25 Must-Read Sapphic Books To Add To Your TBR

Reading books about marginalized communities is crucial for representation because it helps amplify underrepresented voices and experiences. By immersing ourselves in diverse narratives, we gain insight into the challenges, triumphs, and nuances of various groups. However, with book bans on the rise, it poses significant risks to the LGBTQ+ community, in particular, by perpetuating ignorance and stigmatization. According to the American Library Association via NBC News, over 50% of the books banned in the United States in 2021 were LGBTQ+ stories. This kind of censorship can lead to legislative changes, public safety threats, workplace and education discrimination, and hate crimes against queer people.


The LGBTQ+ community is an umbrella term to describe people who identify outside of heteronormativity and the gender binary, but not everyone in the community has the same interests. For lesbians, bisexuals, gynosexuals, and sapphically-inclined folks, we want to see more queer representation in music, TV, film, and literature. Fortunately, there's a ton of WLW representation out there in the form of books that we aim to spotlight. Here are our favorite must-read sapphic books to add to your "to be read" list

Sappho: A New Translation of the Complete Works by Diane J. Rayor

No compilation of essential sapphic literature would be complete without paying homage to the remarkable woman who inspired the very adjective that defines it. "Sappho: A New Translation of the Complete Works" is a stunning collection of the ancient Greek poet and musician's most cherished writings. Translated in 2014 by the talented Diane J. Rayor, this book will take you back more than 2,500 years ago when Sappho was composing poetry about her love for other women on the Greek island of Lesbos.


The beauty of Sappho's poetry is that modern-day lesbians reading her words can somehow relate. If you don't wish to read the full 184 pages, Goodreads has compiled a list of the ancient writer's gayest poems for the sapphically inclined to ponder over. Some of our favorite quotes remind us of just how little lesbians have changed over the millennia. "In the crooks of your body, I find my religion" — every lesbian after a first date. And then there's the quote we can relate to when she ghosts us: "I have not had one word from her. Frankly I wish I were dead."

Lesbian Love Story: A Memoir in Archives by Amelia Possanza

When Amelia Possanza found herself surrounded by sapphic stories, she set out to investigate unknown and forgotten lesbian love tales of the past. Centered on 20th-century couples, the author recounts seven lesbian love stories while also researching why these stories were hidden in the first place. In her examination, Possanza gets a glimpse into how lesbian relationships blossomed in the past, how sapphic love was expressed in a historical context, and how these personal stories impacted society. 


At the core of this captivating historical exploration, the author wonders how the world would look if we lived in a sapphically-matriarchal society. Would care and empathy be in place of toxic masculinity? Would our world be safer? Since its release in May 2023, "Lesbian Love Story: A Memoir in Archives" has a 4.5-star rating across Goodreads and Amazon, proving to be a favorite among the queer community.

The Secret Summer Promise by Keah Brown

Keah Brown gives us just what we need for our sapphic summer TBR list. "The Secret Summer Promise" is a cute, queer, YA novel that resonates with all of us out there who love setting seasonal goals. Andrea Williams wants to cross off a lot of items on her summer bucket list; concerts, art shows, thrift shopping, and skinny dipping. But one thing on the list is not as easy as buying concert tickets online or commuting to your favorite clothing store. Andrea is also hoping to get over her crush Hailee — who's also her best friend. Will Andrea fall out of love with Hailee this summer or will dating the cute guy George be the catalyst that helps her move on from her true love? 


Apparently, the lesbian community can relate to crushing hard on your bestie. "It's a classic case of being in love with your best friend," one 5-star reviewer wrote on Goodreads. "And I just love the trope so much."

The Girls: Sappho Goes to Hollywood by Diana McLellan

Today, Hollywood is blossoming with lesbian representation — although we still need more. Stars like Wanda Sykes, Margaret Cho, Kate McKinnon, Holland Taylor, Sarah Paulson, and Jodie Foster fiercely represent modern-day sapphics on the silver screen. But before these living legends ruled Tinseltown, there were a myriad of queer women dominating Hollywood in the early 20th century which we learn about in "The Girls: Sappho Goes to Hollywood." During a time in history when the United States was embedded in anti-LGBTQ+ laws, the lesbian community was an underground operation, hidden from mainstream society.


