in this cozy story. Monthly In The Garden with My Landlord is a fantastic beginner manga for people who love forced-proximity stories and new adult protagonists. The second volume just came out on March 19th, so be sure to get your copy here!

Just Friends by Ana Oncina

Just Friends cover

As a teenager, Erika was forced to go to an overnight camp by her mother, in an effort for Erika to make more friends. While there, she met a girl named Emi, who changed her life forever with their relationship. In this dual timeline manga, Erika and Emi are now adults, who remember that summer together as they engage in an affair marked by nostalgia and secrecy. Just Friends will make you long for the simplicity of your youth, even as you see how it can be weaponized into something unhealthy. I particularly enjoyed Just Friends because it didn’t feature a “good” relationship—it showed the spectrum on which relationships can reside, making this perhaps the most realistic of these titles.

The Two of Them Are Pretty Much Like This, Vol. 1 by Takashi Ikeda

The Two of Them Are Pretty Much Like This Vol. 1 cover

If you are a fan of the “they were roommates” trope, then you will want to read The Two of Them Are Pretty Much Like This. Scriptwriter Ellie and voice actress Wako are roommates, mentor and mentee… and lovers! This cozy manga covers their day-to-day lives as Ellie deals with writer’s block, Wako struggles with auditions, and the two hang out with friends. 

The Two of Them Are Pretty Much Like This is a four-volume series and is a delightfully quiet and charming example of slice of life manga. 

Our Teachers Are Dating series by Pikachi Ohi

Our Teachers Are Dating! Vol. 1 cover

If you like workplace romances, then you will like Our Teachers are Dating. Gym teacher Hayama and biology teacher Terano work together at an all-girls school and are crushing on each other hard. Their students and fellow teachers ship the two of them and work together to get the two teachers to confess. The rest of the volume covers the beginning of Hayama and Terano’s relationship, from stolen kisses at work to their first overnight trip. Our Teachers Are Dating is the first of four volumes in which we get to see this coworkers-to-lovers story, and the two protagonists are SUPER adorable. You’ll want to read this manga if you enjoy fluff stories, tender moments, and awkward (yet perfect) comedy. 

I Don’t Know Which is Love, Vol. 1 by Tamamushi Oku

I Don't Know Which Is Love, Vol. 1 cover

When Mei graduated high school, she was determined to leave behind an unfulfilled crush and to get a girlfriend in college. If only it was that simple… Mei is confronted with a variety of women at college and cannot decide who to pursue. With love interests like the older professor, the physically affectionate roommate, the voice-obsessed theatre techie, the sweet model, and the gregarious theatre ingenue, how will Mei ever choose? I will say, I Don’t Know Which is Love is verging on yuri harem territory, so be aware if you are not comfortable reading that kind of content. That being said, I loved reading this manga as it was super cute and played with the concept of having casual sapphic relationships. Definitely read it if you enjoy why-choose stories, romance, and college settings!

As always, you can get any of these books through your local library, indie bookstore, or through the Bookshop links above! Happy reading!

Chloe (they/he) is a public librarian in Baltimore, who identifies as Indigenous, autistic, and panromantic demisexual. They enjoy reading queer literature for any age group, as well as fantasy, contemporary, and romance. In their spare time, he acts in local community theaters and plays role-playing games. You can find them on GoodreadsTwitter, or Instagram.

Making The Future Gay: The Five Things I Checked out From the Queer Liberation Library

Recently, a nonprofit in Massachusetts put out an exclusively queer book collection on Libby called the Queer Liberation Library (also known as QLL). Their mission is simple: by providing queer people with diversity-focused literature and resources, QLL is building a future that is undeniably queer. This collection of e-materials is available to anyone with an email address, and sign-up is very easy. I signed up and had received confirmation and account information within twelve (12) hours. There are so many titles and collections available, with the focus of their homepage collections being on Black queerness right now in celebration of Black History Month. I would highly recommend signing up for a card if you want exclusively queer literature available at your fingertips. 

Of course, I went a little wild and immediately began downloading so many sapphic titles on the QLL. Here are five things that I checked out from the Queer Liberation Library that I think you should too:

Those Who Wait by Haley Cass

the cover of Those Who Wait

Sutton had a simple plan for her life: finish graduate school and fall in love. But life is never that simple, and it doesn’t help that she is useless around other women. On the other hand, Charlotte has every bit of her life planned out and is not willing to compromise it for love. When the two meet through a dating app, Sutton and Charlotte know they aren’t meant to be—or are they? I picked up this audiobook because of the cute cover and stayed for the slow-burn, friends-with-benefits romance. Don’t let the length of the book (21ish hours) intimidate you: Those Who Wait is a fast-paced epic romance sure to make your top ten books of 2024.

Sing Anyways by Anita Kelly

the cover of Sing Anyway

Nonbinary history professor Sam Bell is committed to a new (non)romantic strategy after numerous failed relationships: Thirst Only. However, having no emotional ties to relationships can be hard, especially when they are left by themselves at The Moonlight Café, otherwise known as Moonie’s to its largely queer regulars, and on karaoke night of all nights. But then Sam’s karaoke crush, Lily Fischer, steps up with a mic, and the two work together to weather the outside world and to keep singing through it all. I read this back during the summer and I remember being actively disappointed that there was no audiobook that I could listen to through my library—never again!

Mimosa by Archie Bongiovanni

the cover of Mimosa

Best friends and chosen family Chris, Elise, Jo, and Alex work hard to keep themselves afloat. In an effort to avoid being the oldest gays at the party, the crew decides to put on a new queer event called Grind—specifically for homos in their dirty 30s. Grind is a welcome distraction from their real lives while navigating exes at work, physical and mental exhaustion, and drinking way, way too much on weekdays. This chosen family proves that being messy doesn’t always go away with age. I love Bongiovanni’s art style and can’t wait to sink my teeth into this story about older queer people (which I am swiftly approaching with mild disbelief).

Mouths of Rain: An Anthology of Black Lesbian Thought edited by Briona Simone Jones

the cover of Mouths of Rain

Mouths of Rain traces the long history of intellectual thought produced by Black Lesbian writers, spanning the nineteenth century through the twenty-first century.

This anthology features a mix of literature (nonfiction, poetry, and fiction) about a variety of topics from a variety of Black sapphic authors like Audre Lorde and Alice Dunbar-Nelson. 

Mouths of Rain first caught my attention because of the gorgeous cover, but kept me enthralled by the sheer intersectionality of the work. 

Lesbian Love Story by Amelia Possanza

the cover of Lesbian Love Story

This is the story of Possanza’s journey into the archives to recover the stories of lesbians in the 20th Century: who they were, how they loved, why their stories were destroyed, and where their memories echo and live on. Centered around seven love stories for the ages, Possanza’s hunt takes readers from a Drag King show in Bushwick to the home of activists in Harlem and then across the ocean to Hadrian’s Library, where she searches for traces of Sappho in the ruins. Along the way, she discovers her own love—for swimming, for community, for New York City—and adds her own record to the archive. I am not the biggest fan of nonfiction (regardless of how many nonfiction titles are on this list), but loved how Possanza would switch genres and use the histories to discuss questions of gender, love, and self. 

Bonus: Hijab Butch Blues by Lamya H

the cover of Hijab Butch Blues

Bonus pick because I got very attached to all of these choices: Hijab Butch Blues by Lamya H! When fourteen-year-old Lamya H realizes she has a crush on her teacher—her female teacher—she covers up her attraction, an attraction she can’t yet name, by playing up her roles as overachiever and class clown. However, Lamya eventually begins to make sense of her own life by comparing her experiences to the stories of the Quran, and expands on those thoughts in this searing memoir in essays. This is a title that so many of my friends have been reading lately and I am excited to join them once my audiobook hold comes in!

Happy reading!

Chloe (they/he) is a public librarian in Baltimore, who identifies as Indigenous, autistic, and panromantic demisexual. They enjoy reading queer literature for any age group, as well as fantasy, contemporary, and romance. In his spare time, he acts in his local community theaters and plays role-playing games. You can find them on GoodreadsTwitter, or Instagram.

Sponsored Post: Falling Through the Night by Gail Marlene Schwartz

the cover of Falling Through the Night

Audrey Meyerwitz wants to fall in love and have a family. But for this queer 30-something insomniac who’s struggled with Generalized Anxiety Disorder since childhood, it’s a goal that’s far from simple. When best friend Jessica, a recovering alcoholic, helps introvert Audrey with a profile on SheLovesHer, Audrey takes that scary first step toward her lifelong dream. Through online dating, immigrating to Canada, and having a baby with Down Syndrome, she struggles and grows. But when Audrey unearths a secret about her mother, everything about her identity as a mother, a daughter, and a person with mental illness ruptures. How do we create closeness from roots of deep alienation? With humor, honesty, and complexity, Audrey learns that healthy love means accepting gains and losses, taking off the blinders of fantasy, and embracing the messiness that defines human families.


