The best lesbian books 📚

Browse the best books on lesbian topics and characters as recommended by authors, experts, and creators. Along with notes on why they recommend those books.

Coming Fall 2022: The ability to sort this list by genre (signup here to follow our story as we build a better way to discover books).

Book cover of Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches

Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches

By Audre Lorde

Why this book?

Classic essays on Black women, Caribbean resistance, language, anger, and the combinations of race, class, gender, sexuality. These essays are now fundamental as we think through issues of sexual difference, the ways that poetry and the creative are accessible once we open ourselves to experience and express our deep feelings, and how it re-names the erotic as a place for women that is not wholly sexual but is orgasmic if we are able to reach that zone of creativity.

From the list:

The best books on Caribbean reparative justice

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Book cover of In The Game

In The Game

By Nikki Baker

Why this book?

Nikki Baker is the first African-American writer of lesbian mysteries and her character Virginia Kelly—who works as a financial analyst in Chicago—is the first African-American lesbian sleuth. This makes it important, but what makes the book outstanding is the writing, especially the voice of the protagonist. The plots are slick and entertaining, but it is Virginia’s internal musings and interpersonal relationships that make this—and the other 3 books in the series—a clear 5-star winner. 

From the list:

The best mystery novels featuring lesbian detectives

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Book cover of The Beverly Malibu

The Beverly Malibu

By Katherine V. Forrest

Why this book?

Forrest’s Kate Delafield, a San Francisco homicide detective, is surely the most famous character in lesbian mystery fiction. She is also the first lesbian police officer. Although most of Forrest’s 10 Delafield novels deserve 5-star ratings, The Beverly Malibu goes far beyond the usual whodunit limits in that it revisits the terrible McCarthy era when minorities—including the LGBTQ community—were kicked down at by the elite. This is also the book where Kate meets her long-time lover Aimee. 

From the list:

The best mystery novels featuring lesbian detectives

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Book cover of Tell Me What You Like

Tell Me What You Like

By Kate Allen

Why this book?

Like Nikki Baker’s novels, Tell Me What You Like is driven by its narration. Alison Kaine, the protagonist of the novel, works for the Denver Police Department. But unlike most protagonists of lesbian policiers—who tend to be sergeants or detectives—Alison is a lowly officer. Because she is an out lesbian, she is assigned to investigate the murder of a leather dyke outside a lesbian bar, and is slowly drawn into the stories of the bar’s other denizens. And, not quite against her will, she slides into the darker subculture of BDSM, with whips and collars and a dominatrix named Anastasia.…

From the list:

The best mystery novels featuring lesbian detectives

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Book cover of The Lion's Circle

The Lion's Circle

By Amelia Ellis, Rachel Ward

Why this book?

Like the novels in my first 3 picks, this one is part of a series. Nea Fox, the protagonist, is a private eye working out of London. The story contains a series of intricate puzzles with exotic characters and engaging relationships. Think of the Fu Manchu novels if they had been written by Patricia Highsmith. In this one, Nea investigates an alleged haunting and reveals a great deal of monkey business. And if it’s action you like, this may be the most exciting lesbian mystery of all.   

From the list:

The best mystery novels featuring lesbian detectives

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Book cover of The Lesbian Detective Novel: an annotated bibliography

The Lesbian Detective Novel: an annotated bibliography

By Megan Casey

Why this book?

When I was writing my first mystery series, I knew very little about the history of the lesbian detective novel. Because I wanted to work within the genre’s boundaries, I spent almost as much time researching it as writing. With the 2022 publication of The Lesbian Detective Novel, Megan Casey has made this task way easier for future lesbian mystery authors. She lists over 1,000 titles along with their creators and adds a few pertinent notes about each book or series. When you finish my first four picks and are looking for other lesbian mysteries to enjoy, this is…
From the list:

The best mystery novels featuring lesbian detectives

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

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