In 2000, Diana McLellan conducted a major investigation into these unknown lesbian figures through secret letters, FBI records, and documents proving relationships between high-profile women in the early movie industry. As one reviewer commented on Goodreads: "Who would have believed grandma and grandpa's favorite stars may well have been queer."

That Could Be Enough by Alyssa Cole

Alyssa Cole's "That Could Be Enough" is the perfect sapphic romance for history lovers. Set in the vibrant streets of Harlem during the year 1820, we are introduced to Mercy, a pensive and intelligent introvert who works as a maid for a wealthy family in the city, and Andromeda, an extroverted dressmaker who unapologetically goes after what she wants. When the two women connect, there is an undeniable spark but not without some hurdles along the way. 


This story eloquently explores life as a queer Black woman in 19th-century New York through vivid imagery and a rich historical vocabulary that brilliantly immerses the readers in that time. The author creates a sapphic love story that's normalized, even though it takes place during a time when queer relationships were hidden from mainstream society. While the book explores racial discrimination, Cole honors Black representation by focusing on all aspects of her characters' lives. As one reviewer wrote on Goodreads: "The most beautiful aspect of this book was that it wasn't focused on Black pain and trauma."

Going Bicoastal by Dahlia Adler

According to Goodreads, "Going Bicoastal" is like "Sliding Doors" but with a bisexual twist. The book takes us on a what-if journey as the protagonist Natalya Fox faces two possible life trajectories this summer: stay in New York City with her father or visit her estranged mother in Los Angeles to repair their frail relationship. 


New York has Natalya's girl crush while Los Angeles has the cute guy she never saw coming. In this delightful parallel-universe trope, Dahlia Adler plays around with the potential possibilities we all wonder about when we have to make life-altering decisions. At the same time, the book also fulfills the desires of queer readers who long for a bisexual summer romance. A perfect YA novel for by the pool or at the beach that fans and reviewers on Goodreads are calling a "delight to read" and a "blast all around."

Infamous by Lex Croucher

Edith "Eddie" Miller and her best friend Rose share a close bond, which includes making out with each other. However, after their debutante ball, Rose drops a bombshell: she's considering getting married now that they're of age. Eddie is left grappling with the realization that her beloved best friend and secret love interest is ready to move on without her.


To cope with her heartbreak, Eddie throws herself into writing her novel — a passion project she's deeply committed to. Along the way, she crosses paths with Nash Nicholson, a well-known poet that one Goodreads reviewer describes as a "genuinely charming piece of s***." Nash extends an invitation for Eddie to join him and a group of fellow artists at his mansion. Eddie believes this eclectic gathering of creative minds might be just what she needs to heal and forget about Rose. But does this artist retreat end up helping Eddie or causing more harm?

All in all, this historical novel is a fun summer read with one Goodreads reviewer commenting that the author was "as funny as Jane Austen and I do not say that lightly."


After Sappho by Selby Wynn Schwartz

Selby Wynn Schwartz masterfully weaves together a tapestry of historical fiction in "After Sappho," delving into the lives of remarkable women from the late 19th to the early 20th century. Through her skilled storytelling, Schwartz not only resurrects these women from obscurity but also reimagines their experiences in a profound and impactful way. Within the pages of this book, we encounter a diverse array of trailblazers, including writers, painters, architects, and actresses, who navigated an era marked by significant social, economic, and political transformations for women. 


While some of these stories may have faded into the depths of the past, Schwartz's insightful prose breathes new life into the names of these feminists and sapphists, providing a platform for their narratives to resonate across generations. In this enthralling portrayal, the author immerses readers in a world where forgotten tales intertwine with familiar ones, creating a lasting testament to the enduring spirit of these extraordinary women. As one Goodreads reviewer praised: "Haunting, hypnotic, delightful and remarkably well written and researched, this hybrid novel will stay with you for an incredibly long time."

