8 Books with Established F/F Relationships from the Start

8 Books with Established F/F Relationships

Don’t get me wrong: I appreciate a slow burn romance as much as the next fanfic reader. But getting together isn’t the only story you can tell about a relationship—and in my opinion, it’s not even the most interesting one. What about everything that comes afterwards? How do they maintain that relationship over time? This is where books that start with an already established relationship shine. They can dive into the complexities of a long-term relationship, or they can just have a cute couple without introducing needless drama to keep them apart.

With f/f relationships, there can be even more appeal to these stories. Sometimes you just want to read a story about two women in love, and skip over all the obstacles to getting together. If you haven’t seen a lot of representation of f/f relationships, it’s reassuring to see what that looks like: not just the lead-up and the fade out on a happy ending, but the day-to-day of that relationship. With that in mind, here are 8 books that start with the f/f couples already together.

The Legend of Korra: Turf Wars Part OneThe Legend of Korra: Turf Wars by Bryan Konietzko, Michael Dante DiMartino, Irene Koh, and Vivian Ng

If you haven’t seen The Legend of Korra, stop reading and start there. If you haven’t even seen Avatar: the Last Airbender, clear your calendar for the next few days and do that first. Okay, now that we’re caught up and I can talk spoilers, the beginning of Turf Wars was exactly my queer heart could have asked for from a Korra sequel. It’s basically a Korra and Asami honeymoon, and they make it very clear for anyone not paying attention that they are a romantic couple. They only get more settled into this relationship as the series goes on (this is a trilogy, but you can get it collected in one volume). In some ways, it starts to fade into the background, but it’s nice to be able to take their relationship for granted.

Goldie Vance Vol 4The Goldie Vance series by Hope Larson, Brittney Williams, and Sarah Stern

Okay, I’m cheating a little bit with this one. They do get together in the first book, but from the second volume on, they’re an established relationship. Goldie Vance follows a teen detective, but the art style is so cute that I kept forgetting it wasn’t a middle grade comic. (And now there’s a middle grade novelization!) It has a ’50s feel, and Goldie falls for Diane, who is rocking a James Dean vibe. Their budding romance is very sweet, but I also appreciated seeing how they evolved as a couple: Diane is very supportive of Goldie’s non-stop detective work and all the trouble that she gets into because of it.

Under Threat by Robin StevensonUnder Threat by Robin Stevenson

It may be surprising to see middle grade/YA comics on this list, but I’ve also got a YA title that begins with an established relationship! It’s hardly the main topic of this story, however. Under Threat is about Franny, whose parents are abortion providers, and they are receiving threats because of it. When she tries to lean on her girlfriend for support, she finds out that her girlfriend’s brother is vehemently anti-choice, and Franny is stuck between reporting him and possibly losing her girlfriend, or gambling with her family’s safety. This is part of the Orca Soundings series, which are hi-lo (high interest, low reading level) books, so it’s very short and quick to read, but it tackles a lot. It feels like it’s been stripped down to the essentials of the story, with no padding at all.

One Hundred Nights of Hero by Isabel GreenbergThe One Hundred Nights of Hero by Isabel Greenberg

This may be my favourite comic/graphic novel of all time. It’s a retelling of A Thousand and One Nights, with a f/f couple at the centre of it. The framing device is that Cherry’s husband has made a bet with another man, Manfred, that he can’t seduce Cherry in 100 nights. In order to save Cherry from being forced into this arrangement, Hero (her lover and maid) tells Manfred stories over the course of these nights, with the promise that once he seduces Cherry, the stories will end. These stories are engaging in themselves, and resemble folk tales. They revolve around women, often sisters, and as those characters tell their own narratives, the nesting story structure grows. The art is beautiful, and I was captivated just by the varied page layouts. And at the middle of this story is an epic and unshakeable love between two women.

The Olive Conspiracy by Shira GlassmanThe Olive Conspiracy by Shira Glassman

This is another series that starts with the couple getting together, but you can just as easily start here. As the Mangoverse series continues, it gathers up more and more queer relationships and family structures. In this volume, Queen Shulamit and Chef Aviva have been a couple for years and are raising an infant princess together (with the help of a dragon, of course). Shira Glassman’s books are always queer Jewish happiness, and you can guarantee that you’ll finish her books with a warm fuzzy feeling.

Chameleon Moon by RoAnna Sylver coverChameleon Moon by RoAnna Sylver

Why not an established f/f/f triad? Chameleon Moon is a dystopian book, but a hopeful one. While their city descends into flames, surveilled by a police force, these superheroes band together to carve out some room for kindness in their hellish landscape. RoAnna Sylver centres representation and optimism in their work, and queer, trans, disabled characters as well as characters of colour are the heroes in these stories. And as for established relationships, this is another one where the couple is raising a child together, so you can’t get much more established than that.

Everafter by Nell Stark and Trinity TamEverafter by Nell Stark and Trinity Tam

Valentine and Alexa are poised to be a power couple. Valentine is wealthy and a medial student, while Alexa is a law student. Valentine is about to propose when she is attacked and turned into a vampire—I hate it when that happens. This is just a bump in the road, though, as they band together to find the vampires who did this to her, while dealing with the resultant PTSD and, well, change of diet. If you’re looking for lesbian vampire erotica, this has a fair amount of blood-sucking sex scenes here as well. If you’re a paranormal romance fan, give this a try.

Mistletoe Mishap by Siri CaldwellMistletoe Mishap by Siri Caldwell

From paranormal romance/erotica suitable for Halloween to an erotica just right for Christmas! Mistletoe Mishap follows two middle-aged women (both successful science professors) who are looking to reignite the spark between them. The premise is sexy, but most of the book actually explores their relationships, including how they navigate being semi-closeted at work. If you’re in the mood for a short, holiday-themed read that has sex scenes, but also some nuance around negotiating an established relationship, put this on your December TBR.

 

 

This is far from a complete list of established f/f relationships, but I hope this gives you a good place to start! From teenagers who have just started dating to middle-aged couples who have been married for many years, this proves that you don’t need to write an endless will they, won’t they to have a relationship story worth telling!

This post originally ran on Book Riot.

Support the Lesbrary on Patreon at $2 or more a month and be entered to win a queer women book every month! $5 and up patrons get guaranteed books throughout the year on top of the giveaways!

 

Danika reviews The Henna Wars by Adiba Jaigirdar

The Henna Wars by Adiba JaigirdarThe Henna Wars was my most-anticipated 2020 release. First of all, look at that beautiful cover! Plus, rival henna shop owners fall in love?? Who can resist that premise? As with many books I have high expectations for, I was hesitant to actually start it. Luckily, it lives up to the promise of that cover and premise.

Actually, I was impressed from the first pages. The dedication page reads: To queer brown girls. This is for you. After that, it has content warnings! (For racism, homophobia, bullying, and outing.)

We start the novel with Nishat contemplating coming out:

So that is how I spend Sunny Apu’s engagement, trying to construct the perfect coming out moment, and wondering if that even exists. I try to think back to every movie, TV show, and book that I’ve ever seen or read with gay protagonists. Even gay side characters. Each coming out was tragically painful. And they were all white!

She is a second generation Bangladeshi immigrant living in Ireland, and it’s not the best environment to come out in. She knows that her (private, all-girls) school will not take it well, and her family likely won’t, either. She has, however, already told her sister, who she is close with. The relationship between Nishat and her sister Priti was one of my favourite parts of the novel: they begin this story with an unshakeable bond, telling each other everything.

At the wedding, she bumps into Flávia, who she hasn’t seen since they were elementary classmates. Now, there’s an instant spark, and she’s pleasantly surprised to see her at school the next day. Complications arise in Business class, however. They all have to start their own business, and Nishat plans to do henna–she’s been practicing for years, learning from her grandmother, and feels like she’s beginning to be able to do justice to this art form. Unfortunately, Flávia noticed the henna at the wedding and comes up with the same idea–teaming up with her (white) cousin, who has spread racist rumours about Nishat.

Nishat tries to talk to Flávia about appropriating henna, but Flávia (who is Black and Brazillian) says that it’s just art, and that it’s actually really easy! Cue a painful rivalry for Nishat, who is determined to win this competition.

Okay, that’s more plot summary than I usually give, but it’s really just the first chapter or two. The Henna Wars is a fascinating book on several levels. One is that it grapples with cultural appropriation from another woman of colour, which I don’t think I’ve seen in fiction before. Flávia is clueless to why Nishat is upset, and says that maybe Nishat doesn’t understand because she’s not an artist. It’s a mess.

But what really caught my attention is that this story manages to seem hopeful and joyous while dealing with dark subject matter. Nishat is trying to survive in a profoundly homophobic environment. She is not safe within her family, within her school, and doesn’t even feel sure she can tell her friends. She is harassed for her race, and the counselor can’t even get her name right. Even the pockets of joy she finds in a new crush and doing henna are complicated by this appropriation and competition, and Flávia’s teaming up with her racist cousin.

Despite all of this, though, Nishat never seems to lose herself. Even if her family doubts her and she faces pushback at school, she knows who she is, and she refuses to be ashamed. In the end, it doesn’t matter if she wins the Business competition or gets the girl: “Because I’m still here and I have my friends, my sister, and my family. And things will be okay.” [Spoiler, highlight to read:] Her parents earnestly watching Ellen is perfect. [End spoiler]

I can only imagine how difficult it is growing up as a Bangladeshi lesbian in Ireland. The Henna Wars suggests it’s a gauntlet. But Nishat is a model of steadiness and strength within the storm. She’s not perfect–she has flaws, makes mistakes, and sometimes is so embedded in her problems that she forgets to look around at what other people are dealing with–but she is inspiring.

I’ll leave off with a quote I couldn’t help but include:

“I don’t have a type,” I say, and it’s true; I’ve never really thought about having a type. I guess my type is… beautiful girl. Which is a lot of them. Most of them? Pretty much all girls.

Let’s Talk About Racism in Lesbian Publishing

Racism in Lesbian Publishing

As we continue to have an international conversation about anti-blackness and systemic racism, it becomes more and more obvious how racism exists in every industry, and needs to be rooted out and addressed. Recently, KD Williamson, a Black f/f romance author, brought this discussion to the forefront in lesfic.

[Edited to add: of course, Black authors have been speaking out about this for years:]

First of all, what exactly is “lesfic”? It’s an abbreviation for “lesbian fiction,” but it’s usually used to mean a certain kind of lesbian fiction. It’s almost always f/f romance, and it’s usually published by a lesbian publisher (like Bold Strokes Books, Bella Books, or Ylva Publishing). Although I obviously read a lot of queer women lit, I’ve never been very involved in the “lesfic” world, so take these opinions with a grain of salt, but this is what I’ve observed. Lesfic seems to be a pretty insular environment. Authors are almost entirely white, middle-aged women–at least, the ones who get the most press are. It’s also specifically lesbian. Although there is the occasional bi woman character, that’s only when they’re in a f/f relationship, and even that is pretty rare.

