Lesbian and Bisexual Booklist

Lesbian and Bisexual Booklist


Fiction



Gael Baudino, Gossamer Axe.
A feminist SF/fantasy book about Christa, a Celtic harpist who has been fighting the Sidh through centuries to win back her captive lover, Judith. Now, in the 20th century, she has resolved to use heavy metal against them. There are a lot of gay/bi characters in the story (obviously including Christa).

Rita Mae Brown, Rubyfruit Jungle.
Hilarious novel about a lesbian growing up in the South who eventually makes her way to New York.

Jan Carr, Harem Wish.
This book tells two stories at once: the story of Sari, a young dancer in a harem in the ancient Middle East, who is in love with another woman from the harem; and the story of Codie, a writer living in modern-day New York, who lives with her lover Dee. An enjoyable and imaginative book.

Emma Donoghue, Stir-Fry.
An Irish novel about a girl who, going off to university for the first time, discovers that her flatmates are lesbians. Delightful and humorous; the characters are very genuine, and the language and descriptions are lovely.

Candas Jane Dorsey, Black Wine.
Beautifully written SF/F novel telling the story of a young woman who loses her memory and then finds it again. The author is an incredible storyteller and has an ability to continually do new things with words. (Caution: the bad guys in this book do some disturbing things... There are some pages you will probably want to skip.)

Fannie Flagg, Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe.
This book has a lot more depth and originality than the movie based on it, and is both more emotional and less sentimental. (I have nothing against the movie; it would be impossible to translate such a rich, complex book into a two-hour movie) The love relationship between two of the main characters is clearly stated, although their lesbianism is not really discussed.

Edith Forbes, Alma Rose.
A thoughtful, lovely story about a woman living in a small town whose life is changed by her affair with Alma Rose, a trucker passing through.

Ellen Galford, The Fires of Bride.
I admit I am highly prejudiced against books published by Naiad and Firebrand, but I really liked this one. It is about a small Scottish island which used to harbor some pagan lesbian nuns; their story is intertwined with a contemporary one.

Nancy Garden, Annie On My Mind.
I have a soft spot in my heart for this book because it was the first lesbian book I ever bought. It's a sweet book about two girls in high school who fall in love with each other and then have to face the prejudice of everyone around them.

Nicola Griffith, Ammonite.
A compelling science fiction novel about an all-female culture on another planet. Very interesting vision.


Patricia Highsmith, The Price of Salt.
A lovely book about a love affair between two women in the fities, one of whom is married and one of whom is engaged, and the choices and dilemmas they face.

E.J. Levy, ed., Tasting Life Twice.
This is a really good anthology of "literary" lesbian fiction by new American writers... An interesting assemblage of different styles and subject matters. Definitely recommended.

Pierre Louys, Les Chansons de Bilitis (The Songs of Bilitis).
The poems in this book tell the story of a fictional Greek woman poet who hung out with Sappho and that crowd; she has love affairs with both men and women, and her erotic poems in particular are stunning. (I can't decide whether to be disturbed, or astonished, or both, about the fact that a man wrote this book...)

Carole Maso, The American Woman in the Chinese Hat.
An American writer staying in the south of France who has just been dumped by her lover of ten years has affairs of various durations (mostly short) with people of both genders. It's been a long time since I read this but as I recall, the writing is exquisite.

Kristin McCloy, Some Girls.
Claire moves from a small town in New Mexico to New York City; along with the shock of realizing that the world is bigger than she thought it was (and the subsequent identity crisis), she also becomes involved with her mysterious neighbor Jade. (I keep reading descriptions of this book which say it's about "the erotic possibilities of friendship". My ass! They would never describe it that way if Jade were a man. It's a love story.)

Maureen McHugh, China Mountain Zhang.
A novel about a young (gay) Chinese-American engineer in the future. An excellent novel where the social critique is really embedded in the story and character development. HIghly recommended.

Marge Piercy, The Summer People.
Dinah has been in a stable long-term menage a trois for ten years; it is disrupted by the characters' encounters with the vacationers on Cape Cod (the "summer people"). A wonderful book about real people, although it occasionally gives in to cliches.

