Wrapping Up 30 Days of Pride at the Lesbrary!

Happy last day of Pride month! This June, I decided to put up an article every day at the Lesbrary. Some were reposts, some were brand new, and some were updated versions of earlier lists. Partly, I did it to try to promote the Lesbrary’s Patreon: its numbers have dropped recently, and I wanted to do a big push to try to promote it. In this post, I wanted to wrap up the experience.

I’ll be honest: I knew this would be a lot of work, but it was more work than I anticipated. Even the reposts needed to be reformatted, which took more time than I expected. Also, my day job is as an Associate Editor at Book Riot, and there’s a lot of overlap in the kind of work I do there and here. Ending my work day and doing more book blogging is hard to convince myself to do—it’s a dream job, and I love the Lesbrary too, but too much of the same thing can get tiring.

And I’ll be even more honest: for the amount of work that went into this 30 days of content, it didn’t have much of an impact. I gained five Patrons in June, still well short of where I was even in January. I don’t expect everyone to support the Lesbrary on Patreon, of course! But maintaining the Patreon is its own process, including writing and mailing postcards and packaging up books, so I was hoping to boost those numbers to make it worth that time.

I don’t mean to be completely negative! I appreciated the chance to write articles and lists for the site, which I haven’t done in a while. I’m particularly proud of 10 of the Best Sapphic Mermaid Books because it’s a format I want to keep doing: pulling reviews into a list on a theme. I also liked doing the The Best Sapphic Books of 2023 (So Far) and The 10 Most Highly Anticipated Sapphic Books Out in the Rest of 2023. But my favourite post is probably yesterday’s weird list: Alien Donut Shops, Cybernetic Tea Rooms, and More Sapphic SFF for Foodies!

I’m glad I did this, because I’ve been wondering if posting like this in June would drive people to the Lesbrary or just be drowned out by other Pride content, and it looks like it’s closer to the latter—though a few posts did very well! I was glad to see this list of F/F Romances by Black Authors get lots of attention on Twitter; I hope it translated into more readers for those books!

Next time, I think I’ll treat June as more of a rest month for the Lesbrary, and if I want to do a big content push, I’ll save it for another time. Still, I hope you enjoyed these posts, and we’ll be back to our regularly scheduled content tomorrow!

a graphic of a mermaid tail with the text The Best Sapphic Mermaid Books

Day 1: I’ve Read 500+ Sapphic Books. Here are My Favorites.

Day 2: 10 of the Best Sapphic Mermaid Books

Day 3: Books for When Life is Draining You Dry and You’d Rather a Lesbian Vampire Were Doing It Instead

Day 4: 10 Mind-Blowing Bi and Lesbian Books

Day 5: 38 New Sapphic Books Out in June 2023!

Day 6: New Sapphic Releases: Bi and Lesbian Books Out June 6, 2023

Day 7: Sapphic Young Adult Books with Complicated Families

a collage of Black sapphic romance book covers with the text Reading Black Joy: 27 F/F Romances by Black Authors

Day 8: Reading Black Joy: 27 F/F Romances by Black Authors

Day 9: The 9 Books of Sappho and Other Queer Lit Lost in the Fire

Day 10: 8 of the Best Sapphic Shakespeare Retellings

Day 11: Get Queer Book Recs in Your Inbox Twice a Week with Our Queerest Shelves!

Day 12: Lesbrary Links: Defeating Book Bans, Queer-Owned Bookstores, Sapphic Hidden Gems, and More!

Day 13: 12 of the Best New Sapphic Books Out June 13, 2023

Day 14: 58 Must-Read Sapphic Books by Trans and Nonbinary Authors

Day 15: Bringing the Lesbian Vampire Home: Carmen Maria Machado’s Reclamation of CARMILLA

Day 16: Do Queer Books Still Need a Happy Ending?

Day 17: Queer Book Blogs You Need to Read

Day 18: 12 Sapphic Roller Derby Books for When You Miss the Track

a collage of the covers listed with the text The Best Sapphic Books of 2023 (So Far)

Day 19: The Best Sapphic Books of 2023 (So Far)

Day 20: New Sapphic Releases: Bi and Lesbian Books Out June 20, 2023!

Day 21: Messy Sapphics, F/F Friends to Lovers Romances, Book Celebrating Queer Bars, and More Lesbrary Links

Day 22: The 10 Most Highly Anticipated Sapphic Books Out in the Rest of 2023

Day 23: Lesbian Poetry: Because it Didn’t End with Sappho

Day 24: 9 Essential Books for Baby Gays

Day 25: Sapphic eBooks On Sale Today for Under $5!

Day 26: The Sapphic Fantastic: Bi and Lesbian Fantasy Books

Day 27: New Sapphic Releases: Bi and Lesbian Books Out June 27, 2023!

Day 28: 42 of My Favorite Sapphic Graphic Novels and Comics

Day 29: Alien Donut Shops, Cybernetic Tea Rooms, and More Sapphic SFF for Foodies!

Day 30: Wrapping Up 30 Days of Pride at the Lesbrary! (this one!)

If you find posts like these useful, help us keep the lights on by supporting the Lesbrary on Patreon or Ko-Fi!

Alien Donut Shops, Cybernetic Tea Rooms, and More Sapphic SFF for Foodies!

a collage of the covers listed with the text Sapphic Sci-fi and Fantasy for Foodies!

Is there anything more comforting than reading a cozy fantasy book? Maybe watching The Great British Bake Off. That’s why I love sci-fi and fantasy books that incorporate food, whether it’s a magical bakery or an alien cooking competition. And of course, any book is better with queer characters.

Interestingly, I found this list neatly splits into two categories: there are the prose novels that take place at least partly in a shop (a cafe, tea shop, bakery, or donut shop), and then there are YA and middle grade graphic novels. Some of them I’ve read, and some are at the top of my TBR. Let me know if you have any other sapphic SFF recommendations where food plays a big part!

Sci-Fi and Fantasy Novels

the cover of Legends and Lattes

Legends and Lattes by Travis Baldree

This is the book that kick-started the popularity of cozy fantasy! It follows Viv, an orc who has hung up her sword in order to open a coffee shop—even though no one in this town has heard of coffee. This is such a low-stakes, comforting fantasy that really focuses on the design, construction, and beginning of the coffee shop, including the menu. You will definitely have a craving for cinnamon buns while you’re reading this. Plus, there’s a very cute, slowly developing romance between Viv and Tandri, the succubus who runs the shop with her.

Check out Nat’s review for more!

the cover of The Cybernetic Tea Shop by Meredith Katz

Cybernetic Tea Shop by Meredith Katz

Sal is a robot who has been running a tea shop for hundreds of years, since her “master”/partner died. Since then, creating sentient robots like her has been outlawed, but the existing ones are in a legal limbo. When tech Clara enters her shop, the two of them immediately hit it off, despite Clara’s wanderlust and Sal’s complicated situation. Both Clara and Sal are also asexual, although that label isn’t used. The tea shop plays out in the background of this story, but it is the setting for most of the novella, as you’d expect from the title!

Check out Danika’s review for more!

Magic, Lies, and Deadly Pies cover

Magic, Lies, and Deadly Pies by Misha Popp

When I think of magical baking stories, I think cozy fantasy and comforting reads. But that’s not the only direction it can go in. In the Pies Before Guys mystery series, bisexual baker Daisy runs a pie shop with a secret. She can bake vengeance into her pies, and she has a side business in delivering justice to men who harm women. When she starts getting blackmailed, though, she has to find out who is behind the notes before she loses everything. Besides, she has a statewide pie contest to win!

The next book in the series has her competing in a baking reality show!

the cover of Light from Uncommon Stars

Light From Uncommon Stars by Ryka Aoki

There is so much going on in Light From Uncommon Stars that it’s hard to pull out just one thread: it’s about aliens and demons and curses, but it’s also a grounded, realistic character study. It’s hopeful and comforting, but it also contains abuse, bigotry, and a lot of brutal descriptions of transmisogyny.

One aspect, though, is that Lan, a refugee from another planet, runs a donut shop with her family. Over the course of the book, she learns that baking isn’t about using a replicator to achieve the best donut. It’s a celebration of the things that make life worth living, like food and music. Plus, there’s a slowburn sapphic romance subplot between two of the main characters.

Check out Danika’s review for more!


If you find posts like this useful, help us keep the lights on by supporting the Lesbrary on Patreon or Ko-Fi.


Sci-Fi and Fantasy Graphic Novels

the cover of Basil and Oregano

Basil and Oregano by Melissa Capriglione

I am eagerly anticipating my library hold on this YA fantasy graphic novel finally come in! It promises to be The Great British Bake Off meets magical boarding school plus sapphic romance.

This follows Basil Eyres and Arabella Oregano, two students at the Porta Bella Magiculinary Academy. The two immediately hit it off, and they decide to work together to rise to the top of their classes before the end of year culinary festival. But then Arabella’s secret she’s been carefully hiding comes out, and it could change everything.

Did I mention there’s a little tomato dog on the cover?? This looks so stinkin’ cute.

Space Battle Lunchtime Vol 3 cover

Space Battle Lunchtime series by Natalie Riess

I adore this all-ages sci-fi graphic novel series. Peony agrees to be in a competitive cooking show, only to be transported onto the spaceship it’s being filmed on. That’s when she realizes that this isn’t space-themed, it’s literally in outer space. But she takes the existence of aliens in stride, and concentrates on the competition. And, okay, maybe one of the cute alien contestants.

I highly recommend reading the first two volumes back to back, because they feel like two halves of a story (the cooking competition). Volume 3 is a fun bonus, which is a mystery that takes place on a living spaceship!

Check out Danika’s reviews of volumes 1 & 2 and volume 3 for more!

the cover of Cooking with Monsters Vol 1

Cooking With Monsters: A Beginner’s Guide to Culinary Combat by Jordan Alsaqa, illustrations by Vivian Truong (YA Fantasy Graphic Novel) (September 5)

This one isn’t out quite yet, but it’s one of my most anticipated releases for the rest of 2023!

Hana has just joined the Gourmand Academy of Culinary Combat, where you learn not only to fight monsters, but also to deliciously prepare them. How efficient! She’s having trouble keeping up, though, and she’s somehow already gained a rival in the form of another girl at school—and also a crush on said rival. Can’t wait to get my hands on this!

For a bonus queer magical baking story that isn’t sapphic, I have to recommend The Heartbreak Bakery by A.R. Capetta, which has an agender main character and a genderfluid love interest. When Syd accidentally bakes brownies that make everyone who eats them break up, Syd and Harley, the bakery delivery person, embark on a mission to track down everyone who’s been a victim of broken-hearted brownies and find a way to fix it.

Let me know in the comment if there are any other sapphic SFF books you’ve read that are focused on food! I would love to read more.

Support the Lesbrary on Patreon at $2 or more a month and be entered to win a queer women book every month! $10 and up patrons get guaranteed books throughout the year on top of the giveaways.

42 of My Favorite Sapphic Graphic Novels and Comics

a collage of the covers listed with the text My Favorite Sapphic Comics and Graphic Novels

I love reading comics. This format allows stories to be told that are unlike any other medium. The art and words can work together or contrast, adding different levels to the story. I love opening up a new comic and giving myself time to just admire the artwork, reminding myself to pause and take in all the visual cues. And of course, if it’s a sapphic comic, that’s even better.