GCLS is the Golden Crown Literary Society, an organization that promotes lesbian literature. It began in 2004, and began giving out awards and holding annual conferences in 2005. It’s this annual conference that began the conversation on twitter. KD Williamson pointed out that the conference’s invited authors are overwhelmingly white. This is not new, but it’s particularly troubling because this year’s event–due to COVID-19–was held entirely online. Because no one had to travel to participate, it offered an opportunity to reach out to a more diverse selection of authors. Unfortunately, that’s not what happened.

https://twitter.com/DataLover916/status/1274473759676588032

KD Williamson also pointed out that her complaints are about the homogeneity of lesfic as a whole: not just the lack of Black authors, editors, etc represented, but of people of colour in general, of bisexual people, of trans people.

Other authors began to join in that they, too, have experienced feeling unwelcome at GCLS. Amanda Radley wrote about how last year she had asked GCLS to change its naming conventions to be more accepting of bisexual and other non-lesbian queer authors. In response, GCLS changed the language to “lesbian-themed” instead of lesbian (??), but rejected the motion to include “bisexual” or any other labels.

One Black author mentioned feeling unsafe at lesfic conferences because she found that some white authors there wouldn’t even speak to Black authors. Stephanie Andrea Allen spoke about trying to reform the GCLS awards process from the inside, and realizing that it was going nowhere, and wasn’t worth the energy:

Many authors talked about how they had quietly walked away from GCLS and not bothered to even submit their books for awards, because they knew they wouldn’t be chosen. Rebekah Weatherspoon spoke about how being used as a token women of colour made for painful lesfic conference experiences:

This isn’t isolated to GCLS, however. It’s a systemic problem–in publishing in general, but also in lesfic in particular. Publishers and event organizers to drastically change to address this. Here’s what I suggest they do to get started:

1) You can’t fix a problem until you’ve identified it. Do you have data on your organization?

  • What percentage of the people at your organization/business are white?
  • What about the authors you publish?
  • If you don’t know, start from there. Do an internal audit.

2) Do those numbers reflect the greater population?

  • But also keep in mind that you are speaking to a global audience.

3) What are your internal policies around antiracism?

  • What concrete policies do you have to make a safe working environment for people of color?
  • Kay Acker added: “If anti-racism policies are in place, what are the concrete plans for enforcement? Are the expectations and steps in the process clear? Who has to report issues, and how are the reporters protected?”
  • Do you require antiracism training for your employees?
  • For editors and employees who work closely with authors, what policies do you have around their interactions with authors, especially authors of color?

4) If your organization is disproportionately white, what strategies will you use to fix that?

  • What goals do you have, and what’s your plan to get there?
  • How can you reach out to potential employees of color?
  • Do you have an internship program? Is it paid?
  • Where do you advertise job openings?
  • Do you have a mentorship program?
  • If you don’t know how to find employees of color–do the research. Hire someone to figure it out.
  • Tara Scott added: “what will you do to bring Black women and other WOC into editing and acquiring books? When your white authors are writing BIPOC characters, will you pay sensitivity readers to ensure the books aren’t full of microaggressions?”

5) For publishers:

  • What percentage of the books you publish each year are by authors of color?
  • What is your goal? What’s your plan to get there?
  • What does your contract look like?
  • Do you rely on agents to find new authors?
  • How might these be barriers to acquiring authors of color?
  • Are your rates competitive?
  • How can you make your company more welcoming and safe for authors of color?
  • Are the people that the authors work closely with people of color?
  • Heather Rose Jones added: “When an author is looking for potential publishers for their work, they look to see who and what that publisher is already publishing. Publishers can’t just passively say, “why don’t POC submit to us?” if they don’t look interested.”
    • This is something LGBTQ publishers should be aware of! Perceived hostility by general publishers is probably how you got started!

6) For event organizers:

  • What percentage of the authors at your events are people of color?
  • What is your goal? What’s your plan to get there?
  • Do you pay authors?
  • Do you pay for their transportation costs and accommodations?
  • What barriers might exist for authors of color?
  • How will you fix them?

7) While you are doing this work, consider other intersectionalities: most of these same questions should be asked for disabled people and trans people as well.

To be clear: I can only speak from my own perspective, and I’m white, so I will have oversights. Please add anything I’ve missed! The Lesbrary has a long way to go, too. I only recently added a max percentage of white authors to cover as a reviewer, and I need to diversify my own reading more, and reach out to more reviewers of colour. I commit to keep doing this work.

After I posted this on twitter, Bywater Books reached out to me to discuss their new imprint, Amble Press, which is run by an author of colour and was started to acquire more authors of colour (while continuing to add authors of colour to Bywater Books as well).

[Edited to add: The imprint was also started for male and non-binary authors, however, and it looks like so far only one of the three authors they have signed on is a person of colour, though the imprint is new and still revolving. KD Williamson also points out that separate imprints for authors of color is not what they’re asking for:]

This isn’t a particularly organized post, because the situation is still evolving, but I wanted to put it out there as an introduction into the conversation, especially if you’re not on twitter.

Finally, if you’re looking for Black f/f authors, here are some of the names that came up during this conversation!

As well as the organizations Black Lesbian Literary Collective and Sistahs on the Shelf.

At the Lesbrary, you can also check out:

While you’re here, check out the Black Lives Matter carrd for petitions to sign, places to donate, resources to educate yourself, and more. Also, support Black LGBTQ authors and Black-owned bookstores.

10 Poetry Collections by Black Queer Women

Poetry has always been an artistic expression. From declarations of love to contemplating the meaning of life, poetry has a way of putting the human experience into words. It’s also an effective way to take a political stance or spark compassion for others’ cultures and ways of life. Here are 10 poetry collections that delve into the experience of Black bisexual, lesbian, and queer writers.

How to Get Over by T'ai Freedom FordHow to Get Over by T’ai Freedom Ford

Ford’s debut collection of poems reads like a lyrical train of thought. Jumping from one piece to the next, each poem holds a life of its own but remains connected to the collection’s overall narrative. Ford’s writing has a melodic sense that will make you stop and listen, not just read the words on the page.

 

 

Crossfire by Staceyann ChinCrossfire: A Litany for Survival by Staceyann Chin

Full of feminist rage, Chin’s collection of poetry Crossfire is aptly named. It brings forth the activist’s voice, full of power, anger, and sass, the very qualities for which the white patriarchy condemns black women. Chin and her work are the definition of noncompliance. Her poetry raises her voice with no apologies for justified anger.

 

 

The Works of Alice Dunbar Nelson by Alice Dunbar NelsonThe Works of Alice Dunbar Nelson by Alice Dunbar Nelson

Nelson was among the first generation born free in the South after the Civil War. Born in New Orleans, Nelson became a prolific poet that influenced the blossoming of the Harlem Renaissance. The Works of Alice Dunbar combine poetry, novellas, and autobiographical stories, giving one point of view of Black women’s lives during her time.

 

June Jordan's Poetry for the People: A Revolutionary Blueprint by June JordanJune Jordan’s Poetry for the People: A Revolutionary Blueprint by June Jordan

The Caribbean-American Jordan inspires poets and readers far and wide to this day. Her program Poetry for the People was highly innovative and successful, inspired by her work as a teacher. This poetry collection is a combination of poems for the people who took her class and by the people who participated.

 

American Dreams by SapphireAmerican Dreams by Sapphire

Mixing poetry and prose, Sapphire creates a collection of poems that are at once a lesson on sensuality and allusions to prophecy. No matter what topic she takes on in her work, she does so with brutal honesty. Born to the name Ramona Lofton, Sapphire took on her pen name after becoming entrenched in poetry in New York City in the late 70s.

 

 

Inventory by Dionne BrandInventory by Dionne Brand

Inventory isn’t so much a collection of poems as it is one long story written as a poem. This long-form poem turned story takes stock of the ongoing violence that comes from upheavals and wars within a community’s own streets. It makes an account of the horror that has become commonplace and no longer holds the sensation it once did.

 

 

Living as a Lesbian by Cheryl ClarkeLiving as a Lesbian: Poetry by Cheryl Clarke

Clark’s work pays tribute to the very subject in the title. Her work ranges from jazz music to her childhood in Washington, D.C. to singing the blues. This collection of poems is filled with rhythmic and lyrical lines that convey Clark’s adept hand at poetry. It’s intimate and personal and yet universal in its themes.

 

 

The Complete Works of Pat ParkerThe Complete Works of Pat Parker by Pat Parker

This poetry collection compiles all of Parker’s pieces from two complete books of poetry and three chapbooks, plus other previously unpublished work. Parker’s work as a Black lesbian feminist poet has influenced and inspired others across generations. Her poems have had such a lasting influence, that even artist Solange has paid homage to her in her music.

 

Proxy by R. Erica DoyleProxy by R. Erica Doyle

This collection tells the story of an unrequited love through prose poetry. Doyle’s poems tell the story of love as landscape. It traverses the likes of New York City, the Caribbean, and North Africa. In a collection of poems that tells all by proxy, nothing is as it seems. There are always countless layers to each piece.

 

 

Head Off & Split by Nikky FinneyHead Off & Split by Nikky Finney

Finney’s work examines Black life through various lenses, including the real and surreal. Her work focuses on studies on Rosa Parks and civil rights marches to a closer look at former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. Political and personal, Finney’s work is intimate and exacting.

11 Literally Perfect Sapphic Novels

11 Literally Perfect Sapphic Novels

I don’t give out five stars on Goodreads very easily. Basically, the only times I do
are either when I can’t think of any way it could have been improved, or when they
are life-changing books for me, even if they are flawed in some way. (It’s hard for straight lit to make the cut, because I always think “Would it have been better if it were queer?” And I think you can guess my answer there.)

There are a few books, though, that I think are absolute perfection. They are thought-provoking, emotional, and told skillfully. For this post, I’ve stuck with novels and short story collections, all of which I’ve rated 5 stars on Goodreads. This was originally a video, so scroll down if you’d like to see that.

The Summer We Got Free by Mia McKenzieThe Summer We Got Free by Mia McKenzie

This book feels like the moment before a summer thunderstorm: that feeling where the air is charged, and it’s claustrophobic and humid and tense. It’s about a family that’s haunted by its past. The story alternates between the present and the family’s history, and there is some sort of trauma, an unnamed tragedy that happens in between. In the present, you’re dealing with the fallout. I loved the main character, Ava. When you see her as a child, she is this vibrant, passionate, unrestrained kid who is so alive. As an adult, she is very closed off, as if she’s been dulled over time. Part of the journey of the book is her finding her way back to her childhood self.

