Ten Lesbian/Bisexual Books You Haven’t Read Yet

There’s more out there than Tipping the Velvet and Written on the Body. Though if you haven’t read those already then you probs should asap.
10. Shockproof Sydney Skate, by Marijane Meeker
“Sydney Skate has dubbed himself “Shockproof”: He decoded his mother’s gossip with her glamorous lesbian girlfriends at age eight (but has never let on to her that he knows she’s gay). He easily shrugs off his father’s demands to skip college and join him in the exciting world of swimming pool sales for suburbanites. During his summer days, he deftly cares for snakes at the local pet shop. And he has memorized the sex scenes of every book he’s ever read in order to better seduce women. Nothing, however, has prepared Sydney for his mother sweeping Alison Gray, the girl of his dreams, off her feet.

Witty and perceptive, Sydney’s coming-of-age story has been a classic of lesbian literature since it was first published in 1973. It was a Literary Guild Alternate and a Book Find Club Selection. Hailed as the Catcher in the Rye for the seventies, Shockproof Sydney Skate exposes the confusion of its time and remains keenly relevant to the sexual absurdities of today.”


9. Baby Remember My Name:
An Anthology of New Queer Girl Writing,
edited by Michelle Tea

New work by twenty-two of the most outstanding emerging voices in queer girl writing including fiction, graphic novel excerpts and personal essays. Baby Remember My Name speaks to the broad range of queer girl experiences in work that is brave, irreverent, funny, sensitive, and hot.


8.Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic, by Alison Bechdel
“In this groundbreaking, bestselling graphic memoir, Alison Bechdel charts her fraught relationship with her late father. In her hands, personal history becomes a work of amazing subtlety and power, written with controlled force and enlivened with humor, rich literary allusion, and heartbreaking detail.” (copyright 2006 Mariner Books)

7.Trash: Short Stories, by Dorothy Allison

“In 14 gritty, intimate stories, Allison’s fictional persona exposes with poetic frankness the complexities of being “a cross-eyed working-class lesbian, addicted to violence, language, and hope,” rebelling against the Southern “poor white trash” roots that inevitably define her. Bridging the bedrooms, bars and kitchens of its narrator’s adult world, and the dirt yards and diners of her ’50s South Carolina childhood, this magnetic collection charts a fascinating woman’s struggle for self-realization and acceptance through a sensual, often horrific tapestry of the lives of women to whom she is connected.” (Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc.)


6.Punk Like Me, by JD Glass

“Twenty-one year old Nina writes lyrics and plays guitar in the rock band, Adam’s Rib, and she doesn’t always play by the rules. And, oh yeah–she has a way with the girls.” (Copyright 2006 Bold Strokes Books)

5.Girl Walking Backwards: A Novel, by Bett Williams

In this “anti-coming-of-age novel,” a Southern California high schooler, lives with her psuedo-New Age enthusiast mother and is in love with Jessica, a goth punk grrl who cuts herself regularly and then fucks Skye’s boyfriend in a bathroom stall at a rave. Skye’s forced to confront her real emotions and what she’s been running away from — her mother’s insanity — which opens her up to real friendship with a pagan named Mol and real love with volleyball player Lorri.


The New Fuck You (Native Agents), edited by Eileen Myles and Liz Kotz

“A unique and provocative anthology of lesbian writing, guaranteed to soothe the soulful and savage the soulless. Includes Adele Bertei, Holly Hughes, Sapphire, Laurie Weeks, and many more.” (Copyright 1995 Semiotext[e])


3. Name All the Animals: A Memoir, by Alison Smith

“An unparalleled account of grief and secret love: the tale of a family clinging to the memory of a lost child, and of a young woman struggling to define herself in the wake of his loss. As children, siblings Alison and Roy Smith were so close that their mother called them by one name, Alroy. But when Alison was fifteen, she woke one day to learn that Roy, eighteen, was dead. Heartbreaking but hopeful, this extraordinary memoir explores the after-math of Roy’s death: his parents’ enduring romance, the faith of a deeply religious community, and the excitement and anguish of Alison’s first love — a taboo relationship that opens up a world beyond the death of her brother.”


