The most recommended books on polyamory

Who picked these books? Meet our 37 experts.

37 authors created a book list connected to polyamory, and here are their favorite polyamory books.
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Book cover of A Lesson in Thorns

Felicia Davin Author Of Thornfruit

From my list on fantasy with polyamory.

Why am I passionate about this?

I write fantasy romance, or romantic fantasy, and one of my favorite things this little genre niche can do is use its otherworldly setting to re-examine our preconceived notions of romantic relationships. Polyamory exists in the real world, of course, so surely it should also exist in worlds with hauntings, spells, magic-powered giant mecha, and gods who intervene in mortal fates. Here are some books I have loved that make polyamory a fundamental part of their fantasy worldbuilding.

Felicia's book list on fantasy with polyamory

Felicia Davin Why did Felicia love this book?

This novel is the start of a mesmerizing series about being in love with two of your very dear childhood friends, or possibly five of your childhood friends, and feeling inexplicably compelled to return to the eerie ancient manor home where the six of you first spent the summer together. Rare books, dreams, pagan rituals, and a whole lot of sex—what’s not to love? This book really captures the dark, wintery, haunted, strangely out-of-time atmosphere of the house, and it’s extremely (t)horny, putting all of Sierra Simone’s incredible skill on display. This is the kind of complex, emotional writing I aspire to.

By Sierra Simone,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Lesson in Thorns as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Twelve years ago my mother disappeared into the fog-shrouded moors of Thornchapel.

I left her memory there, along with the others. Of my childhood friends, playing in the woods. Of the crumbling, magical world we found, and of the promises we made beneath the wild roses. I moved on, building a life as a librarian in America, far away from the remote manor where my mother was last seen alive.

And then the letter arrives.

A single word, in her handwriting, calling me back to England. Followed by a job offer I could never refuse, from a person I never…


Book cover of The Tenant

Felicia Davin Author Of Thornfruit

From my list on fantasy with polyamory.

Why am I passionate about this?

I write fantasy romance, or romantic fantasy, and one of my favorite things this little genre niche can do is use its otherworldly setting to re-examine our preconceived notions of romantic relationships. Polyamory exists in the real world, of course, so surely it should also exist in worlds with hauntings, spells, magic-powered giant mecha, and gods who intervene in mortal fates. Here are some books I have loved that make polyamory a fundamental part of their fantasy worldbuilding.

Felicia's book list on fantasy with polyamory

Felicia Davin Why did Felicia love this book?

This story about a broke, aimless young man who inherits a haunted house in Louisiana from his great-aunt and falls in love with the house’s ghost instantly captivated me. Noel, the young man, is a witty point-of-view character, and Ruby, the indomitable ghost, is sexy and endearing and has every reason to be enraged. The house and its history—a plantation house where Ruby’s formerly enslaved grandfather carved all the beautiful woodwork and was never credited for his artistic labor—are characters in their own right, and I was thrilled when Noel and Ruby’s happily ever after included an occasional threesome from local historian Nina. The writing is wonderful and makes every character come alive—especially the ghost.

By Katrina Jackson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Noel

Okay, so my life is officially at rock bottom. I’m 26 with nothing more to show for myself than a mountain of debt I can't pay back because I just got fired from my job as an assistant manager at a third-rate fast food chain. So, when I get a phone call from a rude lawyer telling me that my great aunt Sophie has died and she's left me a house - a whole damn house! - in Alexandria, Louisiana, I jump at the opportunity to skip out on next month's rent, since I can't afford it anyway.

I…


Book cover of Open: An Uncensored Memoir of Love, Liberation, and Non-Monogamy--A Polyamory Memoir

Dedeker Winston Author Of The Smart Girl's Guide to Polyamory: Everything You Need to Know about Open Relationships, Non-Monogamy, and Alternative Love

From my list on to figure out if polyamory is right for you.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have been practicing some flavor of non-monogamy for over a decade now—and how much has changed in the past few years! In my coaching practice, I’ve seen an increase in clients who are trying to evaluate what kind of relationship is best for them. Many people know that the traditional dating game and lifelong monogamy are not for them, but they also feel concerned, intimidated, or confused by exploring non-monogamy. These books have helped many of my clients get perspective on how non-monogamous relationships work in real life. 

Dedeker's book list on to figure out if polyamory is right for you

Dedeker Winston Why did Dedeker love this book?