----------, The High Cost of Living.
Plot: Leslie, a woman living in Detroit, has a strange triangular attraction going on with a girl and a guy. My opinion: Don't bother. Marge Piercy has some great books, but this is not one of them. It was honestly not worth the time it took to read it (and I read fast, too). It was melodramatic and it lacked narrative direction. Plus the characters were annoying.

Rachel Pollack, Godmother Night.
I can't say enough good things about this book. It's mysterious and delightful. It tells the story of two women who become lovers in college and eventually have children together. It also features one of the coolest incarnations of Death that I've ever run into. It asks a lot of metaphysical questions as well as telling a great story.

Sarah Waters, Fingersmith.
This book blew me away. Simply incredible. A sort of mystery/thriller about two women who fall in love in late 19th century England, under sketchy circumstances... I won't give away the plot by describing it, but the writing is fantastic.

------, Affinity.
A nineteenth-century gentlewoman tries out charity work at a women's prison... and strikes up a relationship with one of the prisoners, a medium and spiritualist. Very suspenseful - excellent book.

------, Tipping the Velvet.
This book didn't draw me in quite the way Fingersmith did... but I still really liked it. Definitely recommended.

Jeanette Winterson, The Passion.
This book tells two simultaneous stories which eventually converge: a young French soldier who goes off to war under Napolean, and a bisexual gondolier who tries her hand at working in the casinos of Venice. Like all the author's books, gorgeously written and very descriptive.

------, Gut Symmetries.
How not to do a threesome. (Style-wise, previous comments about the author also apply here.)

------, Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit.
A great story about a lesbian growing up in a fundamentalist family. A little more disjointed than Winterson's other books but still very good.


Non-Fiction


Laura Benkov, Reinventing the Family: the Emerging Story of Lesbian and Gay Parents.
The author has a lot of interesting information to present, and the stories her subjects told were great, but her overly dramatic style kind of got to me.

Lillian Faderman, Surpassing the Love of Men: Romantic Love and Friendship Between Women from the Renaissance to the Present
----------, Odd Girls and Twilight Lovers: a History of Lesbian Life in Twentieth-Century America.
Both of these books are excellent, well-researched and well-written. Personally I found the second one to be of more interest, especially for a history of the modern gay-rights movement, but that's just me.

Marjorie Garber, Vice Versa: Bisexuality and the Eroticism of Everyday Life.
A monumental work; although it sometimes loses its focus (understandably, given the range the author tries to cover!) it's also a really well-done study of the role bisexuality plays in our culture and the way bisexuality questions people's basic assumptions. The style is direct and the author's very in touch with contemporary culture, although sometimes I thought her conclusions were too broad. Worth reading if you have the time.

Loraine Hutchins and Lani Ka'ahumanu, eds., Bi Any Other Name: Bisexual People Speak Out.
A wonderful collection of essays, reflections, stories, etc. by bisexuals - includes so many different voices that there's no way to summarize it all! I thought it was a really good example of strength through diversity.

Kris Kleindienst, ed. This is What Lesbian Looks Like: Dyke Activists Take on the 21st Century.
An awesome anthology - very inspiring!

Valerie Lehr, Queer Family Values: .
A very interesting analysis of why "traditional" family structures should evolve into new, more flexible ones; also, what works and doesn't work in the fight for gay rights and gay marriage. A bit too theoretical for my tastes, although I liked the ideas in it.

Paula C. Rust, Bisexuality and the Challenge to Lesbian Politics: Sex, Loyalty, and Revolution.
This book has two main components: a survey the author did in the mid-80's about lesbians and bisexuals and their attitudes toward each other, and an in-depth analysis of why bisexuality has been such a conflicted issue for the lesbian community. Excellent, extremely well thought out, although the analysis gets a little difficult to read at times.

Elizabeth Reba Weise, ed., Closer to Home: Bisexuality and Feminism.
A really good collection of essays, ranging from the very personal to the theoretical and everything in between. It talks about bisexual identity, biphobia within the gay community, and lots of other cool stuff that I can't think of right now.

Kath Weston, Families We Choose: Lesbians, Gays, and Kinship.
An excellent analysis of differences between blood families and chosen families, and how these things fit into contemporary gay life. Highly recommended.


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