The Best Lesbian Books you Should Read This Year

Last Updated 10.11.2022
21 min read

One of the things not many people know about is that lesbian literature is not recent. In fact, lesbian romance novels have been a thing for over 2,500 years now and continue to be some of the best-selling books for many queer women.

Are you interested in exploring more lesbian fiction stories and looking for the right book to get started with? Here are some of the best lesbian books that are available right now for you to choose from.

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The Price of Salt or Carol by Patricia Highsmith (1952)

Based on a true story that emerged from the personal life of the author, The Price of Salt is a book about a love that was forbidden at the time it took place. The story follows a young department store clerk called Therese Belivet, who fell in love with an elegant older woman who was shopping at the store. That woman is Carol Aird, and the famous movie "Carol" was based on this very book.

Carol was going through a very difficult divorce at the time and the intimate relationship between them is one of passion yet faces a lot of problems and disapproval from others. Her ex-husband even hires a private investigator to spy on her and prove her an unfit mother. Patricia Highsmith wrote not only one of the best lesbian books but also inspired one of the best lesbian movies you can watch right after.

The Color Purple by Alice Walker (1982)

Taking place in early twentieth-century rural Georgia, "The Color Purple" follows the lives of African American women and the hardships they went through. After being separated as little girls, sisters Celie and Nettie hope to find each other despite the barriers and distance. Their only way of expressing their emotions is through letters; some to God and some addressed to one another.

The story Alice Walker describes focuses on the impact of domestic abuse between the forced marriage of Celie to "Mister", and the love between Celie and Shug Avery, the Minister's Mistress. The affection and tenderness of the two lesbian characters will truly move you and make this book such an important read.

Rubyfruit Jungle by Rita Mae Brown (1973)

In this lesbian book, Rita Mae Brown creates a story that is very relatable to many American women as it described the struggles of growing up as a lesbian in America. While it is one of the lesbian novels written quite a few years ago, it still poses issues encountered in our day and time.

The good thing about this book is the positive ending. Deep down, we all wish that every lesbian book we read has an ending worth waiting for and this shows just how living happily ever after is possible despite the hardships.

Her Body And Other Parties: Stories by Carmen Maria Machado (2017)

This lesbian novel revolves around a woman who recounts all her previous sexual experiences as a plague slowly but surely consumes humanity. A husband tries to convince his wife to remove the green ribbon she has tied around her neck.

Many different stories take place simultaneously in "Her Body and Other Parties" and go from the highest emotions to the most gruesome violence. Carmen Maria Machado writes stories that are a mix of queer, sexy, and comic yet serious scenarios full of originality.

Stone Butch Blues by Leslie Feinberg (1993)

Way ahead of its time and other lesbian books, the "Stone Butch Blues" is a novel about Jess Goldberg, a masculine girl that grew up in a time of American history where the hatred against those that were not fitting in the gender binary was truly brutal.

Jess came out as a young butch lesbian and grew her identity in the pre-Stonewall gay drag bars that existed in a blue-collar town. This is not a book everyone will love due to its writing style, but it's a story worth listening to for every woman discovering her own sexuality.

Fingersmith by Sarah Waters (2022)

In this book by Sarah Waters, an orphan raised by the care of Mrs. Sucksby, a known "baby farmer", Sue Trinder is made into one of the petty thieves, the Fingersmiths, of her caretaker in the heart of Victorian London. After Gentleman, an elegant con man, arrives at Mrs. Sucksby's home, he proposes the idea to con a gentlewoman for her inheritance.

In this scenario, Sarah Waters put together this elaborate plan in which Sue is tasked to contribute by acting as a maid to Maud Lilly but her kindness and gentle personality cloud her judgement and make her see in a different light. Sarah Waters has truly written some of the best lesbian fantasy books you are bound to enjoy reading.

Sing You Home by Jodi Picoult (2011)

The story of Zoe Baxter starts after the loss of her baby. While trying to cope with grief she thinks that the best way to overcome this is to try and have another child. Her husband Max is not only against this idea, but he also asks her for a divorce. The two separate and cut contact.

Zoe falls in love again, and Max has also moved on too. When Zoe and her new partner decide to have a baby together, Zoe wants to use the embryos she had waiting for her at the clinic she and Max used. Her ex-husband has decided to not let two women raise his child.

When Katie Met Cassidy by Camille Perri (2018)

Katie Daniels is living the New York life many can only dream of in this lesbian romantic comedy. She is an accomplished 28-year-old lawyer in a multinational law firm and is always looking for perfection in everything she does. Her fiance, a charming art curator Paul Michael, suddenly dumps her, leaving her at a complete loss.

In order to forget her problems, she takes up the offer of Cassidy Price, a coworker, to go for a drink. The two start off as friends but the friendship turns into much more and leaves Katie questioning everything she thought she knew about sex and love.