2. Zami: A New Spelling of My Name, by Audre Lorde

“[e]very woman I have ever loved has left her print upon me,” Lorde writes, and in this “biomythography” she blends elements of autobiography, novels and personal mythology to tell the story of an African-American woman growing up in the mid-20th century, from a poor 1930s childhood in Harlem to being part of a “sisterhood of rebels” during the politically tense 1950’s and 60’s.


1.Essential Acker: The Selected Writings of Kathy Acker, by Kathy Acker, edited by Amy Scholder and Dennis Cooper

“Kathy Acker pushed literary boundaries with a vigor and creative fire that made her one of America’s preeminent experimental writers and her books cult classics. Now Amy Scholder and Dennis Cooper have distilled the incredible variety of Acker’s body of work into a single volume that reads like a communique from the front lines of late-twentieth-century America. Acker was a literary pirate whose prodigious output drew promiscuously from popular culture, the classics of Western civilization, current events, and the raw material of her own life. Her vision questions everything we take for granted — the authority of parents, government, and the law; sexuality and the policing of desire — and puts in its place a universe of polymorphous perversity and shameless, playful freakery. Spanning Acker’s ’70s punk interventions through more than a dozen major novels, Essential Acker is an indispensable overview of the work of this distinctive American writer and a reminder of her challenge to and influence on writers of the future. “Scarified sensibility, subversive intellect, and predatory wit make her a writer like no other I know.” — Tom LeClair, The New York Times Book Review

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Riese is the 41-year-old Co-Founder of Autostraddle.com as well as an award-winning writer, video-maker, LGBTQ+ Marketing consultant and aspiring cyber-performance artist who grew up in Michigan, lost her mind in New York and now lives in Los Angeles. Her work has appeared in nine books, magazines including Marie Claire and Curve, and all over the web including Nylon, Queerty, Nerve, Bitch, Emily Books and Jezebel. She had a very popular personal blog once upon a time, and then she recapped The L Word, and then she had the idea to make this place, and now here we all are! In 2016, she was nominated for a GLAAD Award for Outstanding Digital Journalism. She's Jewish and has a cute dog named Carol. Follow her on twitter and instagram.

Riese has written 3178 articles for us.


  1. Name All the Animals is one of my favorite books. I recommend it all the time and I’ve given it as a gift. I’ve read a lot of Michele Tea recently, but not that one. I’ve been meaning to read Girl Walking Backward for some time now but, as with every other book I’ve wanted to read lately, I just can’t let myself buy anymore right now- I spent this afternoon unpacking boxes of books and there were A LOT there that I haven’t read yet. No more new books for me for a while. I’ll come back to this list later though, I’m sure.

  2. I’m sure a lot of people here have read this, but I definitely recommend Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides (he wrote The Virgin Suicides). It has a really interesting story and is told from a really unique perspective.

  3. I was hoping you’d put “Fun Home” by Alison Bechdel on this list and you did! YAY! I was actually assigned that book for a US History class and I read it way in advance because it looked so interesting. It’s really a great book. Bechdel does such an amazing job at telling her story and the graphic novel works perfectly as a format for it.

  4. Name All the Animals is one of my absolute favorite books. I have been looking for more of her work and am failing to find anything. do you have any ideas?

    • I don’t think she’s written anything else since in terms of a book, unfortunately … she has a story in Best American Erotica of 2003. “Oranges are Not the Only Fruit” has a similar storyline, actually, but the writing is pretty different, and you may have already read it. Have you read “The Lovely Bones”? Some people think it’s too heavy-handed and a lot of people don’t like it, but I loved it, and for some reason it’s in my head as being similar to Name All the Animals. Also the art of breathing underwater, i forget who it’s by, I fel has a similar style but it’s short stories and no gay stuff. I think I was just totally not helpful at all. Hmmurmaph.

  5. I’ve read some of these and have been meaning to read Name All the Animals for a long time. Nice reminder.

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