The Henna Wars by Adiba Jaigirdar

"The Henna Wars" is a YA novel that navigates the landscape of sexual identity within a Muslim family, providing a thought-provoking exploration of the lived experiences of lesbian women. Nishat, our protagonist, confronts the reality of being denied acceptance by her parents due to her sexual identity, confronting head-on the complex dynamics faced by queer folks within Muslim cultures. As she grapples with the profound inner struggle of self-expression versus familial harmony, Nishat is further entangled in a web of emotions by the unexpected resurgence of Flávia, a childhood friend who she has a crush on.


The narrative intensifies as Nishat's school project requires the establishment of a small business, with both Nishat and Flávia opting to go into the business of henna. Amidst the competition between their enterprises, Nishat finds herself confronted with Flávia appropriating her cultural practices for profit. With so many challenges at play, how will Nishat handle a war with her love interest?

The Dos and Donuts of Love by Adiba Jaigirdar

In this delightful YA novel, "The Dos and Donuts of Love," we're introduced to Shireen and her ex-girlfriend, Chris, who coincidentally find themselves as participants in Ireland's first junior baking competition. Shireen, driven by the desire to secure vital exposure for her family's donut business, aptly named You Drive Me Glazy, sets her sights on emerging victorious in this highly anticipated bake-off. However, the plot thickens as a third contestant, the enigmatic Niamh, enters the story, injecting a new layer of intensity into the already-captivating tale as Shireen and Niamh begin to hit it off. 


While "The Dos and Donuts of Love" is marketed as a YA, folks of all ages seem to be flocking to the bookstores to read this tale, as many Goodreads reviews suggest.  "I will honestly read anything from Adiba [Jaigirdar] at this point," one reviewer commented. "This book was so ridiculously wholesome, queer, and full of delicious foods!"

Last Night at the Telegraph Club by Malinda Lo

It's 1954, and within the vibrant confines of San Francisco's Chinatown, there exists a bustling lesbian bar that captures the reader's fascination. In the pages of "Last Night at the Telegraph Club," a novel penned by the talented Malinda Lo, we are introduced to Lily and Kath, two women whose love story is depicted during a time of bar raids and constant threats to the LGBTQ+ community. 


With every page turned, we are reminded that this story takes place in the not-so-distant past while the reader becomes witness to the harsh realities that queer folks experienced in the mid-20th century. Published in 2021, this emotional sapphic novel explores themes of queer identity, immigration, and chosen family in the lesbian community. "A book that broke me down almost as many times as it lifted me up," one reader praised on Goodreads.

Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe by Fannie Flagg

The 1991 cinematic adaptation of "Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe" left sapphic audiences yearning for a more tangible representation of the profound lesbian relationship shared between Idgie and Ruth. Within the film, their bond is depicted as a friendship, a narrative that caters to heteronormative viewers, obscuring the undeniable romantic undertones that resonate strongly with sapphic viewers. Maybe 1991 was an era too early to openly portray a lesbian romance on the silver screen. Maybe audiences were meant to cue in on the not-so-subtle sapphic references. Nevertheless, the 1987 novel gives WLW readers exactly what they want to satisfy their desires for authentic representation.


The story unfolds with the introduction of Mrs. Threadgoode, an octogenarian who encounters Evelyn, a discontented woman struggling to salvage her crumbling marriage, feeling burdened by a sense of aging and insignificance. As their paths intertwine, Mrs. Threadgoode begins telling Evelyn vivid tales from her life in a small Alabama town during the 1920s, recounting the vibrant yet often tragic lives of Idgie and Ruth. While the story has traces of humor, it's essential to acknowledge that it also deals with themes of racial discrimination, domestic violence, and violence against women.

Tipping the Velvet by Sarah Waters

One's an oyster girl, the other is a male impersonator and performer. Taking place in England in the 1890s, the story revolves around two women who captivate readers in the build-up of their steamy romance. 