Falling Through the Night is a breathtaking debut novel. Audrey is thoroughly relatable as a person dealing with mental health issues who is also full of talent, courage, creativity, and love. A page turner, the book engaged me as both a human with my own struggles but also as a therapist who understands the complexities of early childhood trauma and all the pain involved in healing. Audrey’s immigration to Quebec was a wonderful opportunity to experience that culture and the particularities of a young queer artist fumbling and learning as she adapts. A wonderful portrayal of a woman doing the personal work we all need to do to grow. Inspiring, engaging, and ultimately incredibly hopeful. 

Glo Harris, therapist and corporate coach

The winning combination of Schwartz’s beautifully crafted prose and attention to detail allows the reader to journey with Audrey across two countries in her quest for a new family and a better life. Falling Through the Night shines a light on the ups and downs of anxiety disorder and spins a story where the LGBTQ protagonist learns to recognize and accept herself, but so does everyone else.

-Lori Shwydky, Publisher, Rebel Mountain Press

Falling Through the Night is a beautifully crafted and moving look at the ways in which anxiety and family issues intersect. The book is one part magical romance and two parts unflinching account of a queer woman’s messy journey. Audrey’s path is to create a healthy family despite and because of a past shaped by lies and haunted by a mother she never knew. The book could be described as a page-turning beach read, as we are privy to the whirlwind, sweet, and romantic lesbian love story at the heart of this book. But Falling is so much more than that–it is also a deep dive into family, friendship, addiction, and mental health, at times leaving the reader breathless with all the complexity and beauty that is life.  

Dr. Jennifer Marlow, author and Professor of English, College of St. Rose
Gail Marlene Schwartz, author of Falling Through the Night

Find out more about Falling Through the Night at Demeter Press!

This is a sponsored post. For more information, check out the Lesbrary’s advertisement options.

When Your Hyperfixation is Sapphic Books: A Shortlist of Sapphic Autistic Narratives

I recently read a report from the University of Cambridge about how autistic people are more likely to be queer than allistic people, with specifically autistic female-identifying people being three times as likely to identify as some form of queer. If you are interested in reading more about this, you can read the abstract. This got me thinking about how there has been a recent uptick in autistic narratives, especially in young adult and middle grade books. Once I got thinking about that, I went down a little rabbit hole of autistic queer literature, and found some fantastic titles that I’d love to share with y’all! Without any further ado, here are five of my favorite autistic sapphic titles.

the cover of The Ojja-Wojja

The Ojja-Wojja by Magdalene Visaggio and Jenn St-Onge

Val and Lanie are two middle-graders trying to retain their individuality in small-town Bollingbrooke, despite the metaphorical targets on their backs due to being queer (Lanie) or autistic (Val). When the two complete an ancient ritual and summon the Ojja-Wojja, Val, Lanie and their group of friends have to defend the town against the demonic presence before it destroys their town.

The Ojja-Wojja is great for people who heard “Alien Party” by Sid Dorey and went “wow…they’re right! Being queer or autistic is like being an alien!” 

the cover of Margo Zimmerman Gets the Girl

Margo Zimmerman Gets the Girl by Sara Waxelbaum and Briana R. Shrum

Margo is an overachiever, autistic, and newly out as gay, while Abbi is known for being visibly queer and failing US History. The two team up to cover their blind spots; Margo receives Queer 101 lessons in exchange for Abbi receiving history lessons.

Margo Zimmerman Gets the Girl is a fun, tongue-in-cheek read that I couldn’t put down. If you want a book about a Jewish, autistic protagonist and plenty of queer rep, you’ll want to pick up this one.

the cover of Cleat Cute

Cleat Cute by Meryl Wilsner 

When Phoebe joined the US Women’s National Team, she had no idea that she was taking Grace’s spot after the veteran got injured. The two clash due to their personalities, until a daring kiss brings them together. The two work together both on and off the field as the World Cup approaches. Grace wrestles with a potential autism diagnosis and Phoebe is diagnosed with ADHD, making this the AuDHD romance of your dreams.

I would recommend Cleat Cute for people who are fans of Ted Lasso and A League of Their Own.  

the cover of The Luis Ortega Survival Club

The Luis Ortega Survival Club by Sonora Reyes

In this YA revenge story, a queer and autistic girl is struggling to put into words what happened and decide if she has the right to be mad with the cute, popular person she had sex with at a party—where she didn’t say no but she definitely didn’t say yes. But when she finds other students determined to expose this predator, she decides to take him down.

This is the autistic revenge story that fans of Do Revenge will want in their TBR stacks.

the cover of An Unkindness of Ghosts

An Unkindness of Ghosts by River Solomon

This dystopian sci-fi novel features Aster, an autistic person who works on the HMS Matilda as a descendant of the original passengers journeying to a Promised Land. However, the ship’s leaders have imposed a brutal enslavement on the passengers of color, including Aster, and she learns there may be a way to end it if she is willing to start a civil war.

Aster’s autism is integral to the story and not for trauma-related reasons—her perspective on the HMS  (and the reader by extension) is thoroughly informed by her being autistic.

As always, you can get any of these books through your local library, indie bookstore, or through the Bookshop links above! Happy reading!

Chloe (they/he) is a public librarian in Baltimore, who identifies as Indigenous, autistic, and panromantic demisexual. They enjoy reading queer literature for any age group, as well as fantasy, contemporary, and romance. In their spare time, they act in local community theaters, play D&D, and are halfway through their MLiS program. You can find them on Goodreads, Twitter, or Instagram.

250 of My Favorite Sapphic Books

I’ve updated the Lesbrary Recommendations List! This is the page where I keep a consolidated list of every sapphic book I’ve read and enjoyed, organized by genre. I’ve been reading sapphic books for quite a while now, so the list has grown to roughly 250 books! Most of them are also linked to my review, so you can see my full thoughts on the book. Check it out to get a ton of sapphic book recs!

a collage of sapphic book covers and the text "Sapphic Books Recommendations (Bi & Lesbian Faves)"

Sapphic Books by Black Authors Out in 2024

a collage of the book covers listed with the text Sapphic Books By Black Authors Out in 2024

It’s Black History Month, so I wanted to highlight some of the sapphic books out this year from Black authors! Quite a few came out in January, so you can buy those now, but this is also the perfect time to preorder the books coming out later this year.

I want to throw some quick disclaimers out there: I tried to double-check each of these for both sapphic content and that they are, in fact, by Black authors, but please let me know if I got anything wrong: reliable information about upcoming releases is always harder to find. If you’re an author of one of these books and would rather it wasn’t included in this list for any reason, let me know and I’ll remove it.

Also, let me know in the comments if I missed any sapphic books by Black authors out this year! I’m always looking for more. At this point, there isn’t a lot of information out there about books coming out in the back half of the year, so this list ends in June.

Scroll down for the publisher descriptions of all of these titles, or you can browse through them on


Dead in Long Beach, California by Venita Blackburn (Queer Fiction)

the cover of Dead in Long Beach, California

Coral is the first person to discover her brother Jay’s dead body in the wake of his suicide. There’s no note, only a drably furnished bachelor pad in Long Beach, California, and a cell phone with a handful of numbers in it. Coral pockets the phone. And then she starts responding to texts as her dead brother.

Over the course of one week, Coral, the successful yet lonely author of a hit dystopian novel, Wildfire, becomes increasingly untethered from reality. Blindsided by grief and operating with reckless determination, she doubles –and triples–down on posing as her brother, risking not only her own sanity but her relationship with her precocious niece, Khadijah. As Coral’s swirl of lies slowly closes in on her, the quirky and mysterious alien world of Wildfire becomes enmeshed in her own reality, in the process pushing long-buried memories, traumas, and secrets dangerously into the present.

A form-shifting and soul-crunching chronicle of grief and crisis, Venita Blackburn’s debut novel, Dead in Long Beach, California, is a fleet-footed marvel of self-discovery and storytelling that explores the depths of humankind’s capacity for harm and healing. With the daring, often hilarious imagination that made her an acclaimed short-fiction innovator, Blackburn crafts a layered, page-turning reckoning with what it means to be alive, dead, and somewhere in between.

