The best books on polyamory

5 authors have picked their favorite books about polyamory and why they recommend each book.

Soon, you will be able to filter by genre, age group, and more. Sign up here to follow our story as we build a better way to explore books.

Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy through links on our website, we may earn an affiliate commission (learn more).

Twinkle Twinkle

By Kaori Ekuni, Emi Shimokawa (translator),

Book cover of Twinkle Twinkle

An immensely sweet novel with a focus on Japanese homophobia, Twinkle Twinkle follows the gay male Mutsuki and straight woman Shoko as they enter into a sham marriage. Though it shares some themes with An Excess Male, the novel isn’t speculative, instead providing insights into contemporary Japanese society and social customs — particularly the stifling sense of conformity. Yet despite cultural pressures, the fascinating three-way dynamic between Mutsuki, Shoko, and Mutsuki’s boyfriend carries the tale and will leave a lasting impression.

Twinkle Twinkle

By Kaori Ekuni, Emi Shimokawa (translator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

They got married ten days ago. They haven't had sex yet and they don't intend to.

As it turned out, the only way to make their parents get off their backs about trying to "find someone" was actually finding somone--with whom to put marriage for show. Mutsuki is stictly gay and has a boyfriend, while Shoko is a clinical case of emotional instability who's in no shape for a relationship. They've each found in the other a perfect partner for a sham marriage. Since the conspirators' parents know of their own child's undesirability, but not the spouse's, the union manages…


Who am I?

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.


I wrote...

The Giddy Death of the Gays & the Strange Demise of Straights

By Redfern Jon Barrett,

Book cover of The Giddy Death of the Gays & the Strange Demise of Straights

What is my book about?

Caroline and Dom live out their normal lives amongst the poverty, alcoholics, and street preachers of Swansea, Wales. But when Dom and his straight roommate fall in love — a passionate, secret, non-sexual love — their lives are transformed into queer chaos of cross-dressing, gender-bending, and free love. Will Dom hold on to his relationship? Can religious fundamentalists be adopted as pets? And just what are The Lesbians up to? The battle between preachers and drag queens, skinheads and sex workers, boyfriend and girlfriend, is set to change their lives forever.

The Giddy Death of the Gays & the Strange Demise of Straights is a tender comedy with a focus on the ever-changing nature of love.

Tales of Nevèrӱon

By Samuel R. Delany,

Book cover of Tales of Nevèrӱon

I might be obsessed with science and speculative fiction, but I rarely venture over to the fantasy section of the bookstore. I don’t know, maybe there’s just too much gender-stereotyping and absolute monarchy for my taste — so I’ll be ever-grateful for being gifted a copy of Tales of Nevèrӱon. Exploring polyamory without resorting to vampires, Samuel R. Delany’s novel looks at queer relationships in a manner much like Woman on the Edge of Time and was published later that same decade. It’s fantasy unlike anything else I’ve read.

Tales of Nevèrӱon

By Samuel R. Delany,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Presumably elaborated from an ancient text of unknown geographical origin, the stories are sunk in translators' and commentators' introductions and appendices, forming a richly comic frame.


Who am I?

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.


I wrote...

The Giddy Death of the Gays & the Strange Demise of Straights

By Redfern Jon Barrett,

Book cover of The Giddy Death of the Gays & the Strange Demise of Straights

What is my book about?

Caroline and Dom live out their normal lives amongst the poverty, alcoholics, and street preachers of Swansea, Wales. But when Dom and his straight roommate fall in love — a passionate, secret, non-sexual love — their lives are transformed into queer chaos of cross-dressing, gender-bending, and free love. Will Dom hold on to his relationship? Can religious fundamentalists be adopted as pets? And just what are The Lesbians up to? The battle between preachers and drag queens, skinheads and sex workers, boyfriend and girlfriend, is set to change their lives forever.

The Giddy Death of the Gays & the Strange Demise of Straights is a tender comedy with a focus on the ever-changing nature of love.

A Lesson in Thorns

By Sierra Simone,

Book cover of A Lesson in Thorns

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.

A Lesson in Thorns

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…


Who am I?

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.


I wrote...

Thornfruit

By Felicia Davin,

Book cover of Thornfruit

What is my book about?

Gifted with the ability to read minds, Alizhan operates as a thief of secrets. When she becomes the target of a deadly plot, she escapes the city, aided by quiet farm girl Ev—and the two draw closer as they uncover a sweeping conspiracy.

