Until I hit my 30s and came out, I’d never seen a book that featured lesbians. Eventually, I found Lillian Faderman’s Chloe Plus Olivia and slowly made my way through the entire thing, checking out dozens of books from the public library. I was inspired to start a book group, and I discovered some truly incredible literature. The following five books are a great cross-section of the genre. I wouldn’t be surprised if you get the bug and start reading further!
Beyond the Pale (Elana Dykewomon)
On my bookgroup’s Top Five list for 7+ years! Includes incredible scenes from the Russian Pogroms, and a truly heart-wrenching retelling of the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire in 1911. You’ll be carried through an amazing time – women’s rights, unions, and immigration at the dawn of the 20th century. The lesbian love affair isn’t prominent but gives the story heart and soul, and a reason to be.
Dreaming Under a Ton of Lizards (Marian Michener)
The beauty and poetic nature of this book are surprising when you realize it’s a tale of one woman’s struggle with alcohol. Lesbian romance angle is a part of the story, but not all, and the author’s style is filled with elegance and heartache. A beautiful and powerful book worth finding.
The Blue Place (Nicola Griffith)
Aud Torvigen is a butch detective to drool over. You’ll cheer for this 6 foot blonde, stand in awe of her physical and spiritual strength, and shed a tear when life comes crashing down. Compared to Xena: Warrior Princess, Aud will not disappoint. Nicola Griffith is well known for her science fiction, and her talent with detail and place are showcased in this novel.
Stop Kiss (Diana Son)
We used this one as a group reading and we were caught up in it’s message from the first line. The plot follows two straight women, unwittingly drawn to each other. But with a single kiss they are caught up in a tragedy that takes their lives in totally unexpected directions. It will catch you off guard and leave you thinking about the fragility of your world, and how things can change in the blink of an eye.
The Monkey’s Mask (Dorothy Porter)
Written in related but stand alone verse, this murder mystery was made into a movie starring Susie Porter, Kelley McGillis and others. Includes sex, murder, an affair between student and teacher, all told through the poems of the murdered student. Quite unique and a great reflection of the range you will find if you dig deep into this genre.
There are many books considered “classic” lesbian. This is my own personal list that covers the spectrum. Hopefully once you’ve read a few you’ll be inspired to discover your own favorites.
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