Happy Pride! This year I’m bringing you 8 must-read sapphic books to devour this Pride Month and all year round. Each book centers on a sapphic main character and the f/f romance is central to the overall plot and character development.
This list spans multiple genres from the fluffy contemporary to a nail-biting thriller to sci-fi and fantasy worlds. I’ve read and loved all of the books on this list and wholeheartedly recommend them to every reader, any time of the year!
- 8 Sapphic Books to Read for Pride & Always
- Dead End Girls by Wendy Heard
- Cinderella is Dead by Kalynn Bayron
- Trouble Girls by Julie Lynn Rubin
- Dead Dead Girls by Nekesa Afia
- I Hope You’re Listening by Tom Ryan
- Crier’s War by Nina Varela
- This Is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone
- Her Royal Highness (Royals #2) by Rachel Hawkins
- Want MORE Sapphic Book Recommendations?
- Bookshop List
- Let’s Chat!
8 Sapphic Books to Read for Pride & Always
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Dead End Girls by Wendy Heard
Publisher: Christy Ottaviano Books • Publication Date: May 10, 2022 • Genre: Thriller • Pages: 336
The why is complex: revenge, partly. Her terrible parents deserve this. But there’s also l’appel du vide, the call of the void, that beckons her toward a new life where she will be tied to no one, free and adrift. Then Frankie, a step-cousin she barely knows, figures out what she’s plotting, and the plan seems like it’s ruined. Except Frankie doesn’t want to rat her out. Frankie wants in. The girls vault into the unknown, risking everything for a new and limitless life. But there are some things you can never run away from. What if the poison is not in the soil, but in the roots?
This pulse-pounding thriller offers a nuanced exploration of identity, freedom, and falling in love while your world falls apart.
💢 Angry girls
🌪️ Twisty thriller
💗 Identity and self-discovery
Told in dual timelines, Dead End Girls is the sapphic thriller you didn’t know you needed in your life! Tightly plotted, the book is full of action and high stakes that is utterly addictive and impossible to put down. I was on the edge of my seat the whole time while listening. Protect Maude & Frankie!
Cinderella is Dead by Kalynn Bayron
Publisher: Bloomsbury YA • Publication Date: July 7, 2021 • Genre: Fantasy • Pages: 389
Sixteen-year-old Sophia would much rather marry Erin, her childhood best friend, than parade in front of suitors. At the ball, Sophia makes the desperate decision to flee, and finds herself hiding in Cinderella’s mausoleum. There, she meets Constance, the last known descendant of Cinderella and her step sisters. Together they vow to bring down the king once and for all–and in the process, they learn that there’s more to Cinderella’s story than they ever knew . . .
This fresh take on a classic story will make readers question the tales they’ve been told, and root for girls to break down the constructs of the world around them.
This Cinderella retelling has a queer black girl overthrowing the patriarchy and is a must-read! Bayron’s debut YA fantasy weaves together an intensely powerful story that reimagines the fairy tales we all know and weaves them together with the ways society uses story to control people.
Trouble Girls by Julie Lynn Rubin
Publisher: Wednesday Books • Publication Date: June 1, 2021 • Genre: Contemporary • Pages: 272
When Trixie picks up her best friend Lux for their weekend getaway, she’s looking to escape for a little while, to forget the despair of being trapped in their dead-end Rust Belt town and the daunting responsibility of caring for her ailing mother. The girls are packing light: a supply of Diet Coke for Lux and her ‘89 Canon to help her frame the world in a sunnier light; half a pack of cigarettes for Trixie that she doesn’t really smoke, and a knife—one she’s just hanging on to for a friend—that she’s never used before.
But a single night of violence derails their trip and will forever change the course of the girls’ lives, as they go from ordinary high schoolers to wanted fugitives. Trying to stay ahead of the cops and a hellscape of media attention, the girls grapple with an unforgiving landscape, rapidly diminishing supplies, and disastrous decisions at every turn. As they are transformed by the media into the face of a #MeToo movement they didn’t ask to lead and the road before them begins to run out, Trixie and Lux realize that they can only rely on each other, and that the love they find together is the one thing that truly makes them free.
In rushing, powerful prose Julia Lynn Rubin takes readers on “a blistering, unapologetic thrill ride” (Emma Berquis) that will leave them haunted and reeling. Trouble Girls is “a powerful, beautifully-written gut punch” (Sophie Gonzales).
Trouble Girls unapologetically examines rape culture through this queer reimaginging of the iconic 1991 movie “Thelma & Louise”. If you enjoy stories centered on friendship and the love between best friends who become more, truly ride-or-die friendships of strong women, this book may be for you.