Sing for the Coming of the Longest Night

By Katherine Fabian, Iona Datt Sharma,

Book cover of Sing for the Coming of the Longest Night

This beautiful and immersive novella is a winter-solstice-themed story about a woman and a genderqueer character who have nothing in common except for their mysterious, chaotic, magical, missing boyfriend. His magical experiment goes wrong and finding him requires them to cooperate. They make their way through a strange and wonderful set of clues that bring them closer together. Layla and Nat were both so richly drawn, and the contrast between their ordinary lives and the eerie, ineffable nature of the magic made the book so memorable for me. The whole cast is marvelously queer, and I laughed out loud a couple of times. A gem.

Sing for the Coming of the Longest Night

By Katherine Fabian, Iona Datt Sharma,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Sing for the Coming of the Longest Night as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The world you know is underneath the substance of another, with cracks in the firmament that let the light of its magic in…

Layla and Nat have nothing in common but their boyfriend – enigmatic, brilliant Meraud – and their deep mutual dislike. But when Meraud disappears after an ambitious magical experiment goes wrong, they may be the only ones who can follow the trail of cryptic clues that will bring him safely home.

To return Meraud to this world, the two of them will confront every obstacle: the magic of the wild unknowable, a friendly vicar who's only concerned…


Who am I?

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.


I wrote...

Thornfruit

By Felicia Davin,

Book cover of Thornfruit

What is my book about?

Gifted with the ability to read minds, Alizhan operates as a thief of secrets. When she becomes the target of a deadly plot, she escapes the city, aided by quiet farm girl Ev—and the two draw closer as they uncover a sweeping conspiracy.

The Tenant

By Katrina Jackson,

Book cover of The Tenant

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.

The Tenant

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…


Who am I?

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.


I wrote...

Thornfruit

By Felicia Davin,

Book cover of Thornfruit

What is my book about?

Gifted with the ability to read minds, Alizhan operates as a thief of secrets. When she becomes the target of a deadly plot, she escapes the city, aided by quiet farm girl Ev—and the two draw closer as they uncover a sweeping conspiracy.

Of Kindred and Stardust

By Archer Kay Leah,

Book cover of Of Kindred and Stardust

This is hands down one of my favorite science fiction books ever, and it is very atypical for science fiction. No big space battles, no hungry aliens. Just three people trying to figure out their lives and how they work together, all while humanity prepares to launch our first expeditions beyond the solar system. Of Kindred and Stardust features a diverse cast (in terms of ethnicity and gender), a polyamorous romance, and a polytheistic protagonist who keeps an altar for the Goddess and ancestors in his room and who looks forward to attending his family’s solstice celebration. This is what the future might actually look like, with polytheism (and polyamory) fully accepted into society.

Of Kindred and Stardust

By Archer Kay Leah,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

After four years in the Alpha Centauri solar system, astrobiologist Dath Bellin is relieved to be back at ECHO-Crosspoint Space Station. His next mission: return to Earth and take a vacation. There's family to see, R&R to catch up on, and Imbolc to celebrate with his Druid grove—everything he could hope for from a Canadian winter. Unfortunately, everything goes wrong before he can even leave the station. There's also the matter of his exes, whom he can't have back no matter how much he wants them, not after his horrible mistake.

For the past four years, Mack Ainsley Tsallis and…


Who am I?

I grew up with a serious passion for mythology and fairy tales. By the time I reached college, I knew that would be my path in life: honoring the Old Deities, honoring the earth, and writing new myths and fairy tales. To that end, I have published numerous short stories, novellas, and poems (the majority with a Pagan focus), serve on the board of directors of a Pagan publisher and a Pagan non-profit organization, and edit a Pagan literary ezine.


I wrote...

Asphalt Gods, and Other Pagan Urban Fantasy Tales

By Rebecca Buchanan,

Book cover of Asphalt Gods, and Other Pagan Urban Fantasy Tales

What is my book about?

In this collection of fifteen stories, Rebecca Buchanan explores the intersection of Gods, faith, mythology, and magic in cities both ancient and modern, Earth-bound and alien.

New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. A world-walker searching for her long-lost father. A fairy godmother who only wants her beloved to be happy. A case of magical sabotage in ancient Egypt. A murderer pursued by the spirits of vengeance. A necropolis in a modern-day museum. A mage who liberates stolen magical artifacts. A secret hidden in the basement of a dead man. A truth hidden in a silent film. A police station in a magical city. And two brothers seeking magical revenge. All of these adventures await you in Asphalt Gods.