The queer storyline takes place in the present, when Ava finds herself surprisingly, suddenly attracted to this woman who comes to visit and stay with them. She finds herself kissing this woman the first day that she arrives, and is trying to figure out what that means, because she is married to a guy. This also has an element of fabulism, which I loved.

Check out my full review here.

Hero Worship by Rebekah MatthewsHero Worship by Rebekah Matthews

This feels like a painfully personal book for me. It’s about Valerie, who is twenty-something, and she is writing letters to her ex-girlfriend about how she still hasn’t gotten over her–even though she’s not really sure if her ex- girlfriend ever really liked her that much? Valerie has this desperation for love and attention which was uncomfortably relatable. I felt like I was flinching sympathetically every other page, but it was so realistic to that aimless twenty-something period of life. This felt like someone exposing a part of my personality that I would much rather keep hidden, but it’s so beautifully done. I really wish that I could hear more people talking about this, because it made such an impact on me.

Check out my full review here.

Tipping the Velvet by Sarah WatersTipping the Velvet by Sarah Waters

This is my favourite book of all time. This is another personal book for me, partly because of when I read it. It was after I had a very tumultuous on-again, off-again relationship that lasted the whole four years of high school. After high school, I was trying to get over it, but was thinking that nothing was ever gonna be so intense again. Reading Tipping the Velvet helped me realize that A) that intensity is maybe not the best or most romantic thing, and B) that you can have incredible, beautiful, meaningful relationships that aren’t your first love, that aren’t incredibly dramatic, and that come from mutual support and a slow build of intimacy and trust. In fact, those relationships are infinitely more valuable and more useful to you. That is a very small part of this book, but it is what imprinted so dramatically on me. I’ve since reread it, and I still love it. Sarah Waters described this as a “lesbo-Victorian romp.” There’s a lot that happens, it does get pretty dark at parts, there’s a whole socialism and activism element, it gets pretty sexy, gets a little bit weird–it’s just a very enjoyable book to read, and it’s one that means a lot to me.

Fingersmith by Sarah WatersFingersmith by Sarah Waters

It’s not surprising to me that two books by Sarah Waters made this list, because she is my favorite author. I would say that Tipping the Velvet is my favourite book, but I think of Fingersmith as the best book that I’ve read: it is so intricately plotted. If you haven’t heard of it before, it is another lesbian historical fiction set in Victorian times. It is about a “fingersmith,” who is basically a thief, who is part of a con. She is going to play the role of a lady’s maid in order to convince this woman to marry a friend of hers, and then they’re going to split her inheritance. But after she pretends to be the lady’s maid, she falls in love with her. It is incredible, and so fascinating, but Fingersmith also dark. It talks about insane asylums in the Victorian era, which is horrifying, and there is abuse and sexual abuse and, of course, gaslighting–but that plot just completely blew me away. I’ve never read anything like it before or since.

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins ReidThe Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Monique is a journalist in a fashion magazine, and she previously wrote for something like BuzzFeed, so she is shocked to be picked by Evelyn Hugo, an aging Hollywood starlet, to write her biography. The story alternates between their meetings, where Monique trying to figure out why she’s been tapped for this role, and Evelyn talking about her past. The title refers to the fact that Evelyn Hugo was married seven times in her life. This is kind of part of her mystique, and the question at the heart of her biography is: which one of those was your grand love, the love of your life? Spoiler: the love of her life was a woman, and so much of the story is her being closeted as bisexual in old Hollywood (as well as passing as white), and the things that she had to do to keep herself safe, to keep her relationship safe, and to keep her career. It is beautifully written. Evelyn Hugo is a fascinating character, because she is really complicated: she does a lot of morally questionable things, but I couldn’t help but be on her side most of the time. She does what she thinks she has to do to protect herself and her family. Even if that Hollywood glamour story doesn’t immediately appeal to you, I would still recommend picking this up, because it is just so impeccably written.

Check out my full review here.

The Color Purple by Alice WalkerThe Color Purple by Alice Walker

This is a classic for a reason. It is dark: it starts off with the main character getting raped as a child and later having her children taken away from her. It is brutal. But it is also hopeful. It’s about a group of women who come together and support each other. I was under the impression that had some lesbian subtext, but that’s not true: it is very openly queer. The main character is in love with a woman named Shug. They have a romantic and sexual relationship–it’s not subtext.

It closely looks at some of the greatest horrors in the world, the worst of misogyny and racism and specifically anti-black racism, and still somehow manages to have the sense of community, of hope, of belonging. It says that yes, those things are true, and they are terrible, but there are also things that are beautiful and that make life worth living. Those are the books that I find to be the most nurturing. If you can truly acknowledge the worst parts of the world and still find a way to live through it, and to have a fulfilling life, that is incredibly powerful.

Check out my full review here.

The Collection edited by Tom Leger and Riley MacleodThe Collection edited by Tom Leger and Riley Macleod

The Collection is a trans short story collection–it isn’t all sapphic stories, but almost a third of them are. Usually in an anthology like this, there’s some big ups and downs, and there are some stories that I’m not as interested in, but all of the stories in The Collection are really well-written. They are also are well-paced. Instead of feeling like excerpts from a novel, they are complete narratives in themselves, with a huge range of subject matter and protagonists. A lot of the stories in this collection do deal directly with prejudice, with microaggressions, and they can be pretty uncomfortable to read, but they are really well done.

Check out my full review here.

Lizzy & Annie by Casey PlettLizzy & Annie by Casey Plett

Lizzy & Annie by Casey Plett is actually a short story that is included in Plett’s A Safe Girl To Love, but I originally read this story in a kind of a zine-style illustrated format. It’s about two trans women in a relationship, and the way that they talk to each other and what they talk about just feels so familiar and true to life. Annie Mok’s illustrations are a beautiful addition that add a lot of depth to the story.

A Safe Girl To Love is well worth reading in its entirety, but if you can get your hands on the illustrated version of this story, I think it stands well on its own. It deals with racism, sexism, and transmisogyny. It shows the different ways that people can be supportive or oppressive: from outright harassment, to supportive, to theoretically supportive but clueless, to fetishizing. It’s a glimpse into these two characters everyday lives, and it’s one that makes me hungry for more stories like this in all media.

Check out my full review here.

Missed Her by Ivan CoyoteMissed Her by Ivan Coyote

This title stands in for basically anything by Ivan Coyote: I had a bunch of their books in my 5-star collection. I love Coyote’s writing style. When I first started reading their stories, they identified as a butch lesbian, and while they still ID as butch, they have come out as non-binary and goes by they/them pronouns.

Missed Her is my favorite of their short story collections, but honestly anything by them is amazing. I really love their kitchen table storytelling style: it really feels like you’re there with them, and they’re spinning you a yarn. They often have a rural perspective to their stories, which is really nice to see, because most queer stories come from a big city perspective, and don’t seem to acknowledge the possibility of having a happy queer life in a small town or in a rural environment. They tell the most beautiful, broken, enduring love stories. While I find their stories comforting, they also push me to be better. I can’t recommend their books highly enough.

Check out my full review here.

Falling in Love With Hominids by Nalo Hopkinson coverFalling In Love With Hominids by Nalo Hopkinson

This is a short story collection, and only the novella has sapphic content, but the entire book is amazing. In the introduction, Nalo Hopkinson talks about having a fractured relationship with other human beings, and trying to come back to this idea of falling in love with humanity as a whole–which I empathize with, especially right now. It’s mostly fantasy stories, and stories that just include just a bit of magic or the fantastical. Their novella is set on the Borderlands, and it is this thought-provoking look at queer communities and what happens there, and what we can accept and forgive, and what we shouldn’t. But I loved all of the stories in this collection: there’s one that’s about this gay couple who are in a BDSM relationship, but the story is just about them trying to track down their missing chicken. It’s perfection.

Check out my full review here.

Kissing the Witch by Emma Donoghue

Kissing the Witch is one of the best books with the worst covers that I’ve ever seen, which is why I am respectfully leaving the cover off of this post. It’s a collection of feminist retellings of fairy tales, most of which are also queer. They are beautifully written, and each fairy tale ties into the next one: a character from the previous fairy tale is telling the next story. I always love fairy tale retellings, especially if they are feminist or queer or both, so obviously I adored this one. Ignore the cover and pick it up anyway.

Those are my favorite sapphic novels and short story collections! Let me know in the comments which bi and lesbian novels or short story collections you think are perfection!

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Celebrate Pride with Rainbow Book Covers!

The first Pride was a riot. A riot against police.

This Pride, support Black Americans protesting for their rights. When you’re building your Pride TBR, support Black LGBTQ authors and Black-owned bookstores.

Is it even Pride if you’re not bombarded with rainbows from every direction? I am a tacky queer, so I love it all year round (although I have particular standards for rainbow: it’s not the same as multi-colored, and the colors should be in their proper order). If Pride to me means festooning myself with rainbows and reading queer books, why not combine them? Here are some of the sapphic (or LGBTQ as a whole) books I’ve found with rainbows on the cover. They seem to fall into three main categories: YA, Children’s, and Adult Nonfiction, with only a couple Adult Fiction titles–I guess we’re supposed to outgrow rainbows eventually?

So admire these colourful covers! I haven’t read all of them, so the blurbs are the publishers’ own. Let me know in the comments if I’ve missed any of your favourite queer women books with rainbow covers!

Young Adult

Echo After Echo by Amy Rose CapettaEcho After Echo by Amy Rose Capetta

Debuting on the New York stage, Zara is unprepared — for Eli, the girl who makes the world glow; for Leopold, the director who wants perfection; or for death in the theater.

Zara Evans has come to the Aurelia Theater, home to the visionary director Leopold Henneman, to play her dream role in Echo and Ariston, the Greek tragedy that taught her everything she knows about love. When the director asks Zara to promise that she will have no outside commitments, no distractions, it’s easy to say yes. But it’s hard not to be distracted when there’s a death at the theater — and then another — especially when Zara doesn’t know if they’re accidents, or murder, or a curse that always comes in threes. It’s hard not to be distracted when assistant lighting director Eli Vasquez, a girl made of tattoos and abrupt laughs and every form of light, looks at Zara. It’s hard not to fall in love. In heart-achingly beautiful prose, Amy Rose Capetta has spun a mystery and a love story into an impossible, inevitable whole — and cast lantern light on two young women, finding each other on a stage set for tragedy.

The Lost Coast by Amy Rose CapettaThe Lost Coast by Amy Rose Capetta 

The spellbinding tale of six queer witches forging their own paths, shrouded in the mist, magic, and secrets of the ancient California redwoods.