This is far from an exhaustive list of sapphic graphic novels or comics! It’s just a list of my favorites that I’ve read so far. I’ve separated this recommendations into categories: comics aimed specifically at kids and teens, adult comics (many of which would also be appropriate for teens), manga, and a couple nonfiction titles. Let’s jump in!

Kids’ and Teens’ Comics

The Legend of Korra: Turf Wars Part One cover

The Legend of Korra: Turf Wars, Volume 1 by Michael Dante DiMartino and Irene Koh

If you haven’t watched The Legend of Korra, go do that first. Watch Avatar: The Last Airbender, then The Legend of Korra, then come back. I’ll wait. (Spoilers for The Legend of Korra ahead.) But if you have watched Korra, then you likely felt that bittersweet ending: more than we could have expected, but ending way too soon.

Turf Wars: Part One picks up exactly where the last episode leaves off, and it was everything I could have hoped for. It gives Korra and Asami their happy ending, where they basically go on a honeymoon in the spirit world. They kiss and hold hands. They are unambiguously a romantic couple. And honestly, that’s all I wanted! I haven’t been as impressed by the following graphic novels, but I think that’s because the first part of Turf Wars gave me everything I wanted from the story.

As the Crow Flies by Melanie Gilman cover

As the Crow Flies by Melanie Gillman

Melanie Gillman is one of my favorite artists, and this volume demonstrates why: their colored pencil illustrations are so intricate and beautiful, I can’t help but pause to stare at every page!

Charlie is a queer brown kid who was hoping to regain her closeness with God (not necessarily the Christian conception) during this trip. Instead, she’s found out that the camp is almost entirely white. She doesn’t feel welcome, and there seems to be no way to get out of this now that she’s hiking through the woods with them.

Luckily, she finds companionship with another camper, Sydney. Sydney also feels like an outsider at camp, and later we find out that’s because she’s trans. Sydney gets the distinct impression that if the camp leader knew that, she wouldn’t be welcome at this white feminist-y retreat. Sydney and Charlie get closer by commiserating and joking, and they plot to interrupt the camp plans. My only problem with this book is that it’s only volume one, and I want to read the whole story!

Check out my review here!

the cover of Other Ever Afters

Other Ever Afters: New Queer Fairy Tales by Melanie Gillman

I always love Gillman’s intricate pencil crayon illustrations, and this collection is no different. Each page is a joy to look at, and there are so many panels I’d love framed and hanging in my room.

As it says on the tin, these are queer fairy tales, and despite being original, they really capture the timeless feel of a fairy tale that’s been around for many generations. The cadence also reminds me of classic fairy tales, with some stories using repetition just as oral storytellers do.

Of course, these aren’t classic fairy tales, and they all feature queer characters, most of whom are sapphic. A ranger who falls for a girl sneaking around in the woods she protects. A princess who tries to convince the beautiful goose girl to marry her. A giantess who isn’t the monster the villagers make her out to be. It’s also feminist, with characters dismantling unjust power structures, and an ending that made me want to punch the air in triumph–while these stories stand on their own, there are a few that cross over.

Buy this for a kid in your life and then buy it for yourself.

Check out my review here!

The Legend of Auntie Po cover

The Legend of Auntie Po by Shing Yin Khor

This is a quiet, almost slice-of-life graphic novel about a 13-year-old queer Chinese American girl’s life at a logging camp. Mei is the daughter of the camp cook, and she helps out in the kitchen and spends her free time spinning yarns for the other children in camp–especially about Po Pan Yin, or Auntie Po, a Chinese American matriarchal version of Paul Bunyan. She is best friends with (and obviously has a crush on) Bee, the foreman’s daughter.

This is a quick read, but there are lots of different aspects to dive into: I think this is a book that could act as a great conversation starter with young readers. It’s a thoughtful book about a topic of U.S. American history not often written about in middle grade books, and I highly recommend it.

Check out my full review here!

Goldie Vance Volume 1 cover

Goldie Vance series by Hope Larson and Brittney Williams

Goldie Vance is a Black queer teen detective! I really love the art in this volume. The colors are vibrant, and the character designs are distinctive and engaging, and the cast is diverse.

Originally, I had though that Goldie Vance was a preteen, but she’s a teenager, and the mystery is slightly more political and intense than I thought it would be! Unsurprisingly, my favorite part of this first volume was Goldie falling for Diane, who we first see rocking a James Dean-ish look.

Check out my review here!

the cover of Slip

Slip written by Marika McCoola and illustrated by Aatmaja Pandya

This is a YA graphic novel about Jade, who is preparing for her future as an artist by going to a summer art intensive.

Just before she leaves, though, she gets devastating news. Her best friend, Phoebe, has attempted suicide and is now in the hospital. Phoebe doesn’t want visitors and is concentrating on her own recovery, so Jade has nothing to do but go to the Art Farm, even though her art is now the farthest thing from her mind.

This is, unsurprisingly, an introspective and melancholy story. There is a touch of fantasy or fabulism here as well. When Jade burns her drawings of Phoebe, they briefly come to life in the flames, and she can speak to her best friend to try to understand how she got here. Meanwhile, Jade is also beginning a romance with another girl at the art collective. 

I hope this is one that makes its way to classroom and library bookshelves, because I can imagine that a lot of teenagers especially will appreciate this honest portrayal of what it’s like to love someone who is going through a mental health crisis—the helplessness and grief and anger and every other tangled, overwhelming emotion that comes with it.

Check out my full review here!

Aquicorn Cove by Katie O'Neill cover

Aquicorn Cove by Kay O’Neill

I can’t get enough of Kay O’Neill’s artwork and stories. The illustrations are beautiful, captivating, and comforting. The pastel tones and softness of shapes matches the soothing tone of her narratives. In their author bio, they say that they write “gentle fantasy stories,” and I think that’s the perfect description.

This is a love letter to the ocean. Lana clearly loves being back by the water, and she nurtures a baby aquicorn she finds stranded in a tidal pool. The environmentalist message includes information at the back of the book about coral reefs and how we can take care of them.

The romance is between Lana’s aunt and an underwater woman creature (not a mermaid… she kind of reminds me of a Pokemon, but in a good way). In flashbacks, we see how they got closer, and then how they drifted apart. Their town depends on fishing, and it becomes a point of tension between them.

Check out my review here!

Princess Princess Ever After cover

Princess Princess Ever After by Kay O’Neill

And, of course, I can’t forget to mention Kay O’Neill’s first graphic novel, Princess Princess Ever After.

This has the same adorable style I’ve come to expect from this author (even the end papers are adorable!) Originally a webcomic, this is a short romp about two princesses saving each other. It’s maybe not as well-developed as their later books, but still well worth the space on your shelves, especially to read to/with younger kids.

The Girl From the Sea cover

The Girl from the Sea by Molly Ostertag

This follows Morgan Kwon, a 15 year old with a plan for her life. She’s going to keep her head down until she graduates, and then she’s going to become her authentic self.

When she almost drowns and is rescued by a selkie, her plan is upended. The next day, Keltie appears on land in human form: something she can only do every 7 years. While they both clearly are romantically interested in each other, Morgan panics that Keltie–with her bluntness, her weird clothing, her unrestrained personality–will out her. But she doesn’t want to walk away, either, so she tries to balance these two lives.

I love the artwork here and the quiet exploration of Morgan’s character. She has to learn to be true to herself and embrace when life doesn’t go to plan–that it’s okay to let things get messy.

Check out my full review here!

Space Battle Lunchtime Vol 3 cover

Space Battle Lunchtime series by Natalie Riess

This comic is an all-ages queer women comic about a competitive cooking show… in space. What could be better?? Peony agrees to be in a competitive cooking show, only to be transported onto the spaceship it’s being filmed on. That’s when she realizes that this isn’t space-themed, it’s literally in outer space. But she takes the existence of aliens in stride, and concentrates on the competition. And, okay, maybe one of the cute alien contestants.

I highly, highly recommend reading volume 1 & 2 back to back, because they really are one complete story. Then you get the bonus of book 3. This is such a joyful series!

Check out my review of volumes 1 and 2 here and volume 3 here!

Lumberjanes Vol 1 cover

Lumberjanes series by ND Stevenson, Grace Ellis, and Shannon Watters

I feel like recommending Lumberjanes as a queer all-ages comic should go without saying, but I will say it all the same!

This is a comic that follows a group of girls at summer camp, where they get into fantastical adventures. The strongest part of the series is the dynamic between the 5 main characters. They all have different personalities, strengths, fears, priorities, etc, but they are a tightly-knit group. They support each other. And we get to see each one spotlighted at some point.

This is also a diverse cast, including multiple trans characters, and two of the girls start dating. This is a fun series to read as an adult, but I’m especially glad it exists for kids and teens. The main characters are different ages and also a little ambiguous, so this really works as a recommendation for 9 and up, I’d say. And it’s still going!

Check out my review here!

Supermutant Magic Academy by Mariko Tamaki cover

Supermutant Magic Academy by Jillian Tamaki

SuperMutant Magic Academy takes place at a boarding school for disaffected, superpowered teens. The stories are more high school drama than superhero comic, though. My favorite character is Frances, a guerilla artist who relishes in disturbing the comfortable and is only ever shaken by one panel where a teacher coolly observes that her art is “a little 70s”.

Mostly stand-alone comics, the plot that does exist surrounds Marsha, a sarcastic, often apathetic psychic student, and her best friend Wendy, a fox girl who she has hopelessly fallen for. Marsha is closeted and debates about whether to tell Wendy about her feelings. Marsha is acts superior about Wendy’s naiveté and optimism, often criticizing her about it, despite the fact that those are clearly the traits that made her fall in love with Wendy.

Irreverent, funny, and just a little bit sad; if you’ve got a bit of a pessimistic sense of humor, you’ll love this one.

Check out my review here.

Jem and the Holograms cover

Jem and the Holograms by Kelly Thompson and Sophie Campbell

I love Sophie Campbell’s art style in this: colorful and vibrant, with characters of all different shapes and sizes. It is unbelievably cute.

You don’t have to be familiar with the original Jem and the Holograms to pick this up: it’s a re-imagining of the original concept. 4 sisters start a band together, but their lead singer, Jerrica, has debilitating stage fright. Luckily, they get access to hologram technology, so Jerrica can perform disguised as the confident and larger than life Jem.

Also, one of the sisters gets a crush on a member of rival band The Misfits! So much fun!

The cover of Heavy Vinyl volume one

Heavy Vinyl, Volume 1 by Carly Usdin and Nina Vakueva

Chris is a teenager who has just started working at the local record store. (It’s the 90s.) All her coworkers seem impossibly cool, and she immediately starts crushing on one of them. As the cover would suggest, though, it’s not just music that this group of girls is passionate about. Chris finds herself getting initiated into a network of teen girl vigilante gangs.

It’s a little bit Empire Records, a little bit Josie and the Pussycats (the movie), with bonus vigilante, mystery-solving teen girl gang and a queer main character. The strength and weakness of this is how cute it is. You wouldn’t think that a story about a vigilante gang would be so fluffy, but it is! It’s more Scooby Doo than anything else. If you’re looking for a fun and hopeful read, set in a 90s with no homophobia, pick this one up.

Check out my review here.

Princeless: Raven the Pirate Princess Vol 1 cover

Princeless: Raven the Pirate Princess Vols. 1-3 by Jeremy Whitley

Raven is the daughter of a pirate captain, and she was supposed to inherit the title. Unfortunately, her brothers stole that from her. Now, she’s determined to put together her own crew, get a ship, and regain what’s rightfully hers.

