100 Best Lesbian Fiction & Memoir Books Of All Time

Last month, we invited you to pick the best queer-lady fiction and memoir books of all time via goodreads, and boy did you ever! So, without any further ado, we present the top 100, accompanied by our favorite goodreads endorsements.

100 Best Lesbian Fiction & Memoir Books Of All Time 

[according to you]

100. Gut Symmetries, by Jeanette Winterson (1998)

“Gut Symmetries” is about love. And physics. And geometry. And the infinite and the finite, and matter and what matters, and particles and monstrosities and life and time and death and the grinning skull in the mirror.”
– Sam, Goodreads

99. All That Matters, by Susan X. Meagher (2007)

“I loved this book, from the beginning to the end! The discussions between Kylie and Blair cover everthing important in human life and relationships!”
-Ulla, Goodreads

98. Map of Ireland, by Stephanie Grant (2009)

“Painful, cleanly written story of a 16-year-old Irish-American kid from Southie…She smacks into the discomfort of deeply inculturated racism as it seeps into her home life and her attempts to understand and realize her own unspooling sexuality.”
-Mary, Goodreads

97. Say Please: Lesbian BDSM Erotica, by Sinclair Sexsmith (2012)

[read our post on say please here]

“This is a great collection of erotic, hands down one of the best collections I’ve read. Sinclar Sexsmith has curated a wonderful collection of stories that are sure to titillate and make a good girl blush.”
– Erin, Goodreads

96. Far from Xanadu, by Julie Anne Peters (2005)

“Peters deals with not just the issues of being a gay teenager in this book, but also the emotional turmoil of feeling abandoned.”
– Jill, Goodreads

95. Happy Accidents, by Jane Lynch (2011)

“This is a breezy read that won’t take up much of your time, but it will surprise you with its candour.”
– Sean Kennedy, Goodreads

94.  Stay, by Nicola Griffith (2003)

“STAY is less of a mystery or a thriller than a grief-and-recovery story — but I don’t at all mean to warn you off; there’s a good amount of mystery and action.  But what’s going on with Aud’s personal development is central and the action happens around the edges, as it were.”
– Rachel Neumeier, Goodreads

93. Drag King Dreams, by Leslie Feinberg (2006)

“This book was so inspiring and heartbreaking.  The story lines are complex but easy to follow.”
– Kit, Goodreads

92. Art & Lies, by Jeanette Winterson (1996)

“In Art and Lies, Jeanette Winterson is crusading against a predictable and unimaginative reality that denies that there is more than meets the eye.”
-Twiggy, Goodreads


91. Babyji, by Abha Dawesar (2005)

“This is a very honest and true account of the 16-year-old mind, but it goes beyond that to the complexities of self discovery amidst the search for meaning in a world filed with inequalities.”
-Mandi, Goodreads

90. Seriously…I’m Kidding, by Ellen Degeneres (2012)

“Ellen’s book was the perfect balance of advice and jokes. It’s an extremely light and easy read.”
-Kristyn, Goodreads

89. Y: The Last Man, Vol. 1: Unmanned, by Brian K. Vaughan (2003)

” This book was interesting and intricate. The multi-character perspective never got confusing and worked very well to add suspense into the plot.”
– Stella FAYZ Chen, Goodreads

88. Southland Auto Acres, by Lisa Jones (2010)

“A fun, breezy read. A nice, tight story that moves. More than just a coming out book. The backdrop of the car lot was well drawn.”
– Brook St., Goodreads

87. The Pyramid Waltz, by Barbara Ann Wright (2012)

“I can only say that this book was incredible. The characters were complex and well-written. The dialogue was fantastic and often humorous. Each character brought something new to the book and was very distinct.”
– Jennifer Lavoie, Goodreads

86.  The Slow Fix, by Ivan E. Coyote (2009)

“These autobiographical short stories are phenomenal. Most are fewer than 5 pages long, many are about perceptions of gender, but all are about finding one’s place in the world. In the end, they are about the folds of community, the weave of the fabric, and I was really impressed with the depth and feeling that Coyote conveys in such little space.”
– Emily, Goodreads

85. The Complete Strangers in Paradise, Volume 1, by Terry Moore (1998)

“Very well written, wonderfully illustrated and tons of heart.”
– Autumn Eden

84. Close to Spider Man, by Ivan E. Coyote (2000)

“A very heartfelt bunch of stories about growing up knowing that you just don’t fit in. An excellent read for oddballs everywhere.”
– Vanessa, Goodreads

83. Complete Hothead Paisan, by Diane DiMassa (1999)

“It’s wonderfully cathartic at times, deeply meaningful at others, and maintains a very dark gallows humor.  Yes, Hothead does relentlessly hate on men and het women, but you’d be missing the point to dismiss it for that.”
– Ellie, Goodreads