Broughtupsy by Christina Cooke (Lesbian Fiction)

the cover of Broughtupsy

At once cinematic yet intimate, Broughtupsy is an enthralling debut novel about a young Jamaican woman grappling with grief as she discovers her family, her home, is always just out of reach

Tired of not having a place to land, twenty-year-old Akúa flies from Canada to her native Jamaica to reconnect with her estranged sister Tamika. Their younger brother Bryson has recently passed from sickle cell anemia–the same disease that took their mother ten years prior–and Akúa carries his remains in a small wooden box with the hope of reassembling her family.

Over the span of two fateful weeks, Akúa and Tamika visit significant places from their childhood, but time spent with her sister only clarifies how different they are, and how years of living abroad have distanced Akúa from her home culture. “Am I Jamaican?” she asks herself again and again. Beneath these haunting doubts lie anger and resentment at being abandoned by her own blood. “Why didn’t you stay with me?” she wants to ask Tamika.

Wandering through Kingston with her brother’s ashes in tow, Akúa meets Jayda, a brash stripper who shows her a different side of the city. As the two grow closer, Akúa confronts the difficult reality of being gay in a deeply religious family, and what being a gay woman in Jamaica actually means.

By turns diasporic family saga, bildungsroman, and terse sexual awakening, Broughtupsy is a profoundly moving debut novel that asks: what do we truly owe our family, and what are we willing to do to savor the feeling of home?

Pomegranate by Helen Elaine Lee (Queer Woman Fiction) (Paperback Rerelease)

the cover of Pomegranate by Helen Elaine Lee

Ranita Atwater is “getting short.”

She is almost done with her four-year sentence for opiate possession at Oak Hills Correctional Center. Three years sober, she is determined to stay clean and regain custody of her two children. Ranita is regaining her freedom, but she’s leaving behind her lover Maxine, who has inspired her to imagine herself and the world differently.

My name is Ranita, and I’m an addict, she has said again and again at recovery meetings. But who else is she? Who might she choose to become? Now she must steer clear of the temptations that have pulled her down, while atoning for her missteps and facing old wounds. With a fierce, smart, and sometimes funny voice, Ranita reveals how rocky and winding the path to wellness is for a Black woman, even as she draws on family, memory, faith, and love in order to choose life.

Pomegranate is a complex portrayal of queer Black womanhood and marginalization in America from an author “working at the height of her powers” (Tayari Jones, New York Times bestselling). In lyrical and precise prose, Helen Elaine Lee paints a humane and unflinching portrait of the devastating effects of incarceration and addiction, and of one woman’s determination to tell her story.

Faebound by Saara El-Arifi (Sapphic Fantasy)

the cover of Faebound

Two elven sisters become imprisoned in the intoxicating world of the fae, where danger and love lie in wait. Faebound is the first book in an enchanting new trilogy from the Sunday Times bestselling author of The Final Strife.

Yeeran was born on the battlefield, has lived on the battlefield, and one day, she knows, she’ll die on the battlefield.

As a warrior in the elven army, Yeeran has known nothing but violence her whole life. Her sister, Lettle, is trying to make a living as a diviner, seeking prophecies of a better future.

When a fatal mistake leads to Yeeran’s exile from the Elven Lands, both sisters are forced into the terrifying wilderness beyond their borders.There they encounter the impossible: the fae court. The fae haven’t been seen for a millennium. But now Yeeran and Lettle are thrust into their seductive world, torn among their loyalties to each other, their elven homeland, and their hearts.

Escaping Mr. Rochester by L.L. McKinney (Sapphic YA Jane Eyre Retelling)

the cover of Escaping Mr. Rochester

In this fresh reimagining of Charlotte Brontë‘s classic novel by acclaimed author L. L. McKinney, Jane Eyre and Bertha Mason must save each other from the horrifying machinations of Mr. Rochester in this intrigue-filled, empowering young adult romance.

Jane Eyre has no interest in a husband. Eager to make her own way in the world, she accepts the governess position at Thornfield Hall.

Though her new employer, Edward Rochester, has a charming air–not to mention a handsome face–Jane discovers that his smile can sharpen in an instant. Plagued by Edward’s mercurial mood and the strange wails that echo through the corridors, Jane grows suspicious of the secrets hidden within Thornfield Hall–unaware of the true horrors lurking above her very head.

On the topmost floor, Bertha Mason is trapped in more ways than one. After her whirlwind marriage to Edward turned into a nightmare, he locked her away as revenge for withholding her inheritance. Now his patience grows thin in the face of Bertha’s resilience and Jane’s persistent questions, and both young women are in more danger than they realize.

When their only chance at safety–and perhaps something more–is in each other’s arms, can they find and keep one another safe before Edward’s dark machinations close in around them?

So Let Them Burn by Kamilah Cole (Lesbian and Demisexual Fantasy)

the cover of So Let Them Burn

Whip-smart and immersive, this Jamaican-inspired fantasy follows a gods-blessed heroine who’s forced to choose between saving her sister or protecting her homeland–perfect for fans of Iron Widow and The Priory of the Orange Tree.

Faron Vincent can channel the power of the gods. Five years ago, she used her divine magic to liberate her island from its enemies, the dragon-riding Langley Empire. But now, at seventeen, Faron is all powered up with no wars to fight. She’s a legend to her people and a nuisance to her neighbors.

When she’s forced to attend an international peace summit, Faron expects that she will perform tricks like a trained pet and then go home. She doesn’t expect her older sister, Elara, forming an unprecedented bond with an enemy dragon–or the gods claiming the only way to break that bond is to kill her sister.

As Faron’s desperation to find another solution takes her down a dark path, and Elara discovers the shocking secrets at the heart of the Langley Empire, both must make difficult choices that will shape each other’s lives, as well as the fate of their world.


The Poisons We Drink by Bethany Baptiste (Bisexual YA Fantasy) (March 5)

the cover of The Poisons We Drink

Love potions is a dangerous business. Brewing has painful, debilitating side effects, and getting caught means death or a prison sentence. But what Venus is most afraid of is the dark, sentient magic within her.

Then an enemy’s iron bullet kills her mother, Venus’s life implodes. Keeping her reckless little sister Janus safe is now her responsibility. When the powerful Grand Witcher, the ruthless head of her coven, offers Venus the chance to punish her mother’s killer, she has to pay a steep price for revenge. The cost? Brew poisonous potions to enslave D.C.’s most influential politicians.

As Venus crawls deeper into the corrupt underbelly of her city, the line between magic and power blurs, and it’s hard to tell who to trust…Herself included.

The Poisons We Drink is a potent YA debut about a world where love potions are weaponized against hate and prejudice, sisterhood is unbreakable, and self-love is life and death.

These Letters End in Tears by Musih Tedji Xaviere (Sapphic Fiction) (March 12)

the cover of These Letters End In Tears

Set in a country where being gay is punishable by law, These Letters End in Tears is the heart-wrenching forbidden love story of a Christian girl with a rebellious heart and a Muslim girl leading a double life.

Bessem notices Fatima for the first time on the soccer field–muscular and focused, she’s the only woman playing and seems completely at ease. When Fatima chases a rogue ball in her direction, Bessem freezes, mesmerized by the athlete’s charm and beauty. One playful wink from Fatima, and Bessem knows her life will never be the same.

In Cameroon, a country where same-sex relationships are punishable by law, the odds are stacked against Bessem and Fatima from the start. And when Fatima’s older brother, a staunch Muslim, finds out about their affair, he intervenes by physically assaulting them, an incident that precedes a police raid at the only gay bar in town. After spending days in jail, Fatima goes missing without a trace, and Bessem is left with only rumors of her whereabouts. Has Fatima been sentenced to an unknown prison? Has she been banished from her community, or married off, as some have suggested? Or something even more sinister?

Thirteen years later, Bessem is now a university professor leading a relatively quiet life, occasionally and secretly dating other women. However, she has never forgotten Fatima. After spotting a mutual friend for the first time in years–the last person who may have seen Fatima–Bessem embarks on a winding search for her lost love.

Those Beyond the Wall (The Space Between Worlds #2) by Micaiah Johnson (Sapphic Science Fiction) (March 12)

the cover of Those Beyond the Wall

Faced with a coming apocalypse, a woman must reckon with her past to solve a series of sudden and inexplicable deaths in a searing sci-fi thriller from the Compton Crook Award-winning author of The Space Between Worlds.

In Ashtown, a rough-and-tumble desert community, the Emperor rules with poisoned claws and an iron fist. He can’t show any sign of weakness, as the neighboring Wiley City has spent lifetimes beating down the people of Ashtown and would love nothing more than its downfall. There’s only one person in the desert the Emperor can fully trust–and her name is Scales.