Polyamory

By Deborah M. Anapol,

Book cover of Polyamory: The New Love Without Limits

I have found this book to be essential reading for my own life as well as in providing culturally-competent and effective counseling for clients in my private practice. 

Rowman and Littlefield has been a pioneer in publishing books with accurate and up-to-date information about consensual non-monogamy, LGBTQ issues, and kink and BDSM relationships. This is especially important as they make these books available to universities and other institutions that are training therapists and psychologists so that these clinicians will be qualified to work with these specialized populations that are so often misunderstood and cannot find appropriate mental health services. In addition, these books are written so that the layperson can understand and benefit from them. As a result, individuals who are seeking guidance and information about alternative sexualities and non-traditional relationships can easily utilize these books in their own lives.

Dr. Deborah Anapol wrote what is recognized as the first…

Polyamory

By Deborah M. Anapol,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

POLYAMORY: THE NEW LOVE WITHOUT LIMITS, SECRETS OF SUSTAINABLE IN TIMATE RELATIONSHIPS


Who am I?

I am a nurse, counselor, and hypnotherapist in Berkeley, California, providing affordable mental health services to alternative communities for the past 30 years. I have been a card-carrying bisexual and polyamorist for fifty years. Because there were so few books for people in polyamorous relationships, I was frustrated by the lack of resources both for myself and my clients. This inspired me to write four books on this subject: Love in Abundance and The Jealousy Workbook, both published by Greenery Press, The Polyamory Break-up Book: Causes, Survival, and Prevention, published by Thorntree Press, and Polyamorous Elders: Aging in Open Relationships published by Rowman and Littlefield.  


I wrote...

Polyamorous Elders: Aging in Open Relationships

By Kathy Labriola,

Book cover of Polyamorous Elders: Aging in Open Relationships

What is my book about?

This book explores a unique group of elders, ages fifty-five and older, who practice some form of consensually nonmonogamous relationships. It covers both the joys and challenges of multiple relationships for elders and explores how their relationships develop and evolve. Polyamorous elders have the complexities of juggling multiple relationships, as well as managing all the issues of aging: managing medical conditions and disabilities (their own and/or their partners’); assuming caregiving responsibilities for aging relatives; grieving the deaths of parents, siblings, and partners; retiring from careers and starting new lives; and potentially moving into some form of senior living. The book can help polyamorous elders and their loved ones, as well as therapists and other professionals, to better understand the concerns and diverse lifestyles of this fascinating group.

Book cover of The Mustachioed Woman of Shanghai

Decidedly contemporary China’s most provocative foreign writer, Isham Cook has spent the past decade in Beijing penning books about taboo subject matter that heretofore few expat authors have been willing to publicly reveal about their lives here. Specifically, prurience and libertine excess. I liken him as a reincarnated Edmund Backhouse with a hint of Henry Miller and a dash of de Sade. In his putative memoir The Mustachioed Woman of Shanghai, Cook reimagines himself as an Asian woman in order to psychoanalyze his past relationships with Chinese girlfriends whom he tormented with polyamory. If nothing else, read this for its sheer audacity.

The Mustachioed Woman of Shanghai

By Isham Cook,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

An erotic thriller of "ambitious, Faulknerian structure" (Kirkus Reviews)exposing what's really going on with relationships in China today.

It is the Shanghai of courtesans and concubines, danger and decadence, updated to 2020. American expat author Isham Cook has disappeared. His last known history is chronicled by an exotic woman who seems right out of 1930s Shanghai herself, Marguerite, a mustachioed Afghan-American who weaves Persian rugs and deals in psychedelics. As she tells it, Isham's story all began with Luna, a beguiling but troubled Chinese woman who happens to have a mustache herself. Also vying for Isham's affection is the charismatic…


Who am I?

Peeking over the American fence, I found myself in China in 2004 as the nation was transitioning from its quaint 1980s/90s self into the futuristic “China 2.0” we know it today. My occupation, like many expats, was small-town English teacher. I later departed for what would become a two-year backpacking sojourn across all 33 Chinese provinces, the first foreigner on record to do so. Since then, I have published three books about China, with two specifically focusing on the expatriate experience. This quirky yet timeless subgenre is my guilty pleasure; the following are but five of five hundred I’d love to recommend.


I wrote...

An American Bum in China: Featuring the bumblingly brilliant escapades of expatriate Matthew Evans

By Tom Carter, John Dobson (illustrator),

Book cover of An American Bum in China: Featuring the bumblingly brilliant escapades of expatriate Matthew Evans

What is my book about?