Danny didn’t know what she was looking for when she and her mother spread out a map of the United States and Danny put her finger down on Tempest, California. What she finds are the Grays: a group of friends who throw around terms like queer and witch like they’re ordinary and everyday, though they feel like an earthquake to Danny. But Danny didn’t just find the Grays. They cast a spell that calls her halfway across the country, because she has something they need: she can bring back Imogen, the most powerful of the Grays, missing since the summer night she wandered into the woods alone. But before Danny can find Imogen, she finds a dead boy with a redwood branch through his heart. Something is very wrong amid the trees and fog of the Lost Coast, and whatever it is, it can kill. Lush, eerie, and imaginative, Amy Rose Capetta’s tale overflows with the perils and power of discovery — and what it means to find your home, yourself, and your way forward.

All the Invisible Things by Orlagh CollinsAll the Invisible Things by Orlagh Collins

Ever since her mom died and her family moved to a new town four years ago, sixteen-year-old Vetty Lake has hidden her heart. She’d rather keep secrets than risk getting hurt–even if that means not telling anyone that she’s pretty sure she’s bisexual.

But this summer, everything could change. Vetty and her family are moving back to her old neighborhood, right across the street from her childhood best friend Pez. Next to Pez, she always felt free and fearless. Reconnecting with him could be the link she needs to get back to her old self.

Vetty quickly discovers Pez isn’t exactly the boy she once knew. He has a new group of friends, a glamorous sort-of-girlfriend named March, and a laptop full of secrets. And things get even more complicated when she feels a sudden spark with March.

As Vetty navigates her relationship with Pez and her own shifting feelings, one question looms: Does becoming the girl she longs to be mean losing the friendship that once was everything to her?

The Miseducation of Cameron Post by emily m. danforthThe Miseducation of Cameron Post by emily m. danforth

The night Cameron Post’s parents died, her first emotion was relief. Relief they would never know that hours earlier, she’d been kissing a girl.

Now living with her conservative Aunt in small-town Montana, hiding her sexuality and blending in becomes second nature to Cameron until she begins an intense friendship with the beautiful Coley Taylor.

Desperate to ‘correct’ her niece, Cameron’s Aunt takes drastic action. Now Cameron must battle with the cost of being her true-self even if she’s not completely sure who that is. The Miseducation of Cameron Post is a stunning and unforgettable literary debut about discovering who you are and finding the courage to live life according to your own rules.

Just Juliet by Charlotte ReaganJust Juliet by Charlotte Reagan

Juliet represents the road less traveled. Will Lena take it?

Lena Newman is 17, her best friend’s a cheerleader, her boyfriend’s a football player, and as far as everyone is concerned, her life is sorted. But that’s before she befriends the new girl. Juliet is confident, slightly damaged, drop-dead gorgeous and a lesbian.

Lena realizes that her interest goes beyond just friendship. She sets off on a path of self-discovery where the loyalty of those closest to her will be tested.

When You Get the Chance by Tom Ryan and Robin StevensonWhen You Get the Chance by Tom Ryan and Robin Stevenson

Follow cousins on a road trip to Pride as they dive into family secrets and friendships in this contemporary YA novel — perfect for fans of David Levithan and Becky Albertalli.

As kids, Mark and his cousin Talia spent many happy summers together at the family cottage in Ontario, but a fight between their parents put an end to the annual event. Living on opposite coasts — Mark in Halifax and Talia in Victoria — they haven’t seen each other in years. When their grandfather dies unexpectedly, Mark and Talia find themselves reunited at the cottage once again, cleaning it out while the family decides what to do with it.

Mark and Talia are both queer, but they soon realize that’s about all they have in common, other than the fact that they’d both prefer to be in Toronto. Talia is desperate to see her high school sweetheart Erin, who’s barely been in touch since leaving to spend the summer working at a coffee shop in the Gay Village. Mark, on the other hand, is just looking for some fun, and Toronto Pride seems like the perfect place to find it.

When a series of complications throws everything up in the air, Mark and Talia — with Mark’s little sister Paige in tow — decide to hit the road for Toronto. With a bit of luck, and some help from a series of unexpected new friends, they might just make it to the big city and find what they’re looking for. That is, if they can figure out how to start seeing things through each other’s eyes.

The Summer of Jordi PerezThe Summer of Jordi Pérez (And the Best Burger in Los Ángeles) by Amy Spalding

Seventeen, fashion-obsessed, and gay, Abby Ives has always been content playing the sidekick in other people’s lives. While her friends and sister have plunged headfirst into the world of dating and romances, Abby’s been happy to focus on her plus-size style blog and her dreams of taking the fashion industry by storm. When she lands a great internship at her favorite boutique, she’s thrilled to take the first step toward her dream career. Then she falls for her fellow intern, Jordi Perez. Hard. And now she’s competing against the girl she’s kissing to win the coveted paid job at the end of the internship.

But really, nothing this summer is going as planned. She also unwittingly becomes friends with Jax, a lacrosseplaying bro-type who wants her help finding the best burger in Los Angeles, and she’s struggling to prove to her mother—the city’s celebrity health nut—that she’s perfectly content with who she is.

Just as Abby starts to feel like she’s no longer the sidekick in her own life, Jordi’s photography surprisingly puts her in the spotlight. Instead of feeling like she’s landed a starring role, Abby feels betrayed. Can Abby find a way to reconcile her positive yet private sense of self with the image others have of her?

Proud edited by Juno DawsonProud edited by Juno Dawson

A stirring, bold and moving anthology of stories and poetry by top LGBTQ+ YA authors and new talent, giving their unique responses to the broad theme of pride. Each story has an illustration by an artist identifying as part of the LGBTQ+ community. Compiled by Juno Dawson, author of THIS BOOK IS GAY and CLEAN.

A celebration of LGBTQ+ talent, PROUD is a thought-provoking, funny, emotional read.

Contributors: Steve Antony, Dean Atta, Kate Aziladeh, Fox Benwell, Alex Bertie, Caroline Bird, Fatti Burke, Tanya Byrne, Moïra Fowley-Doyle, Frank Duffy, Simon James Green, Leo Greenfield, Saffa Khan, Karen Lawler, David Levithan, Priyanka Meenakshi, Alice Oseman, Michael Lee Richardson, David Roberts, Cynthia So, Kay Staples, Jessica Vallance, Kristen Van Dam and Kameron White.

Kindred: 12 Queer #LoveOzYA StoriesKindred: 12 Queer #LoveOzYA Stories edited by Michael Earp

What does it mean to be queer? What does it mean to be human? In this powerful #LoveOzYA collection, twelve of Australia’s finest writers from the LGBTQ+ community explore the stories of family, friends, lovers and strangers – the connections that form us. This inclusive and intersectional #OwnVoices anthology for teen readers features work from writers of diverse genders, sexualities and identities, including writers who identify as First Nations, people of colour or disabled. With short stories by bestsellers, award winners and newcomers to young adult fiction including Jax Jacki Brown, Claire G Coleman, Michael Earp, Alison Evans, Erin Gough, Benjamin Law, Omar Sakr, Christos Tsiolkas, Ellen van Neerven, Marlee Jane Ward, Jen Wilde and Nevo Zisin.

Stonewall Riots: Coming Out In the Street by Gayle E. PitmanThe Stonewall Riots: Coming Out in the Streets by Gayle E. Pitman

This book is about the Stonewall Riots, a series of spontaneous, often violent demonstrations by members of the gay (LGBTQ+) community in reaction to a police raid that took place in the early morning hours of June 28, 1969, at the Stonewall Inn in the Greenwich Village neighborhood of Manhattan, New York City. The Riots are attributed as the spark that ignited the LGBTQ+ movement. The author describes American gay history leading up to the Riots, the Riots themselves, and the aftermath, and includes her interviews of people involved or witnesses, including a woman who was ten at the time. Profusely illustrated, the book includes contemporary photos, newspaper clippings, and other period objects. A timely and necessary read, The Stonewall Riots helps readers to understand the history and legacy of the LGBTQ+ movement.

Lumberjanes Volume 14: X Marks the SpotLumberjanes Volume 14: X Marks the Spot

The Lumberjanes find a treasure map that leads to them to a buried prize…which comes to life and threatens to drain all the magic from the woods around them. That definitely sounds like the opposite of what they wanted!

X MARKS THE SPOT…FOR TROUBLE!

Ripley found a treasure map! The Roanoke scouts are eager to hunt down what they hope might be some kind of mystical hoard of gems and jewels, rad dinosaur bones, or maybe even more treasure maps (that you have to piece together to find an EVEN BIGGER prize, obviously)! What they end up finding is scattered pieces of an ancient Greek statue of a woman, who, when assembled, comes back to life as a vindictive ex-goddess!n. And she’s looking to satisfy her hunger after thousands of years frozen in stone by draining any nearby magical resource…starting with the ‘Janes!

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Children’s Books

Pride 123 by Michael JoostenPride 123 by Michael Joosten

Celebrate and march along in the Pride Parade with this lively counting board book!

1 parade in the month of June
2 DJs spin fabulous tunes
3 families of all different types
4 activists fight the good fight

Teach your little ones about the Pride Parade with this colorful, energetic counting book! Featuring a diverse cast of characters and families, this board book highlights and celebrates the LGBTQIA+ community, love, and standing up for who you are while counting to ten. Perfect for all families, this counting board book should be shared and read with pride!

Our Rainbow by Little Bee BooksOur Rainbow by Little Bee Books

In this beautiful, bold board book, children will learn about the colors of the iconic pride flag!

Red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple, black, and brown . . .
These are the colors of our rainbow flag. Do you know what they stand for?

Every young child is enchanted by the beautiful colors of the rainbow. Now, Our Rainbow can teach toddlers all about the meaning of each color of the pride flag. Told in simple, engaging text and paired with bright illustrations, this board book teaches the youngest of readers all about the colors of this rainbow and the simple acts of kindness that can brighten up our world! This book is published in partnership with GLAAD to accelerate LGBTQ inclusivity and acceptance.

Spirit Day: A Book About Spreading Joy by Little Bee BooksSpirit Day: A Book About Spreading Joy by Little Bee Books

In this beautiful, bold board book, children will learn all about Spirit Day and its mission to stop bullying.

Put on a purple shirt. It’s Spirit Day! Today’s a day to be super-kind and stand up to bullying. Because everyone has a right to feel safe.

Spirit Day is an annual LGBTQ awareness day established in 2010 to rally people against bullying. Spirit Day reinforces the importance of kindness, while also providing young readers with strategies to be a supportive friend. Published and created in partnership with GLAAD, this book aims to accelerate LGBTQ inclusivity and acceptance.

Pride Colors by Robin StevensonPride Colors by Robin Stevenson

Through gentle rhymes and colorful photographs of adorable children, Pride Colors is a celebration of the deep unconditional love of a parent or caregiver for a young child. The profound message of this delightful board book is you are free to be whoever you choose to be; you’ll always be loved.

Celebrated author Robin Stevenson ends her purposeful prose by explaining the meaning behind each color in the Pride flag: red = life, orange = healing, yellow = sunlight, green = nature, blue = peace and harmony, and violet = spirit.

