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Wednesday, February 22, 2012

123

Really Good Books About Lesbians

I spent a few summers working at a womyn's bookstore playing the same Joni Mitchell album on loop, and much of my childhood at my lesbian aunt's house, surrounded by rigorously progressive Canadian children's books about good touch/bad touch, so, for a basically straight woman who just...loves lesbians and their books, I feel adequately informed to recommend these super-awesome Sapphic reads. Enjoy! Support your local completely economically unsound womyn's bookstore.

The Case of the Not-So-Nice Nurse, Mabel Maney – Maney has written several pitch-perfect, horrifically funny, intermittently erotic homages to the classic Nancy Drew novels of yesteryear. You just...you can't imagine how good these are. They are SO GOOD. She also has a "Hardly Boys" series, obviously.

Tipping the Velvet, Sarah Waters – HOT DAMN, ladies. I have to imagine that most of our Actually Gay Readers have already devoured the greatest work of historical fiction about 19th century musical hall queer intrigue, so this is mostly to alert the rest of you.

Fall On Your Knees, Ann-Marie MacDonald – This book is completely ridiculous and overblown and full of unnecessary Southern Ontario Gothic hoo-hah, but it is also unputdownable and a total delight. You have to wade through a lot of multigenerational drama before people finally start eating each other out, but it's worth it.

Beautiful Shadow: A Life of Patricia Highsmith, Andrew Wilson – It would be nice if more of the great lesbians of the last few centuries were upbeat, sunny people, free of inner turmoil about their sexuality, but I'm willing to settle for artistic genius instead.

The Essential Dykes to Watch Out For
, Alison Bechdel – Perfect in every way. And, of course, we all love Fun Home.

The Well of Loneliness, Radclyffe Hall – This one takes a lot of heat for being self-hating and depressing and lugubrious, but, you know, that's the same thing people say about Of Human Bondage, and they're both still mandatory 20th century reads. Also, my aunt's lover named her black lab "Radclyffe Hall," which is the dog-lesbian version of naming your cats "Vita" and "Virginia."

Orlando, Virginia Woolf – SPEAKING OF, this is the book that Human Virginia wrote for Human Vita, and it's wonderful. Not to mention that it helped inspire...

Anything by Jeanette Winterson – I haven't read her new memoir yet, but can forcefully vouch for Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit, Sexing the Cherry, The Passion, and Written on the Body.

Odd Girls and Twilight Lovers: A History of Lesbian Life in Twentieth-Century America, Lillian Faderman – Completely fascinating in every way.

Rubyfruit Jungle, Rita Mae Brown – Brown has gone slightly off the reservation in recent years, and now just writes these adorable little mysteries about fox-hunting and cats, which is what we should all do in our later years. I keep meaning to do "Rubyfruit" for Classic Trash.

Bastard Out of Carolina
, Dorothy Allison – Okay, this is less ABOUT lesbians, and more BY a lesbian, and I'm hesitant to even include it, because although it is a phenomenal work of contemporary literature, it also makes you want to kill yourself. But it's my damn list, and I'll do what I want.

Two Lives: Gertrude and Alice, Janet Malcolm – Obviously there are great books by and about the other two most common names for cats owned by lesbians, but Malcolm does a tremendous job here.

The Sewing Circle: Hollywood's Greatest Secret, Axel Madsen – It's no AHP, and it's extremely thinly sourced, but if you found The Celluloid Closet to be too much of a sausage fest, this is the old Hollywood gossip book for you.

Lesbian Pulp Fiction: The Sexually Intrepid World of Lesbian Paperback Novels 1950-1965
, Katherine V. Forrest – This is the perfect book to leave on your coffee table for guests, provided you have high-quality guests. Or you could just go to the source with...

Odd Girl Out or Beebo Brinker, Ann Bannon – Not that we believe in a harsh butch-femme dichotomy anymore! But these are funnnn.

We have tons of gaps here (where's Zami? where's Stone Butch Blues?) so this is your chance to help. Tell us about your favourite books about and by lesbians! Especially if you are yourself A Queer Chick.

