Thank you to the A+ member who sent in this month’s great question for Ask Your Friendly Neighborhood Lesbrarian! Here it is:
Question for our Resident Lesbrarian: Any good audiobooks out there with LGBTQ+ content? Looking for good narrators specifically, less than just a content match.
I’ve only written one other time about queer audiobooks (9 Lesbian Romance Audiobooks to Warm Your Heart on Chilly Nights) in this column. It’s definitely time to put audiobooks back in focus! The following 8 books are mind-blowingly good fiction audiobooks about queer women. I’m talking incredible voice acting that takes the story to a whole other level. I’ve tried to give a variety of options genre-wise as well: historical fiction, romance, YA contemporary, science fiction, thriller, and literary fiction.
The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugoby Taylor Jenkins Reid
Don’t let the title of this one deceive you. This faux memoir featuring the life story of an Old Hollywood actress is VERY bisexual (also featuring supporting lesbian and gay characters). The narrative begins in the present, where unknown journalist Monique Grant is summoned by Evelyn to write her biography. Why her is a mystery to Monique. The bulk of the novel is dedicated to Evelyn’s story, from leaving her Cuban family behind in New York to dedicating her ruthless ambition to acting in LA. Of course, there’s also her life’s epic love story which doesn’t feature any of her seven husbands. This audiobook is a great example of the voice actors providing authenticity to the characters: Evelyn and Monique Latina and Black respectively, as are the audiobook narrators Alma Cuervo and Robin Miles. Each gives an incredible performance.
Once Ghosted, Twice Shy by Alyssa Cole
For a romance that’s only novella length, Once Ghosted, Twice Shy manages to pack a strong emotional punch. Likotsi is the assistant to a prince from a fictional African country Thesolo; while she was in New York last time for royal business, she swiped right on a dating app and met Fabiola. Fabiola wooed her, and then broke her heart by ghosting. Back in NYC again, Likotsi is not happy to realize Fabiola is stuck on the same stalled subway car as her. Fabiola begs her just to have a cup of tea with her. As the story flits back and forth from the past to the present, the story moves closer and closer to a happily-ever-after. Voice actor Karen Chilton does an excellent job with the two women’s voices, including Likotsi’s Wakanda-esque accent. Also: butch lesbian bottom and femme bisexual top representation if that’s what you’re looking for!
Adult Onset by Ann Marie MacDonald
Ordinarily I steer clear of audiobooks narrated by their authors as I’ve found the acting skills are usually lacking, but Ann Marie MacDonald is also an actor and this novel is semi-autobiographical so she is literally PERFECT. MacDonald has a wonderfully expressive, versatile, and sexy voice. (I promise my lifelong crush on Ann Marie MacDonald has not influenced these opinions too much). Adult Onset is a riveting book that takes place over one week in the life of a (lesbian) stay-at-home mom in Toronto. A lot of the action happens in the head of the main character Mary Rose, aka MR, aka Mister. It’s psychologically rich and complicated, dealing with the stresses of motherhood and remembered trauma of childhood physical illness and familial homophobia. It’s painfully real and darkly funny.
Final Draft by Riley Redgate
There is a lot of formulaic contemporary YA out there, but Final Draft is a truly excellent and unique novel. Laila Piedra is a dedicated 18-year-old high school science fiction writer. When her mentor and creative writing teacher is in a horrible accident, her carefully controlled world is turned upside down. Her favorite teacher’s replacement is an impossibly cool award winning author Nadiya Nazarenko. Laila wants desperately to impress Nadiya; the feeling is decidedly not mutual. The ensuing journey takes Laila way out of her comfort zone. Redgate’s writing is smart, insightful, and nuanced, as are the portrayals of mental health, pansexuality, fatness, and a tight friend group. Also you can look forward to an f/f pairing with two girls of color! Mariand Torres performs the audiobook with genuine teenage enthusiasm and pathos.
The Price of Salt by Patricia Highsmith
Maybe you’ve seen the movie, or read the print book, but have you listened to the audiobook? Patricia Highsmith’s The Price of Salt aka Carol is in perfect hands with voice actor Cassandra Campbell. Campbell has a smooth, seductive voice with an old glamour perfect for this novel written and set in the 1950s. This love story starts when Therese Belivet, working her day job at a department store, meets Carol Aird, a striking older woman suburban housewife who is in the middle of a divorce. Love story becomes thriller when the two women set off on a roadtrip across the US and are pursued by a private investigator hired by Carol’s ex-husband. The PI eventually backs Carol into a corner, where she is presented with the choice between her daughter and Therese, or any other relationships with women. Audiobook is an amazing way to revisit this classic!