This is a diverse, all-women pirate crew bent on revenge. There’s an f/f romance between Raven and another member of the crew, who was a childhood friend until Raven betrayed her. (Friends to Lovers to Enemies to Lovers?)

The whole crew gets time for their characters to develop, and there is a lot of diversity between them, including a Deaf crew member who uses sign language. In addition to adventure and heartbreak, there’s also a lot of satire, especially making feminist points, and fun references.

Check out my review here!


If you find posts like this useful, help us keep the lights on by supporting the Lesbrary on Patreon or Ko-Fi.



the cover of Heathen: The Complete Series Omnibus Edition

Heathen series by Natasha Alterici

I feel like Heathen is a book that lots of people are looking for, but they don’t know it’s an option. It’s about a lesbian viking taking on the patriarchy. Norse mythology with a queer lead!

Aydis is banished from her community–and meant to be killed–for kissing a girl. Instead of feeling shame, she feels outrage at a system that punishes her for this. She decides to free Brynhild, a Valkyrie who is imprisoned in fire by Odin.

That’s only the beginning, though. This is a quest to take down the patriarchy, and along the way Aydis and her allies defend other outcasts. She also runs into some talking wolves and a talking horse as well as Freyja, goddess of love. Oh, and of course, she picks a fight with the most powerful enemy you can find in Norse mythology: Odin.

Check out my review here.

When I Arrived at the Castle cover

When I Arrived at the Castle by Emily Carroll

When I found out Emily Carroll wrote a sapphic vampire horror erotica graphic novel, I couldn’t believe my luck.

Carroll’s art style is gorgeous and compelling, and the black, white, and red color scheme works so well in this. The story has a haunting, almost fairy tale feel that slips into the dreamlike. Do I completely understand what happened? No. But I was enthralled. There is plenty of gore and blood, but it’s juxtaposed with the eroticism, which just heightens that feeling of unease.

Caroll is a master of page design, and almost every spread is arranged differently: the view through a keyhole, an all-text page telling a story, a coffin illuminated in a ray of light. I’d want them framed and on my wall if there wasn’t the nightmare factor.

Check out my full review here!

Motor Crush, Volume 1 cover

Motor Crush Vol 1 by Brenden Fletcher, Cameron Stewart, and Babs Tarr

Domino races by day in motorcycle races that serve as the main source of entertainment in this society. She’s tracked by a floating camera asking for constant updates and interviews. By night, she races gangs, where there is no limits to the lengths you can go to in order to win the pot. (You can see Domino’s weapon of choice on the cover.) While others race for Crush because it boosts their engines (and apparently motorcycles can get addicted to it??), Domino needs it to live.

There are plenty of good reasons to like Motor Crush, but what really sold me on it was Domino’s ex-girlfriend, Lola. Who can resist a beautiful, curvy, femme woman with hot pink hair who’s on a motorcycle? Did I mention that she’s a mechanic, too? Swoon.

Check out my review here.

the cover of Eat the Rich

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

Joey is meeting her boyfriend’s family, and it’s understandably stressful. They’re wealthy; she’s not. It goes about as well as you’d expect at first. Joey feels judged and out of place. This is a short graphic novel, so I don’t want to spoil anything, but I think you can probably guess that this rich community is eating people; it’s revealed pretty quickly.

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

Check out my review here.

Stage Dreams by Melanie Gillman cover

Stage Dreams by Melanie Gillman

In Stage Dreams, Grace is in a stage coach, on the run. The coach is being driven through an area that’s being haunted by the Ghost Hawk, a supernatural giant hawk that swoops down on carriages and robs them! When Grace’s coach is targeted, she discovers that the Ghost Hawk is, in fact, Flor: a Latina woman who robs coaches, with her (regular-sized) pet hawk–not the story stagecoach drivers like to tell about the experience!

When the stagecoach fails to produce any worthwhile goods, Flor takes Grace instead, in the hopes of getting some ransom money from her family. Her plan falls apart when she finds out that Grace is trans and is running away from her family. Instead, the two end up hatching a plan together to pull of another heist–one that could set them both up for life.

Although I would have liked for this to be a little longer, I really enjoyed the art, characters, and historical context (the end notes are packed with info). Westerns are not usually my genre, but I was sucked into this story. Definitely pick it up for a quick, engaging read with a diversity of characters not often seen in this setting.

Check out my review here.

Kim Reaper Vol. 1: Grim Beginnings cover

Kim Reaper: Grim Beginnings and Vampire Island by Sarah Graley

Becka is an art school student who is crushing hard on Kim, a gothic girl in her class. Little does she know, Kim is a part-time Grim Reaper, and instead of heading off to the pub after class with a cute girl, Becka ends up being pulled into some dangerous undead shenanigans.

This is so much fun to read. The plot is silly (they fight a bodybuilder and his army of cats!) and the art is super cute. I think Becka is the cutest character I’ve ever seen in my life.

Check out my reviews of volume 1 and volume 2.

the cover of One Hundred Nights of Hero by Isabel Greenberg

The One Hundred Nights of Hero by Isabel Greenberg

The framing device here 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.

Although there’s a timeless, folk lore feel to the story, there’s also some moments of great, clever humor thrown in, including the narrator cutting in for commentary, and Hero and Cherry using vocabulary I was not expecting! Mostly the humor is dry, feminist wit.

This a beautiful, epic love story that centers on two women. That fundamentally respects women and their love. This is a story that respects storytelling, that believes that stories can change the world. This is the queer feminist mythology we deserve.

Check out my review here.

Stone Fruit cover

Stone Fruit by Lee Lai

Ray’s sister is an overstretched single mother, and Ray offered to step in and take care of her niece twice a week. 6-year-old Nessie adores spending time with them, especially since Aunt Bron is the most fun to play with.

Outside of these adventures, though, Bron and Ray are struggling. This a painfully relatable story. It’s about the messiness of everyday queerness. Ray and Bron tried to build an ideal life together, but they couldn’t outrun the underlying issues of living in a transphobic heterosexist world, especially when they formed the foundation of your early life. There are no easy answers, just humans tentatively reaching out to each other, finding both hurt and comfort.

Check out my review here.

Sugar Town by Hazel Newlevant cover

Sugar Town by Hazel Newlevant

This is a queer, polyamorous, BDSM fluffy love story. Hazel is in an open relationship with her boyfriend, and she bumps into Argent, a confident and kind domme, at a party. They click instantly, and Argent helps Hazel learn more about negotiating polyamorous relationships.

Sugar Town is a sweet, soft story. Everyone in it treats each other with respect and caring. They check in. They talk about their feelings. Hazel is still figuring out jealousy and other aspects of polyamory, but that’s okay. They’re not simmering underneath, they’re freely discussed.

I also loved the art style, which reinforces that warm and welcoming feel. I want to crawl inside the pages and curl up there. This is definitely one of my rare 5 star ratings: I loved every panel, and I know I will return to it when I need something hopeful to dive into for a little while. What a treat.

Check out my review here.

Always Human by Ari North cover

Always Human by Ari North

I read this as a webcomic, but it’s newly available as a graphic novel! This is technically sci fi, set at a time where people can modify their bodies easily. Sunati loves changing her appearance all the time, though she never changes her natural skin colour. Austen is unable to change her appearance—her immune system rejects them.

But mostly this is about about the relationship between them. It’s a sweet, gentle, and thoughtful read. The art is beautiful and bright, and I plan to read anything Ari North puts out.

Girl Town by Carolyn Nowak cover

Girl Town by Carolyn Nowak

What a weird and wonderful book. This a collection of comic short stories, which differ in characters and style, but have a similar vibe of women’s complicated relationships with each other, and a general sense of unease and yearning. With beginning lines like “I have lived with Ashley and Jolene since we all got kicked out of astronaut school for being too good-looking to be sent to space,” Girl Town wastes no time in introducing you to a world that’s one step out of sync with our own, while still seeming eerily familiar.

Girl Town is a surreal and affecting read. I felt off-kilter while reading it, with the odd worlds and only brief glimpses into these lives, but the emotions rang true. I read this book because my coworker put it in my hands and said “I just read this and I think you’re really like it.” Not only am I glad to have had it put in my hands, I’m also flattered to be associated with a queer weirdo feelings comic like this one.

Check out my review here.

America Vol 1 cover

America Volume 1 and Volume 2 by Gabby Rivera

If you liked Juliet Takes a Breath, you should also pick up Gabby Rivera’s comics! Although this is a different genre, it has Rivera’s signature style, complete with pep talks.

Although I felt like I was missing something, because I haven’t read any other Marvel comics with these characters, I still enjoyed it, especially getting an openly queer women of color superhero. She also has two moms!

Darlin’ It’s Betta Down Where It’s Wetta cover

Darlin’ It’s Betta Down Where It’s Wetta by Rosalarian writing as Megan Rose Gedris

Down Where It’s Wetta is a lesbian mermaid erotica graphic novel made up of short arcs, all featuring the same characters. This is light on plot, but there is enough variety in setting to keep it interesting.

I love Rosalarian’s artwork, and this volume is no exception. The subtle watercolor-like shading in the full-color edition really adds interest to the pages, I thought. Although the focus is definitely on sex, I also really enjoyed the humor in Down Where It’s Wetta. The author makes a few appearances in the pages, including defending their use of a half-page detailed illustration of shoes as definitely pornographic. Chloe, especially, makes for a ridiculous (and entertaining) character to read. She makes the kind of choices that you wouldn’t be able to stand in a friend but lap up in a fictional landscape.

(Also, fun fact, the Lesbrary banner is by Rosalarian!)

Check out my review here!


I have only dabbled in manga! But it’s definitely something I want to explore more. If you want more recommendations, check out Okazu!

Run Away With Me, Girl Vol 1

Run Away With Me, Girl, Vol. 1 by Battan

Several of the manga I’ve really enjoyed I haven’t yet reviewed, because I like to wait until I’ve read several volumes and review them all at once, so full review to come!

Maki and Midori dated all through school—but once they graduated, Midori broke up with her, saying they were now adults and needed to get boyfriends. 10 years later, Maki bumps into Midori and found she’s done just that. In fact, she’s engaged. But her fiancé is an asshole, and Midori and Maki still seem to still have their old chemistry. Maki can’t help wondering if she should try to convince Midori that she was wrong to ever break up with her.

This is a promising start to the series, and I absolutely love that cover. I can’t wait to read the next volumes!

I Married My Best Friend to Shut My Parents Up by Naoko Kodama cover

I Married My Best Friend to Shut My Parents Up by Naoko Kodama

I know, I know, but ignore the title for a minute! This is genuinely good. This short, standalone manga is about a fake marriage: Morimoto is sick of being constantly set up by her parents. Her friend Hana suggests that they get married.

Unsurprisingly, Hana and Morimoto’s relationship changes as they live together. Morimoto also finds new confidence in herself: she is inspired by Hana, by her dedication to her passion (art) and her defiance in being unapologetically out. It was gratifying to see an out character, one who even uses the word “lesbian,” in the pages of a yuri manga. This has all of the appeal that yuri manga usually has for me: it’s a quick, absorbing, and adorable read. But it adds more depth and realism than I expect from this genre. It had me absolutely grinning as I read it.

Girl Friends by Milk Morinaga Vol 1 cover

Girl Friends: The Complete Collection by Milk Morinaga

This seems to the quintessential yuri series:  It’s school girls, and a lot of blushing, and the typical “girls don’t do this” heteronormativity. I read this in the omnibus, and talk about a slow burn! This is almost 500 pages, and mostly just about Mariko making a new friend, falling in love with her, and then (much later) realizing that she’s fallen in love with her.

