100 books like Female Husbands

By Jen Manion,

Here are 100 books that Female Husbands fans have personally recommended if you like Female Husbands. Shepherd is a community of 11,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of The Lavender Scare: The Cold War Persecution of Gays and Lesbians in the Federal Government

Jim Elledge Author Of An Angel in Sodom: Henry Gerber and the Birth of the Gay Rights Movement

From my list on gay history before Stonewall.

Why am I passionate about this?

In post-Roe America, gay people face the very real possibility of our rights being stripped from us, underscoring the importance of this adage: “Those who forget their history are condemned to repeat it.” That's why years ago, when I realize that many gay men were ignorant about gay history before Stonewall, I began editing anthologies of gay writings from the past. That led me to writing biographies and histories in which I explore gay men’s experiences, hoping my work shines a light on our forgotten past.

Jim's book list on gay history before Stonewall

Jim Elledge Why did Jim love this book?

One of the darkest events in gay history has been brought to light in Johnson’s book. During the late 1940s and ’50s, the Federal Government engaged in a purge of gay men (and women) who worked in its offices by linking them to communism, an association politicians strengthened as the Cold War progressed. Fueled by their lies and guided by FBI Director (and closeted gay) J. Edgar Hoover, the persecution, called the “Lavender Scare,” spread from Washington, D.C. across the U.S. The government-sanctioned homophobia cost thousands their jobs, families, and friends when their sexuality was made public. Some committed suicide. Having this book at hand helped me understand the complexities of gay men’s lives during this horrific period.

By David K. Johnson,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Lavender Scare as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In Cold War America, Senator Joseph McCarthy enjoyed tremendous support in the fight against what he called atheistic communism. But that support stemmed less from his wild charges about communists than his more substantiated charges that "sex perverts" had infiltrated government agencies. Although now remembered as an attack on suspected disloyalty, McCarthyism introduced "moral values" into the American political arsenal. Warning of a spreading homosexual menace, McCarthy and his Republican allies learned how to win votes. Winner of three book awards, "The Lavender Scare" masterfully traces the origins of contemporary sexual politics to Cold War hysteria over national security. Drawing…


Book cover of The Daring Life and Dangerous Times of Eve Adams

Lillian Faderman Author Of The Gay Revolution: The Story of the Struggle

From my list on LGBTQ history.

Why am I passionate about this?

I came out as gay in the 1950s. I was a literary teenager, starved for the history of those who came before me. As I learned, there were no such books. As a Ph.D. candidate in the 1960s, I thought about writing a dissertation on a gay subject; but “homosexuality” was still “the love that dare not speak its name.” However, the 1970s saw a “gay revolution”; and finally, as an academic in those new times, I was able to write and publish about what had so long been forbidden. My first book, Surpassing the Love of Men: Romantic Friendship and Love Between Women from the Renaissance to the Present, was followed by a half-dozen other books on LGBTQ history.

Lillian's book list on LGBTQ history

Lillian Faderman Why did Lillian love this book?

Katz has done yeoman’s work in reconstructing the little-known story of Chawa Zloczewer, an immigrant who came to America in 1912, reinvented herself as Eve Adams, and lived the bohemian life of an anarchist and a lesbian. In the years after World War I, Adams was the proprietor of lesbian tearooms and literary salons in Chicago and Greenwich Village. Her radical politics, lesbian life, and publication in 1925 of a book she titled Lesbian Love led to her unrelenting persecution by the young J. Edgar Hoover (then head of the forerunner to the FBI). She was deported in 1927 and died in Auschwitz in 1943. A fascinating piece of lesbian history.   