Previous reading lists include books about baseball and the first two installments of books to spend your allowance on.



123 Comments / Post A Comment

The Lady of Shalott

Everyone read Tipping the Velvet because it's AWESOME! And then follow it up with reading The Little Stranger, by the same author, because it's delightfully creepy and scary and Sarah Waters is just all kinds of awesome.

And THEN everyone read the collected works of Emma Donoghue, who is famous for Room, but "The Sealed Letter" is AWESOME and won an award for lesbian fiction in 2009 (I think) and "Touchy Subjects" which is short stories but still awesome, and "Life Mask" which I love. And then read "Slammerkin" which is not about lesbians at all, but is still one of my favourite books.

Megasus

@The Lady of Shalott Tipping the Velvet SOUNDS awesome. I definitely just put it on my wishlist.

dale

@The Lady of Shalott Yes yes yes to Emma Donoghue.

bocadelperro

@The Lady of Shalott Fingersmith all the way. Sarah Waters is one of my favorite smart-girl escapist reads.

missbeee

@The Lady of Shalott Also Hood is a brilliant Emma Donoghue novel.

Molly Eichel@twitter

@The Lady of Shalott Kissing the Witch, her short story riffs on fairy tales is also fantastic.

tortietabbie

@The Lady of Shalott I loooooove Sarah Waters. Fingersmith rocked my face off.

anachronistique

@The Lady of Shalott And The Night Watch! So good it makes me claw at my face. Sarah Waters is one of my favorite authors full stop, and even the books I like less (Affinity) I still think are tremendously written.

miss buenos aires

@bocadelperro Fingersmith! I often acquire books and have absolutely no idea what they're about (50 cent book sale + letting them lie around for several m

agba

@The Lady of Shalott I have to vote for Fingersmith over Tipping the Velvet, just because the former made me seriously question my (straight) sexual orientation.

Caitlin Podiak

@The Lady of Shalott Tipping the Velvet was so good and made me want to be a lesbian. I gave a copy to my best friend, who has been dating a girl for over a year but still considers herself mostly straight, for her birthday. Also, I always hate the movie version of every book but the movie version of Tipping the Velvet is actually fairly excellent, considering.

kickupdust

aahh!! Nightwood by Djuna Barnes! not on the easy-to-read side of things, but just filled with writing so beautiful I start flailing around on the bed and standing on chairs and inarticulately exclaiming.

Lola P.

@kickupdust i agree but nightwood is SO DEPRESSING that it made it into the disclaimer i put in the front of the copy of "love, death and the changing of the seasons" by marilyn hacker i gave to my ex-girlfriend:

Warning: the following piece of writing has received a rating of "very high" on the SWOLLBS (Standardized Well of Loneliness Lesbian Breakup Scale). Please exercise caution in proceeding. You will notice that this scale is continuous with no end point. This is is because there is no escape.

dee
dee

@kickupdust Yeahhhh! I was actually coming down here to say just that. One of the great surprises of my reading these past few years -- at this point I kind of half-expect that I already at least know about the really great stuff out there, but this was exactly the kind of unturned stone that dazzles me into excitement about the whole great project of reading. There could still be so much more out there!

CrescentMelissa

Nicole, this is so wierd. I was just cleaning out some stuff and found a bunch of wonderful books that my high school English teacher was kind enough to give me. She was a lesbian and I at the time was in a relationship with a girl, which she knew about. Seeing these titles really tugs at my heart in a good way. My teacher passed away recently but she was a big cheerleader of mine.

Also, Rubyfruit Jungle and Bastard Out of Carolina were life changing for my 17 year old head.

Great post!

xine

Yes! Winterson is JUST.SO.GOOD. Fall on Your Knees was a compelling read-- creepy, gothic, & sad but I was disappointed in the relative lack of hot sex (though the love story was sooo gut-wrenching!)