Nan King is an ardent admirer of Kitty Butler's performances and, thanks to her friend who's employed at the ticket office, Nan has the privilege of attending every one of Kitty's shows. As fate would have it, Nan finds herself assuming the role of Kitty's dresser, spending an ample amount of time together and igniting an undeniable romantic chemistry between them.

First published in 1998, this queer historical novel has reviewers on Goodreads calling it "the gay Victorian epic" and an "eloquent lesbian coming of age" story. One fan even went as far as writing: "Why read Charles Dickens when you can read Sarah Waters." And lucky for us, this book isn't Waters' only lesbian novel. 

Fingersmith by Sarah Waters

With a 4-star rating from over 101,000 reviewers on Goodreads, this sapphic novel is certainly worth adding to your TBR list. The plot is based on Sue Trinder, an orphan raised by Mrs. Sucksby in a shady house that hosts London's nefarious thieves. One day, Sue meets a disreputable character named Gentleman, who convinces her to get a job as a maid for Maud Lilly, a gentlewoman who is described as gullible. Once Sue is well-connected to Maud, the plan is to finesse a marriage between Maud and Gentleman so that once they're wed, the corrupt thief can secure his wealth and put his wife in an institution. If Sue helps, he'll pay her from his matrimonial inheritance. However, things aren't so simple as Sue and Maud become closer and closer. 


"Sarah Waters has some amazing strengths," one Goodreads reviewer wrote, praising the author for her unmatched talent at aptly setting the cultural context of the time. "She creates well-developed, complicated characters, she is a master at pacing, she can construct very tight, multi-layered narratives where the next move is always surprising, and she recreates the Victorian setting better than anyone else that I have read." If you're a fan of Charles Dickens and love the Victorian era but crave lesbian representation, then this is the book for you.

Love Letters by Virginia Woolf and Vita Sackville-West

Vita Sackville-West and Virginia Woolf met in 1922 and were romantically involved until Woolf's death in 1941. Sackville-West was an English writer married to politician Harold Nicolson — who many speculate was also gay and that he and his wife were beards. Virginia Woolf was also an English writer who is highly regarded as one of the most significant authors of the 20th century. 


In a myriad of letters exchanged between the two women, readers become witnesses to the most intimate aspects of their lives, capturing the intricacies of their everyday dramas and gossip, and above all, the profound joy they both brought one another. 

"I recommend this book to anybody whose curiosity gets piqued by (lesbian) forbidden/under-the-table love, exquisite writing, and beautiful metaphors," one reviewer commented on Goodreads. Others acknowledged the exclusivity of these personal letters and how a modern audience is privileged to be part of their correspondence. "I am so grateful that most of their letters survive and can be put together like this. What a treasure."

The Secret Diaries of Miss Anne Lister by Anne Lister

Anne Lister was a trailblazer who fearlessly challenged societal norms and expectations imposed upon women during an era where female agency carried grave consequences. Miss Lister was certainly ahead of her time — She was an outspoken woman who owned her own land, conducted business without the chaperone of a man, and openly sought out a "companionship" with her wife, Ann Walker. Immortalized in her myriad of diary entries portrayed in two volumes, Anne Lister's own words give us a detailed firsthand account of queer life in 18th-century England. She is further remembered in the eloquently-portrayed drama series "Gentleman Jack" that ran from 2019-2022 on HBO. 


One reviewer acknowledged how, although she lived in an anti-gay time in history, it didn't affect her vibrant dating life. "The lesbian stuff was also astonishing because she wasn't just a sad lonely lesbian, she slept with loads of women and really doesn't seem to have found it that hard to find people," (via Goodreads).

Stars Collide by Rachel Lacey

Contrary to popular belief, celebrities don't always have it all, and that rings true for Eden Sands. The musician is facing the aftermath of a broken marriage, a failed album, hardly any friends, and a struggling concert tour with low ticket sales. To her surprise, Eden's team suggests a collaboration with Anna Moss, a young musician, in hopes of revitalizing her career. It's kind of like "Hacks" but with two musicians and two gays! Anna, aspiring to be more than just an up-and-coming star, views this opportunity as a chance of a lifetime. As the two women join forces to create a love song, they find themselves practicing what they preach and embarking on a blossoming romance along the way.