Girl Friends is super cute, but with the melodrama of agonizing over a crush on a girl. This is a fun, quick, addictive read.

Check out my review of volume 1 and volume 2.

the cover of My Cute Little Kitten Vol 1

My Cute Little Kitten Vol. 1 by Milk Morinaga

When I saw Milk Morinaga had a new yuri manga series with adult main characters, I had to pick it up. And I was not disappointed.

This is adorable, as you’d expect from the title and cover. Rena and Yuna are roommates that started living together in college and never stopped. Rena is in love with Yuna, but has never told her. When Yuna brings home a stray kitten and wants to move to a pet-friendly apartment together to raise it, Rena confesses her feelings, unable to keep this up any longer. But Yuna’s reaction isn’t what she expected.

With most manga volumes, I feel like I’ve gotten just a taste of the story—each volume feels more like a chapter. This one covered a lot of ground in just volume one, though, and I’m looking forward to seeing these two stumble through their relationship and learning how to communicate with each other in the next volumes.

Check out my review here.

Revolutionary Girl Utena Vol 2 cover

Revolutionary Girl Utena series by Chiho Saito

If you have never heard of Utena, I’m not sure exactly how to explain it to you. It is an anime, manga series, and movie. It’s sort of like Sailor Moon, but darker and weirder. After being rescued by a prince as a child, Utena decides to grow up to become a prince herself. She has just arrived at a fantastical boarding school (where all the girls swoon over her), and accidentally gets involved in a dueling club, where they battle over the Rose Bride.

To be honest, I think the anime is much better than the original manga, but it’s best when you read/watch both. The manga is subtextual between Utena and Anthy, but it is textual in the anime (and, especially, the movie.)

Check out my review here.

the cover of Whisper Me a Love Song Vol 1

Whisper Me a Love Song series by Eku Takeshima

 Himari is a ridiculously cute first year high school student who sees Yori perform (as the lead singer in a band) and is instantly smitten. She finds Yori after the performance and tells her that she’s fallen in love at first sight. Yori tells her that she returns her feelings… only to find out that Himari doesn’t really understand romantic love, and she just meant that she likes and admires her.

The series follows Yori trying to win Himari over (not in a creepy way) and Himari trying to understand the difference between the adoration she’s had for other girls her whole life and romantic love. This is almost tooth-achingly sweet, especially Himari’s character, who is often gazing up at Yori with giant sparkling eyes. The concept of Himari trying to understand romantic love and growing into that aspect of herself is a good hook, though.  I really liked the art, and it’s cute to see these two tiptoe into the world of romance. I am looking forward to continuing the series!

Check out my review here.

the cover of How Do We Relationship?, Vol. 1

How Do We Relationship? series by Tamifull

This series is about two women who meet in college and decide, “What are the chances I’m going to run into another out queer woman here? Why don’t we just date each other?” They don’t have much in common–in fact, they hardly know each other at this point, but decide to see what happens.

Whether it’s in sex or conversations, I appreciated that they’re often realistically awkward. This is not a romanticized relationship: they are both complex, flawed people, but they are trying to improve.

As the series continues, it takes some turns and adds a larger cast of supporting characters. I’m looking forward to seeing what happens next!

Check out my review here.

the cover of She Loves to Cook, and She Loves to Eat by Yuzaki Sakaomi

She Loves to Cook, and She Loves to Eat, Vol. 1 by Sakaomi Yuzaki

Nomoto loves to cook, but it’s hard to experiment with a lot of recipes when only cooking for herself. When she discovers her neighbour Kasuga has a big appetite, they begin a mutually beneficial arrangement of Nomoto often cooking for Kasuga and Kasuga paying for supplies.

This is such a gentle, relaxing read. It’s not 100% clear from this beginning if this is a romantic relationship, but it’s a sweet dynamic nonetheless. Nomoto discusses how different it is to be expected to cook from men in her life versus having cooking be her own independent interest. I’ve only read one volume, but this is already a favorite.


Fun Home by Alison Bechdel cover

Fun Home by Alison Bechdel

It’s pretty unlikely that you haven’t heard of Fun Home, but it really does live up to the hype. For me, what really stood out to me was both how queer and how literary this book is:  Bechdel’s parents as she was growing up were both English teachers, and books are a constant presence throughout the novel. She understands her family through comparing them to books and authors. She often has excerpts from books that take up a whole panel, and even the books in the background usually get a title and author.

Bechdel’s coming out was also wrapped in books: she realized her lesbianism by stumbling across a description of a lesbian in a book, she devoured lesbian books in her coming out process, and she parallels her coming out with the Odyssey.

Check out my review here.

the cover of I'm a Wild Seed

I’m a Wild Seed: My Graphic Memoir on Queerness and Decolonizing the World by Sharon Lee De La Cruz

I’m a Wild Seed is a short graphic memoir exploring the author’s exploration of her identity. It’s about how her “coming into queerness,” but it’s also about her relationship to her racial identity and decolonizing gender and sexuality.

Because this is so short, it often reminded me more of an in-depth essay than a graphic memoir–that’s not a complaint! It’s packed full of memes, diagrams, and other visuals that I’m familiar with on the internet than I am in books.

De La Cruz shares not only her personal story, but also the history and context she’s learned along the way. This is a quick read, but it’s insightful and thought-provoking. My only complaint is that I would have gladly read a version of this book twice or three times as long!

Check out my review here.

My Lesbian Experience With Loneliness cover

My Lesbian Experience with Loneliness by Kabi Nagata

Based on the cover, I was expecting this to be a goofy read. Instead, it’s a very introspective memoir in manga form, processing her mental health issues.

It’s a sometimes uncomfortable read, because Kabi pulls no punches in detailing her struggles with depression, eating disorders, self-harm, and internalized homophobia.

Be Gay, Do Comics cover

Be Gay, Do Comics!: Queer History, Memoir, and Satire from the Nib

Be Gay, Do Comics is an anthology with more than 30 contributors, all discussing some aspect of queer life. This was a refreshingly diverse and thought-provoking collection. It covers a wide range of topics from a lot of different voices, including many artists of color and trans artists, and includes comics about queer liberation and resisting assimilation.

There is a mix of one-page comics and longer pieces, with some being fairly simple one-off jokes or observations and others looking at queer history. I was especially interested in the comics that looked at queer history and culture that is lesser known. It’s not focused specifically on lesbians and bi women, but there is definitely sapphic representation. I’m happy to see that queer anthologies are expanding to be a little more challenging and diverse than they were just a handful of years ago.

Check out my review here.

Kimiko Does Cancer cover

Kimiko Does Cancer: A Graphic Memoir by Kimiko Tobimatsu, illustrated by Keet Geniza

Kimiko Does Cancer is about a queer, mixed-race woman getting breast cancer. This is a short book, only 106 pages, and it moves quickly: the first page is about Kimiko finding a lump above her breast, and then it moves through her diagnosis, treatment, and the aftermath. Tobimatsu explains in interviews/articles that she wanted to write this book because the mainstream narrative around cancer didn’t include her experience. She wanted other queer people with cancer to have a reference that better reflects their lives.

I highly recommend this book, and I hope that it finds its way into the right hands.

Check out my review here.

War of Streets and Houses cover

War of Streets and Houses by Sophie Yanow

This is an academic reflection on urban design and how it relates to militarization, focusing on the Montreal 2012 student strike and the brutal police response.

I was a little intimidated by the ideas here, but they presented pretty accessibly. It’s a series of vignettes, not a continuous narrative. Some focus on Yanow’s witness of and participation in the Quebec student protests, while others ruminate on the nature of the city and how it can affect what social change is possible. We also see glimpses of Yanow’s queer community, and a small acknowledgment of how Yanow’s whiteness factors into her activism and feeling of safety.

This is a very short read, only a 64-page graphic novel, but it will leave you thinking. If the blurb sounds at all appealing, you should give War of Streets and Houses a try.

Check out my review here.

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9 Essential Books for Baby Gays

Books for Baby Gays graphic

I have personally identified as bi since I was about 22, and 5 years on, I’ve now started thinking about what might have been different if I’d realised that any earlier, if my personal queer revelation had arrived during uni or high school. In this alternate imagined past, are there any books that could have fast-tracked my identity discovery? Or, are there any books that I didn’t know I needed or to look for when I ended up having my epiphany? My book picks have always felt very organic to me, but at the same time I seem to lean towards queer genre fiction a lot — a preference which is definitely not universal. And with all these thoughts recently running through my head, I decided while it may be too late to sit my past self down and make her think about what she wants and needs in light of the new perspective, it is definitely not too late to do the same for others.

So. The below is a non-comprehensive list of books you might consider picking up if you’re questioning your sexual orientation, or have recently started to identify as sapphic in whichever way that is for you. I’ve aimed for happy endings and not too much tragedy or pain over the course of these stories. With the help of some friends I managed to identify a number of categories that you might wish for in such a situation. Here I have highlighted one book per category, but you can find a larger list of suggestions on my blog (though without any blurbs). Now, without further ado, read on one and all!

Coming Out Under the Age of 12:

Star-Crossed by Barbara Dee cover

Star-Crossed by Barbara Dee (bi main character)

Mattie is chosen to play Romeo opposite her crush in the eighth grade production of Shakespeare’s most beloved play. Gemma, the new girl at school and crush in question, is brilliant, pretty, outgoing—and, if all that wasn’t enough: British. As the cast prepares for opening night, Mattie finds herself growing increasingly attracted to Gemma and confused, since, just days before, she had found herself crushing on a boy. If that wasn’t enough to deal with, things backstage at the production are starting to rival any Shakespearean drama!

Coming Out in High School:

the cover of You Should See Me in a Crown by Leah Johnson

You Should See Me In A Crown by Leah Johnson (Black lesbian main character)

Alright yes, everybody and their mother is recommending this one, but clearly that means there’s a reason! Liz Lighty has a plan that will get her out of her small, rich, prom-obsessed midwestern town forever: attend the uber-elite Pennington College and become a doctor. But when the financial aid she was counting on falls through, Liz’s plans come crashing down—until she’s reminded of her school’s scholarship for prom king and queen. Despite her devastating fear of the spotlight, she’s willing to do whatever it takes to get to Pennington. The only thing that makes it halfway bearable is the new girl in school, Mack. She’s smart, funny, and just as much of an outsider as Liz. But Mack is also in the running for queen…

Coming Out at University:

Learning Curves by Ceillie Simkiss cover

Learning Curves by Ceillie Simkiss (fat Puerto Rican lesbian main character with anxiety, panromantic ace love interest with ADHD)

With only two semesters of law school to go, Elena Mendez’s dream of working as a family lawyer for children is finally within reach. She can’t afford distractions, but she has no idea how much her life will change the day she lends her notes to Cora McLaughlin. Over weeks in the library together, they discover that as strong as they are apart, they’re stronger together. Through snowstorms and stolen moments, through loneliness and companionship, the two learn they can weather anything as long as they have each other. College may be strict, but when it comes to love, Cora and Elena are ahead of the learning curve.

Coming Out Later in Life:

Knit One, Girl Two by Shira Glassman cover. It shows an illustration of two women kissing and a cat playing with yarn.

Knit One, Girl Two by Shira Glassman (Jewish lesbian main character)

Small-batch independent yarn dyer Clara Ziegler is eager to brainstorm new color combinations.