Emi at Project Swatch

Everyone MUST READ Fun Home, it is so good. And it features the college I went to, so extra yay!

annepersand

@Emi at Project Swatch As a queer book nerd who loves morbid shit, reading Fun Home was one of the best things that ever happened to me, ever.

alsoknownas

@Emi at Project Swatch Co-signed. I just got my copy signed in the fall! Bechdel even drew a little cartoon self-portrait underneath! I. ALMOST. FAINTED.

CrescentMelissa

Stone Butch Blues! Aaaahhhh, blew my 17 year old mind too.

noReally

ME Kerr! The couple with actual gay characters (Hello, I Lied, best title ever) and just everything. Marijane Meaker. She's written under a dozen names. Her memoir about the time when restaurants in New York wouldn't let women in wearing pants, and shacking up with Patricia Highsmith. The pulp stuff she wrote back when they wouldn't publish unless the gay characters wound up punished or reforms. Love love love her.

Why wasn't this in my RSS? Am I missing book stuff on Hairpin?

SarahP

If y'all enjoy(ed) Orlando and want the REAL LIFE STORY, check out Portrait of a Marriage, by Vita's son Nigel Nicolson. Vita Sackville-West was ahead of her time... but no one really seemed to mind.

Tulletilsynet

@SarahP
I just read that and I thought it was a fantastic book. (I also thought: If you're going to follow your passions and your artistic ambitions ruthlessly and make your life a work of art, and also be a wonderful gardener, just remember to be born very wealthy first.) -- Incredible how fairly & judiciously (affectionately but dispassionately) little brother is able to write about mom's & dad's sentimental and professional development.

Miss Violet

@SarahP For an excellent read, and a thinly veiled examination of her own complicated feelings about being born to wealth, I HIGHLY recommend Vita's own novel "The Edwardians". I had never read anything by her before and I was blown away. (Also, if you love the "upstairs" part of Downton Abbey this book is for you - so many similarities here in the lives and choices of characters, as well as an excellent portrait of the changing times by someone who lived the changes.)

Emi at Project Swatch

I highly, highly recommend the book of short stories called Am I Blue? Coming Out From the Silence. I read it as a teenager, and it was really influential. My favorite story in it is a lesbian one - it's called Running, and is just amazing. But it's full of really great stories, there are several I just love.

Canard

@Emi at Project Swatch Such a great book! My favorite is "The Honorary Shepherds," though that's about boys.

Xanthophyllippa

@Emi at Project Swatch YES! THIS! THIS x 100! CAPSLOCK!

BadWolf

"The Dyke and the Dybbuk." If you are Jewish, if you have ever known a bunch of elderly Jewish ladies and/or some of the more ridiculous Jewish mythology, if you are in need of Very Funny Shit. It gets kind of silly toward the end, but still: so awesome.

(This is what I gave my very Orthodox mother when my childhood best friend came out, and she was freaked out. And she [mother] loved it.)

frigwiggin

I haven't read it yet, but I heard that The Bermudez Triangle by Maureen Johnson is good? Though that's probably a bit less salacious than some of the fun ones listed here, since it's teenagers.

frigwiggin

@figwiggin P.S. I'll be stalking these comments all day. (I'm writing a lesbian fantasy novel, so maybe one day we'll be able to add it to the ranks! Though the "really good" part might be stretching things too much...)

Interrobanged

@figwiggin Speaking of adorable lesbian teenagers, A Love Story Starring My Dead Best Friend by Emily Horner is very charming. It has musical ninjas! And a border collie called Virginia, natch.

thebestjasmine

@figwiggin I've read it, it's good but relatively light.

SheWhoReadsInSkirts

@figwiggin Bitch, it's awesome.

It is, mostly light? But there are some really angsty teenager things, and there's a whooole section or two where you just want to shake Avery and be all "WHY ARE YOU SUCH A TEENAGER-oh wait, right, you are a teenager. Carry on being stupid." Or at least I did.

Also, thanks for broaching the subject before I could, idea thief. Nevermind that you told me to read it.

Also, I am excite for your lesbian fantasy novel and excited for plot hashing make it happen.

frigwiggin

@SheWhoReadsInSkirts I'm sorry! When presented with an opportunity to talk about all the great things I like, my brain invariably shuts down and I have to grasp at the one thing that didn't escape into the void. As such, I can't presently remember any other lesbian books/books featuring lesbians that I've read, although I am determined and sure that the number is greater than zero.