Any bookworm will tell you that most stories feature characters who are simply unbearable, yet we endure them to uncover the ultimate conclusion. Nevertheless, in the case of "Stars Collide," readers have shown an exceptional fondness for the main characters, appreciating the unique qualities each individual brings to the narrative. "Lacey wrote characters who are likable, but most of all, and important to me, they communicate," one reviewer affirmed on Goodreads. "Actual good communication, it's rare and so wonderful."

She Drives Me Crazy by Kelly Quindlen

Nominated for Best Young Adult Fiction in 2021, "She Drives Me Crazy" by Kelly Quindlen delves into the tale of an unlikely duo. A high school basketball player named Scottie Zajac, yearning to reconcile with her ex-girlfriend following a defeat on the court, finds herself thrust into an unexpected situation. Irene Abraham, a popular cheerleader wholly focused on securing the title of Athlete of the Year to enhance her college prospects, becomes Scottie's unwilling carpool companion after they get involved in a fender-bender with each other. Despite their mutual dislike, their moms force them into carpooling to school until Irene's car is fixed, but this daily commute can only mean one thing ... the beginning of a budding queer romance. 


Fans of the book have hailed it as "the sapphic enemies-to-lovers and fake dating sports rom-com the world deserves" on Goodreads, while another reviewer praised the character development in the story. "Scottie's angst is relatable, and her love interest Irene is amazingly powerful. I loved watching their dynamic shift as Scottie learns there's more to Irene than her popular cheerleader mean girl image."

Aimée & Jaguar: A Love Story, Berlin 1943 by Erica Fischer

"Aimée & Jaguar: A Love Story, Berlin 1943" by Erica Fischer is a true story depicting the relationship between two women in Germany during World War II. The lives of Lilly, the wife of a Nazi officer, and Felice, a Jewish woman seeking refuge within an underground shelter in Berlin, intertwine in a manner that defies conventions and surpasses ordinary love stories. Under the aliases of "Aimée" and "Jaguar," Lilly and Felice navigate the treacherous landscape of Nazi-dominated Berlin, where their connection deepens in the face of escalating threats. The unfolding tale serves as a testament to the resilience of their love, as they confront the gravest dangers with unwavering devotion. First published in 1994, this remarkable account captured the hearts and minds of readers, ultimately inspiring a 1999 film adaptation that brought this emotional narrative to a wider audience.


"It's such an important story, and these women deserve to have their story told," one reviewer recounted on Goodreads before warning other readers of the tragic and disturbing nature of the story. "I also have to say that reading about what all these people went through during this time, all the loss, hate and fear, made me sick. So I needed to take a break while reading."

Dykette by Jenny Fran Davis

Jenny Fran Davis' debut novel introduces us to Sasha and Jesse, a sexually adventurous couple in their 20s who embark on a 10-day escapade with their friends to stay with an older lesbian couple in their fancy country home. As the group enjoys a sapphically-charged getaway bonding over home-cooked meals and sauna parties, the fun takes a turn when Sasha's jealousy reaches an all-time high jeopardizing each couple's relationship. 


This book appears to be a hit in the lesbian community with many reviewers noting how "Dykette" would best interest a specific sect of lesbians — those who understand the dynamic between femmes and mascs. "It feels specifically tailored to me," one happy reviewer shared on Goodreads. "Not straight people, honestly, not even general queer people, and even more honestly, probably not even general lesbians. This book feels very much for butches and femmes." While another reviewer announced: "Finally a good lesbian book with real butches and femmes! ... So refreshing to read after so many one dimensional 'sapphic' rom coms."

The Disenchantment by Celia Bell

In 17th-century Paris, women were burdened with stringent societal expectations that limited their agency and confined them to prescribed roles. They were primarily expected to be dutiful wives and mothers, subjugated to the authority of their husbands, fathers, or brothers. Enter our protagonist, Baroness Marie Catherine, who harbors deep unhappiness within her marriage. In the presence of her husband, she assumes the role of a devoted mother, nurturing her children and captivating them with enchanting stories. But when her husband is away, the baroness will play. 