82. Rage: A Love Story, by Julie Anne Peters (2009)

“I thought that the dychotomy between the protagonist’s fantasy life and reality was very well portrayed, and Ms. Peters did an excellent job portraying an abusive (high school, lesbian) relationship.”
– Liz, Goodreads

81. A Love Story Starring My Dead Best Friend, by Emily Horner (2010)

“Horner’s first novel is ably plotted and well-done. There were more than a few laugh-out-loud moments, and I liked the narrator very well. She was achingly believable and so adolescently stupid she could have stepped right off the page. ”
– Melody, Goodreads

80. Stir-Fry, by Emma Donoghue (1994)

“It is a smart, genuine, endearing coming-of-age novel that turns a lot of the typical coming-of-age cliches on their head.”
– Kat, Goodreads

79. The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas, by Gertrude Stein (1933)

“Her writing, in this piece, is as everyone has stated: conversational. It’s in tribute to her partner, Toklas. She recounts her life among the biggest, and some of the smallest, contributors to the art (literature, painting, journalism) scene of the the early 20th century.”
– Alex, Goodreads

78. The Warrior’s Path (When Women Were Warriors, #1), by Catherine M. Wilson (2008)

“This book is a unique treasure about growing up, learning to find inner strength when all odds are stacked against you and those you love and not being afraid to voice your beliefs when others deem them silly. It teaches bravery, courage, humility, loyalty and honesty.”
– Samantha, Goodreads

77. The Gilda Stories: A Novel, by Jewelle L. Gomez (1991)

[read our interview with jewelle gomez here]

“The Gilda Stories, a novel about vampires, but much more….it is a story about longing, living in the past, trying to define oneself by criteria that is inconsistent with the reality of one’s existence.”
– Lily, Goodreads

76. Curious Wine, by Katherine V. Forrest (1983)

“Delicious and seductive lesbian love story.”
– Gina Barnett

75. Among Other Things, I’ve Taken Up Smoking: A Novel, by Aoibheann Sweeny (2007)

“This book is soft and understated and quiet and delicate.  It is one of those novels where you want to curl up and live for a few moments…”
– Mallory, Goodreads

74. Loose End, by Ivan E. Coyote (2005)

“The book is autobiographical…short stories and columns, written in an incredibly engaging and enjoyable style, about life on the east end of Vancouver. I could see the characters and really began to be invested in them.”
– Joe, Goodreads

73. Aimee & Jaguar: A Love Story, Berlin 1943, by Erica Fischer (1994)

“This was truly a sad and beautiful story. It contains a lot of letters and first person accounts of the lives of Felice, a young Jewish woman in Nazi Germany, and Elizabeth, her Aryan lover who hid her from the Gestapo. Aside from the tragic love story, I also found it to be an interesting perspective on World War II.”
– Alice Urchin

72. Patience & Sarah, by Isabel Miller (1969)

“Its a sweet, sometimes funny book written in piquant language that is occasionally cloying but also occasionally sexy.”
– Bren, Goodreads

71. Hood, by Emma Donoghue (1995)

“The book reads beautifully – often feeling more like poetry than prose – and yet maintains a gritty, rough-around-the-edges feel. Amidst fleeting memories and awkward moments it captures the bittersweetness of loss.”
– alicia, Goodreads

70. The Blue Place (Aud Torvingen, #1), by Nicola Griffith (1998)

“But it’s not all about kicks and asses and ass-kicking, Aud is a character who grows, learns, develops, who eventually becomes a different person from the one you first imagine her to be.”
– Olduvai, Goodreads

69. Jericho, by Ann McMan (2010)

“This is a pretty straightforward, well-written romance. The characters are fully developed and the author takes her time building a believable, solid romance without resorting to the usual romance cliches.”
– Leavethesky, Goodreads

68. Girl Meets Boy: The Myth of Iphis (Canongate Myths), by Ali Smith (2007)

“‘Girl Meets Boy’ is part of a collection of myths re-told for modern day…Ali Smith tells the traditional story with a light hand and easily makes it relevant for modern audiences.”
– Amy, Goodreads

67. Deliver us from Evie, by M.E. Kerr (1994)

[read our review of deliver us from evie here]

“While the characters were stock, the story was well-developed.  I found the way the parents dealt with the slow revealings of Evie’s sexuality especially engrossing.”
– Lisa, Goodreads

66.  Affinity, by Sarah Waters (2000)

“As always, with this author’s work comes a thoroughly researched story and a compelling look at women in oppressive circumstances, as well as how their limited choices often lead to desperate attempts to control their own destinies.”
– Wendy Darling, Goodreads