Love Makes A Family by Sophie Beer

This fun, inclusive board book celebrates the one thing that makes every family a family . . . and that’s LOVE.

Love is baking a special cake. Love is lending a helping hand. Love is reading one more book. In this exuberant board book, many different families are shown in happy activity, from an early-morning wake-up to a kiss before bed. Whether a child has two moms, two dads, one parent, or one of each, this simple preschool read-aloud demonstrates that what’s most important in each family’s life is the love the family members share.

This Day in June by Gayle E. PitmanThis Day in June by Gayle E. Pitman

This day in June…. Parade starts soon…. Rainbow arches…. Joyful marches!

In a wildly whimsical, validating, and exuberant reflection of the LGBT community, This Day In June welcomes readers to experience a pride celebration and share in a day when we are all united.

Also included is a Note to Parents and Other Caregivers with information on how to talk to children about sexual orientation and gender identity in age-appropriate ways as well as a Reading Guide chock-full of facts about LGBT history and culture. This Day in June is an excellent tool for teaching respect, acceptance, and understanding of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people.

Rainbow Revolutionaries by Sarah Prager, illustrated by Sarah PapworthRainbow Revolutionaries: 50 LGBTQ+ People Who Made History by Sarah Prager

Rainbow Revolutionaries brings to life the vibrant histories of fifty pioneering LGBTQ+ people from around the world. Through Sarah Prager’s (Queer, There, and Everywhere) short, engaging bios, and Sarah Papworth’s bold, dynamic art, readers can delve into the lives of Wen of Han, a Chinese emperor who loved his boyfriend as much as his people, Martine Rothblatt, a trans woman who’s helping engineer the robots of tomorrow, and so many more!

This book is a celebration of the many ways these heroes have made a difference and will inspire young readers to make a difference, too. Featuring an introduction, map, timeline, and glossary, this must-have biography collection is the perfect read during Pride month and all year round.

Queer Heroes by Arabelle Sicardi

This beautiful, bold book celebrates the achievements of LGBT people through history and from around the world. It features full-color portraits of a diverse selection of 52 inspirational role models accompanied by short biographies that focus on their incredible successes, from Freddie Mercury’s contribution to music to Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa. Published to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising, this title will show children that anything is possible.

Pride: The Celebration and the Struggle by Robin StevensonPride: The Celebration and the Struggle by Robin Stevenson

Like the original version, this new edition of Pride: The Celebration and the Struggle celebrates the LGBTQ+ community’s diversity and the incredible victories of the past 50 years―but it also has a larger focus on activism, the need to keep fighting for equality and freedom around the world and the important role that young people are playing. The new edition has been updated and expanded to include many new Proud Moments and Queer Facts as well as a profile of LGBTQ+ refugees from Indonesia, a story about a Pride celebration in a refugee camp in Kenya and profiles of young activists, including teens from a Gender and Sexuality Alliance organizing Pride in Inuvik and a trans girl from Vancouver fighting for inclusion and support in schools. There is also a section on being an ally, a profile of a family with two gay dads (one of them trans) and much, much more!

Adult

Leave of Absence by Lucia FrangionLeave of Absence by Lucia Frangion

A small prairie community is blown apart when an audacious teenaged girl challenges long-held views of spirituality and sexuality. Suspected of being gay, she is brutalized by her classmates. This searing drama of bigotry and transcendence challenges the fallout of the Catholic Church’s response to the same-sex marriage rulings in Canada.

Award-winning playwright and actor Lucia Frangione has emerged as an important post-feminist voice in the theater, boldly questioning the institutions of religion, sexuality, and the family. Her accessible and entertaining plays utilize satire as a tool for critical thought and tackle complex themes with wit and courage.

The Paths of Marriage by Mala KumarThe Paths of Marriage by Mala Kumar

Lakshmi, a bright student who grew up in poverty, marries and immigrates to the United States from India to provide a better life for herself and her family. Clinging to her cultural realities, she forces her American daughter, Pooja, into an arranged marriage, creating a rift of resentment. Pooja’s daughter, Deepa, is an out lesbian to everyone but her family. The woman Deepa loves presents an ultimatum—come out to Pooja or break up—and Deepa is forced to confront her greatest fear. Three generations of Indian and Indian-American women navigate the harsh slums of Chennai to the bustle of New York City, struggling through a cathartic generational collision to try to come together as a family.

All I Want for Summer by Clare Lydon coverAll I Want for Summer by Clare Lydon

Everyone loves Pride season, right? Not quite.

Tori & Holly are back! Join London’s favourite lesbian couple as they head to the south coast to soak up the sunshine for Brighton Pride.

The snag is, Pride and Holly have never seen eye to eye, but eternal optimist Tori is determined to make this year different. Will she succeed? Not if Holly’s ex Jen has anything to do with it…

Read the fourth, action-packed instalment in the All I Want series today and get your Tori & Holly on!

Keep Faith edited by Gabriela MartinsKeep Faith edited by Gabriela Martins

Keep faith, in the broad sense of the word. It doesn’t have to be a religion, unless you want it to be. It doesn’t have to speak about the universe, unless you want it to. It doesn’t have to be about anyone but yourself. Keep faith, in other planets and other houses; be it in the face of danger, grief, or while you spread your arms and laugh. Keep faith the same way you keep hope, bright and shiny, ever present. Keep faith in all your queer, beautiful self. Because you deserve it.

This is an anthology of 14 short stories, by 14 queer authors, where faith and queerness intersect. Incidental, purposeful, we-exist-and-that’s-why queerness. And faith meaning whatever you want it to mean.

Girl Hearts Girl by Lucy Sutcliffe

An inspiring, uplifting and sympathetic story about sexuality and self-acceptance, Lucy Sutcliffe’s debut memoir is a personal and moving coming out story. In 2010, at seventeen, Lucy Sutcliffe began an online friendship with Kaelyn, a young veterinary student from Michigan. Within months, they began a long distance relationship, finally meeting in the summer of 2011. Lucy’s video montage of their first week spent together in Saint Kitts, which she posted to the couple’s YouTube channel, was the first in a series of films documenting their long-distance relationship. Funny, tender and candid, the films attracted them a vast online following. Now, for the first time, Lucy’s writing about the incredible personal journey she’s been on; from never quite wanting the fairy-tale of Prince Charming to realising she was gay at the age of 14, through three years of self-denial to finally coming out to friends and family, to meeting her American girlfriend Kaelyn.

We Are Everywhere by Matthew Riemer and Leighton BrownWe Are Everywhere: Protest, Power, and Pride In The History of Queer Liberation by Leighton Brown & Matthew Riemer

Have pride in history.

A rich and sweeping photographic history of the Queer Liberation Movement, from the creators and curators of the massively popular Instagram account @lgbt_history, released in time for the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots.

Through the lenses of protest, power, and pride, We Are Everywhere is an essential and empowering introduction to the history of the fight for queer liberation. Combining exhaustively researched narrative with meticulously curated photographs, the book traces queer activism from its roots in late-nineteenth-century Europe–long before the pivotal Stonewall Riots of 1969–to the gender warriors leading the charge today. Featuring more than 300 images from more than seventy photographers and twenty archives, this inclusive and intersectional book enables us to truly see queer history unlike anything before, with glimpses of activism in the decades preceding and following Stonewall, family life, marches, protests, celebrations, mourning, and Pride. By challenging many of the assumptions that dominate mainstream LGBTQ+ history, We Are Everywhere shows readers how they can–and must–honor the queer past in order to shape our liberated future.

David Bowie Made Me Gay: 100 Years of LGBT Music by Darryl W. BullockDavid Bowie Made Me Gay: 100 Years of LGBT Music by Darryl W. Bullock

From Sia to Elton John, from Billie Holiday to David Bowie, LGBT musicians have changed the course of modern music. But before their music―and the messages behind it―gained understanding and a place in the mainstream, how did the queer musicians of yesteryear fight to build foundations for those who would follow them? David Bowie Made Me Gay is the first book to cover the breadth of history of recorded music by and for the LGBT community. Darryl W. Bullock reveals the stories of both famous and lesser-known LGBT musicians, whose perseverance against the threat of persecution during decades of political and historical turmoil―including two world wars, Stonewall, and the AIDS crisis―has led to some of the most significant and soul-searching music of the last century. Bullock chronicles these struggles through new interviews and archival reports, dating from the birth of jazz in the red-light district of New Orleans, through the rock ‘n’ roll years, Swinging Sixties, and disco days of the ’70s, right up to modern pop, electronica, and reggae. An entertaining treasure-trove of untold history for all music lovers, David Bowie Made Me Gay is an inspiring, nostalgic, and provocative story of right to be heard and the need to keep the fight for equality in the spotlight.

Queer X Design by Andy CampbellQueer X Design: 50 Years of Signs, Symbols, Banners, Logos, and Graphic Art of LGBTQ by Andy Campbell

The first-ever illustrated history of the iconic designs, symbols, and graphic art representing more than 5 decades of LGBTQ pride and activism.

 Beginning with pre-liberation and the years before the Stonewall uprising, spanning across the 1970s and 1980s and through to the new millennium, Queer X Design celebrates the inventive and subversive designs that have powered the resilient and ever-evolving LGBTQ movement.
The diversity and inclusivity of these pages is as inspiring as it is important, both in terms of the objects represented as well as in the array of creators; from buttons worn to protest Anita Bryant, to the original ‘The Future is Female’ and ‘Lavender Menace’ t-shirt; from the logos of Pleasure Chest and GLAAD, to the poster for Cheryl Dunye’s queer classic The Watermelon Woman; from Gilbert Baker’s iconic rainbow flag, to the quite laments of the AIDS quilt and the impassioned rage conveyed in ACT-UP and Gran Fury ephemera.
More than just an accessible history book, Queer X Design tells the story of queerness as something intangible, uplifting, and indestructible. Found among these pages is sorrow, loss, and struggle; an affective selection that queer designers and artists harnessed to bring about political and societal change. But here is also: joy, hope, love, and the enduring fight for free expression and representation. Queer X Design is the potent, inspiring, and colorful visual history of activism and pride.

Against Equality: Queer Revolution, Not Mere Inclusion by Ryan ConradAgainst Equality: Queer Revolution, Not Mere Inclusion by Ryan Conrad

When “rights” go wrong.

  • Does gay marriage support the right-wing goal of linking access to basic human rights like health care and economic security to an inherently conservative tradition?
  • Will the ability of queers to fight in wars of imperialism help liberate and empower LGBT people around the world?
  • Does hate-crime legislation affirm and strengthen historically anti-queer institutions like the police and prisons rather than dismantling them?

The Against Equality collective asks some hard questions. These queer thinkers, writers, and artists are committed to undermining a stunted conception of “equality.” In this powerful book, they challenge mainstream gay and lesbian struggles for inclusion in elitist and inhumane institutions. More than a critique, Against Equality seeks to reinvigorate the queer political imagination with fantastic possibility!