Scales is the best at what she does: keeping everyone and everything in line. As a skilled mechanic–and an even more skilled fighter, when she needs to be–Scales is a respected member of the Emperor’s crew, who’s able to keep things running smoothly. But the fragile peace Scales helps to maintain is fractured when a woman is mangled and killed before her eyes. Even more incomprehensible: There doesn’t seem to be a murderer.

When more bodies start to turn up, both in Ashtown and in the wealthier, walled-off Wiley City, Scales is tasked with finding the cause–and putting an end to it by any means necessary. To protect the people she loves, she teams up with a frustratingly by-the-books partner from Ashtown and a brusque-but-brilliant scientist from the City, delving into both worlds to track down an invisible killer.

But the answers Scales finds are bigger than she ever could have imagined, leading her into the brutal heart beneath Wiley City’s pristine façade and dredging up secrets from her own past that she would rather keep hidden. If she wants to save the world from the earth-shattering truths she uncovers, she can no longer remain silent–even if speaking up costs her everything.

Where Sleeping Girls Lie by Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé (Sapphic YA Horror) (March 19)

the cover of Where Sleeping Girls Lie

In Where Sleeping Girls Lie — a YA contemporary mystery by Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé, the New York Times-bestselling author of Ace of Spades  a girl new to boarding school discovers dark secrets and coverups after her roommate disappears.

It’s like I keep stumbling into a dark room, searching for the switch to make things bright again…

Sade Hussein is starting her third year of high school, this time at the prestigious Alfred Nobel Academy boarding school after being home-schooled all her life. Misfortune has been a constant companion all her life, but even Sade doesn’t expect her new roommate, Elizabeth, to disappear after Sade’s first night. Or for people to think she had something to do with it.

With rumors swirling around her, Sade catches the attention of the girls collectively known as the ‘Unholy Trinity’ and they bring her into their fold. Between learning more about them–especially Persephone, who Sade is inexplicably drawn to–and playing catchup in class, Sade already has so much on her plate. But when it seems people don’t care enough about what happened to Elizabeth to really investigate, it’s up to she and Elizabeth’s best friend to solve it.

And then a student is found dead.

As they keep trying to figure out what’s going on, Sade realizes there’s more to Alfred Nobel Academy and its students than she thought. Secrets lurk around every corner and beneath every surface…secrets that rival even her own.

Dead Girls Walking by Sami Ellis (Sapphic YA Horror) (March 26)

the cover of Dead Girls Walking

Sami Ellis’s Dead Girls Walking is a shocking, spine-chilling YA horror slasher about a girl searching for her dead mother’s body at the summer camp that was once her serial killer father’s home–perfect for fans of Friday the 13th and White Smoke.

Temple Baker knows that evil runs in her blood. Her father is the North Point Killer, an infamous serial killer known for how he marked each of his victims with a brand. He was convicted for murdering 20 people and was the talk of countless true crime blogs for years. Some say he was possessed by a demon. Some say that they never found all his victims. Some say that even though he’s now behind bars, people are still dying in the woods. Despite everything though, Temple never believed that her dad killed her mom. But when he confesses to that crime while on death row, she has no choice but to return to his old hunting grounds to try see if she can find a body and prove it.

Turns out, the farm that was once her father’s hunting grounds and her home has been turned into an overnight camp for queer, horror-obsessed girls. So Temple poses as a camp counselor to go digging in the woods. While she’s not used to hanging out with girls her own age and feels ambivalent at best about these true crime enthusiasts, she tries her best to fit in and keep her true identity hidden.

But when a girl turns up dead in the woods, she fears that one of her father’s “fans” might be mimicking his crimes. As Temple tries to uncover the truth and keep the campers safe, she comes to realize that there may be something stranger and more sinister at work–and that her father may not have been the only monster in these woods.


Something Kindred by Ciera Burch (Bisexual YA Gothic) (April 2)

the cover of Something Kindred

Welcome to Coldwater. Come for the ghosts, stay for the drama.

Jericka Walker had planned to spend the summer before senior year soaking up the sun with her best friend on the Jersey Shore. Instead she finds herself in Coldwater, Maryland, a small town with a dark and complicated past where her estranged grandmother lives–someone she knows only two things about: her name and the fact that she left Jericka’s mother and uncle when they were children. But now Jericka’s grandmother is dying, and her mother has dragged Jericka along to say goodbye.

As Jericka attempts to form a connection with a woman she’s never known, and adjusts to life in a town where everything closes before dinner, she meets “ghost girl” Kat, a girl eager to leave Coldwater and more exciting than a person has any right to be. But Coldwater has a few unsettling secrets of its own. The more you try to leave, the stronger the town’s hold. As Jericka feels the chilling pull of her family’s past, she begins to question everything she thought she knew about her mother, her childhood, and the lines between the living and the dead.


Thirsty by Jas Hammonds (Sapphic YA Contemporary) (May 14)

the cover of Thirsty by Jas Hammonds

It’s the summer before college and eighteen-year-old Blake Brenner and her girlfriend, Ella, have one goal: join the mysterious and exclusive Serena Society. The sorority promises status and lifelong connections to a network of powerful, trailblazing women of color. Ella’s acceptance is a sure thing–she’s the daughter of a Serena alum. Blake, however, has a lot more to prove.

As a former loner from a working-class background, Blake lacks Ella’s pedigree and confidence. Luckily, she finds courage at the bottom of a liquor bottle. When she drinks, she’s bold, funny, and unstoppable–and the Serenas love it. But as pledging intensifies, so does Blake’s drinking, until it’s seeping into every corner of her life. Ella assures Blake that she’s fine; partying hard is what it takes to make the cut . . .But success has never felt so much like drowning. With her future hanging in the balance and her past dragging her down, Blake must decide how far she’s willing to go to achieve her glittering dreams of success–and how much of herself she’s willing to lose in the process.

The 7-10 Split by Karmen Lee (F/F Romance) (May 21)

the cover of The 7-10 Split

This is how love rolls…

For teacher Ava Williams, some subjects are not up for debate. Like history–specifically, the one she has with Grace Jones, bowling pro and local celeb. Who is now, for no identifiable reason, teaching at the same small-town Georgia high school as Ava. Once upon a time, they were thick as thieves, best friends, rivals who pushed each other, and total bowling nerds. Then they shared a kiss, sweet and confusing…and after that, they split and nothing was ever the same.

Ava is pretty sure she has every reason to hate Grace. Especially when the school’s soggy potato of a principal announces–finally–that the students can have the bowling team Ava has been pushing for, for years…only to hand it to Grace.

Now they’re expected to be partners and lead their new bowling team to victory in six months. And with that, their rivalry is back. Fierce, ultracompetitive…and with an undeniable attraction that pushes, pulls and crashes together. It’s history. It’s chemistry. And it’s just a matter of time before it explodes…one way or the other.

Second Night Stand by Karelia Stetz-Waters and Fay Stetz-Waters (F/F Romance) (May 21)

the cover of Second Night Stand

Prima ballet dancer Lillian Jackson is all about control–on stage and in bed. Which is precisely why she keeps her hook-ups to one night, and one night only. No strings. No phone numbers. No scones in the morning. There’s no room for mistakes, especially now that her dance company’s survival depends entirely on winning a million-dollar cash prize in one of America’s biggest reality competitions. That is, until one night with a certain curvy, blue-haired siren changes everything . . .

As burlesque dancer “Blue Lenox,” Izzy Wells is the queen of on-stage seduction. Almost no one knows that she’s close to losing everything–her theater, her home, and her troupe–unless she wins this competition. Now she’s going toe-to-toe with a gorgeous ballerina in front of the world. The chemistry between them is hot, but even more distracting are the feelings they’re starting to develop. There’s no way Lillian can fit Izzy into her life, and Izzy knows better than to fall for someone who can’t put her first. But if they can make it through the show with their hearts and dreams intact, they just might win the biggest prize of all.

A Little Kissing Between Friends by Chencia C. Higgins (F/F Romance) (May 28)

the cover of A Little Kissing Between Friends

Music producer on the rise Cyn Tha Starr knows what she likes, from her sickening beats in the studio to the flirty femmes she fools around with. Her ever-rotating roster has never been a problem until her latest fling clashes with Jucee, her best friend and the most popular dancer at strip club Sanity.

It makes Cyn see Jucee in a different light. One with far fewer boundaries and a lot more kissing.

