I don’t know about you, but I love jumping genres. One day I feel like picking up a socialist memoir like Juliet Jacques’ Trans: A Memoir, then the day after I can’t focus on anything but high fantasy. That’s why I decided to recommend a few queer books about women loving women, queer ladies and f/f relationships that fall into a variety of genres – there’s something in here for everyone, and a complete list for mood readers!
Whether you’re a seasoned queer lit reader looking for some niche recommendations or you’ve never read any queer books about queer women before, this list is for you. From historical romance to graphic novels, here are ten amazing books by and about queer women – across ten different genres.
The Lady’s Guide to Celestial Mechanics by Olivia Waite
Historical romance per se doesn’t usually pique my interest. However, add in astronomy, embroidery and historical publishing practices and this quickly becomes a hella fascinating read. The f/f relationship has a deliciously slow development to it as well. Not convinced? I spent a whole review talking about this novel.
As Lucy Muchelney watches her ex-lover’s sham of a wedding, she wishes herself anywhere else. It isn’t until she finds a letter from the Countess of Moth, looking for someone to translate a groundbreaking French astronomy text, that she knows where to go. Showing up at the Countess’ London home, she hoped to find a challenge, not a woman who takes her breath away. (Goodreads)
Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan
If you’re looking for a feminist, rebellious exploration of sexual violence, this magical fantasy novel is a must-read. I for one love a good revolution plot! Of course, the lovely f/f relationship blossoming throughout the book is a considerable bonus. The Asian setting was also very much appreciated by a whole lot of readers who don’t often see themselves represented in fiction.
In this richly developed fantasy, Lei is a member of the Paper caste, the lowest and most persecuted class of people in Ikhara. She lives in a remote village with her father, where the decade-old trauma of watching her mother snatched by royal guards for an unknown fate still haunts her. Now, the guards are back and this time it’s Lei they’re after — the girl with the golden eyes whose rumored beauty has piqued the king’s interest. (Goodreads)
Gaze Back by Marylyn Tan
While some authors like to dip their toes in strange waters, Marylyn Tan swims in them. Everything she writes is out of the ordinary and overtly sexual in the weirdest possible way. At one point, she announced on her Instagram that she wrote a Grinch fan-fiction. She’s also very queer and a very good poet who wrote my favourite poetry collection ever.
The feminine grotesque subverts the restrictions placed upon the feminine body to be attractive and its subjection to notions of the ideal. The occultic counterpoint to organised religion, then, becomes a way toward techniques of empowering the marginalised. Gaze Back, ultimately, is an instruction book, a grimoire, a call to insurrection—to wrest power back from the social structures that serve to restrict, control and distribute it amongst those few privileged above the disenfranchised. (Goodreads)
Trans: A Memoir by Juliet Jacques
While the title of Juliet Jacques’ memoir makes it seem kind of unimpressive, this book really packs a punch. It’s published by none other than Verso Books, which is also home to the wonderful Revolting Prostitutes and many other fantastic socialist texts. Jacques herself is a really fascinating person who knows how to grasp her readers’ attention even when writing about the most mundane of things.
She navigates the treacherous waters of a world where, even in the liberal and feminist media, transgender identities go unacknowledged, misunderstood or worse. Yet through art, film, music, politics and football, Jacques starts to become the person she had only imagined, and begins the process of transition. Interweaving the personal with the political, her memoir is a powerful exploration of debates that comprise trans politics, issues which promise to redefine our understanding of what it means to be alive. (Goodreads)
The Truth About Keeping Secrets by Savannah Brown
Savannah Brown has been putting out amazing content for years, from YouTube videos to her first poetry collection. Her newest novel offers a moving exploration of grief, which runs parallel to a gripping mystery and the narrator’s growing obsession with death. If that’s not enough to convince you, the f/f relationship is one of my personal favourites in YA fiction. You can find out more about how much I love this book in my recent review.