By Jonathan Ned Katz,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Daring Life and Dangerous Times of Eve Adams as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

“On these pages, Eve Adams rises up, loves, rebels—her times, eerily resembling our own.” —Joan Nestle, cofounder of the Lesbian Herstory Archives and author of A Restricted Country

• 2022 Lambda Literary Awards Finalist

Historian Jonathan Ned Katz uncovers the forgotten story of radical lesbian Eve Adams and her long-lost book Lesbian Love 

Born Chawa Zloczewer into a Jewish family in Poland, Eve Adams emigrated to the United States in 1912,took a new name, befriended anarchists, sold radical publications, and ran lesbian-and-gay-friendly speakeasies in Chicago and New York. Then, in 1925, Adams risked all to write and publish a book…


Book cover of The Deviant's War: The Homosexual vs. the United States of America

Lillian Faderman Author Of The Gay Revolution: The Story of the Struggle

From my list on LGBTQ history.

Why am I passionate about this?

I came out as gay in the 1950s. I was a literary teenager, starved for the history of those who came before me. As I learned, there were no such books. As a Ph.D. candidate in the 1960s, I thought about writing a dissertation on a gay subject; but “homosexuality” was still “the love that dare not speak its name.” However, the 1970s saw a “gay revolution”; and finally, as an academic in those new times, I was able to write and publish about what had so long been forbidden. My first book, Surpassing the Love of Men: Romantic Friendship and Love Between Women from the Renaissance to the Present, was followed by a half-dozen other books on LGBTQ history.

Lillian's book list on LGBTQ history

Lillian Faderman Why did Lillian love this book?

Cervini’s biography of Frank Kameny shows that gay militancy began years before the iconic riots at the Stonewall Inn. In 1965, Kameny led pickets for gay civil rights in front of the White House and the State Department. He was soon teaching people who lost their jobs because they were “homosexual” how to fight and win in the courts. Understanding that as long as homosexuals were considered sick, gay people would never be granted civil rights, Kameny organized the first protests against the American Psychiatric Association that led to the declassification of “homosexuality” as a mental disorder. Cervini situates Frank Kameny in his rightful place as the father of America’s first militant gay movement. 

By Eric Cervini,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Deviant's War as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 14, 15, 16, and 17.

What is this book about?

FINALIST FOR THE 2021 PULITZER PRIZE IN HISTORY. INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BEST SELLER. 
 
New York Times Book Review Editors' Choice. Winner of the 2021 Randy Shilts Award for Gay Nonfiction. One of The Washington Post's Top 50 Nonfiction Books of 2020.  
 
From a young Harvard- and Cambridge-trained historian, the secret history of the fight for gay rights that began a generation before Stonewall. 
In 1957, Frank Kameny, a rising astronomer working for the U.S. Defense Department in Hawaii, received a summons to report immediately to Washington, D.C. The Pentagon had reason to believe he was a homosexual, and after…


Book cover of Boots of Leather, Slippers of Gold: The History of a Lesbian Community

Georgina Hickey Author Of Breaking the Gender Code: Women and Urban Public Space in the Twentieth-Century United States

From my list on women in the city.

Why am I passionate about this?

My day job is teaching U.S. history, particularly courses on urban history, social movements, and race and gender. It is women’s experiences in cities, however, that have driven much of my historical research and sparked my curiosity about how people understand–and shape–the world around them. Lots of people talk about what women need and what they should be doing, but fewer have been willing to hear what women have to say about their own lives and recognize their resiliency. I hope that this kind of listening to the past will help us build more inclusive cities in the future.

Georgina's book list on women in the city

Georgina Hickey Why did Georgina love this book?

I’m always drawn to books and stories that help me understand communities on their own terms, from the inside out, and this book delivers on that.

Even though this is a book written by scholars, the voices of Buffalo’s mid-twentieth-century lesbian community really guide the book since Kennedy and Davis did hundreds of interviews as a part of their research. I loved hearing from the women themselves, reflecting back on this moment in their lives in this one city, about how they found friends and lovers, negotiated work and family, and navigated the city.  

By Elizabeth Lapovsky Kennedy, Madeline D. Davis,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Boots of Leather, Slippers of Gold as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Boots of Leather, Slippers of Gold traces the evolution of the lesbian community in Buffalo, New York from the mid-1930s up to the early 1960s. Drawing upon the oral histories of 45 women, it is the first comprehensive history of a working-class lesbian community. These poignant and complex stories show how black and white working-class lesbians, although living under oppressive circumstances, nevertheless became powerful agents of historical change. Kennedy and Davis provide a unique insider's perspective on butch-fem culture and argue that the roots of gay and lesbian liberation are found specifically in the determined resistance of working-class lesbians.