SheWhoReadsInSkirts

@figwiggin There's also all the Mercedes Lackey books with lesbians, but I don't know if those count, per se. I can't remember if any of them actually featured lesbians, now that I'm thinking about it. Hm. Still. Totes going to attack the list above after I finish the last batch of books.

ipomoea

@figwiggin *pushes nerd glasses up* None of the Lackey books have lesbian protagonists (though the Last Herald-Mage trilogy does have a gay protagonist whose childhood isn't all hearts and flowers), but there are lesbian friends and mentors, and it's portrayed as a fact of life-- some people think it's immoral, some think it's natural, and some don't care.

Now, Gael Baudino? She wrote lesbian-centric fantasy, I'm thinking of her Strands series and Gossamer Axe. I hesitate to cite Jacqueline Carey as writing lesbian fantasy-- her characters seem to sleep with whomever they find attractive, regardless of gender.

palmatogecko

@ipomoea Ok, this probably does not technically qualify, but Ursula K. Le Guin's "The Left Hand of Darkness" is a fascinating take on what a world without gender/sex dualities might be like. It was published in 1969 and is widely considered to be one of the first major works of feminist science fiction. Also, Ursula K. Le Guin is a badass

dale

I will never be at a point in my life where I don't love Jeannette Winterson. I ply 'Written on the Body' on everyone I possibly can.

Also Catherynne Valente. 'Palimpsest', I suppose, would have the most queer content (at least out of what I've read of hers so far), but all of it is amazing.

Edited to add...how could I forget Karen X. Tulchinsky? Bad me! Everyone should Read All The Things (she's written).

lovelettersinhell

@dale I actually hated Palimpsest, and it's the only one of hers I've read :-(

dale

@lovelettersinhell I won't say I wasn't confused by it, because I was, and will probably have to reread. Give 'Deathless' a try, as it's a completely different style & focus. Or her YA novel, 'The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland'.

Alixana

@dale I keep wanting to like Valente and I just can't. I just picked up Deathless at the library and it made my head spin. Something about her writing just gives me this overwhelming feeling that I'm not smart enough for it?

dale

@Alixana I had that feeling while reading The Labyrinth. But then, it was exactly the same feeling I had when reading Winterson's Art & Lies (that there was a story in there someplace and I just didn't know how to find it). I guess for me it's that they hit more often than they miss. Do you follow CV on livejournal? She's quite entertaining there.

Decca

@dale A lot of Winterson I could take or leave, but I love The Passion. Especially:

"Travellers at least have a choice. Those who set sail know that things will not be the same as at home. Explorers are prepared. But for us, who travel along the blood vessels, who come to the cities of the interior by chance, there is no preparation. We who were fluent find life is a foreign language. Somewhere between the swamp and the mountains. Somewhere between fear and sex. Somewhere between God and the Devil passion is, and the way there is sudden, and the way back is worse."

Rebecca Cowley@facebook

Oooh, also by Sarah Waters: Fingersmith. A very Dickensian, con / crime novel set in Victorian times.

I can also recommend the work of Michelle Tea (especially Valencia [memoir] and Rose of No Man's Land [YA lit]) .

Also - look up My Tiki Girl by Jennifer McMahon and Godspeed by Lynne Breedlove of Tribe 8.

These books saved my mind many times.

@Rebecca Cowley@facebook I adore Lynn Breedlove, as a person, as an artist, as a friend.

I am such a bad little queer chick. I prefer queer theory.

Lesbian novels just don't really speak to me?

Apocalypstick

@S. Elizabeth I know what you mean. Maybe it's that lesbian novels a) rely on Lesbian Drama and b) make me ashamed of somehow Being Queer Wrong, whether it's having an epiphany on every corner or being utterly cool about it. Queer Theory, on the other hand, is more about ways of thinking, which it's quite difficult to do wrong, and also is really fun cos you can apply it to everyday life -if you do that with novels you end up being all "this is just like that bit in... something no-one's heard of! I'm just gonna be quiet now..."