65. The Corrections, by Jonathan Frazen (2001)

“The main thing I love about this novel…is the author’s mastery of psychic distance and perspective.  Using third person, Franzen manages to craft the interior drives, passions, and thoughts of Chip, Denise, and Gary with complete distinction.”
– Emily, Goodreads

64. Foxfire, by Joyce Carol Oates (1993)

“What makes Foxfire is amazing is that the reader feels the constant tug between the lack of moral validity of Foxfire’s actions and the intense desire for revenge. An excellent book full of human conflicts.”
– Serena Tardioli

63. And Playing the Role of Herself, by K.E. Lane (2006)

“The romance proceeds slowly, there are twists and turns, but none of them seem forced or contrived, the whole thing reads very smoothly… Very satisfying escape.”
– Alena, Goodreads

62. To the Lighthouse, by Virigina Woolf (1927)

“At the heart of To the Lighthouse lie the dueling extremes of masculinity and femininity, and the question of whether they can be successfully joined in romantic pairings or, in Lily’s case, within the individual soul.”
– Bram, Goodreads

61. The World Unseen, by Shamim Sarif (2001)

“This book was an enjoyable read.  One of those fabulous stories that can relay the difficulty of being a woman and a lesbian, especially in cultures where women are less than men.”
– Jill, Goodreads

60. Persistence: All Ways Butch and Femme, by Ivan E. Coyote (2011)

[read our review of “persistence” here]

“It’s refreshing to see an anthology reflect a remarkable diversity of perspectives on these two loaded concepts and identities.”
-Caseythecanadianlesbrarian, Goodreads

59. The Creamsickle, by Rhiannon Argo (2009)

“It’s unusual to encounter literary lesbian fiction that’s also a guilty pleasure, but both terms apply fairly to this book…The novel is more about queer family–creating it and maintaining it–than about individual relationships…”
– Faith, Goodreads

58. Strangers in Paradise, Pocket Book 2, by Terry Moore (2001)

“Beautifully depicted characters that come alive and don’t leave your head even after you put the book down.”
– Cem, Goodreads

57. Dare Truth or Promise, by Paula Boock (1997)

[read our review of dare truth or promise here]

“Boock manages to capture the simplicity and yet the confusing complexity of the way that teens view the world creating a both enjoyable and occasionally uncomfortable read as you follow and empathise with the characters. This book also gives a great look at family interactions and cultural expectations.”
– Heather, Goodreads

56. The Dark Wife, by Sarah Diemer (2011)

The Dark Wife was a beautiful, moving tale of a goddess finding herself in an unfair and cruel world, and reclaiming herself in the face of it. It’s definitely a must read for anyone interested in well done retellings, or a reader who’s looking for representation in a genre that only represents us a certain way.”
-Merle, Goodreads

55. The Bermudez Triangle, by Maureen Johnson (2004)

“This is a character-driven book. It deals with relationships, friendship, sexuality, loyalty, and love. It deals with what happens to people when they let the world know they’re gay (both the good and the bad). It deals with long distance relationships, with forgiveness and letting go, with heartbreak and joy, and the discovery of self.”
– Amanda, Goodreads

54. Cunt: A Declaration of Independence, by Inga Muscio (1998)

“If you let it, this book will bring a tremendous amount of enlightenment, empowerment, and freedom into your life, and hopefully a new sense of understanding and empathy towards women and what we have to deal with.”
– taryn, Goodreads

53. Sputnik Sweetheart, by Haruki Murakami (1999)

“A story of wistful beauty, love, and longing.  A strange “through the looking glass” tale, told from a unique perspective.”
– Danger Kallisti, Goodreads

52. The Member of the Wedding, by Carson McCullers (1946)

“Reading The Member of the Wedding, I felt all over again the awkwardness, the unreasonableness, the misguided passion and the full-blown dreaminess of being 13.”
– Dominic, Goodreads

51. Pages for You, by Sylvia Brownrigg (2002)

[read our review of pages for you here]

“Poetic and euphoric. Intense. I think it’s the kind of book that makes you fall in love with love all over again.”
– kathane, Goodreads

50. Landing, by Emma Donoghue (2007)

“The dialogue is sharp and witty, the prose descriptive without being overly so, and the characters believable. It raises such questions as, how far are we willing to go for love? How much would we risk for love? And how much are we willing to give up?”
– Sandra, Goodreads

49. Skim, by Mariko Tamaki (2008)

“Transcendent storytelling meets dark and detailed illustration, all folded up into a Canadian suburban landscape. Skim captures the awkwardness, the isolation, and the crush of new feeling connected to adolescence and spins it into graphica gold.”
-Miz Moffatt, Goodreads

48. Mrs. Dalloway, by Virginia Woolf (1925)

“Woolf’s narrative voice careens through the streets of London, inhabiting various characters’ minds—their thoughts, anxieties, fears, physical sensations—and then gently guides us along, transitioning to another character, another series of images, another complex portrait.”
-Christina, Goodreads