When she sees Danielle Solomon’s paintings of Florida wildlife by chance at a neighborhood gallery, she finds her source of inspiration.

Outspoken, passionate, and complicated, Danielle herself soon proves even more captivating than her artwork…

Life After the Big Come Out:

Double Exposure by Chelsea Cameron cover

Double Exposure by Chelsea Cameron (bi trans woman main character, pan woman love interest)

Anna Corcoran’s life is hectic, but that’s how she likes it. Between her jobs at the Violet Hill Cafe, the local library, and doing publicity work for authors, she doesn’t have much time for anything else. Until Lacey Cole walks into the cafe and she feels like she’s been knocked off her axis. Lacey’s a photographer and writer and wants to do a profile on the cafe, including an interview with Anna. She’s game, but after spending a few days with Lacey, Anna is falling. Hard. The only problem is that Lacey isn’t going to be sticking around. As they get closer and closer, Anna wonders if maybe this would be the one time when Lacey would decide to stay put. With her.

Proper Escapism:

Water Witch cover

Water Witch: The Deceiver’s Grave by Nene Adams (identities unknown)

It is the eighteenth century in a world filled with magic and the Caribbean are a haven for pirates; the most feared of them all is Bess O’Bedlam, known as the Water Witch. Bess’ lust for riches knows no bounds and she is on the trail of the greatest prize ever taken—and thought lost for twenty-five years. When Bess meets Marguerite de Vries, the Dutch thief does not know she is the key to a king’s ransom. The Water Witch will use any means to find the loot, including seduction, but she had not reckoned on a fiery-tempered opponent determined to protect her heart at any cost. As the women are pitted against a deadly magical curse, they must overcome many enemies in their quest for the treasure… and each other’s love.

Romance Takes a Back Seat:

the cover of The Black Veins

The Black Veins by Ashia Monet (no romance, queer found family, bi Black main character, British Chinese ace trans man and Black bisexual ensemble characters)

In a world where magic thrives in secret city corners, a group of magicians embark on a road trip. Sixteen-year-old Blythe is one of seven Guardians: magicians powerful enough to cause worldwide panic with a snap of their fingers. But Blythe spends her days pouring latte art at her family’s coffee shop until magician anarchists crash into said coffee shop and kidnap her family. Heartbroken but determined, she packs up her family’s bright yellow Volkswagen, puts on a playlist, and embarks on a road trip across the United States to enlist the help of six strangers whose abilities are unparalleled—the other Guardians.


Carmilla edited by Carmen Maria Machado cover

Carmilla by Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu, edited by Carmen Maria Machado (lesbian main character and love interest)

Isolated in a remote mansion in a central European forest, Laura longs for companionship when a carriage accident brings another young woman into her life: the secretive and sometimes erratic Carmilla. As Carmilla’s actions become more puzzling and volatile, Laura develops bizarre symptoms, and as her health goes into decline, Laura and her father discover something monstrous.

Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu’s compelling tale of a young woman’s seduction by a female vampire predates Bram Stoker’s Dracula by over a quarter century.

The History:

Sapphistries cover

Sapphistries: A Global History Of Love Between Women by Leila J. Rupp

From the ancient poet Sappho to tombois in contemporary Indonesia, women throughout history and around the globe have desired, loved, and had sex with other women. Sapphistries captures the multitude of ways that diverse societies have shaped female same-sex sexuality across time and place. We hear women in the sex-segregated spaces of convents and harems whispering words of love. We see women beginning to find each other on the streets of London and Amsterdam, in the aristocratic circles of Paris, in the factories of Shanghai. We find women’s desire and love for women meeting the light of day as Japanese schoolgirls fall in love, and lesbian bars and clubs spread from 1920s Berlin to 1950s Buffalo. And we encounter a world of difference in the twenty-first century, as transnational concepts and lesbian identities meet local understandings of how two women might love each other. Rupp also creatively employs fiction to imagine possibilities when there is no historical evidence.

Marieke (she / her) has a weakness for niche genres like fairy tale retellings and weird murder mysteries, especially when combined with a nice cup of tea. She also shares diverse reading resources on her blog letsreadwomen.tumblr.com

This post was originally published in 2021.

Lesbian Poetry: Because it Didn’t End with Sappho

Lesbian Poetry Selections and Recommendations

I’ve been researching the history of lesbian literature (as you do), and one of the things that I’ve learned is that lesbian poetry has been at the foundation of lesbian lit. Of course, Sappho is the one that started it all, though we have to make due with only fragments of her poetry, leaving us with tantalizing scraps of poems like:

and on a soft bed
you would let loose your longing

and neither any[          ]nor any
holy place nor
was there from which we were absent

no grove[         ]no dance
]no sound

One of the few (almost) complete poems we have still resonates today:

He seems to me equal to the gods that man
whoever he is who opposite you
sits and listens close
to your sweet speaking

and lovely laughing—oh it

puts the heart in my chest on wings
for when I look at you, even a moment, no speaking
is left in me

no: tongue breaks and thin
fire is racing under skin
and in eyes no sight and drumming
fills ears

and cold sweat holds me and shaking
grips me all, greener than grass
I am and dead—or almost
I seem to me.

But all is to be dared, because even a person of poverty . . .

(Both translated by Anne Carson in If Not, Winter: Fragments of Sappho)

Sappho is the foundation of queer women literature, including giving us the words lesbian and sapphic, but lesbian poetry books have in general been some of the first explicitly lesbian books published through time.

In the 1800s, Wu Tsao was a celebrated poet. Her poems were sung throughout China. And she was open about loving women. Among other topics, she wrote love poetry for courtesans, including this one:

For the Courtesan Ch’ing Lin

On your slender body
Your jade and coral girdle ornaments chime
Like those of a celestial companion
Come from the Green Jade City of Heaven.
One smile from you when we meet,
And I become speechless and forget every word.
For too long you have gathered flowers,
And leaned against the bamboos,
Your green sleeves growing cold,
In your deserted valley:
I can visualize you all alone,
A girl harboring her cryptic thoughts.

You glow like a perfumed lamp
In the gathering shadows.
We play wine games
And recite each other’s poems.
Then you sing `Remembering South of the River’
With its heart breaking verses. Then
We paint each other’s beautiful eyebrows.
I want to possess you completely –
Your jade body
And your promised heart.
It is Spring.
Vast mists cover the Five Lakes.
My dear, let me buy a red painted boat
And carry you away

(Translated by Kenneth Rexroth and Ling Chung in Women Poets of China)

In 1900 in France, Natalie Clifford Barney published Quelques Portraits-Sonnets de Femmes (Translated: Some Portrait-Sonnets of Women), a book of lesbian love poetry. When her father found out about this, he bought up the remaining stock of the title and had them burned.

A few years later, Renée Vivien (a lover of Barney’s) wrote and published her own lesbian poetry, chock-full of references to Sappho’s poems and not exactly subtextual in their content:

The Touch

The trees have kept some lingering sun in their branches,
Veiled like a woman, evoking another time,
The twilight passes, weeping. My fingers climb,
Trembling, provocative, the line of your haunches.

My ingenious fingers wait when they have found
The petal flesh beneath the robe they part.
How curious, complex, the touch, this subtle art–
As the dream of fragrance, the miracle of sound.

I follow slowly the graceful contours of your hips,
The curves of your shoulders, your neck, your unappeased breasts.
In your white voluptuousness my desire rests,
Swooning, refusing itself the kisses of your lips.

(The Muse of the Violets: Poems by Renée Vivien)

In 1923, the U.S. got its first book of lesbian poetry: On A Grey Thread by Elsa Gidlow. I’m including one from her later collection, Sapphic Songs:

For the Goddess Too Well Known

I have robbed the garrulous streets,
Thieved a fair girl from their blight,
I have stolen her for a sacrifice
That I shall make to this night.

I have brought her, laughing,
To my quietly dreaming garden.
For what will be done there
I ask no man pardon.

I brush the rouge from her cheeks,
Clean the black kohl from the rims
Of her eyes; loose her hair;
Uncover the glimmering, shy limbs.

I break wild roses, scatter them over her.
The thorns between us sting like love’s pain.
Her flesh, bitter and salt to my tongue,
I taste with endless kisses and taste again.

At dawn I leave her
Asleep in my wakening garden.
(For what was done there
I ask no man pardon.)

I can’t detail the entire history of lesbian poetry here, so I will skip to one of the biggest names: Audre Lorde, who has written incredible things about race, sexuality, and sexism, and casually includes lines like “And there is, for me, no difference between writing a good poem and moving into sunlight against the body of a woman I love” (Uses of the Erotic: The Erotic as Power).

Love Poem

Speak earth and bless me with what is richest
make sky flow honey out of my hips
rigid as mountains
spread over a valley
carved out by the mouth of rain.
And I knew when I entered her I was
high wind in her forests hollow
fingers whispering sound
honey flowed
from the split cup
impaled on a lance of tongues
on the tips of her breasts on her navel
and my breath
howling into her entrances
through lungs of pain.
Greedy as herring-gulls
or a child
I swing out over the earth
over and over

(The Collected Poems of Audre Lorde)

A contemporary of Lorde’s who isn’t as well known is Pat Parker, who was another black lesbian feminist poet writing in the ’70s. I can’t help but include this one :

a Pat Parker poem titled “For Willyce.” It reads: “When i make love to you / i try / with each stroke of my tongue/ to say   i love you / to tease   i love you / to hammer   i love you / to melt   i love you // & your sounds drift down / oh god! / oh jesus! / and I think – / here it is, some dude’s / getting credit for what / a woman / has done, / again.”

(Pit Stop by Pat Parker)

Of course, lesbian poetry isn’t just a thing of the past. Recently, Julie R. Enszer’s collection Sisterhood left me completely shaken with this poem:

Zyklon B

Where should one draw the line?
…the line is very clearly Zyklon B.

The painters call before we move into the new house. Ma’am, they say—
I am not old enough to be a ma’am, but I don’t correct them—
Ma’am, they say, we smell gas.
I dismiss their concern. I say, Keep painting.
I say, You are already two weeks behind schedule.

Five days after we move in, I wake up sick. I vomit.
Gas filled our house. We open all the windows,
call the utility company. The stove regulator isn’t working.
It can’t be fixed. We buy a new Frigidaire.

This is what I know of life:
Love fiercely, even recklessly;
Laugh loudly, even raucously;
Risk everything, at least once;
Live openly, without abandon;
Build trust, be honest;
Buy American.

A year later our washing machine breaks.
I want a new German one—small, sleek, stylish.
I tell my wife, It is perfect for the kitchen.
Our washer and dryer are in the kitchen.
My wife says, They built the ovens.
We buy a new Frigidaire.

Degesch, a company affiliated with Degussa,
based in Dusseldorf,
is the world’s largest maker of specialty chemicals.
Degussa has an exemplary record
of examining the wartime past,
making restitution to victims. Still
The Memorial Foundation for the Murdered Jews of Europe
rejects a subcontract for Degussa.
Degesch manufactured gas pellets: Zyklon B.

This is what I know of gas:
May you never make a mistake that cannot be corrected.
May you never take an action that cannot be forgotten.

If you’re looking for coming out poetry, the tiny book When I Was Straight by Julie Marie Wade would be up your alley. It is divided into two sections: “When I Was Straight” and “After.”

When I Was Straight

I did not love women as I do now.
I loved them with my eyes closed, my back turned.
I loved them silent, & startled, & shy.

The world was a dreamless slumber party,
sleeping bags like straitjackets spread out on
the living room floor, my face pressed into a

slender pillow.