@Apocalypstick Yeah, I've noticed that a lot of them are really depressing and/or about coming out and/or about lesbian drama. None of which are really enjoyable to read, as the depressing/outing/drama all have to do with being lesbians, and usually very little to do with, I don't know, a plot outside sexual orientation.

I don't think my queerness is depressing (see also: "Queer Optimism" by Michael D. Snediker). I already came out. I try to avoid drama, and I find heartbreak miserable and just UGH. No. So I'd much rather geek out with some Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick ("Jane Austen and the Masturbating Girl") than read a lot of the classic lesbian novels.

And I hate to say it, but a lot of the lesbian novels aren't very well written. Some are lovely. Many are not.

Apocalypstick

@S. Elizabeth It's like we're meant to enjoy them and identify with the characters just because they're lesbians. I find that kinda sad -I want plot and interesting writing, and some queer characters whose lives don't revolve around coming out and related angstfests. Just "they're gay, that's hard to find in a mainstream novel, so isn't it great to see?!" doesn't cut it anymore (past teens). Oo, thanks for the recs, I'm sold on the second by the title alone haha!

@Apocalypstick Exactly! And I understand how that was appealing 20-30 years ago when there was literally nothing mainstream that was inclusive of LGBTQ people. But yeah, no, I'm not going to identify with that character because she's gay -- and often, she is only gay, that is her character.

I guess I also personally see myself as not quite fitting in the mold of "lesbian" that a lot of these books seem to include. I'm attracted to masculine/butch/genderqueer people, and there isn't a whole lot of womyn-loving-womyn stuff that is at all like my own experiences or feelings. I just... no. That is not how sex/attraction/gayness/sexuality works for me. When I try to read a lot of these books, the sex/attraction stuff just seems so weird and contrived.

Xanthophyllippa

@S. Elizabeth: Marry me and be my theoretical wife?

ETA: @Apocalypstick: You can come too, and we can all read not-tokenist books together.

Apocalypstick

@S. Elizabeth Three-way wedding! Ironic dresses or sharp suits?

@Xanthophyllippa @Apocalypstick 3 way Boston Marriage! Ladies, let's make this happen.

Xanthophyllippa

@S. Elizabeth You are ON. You want to wear the dress, or shall I wear it and show off my muscles?

@Xanthophyllippa I am the dress wearing type. Can you wear something that shows off your muscles anyway?

Xanthophyllippa

@S. Elizabeth What if we both wore ironic dresses of complimentary colors and fabrics? And Apocalypstick can either join is in the dress-wearing or provide the sharp suit. I look really bad in dress shirts with collars, I'm afraid (I have a short neck).

@Xanthophyllippa This is slowly creeping into the territory of Laura Ashley circa 1993.

Xanthophyllippa

@S. Elizabeth I was thinking more along the iines of the short, fitted, sleeveless cotton dress my mom bought me from Fresh Produce. Seafoam green with lilac, periwinkle, and blue flowers, with a pair of cream satin wedges.

@Xanthophyllippa I think I just vomited a little bit. And I definitely had a similar Easter dress when I was about 7 years old from Laura Ashley...

I will be wearing a strapless dark floral number from J. Crew, and there will be pearls and lots of red lipstick.

Xanthophyllippa

@S. Elizabeth Mine's far cuter than Laura Ashley. Her prints are so floral they trigger my allergies.

annepersand

OH MY GOD YOU HEARD MY REQUEST. THIS IS THE BEST DAY OF MY ENTIRE LIFE NO LIE.

christonacracker

My uncle bought me Rubyfruit Jungle as a gift when I was 12. Either he had NO IDEA what the book was about, or I was just Showing Signs. Either way, I wholeheartedly approve this one for Classic Trash.

miss buenos aires

@christonacracker When I first read it, I didn't know that "come" meant something other than "arrive." I was SO CONFUSED by the grapefruit scene.