Here Comes the Sun by Nicole Y. Dennis-Benn
Audiobook voice actor extraordinaire Bahni Turpin brings to life the Jamaican setting of Dennis-Benn’s story of three women in a small community. Margot works at a fancy resort where her employment allows her to also sell sex; she is determined to save up money for her younger sister Thandi so that Thandi can go to post-secondary school and escape the narrow choices Margot has been faced with. Delores, Margot and Thandi’s mother, is also dependent on the wave of tourists to make ends meet. When Margot finds out a new resort is planned on the land of their community, she is determined to use the opportunity both to achieve financial independence and finally be with the woman she loves. But Margot, Thandi, and Delores are all three stuck between reaching for freedom and bumping up against the constraints facing them.
Small Change by Roan Parrish
If you, like me, have been looking for books about bi women in relationships with men that still center their queer identity and community, Small Change is your book! Ginger is a queer cynical tattoo artist who owns her own shop in Philadelphia. Her whole life she’s had to fight for who she is. Christopher is a happy-go-lucky redhead who’s just opened a sandwich shop in the neighbourhood. Parrish cleverly gender flips the usual dynamics of the nurturing woman who brings the man out of his shell. Throughout the romance narrative, Ginger discusses her queer identity with Christopher and her work and friend community of fellow queers is highlighted. The subplot dealing with sexism in the tattoo industry and as a business owner is also A+. Jo Raylan, who has possibly the sexiest voice I’ve ever heard, performs the audiobook with empathy and humor.
This is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone
The dual perspectives of this epistolary romantic sci fi thriller are brought to life by Cynthia Farrell and Emily Woo Zeller, respectively. The two women characters — Red and Blue — are carefully and beautifully portrayed in the distinct voices of each performer. It all begins with one finds a letter in the ashes that reads: “Burn before reading.” Thus begins their accidental and secret correspondence; Red and Blue are time-travelling rivals in a war that has been going on for centuries. As the rival agents drudge through the past in order to affect the warring future, they begin to fall in love à la Romeo and Juliet. But can they ever be together when if either one was discovered, it would mean her death and a deadly blow to her side of the war? Poetic, sensory-focused writing, epic romance, dense and unique world-building: what more could you want?
Don’t forget to keep sending your lesbrarian requests whatever way you choose. Write me an email at stepaniukcasey [at] gmail.com, post in the comments below, and send in an A+ message like this month’s request. I’d love to find some queer books for you!
i just read Here Comes the Sun, and it was intense! (Good, tho). I feel like the audio version might be even more so!
Just finished “Once Ghosted, Twice Shy” and I really enjoyed it. Very enjoyable, light-hearted, and quick read.
I think Once Ghosted Twice Shy and Here Comes the Sun are like the complete opposites on a scale of light-hearted and fun to very serious and intense. So @queergirl and @ruth you have experienced the full spectrum!
Carmen Maria Machado’s recent book In The Dream House is *fabulous* and the audiobook is particularly good. It’s memoir with some intense content (it’s about an abusive relationship she was in) and she narrates it herself, which adds an additional layer.
*ominous chanting* Gideon the Ninth, Gideon the Ninth, GIDEON THE NINTH!
Moira Quirk has an incredible range, and I honestly fell for her Gideon within the first 5 minutes.
I’ll join your ominous chant. Terrific book. Terrific reader.
PSA that if your library has access to apps like Libby and Hoopla, you can listen to many of these audiobooks for FREE! 💜
Amazing book. Need to read one
I like this hvhgvhg for learning
I wonder if I would have enjoyed Adult Onset more if I had listened to the audiobook instead. I’m a huge fan of AMM’s other work and really wanted to like it, but honestly found it a bit dull and navel-gazey.
This may be an ultra-specific request, but do you have any recommendations for non-YA, non-romance novels feature a lesbian character or lesbian relationship as a part of the story, but not THE story? My platonic ideal of this is obviously Fingersmith. Or, for a non-literary example, Mr. Robot. I’m kind of tired of coming out tales, or girl-meets-girl stories, or even girl-and-girl-have family/family issues stories. I’ve read the most well known stuff, so I’d probably be looking for something a little bit off the beaten path.