All night I woke to rain on the strangers’ windows.
No one remembered to leave a light on in the hall.
Someone’s father seemed always to be shaving.

When I stood up, I tried to tiptoe
around the sleeping bodies, their long hair
speckled with confetti, their faces blanched by the

porch-light moon.

I never knew exactly where the bathroom was.
I tried to wake the host girl to ask her, but she was
only one adrift in that sea of bodies. I was ashamed

to say they all looked the same to me, beautiful &
untouchable as stars. It would be years before
I learned to find anyone in the sumptuous,

terrifying dark.

This, of course, does not begin to scratch the surface in highlighting amazing lesbian poetry! Feel free to comment with of your favorites that I missed.

Some great resources for discovering more authors are: this list of LBT+ Women & Non-Binary Contemporary Poets (and if you are looking for other queer women poets, I can’t recommend Leah Lakshmi-Piepzna Samarasinha highly enough!), looking at the Lambda Literary Awards winner (and nominees) for the Lesbian Poetry category,  and the Goodreads list of Best Lesbian Poetry.

Probably the easiest way, though, is to try some lesbian poetry/literature anthologies, like Inseparable: Desire Between Women in Literature by Emma Donoghue, Chloe Plus Olivia: An Anthology of Lesbian Literature from the Seventeenth Century to the Present by Lillian Faderman, or My Lover Is a Woman: Contemporary Lesbian Love Poems edited by Lesléa Newman, and follow up on the poets who appeal to you!

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! $10 and up patrons get guaranteed books throughout the year on top of the giveaways!

The 10 Most Highly Anticipated Sapphic Books Out in the Rest of 2023

a collage of the sapphic book covers listed with the text The Most Anticipated Sapphic Books of the Rest of 2023

This was such a difficult list to put together, because it is definitely not meant to be a list of all the good sapphic books coming out from July to December of 2023. These are just the 10 upcoming releases at the very top of my TBR. I also tried to select a range of genres, so you can find your next preorder!

The trouble with upcoming queer books is that I only have incomplete information, and the further out you look, the more limited it is. Trying to keep up with all the LGBTQ+ new releases would be a full-time job, and I’m sure I’d still miss a lot!

Nonetheless, even though this isn’t a complete list, it is a pretty great one. I’ve got a mix of YA, middle grade, and adult titles—and a surprising amount of fantasy and horror books, since they’re not usually my go-to genres. There are some of my favourite authors here, along with quite a few that are new to me.

That’s enough preamble! Let’s get ready to preorder!

the cover of Camp Damascus

Camp Damascus by Chuck Tingle (Horror) (July 11)

Yes, that Chuck Tingle, author of Pounded in the Butt by My Own Butt and so, so, so many others! This is Tingle’s Tor debut, and it looks to be a very different tone than his tongue-in-cheek romance/erotica ebooks.

Camp Damascus is in the mountains of Neverton, Montana, and it claims to be the most effective gay conversion camp in the country. It follow Rose, an autistic Christian woman who is trying to fight the feelings she has for her female friend. Then, of course, there’s the little matter of the demon woman she keeps seeing. And that’s just the beginning of the strange things happening to her.

This looks like an unsettling story of religious trauma, and what more horrific setting is there than a gay conversion camp? N.K. Jemisin calls this a “genuinely terrifying nightmare.”

the cover of The Third Daughter

The Third Daughter by Adrienne Tooley (YA Fantasy) (July 18)

I really enjoyed Tooley’s sapphic YA fantasy novel Sweet & Bitter Magic, so I’m looking forward to this new sapphic YA fantasy from her!

Elodie is a princess who has been trained to be queen her whole life—but then a third daughter, Brianne, is born to Elodie’s mother, a third daughter herself. Brianne has been prophesied as the return of the revered New Maiden. But Elodie is suspicious of the church’s motives, as well as Brianne’s ability to rule at 13, so she comes up with a plan to take the throne herself. She approaches the Apothecary Sabine for a sleeping potion, but Sabine accidentally gives her something much stronger. Now Sabine and Elodie have to work together to save Brianne from a never-ending slumber. And, of course, there’s a slow-burn romance developing between Sabine and Elodie, too!

the cover of Damned If You Do

Damned If You Do by Alex Brown (YA Horror-Comedy) (August 1)

This is described as “Queer Buffy the Vampire Slayer meets Filipino folklore in this horror comedy about a high school stage manager who accidentally sells her soul to a demon,” and personally, I’m sold.

High school is hell, and Cordelia just found out her guidance counselor, Fred, is a demon. Apparently, she made a deal with him to have her abusive father disappear, and then to forget she did it. Now Fred has a new bargain: help him to “neutralize” a rival demon and she’ll get her soul back—or refuse, and have to spend eternity with her father in hell. Suddenly, the hopeless crush she has on her best friend Veronica doesn’t seem like the biggest problem in her life.


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The Year My Life Went Down the Toilet by Jake Maia Arlow (Middle Grade Contemporary)

From the author of How to Excavate a Heart and Almost Flying, this a story about a queer middle schooler with a chronic illness who learns to find her community and accept even the messiest parts of herself.

Al is keeping a lot of secrets. Like that she has crushes on girls. And that her stomach never stops hurting. No one wants to hear about your bathroom problems, right? When she gets diagnosed with Crohn’s disease, though, it feels like everything anyone wants to talk to her about, to her embarrassment.

the cover of The Water Outlaws

The Water Outlaws by S.L. Huang (Fantasy) (August 22)

I thought S.L. Huang’s queer reverse “The Little Mermaid” retelling, The Little Homo Sapiens Scientist, was fascinating, so I’m excited to dive into another queer fantasy from her!

Lin Chong does weapon training with the emperors’ soldiers, keeping her head down in an environment that devalues her for her gender. Then, one powerful man upends her life, destroying everything she worked for. On the run, she joins the Bandits of Liangshan, a cutthroat group that defends the downtrodden. The Publishers Weekly review calls this a “wuxia eat-the-rich tale.” Yes, please!

the cover of Learned by Heart

Learned by Heart by Emma Donoghue (Historical Fiction) (August 29)

Emma Donoghue is one of my favourite authors of all time—even though I own an embarrassing amount of unread books by her. This one shot to the top of my TBR. It’s a historical fiction novel following the now famous Anne Lister during her time at a boarding school in York in 1805. There, she meets Eliza Raine, an orphan who was banished from India to England when she was six. The two 14-year-olds “fall secretly, deeply, and dangerously in love.”

I really enjoyed reading Inseparable by Emma Donoghue, which is a history of lesbian literature, so I know this will be extremely well-researched, especially since there is so much of Anne Lister’s writing to draw from!

the cover of Cooking with Monsters

Cooking With Monsters: A Beginner’s Guide to Culinary Combat by Jordan Alsaqa, illustrations by Vivian Truong (YA Fantasy Graphic Novel) (September 5)

If that title didn’t convince you, I don’t know what to tell you. This is giving me Space Battle Lunch Time vibes, and I’m so excited to pick it up.

Hana has just joined the Gourmand Academy of Culinary Combat, where you learn not only to fight monsters, but also to deliciously prepare them. How efficient! She’s having trouble keeping up, though, and she’s somehow already gained a rival in the form of another girl at school—and also a crush on said rival. Somebody put this in my hands already!

the cover of Monstrous

Monstrous by Jessica Lewis (YA Fantasy) (September 12)

Latavia is spending the summer with her aunt, and okay, yes, the town is a little creepy. But there’s also that cute girl working at the ice cream shop, so it’s not all bad.

Things get significantly worse when Latavia is dragged into the woods to be sacrificed to the monster there. What the townspeople weren’t expecting, though, was for her to make a deal with the monster to get revenge. She will stop at nothing to keep herself safe, even if it means endangering the town, her crush—and her family.

the cover of Bookshops & Bonedust

Bookshops & Bonedust (Legends and Lattes Prequel) by Travis Baldree (Cozy Fantasy) (November 7)

Cozy fantasy is the hot new genre, and I am 100% on board. I absolutely loved Legends & Lattes, so of course I’m going to be picking up the prequel—which is set at a bookshop!!

This follows Viv before she started the coffee shop. She’s recuperating from an injury in the sleepy town of Murk, passing time at the local bookshop. But it won’t be as boring as she expected: adventure seems to have followed her there after all, not to mention the possibility of a summer fling.

Also, look at that owl/pug on the cover! So cute!

the cover of Gwen and Art Are Not In Love

Gwen and Art Are Not In Love by Lex Croucher (YA Fantasy) (November 28)

Queer Arthuriana is a whole subgenre, and this looks like a very exciting new entry. It’s being pitched as “Heartstopper meets A Knight’s Tale.” Arthur, descended from King Arthur, has been betrothed to princess Gwendoline from birth, even though they hate each other.

As they are forced to spend time together, they soon find they have something in common: they’re both queer. They decide to set their animosity aside to cover for each other, as Art follows for Gwen’s brother and Gwen falls for her Lady Knight.

Which sapphic new releases out in the rest of 2023 are you most excited to pick up?

Support the Lesbrary on Patreon at $2 or more a month and be entered to win a queer women book every month! $10 and up patrons get guaranteed books throughout the year on top of the giveaways!

12 Sapphic Roller Derby Books for When You Miss the Track

a graphic with a photo of a roller derby game including two girl watching and leaning close to each other with the text Sapphic Roller Derby Books for When You Miss the Track

It seems ridiculous to try to explain why roller derby appeals to queer women. A woman-centric sport? People with different body types playing a hardcore sport together? Puns? What’s not to love? Unfortunately, there have not been nearly enough books or movies to capitalize on the inherent potential of an amazing sapphic roller derby romance. (I’m looking at you, Whip It.) I have been able to put together a list of 10 sapphic books that feature roller derby, but unfortunately, it’s not very diverse. There is one book on this list by an author of colour, but I hope that publishers seek out more roller derby stories from a variety of authors in the future, offering different points of view, because there’s no reason this list should be so white.

Kenzie Kickstarts a Team by Kit Rosewater cover

Kenzie Kickstarts a Team (The Derby Daredevils #1) by Kit Rosewater, illustrated by Sophie Escabasse

The Derby Daredevils is a beginning chapter book series about a junior roller derby team started by Kenzie, who is the point of view character in this first volume. Her mother is a derby girl, and she desperately wants her and her best friend to play in the new junior league, which means they have to put together a team, pronto. This is an adorable short chapter book with tons of illustrations, and a diverse cast of characters in terms of race, personality, and body types. Each volume in the series has a different point of view character. Kenzie has a crush on a girl, and she also has a trans dad. This is a perfect pick for kids just starting to get into chapter books. (Or adults, because I loved it.)

Bruised by Tanya Boteju cover

Bruised by Tanya Boteju

From the author of Kings, Queens, and In-Betweens, this follows Daya, who is just beginning in the roller derby world. She and her parents were in an accident, and only she survived; since then, she’s been looking for ways to deal with it, usually by throwing herself into physically painful situations. She hopes that the bruises from roller derby will distract her from the emotional pain, but being part of this community ends up meaning a lot more than an excuse to throw herself into danger. Not only is Daya queer, but most of the supporting characters are as well, including a nonbinary character.

On a Roll (Lumberjanes Volume 9) cover

On a Roll (Lumberjanes Volume 9) by Shannon Watters, Kat Leyh, Carolyn Nowak, Maarta Laiho, Aubrey Aiese, and Brooklyn Allen

There’s never a bad reason to read Lumberjanes, and volume 9 just happens to include a roller derby bout against some yetis!