Nutmeg

Just read everything by Sarah Waters, mmmmkay? Except maybe The Little Stranger, which is like a super-scary post-WW2 Downton Abbey (actually, you should really also read that one, but just try to not sleep alone later?).

The Lady of Shalott

@Nutmeg When I read the Little Stranger, it was a dark and creepy night last October and I was ALL ALONE and after the part with the, uhh.......MYSTERIOUS WRITING (that's not spoiler-y).....I think I stayed up with the lights on for, like, hours.

Rym
Rym

@Nutmeg @The Lady of Shalott When I read The Little Stranger last summer, I was flooded out of my apartment and staying temporarily in an enormous former mansion redecorated into the kind of bed-and-breakfast with disturbingly floral wallpaper and enormous shabby-gilt mirrors in shadowy corners. This was two weeks before I filed my dissertation, too, so my anxiety levels were pretty high.

Fortunately I don't remember the dreams I had that night...!

alicia

@Nutmeg ahhh i am halfway through that book right now and "super-scary post-WW2 Downton Abbey" is pretty much how i keep explaining it to people! SO GOOD.

Nutmeg

@alicia hard to believe but IT GETS SCARIER

candybeans

I have no knowledge of this subject, but think I'd pretty hardcore enjoy them. What I really want to say is, Nicoooole, your passion for books is so lovely/adorable. I will read each and every one of these book pieces you write, just to try and soak up some of the exploding enthusiasm. (for infectious enthusiasm, see also: AHP's SOCH, which maybe we'll also get later today??? :D)

wallsdonotfall

Joan Slonczewski writes good sci fi with lesbian characters and themes. I loved Brain Plague especially. Melissa Scott also writes queer sci fi, though I don't remember whether it was objectively good or just thrilling to my teenage gay heart.

Trilby

I am having dinner with a lesbian tonight! We lived together many years ago and in the interim she became a lesbian and I turned post-sexual.

lovelettersinhell

@Trilby Post sexual isn't a term I've heard before. I know you're under no obligation to explain your orientation, but... could you maybe educate me on it a little?

Apocalypstick

@Trilby Not to be nosy, but would you mind elaborating on "post-sexual"?

City_Dater

What a delightful coincidence -- I was bookshelf cleaning last weekend, found an old paperback of FALL ON YOUR KNEES and pretty much lost a few hours to re-reading it. So page-turningly good!
(Always such good lists, Nicole!)

anachronistique

Alison Bechdel has another book coming out, "Are You My Mother?" SUPER EXCITED, so much so that I typed that as 'suepr' first.

Chanticleer

@anachronistique Ooh! Now I'm super excited too.

Dana Fikes@facebook

A Letter to Harvey Milk: Short Stories by Lesléa Newman
Beautiful, sad stories--one of the first books that my "lesbi-mentor" gave me to read.

oopsala

recent: inferno by eileen myles; zipper mouth by laurie weeks. not exactly lesbian but with queer content: zazen by vanessa veselka; bad habits by cristy c. road; chronology of water by lidia yuknavitch. hotel world by ali smith is okay. megan milks is amazing - not published a lot but google her!

80s/90s: working hot by mary fallon!!! desert of the heart by jane rule (lots more by her too); fried green tomatoes at the whistle stop cafe by fannie flagg; the new fuck you: adventures in lesbian reading, edited by eileen myles & published by semiotext(e); the female man by joanna russ; macho sluts by pat califia; the color purple by alice walker obvs; girls visions and everyhing (along with like a million others) by sarah schulman; beyond the pale by elana dykwomon is a total cheesecake but i love it - shtetl/l.e.s. midwife fantasy.

70s: lesbian nation by jill johnston; amazon odyssey by ti-grace atkinson.

mid-century american: TWO SERIOUS LADIES BY JANE BOWLES not exactly lesbian but seriously the best! the group by mary mccarthy; price of salt by patricia highsmith.

19th c: bostonians by henry james, basically anything by sarah orne jewett, balzac's girl with the golden eyes.

theory: sara ahmed, lauren berlant, ann cvetkovich, elizabeth freeman, elizabeth grosz.