Juleesa Jones makes great money dancing the early shift and spends most evenings with her son, her Sanity family or at Cyn’s house. Relationships are not high on the priority list–until she’s forced to admit that maybe friendship isn’t the only thing she wants from her bestie.

But hooking up with your ride-or-die is risky. Jucee isn’t just Cyn’s best friend–Jucee is her muse. When Cyn lays down her beats, it’s Jucee she imagines in the club throwing it back to every note. If they aren’t careful, this could crash and burn…but isn’t real love worth it?


The Ballad of Jacquotte Delahaye by Briony Cameron (F/F Pirate Historical Fiction) (June 4)

the cover of The Ballad of Jacquotte Delahaye

This epic, dazzling tale based on true events illuminates a woman of color’s rise to power as one of the few purported female pirate captains to sail the Caribbean, and the forbidden love story that will shape the course of history.

In the tumultuous town of Yáquimo, Santo Domingo, Jacquotte Delahaye is an unknown but up-and-coming shipwright. Her dreams are bold but her ambitions are bound by the confines of her life with her self-seeking French father. When her way of life and the delicate balance of power in the town are threatened, she is forced to flee her home and become a woman on the run along with a motley crew of refugees, including a mysterious young woman named Teresa.

Jacquotte and her band become indentured servants to the infamous Blackhand, a ruthless pirate captain who rules his ship with an iron fist. As they struggle to survive his brutality, Jacquotte finds herself unable to resist Teresa despite their differences. When Blackhand hatches a dangerous scheme to steal a Portuguese shipment of jewels, Jacquotte must rely on her wits, resourcefulness, and friends to survive. But she discovers there is a grander, darker scheme of treachery at play, and she ultimately must decide what price she is willing to pay to secure a better future for them all.

An unforgettable tale told in three parts, The Ballad of Jacquotte Delahaye is a thrilling, buccaneering escapade filled with siege and battle, and is also a tender exploration of friendship, love, and the search for freedom and home.

Sleep Like Death by Kalynn Bayron (Bisexual YA Fantasy) (June 25)

the cover of Sleep Like Death

Cinderella is dead, but Snow White fights on . . .

New York Times bestselling author Kalynn Bayron makes her highly anticipated return to the realm of fairy tales with this thrilling twist on the classic story of Snow White.

Princess Eve was raised with one purpose: to destroy the Knight, an evil sorcerer who terrorizes Queens Bridge with his wicked magic. Her own unique magic–the ability to conjure weapons from nature–makes her a worthy adversary. Far too many of subjects of Queens Bridge have been devastated by the Knight’s trickery.

As she approaches her seventeenth birthday, Eve is ready to battle. But her mother, Queen Regina, has been acting bizarrely, talking to a strange mirror alone every night. Then a young man claiming to be the Knight’s messenger appears and shares a shocking truth about Eve’s past. Unsure of who to trust or what to do next, Eve must find the courage to do what she’s always done: fight. But will it be enough to save her family and her queendom?

You might also be interested in Reading Black Joy: 27 F/F Romances by Black Authors. You can also browse the Black Author tag for Lesbrary reviews of sapphic books by Black authors.

That’s How You Get the Girl: Taylor Swift 1989 (Taylor’s Version) Vault Tracks Sapphic Readalikes

On October 27th, 2014, the sapphic world changed for the better with the release of Taylor Swift’s 1989, which featured tracks such as “How You Get the Girl”, “Wonderland”, and “Welcome to New York”. Nine years later, 1989 (Taylor’s Version) is now out and made even better with five vault tracks that blend the music of 2014 and 2023 in a hypnotic earworm. As always, I can’t help but to compare Taylor’s lyrics to various titles I have read or heard about. If you are like me and want to have a Taylor song on a loop while you read a similar book, here are some readalikes to get you started!


the cover of Just Your Local Bisexual Disaster

But if I’m all dressed up / They might as well be looking at us / If they call me a slut / You know it might be worth it for once / And if I’m gonna be drunk / Might as well be drunk in love

Taylor’s first vault track, “Slut!”, was rumored to be a condemnation of the double standards between men and women dating, based on her romantic history (much in the same vein as “Blank Space”). However, this song is less a call to arms as it is a tender look at a new relationship and how it can make you feel invincible, even amongst public opinion. In the same vein, I am reminded of how society stereotypes bisexual people as greedy or indecisive, which is explored in Andrea Mosqueda’s Just Your Local Bisexual Disaster. Maggie is the epitome of the messy bisexual as she falls for not one, not two, but three of her friends and tries to figure out not just her love life, but what she has planned for the future. I think that Maggie would be obsessed with Slut! just as I am.

“Say Don’t Go”

the cover of Jagged Little Pill

I’m standing on a tightrope alone / I hold my breath a little bit longer / Halfway out the door, but it won’t close / I’m holding out for you to say, “Don’t go” / I would stay forever if you say, “Don’t go”

“Say Don’t Go” is a lament about an one-sided romance that leaves Taylor by herself, knowing that her partner does not love her and yet still craving that validation from them. Similarly, in Eric Smith’s Alanis Morrissette-inspired ensemble novel Jagged Little Pill, Jo is in love with Frankie, the Black bisexual who can kiss her in private, but would rather commit publicly to a boy. Jo struggles with her mother continuously dismissing her sexuality and Frankie’s unwillingness to commit, making her almost a spokesperson for “Say Don’t Go”. I want to emphasize that Jagged Little Pill is an ensemble novel and focuses on other plotlines, leaving Jo and Frankie’s romantic plotline regretfully in the dust. 

Trigger warning: Jagged Little Pill contains theme of sexual assault, infidelity, and drug addiction.

“Now That We Don’t Talk”

We Used To Be Friends by Amy Spalding

I don’t have to pretend I like acid rock / Or that I’d like to be on a mega yacht / With important men who speak important thoughts / Guess maybe I am better off / Now that we don’t talk

Taylor’s ode to past friendships and how she feels both free and regretful about not having certain people in her life anymore is an universal refrain, with TikTok users now using the chorus to share what they don’t have to pretend to like anymore to be liked. Upon hearing “Now That We Don’t Talk”, I immediately thought of Amy Spalding’s We Used to Be Friends, which explores the most traumatic breakup of all: that of childhood besties. At the start of their senior year in high school, James (a girl with a boy’s name) and Kat are inseparable, but by graduation, they’re no longer friends. James prepares to head off to college as she reflects on the dissolution of her friendship with Kat while, in alternating chapters, Kat thinks about being newly in love with her first girlfriend and having a future that feels wide open. Over the course of senior year, Kat wants nothing more than James to continue to be her steady rock, as James worries that everything she believes about love and her future is a lie when her high-school sweetheart parents announce they’re getting a divorce. If I didn’t know better, I’d almost think that Taylor wrote “Now That We Don’t Talk” after reading We Used to Be Friends.

“Suburban Legends”

the cover of D'Vaughn and Kris Plan a Wedding

I didn’t come here to make friends / We were born to be suburban legends / When you hold me, it holds me together / And you kiss me in a way that’s gonna screw me up forever

“Suburban Legends” feels like the romantic cousin of “Long Live (Taylor’s Version)”—the song tells the story of two star-crossed lovers who find success beyond their small town but try to stay together against all odds, even as it fails. The pressures of fame and the sweetness of love mix together in this poppy ode to love that shouldn’t exist and maybe won’t. I heartily recommend reading D’Vaughn and Kris Plan a Wedding by Chencia C. Higgins after listening to “Suburban Legends”. D’Vaughn and Kris are paired on a reality TV show to convince their families that they are getting married in six weeks, and while the two have different goals for being on the show, they never planned on meeting the love of their lives and being fake-engaged to them. There are many discussions of fame and how the reality TV setting inherently changes the course of Kris and D’Vaughn’s relationship, making this a perfect read alike for “Suburban Legends”.

“Is It Over Now?”

the cover of Cruel Seduction

Baby, was it over / When she laid down on your couch? / Was it over when he unbuttoned my blouse?

“Is It Over Now” is both a song about cheating and a song about being cheated on; the singer sings about a failed relationship and reminisces whether it had truly ended even while the relationship continued. In similar taste, Cruel Seduction by Katee Robert is full of tangled love affairs and hearts being broken and healed (often within the same interactions). Aphrodite may be in an arranged marriage with one of the most hated men in Olympus, Hephaestus, but that doesn’t mean she is going to submit to him. If anything, she is going to keep fighting to get her way, even if it means seducing her new husband’s sister, Pandora. However, two can play at this game, and Hephaestus seduces Aphrodite’s ex-boyfriend, Adonis. This polyamorous dark romance will have you gasping from both the sexiness of Robert’s writing and the political mechanics that flow throughout Olympus. 

