Francesca Lia Block. Weetzie Bat.
A wonderful fairy-tale-like story about a group of magical friends who form a family of sorts. This book and its sequels are absolutely and highly recommended. They truly make me believe that with love all things are possible. (Awww...)
Dorothy Bryant. The Kin of Ata Are Waiting For You.
This is a wonderful story about the power of dreaming. The plot is basically that an amoral and spiritually empty man has an accident and finds himself on a remote island where none of the rules of the normal world apply. It kind of reminds me of Stranger in a Strange Land, but with a very different approach. Highly recommended, although I'm not sure it exactly counts as poly... (Note: this book is also published as The Comforter)
Michael Cunningham. A Home at the End of the World.
This book brings together three very different characters who put together a triad of sorts. It has a lot of interesting things to say about relationships and ideas of "family."
Peter Dickinson. King and Joker.
This is a wonderful story, about a royal family which turns out to have an unconventional structure. The plot is compelling and the author's writing style is excellent. Quite poly-friendly.
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. A main character is involved in a three-way marriage for a while (portrayed positively). (Caution: the bad guys in this book do some disturbing things... There may be a few pages you will want to skip.)
Lawrence Durrell. Justine.
This book - and its sequels, Balthazar, Mountolive, and Clea - are not precisely about polyamory. Each of the four books tells the same story from a different point of view. That story is about a woman, Justine, who is involved with (as nearly as I can calculate) just about everyone she knows... These beautiful books have a lot to say about relationships and the multiplicity of "truth." (They are kind of hardcore - you really have to be into "literary" fiction.)
Robert Heinlein. Stranger in a Strange Land.
This is one of the classic "free love" texts, and it inspired the pagan Church of All Worlds. The relationships are intimate and the sex is sacred, although you have to put up with Heinlein being, as Joe once put it, "a sexist, homophobic, narrow-minded bastard."
-------. The Moon is a Harsh Mistress.
This book is mainly about politics. The moon has been made into a sort of penal colony, but the people there decide to revolt and form their own country. Little time is devoted to the character's personal lives, but in that time Heinlein introduces the concept of "line marriages."
Tanya Huff. The Fire's Stone.
This is a wonderful adventure story about a prince who finds himself going on a journey with Chandra, a wizard, and Aaron, a thief, to recover the stone which holds the local volcano in check. It's much more than an adventure story; the characters are sarcastic, realistic, and delightful. I won't spoil the plot by explaining, but the poly bits are very positive.
Milan Kundera. The Unbearable Lightness of Being.
This is a wonderful and philosophical book (which often goes off on extremely interesting tangents pondering human nature). The main character, Tomas, loves his wife Tereza dearly but is unable to remain faithful to her and must have other lovers. She knows about this but is very hurt by it.
Mercedes Lackey and Ellen Guon. Knight of Ghosts and Shadows.
Mercedes Lackey has some excellent fantasy books and some mediocre ones. I expected this to be mediocre and was pleasantly surprised. It's a great story about using music and magic to fight evil. Again, I won't spoil the plot by giving away the poly bit. It has a sequel, Summoned to Tourney, which also has poly content.
Doris Lessing. The Marriages Between Zones Three, Four, and
A beautiful story/fable about three very different countries - the peaceful, utopian Zone Three, the warlike Zone Four, and the nomadic desert Zone Five - and the interactions of the rulers of Zones Three and Four (in particular) when a divine edict orders marriage between them. This book has lots of interesting things to say about the relations between men and women, and between women and women, and how all these interactions are shaped by our society.
Elizabeth Lynn. The Dancers of Arun.
This book is the second in a trilogy, but it stands by itself. (It's also unfortunately out of print. Grrr.) The story is a nicely written fantasy book in which many of the characters have deep and loving relationships with several people at once.
Vonda McIntyre. Starfarers.
This is a sci-fi book telling the story of a space expedition which faces being shut down by the government. The central characters are in a partnership together (in this case a triad, formerly a quartet) and the book shows how it works without making a big deal of it. I found that the ideas behind the story were more compelling than the way the story was told, but it's definitely worth reading.
Larry McMurtry. Leaving Cheyenne.
This is a beautiful love story about two friends who love the same woman all their lives. I don't read a lot of westerns (OK, so this is the only one I've ever read) but this one was worth it.
Anais Nin. Henry and June.
This is Anais Nin's diary during the time when she was involved with Henry Miller and his wife June, while still being married herself. Sometimes extremely pro-polyamory, sometimes extremely anti-polyamory, but always intense! And gorgeously written. (Meg's little note: I like Anais Nin's writing but whenever she gets on the subject of lesbianism she pisses me off. You have been warned.)
--------. A Spy in the House of Love.
The main character is Sabina, a woman who cheats on her husband with some very different men. It talks about the importance of getting different things from different people. (Here's an excerpt if you're interested.) It's a beautifully written book. (All of Anais Nin's books that I've read are relevant to the idea of loving many people.)
Marge Piercy. The Summer People.
The central characters have been in a stable triad for ten years. The triad is disrupted by their encounters with the vacationers on Cape Cod, the "summer people." A good book about real people whose desires are not always consistent.
--------. Woman on the Edge of Time.
In this book, the main character gets in touch with people from a future society where multiple relationships are the norm. Like a lot of books involving social criticism, it is depressing but it will really make you think.
Robert Rimmer. The Harrad Experiment
I have to say I didn't get much out of this book, despite its being a poly "classic." Written in the 1960's, it describes a college where undergraduates live with roommates of the other sex and are encouraged to be sexually active. It didn't flow well as a story, and it was gratuitously sexist, heterosexist, and homophobic.
Starhawk. The Fifth Sacred Thing
The story is set about fifty years from now in California. It deals with the conflict all peaceful societies have had to deal with - i.e., how to resist violence without becoming violent. This book is one of the few things that gives me hope that it's possible to do so. Polyamory and sacred sex are important elements of the utopian society pictured. Highly recommended.
Irving Wallace. The Three Sirens
An interesting book about a group of anthropologists who start to question their own assumptions about civilization and sexuality when they visit an uncharted Polynesian island. It has well-developed characters, and it's engrossing - when I was reading this book, I even dreamed about it at night!
Jeanette Winterson. Gut Symmetries.
A gorgeously written book (as per usual for the author) about physics and relationships. A woman gets involved with a married man and then with his wife. I loved the book but be warned, it is a prime example of how *not* to do polyamory. I hope I am never involved with anyone remotely resembling the main characters!
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