Lola P.

@oopsala just threw five of these on my library list. thanks!

whimseywisp

@oopsala FRIED GREEN TOMATOES. YES. NEEDS TO BE ON THIS LIST!!!!! Also, Annie on My Mind!

Killerpants

True confessions: my screen name for a while in college was zamigrrl.

Rubyfruit Jungle! This became my favorite book when I was 15 and dug it out of my mom's old book collection in the attic. I haven't read it in a long time. I should read it again.

aphrabean

What about Joanna Russ? "The Female Man" is a complicated read: shifting POV, utopic/dystopic elements, violence, transphobia (for which she later apologized), and a truly gorgeous, innovative writing style. The contrast between the pulpy covers her books usually received and the contents is astonishing. While-a-way is the place I like to go to in my head when the world is grinding me down.

dale

@aphrabean Tor.com is doing an interesting re-read of her books right now. Sadly it seems like most of them are still out of print!

aphrabean

@dale Oooooo! Thanks for the heads-up! I've had decent luck tracking down used copies of her titles, but it takes a fair amount of digging.

dee
dee

@aphrabean Just, just finished this! I was delighted. So funny, in addition to everything else! (But yeah, it certainly began to feel uncomfortably dated toward the end, the showing-through of everything that's been criticized about second-wave feminism.) I'd like to start it over again, though -- it's structurally so complex that I feel like I'd better understand what's going on now.

social theory

@dale thanks for the tip! i love the female man!

dropkickqueen

no one has mentioned Annie On My Mind by Nancy Garden yet? maybe it doesn't count because it's a YA book. anyway, it's adorable.

I keep seeing copies of Fall On Your Knees at my local English-language used bookstore. I guess I will be picking that up the next time I visit.

whimseywisp

@dropkickqueen I love Annie on My Mind :D :D :D.

Mr. B

I've always thought Mrs. Danvers in Rebecca a landmark in the portrayal of sinister lesbians in fiction.

Katie Heldstab@facebook

Ohhhh love this post!!! I've read most of what is recommended here, and agree with nearly all of it. Ladies with great taste! For a little peek into our shared lesbian history check out Boots of Leather, Slippers of Gold. It's a written oral history of lesbian communities in different socio-economic situations from the 30's to the 50's. So good even if you're not a history lover or fan of non-fiction, this is a look into real lives, real drama. It's intoxicating...in fact I just talked myself into reading it again!

laura jayne martin@twitter

Sister Mischief by Laura Goode, for the YA in all of us.

fallon ash@twitter

Great list!! I also love Radclyffe (not the Hall one, but radfic.com) and Melissa Good for lovely easy-read romances (featuring a lot of Intense Adult Professionals who have their careers on track but lack a Special Someone, and in Melissa Good's novels she follows one couple through their ups and downs), and Laurie R. King's Martinelli series - great crime novels with a lesbian cop main character.

chi_logan

@fallon ash@twitter Yes! I love "Above All, Honor" by Radclyffe. Everyone should read it.

Sarah E. Hughes@facebook

I'd like to second (or third) Michelle Tea...Chelsea Girl or Valencia. OH GOD they torment you. So good.

atipofthehat

Don't make a 70th comment, it's perfect!

Oops

Xanthophyllippa

Oh my god. There is not a SINGLE book on this list that I have read and LIKED. I hate Jeannette Winterson. I hated Tipping the Velvet. I hated Rubyfruit Jungle, except for the part where the guy has a grapefruit fetish. I hated Stone Butch Blues, and that only gets passing mention here. I cannot stand Dykes to Watch Out For. I haven't read many of the rest, but wow - this was essentially A List Of Books Lesbians Are Supposed To Love Just Because They're About Other Lesbians.

@Xanthophyllippa And ironically, a list comprised by a heterosexual woman. Color me unimpressed.

dave bry

Full disclosure: she was my writing professor in college, but Blanche McCrary Boyd wrote two great books about lesbians called "The Revolution of Little Girls" and "Terminal Velocity." Tough, beautiful writing, in the Dorothy Allison vein.