LOVE FALLS ON US: A STORY OF AMERICAN IDEAS AND AFRICAN LGBT LIVES BY ROBBIE COREY-BOULET

The Gay Revolution: The Story of the Struggle by Lillian FadermanThe Gay Revolution: The Story of the Struggle by Lillian Faderman

The sweeping story of the struggle for gay and lesbian rights—based on amazing interviews with politicians, military figures, and members of the entire LGBT community who face these challenges every day: “This is the history of the gay and lesbian movement that we’ve been waiting for” (The Washington Post).

The fight for gay and lesbian civil rights—the years of outrageous injustice, the early battles, the heart-breaking defeats, and the victories beyond the dreams of the gay rights pioneers—is the most important civil rights issue of the present day. In “the most comprehensive history to date of America’s gay-rights movement” (The Economist), Lillian Faderman tells this unfinished story through the dramatic accounts of passionate struggles with sweep, depth, and feeling.

The Gay Revolution begins in the 1950s, when gays and lesbians were criminals, psychiatrists saw them as mentally ill, churches saw them as sinners, and society victimized them with hatred. Against this dark backdrop, a few brave people began to fight back, paving the way for the revolutionary changes of the 1960s and beyond. Faderman discusses the protests in the 1960s; the counter reaction of the 1970s and early eighties; the decimated but united community during the AIDS epidemic; and the current hurdles for the right to marriage equality.

The Book of Queer Prophets edited by Ruth HuntThe Book of Queer Prophets: 21 Writers on Sexuality and Religion edited by Ruth Hunt

Is it possible to believe in God and be gay? How does it feel to be excluded from a religious community because of your sexuality? Why do some people still believe being LGBT is a sin?

The book of Queer Prophets contains modern-day epistles from some of our most important thinkers, writers and activists: Jeanette Winterson tackles religious dogma, Amrou Al-Kadhi writes about trying to make it as a Muslim drag queen in London, John Bell writes about his decision to come out later in life, Tamsin Omond remembers getting married in the middle of a protest and Kate Bottley explains her journey to becoming an LGBT ally.

The Little Book of Pride by Lewis LaneyThe Little Book of Pride by Lewis Laney

Celebrate the LGTBQ community with this small but perfectly formed guide to Pride.

What began as a protest for gay rights following the Stonewall riots of 1969 in New York has grown to become a global celebration of LGBTQ culture. In the 50-odd years since the original protest, and what is now widely accepted to be the first Pride march—Christopher Street Liberation Day, 1970—Pride events are now attended by millions each year, celebrating how far we’ve come, recognizing where we have to go, and highlighting important causes in the queer community.

The Little Book of Pride proves that size definitely doesn’t matter by squeezing everything you need to know about Pride into 144 pages. Inside, you will find the history, the key people involved, the best Pride events around the world, inspirational quotes from famous queers, Pride facts, and a fun Pride survival guide.

LGBTQ Social Movements by Lisa M. StulbergLGBTQ Social Movements by Lisa M. Stulberg

In recent years, there has been substantial progress on lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) civil rights in the United States. We are now, though, in a time of incredible political uncertainty for queer people. LGBTQ Social Movements provides an accessible introduction to mainstream LGBTQ movements in the US, illustrating the many forms that LGBTQ activism has taken since the mid-twentieth century.

Covering a range of topics, including the Stonewall uprising and gay liberation, AIDS politics, queer activism, marriage equality fights, youth action, and bisexual and transgender justice, Lisa M. Stulberg explores how marginalized people and communities have used a wide range of political and cultural tools to demand and create change. The five key themes that guide the book are assimilationism and liberationism as complex strategies for equality, the limits and possibilities of legal change, the role of art and popular culture in social change, the interconnectedness of social movements, and the role of privilege in movement organizing.

This book is an important tool for understanding current LGBTQ politics and will be essential reading for students and scholars of sexuality, LGBTQ studies, and social movements, as well as anyone new to thinking about these issues.

Queer: A Graphic HistoryQueer: A Graphic History by Meg-John Barker

Activist-academic Meg John Barker and cartoonist Julia Scheele illuminate the histories of queer thought and LGBTQ+ action in this groundbreaking non-fiction graphic novel. A kaleidoscope of characters from the diverse worlds of pop-culture, film, activism and academia guide us on a journey through the ideas, people and events that have shaped ‘queer theory’.

From identity politics and gender roles to privilege and exclusion, Queer explores how we came to view sex, gender and sexuality in the ways that we do; how these ideas get tangled up with our culture and our understanding of biology, psychology and sexology; and how these views have been disputed and challenged.

Along the way we look at key landmarks which shift our perspective of what’s ‘normal’, such as Alfred Kinsey’s view of sexuality as a spectrum between heterosexuality and homosexuality, Judith Butler’s view of gendered behavior as a performance, the play Wicked, which reinterprets characters from The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, or moments in Casino Royale when we’re invited to view James Bond with the kind of desiring gaze usually directed at female bodies in mainstream media.

Sensible Footwear: A Girl's Guide by Kate CharlesworthSensible Footwear: A Girl’s Guide by Kate Charlesworth

Sensible Footwear is a glorious political and personal history that gives Pride a run for its money; but, like Pride, it wears its heart at the centre, making the invisible visible, and celebrating lesbian lives from the domestic to the diva. Before today’s LGBTQI universe expanded from the Big Bang of Stonewall, postwar Britain was like so much of the world today, hostile towards and virtually in denial (and worse) to anything we might now call queer. In 1950 male homosexuality carried a custodial sentence; blackmail, violence and the fear of exposure were ever-present. Female homosexuality had never been an offence in the UK, effectively rendering lesbians even more invisible than they already were – often to themselves. Most who knew they were ‘different’, or came to that realisation later on, often felt they were the only ones to feel that way. Growing up in the North was a rich and colourful experience for Kate Charlesworth, but at the time there were very few signposts to difference. Like countless other girls and women, Kate took what role models were on offer, and failing that, made them up, in the spirit of that classic old dyke joke: ‘What do lesbians use?’ ‘Their imagination…’

Queerly Loving Vol 2Queerly Loving Vol 2

In part two of “Queerly Loving”, our authors bring you short stories with characters across the fantastic queer spectrum, with endings that will leave you warm and smiling. Trans love interests, demisexual characters trying to find their way in the world, bisexual characters dealing with a heartbreak in the best way, and lesbians on escapades. Dragons roar into life, dystopian futures unfold, mermaids enjoy space voyages, and modern-day adventures will curl your toes and make you cheer. There are first kisses, friends that are like kin, and aromantic characters discovering their place among a queer-normative family. Get ready for your queer adventure.

 

Looking for more queer rainbow covers? I made a video including other queer books:

Also check out Rachel Brittain’s post on Book Riot!

Support the Lesbrary on Patreon at $2 or more a month and be entered to win a queer women book every month! $5 and up patrons get guaranteed books throughout the year on top of the giveaways!

Where to Start Reading Lesbian Gothic

Where to Start Reading Lesbian Gothic

Haunted mansions! Thunder and lightning! Brooding antiheroes! Women running down corridors wearing long white gowns! I love the tropes of Gothic literature: they’re campy, they’re spooky, they’re sexy. What more could you possibly want from a genre? Well, sapphic romance, obviously.

As it happens, the Gothic is a pretty gay genre to begin with. Its themes of buried secrets, psychological crisis, and the instability of social boundaries all lend themselves perfectly to queer narratives. Despite this, I’ve always found it difficult to find recommendations for specifically lesbian and bi women’s Gothic literature online. But, dear reader, you don’t need to share my plight: I’ve done the work for you! Here is a selection of ten great Gothic works with sapphic characters to get you started with the genre…

Carmilla by J. Sheridan Le Fanu,Carmilla by J. Sheridan Le Fanu

A classic of 19th century Gothic literature, Carmilla is one of the earliest examples of vampire fiction. Laura and her father live in Styria in the remote Austrian countryside. When a mysterious carriage crashes outside their castle, they agree to take in one of its passengers, a frail girl named Carmilla. Laura and Carmilla are immediate friends, but as the relationship grows more and more intense, Laura’s health starts to decline and Carmilla’s to improve – almost as if Carmilla is sucking the life out of her host.

 

Rebecca by Daphne du MaurierRebecca by Daphne du Maurier

After a holiday romance with the handsome widower Max de Winter, his new bride returns with him to his country estate. Instead of being made welcome, she soon realises that her new home is ‘haunted’ by Max’s first wife, Rebecca, whose memory is kept alive by the loyal housekeeper Mrs Danvers. As the bride realises that she doesn’t know her husband at all, she starts to wonder just what happened to Rebecca. Although this isn’t an explicitly lesbian novel, it’s a cornerstone of the Lesbian Gothic: besides the heavy implication that Mrs Danvers was in love with Rebecca, the novel is also steeped with du Maurier’s repressed feelings for women – with whom she would have affairs later in her life.

The Gilda Stories by Jewelle GomezThe Gilda Stories by Jewelle Gomez

In 1850s Louisiana, Gilda escapes slavery and finds sanctuary with two brothel-women who also happen to be vampires. After being initiated into eternal life, Gilda spends the next 200 years living through African American history (and future), searching for community and somewhere to call home. With its exploration of race, sexuality and identity, The Gilda Stories was a completely new take on vampire fiction when it was first published in 1991, and it still feels as fresh today.

Fingersmith by Sarah WatersFingersmith by Sarah Waters

Fingersmith is the fantastic Dickensian novel behind both the BBC miniseries of the same name, and Park Chan-wook’s The Handmaiden. Raised amidst thieves in the slums of Victorian London, Sue Trinder is happy to help when Gentleman – a conman and family friend – calls on her with a plan. Sue will pose as a lady’s maid to help Gentleman seduce the wealthy heiress Maud Lilly. After the two are wed and Maud’s inheritance is secure, Gentleman will have her committed to an asylum and split the winnings with Sue. However, Sue grows fond of her new ‘mistress’, and things aren’t as simple as they first seemed.

The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley JacksonThe Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson

Four strangers – one of them the paranormal investigator Dr Montague – plan to stay at a notoriously haunted house, with the aim of discovering empirical proof of the supernatural. The four make friends quickly, and Eleanor, a fragile young woman with a history with poltergeists, is especially drawn to Theodora, who is fresh out of a quarrel with her female ‘roommate’. The group are faced with spooky occurrences that grow ever more sinister as the night progresses, until it seems that the house itself is plotting against them.

The Confessions of Frannie Langton by Sara CollinsThe Confessions of Frannie Langton by Sara Collins

Frannie Langton, a servant and former slave, stands accused of murdering her employers. Although she can’t remember anything that happened on that fateful night, she knows that she couldn’t have done it – because she was in love with her mistress. Slipping between a childhood on a Jamaican sugar plantation and her domestic service in Georgian London, Frannie’s defense is her life story – a story that exposes crimes far greater than a couple of murders, committed in the name of science and empire.