Hani and Ishu's Guide to Fake Dating by Adiba Jaigirdar (2021)

Hani is well-liked by all her peers, she's easy-going and popular. When she comes out to her friends as bisexual, everyone tells her she can't be bi as she's only dated guys. In an attempt to prove her bisexuality, she blurts out she's in a relationship with a girl, Ishu.

Ishu is the complete opposite of Hani and wants to be top of her class in order to get into a good college. Despite their differences, she agrees to help Hanni make this fake dating situation more believable and this is when real feelings start developing between the two women. This is one of the best lesbian books for young adults and you are bound to enjoy this fun and relatable lesbian story.

This Is Not For You by Jane Rule (1970)

The story of this novel takes place in the late 1950s to early 1960s in New York. It follows a young queer woman as she struggles to come to terms with and express her lesbian sexuality in a time when society wasn't so accepting of anything out of the binary.

You get to experience an unsent letter to a woman that never really was a lover and the story of a group of friends who try to navigate life and love in a time where being yourself is frowned upon.

Annie On My Mind by Nancy Garden (1982)

When it comes to young adult books, Annie on My Mind is a beautiful story about lesbian love. It follows the story of two young girls who are destined to meet at the Metropolitan Museum on a rainy day. They start off as friends but soon become a lot more than that. Annie comes from an upscale neighbourhood and goes to a private school while Liza is from a lower-class family.

Nancy Garden has written this lesbian fiction book in order to motivate her readers to find the courage to truly be themselves. This book has faced a lot of criticism and has been banned from many school libraries and even sadly publicly burnt in Kansas City.

Solo Dance by Li Kotomi (2018)

Solo Dance is one of the lesbian fiction books that gives a much-needed voice to the queer voices of East Asia's millennial generation. It follows the story of Cho Norie, a 27-year-old woman who is currently looking for an office job in Tokyo.

Cho is originally from Taiwan, but a violent attack forced her to move away from her home country and seek new horizons. Still, she is forced to hide her identity and sexuality in hopes of her story also having a happy ending. If you are a queer person who has experienced hate in any form, you will definitely relate strongly to this book.

Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit by Jeanette Winterson (1985)

This lesbian novel is touching the subjects of religion and human obsession in a very personal way. This happens through the story of Jeanette, a sixteen-year-old girl who was adopted and raised by a mother as one of God's elect.

While she is passionate about leading a life as a missionary, she falls in love with one of her converts. Jeanette decides to leave the church and the place she grew up in, in order to be with the young woman she loves. Oranges are not the Only Fruit is a novel about how love can make someone change everything they thought they knew about themselves.

The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily M. Danforth (2012)

Cameron Post's parents suddenly passed in a tragic car crash and her very first thought is that this is the only way for them to never find out that hours before she was kissing a girl. This doesn't last long though, as she is forced to move in with her conservative and old-fashioned relatives.

The Miseducation of Cameron Post is a book about letting go of everything that doesn't allow you to live life by your own rules. Sometimes all it takes is the courage to start this journey.

Empress Of The World by Sara Ryan (2003)

In this young adult lesbian romance, Nicola Lancaster is spending her summer at a summer program the Siegel Institute offers, where smart young people live like college students for eight weeks. Nic quickly makes her new circle of friends and finds herself in love with three different people.

One of them is Battle, a blond and graceful dancer from North Carolina who is the complete opposite of Nic. They quickly hit it off as best friends and it doesn't take long for a lesbian romance to spark between them.

The Gravity Between Us by Kristen Zimmer (2013)

Romantic lesbian novels from lesbian authors are always such a job in every queer woman's everyday life and this love story that pushes the boundaries between friendship and romance will leave you wanting more. Kendall Bettencourt is a young up and popular Hollywood starlet who deep down dreams of a normal life.

Payton Taylor is her childhood best friend who always has her back and decides to move to LA to support her. The truth Payton has been hiding in this lesbian book is that Kendall is the only girl she's ever loved.

Trash by Dorothy Allison (1988)

Trash is part of Allison's landmark collection which then became a stepping stone for her book "Bastard Out Of Carolina. This is a short fictional story that includes "Stubborn Girls and Mean Stories".

It could be considered by some a graphic memoir full of stories that can scare and shock that you never wish to experience. At the same time, it shows hope and strength in situations that you wish you could have.

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid (2017)

Evelyn Hugo is a big movie star who made her career in the 1950s. She is now older and retired, and has just agreed to an interview with young magazine reporter Monique Grant. What Monique doesn't know though is that Evelyn's true goal in summoning her is to have her write her autobiography.

In a series of twists and turns, failed marriages, and forbidden love, Evelyn tells the story of her life. This is one of the lesbian books on this list which will be nothing like you expect and that you will be glued to through every chapter.

One Last Stop by Casey McQuiston (2021)

August is a 23-year-old woman moving to New York without expecting this city to change her expectations of how the American dream is just that - a dream. Her daily job as a waitress, life with one too many weird roommates, and daily subway commute are nothing but a reminder that this is all her life will consist of.