47. Odd Girl Out, by Ann Bannon (1957)

[read our interview with ann bannon here]

“She’s able to present a lesbian college relationship without a) judging it or b) writing with an obvious agenda where the heterosexuals are straw-man hypocrites. Characters aren’t good or evil. They’re confused, manipulative, understanding, bitter, loving, hypocritical, empathizable. They mean well.”
– bup, Goodreads

46. Batwoman: Elegy, by Greg Rucka, J.H. Williams III (2010)

“Ideal for: Readers craving lush, groundbreaking artwork and a capable, complicated superheroine; Folks who’d like to see LGBTQ issues rendered in a thoughtful, action-packed story arc; DC fans and members of the Bat-clan.”
– Miz Moffatt, Goodreads

45. Always, by Nicola Griffith (2007)

“A great read, some troubling thought provoking themes and an exceptionally powerful narrative in this, the best of her magnificent trilogy to date.”
– Glen Fox, Goodreads

44. Kissing the Witch: Old Tales in New Skin, by Emma Donoghue (1997)

“The plot twists and turns at a dizzying rate of speed, weaving an intricate and passionate tapestry that celebrates and empowers woman in her universal quest to know and befriend all of the complex voices within herself.”
– Jackikellum, Goodreads

43. The Funny Thing Is…, by Ellen DeGeneres (2003)

“When you need a laugh, this is a go to read. Cheers up even the dreariest of days!”
– Shannon, Goodreads

42. Missed Her, by Ivan E. Coyote (2010)

“Missed Her is a short, but moving, collection of personal stories focused on Coyote’s experiences as a queer, butch, storyteller living on Canada’s west coast. Each essay is succinct, powerful, and entertaining.”
– Trisha, Goodreads

41. Am I Blue?: Coming Out From the Silence, by Marion Dane Bauer Lois Lowry, Francesca Lia Block, Nancy Garden, James Cross Giblin, Ellen Howard, M.E. Kerr, Jonathan London , Jacqueline Woodson, Bruce Coville, Gregory Maguire, Lesléa Newman, Jane Yolen, Cristina Salat, William Sleator, C.S. Adler, Beck Underwood  (1994)

“Written in a style that will appeal to young adult and adult readers, this book is full of short stories that help gay teenagers understand that struggling is part of learning who you really are and that you’re not alone.”
– Duane Herendeen, Goodreads

40. Slow River, by Nicola Griffith (1995)

“Slow River is an engaging and accessible science fiction novel focused more on characters than technology. Griffith’s novel is centered around women and queer characters without calling attention to queerness or women, it’s just normal in her world.”
– Ariel Wetzel, Goodreads

39. Ammonite, by Nicola Griffith (1992)

“The story and its characters are so complex and layered. The world building is gentle and neither assuming nor heavy going and it draws you into the story and its commentary deftly. I loved this world of women where all aspects of society, roles, responsibilities, attributes and character were considered and included just as part of the ordinary landscape.”
– Ju, Goodreads

38. Sing You Home, by Jodi Picoult (2011)

“Picoult has crafted a story that dives head first into subjects that are very much a part of current public policy debate, and yet still boils down to ordinary people struggling to do the right thing from different perspectives.”
– Sandy, Goodreads

37. Trash, by Dorothy Allison (2002)

“Coming from an underprivileged family that places significance on how many babies you can produce and how well you marry this collection of short memoir narratives is written as if Allison is sitting right in front of you exposing all of her secrets. The stories can be agonizing but also sensual and charming.”
– Kathy Hiester, Goodreads

36. Two or Three Things I Know for Sure, by Dorothy Allison (1995)

“In just over 100 small pages, Dorothy Allison succeeds in writing a piece of memoir that is just as much a musing on the power of the past to continue to hurt (while allowing also for healing) than a personal story.”
– Dominic, Goodreads

35. Fall on Your Knees, by Ann-Marie MacDonald (1996)

[read our review of Fall on Your Knees here]

“This book is dark, twisted, and beautifully heartbreaking. The characters are endlessly deep, and tragedy curses the family that occupies the pages of this book. From wild Kathleen, to dutiful Mercedes, to the “black sheep” that is Francis, every member of this family has a tragic story to be told.”
– Caiti, Goodreads

34. Santa Olivia, by Jacqueline Carey (2009)

[read our post on santa olivia here]

“Equal parts dystopia and superhero comic, I found this to a a fast, entertaining read… It’s a book with some action, a lot of fear, some tender relationships and, above all, a lot of hope.”
– Lissibith, Goodreads

33. Harriet the Spy, by Louise Fitzhugh (1964)

“Harriet was a cranky, unsentimental, fun, eccentric, witty, smart-as-a-whip, female protagonist who ran about saying, or jotting down, what many of us were already thinking…And intrigued us in the process.”
– Pamela, Goodreads