In vibrant salons of opulent mansions, she engaged with other progressive women in thought-provoking discussions, including one Victoire Rose de Bourbon. The two noblewomen eventually embark on a steamy love affair that will satiate sapphic readers who crave historical romances. Celia Bell includes all the entertaining tropes that a medieval narrative should entail; murder, witchcraft, and forbidden love. "Babes I'm obsessed," a witty reviewer penned on Goodreads. "Brainy and French and gender and religion and panic! So good so good. Haven't liked a story so much since Matrix, which is also all of the above things."

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

"The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo" follows the captivating life story of Evelyn Hugo, a fictional Hollywood movie star who rose to prominence in the 1960s. In a gripping narrative, author Taylor Jenkins Reid delves into Evelyn's turbulent journey, as she recounts her relationships and marriages to seven different men, each representing a distinct chapter of her life. 


However, the heart of the story lies in the intriguing mystery surrounding Evelyn's choice to reveal her story to an unknown journalist named Monique Grant. As Monique delves deeper into Evelyn's tumultuous past, she uncovers not only the glamorous facade of Hollywood but also the sacrifices, secrets, and deeply personal decisions that shaped Evelyn's remarkable and complex life. Through vivid storytelling and rich character development, "The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo" explores themes of love, ambition, sacrifice, and the pursuit of authenticity in a world where appearances can be deceiving.

Love at First Set by Jennifer Dugan

When Lizzie is invited to her boss' daughter's wedding, she never expected to be in the awkward position of consoling the crying bride in the bathroom while her wedding party waited outside. After ditching her groom, Cara embarks on a journey of self-discovery with the help of her new friend and savior, Lizzie. However, the more time they spend together, the more their feelings for each other evolve. As Lizzie begins to doubt herself worthy of Cara, she also fears that her connection to the boss' daughter will cost her the job she loves. 


In this class-division trope, our protagonist Lizzie isn't sure she's good enough for her love interest, which affects her self-esteem and ability to lean into the relationship. This storyline is something many sapphic readers found relatable. 

"She constantly brings up the difference in social statuses. I love how she gets called out on it though and works on it. She's so relatable," one reviewer remarked on Goodreads. "The anxious attachment style, the struggles with her mother and the awkward queers made this book so relatable," another reviewer wrote.

Rubyfruit Jungle by Rita Mae Brown

Rita Mae Brown's groundbreaking debut novel, "Rubyfruit Jungle," occupies a prominent position within the annals of literary history. First released in 1973, this remarkable book stands out for its unapologetic portrayal of lesbianism, courageously challenging societal conventions of its era. "Rubyfruit Jungle" stands out among present-day historical novels by virtue of being a genuine primary source that reflects the realities of the lesbian community during the '70s. At its core, the story unfolds as a poignant coming-of-age narrative, following the journey of Molly Bolt, a protagonist who has always been aware of her sexuality. However, when her romantic involvement with a college roommate is exposed, she faces the distressing consequence of being confined to a psychiatric ward. Eventually escaping to New York City, Molly reclaims her autonomy and pursues her authentic identity in the safety of a diverse city. 


"This is a book about resilience and overcoming adversity while everybody around you is betting on your failure," one lover of the book asserted via Goodreads.

Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit by Jeanette Winterson

In 1985, Jeanette Winterson introduced readers to the powerful narrative of "Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit." Set in the 1980s, the novel revolves around the protagonist, Jeanette, whose discovery of love for another woman jeopardizes her deeply rooted connection to her religious faith. At the tender age of 16, Jeanette embarks on a courageous journey, breaking free from her life as a missionary and severing ties with her family in pursuit of authenticity and love. Winterson's book deftly transports us back to a time when many families adhered strictly to religious codes, providing a compelling glimpse into the struggles and complexities faced by individuals navigating societal expectations and controlling families.


"Its heroine is someone on the outside of life. She's poor, she's working class, but she has to deal with the big questions that cut across class, culture, and colour," one reviewer penned via Goodreads.