Lumberjanes has been queer from the beginning, with an adorable romance between two of the girls, and it also has trans representation in the later volumes. This volume has a nonbinary character who starts using gender neutral pronouns and is immediately accepted! As always, this is a fun, heartwarming read.

Slam! by Pamela Ribon and Veronica Fish cover

Slam! by Pamela Ribon and Veronica Fish

Jennifer and Maise meet at “Fresh Meat” orientation and immediately hit it off—unfortunately, they’re put onto different teams. As they go from being rookies to finding their places on their teams, they begin to grow apart. Unfortunately, this isn’t the beginning of a friends-to-rivals romance, but we do get a lesbian character in Jennifer (who is on the cover).

Part of the appeal of roller derby is the close-knit friendships and community that grow from being part of a team, and that’s what Slam! focuses on—so this is more about the romance of friendship!

Kat & Mouse by Jacqueline Heat cover

Kat & Mouse by Jacqueline Heat

Dot Mauser is the “bad girl” of the roller derby track. As far as she’s concerned, the referee Kat has it out for her. Little does she know that while Kat is handing Dot plenty of penalties, she has her eye on her for different reasons. During the derby’s Pride event, these two find out that they’re both artists: Dot upcycles “junk” and Kat is a photographer. They form an unlikely alliance, though Dot is sure Kat hates her. There’s plenty of drama, and some darker topics than the premise would suggest, but there’s also a lot of heat between the two characters. Bonus: this is written by a roller derby girl herself, with a preface and appendix with more information.

the cover of Constitution Check

Constitution Check (A Dungeons & Dating Novel) by Katherine McIntyre

Tabby has a reputation as the roller derby stud–but she’s also a geeky accountant looking for a real relationship. Still, when she meets Kelly at the bar, she’s happy to agree to a fling. Kelly’s girlfriend recently died in a car accident, and she’s feeling guilty that she’s doing okay. A one night stand is just the thing to get her out of her head. The problem is that Tabby and Kelly keep running into each other, and they can’t deny the chemistry between them. Even still, it’s supposed to just be something casual…until Tabby injures herself and can’t go back to the roller derby track until she recovers. As Kelly helps take care of her, things are looking a lot less casual between them–but is Kelly ready for that?

Crash Into You by Diana Morland cover

Crash Into You by Diana Morland

Megan’s life revolves around roller derby, and she takes it very seriously. Yes, she’s constantly surrounded by beautiful women, but she’s never let that distract her. That is, until she finds herself falling head over heels (literally) for the opposing team’s blocker, Gianna.

Megan is determined to keep her focus on the competition, but it’s definitely hard to keep her eyes on the prize when she can’t stop looking at her opponent. This is a quick, fun romance with a fat love interest and some steamy scenes.

Roller Girl by Vanessa North cover

Roller Girl by Vanessa North

I might have done a romance bait-and-switch with Slam!, but don’t worry: most of the books on this list are proper romances. Roller Girl is about Tina, who is a recently divorced trans woman looking for a fresh start. When her very attractive butch plumber Joanna recommends roller derby, she jumps at the chance. The only problem is that Joanna is the coach, which means the plumber/derby girl is off limits. Will they be able to resist their mutual attraction? Will the sexual tension ever be resolved? Okay, yes, obviously. But will they be able to keep their secret relationship from the team?

the cover of The Real Thing by Laney Webber

The Real Thing by Laney Webber

Virginia Harris is the star of a lesbian web series, and it’s gone to her head. She’s used to being recognized, and has no problem finding women. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise when she is told by Allison that she was catfished by someone using her photo. Allison seems like the perfect girl, but she’s disheartened by the whole dating app experience and is ready to jump back into roller derby before she meets Virginia—can she separate the real Virginia from the catfish version she just fell for? This is one for fans of complex and “unlikable” female characters, because Virginia is a divisive love interest.

Troll or Derby by Red Tash cover

Troll or Derby by Red Tash

And now for something completely different. Roller Deb is an outcast in her town, but when her popular sister goes missing, it’s up to her to rescue her. In her search, she finds a world of trolls, fairies, gangsters, and a bloodthirsty version of roller derby. This is a dark fantasy and includes sex, drugs, and violence. Roller Deb first is pulled into this world as part of her rescue mission, but her roller derby skills make her powerful and sought-after here, and she will have to resist being pulled under completely if she wants to escape with her sister.

the cover of Brace for Impact

Brace for Impact: A Memoir by Gabe Montesanti

This a memoir about growing up queer in a small conservative town. Gabe’s perfectionism made her a competitive swimmer, but it also contributed to her eating disorder. In graduate school, she found refuge in roller derby, throwing herself into the deep end by joining one of the top leagues in the world. There, she finds escape in the physicality of the sport and community with her team. When an injury takes her away from the track, though, she has to face the unresolved trauma she’s been trying to ignore. This one comes recommended by Abby Wambach!

Color Jam Roller Derby Coloring Book cover

Color Jam Roller Derby Coloring Book by Margot Atwell

While I may hold roller derby’s appeal to queer women to be self-evident, Margot Atwell wrote a Huffington Post article called Why Is Roller Derby Important To So Many Queer Women? In it, she talked about why she wanted to honour queer women in her kickstarted roller derby colouring book, including how being part of the roller derby community helped her to discover her own sexuality and come out. This includes several portraits of queer roller derby role models.

And that’s it for sapphic roller derby books I could find! Feel free to let me know if I missed any! There is also a novella in Hot Ice: 3 Romance Novellas: “Ice on Wheels” by Aurora Rey, so there’s a bonus for you. I hope that in the coming years, we’ll see many more queer roller derby books come out, whether they’re F/F romances, nonbinary YA novels, bisexual comics, or anything else under the rainbow & roller derby umbrella!

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! $10 and up patrons get guaranteed books throughout the year on top of the giveaways!

Queer Book Blogs You Need to Read

a graphic with the text Queer Book Blogs You Need to Read against a rainbow bookshelf background, with pride laptop and phone graphics

I follow an absolutely ridiculous amount of blogs through an RSS feed reader in order to put together weekly link round ups. (Over 200, not counting the additional Google alerts.) I love being flooded with queer book recs, but it means sifting through a lot of content that isn’t totally relevant.

With that in mind, I thought I’d put together a quick primer to some of the most helpful sites on the internet where you can find queer books, especially sapphic books. Please let me know in the comments which sites you recommend that I missed!



LGBTQ Reads, as well as the accompanying tumblr, is one of my favourite corners of the queer bookternet. It’s run by Dahlia Adler, an author of amazing queer books like Home Field Advantage and Going Bicoastal, and she is constantly answering questions for recommendations, no matter how obscure the query, as well as putting together huge lists of recommendations in different genres.

Format: LGBTQ Reads has less in the way of reviews and much more varied content, including excerpts, lists of new LGBTQ releases, guest posts, interviews, cover reveals, and Fave Fives focused on a topic.

Representation focus: As the name suggests, it covers a range of representation.

Genre focus: All genres.

Reads Rainbow in a loopy font

Reads Rainbow

Reads Rainbow was started in 2018 by Anna and Charlotte, and it’s unique because it covers all kinds of queer media, including music and TV shows, though there is a focus on books.

Format: Reads Rainbow includes reviews, recommendations, interviews, guest posts, and lists of upcoming releases, among other formats.

Representation focus: Everything under the LGBTQ+ umbrella.

Genre focus: All genres.

Lambda Literary

Lambda Literary has been around since 1989! They have the annual Lambda Literary Awards, the biggest awards in LGBTQIA+ lit.

Format: Read Lambda Literary not just for the awards, but also the in-depth reviews and occasional news stories. Historically, it was much more focused on gay & lesbian books, but it has gotten better at representation in recent years.

Representation focus: This is probably the most even coverage on this list for the whole LGBTQIA acronym, at least proportionately to what’s published.

Genre focus: A range of genre, but focusing on traditionally published lit, especially “literary fiction.”

The Lesbian Review logo: the letters TLR in a pink and orange circle

The Lesbian Review

I don’t read a lot of romance novels myself, so I’m less familiar with these next two sites, but it would be a massive oversight to leave them off the list, because they do so such great coverage of sapphic romance! The Lesbian Review was started in 2014 and has amassed a wealth of sapphic romance reviews.

Format: TLR is mostly reviews, but the true strength of the site is its incredibly in-depth tagging system. You can find books by genre, sure, but also by the age of the protagonist, the tropes present, how many reviewers liked the book (the “legendary” category means six different reviewers consider it a favorite), and so much more.

Representation focus: As you can probably guess, this is focused on sapphic representation, especially lesbians.

Genre focus: There’s a focus on romance, but many of these are adventure romance, mystery romance, and other genre-blending books.

a banner with the text I Heart Sapphfic: find your next sapphic fiction read. Beside it is rainbow heart-shaped balloons with the text Celebrating 5 Years

I Heart Sapphfic

This is an unbelievably prolific site! There are usually several posts per day. It was started by author TB Markinson in 2017 as I Heart Lesfic, and now also has author Miranda MacLeod on board (and has rebranded).

Format: I’ll just quote their about page to get a sense of the rage of formats here: “reading challenges, books on sale, free books, best of the best polls, books of the month, pet photos, random facts about authors, SapphFic community news, author resources, and so much more. Plus the original Tuesday New Release Newsletter, of course.”

Representation focus: As you can probably guess, this is focused on sapphic representation, and their about page specifically mentions being trans- and nonbinary-inclusive.

Genre focus: There’s a focus on romance, especially (but not exclusively) from publishers like Bold Strokes Books and Bella Books.

the Okazu logo, showing two anime girls reading together


Okazu describes itself as the “world’s oldest and most comprehensive blog on lesbian-themed Japanese cartoons, comics and related media,” and it’s the go-to place for English coverage of yuri manga and anime.

Format: Okazu includes both reviews of yuri anime and manga (including ones not yet available in English) as well as weekly round ups of all the yuri-related news. These news posts include updates on upcoming yuri manga and anime (including when they’re being translated into English) as well as all sorts of miscellanea, including some coverage of other sapphic comics.

Representation focus: Yuri (so, mostly sapphic).

Genre focus: Manga and anime, with the occasional Western-produced comic.


Autostraddle | Books

These last two aren’t exclusively about queer books, but they have enough queer book coverage to justify including them! In fact, in any Lesbrary Link Round Up, Autostraddle will usually have the most articles linked. Their coverage of books in particular varies, because there are different writers at any given point, but there are always interesting bookish posts going up.

Format: Reviews, lists on a theme, in-depth discussions of a single book, upcoming queer releases, and more.

Representation focus: There is a focus queer women, but not exclusively.

Genre focus: A range.

Book Riot

Book Riot | LGBTQ

About eight years ago, I started writing for Book Riot. Now, I work there full time as an associate editor, including writing a twice weekly LGBTQ books newsletter called Our Queerest Shelves! Queer book coverage on the site has just gotten better and better, with so many thoughtful posts by a ton of different writers.

Format: Book Riot doesn’t do book reviews, so posts tend to be either lists on a theme or think pieces.

Representation focus: A range.

Genre focus: A range.