Is Sydney crazy, or is it kind of weird that her dad-a guy whose entire job revolved around other peoples’ secrets-crashed alone, with no explanation And why is June Copeland, homecoming queen and the town’s golden child, at his funeral? As the two girls grow closer in the wake of the accident, it’s clear that not everyone is happy about their new friendship. But what is picture perfect June still hiding? And does Sydney even want to know? (Goodreads)
Vow of Celibacy by Erin Judge
While I love a good romance, it can be refreshing to read stories about queer people who are happily single. This novel explores the narrator’s history of toxic relationships, her struggles with her body image, and her bisexuality through a really humorous lens. It’s a very uplifting read that’s sure to put a smile on your face.
Natalie has made a promise: a vow of celibacy, signed and witnessed by her best friend. After a string of sexual conquests, she is determined to figure out why the intense romantic connections she’s spent her life chasing have left her emotionally high and dry. As Natalie sifts through her past and her present, she confronts her complicated feelings about her plus-sized figure, her bisexuality, and her thwarted career in fashion design. (Goodreads)
Everything Leads to You by Nina LaCour
I’m not usually a big reader of contemporary YA. I do, however, have an obsession with niche information, and I adored the details about set design in this novel. If you’re a film buff who loves a fluffy romance and high-school adventures, this is the book for you.
Emi is a film buff and a true romantic, but her real-life relationships are a mess. She has desperately gone back to the same girl too many times to mention. But then a mysterious letter from a silver screen legend leads Emi to Ava. Ava is unlike anyone Emi has ever met. She has a tumultuous, not-so-glamorous past, and lives an unconventional life. She’s enigmatic…. She’s beautiful. And she is about to expand Emi’s understanding of family, acceptance, and true romance. (Goodreads)
The Beginning of the World in the Middle of the Night by Jen Campbell
Jen Campbell stands amongst the most talented people who put out content online. She runs a YouTube channel full of book recommendations that you will be pressed to find anywhere else. She also teaches very successful writing workshops. Of course, she’s a wonderful writer first and foremost, and I cannot recommend her magical-realist short stories enough.
Spirits in jam jars, mini-apocalypses, animal hearts and side shows. A girl runs a coffin hotel on a remote island. A boy is worried his sister has two souls. A couple are rewriting the history of the world. And mermaids are on display at the local aquarium. (Goodreads)
Rubyfruit Jungle by Rita Mae Brown
What to say about Rubyfruit Jungle? After all, this entire blog is named after the queer classic. The narrator is bold, rebellious, wild, and everything I love in a protagonist. She’s also very proudly and openly gay, something not often found in classics. If you tend to avoid queer classics because of their overwhelming sadness, this book is going to blow your mind.
Born a bastard, Molly Bolt is adopted by a dirt-poor Southern couple who want something better for their daughter. Molly plays doctor with the boys, beats up Leroy the tub and loses her virginity to her girlfriend in sixth grade. As she grows to realize she’s different, Molly decides not to apologize for that. In no time she mesmerizes the head cheerleader of Ft. Lauderdale High and captivates a gorgeous bourbon-guzzling heiress. But the world is not tolerant. Booted out of college for moral turpitude, an unrepentant, penniless Molly takes New York by storm, sending not a few female hearts aflutter with her startling beauty, crackling wit and fierce determination to become the greatest filmmaker that ever lived. (Goodreads)
Fun Home by Alison Bechdel
If you love memoirs but are kind of intimidated by graphic novels (or vice versa!), graphic memoirs can be a really good introduction to the format. If you also love books about death and are fascinated by funeral homes, Alison Bechdel will make you fall in love.
Distant and exacting, Bruce Bechdel was an English teacher and director of the town funeral home, which Alison and her family referred to as the Fun Home. It was not until college that Alison, who had recently come out as a lesbian, discovered that her father was also gay. A few weeks after this revelation, he was dead, leaving a legacy of mystery for his daughter to resolve. (Goodreads)
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