Which lesbian book should you read first?
The thing about recommended book lists is that it’s harder than you’d think to narrow them down to just a few, whether that’s five or one or even fifty. There’s genre and style to consider, old favorites versus new favorites. And in the case of this list, gateway books, books that I would recommend to a new reader of fiction featuring lesbian protagonists. For this particular list, I mixed it up a bit on genre and went back a few years to when I first started reading lesbian fiction. Here, in no particular order, are five of my all time favorite books from back then:
1. The Fires of Bride by Ellen Galford (Firebrand Books, 1988). – A quirky, blended romance/ magical realism novel about a Scottish documentary filmmaker who goes to an island in the Hebrides to make a film and ends up falling in love with the island while developing a complicated relationship with the island’s matriarch. There are also flashbacks segments about the island’s history and how the local convent juggled their loyalties between the Virgin Mary and the Goddess Bridget. It is funny, beautifully written and holds up well to re-reading. This is the sort of book you could recommend to someone who loves movies like Local Hero or The Secret of Roan Inish.
2. Temporary Agency by Rachel Pollack (St. Martin’s Press, 1994) – A science fiction novel featuring demons, ghosts and magic. And Ellen, artist and freelance demon hunter, trying to free her cousin Paul from a Malignant One while wooing journalist Alison Birkett. Pollack’s novels are not like anything else in sf/f. They are complex and multilayered, playing with tarot and symbolism and unusual spins on mundane reality. This is the kind of book you could recommend to someone open to new things, to having their mind blown, then put back together a little differently.
3. After Delores by Sarah Schulman (Plume Books, 1988). The ultimate 1980s lesbian break-up novel, mixed in with a love letter to the Lower East Side of Manhattan back in the day as only Schulman could write it. It’s a blend of hardboiled mystery and slice of life, mixed up with a healthy dose of humor and sex. Schulman is one of the best writers around so it’s hard to go wrong with recommending any of her novels. I would recommend it for a reader with a sense of the absurd who likes to blend their mysteries with a bunch of other things.
4 .Trash by Dorothy Allison (Firebrand Books, 1988). Poignant, wrenching, hilarious stories as much about being poor, Southern and an outsider as being a lesbian. This is fiction that changes how you view the world. Recommended for readers who are willing to be pried open and eager to see what happens afterwards.
5. Gaudí Afternoon by Barbara Wilson (Seal Press, 1990). Hilarious mystery set in Barcelona. Missing persons, double crosses, literature in translation and rapturous descriptions of the city combine to create an unforgettable read. Not the first Cassandra Reilly mystery, but certainly the best of the series, at least from my perspective, and much better than the film. Recommended for mystery readers as well as anyone drawn to Barcelona or lesbian fiction, for that matter.
That’s what I’ve got for this round of recommendations; hopefully, one or more of these books strikes your fancy as something you’d like to read and perhaps recommend to others.
|Silver Moon (2012)|
Catherine Lundoff is the award-winning author of the short fiction collections Night’s Kiss (Lethe Press, 2009), Crave (Lethe Press, 2007) and A Day at the Inn, A Night at the Palace and Other Stories (Lethe Press, 2011) and the novel Silver Moon: A Wolves of Wolf’s Point Novel (Lethe Press, 2012).
She is the editor of Haunted Hearths and Sapphic Shades: Lesbian Ghost Stories (Lethe Press, 2008) and the co-editor, with JoSelle Vanderhooft, of the anthology Hellebore and Rue: Tales of Queer Women and Magic (Lethe Press, 2011).
In her other lives, she's a professional computer geek, the spouse of her fabulous wife and an occasional teacher of writing classes at The Loft Literary Center in Minneapolis.
Find these books on Amazon!
Recommended Books From Catherine Lundoff
- The Fires of Bride by Ellen Galford
- Temporary Agency by Rachel Pollack
- After Delores by Sarah Schulman
- Trash by Dorothy Allison
- Gaudí Afternoon by Barbara Wilson
Catherine Lundoff's books
- Crave: Tales of Lust, Love and Longing (anthology)
- Night's Kiss: Lesbian Erotica (anthology)
- A Day at the Inn, A Night at the Palace and Other Stories (anthology) [reviewed here]
- Silver Moon (werewolf novel)
- Haunted Hearths and Sapphic Shades: Lesbian Ghost Stories
- Hellebore and Rue: Tales of Queer Women and Magic
You May Also Be Interested In:
- See the main page about the