32. Inferno, by Eileen Myles (2008) 

[read our book club post on inferno here]

“This is a moving memoir I’d call literature. It is full of memorable psychological insight, plainspoken, inevitable prose, surprising candor, and even some humor… It is a coming out story set mostly in downtown NYC where she lived and crafted her writing.”
– Lori Ortiz, Goodreads

31. The Well of Loneliness, by Radclyffe Hall (1928)

“This is not a cautionary tale – it is not a story meant to deter women from having relations with other women. Instead it embraces it as in it’s an autobiographical story based on Hall’s own experiences.”
– El, Goodreads

30. Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches, by Audre Lorde (1984)

“The power and simplicity and searing intelligence that Audre Lorde brings to her fierce poetry is quieted here by introspection. Stark and lovely, these essays are guided by an emotional clarity, an ethical imperative and Lorde’s intent comittment to personal truth.”
– Rachel Kantstopdaphunk, Goodreads

29. Valencia, by Michelle Tea (2000)

“Tea doesn’t try to flatter herself and rather explores some unflattering experiences in detail. It catches a very interesting moment in queer history and also, San Francisco’s Mission. Fun, quick, sexy read.”
– Jaye, Goodreads

28. The Price of Salt, by Patricia Highsmith (1952) 

“There is a matter-of-fact clarity to Highsmith’s description of the relationship which establishes it as not at all shocking, while she also effectively captures the devastating sacrifices so many gay and lesbian people have to make. Highsmith’s book deals very seriously with her characters’ sexualities and lets there be certain ambiguities about them that make the characters real instead of archetypes. ”
– Marrisa, Goodreads

27. Empress of the World (Battle Hall Davies #1), by Sara Ryan (2001)

[read our review of empress of the world here]

“Nicola, the narrator, is a sharp, funny, observant kid, even in her own confusion about her sexuality, and Battle is both a fantastic foil and a fantastic love affair for Nicola. The dynamics and the emotions in this one rang very true for me on all levels.”
– A., Goodreads

26. Whipping Girl: A Transsexual Woman on Sexism and the Scapegoating of Feminity, by Julia Serano (2007)

“Parts were like reading the inside of my own head. Parts gave me an insight into things I will never experience myself. Brilliant.”
– Julian, Goodreads

25. Huntress, by Malinda Lo (2011)

” Breathtaking. Grand. This fantasy was gloriously epic while still remaining a quick read and avoiding an overly complicated plot.”
– Logan, Goodreads

24. Keeping You a Secret, by Julie Anne Peters (2005)

[read our review of keeping you a secret here]

“This is a lovely coming-out story, well-written, emotional, and believable. ”
– Kaje Harper, Goodreads

23. The Passion, by Jeanette Winterson (1987)

“Parts of this unusual read are dark fairy tales, parts are fantasy…It is almost like a series of unbelieveable disconnected vignettes that the reader visits through a common hallway.”
– Natalie, Goodreads

 22. The Night Watch, by Sarah Waters (2006)

“Connecting to humans, surviving, viewing human destruction, loving, being duped and dumped all in the midst of air raids, rubble, fires, and blackouts are the topics the book centers on. Her scenes and the characters in them are real – their foibles, quirks and irritating nuances are presented in a way that I felt I knew them. ”
– Istop4books, Goodreads

21. Bastard Out of Carolina, by Dorothy Allison (1992)

[read our book club post on bastard out of carolina here]

“The world Allison creates is beautifully particular—precisely constructed, richly furnished, quirky. The pages fly by, scarcely a word not pulling its weight. And when you’re done, you’ve learned, from the inside out, to understand someone who appears unfathomable.”
– Lauren Ruth, Goodreads

20. Unbearable Lightness: A Story of Loss and Gain, by Portia de Rossi (2010)

[read our review of it here]

“Unbearable Lightness is brutal, scary, well written and shocking in its honesty, chronicling Portia’s almost lifelong struggle with an eating disorder. We bare witness as she yo-yo diets through the ages of 12-25 binging and purging, basing her happiness on the number on the scale.”
– Buggy, Goodreads

19. Are You My Mother?, by Alison Bechdel (2012)

[read our review of it here]

“By turns frustrating and self-absorbed to such mindboggling depths of solipsistic screwdriver-in-the-head nuttiness, the novel slowly reveals itself as a complex rendition of mother-daughter psychodynamics, touching upon Virginia Woolf, Adrienne Rich and pioneering feminist psychoanalyst Donald Winnicott along the way.”
– MJ Nicholls, GoodReads