You can get a copy of any of these titles from your local bookstore or library, or you can get a copy through Bookshop. 

Chloe (they/he) is a public librarian in Baltimore, who identifies as Indigenous, autistic, and panromantic demisexual. They enjoy reading queer literature for any age group, as well as fantasy, contemporary, and romance. In their spare time, they act in their local community theaters, play D&D, and are halfway through their MLiS program. You can find them on Goodreads, Twitter, or Instagram.

Tags: Chloe Scully, music, readlikes, Taylor Swift, pop music, Just Your Local Bisexual Disaster, Andrea Mosqueda, love triangle, bisexual, lesbian, young adult, Jagged Little Pill, Alanis Morrissette, Eric Smith, We Used To Be Friends, Amy Spalding, friends to enemies, D’Vaughn and Kris Plan A Wedding, Chencia C. Higgins, Black author, Chicana author, reality TV, Cruel Seduction, Katee Robert, polyamory, Greek mythology

The Lesbrary’s Favorite Sapphic Books of 2023

Every year, Danika and the other Lesbrary reviewers talk about our favorite sapphic books we read this year, whether they were published in 2023 or not. This time, there are so many reviewers at the Lesbrary that we needed to split this into two posts. The next one will round up Danika’s top ten-ish sapphic books of the year, and this one is the top sapphic book from nine of the other Lesbrary reviewers.

These picks range from brand-new 2023 releases to a 1950s novel, and they include genres from fantasy and sci-fi to memoir to graphic novels, romance, and more. There’s something here for everyone!

Without further ado, here are the Lesbrary reviewers’ favorite sapphic books they read this year!

The Chosen and the Beautiful by Nghi Vo

the cover of The Chosen and the Beautiful

My favorite sapphic read of 2023 was The Chosen and the Beautiful by Nghi Vo. This made me appreciate The Great Gatsby more, as I never really liked the original. But coming from Jordan’s perspective, it really fleshed the side characters out more and left Jay Gatsby on the sidelines.

The added magical elements gave it another dimension that melded well with the setting, including the racial tensions happening between Asians and Asian Americans in the country.

Check out my full review for more of my thoughts.


Hijab Butch Blues by Lamya H.

the cover of Hijab Butch Blues

Hijab Butch Blues by Lamya H. is a coming-of-age memoir that connects stories from the Quran to the author’s own experiences, from discovering her sexuality and gender, to navigating crushes and dating, to moving to the U.S. and struggling to find community as a queer hijabi Muslim. With honest reflection, the author discusses such issues as having white Americans invalidate her queerness for, among other things, choosing not to come out to her parents, as well as the string of straight women she crushed on in order to feel safe from the murky waters of the next steps. In each case, her faith provides strength and solace.

This memoir is something special. Despite the audiobook not being narrated by the author, listening to it felt as personal as if it were. The book’s depiction of survival in the face of alienation particularly resonated with me, especially with all the ways the author finds to both connect with and stay guarded from themself and others. The book is beautifully written and deeply contemplative, with the stories from the Quran providing a compelling framework for each essay. I’m sure many readers will find meaning in this bold tale of reclamation.

Content warnings: suicidal ideation; bigotry including islamophobia, racism, xenophobia, homophobia, transphobia, and misogyny; and discussions of domestic abuse. —Emory Rose

If You’ll Have Me by Eunnie

the cover of If You'll Have Me

Everyone who knows me knows I love, love, love graphic novels. Every sapphic I’ve spoken to this summer knows that I AM OBSESSED WITH THIS BOOK. It is the perfect blend of fluffy, sweet, funny, heartfelt, sincere, aching-but-not-torturous. The main characters are delightfully charming but still fully realized, multidimensional and struggling with their own conflicts and baggage.

I’ve already reviewed it here, but it’s basically a peak low-stakes slice-of-life fluff and healing relationship dynamics. It’s not a manhwa/manga, though there is a undeniable stylistic influence. But it is SO GOOD and should be right up there with Heartstopper and Bloom and Lumberjanes and all those other coming-of-age graphic novels, even if this one is set in college and deals with slightly older characters than those. —Anna N.

I Keep My Exoskeletons to Myself by Marisa Crane

the cover of I Keep My Exoskeletons to Myself

I Keep My Exoskeletons To Myself is a fascinating look at an autocratic society that relies on shame and guilt as a form of punishment. The story is told in the second person, with Kris (our protagonist) speaking to her baby and offering some small bits of background as the story progresses. It is very character-driven as we see Kris’s world form and change around her child, even as she questions the injustices of the world she was born into. For a book that deals with some incredibly hard themes, I Keep My Exoskeletons To My Self is surprisingly accessible and simple. I would recommend this book for fans of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter and Julia Armfield’s Our Wives Under the Sea.  —Chloe

Iris Kelly Doesn’t Date by Ashley Herring Blake

the cover of Iris Kelly Doesn't Date

As a massive fan of the Bright Falls series, picking my favorite book of the year was pretty easy. Iris Kelly Doesn’t Date has all the same emotional weight, charm, and humor of the previous entries in the series. The chemistry between Iris and Stevie is palpable, with plenty of tantalizing lead-up to their eventual realization that their “fake relationship” was something more. The way Ashley Herring Blake plays with common tropes in romance was also fantastic. Lastly, what really sets the book apart from so many other was how love and affection were represented as sometimes as just being there for your partner and putting in the work when they need you. It’s a definite must-read for any fan of contemporary sapphic romance. —Jamie

The Price of Salt by Patricia Highsmith

Price of Salt cover

This book is the epitome of sapphic yearning. I’m so glad to have finally read a sapphic classic with a happy ending. It was the healing I desperately needed. What I loved most about the book is how openly and intimately we delve into the character’s thoughts and feelings. The movie adaptation, starring Cate Blanchett, was brilliant and breathed new life into the characters! It was refreshing! Rarely do I love both the book and the movie adaptation and this was one of those remarkable exceptions!

I loved how Highsmith crafted each scene: it was profoundly contemplative and emotionally charged. A masterpiece! —SK

The Raven and the Reindeer by T. Kingfisher

The Raven and the Reindeer cover

This felt like such a wonderful year of sapphic reads that it’s hard to pick just one, but I think that I’ll have to go with The Raven and the Reindeer by T. Kingfisher. Maybe it’s cheating because technically I read it years ago and it’s one of the first sapphic books I read, but this was the first year that I revisited it to see if it held up. It absolutely did! It’s a reimagining of Hans Christian Anderson’s “The Snow Queen” and is the perfect wintry read. The story follows Gerta, determined to find her friend Kay stolen away by the Snow Queen, but she quickly learns that perhaps this isn’t as simple of a story as she thought. It has bandits and witches and magical flying otters, and yet amidst all of this, Gerta feels so real as a girl finally coming into her own. I’ll read anything by T. Kingfisher, but a sapphic retelling with a snarky raven named Mousebones will always rise to the top for me. —Katherine

Some Desperate Glory by Emily Tesh

the cover of Some Desperate Glory

My favorite sapphic book of 2023 was Some Desperate Glory by Emily Tesh.  Tesh wove an incredible queer space opera with complex worldbuilding, a space cult, and aliens. Then she gave her main character Kyr one of the best redemption arcs I’ve encountered since Zuko in Avatar: the Last Airbender. I’ve rarely experienced such a complete turnaround in going from finding a character insufferable to rooting for them completely, and I want everyone to enjoy this expert character work with me.

The field of hit science fiction has been joyfully crowded the past couple of years between The Locked Tomb and Murderbot, but if you’re in between books of those two worthy series, I would pencil Some Desperate Glory into your schedule. I couldn’t put it down once I got started. —Maggie

Those Who Wait by Haley Cass

the cover of Those Who Wait by Haley Cass

My favorite sapphic romance that I read this year is Those Who Wait (2020) by Haley Cass. Hopeless Sutton Spencer meets the much more confident Charlotte Thompson after Sutton’s friend signs her up for a dating app. Sounds good, but what’s the twist? Sutton is a congressman’s daughter, and Charlotte is trying to get that congressman’s endorsement as she attempts to become one of the youngest people ever to be elected to Congress. Oh, and Charlotte is also the granddaughter of a former president. If you miss The West Wing but could live without the Sorkin gaze, then read Those Who Wait immediately. Here’s hoping a studio or streamer picks this novel up and gives it the Bridgerton treatment in 2024. —Liv

All The Pretty Girls Read Sapphic Stories: More Readalikes for Reneé Rapp’s Snow Angel

the album cover of Snow Angel

If you have Reneé Rapp’s album Snow Angel playing on repeat, these are the sapphic books you need to read! Pick up the one that matches your favorite song, or get the whole stack if it’s too hard to pick. You can get a copy of any of these titles from your local bookstore or library, or you can get a copy through Bookshop. Click here for Part One! 