Dead Dead Girls by Nekesa Afia
Publisher: Berkley Books • Publication Date: June 1, 2021 • Genre: Historical, Mystery • Pages: 336
Harlem, 1926. Young black girls like Louise Lloyd are ending up dead.
Following a harrowing kidnapping ordeal when she was in her teens, Louise is doing everything she can to maintain a normal life. She’s succeeding, too. She spends her days working at Maggie’s Café and her nights at the Zodiac, Manhattan’s hottest speakeasy. Louise’s friends might say she’s running from her past and the notoriety that still stalks her, but don’t tell her that.
When a girl turns up dead in front of the café, Louise is forced to confront something she’s been trying to ignore–several local black girls have been murdered over the past few weeks. After an altercation with a local police officer gets her arrested, Louise is given an ultimatum: She can either help solve the case or let a judge make an example of her.
Louise has no choice but to take the case and soon finds herself toe-to-toe with a murderous mastermind. She’ll have to tackle her own fears and the prejudices of New York City society if she wants to catch a killer and save her own life in the process.
I’m a simple gal, I see this on Twitter and immediately add the book to my TBR: “if you want a jazz age murder mystery starring a tiny, tired lesbian, look no further than DEAD DEAD GIRLS.” And let me tell you: this debut historical mystery did not disappoint! With an amazing atmosphere, complex characters, and engaging plot, I devoured this book in two sittings and can’t wait for Louise’s next adventure.
I Hope You’re Listening by Tom Ryan
Publisher: Albert Whitman • Publication Date: October 6, 2020 • Genre: Mystery • Pages: 368
In her small town, seventeen-year-old Delia “Dee” Skinner is known as the girl who wasn’t taken. Ten years ago she witnessed the abduction of her best friend, Sibby. And though she told the police everything she remembered, it wasn’t enough. Sibby was never seen again.
At night, Dee deals with her guilt by becoming someone else: the Seeker, the voice behind the popular true crime podcast Radio Silent, which features missing persons cases and works with online sleuths to solve them. Nobody knows Dee’s the Seeker, and she plans to keep it that way.
When another little girl in town goes missing, and the case is linked to Sibby’s disappearance, Dee has a chance to get answers with the help of her virtual detectives and the intriguing new girl at school. But how much of her own story is she willing to reveal in order to uncover the truth?
Fast-paced and intricately plotted, I Hope You’re Listening is a fresh addition to the mixed media + podcast motif in thrillers that fans of Sadie will want to pick up! Many mystery/thriller stories are told with the past and present interwoven together in a nonlinear exposition. But let me tell you: Tom Ryan impressed me with his use of this storytelling device with the tonal shift between flashbacks and present day POVs!
Crier’s War by Nina Varela
Publisher: Quill Tree Books • Publication Date: October 1, 2019 • Genre: Sci-fi • Pages: 435
A love that could birth a revolution.
After the War of Kinds ravaged the kingdom of Rabu, the Automae, Designed to be the playthings of royals, took over the estates of their owners and bent the human race to their will.
Now, Ayla, a human servant rising the ranks at the House of the Sovereign, dreams of avenging the death of her family… by killing the Sovereign’s daughter, Lady Crier. Crier, who was Made to be beautiful, to be flawless. And to take over the work of her father.
Crier had been preparing to do just that—to inherit her father’s rule over the land. But that was before she was betrothed to Scyre Kinok, who seems to have a thousand secrets. That was before she discovered her father isn’t as benevolent as she thought. That was before she met Ayla.
Set in a richly-imagined fantasy world, Nina Varela’s debut novel is a sweepingly romantic tale of love, loss and revenge, that challenges what it really means to be human.
I read an eARC of this book in Fall 2019 and let me tell you: I still think about it. I adored the book so much but never got around to writing a review (what are words?!). Enemies to lovers and sapphic, but the whole world is so good. I really should re-read this one.
This Is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone
Publisher: Saga Press • Publication Date: July 16, 2019 • Genre: Sci-fi • Pages: 209
Except the discovery of their bond would mean death for each of them. There’s still a war going on, after all. And someone has to win that war.
This is a beautifully written and poetic experience masquerading as a novella. This Is How You Lose the Time War is a character-driven story; it is all about Red and Blue and their unlikely correspondences through time and space. There is much that you can glean from these letters about the world of this story, bits that you can piece together into a tableau. But this is not a book you strive to understand or pick apart. Its beauty lies in the purple prose, the story within two characters on opposing sides of war.
Her Royal Highness (Royals #2) by Rachel Hawkins
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers • Publication Date: May 7, 2019 • Genre: Contemporary • Pages: 274
Millie can’t believe her luck when she’s accepted into one of the world’s most exclusive schools, located in the rolling highlands of Scotland. Everything about Scotland is different: the country is misty and green; the school is gorgeous, and the students think Americans are cute.