This…


Book cover of Transgender Warriors: Making History from Joan of Arc to Marsha P. Johnson and Beyond

Simon Joyce Author Of LGBT Victorians: Sexuality and Gender in the Nineteenth-Century Archives

From my list on showing that trans people have always existed.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m an academic researcher interested in this topic but also one of the people who gets demonized in conservative media: the parent of a transgender child. I want my daughter to know that similar people have existed in history and that lawmakers are wrong to claim that we’re in a scary new world when we advocate for respect and the rights of trans people. While doing that advocacy work, I’m alarmed by positions within the LGBTQI+ movement echoing right-wing ones, including what’s known as “gender critical feminism.” My book argues a positive case for coalition in the face of pressures to fracture along distinct lines of sexuality and gender identity. 

Simon's book list on showing that trans people have always existed

Simon Joyce Why did Simon love this book?

This is a great place to begin thinking about trans history. Feinberg, who died in 2014, crisscrossed the line between butch lesbian and trans man and was not particular about what pronouns they preferred. In that spirit of inclusiveness, some readers might find her book outdated or too loose in some of the people it includes—any book that ranges from Joan of Arc to NBA star Rodman is covering a lot of ground, but what’s less visible from that subtitle is the work Feinberg has done in crosscultural, anthropological, and comparative mythology studies. What results is a daring and provocative re-reading of world history that puts gender nonconformity at the center, and a stirring call to activism and solidarity that is if anything more needed since its original publication.

By Leslie Feinberg,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Transgender Warriors as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This groundbreaking book far ahead of its time when first published in 1996 and still galvanizing today interweaves history, memoir, and gender studies to show that transgender people, far from being a modern phenomenon, have always existed and have exerted their influence throughout history. Leslie Feinberg hirself a lifelong transgender revolutionary reveals the origin of the check one box only gender system and shows how zie found empowerment in the lives of transgender warriors around the world, from the Two Spirits of the Americas to the many genders of India, from the trans shamans of East Asia to the gender-bending…


Book cover of Transgender History

Simon Joyce Author Of LGBT Victorians: Sexuality and Gender in the Nineteenth-Century Archives

From my list on showing that trans people have always existed.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m an academic researcher interested in this topic but also one of the people who gets demonized in conservative media: the parent of a transgender child. I want my daughter to know that similar people have existed in history and that lawmakers are wrong to claim that we’re in a scary new world when we advocate for respect and the rights of trans people. While doing that advocacy work, I’m alarmed by positions within the LGBTQI+ movement echoing right-wing ones, including what’s known as “gender critical feminism.” My book argues a positive case for coalition in the face of pressures to fracture along distinct lines of sexuality and gender identity. 

Simon's book list on showing that trans people have always existed

Simon Joyce Why did Simon love this book?

Nobody has done more than Stryker to document the modern history of trans people or to fashion trans studies into an academic field. Transgender History is a work of substantial scholarship and also an accessible introduction to the field and the issues on which it’s centered. Each chapter of this short-ish book is really valuable, whether it’s the opening that explains important terms and concepts or the final one assessing what Time declared the “transgender tipping point” in 2014. Stryker is a historian of twentieth-century America, so that’s the focus of her central chapter documenting a century of trans history. Understanding that early history is crucial for the liberatory gains and backlashes that follow, and Transgender History concludes with resources that can help turn its readers into informed and committed activists.

By Susan Stryker,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Transgender History as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Covering American transgender history from the mid-twentieth century to today, Transgender History takes a chronological approach to the subject of transgender history, with each chapter covering major movements, writings, and events. Chapters cover the transsexual and transvestite communities in the years following World War II; trans radicalism and social change, which spanned from 1966 with the publication of The Transsexual Phenomenon, and lasted through the early 1970s; the mid-'70s to 1990-the era of identity politics and the changes witnessed in trans circles through these years; and the gender issues witnessed through the '90s and '00s.