18. The Hours, by Michael Cunningham (1998)

“However, the main achievement of the book, as far as I’m concerned, is the marvellous way in which Cunningham paints emotions, more specifically emotions associated with depression, angst, melancholy and regret.”
– Martine, Goodreads

17. Written on the Body, by Jeanette Winterson (1992)

“‘Written on the Body’ is a beautifully written and powerful story about all of the pleasure and pain of loving, the cruelty of not loving enough and everything in between.”
– Jenn(ifer), Goodreads

16. Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?, by Jeanette Winterson (2011)

“And yet this memoir, which I expected to be agonizing, is instead matter-of-fact, witty, piercing, and generally triumphant. Jeanette is not a dweller or a wallower, at least not anymore; she is frank about the difficulties she has gone through, relating even rather harrowing anecdotes with grace and compassion.”
– oriana, Goodreads

15. Orlando, by Virginia Woolf (1928)

” Based partially on Woolf’s own lesbian affair, Orlando offers commentary on life, love, and literature, as well as the connection between men and women; fashion and consumerism; industrialization; nature and urbanization; family, home, society, and the self”
– Cris, Goodreads

14. Zami: A New Spelling of My Name, by Audre Lorde (1982)

“Lorde’s poetic descriptions, fascinating methods of storytelling that reads as if you are reading a beautifully written diary, and the honest quality of the ways in which she looks back on her own past experiences is altogether captivating, moving, and humbling.”
– Anastasia, Goodreads

13. Ash, bv Malinda Lo (2009)

[read our interview with malinda lo here]

“The strongest point of this book, for me, is the elegant unfolding of love between the two women and the society’s reaction (or lack thereof) to their budding relationship. The bottom line of the novel is not that the Cinderella figure is a lesbian, it is that no one cares that she is a lesbian.”
– Ariz C, Goodreads

12. The Essential Dykes to Watch Out For, by Alison Bechdel (2008)

“Alison Bechdel hits the perfect balance of lovingly depicting her community and its concerns, exploring the inner lives of her characters, while also cheerfully skewering political posturing, blind spots, and self-righteousness.”
– Jessica, Goodreads

11. Stone Butch Blues, by Leslie Feinberg (1993)

“It doesn’t matter whether you are straight or gay. The book speaks to you of the human condition struggling for recognition and the satisfaction of human needs.”
– Suzynyc, Goodreads

10. Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit, by Jeanette Winterson (1985)

“Winterson beautifully mixes religious theology with budding sexuality, curiosity and identity.”
– Ariana, Goodreads

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

“If ever there was a book that feels like coming home, Fried Green Tomatoes is it. Full of laughs and “aww” moments, it’s folksy, endearing and heartwarming. It can be a little melodramatic at times but Flagg knows how to bring realism out of the sentimental moments in life and she does it with precision.”
– Joanna, GoodReads

8. The Color Purple, by Alice Walker (1982)

“This novel explicitly explored such incredibly complex and distressing issues that I remain in awe of how Alice Walker so skilfully managed to blend portrayals of oppression – male brutality, slavery, poverty, racism and sexism, with a narrative infused with such tenderness.”
– Fiona, Goodreads

7. Middlesex, by Jeffrey Eugenides (2002)

“There’s a very frank beauty about this book – he doesn’t gloss over anything, but despite the many struggles of the three generations, he doesn’t feel it necessary to make his reality very bleak, either. Even when the book is at its darkest, most depressing, you’re filled with sadness, but also with hope.”
– Taylor, Goodreads

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

[read our book club interview with emily m. danforth here]

“The Miseducation of Cameron Post is a fierce book that boldly explores identity, sexuality, and human responsibility in a relatable way, even as it demands attention from your social conscience and reaches out for your empathy.”
– Wendy Darling, Goodreads

5. Rubyfruit Jungle, by Rita Mae Brown (1973)

“Intelligently written, coming of age story with a very likeable main character, Molly, who never accepts an answer or will be told what to do, and kicks against all her disadvantages and the bigotry facing her.”
– Sophie, Goodreads

4. Fingersmith, by Sarah Waters (2002)

“Essentially, Fingersmith is everything I could possibly want in a novel. The narrators of the novel are wonderfully entertaining; plot twists abound that I could never have imagined the first time I read this book; the descriptions are beautiful but not overly-done.”
– Tara, Goodreads

3. Annie on My Mind, by Nancy Garden (1982)

“The treatment of two gay teenagers is astounding, considering the time period, and the affirmative, inspiring message is something gay teens everywhere had to hear back then.”
– Matthew, Goodreads

2. Tipping the Velvet, by Sarah Waters (1998)

“My first experience with historical lit that subtly invokes moments which remind me of an artistic erotic painting – sensual, moving, yet not completely garish.”
– Stacia (Ace of Skates), Goodreads

1. Fun Home, by Alison Bechdel (2006)

[read our book club post on fun home here]

“As a memoir, Fun Home is beautifully arranged and as honest and unapologetic as they come. Alison writes and draws as if she is still putting together the pieces as she does so, and closes the book with the impression that the story is not over.” – Emily, Goodreads

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  1. Of the top 10, three are southern writers! And, three of the top 10 I’m teaching in my spring Lesbian Writers, Lesbian Writing class! Callooh-callay! :)

  2. Wow, I just added a lot of books to my to-read list on goodreads. The Creamsickle looks especially cool.

    It’s so exciting to see so much of Ivan E Coyote, and to see other great Canadian authors like Mariko Tamaki and Emma Donoghue mentioned!!