Down on his luck and disabled, cancer survivor Matthew Evans had nothing to lose by fleeing the farmsteads of Muscatine, Iowa, at age 21 to pursue his Chinese Dream. With all the makings of a classic unAmerican folk tale, his curiosity became an epic five-year adventure that would find him homeless, stateless, posing as a professor, imprisoned, deported, and caught right in the middle of the 2014 Hong Kong protests, the only known foreigner present from beginning to end. Though it has all the form of great fiction – indeed, many a reviewer have referenced that old Mark Twain quote, “Truth is stranger than fiction” – An American Bum in China is indeed a true story...and all the crazier for it.

Egalia's Daughters

By Gerd Brantenberg,

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

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.

Egalia's Daughters

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…


Who am I?

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.


I wrote...

The Giddy Death of the Gays & the Strange Demise of Straights

By Redfern Jon Barrett,

Book cover of The Giddy Death of the Gays & the Strange Demise of Straights

What is my book about?

Caroline and Dom live out their normal lives amongst the poverty, alcoholics, and street preachers of Swansea, Wales. But when Dom and his straight roommate fall in love — a passionate, secret, non-sexual love — their lives are transformed into queer chaos of cross-dressing, gender-bending, and free love. Will Dom hold on to his relationship? Can religious fundamentalists be adopted as pets? And just what are The Lesbians up to? The battle between preachers and drag queens, skinheads and sex workers, boyfriend and girlfriend, is set to change their lives forever.

The Giddy Death of the Gays & the Strange Demise of Straights is a tender comedy with a focus on the ever-changing nature of love.

Okay Fine Whatever

By Courtenay Hameister,

Book cover of Okay Fine Whatever: The Year I Went from Being Afraid of Everything to Only Being Afraid of Most Things

An uproarious tell-all about blooming late, taking chances, and being vulnerable. In an effort to cope with the loss of a defining career and face down a lifetime of insecurities about her body, the author decides to tackle anything (self-exploratory-wise) that would normally send her screaming for the hills. Reluctantly but determinately, she takes the plunge into internet dating, professional cuddling, sensory deprivation, polyamory, Brazilian waxing, and more—all the while getting throat-punched by anxiety. Self-deprecating and ribald, Hameister’s anecdotes illustrate that sometimes pulling up one’s big girl panties can actually mean taking them off.

Okay Fine Whatever

By Courtenay Hameister,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

During the nine years Courtenay Hameister hosted NPR's Live Wire, she lived in a state of near-constant dread and anxiety and she didn't just fret about and fear her next radio show; she fretted about and feared everything.

Until about a year ago, when she decided to take arms against a sea of anxieties and by opposing... maybe not end them but at least become a little more adventurous, spontaneous and comfortable in her own skin. OKAY FINE WHATEVER tells the story of Courtenay's year-long fight against her own nature, which took the form of pushing herself to try new…


Who am I?

When writing my memoir about serving in the Peace Corps, I knew with every keystroke I was opening myself up for public censure. The things that I needed to get down on paper were not pretty things; they did not show me in a favorable light. I also knew it was the only way to tell my tale. Honesty is compelling even (perhaps especially) when the truth is ugly. Female voices in contemporary literature are raw, messy, and unapologetic. The appeal of candid “femoir” is undeniable, as evidenced by runaway bestsellers in recent years (I’m looking at you, Eat, Pray, Love and Wild). Discover more hidden gems below.


I wrote...

The Color of the Elephant

By Christine Herbert,

Book cover of The Color of the Elephant

What is my book about?

An outstanding new voice in memoir, Christine Herbert takes the reader on a “time-machine tour” of her Peace Corps volunteer service as a health worker and educator from 2004-2006 in Zambia. Rather than a retrospective, this narrative unfolds in the present tense, propelling the reader alongside the memoirist through a fascinating exploration of a life lived “off the grid.” 

At turns harrowing, playful, dewy-eyed, and wise, the author’s heart and candor illuminates every chapter, whether she is the heroine of the tale or her own worst enemy. Even at her most petulant, the laugh-out-loud humor scuppers any “white savior” mentality and lays bare the undeniable humanity—and humility—of the storyteller. Through it all, an undeniable love for Zambia—its people, land, and culture—shines through. A must-read for the armchair adventurer!

Or, view all 25 books about polyamory

New book lists related to polyamory

All book lists related to polyamory

Bookshelves related to polyamory