Transgender History includes informative sidebars…


Book cover of Histories of the Transgender Child

Simon Joyce Author Of LGBT Victorians: Sexuality and Gender in the Nineteenth-Century Archives

From my list on showing that trans people have always existed.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m an academic researcher interested in this topic but also one of the people who gets demonized in conservative media: the parent of a transgender child. I want my daughter to know that similar people have existed in history and that lawmakers are wrong to claim that we’re in a scary new world when we advocate for respect and the rights of trans people. While doing that advocacy work, I’m alarmed by positions within the LGBTQI+ movement echoing right-wing ones, including what’s known as “gender critical feminism.” My book argues a positive case for coalition in the face of pressures to fracture along distinct lines of sexuality and gender identity. 

Simon's book list on showing that trans people have always existed

Simon Joyce Why did Simon love this book?

As a parent (and a researcher), I’m so happy this book exists! It’s the best response to the argument that trans kids are new and, therefore, how we raise them is dangerously experimental. Where Gill-Peterson finds such kids historically is mainly in medical archives, where treatments were directed mostly at intersex children, many of whom we’d see as trans. She shows a fascination with the “plasticity” of the body in the early twentieth century, although predictably, possibilities for transforming bodies were viewed differently across racial lines. The best counter to conservative attacks, though, is his research into Val, a 1920s teen in rural Wisconsin who went to school as the gender she affirmed and had negotiated agreements about things like which bathroom she could use, over which we’re fighting a century later!

By Julian Gill-Peterson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Histories of the Transgender Child as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A groundbreaking twentieth-century history of transgender children


With transgender rights front and center in American politics, media, and culture, the pervasive myth still exists that today's transgender children are a brand new generation-pioneers in a field of new obstacles and hurdles. Histories of the Transgender Child shatters this myth, uncovering a previously unknown twentieth-century history when transgender children not only existed but preexisted the term transgender and its predecessors, playing a central role in the medicalization of trans people, and all sex and gender.

Beginning with the early 1900s when children with "ambiguous" sex first sought medical attention, to the…


Book cover of Neo-/Victorian Biographilia and James Miranda Barry: A Study in Transgender and Transgenre

Simon Joyce Author Of LGBT Victorians: Sexuality and Gender in the Nineteenth-Century Archives

From my list on showing that trans people have always existed.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m an academic researcher interested in this topic but also one of the people who gets demonized in conservative media: the parent of a transgender child. I want my daughter to know that similar people have existed in history and that lawmakers are wrong to claim that we’re in a scary new world when we advocate for respect and the rights of trans people. While doing that advocacy work, I’m alarmed by positions within the LGBTQI+ movement echoing right-wing ones, including what’s known as “gender critical feminism.” My book argues a positive case for coalition in the face of pressures to fracture along distinct lines of sexuality and gender identity. 

Simon's book list on showing that trans people have always existed

Simon Joyce Why did Simon love this book?

If Manion’s book rethinks a collective category, this one drills down into the case history of one person, Barry, who had a successful career as a naval surgeon (having identified as male to attend medical school in Edinburgh) and was only revealed to have been affirmed female at birth post-mortem. Barry’s story is an example of one problem with retroactively characterizing past lives, because it made economic sense to have used deception to gain access to a high-status profession, which is why for some Barry is a feminist pioneer. Heilmann’s book resists easy answers, tracking Barry’s presentation across multiple biographies and mass media representations, continuing up to Patricia Duncker’s 2002 novel, The Doctor. Ultimately, there is no “true” Barry, only a series of partial portraits serving particular interests over time. 