This is until she meets Jane. Jane looks like she just stepped out of a 70s magazine and completely changes the course of August's day. She is the one thing she always looks forward to after a long day at work and will soon discover how believing in a little magic is not always the worst idea. This engaging lesbian romantic comedy about self-discovery and an unexpected bond will be a read you'll love.

Keeping You A Secret by Julie Anne Peters (2003)

Holland Jaeger is currently in her senior year and has everything going for her. She has a steady, long-term boyfriend, she's student council president, and has the chance to go to a prestigious Ivy League college. On the outside, her life looks great.

All this stability is troubled by the arrival of Cece Goddard. The feelings between them are strong and undeniable, but the lesbian relationship that is developing between them feels like a secret better kept between the two of them. Julie Anne Peters has also published many other prominent titles of lesbian fiction for young adults so make sure to give them a look. This can also give you a great topic to talk about in any future lesbian chat you might start with someone new.

Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe by Fannie Flagg (1987)

When it comes to classic historical lesbian books, you cannot go wrong with "Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe". This book is a story about two women. Evelyn and Mrs. Threadgoode who is telling her life's story.

As more characters come into play, we get to learn more about how they ran a little cafe called Whistle Stop in Alabama in the thirties and their endeavours. The present will simply no longer be the same after learning about their past.

Ash by Malinda Lo (2009)

This lesbian fantasy novel follows the story of Ash, a young woman who has just lost her beloved father and is left at the hands of her cruel stepmother. The only joy in her life after her father's death is the fairy tales her mother used to read to her as a child. Those are stories full of fairies and a hope that they will fulfil her wishes.

Soon Ash meets Kaisa, the King's huntress who shows her how to hunt with weapons instead of chasing dreams and fairies. Kaisa helps her remember that life is full of things worth living for and true lesbian love becomes her reason for a much-needed transformation despite her grief.

Queens of Geek by Jen Wilde (2017)

Charlie is a vlogger and actress who is promoting her very first movie at SupaCon, a convention where other influencers and fans will come to meet with their favourite stars. When Alyssa Huntington, an internet-famous influencer, appears, Charlie starts to realise that her crush might not be so one-sided after all.

The story follows three friends and two love stories where friendship and fandom help these characters find out who they really are. It is a truly relevant and fun book to read and will truly empower those who are part of any fandom.

The Summer Of Jordi Perez (And The Best Burger In Los Angeles) by Amy Spalding (2018)

Abby Ives is 17 years old and fashion obsessed but used to always being on the sidelines. She puts all her effort into her plus-size fashion blog and dreams of becoming the next big thing in the fashion industry. When she lands an important internship at her favourite local fashion boutique. There she meets her fellow intern Jordi Perez and the two seventeen-year-olds start catching feelings for one another while fighting for a paid job at the boutique.

Amy Spalding put together a beautiful lesbian romance where she shows that finding yourself, love and still chasing after your dreams can all tie together in the most unexpected way. When it comes to relatable and fun YA novels, this is definitely a must-read, especially if you're looking for your own unique romance on a lesbian dating app.

The Well of Loneliness by Radclyffe Hall (1928)

Being one of the oldest lesbian novels that center women and their experiences in this list, "The Well of Loneliness" was banned for obscenity when it was published back in 1928. It follows the story of Stephen, the golden child of two aristocratic parents who does everything to appease them.

Behind closed doors though, Stephen is a woman who loves women and this is simply not accepted in the time she lives in. As those around her try to halt her in her fight for her ambitions, she is driven to separate actions. Radclyffe Hall has truly created one of the lesbian books that are still relevant and influential despite it being almost 100 years old.

Everything Leads to You by Nina LaCour (2014)

Nina LaCour created a story that follows the life of young Emi, who is trying to find a way to join the competitive and harsh Hollywood film world. While she is so dedicated to her professional life, her love life could not be more complicated.

After going back to the same ex multiple times, Emi receives an unexpected letter from a silver screen legend called Ava. Emi is absolutely captivated by Ava's originality and personality and Ava is set on showing her how true love can change everything.

The Gilda Stories by Jewelle Gomez (1991)

The Gilda Stories is known as a lesbian American odyssey and has two Lambda Literary Awards under its belt. After escaping from slavery, Gilda's need for companionship and community continues to grow with her for over two hundred years.

Taking place in the 1850s, she is introduced to a family of Vampyres who introduce her to a life of adventure, laughter, and also terror. This is one of the lesbian books that is truly a very interesting read, especially for fiction lovers who also want to have a side of romance.

Picking the perfect lesbian book to enjoy

Whether you're into lesbian romance novels or lesbian historical fiction, there are so many different and amazing books to choose from this list. While lesbian comic books are missing from this list, there are so many more options to choose from.

Whether you read at home after a long day or during your vacation, a book is a perfect companion for any occasion where you want to relax and not think about anything stressful. Lesbian novels will make sure to keep you in the best company.

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