Hello again! I’m Danika, from The Lesbrary. During last year’s Lesbian Fiction Appreciation Event, I wrote about why I think lesbian fiction is important (including a bit of a feminist rant). This year, I thought I’d spotlight some of the best lesbian books I’ve read this year! I actually had a pretty great reading year, looking back at it. If I had to pick one book that stands out as my favorite read of 2012, it would have to be The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily M Danforth. More on that later. But there were tons of close followers! I’ve divided them into genre and linked them to my full reviews.
The Last Nude by Ellis Avery. A beautifully written story about 1920s queer Paris that explored the artist Tamara de Lempicka and her relationship with one of her models, Rafaela. Definitely check out Casey’s review of this book if you’re on the fence about it. The Last Nude comes very close to being my favorite book of the year.
Miss Timmins’ School for Girls by Nayana Currimbhoy. A bisexual literary novel! It’s intensely atmospheric, almost claustrophobic, and tragic. There are also sordid love affairs and SO MUCH TRAGEDY. And family secrets. It’s not a happy story, but it’s a very good one!
Eat Your Heart Out by Dayna Ingram. Zombies! And lesbians! Zombie-fighting lesbians! And so much snarkiness and sarcasm. Also, it’s pretty much Michelle Rodriguez fanfiction. So much fun.
The Abandoned by Ross Campbell. Not only is this a lesbian zombie graphic novel (!!), but it’s one with a fat black lesbian protagonist (!!!). I would give so much for this to be an ongoing series, but I treasure this volume either way.
Tierra Del Fuego: Parting Shots by Caren Cro. This book has a huge cast of queer women, all of them interesting, and paints an intriguing world. I’m a big fan of enclosed narratives (trapped in finite space), so the spaceship setting appealed to me. Mostly it’s the strength of the characters that makes this book so successful, and I can’t wait for its sequels.
Indigo Springs by A.M. Dellamonica. Although I didn’t like the sequel as much, I loved this book. The way magic functions in this book is very interesting, and I loved Astrid’s slow discovery of it and her tortured relationship with Sahara. Plus Astrid is bisexual!
Hellebore & Rue edited by JoSelle Vanderhooft and Catherine Lundoff. I’m still a sucker for that cover. It’s even got a texture like velvet in real life. Isn’t it beautiful? The content definitely lives up to it. It has a good variety of fantasy stories, but they all have a very strong standard of writing, higher than what I usually see in anthologies.
The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily M Danforth. My read of the year! The writing is just exquisite. It’s so compelling and atmospheric. This book is nearly 500 pages and I finished it desperately wishing it was longer. I’m not the only one that fell in love with this book: it’s been getting tons of attention in mainstream newspapers and all over book blogs. Also check out the three other reviews of Cam Post posted at the Lesbrary, all positive. I can’t recommend this one highly enough.
The Dark Wife by Sarah Diemer. I’d been following this author through her blogs for a long time before reading any of her books, so I was very happy to have enjoyed her book so much! I love story re-tellings, and this is a lesbian re-telling of the Persepolis and Hades myth.
The Difference Between You and Me by Madeleine George. A weirdo main character, a clearly mismatched love affair, and a anti-Walmart subplot! From my review: “It really captures the drama of high school romance, where everything is high stakes and rollercoasters of emotion. It was also interesting to read a lesbian teen book that isn’t so much SOULMATES FROM FIRST GLANCE as it is a more typical high school relationship, which may be very emotional, but is unlikely to last forever.”
Shadow Swans by Laura Thomas. The characters in this novel are a bit older than what’s usually classified as YA, but I place this one in that genre. The main character in Shadow Swans is very divisive. I found her charmingly insufferable (she is consumed with ennui and thinks she is the only one to think deeply about anything), but some people just find her irritating. I liked the complex relationship between Den and Ruby as well as the setting of the underground society in the subway tunnels. Jasper and Anna K also reviewed this one.
Macho Sluts by Patrick Califia. This is so very hardcore queer BDSM erotica. I would definitely recommend starting with Say Please instead if you’re new to the idea. But it also very well-written, and extremely important for its historical context (it sparked a case against censorship at the US/Canada border that went all the way to the Canadian Supreme Court). This edition has lots of context: 75 pages of introduction. Whether you’re reading it for the erotica or the context, it’s definitely worthwhile.
Say Please: Lesbian BDSM Erotica edited by Sinclair Sexsmith. I read this one as part of the readathon, and I do not recommend reading it all in one sitting, as I did. It’s a bit of an exhausting experience. The stories all have a high standard of writing (can you tell my main criteria in a book?) and explore different BDSM and gender dynamics.
Nonfiction / Misc
When We Were Outlaws by Jeanne Cordova. Equal parts a historical look into the feminist and gay/lesbian activism of the 70s, and a personal memoir about a love affair. Read for the history, read for the activism, read for Cordova’s personal story.
Persistence: All Ways Butch and Femme edited by Ivan Coyote and Zena Sharman. I love Ivan Coyote’s short stories/memoirs, so I had to pick up this one. It has such a great variety, all with great writing, and this collection just has so many interesting things to say about gender. This is controversial stuff, and I said in my review, “If I could guarantee one thing, it’s that at least one entry in this collection will piss you off.” That’s a recommendation, honestly!
Lesbian Pulp Fiction edited by Katherine V. Forrest. A collection of lengthy excerpts from lesbian pulp fiction books, with a short introduction to contextualize them. What more do you need?
I hope that helped you find more books to add to your list for this year! What were your favorite lesbian (F/F) reads of the year?