The Animals at Lockwood Manor by Jane HealeyThe Animals at Lockwood Manor by Jane Healey

During the London Blitz, the Natural History Museum’s collection of taxidermied mammals are evacuated to the countryside, along with newly-promoted director Hetty Cartwright. Their new home is the creepy Lockwood Manor, presided over by the bullying Major Lockwood and his troubled daughter Lucy. Lucy walks the house at night and has nightmares of la diablesse – a devil-woman in white that haunts the manor. Despite Hetty’s burgeoning friendship with Lucy, her residence at Lockwood grows impossible when the animals start to move about on their own.

In the Dream House by Carmen Maria MachadoIn the Dream House by Carmen Maria Machado

Studying at the Iowa writers’ school in her late 20s, Carmen Maria Machado met ‘the woman in the dream house’ – a petite blonde Harvard grad living in a cabin in Bloomington, Indiana. What began as a passionate relationship turned sour when the woman became psychologically and physically abusive, and the ‘dream house’ became a nightmare setting. Machado recounts her own experience while also examining the history and study of abusive romantic relationships between women, in a genre-defying work that blends memoir, gothic literature, academic study, and short stories.

The Wicked Cometh by Laura CarlinThe Wicked Cometh by Laura Carlin

Against a backdrop of Georgian London, where the city’s poor inhabitants can disappear with no questions asked, Hester White is desperate to escape poverty. When she gets caught under the wheels of Calder Brock’s carriage, she seizes her chance to be taken in by his aristocratic family, including the fierce Rebekah Brock. Rebekah tutors her in the ways of gentility – although she seems interested in more than just Hester’s education. Then Hester receives a note telling her to leave before she gets hurt. Together, Rebekah and Hester begin to uncover a dark web of penny dreadful-worthy mystery and crime with Calder at its centre.

White is for Witching by Helen OyeyemiWhite is for Witching by Helen Oyeyemi

In a vast house on the cliffs of Dover, twins Miranda and Eliot are in mourning for their recently-departed mother. In the wake of the tragedy, Miranda develops the eating disorder pica – where she hungers for inedible substances like chalk, dirt and plastic – and begins to hear the voices of women trapped in the walls of the house. Then one night she vanishes, leaving behind her loved ones, including her girlfriend Ore, her father Luc, and the house itself, to tell the story.

The Sapphic Fantastic: Bi and Lesbian Fantasy Books

The Sapphic Fantastic!

In my time in the queer lit blogosphere, I’ve noticed that one of the categories that readers seem to be wanting for the most is f/f fantasy books. And why not? Who wouldn’t want to read a book about a lesbian hobbit, or a pansexual lady knight, or a bisexual woman and her dragon? Clearly that’s an awesome set-up for a story. But although plenty of queer women fantasy books exist, there seems to be some difficulty connecting them with the readers looking for them.

Although I don’t read a ton of fantasy books, my passion for queer women books has led me to many queer women books that I have loved. Here are some of my favourites, though by no means an exhaustive list!

The Second Mango by Shira GlassmanThe Mangoverse series by Shira Glassman

I would be remiss to make a f/f fantasy list without including the Mangoverse series by Shira Glassman. Beginning with The Second Mango, this is set in a Jewish fantasy world and includes a whole range of diverse representations, including a demiromantic character.

I’ve only read the first book so far, but I’ve heard they only get better from there. This was such  a fun read.

Check out my full review here.

Fire Logic by Laurie MarksFire Logic by Laurie J. Marks

Keeping in the Classic Fantasy vein, I really enjoyed Fire Logic by Laurie J. Marks. (Although this is another series I’ve started but not finished, that says more about my flaws than the books’.) This is also set in a world without homophobia–so if you ever want to escape into a world like that, fantasy is your genre. This is travelling/quest story, which I always enjoy, and although I was overwhelmed by being thrown into the complex world in the beginning, I quickly got my bearing. (Also, I love these new covers.)

Check out my full review here.

Kushiel's Dart by Jacqueline CareyKushiel’s Dart by Jacqueline Carey

Kushiel’s Dart by Jacqueline Carey is not what I would call a light read. It’s 900 pages and packed with politics, religion, and BDSM sex–it’s tastefully done, I think, but that’s a big part of the novel. Phèdre is Servant of Naamah: a sex worker, a profession that is semi-spiritual and respected in this world. She also uses this to glean political information from her clients, who are both men and women. Although most of her relationships are with men, I would argue the most intense relationship she has is with another woman.

Check out my full review here.

The Salt Roads by Nalo HopkinsonThe Salt Roads by Nalo Hopkinson

Nalo Hopkinson’s books are always a trip, and The Salt Roads is no exception. This book bounces between different POV characters and time periods, all bound together by their relationship to the goddess Ezili. This has a focus on racism, colonialism, and slavery while also including several queer characters. The Salt Roads isn’t linear, and you do rocketed from place and to place while also jumping through time, but it’s fascinating and compelling throughout.

Check out my full review here.

Falling in Love With Hominids by Nalo Hopkinson coverFalling in Love With Hominids by Nalo Hopkinson

I’m cheating and putting in another Nalo Hopkinson book, even though only the novella has f/f content! Falling In Love With Hominids is worth reading for the novella alone, but this collection as a whole is one of my favourite books I’ve ever read. (And there is other queer content, just not f/f.) “Ours Is the Prettiest” is a Borderlands series, which means it shares characters and a setting with other authors. It also has an interesting look at a queer community and the complex, multi-layered relationships between everyone involved.

Check out my full review here.

Everfair by Nisi ShawlEverfair by Nisi Shawl

Everfair by Nisi Shawl is a recent discovery for me, and I was pleasantly surprised to found out this steampunk alternate history of the Congo also has several queer women main characters! Everfair is a complex, thought-provoking read covering a lot of different perspectives on topics like war, colonialism, love, betrayal, and race. There is a ton packed into this, so prepare to settle in and really give it your full attention.

Check out my full review here.

 

The Mirror Empire by Kameron HurleyThe Worldbreaker Saga by Kameron Hurley

The Worldbreaker Saga is a brutal, brilliant series. It is emphatically queer: it examines gender and sexuality from multiple angles, polyamorous configurations of genders are the norm for relationships, there are multiple non-binary point of view characters, and the main character is attracted to women. It boasts a huge cast of point of view characters and an ever-expanding setting made up of distinct, detailed cultures. It is complex and ambitious, and it challenged me at every turn. This is grimdark epic fantasy, so it’s far from a comfortable read–but it’s so very worth it.

Check out my full review here.

A Lake of Feathers and Moonbeams by Dax Murphy coverA Lake of Feathers and Moonbeams by Dax Murray

A Lake of Feathers and Moonbeams is a queer Swan Lake retelling, and honestly, it just had to live up to that premise to win me over.  Add to that the beautiful cover and the promise of a positive polyamorous relationship (f/f/nb), and I was sold. So I was impressed to find that not only did this satisfy those queer fairy tale cravings, it went beyond that to create an engaging and emotionally compelling story in its own right. I loved this queer-positive fairy tale world, but I was pleasantly surprised to find that was only the backdrop for a subtle story about trust, betrayal, and new possibilities.

Check out my full review here.

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Indigo Springs by A. M. DellamonicaIndigo Springs by A.M. Dellamonica

Indigo Springs by A. M. Dellamonica is a departure from the high fantasy recommendations. It is set in our world, but one that has been contaminated by magic. We begin the book knowing the devastation this magic will wrought, then skip backwards to see how events unfold. The main character is bisexual, and somehow this book managed (to me) to pull off a love triangle. I found the environmentalism aspect to this really interesting, and though I didn’t like the sequel as much, I really enjoyed this one.

Check out my full review here.

Long Hidden: Speculative Fiction from the Margins of History edited by Rose Fox and Daniel José OlderLong Hidden: Speculative Fiction from the Margins of History edited by Rose Fox and Daniel José Older

This is another anthology that isn’t all queer women content, but although there are only two f/f stories, the quality of them makes up for it. Long Hidden: Speculative Fiction from the Margins of History edited by Rose Fox and Daniel José Older takes place between 1400-1900, mostly in North America and Europe, and is mostly made up of fantasy stories. It also includes beautiful illustrations. I really liked these, but I wish we had even more–especially in different time periods and geographical areas. Sequel, please!

Check out my full review here.

Into the Drowning Deep by Mira GrantInto the Drowning Deep by Mira Grant

Seven years ago, the ship Atargatis went to the Mariana Trench to make a mockumentary about mermaids. Unexpectedly, they seemed to find them! Unfortunately, the “mermaids” were deadly, and no one on the ship survived. Only a bit of footage shows what happened to them, and it’s believed to be faked. Now, another ship is being sent to follow up and find out what really happened.

The book begins with a large cast, including a bisexual main character (and an f/f romance), Deaf characters, and autistic characters.

This does get pretty grisly, so do go in expecting some horror element, but I didn’t find it scary.

Check out my full review here.

Bearly a Lady by Cassandra KhawBearly a Lady by Cassandra Khaw

I will admit, I was sold immediately when I heard “Bisexual werebear novella.” The book opens with Zelda (yes, Zelda) irritated that her transformation into a bear is continually destroying her wardrobe. She works for a fashion magazine, so she doesn’t take this lightly.

This is such a fun, light read. It’s quippy and snarky and smart. Because this barely (ha) breaks 100 pages, it keeps everything moving at a brisk pace, even if it is mostly romantic entanglements. Speaking of romance, I would be remiss to neglect mentioning in this review that the romance is mostly M/F. Zelda has several male love interests and one female love interest, but like Kushiel’s Dart, I would say that although the F/F pairing gets less “page time,” it has the most significance.

Check out my full review here.

Young Adult Fantasy:

Girls Made of Snow and Glass by Melissa Bashardoust coverGirls Made of Snow and Glass by Melissa Bashardoust

This is a fairy tale about misogyny. About the men who pit women against each other, and force them into limited roles. And the relationships that form between these women regardless. The love that they share even when told they should they should hate each other. The revolutionary power of love and forgiveness to break apart these narratives and allow for a new beginning. Ostensibly, this is a retelling of Snow White, but while it uses touchstones from that story, it isn’t restricted by it.

I loved that Girls Made of Snow and Glass took this fairy tale trope of the “Evil Queen”/”Evil Stepmother” and did a deep dive into imagining what could lead someone to feel like that was their only option. This is primarily about the complex relationship between Mina and her stepmother Lynet, but there is also an f/f romance that complements the narrative.

Check out my full review here.