“Pretty Girls”

the cover of Girls Like Girls

In the p.m., all the pretty girls/They have a couple drinks, all the pretty girls/So now, they wanna kiss all the pretty girls/They got to have a taste of a pretty girl

Pretty Girls is a song for people who keep falling for “straight” girls, and a celebration of those exploring their sexuality, even if it feels frustratingly drawn out to the other person. In the same vein, Girls Like Girls by Hayley Kiyoko, inspired by the sapphic anthem of the early aughts, follows the story of Coley and Sonya, two teenage girls in rural Oregon who each find themselves falling for the other girl. This lyrical debut novel fills out the gaps in the plot to Kiyoko’s music video, but balances the overall sweetness of the summertime romance with an exploration of grief and what it means to be out in today’s society. I think Pretty Girls would fit in beautifully during the summer romance montages that Girls Like Girls lays out.

“Tummy Hurts”

the cover of she is a haunting

Now my tummy hurts, he’s in love with her/But for what it’s worth, they’d make beautiful babies/And raise ’em up to be a couple of/Fucking monsters, like their mother and their father

In Tummy Hurts, Rapp explores a past relationship through an analysis of heartbreak, grief, and bittersweet predictions of the continuing cycle of unhealthy relationships. This song contradicts and supports the exploration through using a childlike imagery of an upset stomach and the consequences of an unhealthy romance. If you are looking for a book that explores being haunted by a past relationship or dysfunctional relationships, I would recommend reading She is a Haunting by Trang Thanh Tran. In this horror young adult novel, Jade is visiting her estranged father and her only goal is to end the five-week visit with the college money he has promised her—but only if she can seem straight, Vietnamese, and American enough. However, Jade can’t ignore the effects of colonization on the house or a ghost bride’s warnings to not eat anything. She is a Haunting explores the concept of places being haunted by dysfunctional family dynamics, just as “Tummy Hurts” explores the haunting of a romantic relationship.

“I Wish”

Honey Girl by Morgan Rogers cover

I wish I could still see the world through those eyes/Could still see the colors, but they’re not as clear or as bright/Oh, the older we get, the colors they change/Yeah, hair turns to gray, but the blue’s here to stay/So I wish, I wish

“I Wish” is the Pisces moon of Snow Angel, with Rapp singing about how she wished she didn’t know about death as a concept. This sweet ballad mourns the loss of an important figure and the resultant loss of innocence in the world around her. Similarly, Honey Girl by Morgan Rogers explores themes of existential dread, fear of not living up to people’s expectations, and a loss of innocence once you grow up. Twenty-eight-year-old Grace Porter goes to Vegas to celebrate getting her PhD in astronomy, but accidentally ends up getting drunkenly married to a strange woman from New York. This triggers a rush of questions about herself, including why she doesn’t feel more fulfilled in her life, and Grace flees home to move in with her unfamiliar wife. Honey Girl is a story about self-growth, finding queer community, and taking a journey towards better mental health, and it honestly made me cry as much as I Wish did the first time I listened to it.


the cover of Even Though I Knew the End

Don’t cry, don’t cry, Willow/I’ll cry, Willow/Willow/I’ll cry for you

Willow is another sad ballad, in which Renee talks to her younger self (metaphorically) under a willow tree, and tries to reassure them that everything will be alright. This concept of wanting to take away someone’s pain, regardless of your own, made me think of one of my favorite novellas, Even Though I Knew the End by C. L. Polk. Elena Brandt is the hardboiled detective of mystery noire past, with her private eye set up in a magical 1930’s Chicago, and a lady love waiting in the wings for her. However, Elena’s days are numbered and she decides to spend the last of them with said lady love, Edith. Just as she is about to leave the city, a potential client offers her $1,000 to find the White City Vampire, Chicago’s most notorious serial killer. To sweeten the pot, the client offers something more precious—the chance to grow old with Edith. As Elena dives into the affairs of Chicago’s divine monsters to secure a future with the love of her life, she learns that nothing is as she thought it was. If you want a read that will capture your mind and heart for an afternoon, then grab a copy of C. L. Polk’s Even Though I Knew the End. 


Let's Talk About Love by Claire Kann cover

But tomorrow I turn twenty-three/And it feels like everyone hates me/So, how old do you have to be/To live so young and careless?/My wish is that I cared less/At twenty-three

Finally, 23 explores the emotional turmoil and questioning that can come with turning twenty-three years old. Rapp’s lingering lyrics ask why she doesn’t feel like she has been succeeding in life, especially when compared to society’s expectations and assumptions about her career. By the end of the song, Rapp expresses the hope that she can grow into herself as a person and learn to love herself more by her next birthday. In the same vein, Let’s Talk About Love by Claire Kahn is about a nineteen Black year old college student named Alice, whose summer was going to be perfect until her girlfriend broke up with her for being asexual. Alice had planned on remaining single as to never experience being rejected for her sexuality again, but then she meets Takumi, and Alice has to decide if she’s willing to risk their friendship for a love that might not be reciprocated—or understood. A huge theme in Alice’s story is that of figuring out what you want to do and/or be as opposed to what your family and friends (or society) expects from you, whether it is about your sexuality or career choices. I think Alice would be wistfully listening to 23 right before the climatic third act, as she contemplates what to do.

Chloe (they/he) is a public librarian in Baltimore, who identifies as Indigenous, autistic, and panromantic demisexual. They enjoy reading queer literature for any age group, as well as fantasy, contemporary, and romance. In their spare time, they act in local community theaters, play D&D, and are halfway through their MLiS program. You can find them on Goodreads, Twitter, or Instagram.

What is the Point of Art?: Reflections On FlameCon

Last Christmas, a close friend turned to me and plaintively, frustratedly asked “What is the point of art?”

Our table had been discussing the increasing reports about creative exploitation and unfair compensation in film and television. The cloudy night had cast a gloomy mood over us despite the holiday cheer, our low spirits punctuated by our shared inability to come up with a convincing answer. I left dinner discontent, her words spinning in my mind sans resolution.

But a little over half a year later, I found one at FlameCon. Amidst the brilliant colors, cosplays and ebullient chatter occasionally interrupted by the loud enthusiasm of people finally meeting a favorite creator or one whose work really got them in their hyper-specific sweet spot for sapphic selkie girls or messy, morally ambiguous alien anthropologists, I saw how the shared language of fandom, of queer art theory, of the internet-enabled intersection between the two, was all bringing people together.

a photo of Alyssa Wong wearing a rainbow mask and holding up Doctor Aphra comics

Alyssa Wong, current writer for my most favorite Star Wars thing ever: the Doctor Aphra comics. This is for all of you who think a museum heist in outer space sounds like a fun date night idea. It is also for any sapphic who envied Han Solo’s swagger and was also totally convinced they’d have treated Leia way better than him…. even though your dating history strongly suggests otherwise.

Even as the United States sees massive rollbacks to basic LGBTQ+ rights and literary freedom, queer stories are more in demand than ever—I walk through the YA section of my local library regularly, filled with the bittersweet delight of seeing an ever-growing number of explicitly sapphic books on the shelves. We didn’t even have Pride Month displays when I was a kid, and I only stumbled upon Malinda Lo’s Ash after a straight crush told me it was “weird”. But now, there are organized movements vocally, visually defending the right to read graphic novels like Fun Home, Moonstruck, Gender Queer, and This One Summer. I couldn’t even say the word gay until I started college, let alone imagine going to a fan convention that celebrates both the biggest out names on the Big 2 roster and the smallest self-published zine creators with abundantly gay abandon.

“FlameCon is so beautiful, because this is something we didn’t have in the small press, self-publishing world 10 years ago. And it was always fun because, like finding those other creators walking around, you form that community in ‘meatspace’. And then they become the people that are recommending stuff and you’re reading their stuff. They’re helping you find other stuff. Because I know you’ve all said titles that I’ve never heard of, you know? That sort of thing is really cool when you’re going through a conversation.”

~ Greg Lockard (he/him

With its volunteer-run programming and many, many self-published book and zine sellers, FlameCon offers attendees a little oasis of creator-controlled and riotously boundless self-expression. It’s a chance for people to network, take note of rising talent, and celebrate the stories that mean the most to them. Usually by completely transforming them. Alternate New Yorks, Superbat kisses, and bloodstained femgaze fighters are just a taste of what’s on display. There was also, as always, a spectacular array of anime merch that eluded my not insignificant knowledge of the genre.