The only problem: Mille’s roommate Flora is a total princess.
She’s also an actual princess. Of Scotland.
At first, the girls can barely stand each other–Flora is both high-class and high-key–but before Millie knows it, she has another sort-of-best-friend/sort-of-girlfriend. Even though Princess Flora could be a new chapter in her love life, Millie knows the chances of happily ever afters are slim . . . after all, real life isn’t a fairy tale . . . or is it?
Boarding schools and royalty? Check. Set in Scotland? Check! This is a fluffy contemporary and I adore it. The characters feel like real people with complex histories in this will-they-won’t-they sapphic romance. While Her Royal Highness is second in a series (which the publisher has since canceled due to low sales 😭) but can be read as a standalone. The first book, Royals, is also fluffy and fun, but is not sapphic.
Want MORE Sapphic Book Recommendations?
This recommendation list is focused on books in which the main character is sapphic and in a f/f relationship, but there are lots of amazing books I’ve read with on-page f/f representation with the ensemble cast.
- Check out the f/f romance tag to see all books I’ve reviewed on Reader Voracious with feature sapphic characters – and check out the Diversity Index if you’re looking for other specific rep!
- Fadwa @ Words Wonder shared a master list of 400+ f/f books!
- Follow Reads Rainbow, a blog dedicated to LGBT media for reviews and book recommendations , and check out their sapphic tag
- Follow LGBTQ Reads, a blog dedicated to LGBTQ books run by author Dahlia Adler
The publishing industry is always focused on the new and shiny releases, typically ceasing promotion within a week of the book birthday. I hope that this list brought some new books to your attention and I hope you are able to support the ones you’re interested in!
Which sapphic books have you read and would recommend? Let’s talk in the comments!
LOVE ALL OF THESE!!
YOU HAVE EXCELLENT TASTE, SARAH!
Lay @ bookshelfsoliloquies says
Dead End Girls and I Hope You’re Listening are some of my favourite books I read in 2022! I just love me a good YA thriller/murder mystery, especially when it’s sapphic. Pretty much everything else is on my TBR and I’m particularly excited to finally read This Is How You Lose the Time War, I’ve heard such good things about it!
I am so glad you read and love those books as well, they were so enjoyable for me! I hope you enjoy Time War when you get to it — it’s a unique reading experience, that’s for sure, and it won’t be for everyone.
Oh look, even more books to add to my never ending TBR😂 I’ll happily add any sapphic book to my mountain.
These books look so good on your TBR Mountain, Bianca!
Nicole @ BookWyrm Knits says
I’ve read a couple of books from your list, and have Cinderella is Dead on my TBR to read soon! (hopefully…) While I really liked This Is How You Win the Time War, Dead Dead Girls was not my kind of book. That’s 100% me, though—I’m not usually a fan of gritty books, and I had gotten the impression that this was a cozy (which it most definitely is NOT). I’ll have to check out some of the others from your list! I Hope You’re Listening sounds really neat.
I can see not enjoying Dead Dead Girls if you were looking for a cozy! I hope you enjoy Cinderella is Dead and any other books you happen to pick up though.
caro @ bookcheshirecat says
Great post! 💕 I have been meaning to read I Hope You’re Listening for ages, as it sounds right up my alley 🥰 I love books that include podcasts and mixed media!
Thank you and YES PLEASE READ IT! I feel like I am alone on this Tom Ryan Thriller Island and I want people to talk to about his books haha.
I have Dead End Girls on my TBR, but thank you for making me add more because of this list!
YESSSS, another victi— reader! I hope you enjoy them as much as I did when you read, Inah!
Lover of Romance says
I really love this list that you have shared, we need more sapphic recommendations out there as I feel like they can be more difficult to find than others. I have heard that Cinderella one is super fantastic.
I agree! There are many sapphic books but not as many lists featuring them as with other LGBTQIAP+ recs. Cinderella is Dead is SO GOOD, I highly recommend it. Thanks for reading!
Kat @ Bookish Blades says
Out of this list, I’ve only read Her Royal Highness and Crier’s War and while I enjoyed both of them, they were only okay for me 🙁 I’ll definitely give the others on this list a try, though! They all sound really interesting, especially Dead End Girls! 🙂 A sapphic book I really loved recently is The Final Strife by Saara El-Arifi!
Her Royal Highness wasn’t the BEST book I’ve ever read but definitely enjoyable. I still need to re-read Crier’s War so I can finally read Iron Heart, I am so behind on sequels it’s sad. Oooh thanks for the rec, I am going to check out The Final Strife!
Marie @ drizzle & hurricane books says
Ah what an excellent list, Kal, thank you SO much for putting this together! I’ve been reading more thrillers lately and I have to say, I’m intrigued by Dead End Girls!