OF Fire and Stars by Audrey CoulthurstOf Fire and Stars and Of Ice and Shadows by Audrey Coulthurst

Of Fire and Stars by Audrey Coulthurst is the queer YA fantasy I’ve always dreamed of. It’s about two princesses who fall in love, but it’s also about court intrigue, betrayal, suppressed magical powers, and horses. It also is set in a world where same-sex relationships are not looked down on: the scandal is that one of the girls is betrothed to the other’s brother

As much as I loved the first book, the sequel is even better: the story is compelling and the relationships deepen. I unabashedly fell in love with this duology, and I’m so glad that it exists for queer teen girls now.

Check out my full reviews of Of Fire and Stars and Of Ice and Shadows.

Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida CordovaLabyrinth Lost by Zoraida Cordova

Labyrinth Lost is about Alex, a Brooklyn bruja (witch) who resents her own powers. She believes that magic has done nothing but harm her and her family, and she longs to be free of it. The magical system is inspired by multiple Latin American and Afro-Cuban cultures and beliefs. Although the book begins in our world, the majority is set in Los Lagos, an in-between world of gods and powerful, unearthly creatures.

Although the word “bisexual” isn’t used in the text, Alex finds herself pulled between two people: the brooding brujo she finds herself allied with, and her bubbly best friend, who is her constant source of light. (This is also an interracial romance between two girls of colour.)

Check out my full review here.

The Lost Coast by Amy Rose CapettaThe Lost Coast by Amy Rose Capetta (review)

I knew from the time that I heard about a YA novel featuring six queer witches among the California redwood forests, I was hooked. To have 6 queer witches that celebrate their identities is–I hesitate to say–magical to read about. The group includes a grey ace non-binary character, a black bisexual character, a main character who identifies as queer, a character with synesthesia, a character with a limp, and a Filipino character. These characters discuss their labels and identities freely and without shame. This book includes a character casually using the phrase “femme as fuck.” Not only that, but Danny is a queer teenage girl who enjoys her sexuality. Kissing is her favourite thing to do, and she usually kisses girls.

Please pick up this story of chosen family and finding your own magic, and spread the word, because I know so many readers have been waiting for a story just like this.

Check out my full review here.

Dreadnought by April DanielsDreadnought and Sovereign by April Daniels

This is a trans lesbian superhero YA–but don’t expect it to be an escapist romp. This is a book that deals directly with intense transphobia (especially transmisogyny) and abuse.

Danny has enough on her plate just trying to survive her abusive household while being a closeted trans teenage girl, when getting caught in a superhero fight means that the hero Dreadnought passes on his powers to her as he dies. Being a superhero doesn’t mean that she escapes the problems she had before, though. Although she relishes being in a body that other people recognize as her gender, being a cape comes with risks–and the superhero community has its own transmisogynistic assholes. This isn’t escapist utopian fun: it’s battling bigotry armed with superpowers.

Check out my review of Dreadnought and the sequel, Sovereign.

Hocus Pocus and the All-New Sequel coverHocus Pocus and The All-New Sequel by A. W. Jantha

I am still shocked that this exists! A Disney book, a sequel to a beloved movie, that has a lesbian main character. The first half of the book is a novelization of the original movie, which you can skip. But all sequel is just what you’d expect from a Hocus Pocus sequel, but with added adorable lesbian crushes. I really don’t know how else to describe this except as a Hocus Pocus sequel with a lesbian main character. If that doesn’t sell you on it, what will? I dearly hope that is made into a movie (though I doubt it will be), because my childhood self would be so happy to see it.

 

I also made a video about this a few years ago, if you prefer that format:

Those are some of my favourites! Looking for more? Check out Catherine Lundoff’s history of LGBT SFF and this Goodreads list to start! What are your favourite queer women fantasy books?

An earlier version of this post ran on Book Riot.

Support the Lesbrary on Patreon at $2 or more a month and be entered to win a queer women book every month! $5 and up patrons get guaranteed books throughout the year on top of the giveaways!

 

Top 20 Lesbian Mystery Novels

Top 20  Lesbian Mystery Novels

Did you know that there are over 1000 lesbian mystery titles? Or that there are over 250 authors of lesbian mysteries, more than 95 percent of whom are still alive and writing? It’s true, but many readers—probably most readers—have never read a single book in the lesbian mystery genre. That’s a shame, because some of them are wonderfully written, exciting, educational, sexy, emotionally satisfying, and yes, important.

Let’s go ahead and define a lesbian mystery. First, of course, the main character must be a lesbian or bisexual woman in a same-sex relationship. Second, the main character must investigate a crime or solve a mystery or puzzle that is central to the story line. That’s just about it, although the best of these offer a glimpse into some interesting aspect of the lesbian lifestyle. Protagonists can be private investigators, law enforcement officers, or amateur detectives of any profession as long as they are not werewolves, vampires, or other superhumans.

For those of you who don’t want to wade through the thousand plus titles, the following list is an introductory guide to some of the best books in the genre. The list is in alphabetical order—there is no first, second, or third. They range from the highly literary to the pure and simple whodunit. And remember that the books on this list are my personal favorites—someone else’s list might be quite different. (Titles are linked to full reviews, covers are linked to Amazon pages.)

beverlymalibuThe Beverly Malibu, by Katherine V. Forrest. There are many good novels in Forrest’s Kate Delafield series, but this one, with its motif of  Hollywood persecution during the McCarthy era, is probably the most important. It is also the book in which Kate meets the person she will live with for most of the rest of the series.

The Case of the Not-So-Nice Nurse, by Mabel Maney. Probably not the most literary read on the list, but certainly one of the most enjoyable, with its parody of the Cherry Ames and Nancy Drew girls’ series books of the mid-20th century. Delightful and fun and more than a little silly.

Death Takes a Hike, by Peta Fox. This is the third and (so far) last book in the Jen Madden series. I list it instead of the first two because it takes some time to get to know Jen and figure out what the author is up to. Take note that the series is so filled with rough sex that it borders on BDSM, but Fox is probably the smartest writer in the bunch. Jen is an absolutely wonderful character with a mindset all her own.

Good Bad Woman, by Elizabeth Woodcraft. A novel about a British barrister who gets involved with a torch singer. This mystery lands firmly in the literary world and includes a very interesting crash course on British law and the way it is handled. Woodcraft’s only other novel, Babyface, is every bit as noir and every bit as good.

gravesilenceGrave Silence, by Rose Beecham. Set near the desert in Colorado, this one is quite a thrilling adventure with characters that sometimes make Erskine Caldwell’s seem tame. The main character, Jude Devine, is an undercover FBI agent sent to the desert posing as a Sheriff’s detective. She essentially answers to no one.

Houston Town, by Deborah Powell. Powell’s superb use of language—and exciting storylines—make this book and its predecessor, Bayou City Secrets, winners on almost every level. A fairly unusual twist in the lesbian mystery genre, this hard-hitting series is set in 1930s.

I Left My Heart, by Jaye Maiman. An honest look at the emotions behind the death of a loved one—and the resolve to find out the reason she died. Its relatively long length (over 300 pages) gives Maiman the opportunity to fully explore the themes of politics, religion, love, guilt, grief, and passion.

idahocodeIdaho Code, by Joan Opyr. Bouncy story with a young protagonist, quirky characters, a cool girlfriend, and an odd mystery. Delightful, and its 321-page length gives the author room to move about. Beware of the sequel, however, which is a disappointing rehash.

Keeping Secrets, by Penny Mickelbury. This is the first of the excellent Mimi and Gianna series. Although it is a short novel, it introduces the interracial couple of Gianna and Mimi and provides the background for the rest of the series. It is one of the first series with dual protagonists. All four books are excellent.

The Lavender House Murder, by Nikki Baker. Superior writing, craft, a winning but argumentative best friend, and deep introspection make this a standout. Virginia Kelly is the first African-American lesbian sleuth in fiction and Baker the first African-American Author. All four books in the series are highly recommended.

othersideofsilenceLooking for Ammu, by Claire Macquet. Not your typical whodunit, as the protagonist starts out simply looking for a friend. She doesn’t even know what a lesbian is until half the book is over, but what writing! A classic noir thriller that should be at the top of many lists, not just lists about lesbian mysteries. Deep and dark, seamy and satisfying.

The News in Small Towns, by Iza Moreau. A very different setting for this series—a redneck town in North Florida where Sue-Ann McKeown and her girlfriend Gina may be the only lesbians. A story with multiple puzzles, this is one of the most literary books on the list, and one of the most enjoyable series.

The Other Side of Silence, by Joan Drury.  The main draws here include the reclusive protagonist, a Pulitzer-Prize winning investigative reporter, and her main interest in life—to expose violence against women wherever and whenever it occurs. It is a powerful feminist mystery with a surprising and unusual ending.

shescoopstoconquerOutside In, by Nansi Barrett D’Arnuk. Compelling, riveting, undercover mystery that takes place mostly within a women’s prison. Honest, real, exciting, and professional. Another mystery where rough sex also has an important part to play.

The Patterned Flute, by Helen Shacklady. Interesting, free-spirited characters, portrayed well in realistic settings and a wild ride that left me on the edge of my seat. I loved the budding romance between the protagonist and her scheming and determined traveling companion.

She Scoops to Conquer, by Robin Brandeis. This is a stand-alone novel about a reporter in Louisville, Kentucky. Its intriguing and educational plot is interspersed with humor as Lane Montgomery and her erstwhile lover and newspaper rival—both serious femmes—duke it out for the story.

Tell Me What You Like, by Kate Allen. Delves into the S/M leather scene in a way that makes you want to know more. Good characters, good puzzle, good everything.

12221222, by Anne Holt. Exciting, well-drawn, and professionally written and translated from the Norwegian. In this novel, ex-police inspector Hanne Wilhelmsen is a wheelchair user and is trapped with other passengers—one of them a murderer—in a train station during a horrible snow storm. The previous books in this series may be even better; but this is the only one I have read.

Unexpected Sparks, by Gina L. Dartt. A darling novel set in Nova Scotia featuring two of the best protagonists in lesbian literature: Kate Shannon, a bookstore owner, and Nikki Harris, a police dispatcher. Their courtship makes this novel—and this 2-novel series—special.

Woman with Red Hair, by Sigrid Brunel. This stand-alone novel is set in France and describes—expertly using the unusual third-person-present point of view—the protagonist’s search for her birth mother. Although maybe not as brilliant or groundbreaking as some of the other books on this list, it is certainly not one you can just read and forget.

There are other writers that came close to making this list: Lindy Cameron, Ellen Hart, Vivien Kelly, Val McDermid, Iona McGregor, and Barbara Wilson, but the titles I read, although very enjoyable, fell just short. See my full-length reviews of over 100 lesbian mystery novels—including the ones listed above—at The Art of the Lesbian Mystery Novel.

Megan Casey is a small-town librarian whose special interest is reading, studying, and popularizing the lesbian mystery novel. She moderates the Goodreads Lesbian Mystery study group.

This post originally ran March 2015.

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