People who are non-monogamous often feel pressure to portray their relationships in the most positive light possible in the face of daily stigma, judgment, and pushback. Not so with Rachel Krantz’s Open. Krantz’s memoir takes the reader through the trials and tribulations of her first polyamorous relationship, refusing to leave out the gritty, sexy, and sometimes uncomfortable details. In addition to sharing her story, Krantz also includes relationship wisdom from a wide variety of perspectives—therapists, sex workers, and even a Buddhist monk. This book offers a refreshingly real take on polyamory, including the dark pitfalls as well as moments of unadulterated ecstasy and joy. 

By Rachel Krantz,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

An unprecedented exploration of polyamory and gaslighting, from an award-winning journalist chronicling her first open relationship with unflinching candor as she explores this fast-growing movement

“[A] sincere and curious reckoning with the cultural messaging we all receive about gendered expectations and power dynamics in romantic and sexual relationships.”—NPR

ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR: PopSugar

Can we have both freedom and love? Comfort and lust? Is a relationship ever equal? And is the pleasure worth the pain?
 
When Rachel Krantz met and fell for Adam, he told her that he was looking for a committed partnership—just one that…


Book cover of Next Year, for Sure

Rebecca Rosenblum Author Of These Days Are Numbered: Diary of a High-Rise Lockdown

From my list on community and connection.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve always been deeply interested in how people connect to those around them—it is something I write about constantly. My first novel, So Much Love, was about how a community reacts to terrible loss and uncertainty, and my recent book of nonfiction, These Days Are Numbered, is about how my own community—and I—reacted to the Covid-19 pandemic. I am always looking at how humans human, separately and especially together. That is one of the joys of narrative fiction for me—the way we can use it to examine our behaviour and interactions, and how we form relationships and communities. I hope these books enthrall you as much as they did me.

Rebecca's book list on community and connection

Rebecca Rosenblum Why did Rebecca love this book?

Next Year, For Sure is the story of a long-time couple, Kathryn and Chris, and how they navigate a new challenge when Chris develops an attraction to a woman named Emily.

Much discussed and celebrated when it was published in 2017 as a “polyamory book,” Peterson explores that topic with great nuance, humour, and love, but there’s a lot more going on here.

Every character in the novel is searching for connection and a way not to be lonely—far beyond one romantic partner or more than one, they are looking for meaningful relationships of many sorts with other human beings and I found that their journeys went to some unexpected and fascinating places.

By Zoey Leigh Peterson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Next Year, for Sure as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In this moving and enormously entertaining debut novel, longtime romantic partners Kathryn and Chris experiment with an open relationship and reconsider everything they thought they knew about love.

After nine years together, Kathryn and Chris have the sort of relationship most would envy. They speak in the shorthand they have invented, complete one another’s sentences, and help each other through every daily and existential dilemma. But, as content as they are together, an enduring loneliness continues to haunt the dark corners of their relationship. When Chris tells Kathryn about his feelings for Emily, a vivacious young woman he sees often…


Book cover of Black Car Burning

J.S. Watts Author Of A Darker Moon

From J.S.'s 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Poet Novelist Reader Writer French Horn Player

J.S.'s 3 favorite reads in 2023

J.S. Watts Why did J.S. love this book?

I found this a poetic and somehow personal novel, though it is a work of fiction.

Helen Mort uses her knowledge of climbing and Sheffield, alongside her lyrical writing skills as an award-winning poet, to create an atmospheric and contemporary story of people and their complicated relationships. Sheffield is a character in its own right, as are the multiple personified landscapes that comment, like a vast Greek chorus, on the tiny lives of humanity and the world around them.

I was entranced by the juxtaposition of gritty urban life, with the mythical fantasy of contemplative landscapes.

By Helen Mort,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Black Car Burning as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

How do we trust each other?

Alexa is a young police community support officer whose world feels unstable. Her father is estranged and her girlfriend is increasingly distant. Their polyamorous relationship - which for years felt so natural - is starting to seem strained. As she patrols Sheffield she senses the rising tensions in its disparate communities and doubts her ability to keep the peace, to help, to change anything.

Caron is pushing Alexa away and pushing herself ever harder. A climber, she fixates on a brutal route known as Black Car Burning and throws herself into a cycle of…


Book cover of We Won't Be Here Tomorrow: And Other Stories

Nick Walker Author Of Neuroqueer Heresies: Notes on the Neurodiversity Paradigm, Autistic Empowerment, and Postnormal Possibilities

From my list on neuroqueer speculative fiction.

Why am I passionate about this?

My first passion, as a youngster, was speculative fiction—stories and comics that set the imagination ablaze with visions of wondrous possibilities and impossibilities. Later, my experiences of being queer, transgender, and autistic led me to an academic career in which I helped create the field of Neurodiversity Studies and something called Neuroqueer Theory (which is what you get when you mix Queer Theory and neurodiversity together and shake vigorously). These days I’m back to writing fiction, including the urban fantasy webcomic Weird Luck, and I’m thrilled to find myself part of an emerging wave of neuroqueer speculative fiction. Here are some of the best so far...