I can’t, of course, encompass all of the queer bookternet in a list of eight, but these are some of my favorites, and following them will quickly lead you to more. Because I can’t help it, though, here’s a bullet list of honorable mentions:

  • If you’re on tumblr (after you’ve followed the Lesbrary’s tumblr Bi and Lesbian Literature, of course!), check out Sapphic Book Club!
  • Casey the Canadian Lesbrarian is one of my favorite queer book bloggers! As the name suggests, Casey does talk about queer Canadian lit and queer women lit a lot, but she has branched out into more generally queer book content as well. You should also check out her queer book posts on Autostraddle!
  • Them also has some great queer book coverage, but they don’t post about books as often as most of the blogs included here.

This is far from a complete list, and I’m always looking for more! What are some of your favorite resources for finding queer books?

An earlier version of this article 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! $10 and up patrons get guaranteed books throughout the year on top of the giveaways!

Do Queer Books Still Need a Happy Ending?

a photo of a queer couple kissing outside with one holding a book
image via Pexels

Hanging up in my living room is a canvas print of the cover of Satan Was a Lesbian by Fred Haley, and let me tell you, the illustration is exactly as over the top as the title is. It’s a perfect example of lesbian pulp fiction, a category of lesbian literary history I am fascinated with (which is why I collect them). But it’s also emblematic of why the question “Do queer books need a happy ending?” is so complicated.

Queer representation in mainstream media, whether in traditionally published books or TV shows, is still relatively new. Historically, queer characters have served a few functions, including the “monstrous lesbian” that seduces the innocent feminine woman, or the flamboyantly gay male side character who acts as comic relief. Then, there were lesbian characters meant for straight men to sexualize.

In the 1950s and 60s, pulp paperbacks were made possible by cheaper printing processes, and there was an explosion of titillating titles on drugstore racks–including lesbian pulp fiction. The assumption was that they were meant to be read by straight men, and many if not most of them were also written by straight men. Still, they were crucial to lesbians and other queer women of that time period, because for many people, it was their first exposure to the concept of lesbianism, and it suggested they weren’t alone. There were also queer women writing these books, sneaking in positive representation in.

What makes lesbian pulp relevant to this question, though, is that under obscenity laws of the time, the lesbian characters had to be punished. You could write a lesbian book just as long as it was meant to serve as a warning. They would often end with one or both women being killed, or being institutionalized, or one leaving to be with a man.

Relatedly, the first queer characters to show in TV and movies were generally villains–often murderers. This is the legacy of queer representation in media: if you found anything with queer representation, it was going to punish the queer character in the end, or they were gonna be the villain.

And this didn’t end in the 60s. The “Bury Your Gays” trope is recently named because of how often queer characters are killed off at disproportionate rates–especially queer women. In 2016, the death of Lexa in The 100 brought this issue to the forefront, as yet another queer woman character was a TV casualty–and in a death disturbingly mirroring Tara’s untimely demise in Buffy the Vampire Slayer 14 years earlier.


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It’s really only been in the last handful of years that queer books started to become more mainstream. Even then, it started with cis white allosexual gay male characters in YA, and very slowly was any other representation included. When I first started the Lesbrary in 2010, it was easy to keep up the handful of bi and lesbian books published by the Big 5 publishers every year. It’s only been in the last year or two that sapphic books have begun to catch up with queer men books in mainstream publishing.

Obviously, we still have a long way to go in terms of representation of the entire LGBTQIA2S+ community, especially intersectional representation, but it is a huge improvement. In the very beginning of queer YA, they were considered “issue” books–a “very special episode,” but in book form. They generally focused on coming out and dealing with homophobia, and they may have a bittersweet ending.

Then came books like Boy Meets Boy, which were beacons of light that were a real departure from previous depictions. We started to see more books where queer characters could have happy endings. And later, as more books like Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda came out, there seemed to be a reaction against “Bury Your Gays” and depressing queer media in favour of lighter, more celebratory queer books.

Now, we’re at interesting point in mainstream queer lit (because smaller presses and self-published work has been doing this for decades) where more complicated narratives in queer books are beginning to surface. We’re seeing books that are neither solely about homophobia and suffering or perfect utopias. We’ve got queer horror and thriller books. We’re seeing books that explore with how race and culture can intersect with homophobia and with queer identity. And with that has come a backlash to books that don’t have a happy ending.

And that brings me back to my original question: do we still need queer books to have a happy ending?

Obviously, no one can dictate what all queer books have to be. There are books coming out with bittersweet and unhappy endings: that’s been happening, that’s still happening. But these books often see backlash as “bad representation.” Which is unfair, because there’s a difference between, say, a queer horror book that kills off some of its queer cast and a mainstream TV show that kills off its only queer character.

There is a subset of online readers on social media that is hostile to any stories that involve queer people and are dark or don’t have a happy ending. If that’s aimed at your own reading, that makes total sense: at some points in my life, I’ve only wanted to read happy queer books with a guaranteed happy ending. And there’s nothing wrong with only ever wanting that. The problem is when this preference becomes something aimed outward.

One of the consequences of attacking any queer book that has an unhappy ending or deals with dark subject matter is that this will be aimed at authors representing their own experiences: authors talking about their own community, upbringing, and culture. These same books can be life saving, especially for readers whose culture or race is rarely represented in queer media. Accusing these books of being “bad representation” just makes queer media more homogenous, pushing out anyone that doesn’t fit that mold.

But authors don’t have to justify why they’re writing dark or difficult queer books. They don’t have to make their own identity or labels public to get a pass to write those stories. Queer stories should exist in every genre, for every mood. That doesn’t mean you have to read them, but authors should be free to write them regardless. Critique the content, for sure: call out hateful messages and clumsy depictions. But leave space for queer books to be messy and to explore every facet of our existence.

I do want to give the caveat that readers should know what they’re getting into with a book, however. Don’t advertise a book as a fluffy queer romcom and then have one of them die at the end. But readers should be able to choose from a wide variety of queer books.

Unsurprisingly, I think the answer is that we need more of all of it. We need more happy, fluffy queer books, and we need queer books that deal with dark issues in a realistic way that maybe doesn’t always end happily. Personally, I don’t want to read about a straight person’s idea of what queer suffering is like, but I’m also not going to identity police authors. I want queer authors to be able to explore wherever their story it takes them. Dealing with those really difficult situations in stories can also help readers figure out how to survive it themselves, if it’s something that they’re going through. I also think we need optimism and happy endings and escapism. There should just be more of all of it: more queer representation, more queer books of every genre, of every variety, escapist and realist.

We need all of them, because the problem was never that there were unhappy endings. The problem was that there was no alternative. We need to see the whole messy, beautiful reality of queer life in our stories, including our tragedies and our triumphs.

This post was originally a Book Riot YouTube video.

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Bringing the Lesbian Vampire Home: Carmen Maria Machado’s Reclamation of CARMILLA

Carmilla: Bringing the Lesbian Vampire Home graphic

Carmilla is a lesbian vampire story that predates Dracula by decades. It’s a story I’ve come back to over and over, in the same conflicted way that I am drawn to lesbian pulp. In fact, I wrote a post about queer culture’s tendency to reclaim toxic representation, and how Carmilla and lesbian pulp fits into that. On the one hand, it’s validating to read about queer characters in classic literature, when our presence has been erased from much of history. On the other, Carmilla is literally a monster. I vividly remember my university Gender Studies class about Monstrous Women, and how the pinnacle of this is the lesbian vampire who lurks in the shadows, ready to pounce on innocent women and violently convert them.

Carmilla is a complex character, though. She’s in some ways pitiable and even relatable. She also seems to love Laura in some way, and their relationship is passionate, if veiled and macabre. I’m not the only queer woman drawn to this flawed but compelling character: it’s been adapted into a YouTube series (with canonically queer characters, including a nonbinary side character) that became popular enough to get its own movie and book adaptations.

I’ve always felt conflicted reading Carmilla, though, because while I could reclaim the character, it was with the knowledge that the author and story was painting her as monstrous—and that her sexuality was just an expression of this villainy. I was both repulsed by and attracted to this story—just as Laura is said to be to Carmilla. When I discovered that Carmen Maria Machado was editing and introducing a new edition, I was eager to get my hands on it. I couldn’t imagine that an introduction and new editor could make a huge difference, but if anyone could reclaim this queer narrative, Machado could: the same person who wrote, “I think a lot about queer villains, the problem and pleasure and audacity of them” (In the Dream House).

I shouldn’t have underestimated Machado. This edition rewrites the entire narrative of Carmilla while keeping the vast majority of the text exactly the same. Originally, Le Fanu published the chapters serially in a magazine, then later bound them together with an introduction which claimed that the story came from Doctor Hesselius’s notes. Machado adds another layer. She asserts that Le Fanu pulled this story from stolen letters, disguising and censoring the women’s story. Machado claims that the real letters from Veronika (“Laura”) were explicit about her and Carmilla’s romantic and sexual relationship.

In this version, it isn’t queer women who are trying to alter the author’s intention in order to claim Carmilla. Instead, it’s Le Fanu whose heteronormativity has obscured the real story, which can now be unearthed in its true form. This edition also adds a few footnotes and illustrations, though I desperately wanted there to be more of both. The meta-narrative that Machado creates is one in which vampires do exist—and that’s not all. In one footnote, Laura lingers outside of the woods, and the footnote laments, “Lonely as she was, if only Laura knew the potential friends who resided in those woods! Peddlers, mountebanks, roguish-but-decent thieves and brigands, fairies, wolpertingers…” (Another footnote, after a lengthy description, succinctly states, “If this isn’t an orgasm, nothing is.”) And Robert Kraiza’s illustrations are beautiful and compelling.


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It’s so nice to have a friendly (i.e. queer) guide through this unfriendly narrative. It was always interesting to read this classic lesbian text, but it was through the lens of heterosexism. Having a queer author shape this story makes it feel entirely new—not a guilty pleasure, but a triumphant one. Machado brings Carmilla and Laura into the fold. In this version, Laura watches in horror as her male supposed protectors execute her lover in front of her, claiming it is for her safety. Veronika dreams of Carmilla, of her corpse intoning “You are mine.” Veronika writes, “How I fear that sound: that it might be true, and that it might never be true again.”

Unfortunately, shame, guilt, and fear intermingling with desire is still a common feeling for many queer people, especially when they are first exploring their sexuality. Laura is drawn to Carmilla at the same time that she feels “something of repulsion,” which can easily be interpreted as compulsory heterosexuality souring desire. Laura even wonders if Carmilla could be a boy disguised—the only way she can conceive of romance. Under Machado’s framing, instead of being horrific, Laura and Carmilla’s relationship seems somewhat familiar. Unhealthy, sure, and conflicted—but not inhuman.

After reading this book, I was filled with pride for how queer readers throughout time have reclaimed and reshaped the narratives meant to destroy us:

I want to seek out every snide reference to a queer woman in literature throughout time, for the same reason that queer people reclaim monsters and villains. Because we stare our fears in the eye and embrace them. We take the boogeyman stories about us and we invite them in. We make monsters into heroes and the heroes into monsters. We queer the story. Instead of shrinking from the terrible associations that have been put on us, we remake them and show them off. Because we are alchemists who turn shame into pride. And this is a book that knows that so intimately.

I finished that book knowing that Machado understood why I kept reading Carmilla, and she had created a version more hospitable to readers like me. Instead of feeling like I was fighting through the text, I was guided through it with a sympathetic hand. The lesbian vampire has long been the cruel caricature of queer women, a weapon used to portray all desire between women as pathological and even violent. Machado has taken that character, and in the grand tradition of reclaiming queer villains, she has humanized her. After long being the spectre haunting queer representation, Machado has invited Carmilla in, finally bringing the original lesbian vampire home.

This article originally ran on Book Riot.

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