By Ann Heilmann,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Neo-/Victorian Biographilia and James Miranda Barry as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Senior colonial officer from 1813 to 1859, Inspector General James Barry was a pioneering medical reformer who after his death in 1865 became the object of intense speculation when rumours arose about his sex. This cultural history of Barry's afterlives in Victorian to contemporary (neo-Victorian) life-writing ('biographilia') examines the textual and performative strategies of biography, biofiction and biodrama of the last one and a half centuries. In exploring the varied reconstructions and re-imaginations of the historical personality across time, the book illustrates (not least with its cover image) that the 'real' James Barry does not exist, any more than does…


Book cover of The Mystery of Mrs. Christie

Shannon McKenna Schmidt Author Of Novel Destinations: A Travel Guide to Literary Landmarks from Jane Austen's Bath to Ernest Hemingway's Key West

From my list on classic writers as characters.

Why am I passionate about this?

Visiting author houses and museums has always been a favored pastime of mine and was the inspiration to write the travel guide Novel Destinations. Complementary to writing nonfiction about classic writers, I love reading novels featuring them as characters. Fiction authors adhere to biographical details as well, but they have a freer hand with the narrative to color outside the lines and to color in details and explore feelings and motivations. Through their narratives they turn these literary figures into flesh-and-blood characters and allow the reader to step into their storied lives. 

Shannon's book list on classic writers as characters

Shannon McKenna Schmidt Why did Shannon love this book?

I deliberately read The Mystery of Mrs. Christie slowly so that I could savor the story longer. The novel alternates chapters between present-day 1926, after famous novelist Agatha Christie has disappeared and sparked a headline-making manhunt in England, and the decade or so leading up to it. The story of her disappearance and the possible reasons behind it is intriguing, but I especially enjoyed the chapters set in the past and getting to know Agatha as a young woman and an aspiring writer.

By Marie Benedict,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Mystery of Mrs. Christie as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

THE INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES AND USA TODAY BESTSELLER!

AN AMAZON BEST BOOK OF 2021!

"A stunning story... The ending is ingenious, and it's possible that Benedict has brought to life the most plausible explanation for why Christie disappeared for 11 days in 1926."―The Washington Post

The New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of The Only Woman in the Room returns with a thrilling reconstruction of one of the most notorious events in literary history: Agatha Christie's mysterious 11-day disappearance in 1926.

In December 1926, Agatha Christie goes missing. Investigators find her empty car on the edge of…


Book cover of Cleaning Nabokov's House

Regina Buttner Author Of Absolution

From my list on women taking back their power from controlling men.

Why am I passionate about this?

I was raised in a loving but strict Catholic family in the 1970s, when girls like me were still expected to grow up to become traditional wives and mothers, rather than go to college and pursue a career. In a Pre-Cana class intended to prepare me and my fiancé for marriage (it didn’t work so well, as evidenced by our rancorous divorce twelve years later), I learned the concept of “family of origin,” and the profound impact a person’s upbringing has on them as an adult. I became fascinated by the psychic baggage each of us carries around, and how it affects our personal relationships and life choices.

Regina's book list on women taking back their power from controlling men

Regina Buttner Why did Regina love this book?

I was afraid this book might be too depressing at first, and kept yelling at the heroine, Barb, to quit feeling sorry for herself and do something already to get her kids back from her domineering ex-husband. But the author’s wry voice drew me in, and this quirky novel is now one of my all-time favorites. Throughout the low times in my life, I’ve found humor to be the best tonic, and bumbling Barb delivers it here. I love how she rises above her seemingly hopeless circumstances by devising a highly questionable but totally kick-ass hilarious scheme to raise some quick cash and reunite with her children. The zany characters and spot-on descriptions of small-town life are guaranteed to boost your mood. 

By Leslie Daniels,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Cleaning Nabokov's House as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

“I knew I could stay in this town when I found the blue enamel pot floating in the lake. The pot led me to the house, the house led me to the book, the book to the lawyer, the lawyer to the whorehouse, the whorehouse to science, and from science I joined the world.”

So begins Leslie Daniels’s funny and moving novel about a woman’s desperate attempt to rebuild her life. When Barb Barrett walks out on her loveless marriage she doesn’t realize she will lose everything: her home, her financial security, even her beloved children. Approaching forty with her…


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