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12 Great Lesbian Books Every One Should Read

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What’s the last book that moved you? That made you laugh or cry or completely reconsider your thoughts on life or love?

Those are always the books that stick with me. When I come across a book that truly impacted me I can often remember the intricate details of where I bought it or who gave it to me.

Sometimes when I’m in a certain mood, reading a favourite book can help heighten the depth of emotion.

Here are a few great books and the perfect kind of mood to read them in.


1. The Price Of Salt by Patricia Highsmith

Take Manhattan in the 1950’s, add a budding friendship between two lonely women and a cross-country road trip, finally sprinkle in a game of cat-and-mouse involving a private investigator (hired by Carol’s husband – GASP!) – and you end up with The Price Of Salt. This 1952 romance novel was very popular among lesbians of the time period. Not all that surprising due to the unconventional characters that defied stereotypes about being gay.

The Price Of Salt by Patricia Highsmith

Get your copy here.


2. Inferno (A Poet’s Novel) by Eileen Myles

“My English professor’s ass was so beautiful,” is the first line you’ll read in this story of a young female poet attempting to understand her sexuality in the crazed environment that is New York City.

Inferno (A Poet’s Novel) by Eileen Myles

Get a copy here.


3. Unbearable Lightness by Portia De Rossi

“Shame weighs a lot more than flesh and bone.” It’s lines like that from actress Portia De Rossi’s honest memoir that make this a must-read for anyone struggling to accept themselves. The pages cover her struggles with anorexia, her experiences being a gay woman within the Hollywood realm, and – of course – how she meets and later falls in love with Ellen DeGeneres.

Unbearable Lightness by Portia De Rossi

Get a copy here.


4. Ash by Malinda Lo

In this retelling of Cinderella, Ash is young girl left at the mercy of her cruel stepmother after her father’s death. Just like Cinderella, Ash waits for the day her fair prince – or in this case, a fairy named Sidhean – will come and whisk her away. The only problem? She meets the King’s Huntress, Kaisa, and suddenly her “happily ever after” is a bit more complicated. All fairy-tales should get a makeover like this.

Ash by Malinda Lo

Get a copy here. Also be sure to take a peek at the prequel Huntress.


5. Her Name in the Sky, Kelly Quindlen

Falling for your best friend is confusing. Falling for your best friend is difficult. And, perhaps most of all, falling for your best friend is unbelievably scary. In Her Name In The Sky, 17-year-old Hannah falls for her best friend Baker – really the last thing she ever wanted to do during her senior year – and we are reminded just how true all those sentiments are. While this book focuses on a young gay teenager, it’s completely relatable to anyone at all who went through (survived) high school.

Her Name in the Sky, Kelly Quindlen

Get a copy here.


6. Happy Accidents by Jane Lynch

Sometimes it’s nice to read something that simply makes you laugh. Jane Lynch’s memoir will make you laugh. One chapter begins with with this confession: “Like any good, closeted young lesbian of the seventies, I developed a raging crush on Ron Howard.”

But don’t expect to be in stitches the entire time, as Lynch also delves into her personal fight against alcoholism and her struggle to become comfortable with her sexuality. Even through the serious topics, Lynch constantly adds her touch of wry humour that seems to come so naturally.

Happy Accidents by Jane Lynch

Get a copy here.


7. Empress Of The World by Sara Ryan

Nicola Lancaster has her world turned upside down when she meets a charming blonde dancer named Battle at a summer institute for “gifted youth”. After all – she has always liked boys! AH, those famous last words. An Oregon Book Award winner, Empress Of The World was re-issused recently and now includes three graphic novel stories about the characters.

Empress Of The World by Sara Ryan

Get a copy here.


8. The World Unseen By Shamim Sarif

Sarif’s novel immerses you in 1950s South Africa, where apartheid is only just beginning. The laws won’t stop Amina from running a cafe with her business partner, who happens to be a black man, in a conventional Indian community. Miriam on the other hand is a traditional housewife that wouldn’t even dream of breaking, let alone bending, any rules. When the two women are thrown together you can imagine what happens… so, I’ll just let you read it. Two of Sharif’s novels are now feature length films that are also worth seeing after you’ve done your reading.

The World Unseen By Shamim Sarif

Get a copy here.


9. Valencia by Michelle Tea

Valencia is a drama-filled account of the narrator’s own personal experiences in San Francisco’s queer neighbourhoods. Tea takes you through a string of experiences – and ex-girlfriends – as she rebels against her tight-laced southern upbringing in the city by the bay.

Valencia by Michelle Tea

Get your copy here.


10. Annie On My Mind by Nancy Garden

Published in 1982, Garden’s novel tells the story of two teenage girls whose friendship turns into a lot more than just friendship, if you catch my drift. What makes this story different [Spoiler Alert] is that despite the pressures from family and school, they actually get a happy ending.

Annie On My Mind by Nancy Garden

Get a copy here.


11. Fall On Your Knees by Anne-Marie MacDonald

There is a good reason Ann-Marie MacDonald’s novel has been translated into over seventeen different languages. The story begins in Nova Scotia in the midst of World War I and ends in New York City. What happens in-between? Terrible family secrets, attempted murder, and forbidden love. Enough said.

Fall On Your Knees by Anne-Marie MacDonald

Get a copy here.


12. Zami: A New Spelling Of My Name by Audre Lorde

Audre Lorde’s stunning autobiography begins with childhood memories in Harlem and spans through her early-adulthood in the 1950s. She creates a “biomythography” by flawlessly blending together her own poetry, popular songs, journal entries, and personal memories.

Zami- A New Spelling Of My Name by Audre Lorde

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