I was pleased to note, however, that recent internet trends had sparked new fervor for the Trigun franchise. Merilly fanfiction has long been my safe harbor, the sort of tender, deeply felt sapphic relationship that doesn’t have the heightened emotional fraughtness of Harlivy or the raw-nerve traumatic underpinnings of Korrasami, Bubbline, Hollstein, or most other favorites. It warms my heart to watch others find such harbors for themselves, and then populate them with all manner of original works—like the grounded and sweet “Girls Like You” webcomic, or the unhinged goldmine that is SuperCorp fanfiction. Seriously, the ingenuity and independence of queer creators never ceases to surprise.

“…capitalism is not on our side. Capitalism is only interested in passing, advertising, marketing and so on to the widest market segment available. So we can’t even run a paid ad to tell you our stuff exists. Because we can’t advertise it, because the best we can do is maybe target like RuPaul’s Drag Race or a piece of media that is so large that Facebook thinks it’s worth targeting. So you are much better served by following creators.”

~ Chris Ceary (she/her

Don’t hesitate to follow people whose current project is not your thing, because their next project may be. Writers especially do all kinds of weird, weird things.”

~ S.W. Sondheimer (she/her

Which brings me to the point of it all. Art is our oldest and deepest form of communication, of connection. Whether that takes the form of riotous cheering after a speaker drops a deep-cut reference, or the audience’s knowing smiles when every panelist mentions a history of fanfic or fanart, there is a sense of community to be found through sharing stories. In finding the words to describe our experiences—finally being able to articulate who we are and knowing how we got here—we learn to understand others. Maybe not as well as ourselves, but there is something beautiful about the way art can offer us reflections that ring truer than anything we see in the backlit silhouettes on department store windows.

To paraphrase what Maia Kobabe said in the excellent short documentary “No Straight Lines”, sometimes we don’t recognize ourselves in photographs, in silver-lined mirrors whose reflections don’t offer much in the way of silver linings. But in art, we can draw/write/portray ourselves however we want. However we feel, need, believe, desire, live, and wish. And that can open up possibilities we couldn’t perceive before we took a pen in hand.

Art teaches us that we are not alone, and that shared passions can lie in unexpected people. Watching the milling crowds trading artwork and recommendations, I couldn’t help but smile. Because all those little communications open windows into others’ lives, offering languages both visual and textual for sharing and validating our experiences, and for making meaning of them. Those conversations show that people care, for better or worse, what others have to say about the world we live in. That they are still looking for stories to share, to adapt, to define the future they are building for themselves and others.

“If I am writing about a culture different than my own, I have multiple people from that background read my work, and I’m really sad that we use this term ‘sensitivity readers’. What I call it is fact checking. You know, if I put in a tractor mechanic, I want a tractor mechanic to read this and make sure it looks right.”

~ Jennifer Camper (she/her

On another panel, Charlie Jane Anders and other spec fic writers recommended Nisi Shawl and Cynthia Ward’s Writing the Other for all those aspiring writers wondering how to write diversity into their characters. Meanwhile, Camper continued with recommendations to at least start by reading works by people from the communities or identities you wish to represent, in order to see how they choose to represent themselves—and why.

a photo of Jennifer Camper wearing a black mask and holding up the book I am Not a Terrorist: And Other Stories
a photo of Jennifer Camper's table of zines, sticker sheets, and books

Jennifer Camper and some of her contributions to queer comics history. This woman is an icon. Find a copy of “No Straight Lines” at your local (university?) library for a glimpse at the truly rich history of this slowly growing slice of self-expression.

Speaking of how people choose to represent themselves, I planned to write something poignant and touching about the panel on queer vampires, but I was so swept away by the energy and cheering and pure delight of being immersed in all my favorite aspects of my favorite niche interests (queer history, monstrousness in art, lesbian vampires, B-movie metaphors, etc.) that I came out of it with a sense of complete restorative well being…and that’s it. It’s amazing how wonderful those moments of total acceptance feel after a lifetime of self-censorship, how powerful, affirming and centering it is to experience such enthusiastic communal understanding. 

“I like working with Claudia Aguierre because…she’s a queer, lesbian, Mexican woman. And so I can write stuff in there that’s queer and Mexican...Like, there is a shorthand that I think comes with working with other queer people and it sometimes feels a little more like freedom. You’re like, “Okay, I don’t have to explain.””

~ Terry Blas (he/him

“I always bring all the different little pride stickers and lay them out. And then I get these kids who walk up and like, that’s awesome. These feral teens, it’s like “I see you, I was you, I get it” and I think that’s the key thing. We talk about things like gaydar—we do have a way of finding each other out in the world, which I think is really cool.”

~ David R. Slayton (he/him

This year, I bought a Vashwood print for someone close to me, who abruptly came out over the phone when I casually mentioned that I couldn’t talk because I was at “a gay comic-con”. 

This little anecdote is a testament to how even the most innocuous complaints about Ino and Hinata being a better endgame, or jokes about cosplaying “all the black-haired bisexuals” may come across as cringy to some, but show others that you are someone they can turn to. Someone they can trust. Someone who will hike up and down an artist’s alley to find them a slash print that is not gay enough to freak out their parents, but soft enough to offer hope for a loving future.

Symbols are powerful things, and as Barthes’ would likely agree, our modern mythmakers aren’t Homer, Ovid or Aesop (though their narrative structures and values continue to hold outsize influence). Our modern Hesiods include people like Stephanie Brown, Marjorie Liu, Kieron Gillen, and Natasha Alterici, whose art was one of the promotional prints for “Sharp Wit & The Company of Woman”. I love her art, and Heathen was an excellent interpretation of Norse mythology and regional history.

a photo of Stephanie Brown wearing a green mask holding the Nubia book

Stephanie Brown, writer for the Nubia series. I really appreciated the care Brown gave the characters’ backstories, as well as all the amazing artists who worked on the interiors. The cover gallery is gorgeous, too. It definitely benefits from a certain familiarity with DC comics lore, but it is a solid starting point for someone looking to dip their toes into the vast ocean of superhero comics.

While these creators may not be quite as canonized as the bust inspirations that came before, their contributions to queer imaginings are powerful refusals to soften edges, to keep room for complexity, fallibility and the driving forces of desire that echo through the most resonant legends. Their characters, in all their other-landishness, play with and subvert the abstraction of archetype to reveal far more boundary-blurring realities that hew closer to what it means to be human in an ever-changing and often destabilizing world. There are quiet reckonings on these pages, as world-shakers and mountain-movers make way for smaller-scale consequences that weigh no less heavy on their makers’ shoulders, or private pleasures that refuse to be generic or prescriptive, that insist on specificity and subjectivity for the characters even as their creators’ wink at the inspirations.

“…we get to problematize them and get to make them weirder and more interesting, but also simply more authentic sounding…I find if I’m writing a script for a comic where I know the artist is also queer, I don’t have to do as much work whereas if the artist is straight I’d have to be like ‘Male, handsome. Woman, don’t put the camera up her ass.’”

~ Anthony Oliveira (he/him

“I think things have really changed. And I hope they keep changing. And I hope that the more queer stories that we have out there, the more doors are open…now that we have more queer people writing queer characters…we don’t all have to be packaged a certain way to be respectable, to be commodified. So yeah, we’re just writing people, and people are messy and weird and delightful and awful, and it’s great.”

~ Alyssa Wong (they/them)

“Art requires truth” is one of the last lines from Mari Walker’s taut, disquieting 2021 character study See You Then. While I wasn’t able to attend the last panel on Intimacy in Comics, it was the line that came to mind while I was waiting for the train back home. In this era of microcurated realities and fandom mentalities that have spilled beyond con floors and discussion boards into arenas of greater effect, connection and the truth it demands of us take on new significance and meaning. Art takes on that meaning, that significance, that urgency. It becomes that hand reaching out through the obfuscation, opacity, fear and loathing; a reminder that there is so much more out in the world, and in history, than any of us can ever begin to experience. Can ever dream of imagining.

So make art, make love and tell the stories only you can.

a tweet from Yoshi Yoshitani that says, "To anyone who thinks 'oh I can't create this, it's already been done before :(' 

I have read approximately 50 'I was reincarnated as the villainess in an Otome game' stories and I am still looking for more. I will never tire of this.

So just make what you love"

NOTE: All the quotes are from published authors, artists, and editors. Check out their work!