    And Harriet the Spy!!

    One thing I’m confused about is the inclusion of Middlesex. It’s a great book but the character is intersex and at the end of the novel presents and identifies as a man, right? (It’s been quite a few years since I read it). Doesn’t seem to quite fit the criteria.

  3. No love story has affected me more than the tragic true story of Aimee and Jaguar. I hadn’t heard of them until I saw the movie on Logo years ago. I was so in love with that movie that I bought it on DVD. It’s my favorite lesbian-themed movie to this day. I didn’t know there was also a book about this couple. I’m definitely going to have to pick that up.

  4. Sputnik Sweetheart! Finding that was a ‘the universe has the worst sense of humour’ moment. The straight girl I had a crush on was super into Murakami, so obviously I had to check out his books. First one I picked off the shelf, and it was about lesbians and pining and unrequited love. GODDAMN IT UNIVERSE.

    Also, reading Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit when I was thirteen basically made me a homo, so…

  5. Thrilled to see my book on the list! And don’t forget–Book I is free for Kindle and Nook on the Amazon and B&N sites.

  6. I can’t begin to explain how lame this list is. I’ll start with the missing names Gale Wilhelm, Vin Packer, Ann Aldrich and Valerie Taylor.

  7. Oh man oh man I hate that I’m going to be the one to make a buzzkill comment BUT

    This list is just book titles and reviews from seemingly random GoodReads members? What? If you’re going to publish a piece like this, why not employ your writers to contribute thoughts, discuss their favorite lesbian books, or really anything but this. The list feels really impersonal and doesn’t offer anything different than every other top lesbian book list that’s ever been published on the internet- two things that I wouldn’t expect from Autostraddle. Maybe having a hundred books was a little too much?

    (And this is ignoring the fact that most of these little blurbs don’t even address what the books are about at all.)

    • autostraddle readers voted on these books, so it’s not just a list — it’s a countdown of the top 100 lesbian books as voted on by the readers. hopefully that includes you! you can find posts full of our writers discussing their favorite lesbian books by perusing our favorite vault: read a f*cking book

      happy reading!

    • honestly every book on this list falls into one of two categories:
      a) books none of us have read
      b) books we’ve already written about

      so when looking at how to conquer this without saying the same thing about Rubyfruit Jungle that we’ve already said 36 times, it seemed like since this was a reader-voted list and not about what we liked or what we wanted to talk about, it’d be more fitting to have commentary from actual readers. also yeah, 100 books was a lot to tackle, but this list was definitively about what you guys liked for once, instead of us!

      i wouldn’t know what i’d say about a lot of these high-ranking books because I didn’t pick them myself… like I can’t comment on why Fingersmith belongs in the top ten when i’ve never read it, nor did i vote it into the top ten, if that makes sense.

      but it’s nice to know somebody actually reads the blurbs we do write!

  8. I apologize for being a downer right now (I love this list too!), but I prefer to read lesbian-themed novels where there isn’t any abuse or endings like Kissing Jessica Stein, which is supposedly a stereotype in lesbian books and movies.

    There aren’t enough happy, or even semi-happy, lesbian books in my life! Are there any books in this list that I should avoid due to those themes?

    • I haven’t read any of the bad stereotypical ones but I’ll recommend a happy and romantical story that I LOVED from this list: Landing by Emma Donoghue.

    • If you want uplifting stories, I’d recommend Ivan Coyote. Always hopeful. Also, Tipping the Velvet, Truth, Dare or Promise, and Annie on my Mind have lovely happy endings.

      And Landing is pretty much the best lesbian love story ever, I agree!

      From what I’ve read I don’t think there are any on this list that feature the ‘woman leaves woman for a man’ trope except old titles, like The Well of Loneliness and Odd Woman Out. But there’s definitely some that deal with abuse: Leslie Feinberg and Ann-Marie MacDonald come to mind (although both Stone Butch Blues and Fall on Your Knees are really beautiful important books!)

  9. I’m happy to find a number of books I’ve read on this list, and even happier to find a bunch I have not! Time and time again people continue to reccomend Jodi Piccoult books to me. I keep trying, but am I really the only one to find her writing style…annoying? I just can’t read her. I try. Truly. But never manage to finish her books. Maybe it’s me.