Maryaed

OMG I had to make an account just to say FOR GOD'S SAKE DO NOT READ FALL ON YOUR KNEES. Unless you want to be drawn in by a promising story and then dumped into the most horrifying nest of sex abuse cliches ever published. I wanted to buy this book from used book stores to save people from it, that's how horrid it was. Just read V.C. Andrews over again and save yourself the heartbreak.

I second and third the Emma Donoghue and Sarah Waters recommendations though.

Amanda Andrews@facebook

My mom's college English professor was a lesbian and wrote a book called the Woman Who Knew Too Much her name is Bette Reese Johnson published I believe through Cleis Press.

redconfetti

Elora Bishop's "Cage the Darlings" and Sarah Diemer's "The Dark Wife."

Craftastrophies

Has anyone else read 'One or two things I know for sure' by Dorothy Allison? MAN that book is good. It's poetry and prose, and it's about being queer, a woman, a daughter and a niece, about family and friends and abuse and self. It's amazing and you should read it.

social theory

i've read winterson's new memoir, and i found it very touching. (it helps if you're familiar with her body of work before reading, though.) i suppose, stories about lesbians aside, i respect her life and admire her intellect and way with words.

Es
Es

Oh, I love Bastard out of Carolina. Never found anyone else who's heard of it!

wee_ramekin

So, this is not a book, but rather a completed web-comic story. It's called YU+ME: dream and it is seriously one of the coolest things I have read in a really long time. Plus, the artist goes crazy and uses a ton of different comic drawing styles and...it's just really cool. I'm not going to tell you a lot about it because I don't want to spoil anything, but here's what the homepage says:

"YU+ME: dream is a surreal love story. It is part high school romance, part journey-adventure story, and part total-mind-fuck. It is a complete story, so you don’t have to wait for updates!

The comic began in 2004, when I was just out of high school, so the art is a bit shaky at first. Then I took some art classes and things got better.

Around page 450, I started experimenting with different art styles. As you can see in the image above, there’s watercolors, vector, ink, and even clay! Don’t like a style? Wait a few pages and it’ll change.

This comic wrapped up on October 25th, 2010 at 847 pages."

You guys! It's so good! Read it!

Decca

Has anyone read Eleanor Catton's The Rehearsal? It's probably classifiable as queer, rather than lesbian, but it's one of the most unusual and captivating novels I've ever read.

Alittlewater

What? No "They Call Me Mad Dog?" I would have thought you'd be all up ons!

Jennifer Brewer@twitter

"Not that we believe in a harsh butch-femme dichotomy anymore"
YAY i am a unicorn!

Rebekah Matthews@facebook

some of my favorite lesbian books: 1) the terrible girls by rebecca brown (gothic/allegorical minimalist short stories) 2) fried green tomatoes by fannie flagg (gayer than the movie) 3) sita by kate millet (a memoir about an intense and obsessive affair between two women--I don't think I've seen other lesbian literature capture the unique/specific strength of a woman like sita did)

Scott Sessions@facebook

Definitely looking forward to reading from this list. I've been aching to dive into the feminine side of queer literature. Thank you!

mae midwest

Emma Donoghue's book, Landing, about an Irish flight attendant and a cute Canadian butch is a good read.

agreenballoon

Cool For You - Eileen Myles; Rose of No Man's Land - Michelle Tea (young adult book also! could it get any better?)
Politically-incorrect but retro-fabulous non-fiction - Sappho was a Right-On Woman by Sidney Abbot & Barbara Love (members of The Lavender Menace in the '70s). It is essentialist & lacks diverse voices, but totally worth it as a period piece
Really signed on to say that Rubyfruit also changed my life and I'm from the same redneck-y part of PA as Rita Mae and now I'm a fabulous New Yorker.

Ivona Poyntz@facebook

Good recs. Leash is also a good book

k rock

I accidentally bought a Mabel Maney "Nancy Clue" book for my then-six year old sister, thinking it was a normal Nancy Drew book, and was definitely... surprised when I started reading it to her.

Zeki Yol@facebook

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