Nick's book list on neuroqueer speculative fiction

Nick Walker Why did Nick love this book?

Transgender anarchist author Margaret Killjoy’s collection of short speculative fiction stories, We Won’t Be Here Tomorrow, is a stark contrast to the dazzling high-tech fantasies and cinematic adventures of my first three recommendations. Most of these stories are set in disturbingly plausible and not-at-all-distant futures, and veer into the territories of dark fantasy, gritty dystopianism, and atomspheric horror. No interplanetary space opera here; Killjoy’s protagonists are earthbound, anarchistic outcasts and misfits struggling to survive on the edges of society or in society’s ruins, in worlds gone unfathomably strange. And Killjoy writes it all beautifully, with a clarity of description that often left me stunned by its simple poetic power. This one’s for you if you like your speculative fiction close to the bone.

By Margaret Killjoy,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked We Won't Be Here Tomorrow as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Death cults, queer love, and the end of everything.

 

Spaceships, man-eating lesbian mermaids, swords, spears, demons, ghouls, thieves, hitchhikers, and life in the margins. Margaret Killjoy’s stories have appeared for years in the science fiction and fantasy magazines both major and indie. Here, we have collected the best previously published work along with brand new material. Ranging in theme and tone, these imaginative tales bring the reader on a wild and moving ride. They’ll encounter a hacker who programs drones to troll CEOs into quitting; a group of LARPers who decide to live as orcs in the burned forests of…


Book cover of Sex and the Single Woman: 24 Writers Reimagine Helen Gurley Brown's Cult Classic

Minda Honey Author Of The Heartbreak Years: A Memoir

From my list on reads to get over your ex.

Why am I passionate about this?

I was the type of kid who tossed a coin in a fountain and wished that every day could be Valentine’s Day. So, it’s no surprise that my younger years were dominated by dating, love, and heartbreak. I learned enough about the matter to even have my own dating advice column for a few years. Mostly what I’ve learned is how important it is to have compassion for yourself and to know you’re not the only one having a hard time finding your forever love. I hope these book picks bring you some comfort.

Minda's book list on reads to get over your ex

Minda Honey Why did Minda love this book?

I contributed an essay to this collection and there’s quite a few writers I admire in this book, as well.

It’s refreshing to see other people’s perspective on what can feel like an albatross around your neck. Some of the essays are humorous, others are more poignant, but they all work together to show that a single life can look and feel a bazillion different ways—yours will be what you make it.

By Eliza Smith (editor), Haley Swanson (editor),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Sex and the Single Woman as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

One of Bustle's Best Books of May

A feminist anthology inspired by legendary Cosmopolitan editor Helen Gurley Brown's Sex and the Single Girl, featuring twenty-four new essays on the triumphs and heartbreaks of modern singlehood from acclaimed and bestselling authors, including Kristen Arnett, Morgan Parker, Evette Dionne, and Melissa Febos.

Sixty years ago, Helen Gurley Brown's Sex and the Single Girl sent shockwaves through the United States, selling more than two million copies in three weeks. Helen's message was radical for its time: marriage wasn't essential for women to lead rich, fulfilling lives.

Now, in these critical, wry, and expansive…


Book cover of Vow: A Memoir of Marriage (and Other Affairs)

Kristin Louise Duncombe Author Of Trailing: A Memoir

From my list on memoirs that tell painful stories with eloquence and insight.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a therapist, and I work with people from all walks of life and with all manner of suffering. I am drawn to memoirs because I consider it the real self-help genre of literature. Like good therapy, a good memoir will make sense of a story: how it happened, why it happened, how it affected the person, and what they did (do) to face it, and thrive in spite of it. As a writer, I take pride in bringing that same quality to my work. I have been asked many times, “How can you bear to reveal all that stuff about yourself, especially when it’s unflattering?” The answer is always “Isn’t that the part that matters? Isn’t that the part where the growth occurred? Isn’t that what makes the story worth telling?”

Kristin's book list on memoirs that tell painful stories with eloquence and insight

Kristin Louise Duncombe Why did Kristin love this book?

Wendy Plump’s VOW is the only memoir I have ever read that reveals what it is like to be the “cheating” partner (there are many books that address being cheated on). This is NOT a book touting infidelity or polyamory. It is simply an extremely honest accounting of a marriage riddled by affairs (both partners), how the author coped with the fallout, and grew into a more mature and insight-driven version of herself. This very topic activates so much judgment by so many people (just read some of the seething, scathing reviews on Amazon), but the truth is, human beings DO cheat, they DO commit infidelity, and Wendy Plump, who is a terrific, elegant writer and storyteller, has addressed this topic with great candor. It takes an extremely brave person to tell this type of story; hence, this book is brave and beautiful.