  10. “fun home” is like a big, queer, litterary revelation. I couldn’t agree more with you. It’s just pure love and intelligence coming out of this book.

    • I think all the novels by Virginia Woolf are a bit gay but sometimes it’s not easy to recognize it. In To the Lighthouse, there are those peculiar feelings Lily Briscoe has for Mrs. Ramsay.

  11. This is one of the best lists I’ve ever seen. Overall, an excellent selection of books. Well done, AS readers!

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  13. The only book I have read on this list is “Drag King Dreams” and I have to say…this was one of the worst books that I’ve ever read. It reads like an angsty 13 year old with bad acne and a very “us-against-them” self-centered view of the world. Also, the author has an annoying habit of trying to write about tech-stuff when it is clear the have the technical background of my grandmother. I had to put the book down for a week when the author referred to a computer part as a “heat sync”. No.

    • I haven’t read this book but the homophonic phrase “heat sink” is a standard part of a personal computer so this sounds like an editing error to me and can’t be used to judge the technical expertise expressed in the book.

  14. I’m getting a Kindle for Christmas almost solely to put lesbian novels on it, that I can’t really have lying around the house in physical form.

    Also, I was surprised that “Flaming Iguanas” by Erika Lopez didn’t make it. It’s a novel about a sexually fluid chick on a motorcycle road trip, it has cool stamp-like illustrations, is hilarious and fun and heartfelt, and it’s been a while since I read it in a fiction writing class in college, but it was one of the best book finds of my collegiate career, I do remember that.

  15. Okay, I stopped reading Fingersmith at the end of part 2 because the plot development made me so angry I literally flung it at a wall, and have never gone back.

    Its inclusion in this list makes me think it ends differently than I thought it did? Should I reread it?

    • Also (I should have included this above but oh well, no edit function), of the books in this list, Tipping the Velvet is one I have read that stands out as a genuinely great book. Like, most queer books I read because I want to read books about queers, not because they are particularly good (see also: queer films). But Tipping the Velvet is actually a great, multilayered, wonderful novel that I want all books to be. It does what books can and should do. So that’s my recommendation.

      I also love love love Fried Green Tomatoes (the book of Ruth oh my god), but that quote about looking up at people going on with their lives as if you didn’t just experience emotional trauma at the hands of a paperback definitely applies. I have fully cried at busstops. It is beautiful, but so sad sometimes in a way that can’t be fixed.

    • Yes, Fingersmith does end differently than you might think. That plot twist at the end of part 2 was truly brilliant though. I was shocked. Things take a turn in the right direction I promise. I won’t spoil it for you.

    • OMG!!!!!!!

      Seriously – you’ll be like “how is this so cleverly written??!!”

      It’s worth it, honestly, I know cos I watched the BBC dramatization a couple of years ago. And I was yelling at the screen and VERY upset at Waters for the plot development.. but.. worth the end.

  16. Have completed a shocking percentage of this list, an equally shocking percentage of which has dented various walls. Lookin’ at you, Strangers In Paradise Later Volumes.

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  18. Saw Sarah Waters at my girlfriend’s graduation on Tuesday. She was being made a fellow of my university. Then I skipped my lecture and snuck in for free champagne and lemony cakes. It was pretty crowded, and I couldn’t get to the lemony cakes, so I asked the woman in front of me if she could pass me one.

    She did so and turned around. It was Sarah Waters. As she plopped it on my napkin she said ‘Scuse fingers’. It was Sarah Waters and the best moment of my life.

  19. Thankyou for making this list!!

    I have recently discovered ebooks and this was a good guide to what to read first ;)

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  21. This is probably the most ridiculous list of great lesbian novels I’ve ever seen, and I certainly won’t be basing any buying decisions on it! The nicest thing I can say is that it does include three or four great lesbian novels and a dozen or so more good ones. Honestly, did more than a couple of dozen people vote for these absurd choices?

    What tosh!

  22. Hey there! I just wanted to say that I love this list, but I´d also add Gladiatrix by Russel Whitfield, it´s an AMAZING novel! I would say it is my favorite, and I´ve read quite a lot of books (I believe it will be a trilogy, but there are just 2 books right now, both of them are great and beautifully written)…anyway you should give it a try (just keep in mind it´s very real and it has some raw bits)

  23. Hey so I’m new to this, but I absolutely love fiction. I’ve probably read about 10 of that books on this list. Some of them seem a little dark though. My favourite by far is playing one role of herself. The author had only that one book though I really wish she had more. I re read it a million times. But I’m a sucker for those mushy happy endings. Lol. I would love to hear from anyone on suggestions for books I must read on this category. I think I’m addicted.

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