Lesbian Books: More Than 150 Fascinating Finds

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So many books, so little reading time.  We've highlighted—some with three-word reviews—over 150 books to add to your reading list. From landing a job to having better sex to a land of magical unicorns (seriously), there's something for everyone on this bookshelf.

Literature and Fiction

Dismantled, Jennifer McMahon

From the New York Times best-selling lesbian author of Island of Little Girls comes this chilling novel about profoundly human post-college friends caught up in circumstances both of their making and way beyond their control. McMahon’s latest is surely her best. It’s gripping and scary in so many ways.

  The Actress, Elizabeth Sims

This is the first in a new series by the author of Lambda award-winning Lillian Bird mysteries. Rita is a single mom and struggling actress with no illusions about her craving for attention. A resourceful woman, Rita takes a job with a high profile lawyer coaching a client in a murder trial, and slowly uncovers the truth about the crime.

Red Audrey and The Roping, Jill Malone

Malone’s debut novel garnered blurbs by Val McDermid, Lucy Jane Bledsoe and Ellen Hart. It follows the adventures of a Latin teaching surfer dyke who retreats from the world only to discover love.

Accidental Rebels, Kelly Sinclair 

Set in Texas during the summer of 1989, this novel revolves around the coming out of three women and the unexpected connections that draws them together.

The Mandrake Broom, Jess Wells

This historical novel based in Europe in the 15th and 16th century, dramatizes one woman’s fight to retain medical knowledge during the days of witch burnings.

Loving the Difficult, Jane Rule 

This final collection of essays from the Canadian lesbian literary pioneer and acclaimed author of seven novels was compiled the year before her recent death. A must-read for lit fans and activists alike, Loving offers an easy backdrop to Rule’s life, doing so with both humor and barely reined contempt and a generous spirit that characterized her life and her writing.

Letter from Point Clear, Dennis McFarland  

In his latest, Letter from Point Clear, acclaimed novelist McFarland uses comic showdowns between a Bible Belt preacher and New England skeptics—one of whom happens to be a gay man the preacher is bent on ‘saving’—to examine modern families, gay marriage, and the meaning of faith. While the preacher is busy trying to rescue his wife’s gay brother, her siblings are trying to save her from the preacher’s clutches.   

So Many Ways to Sleep Badly, Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore (City Lights)

Lambda Award finalist Sycamore offers up a thrilling socio-politically transgressive, gender bending queer novel about life in San Francisco. From bad sex to vegan restaurants to NPR and tweaking buddies, Sycamore’s frenetic pace and unabashed solipsism is most refreshing.

A Girl Named Charlie Lester, Carissa Halston (Aforementioned Productions)

Though Halston’s scene setting often feels rudimentary, she writes her main character Charlie, a self-branded “black sheep,” with honesty. Charlie struggles as a Goth teen trying to explore sex and love with a dickhead tattoo artist for a boyfriend. Through fragmented flashes of time she matures—opening her own bookstore and exploring the wet, wild world of sleeping with women. Strong female bonds, witty realistic dialogue and an acute sense of what it’s like to be young today make A Girl Named Charlie Lester a worthwhile read.

Pink, Jennifer Harris

Reprint of debut novel about a woman lost in the fantasy of what life will be like when she publishes her book that will be optioned by Spielberg and become a best-selling film.

Us Ones in Between, Blair Mastbaum (Running Press)

Kurt Smith just can’t seem to get the hell out of his head. Smith’s everyman anxieties stretch into dramatic, depressive scenes that highlight the irony and emptiness of the New York indie-art world. As an obsession with his ex Billy begins to distort reality, he seems willing to do anything to “feel again.” But murder? Mastbaum keeps us guessing.

Phyllida and the Brotherhood of Philander, Ann Herendeen (Harper Collins)

This debut novel offers up a rather unusual historical romance in which wealthy scion Andrew Carrington is forced by his family to take a bride, even though he clearly prefers the company of men. So he goes into an arrangement with a feisty, self-educated romance novelist Phyllida, falls for shrewd and hunky Matthew, and in sort of a Jane Austen-esque romance goes 21st century, he gets blackmailed and must figure out what to do. In the end—spoiler alert—he takes a path most unbecoming a man in 1812 London, and indeed, most modern even in 2009, and one in which even our heroine Phyllida is happy.

Gravity, Leanne Lieberman (Orca Book Publishers)

While the women around 15-year old Ellie are fraying from the pressures of Orthodox Judiasm—her mother needing more self-expression, her older sister planning an escape—Ellie herself is faced with a crisis of faith after she falls for her neighbor Lindsay over summer break. When the duo are reunited, their relationship turns sexual—in prose that’s realistic for hormone-raging teens but never overly graphic—and soon Ellie is left trying to reconcile her emerging sexuality with a faith that condemns it. But just as Ellie grapples with whether there’s a way to be both Jewish and gay, her family offers alternatives that allow her to respect God and herself. This is a rare young adult novel—well-written, moving but never emotionally wrought—in which even the adults (believer or not) can find themselves easily on the pages. 

Fireside, Cate Culpepper (Bold Strokes Books)

A story of love, friendship and laying ghosts to rest, by award winning author Culpepper.

Verge, Z Egloff (Bywater Books)

A few pages into Egloff’s debut novel and  you’ll be singing “Ain’t gonna go to rehab, I say no, no, no.” That’s because her protagonist, Claire, is a two-timing, twelve-stepping film geek who has sworn to stay sober, stay away from her ex and get into film school. A brief affair with her prof’s wife probably blew the latter and somehow she ends up volunteering for Sister Hilary at the community center and bada bing, in grand Claire fashion, she’s got the hots for the nun. Perfectly lesbian indeed.

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