By Wendy Plump,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

There are so many ways to find out. From a cell phone. From a bank statement. From some weird supermarket encounter. One morning in early January 2005, Wendy Plump's friend came to tell her that her husband was having an affair. It was not a shock. Actually, it explained a lot. But what Wendy was not prepared for was the revelation that her husband also had another child, living within a mile of their family home.

Monogamy is one of the most important of the many vows we make in our marriages. Yet it is a rare spouse who does…


Book cover of Egalia's Daughters: A Satire of the Sexes

Redfern Jon Barrett Author Of The Giddy Death of the Gays & the Strange Demise of Straights

From my list on exploring polyamory and non-traditional love.

Why am I passionate about this?

My life has never been very conventional. As a 6’6 nonbinary queer writer who’s been polyamorous for over a decade, I’m very fortunate to live with my two loving partners here in Berlin. My writing focuses on nontraditional and nonmonogamous forms of love, from novels to articles and short stories which have been published in The Sun Magazine, Passages North, Booth, and Guernica. I’ve served on the review committee for the Conference on the Future of Monogamy and Nonmonogamy at UC Berkeley, publicly debated the issue at UCL, and my campaign work for LGBTQ+ and polyamory rights has been referenced in The Mirror, Buzzfeed, and BBC News.

Redfern's book list on exploring polyamory and non-traditional love

Redfern Jon Barrett Why did Redfern love this book?

There is never enough alternate history. Particularly alternate history that doesn’t focus either on the Nazis winning World War II or the South winning the American Civil War. Thankfully we have Egalia’s Daughters, yet another forward-thinking novel from the seventies. Set in a world where gender norms are swapped around entirely, its male characters wear special testicle bras and adorn their beards with flowers (I do like that last part). Of course, this woman-dominated world is no less homophobic than our own, and as part of their gender rebellion, the men form relationships with one another, in various configurations. It’s a delightful read, with its gender reversals a mirror reflection of our own society.

By Gerd Brantenberg,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Reminiscent of Orwell and Huxley's dystopian novels, this classic of women's literature is an intelligent and well-written contribution to the sex-role debate.

Welcome to the land of Egalia, where gender roles are topsy-turvy as "wim" wield the power and "menwim" light the home fires. This re-telling of the prototypical coming-of-age novel will have readers laughing out loud and wondering who should prevail: poor Petronius, who wants more than anything to cruise the oceans as a seawom; or his powerful and protective mother Director Bram, who rules her family with an authoritarian righteousness. But for better or for worse, as the…


Book cover of The Ethical Slut: A Practical Guide to Polyamory, Open Relationships, and Other Freedoms in Sex and Love

Alyssa Gonzalez Author Of Nonmonogamy and Neurodiversity: A More Than Two Essentials Guide

From my list on neurodiversity and relationships.

Why am I passionate about this?

Relationships are treacherous terrain for people outside the mainstream. Whether we’re tangling with the unwelcome biases of those who do not understand us or trying to navigate situations designed without us in mind, trying to find “our people” is tricky and often exhausting. I am an autistic polyamorous sapphic trans woman and each of those adjectives adds a layer of challenge to the life I have to lead. I am also the holder of a doctorate and like to think I’m pretty clever. Between these realities, I’ve found books about relationships, neurodivergence, and what it’s like to be someone like me that I think do a pretty good job. I hope you enjoy them.

Alyssa's book list on neurodiversity and relationships

Alyssa Gonzalez Why did Alyssa love this book?

The Ethical Slut is an evocatively titled primer on polyamory as a relationship model.

It is intentionally written as an introductory resource that is very enthusiastic about the possibilities it presents, which is useful in a space that often feels it must make constant apologies for existing or is full of higher-level works about niche sub-topics.

It addresses key topics such as consent, communication, concerns about raising a family, and more. Older editions suffer from ill-considered language around transgender people that feels dated at best, but more recent editions have been updated to reflect changing demographics and be more considerate to this and other minorities. 

By Dossie Easton, Catherine A. Liszt,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Ethical Slut as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

At last a comprehensive, no-holds-barred guide for anyone who dreams of having all the sex and love and friendship they want. Here are the skills you need for successful - and ethical - sluthood, from scheduling dates to handling jealousy, finding partners to resolving conflict, raising children to caring for your health. If you've ever envisioned a universe beyond traditional lifetime monogamy, this is the book for you.