September 23rd marks Bi Visibility Day (or Celebrate Bisexuality Day), which originated in 1999 (the same year as the Trans Day of Remembrance). Queer women books make up the majority of my reading, so in honor of this day, I thought I’d share with you some of my favourite bisexual women books! These all have bi women as main characters. I’m always looking for more, so let me know if I’ve missed one of your favorites!
My Education by Susan Choi
“Young university student takes course with notorious professor, begins affair with him.” It sounds like the plot to a whole host of skin-crawling “literary” novels, but there’s a twist: when Regina meets his wife, she’s far more interested in her. The relationship between these two women is intense, all-consuming, and almost definitely doomed. It’s absorbing in the same way a train wreck is. The characters are deeply flawed and often insufferable, but also relateable. It reminded me of my first all-consuming love (and its fall out), so I couldn’t help sympathizing with Regina.
Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado
This is a brilliant book of short stories that deserves all the praise that it’s been getting. It blends queerness, fabulism, and feminism into a sometimes uncomfortable, always engrossing work. My favourite is “The Husband Stitch,” which is a retelling of the classic campfire story about the girl with the green ribbon tied around her neck. Within this narrative, other urban legends and ghost stories are woven in, and we are shown the misogyny that lies at the heart of each of these familiar stories. It was such a gift to be able to read a masterfully written collection that unapologetically centers feminism and bisexuality.
The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Evelyn Hugo is an aging movie star. In her 80s, she has chosen a little-known online reporter and fashion writer, Monique Grant, to write her biography. As Monique ponders how she ended up in this situation, Evelyn lays out her life story. The central question Monique has for Evelyn is “Which of your seven husbands was the love of your life?” It soon becomes obvious that none of them were. In fact, the love of her life was a woman, and much of Evelyn’s story is about this struggle between this relationship and her role as a Hollywood starlet. Evelyn does anything necessary to pursue her dreams and protect herself and her chosen family, which includes using people. She is flawed, but sympathetic, and one of the most fascinating characters I’ve ever read.
Bearly a Lady by Cassandra Khaw
Plus size fashionista werebear romcom novella. Need I say more? (Possibly.) This novella is just over 100 pages, and it makes for a quick and charming read. Zelda (!) works for a fashion magazine, so she is understandably irritated that her clothing keeps getting ruined when she transforms into a bear. While she gets involved in the world of the fae (and did I mention her vampire roommate?), most of the book revolves around her romantic entanglements. She has several love interests over the course of the novella, and more of the “page time” is given to M/F romance, but the most significant relationship is F/F.
My Lady’s Choosing: An Interactive Romance Novel by Kitty Curran and Larissa Zageris
The idea behind a choose-your-own-adventure romance novel is already amazing, but adding in a lady love interest option? I’m sold. My Lady’s Choosing is a parody of classic love interests like Mr. Darcy or Mr. Rochester, and the paths that you choose send you into dramatically different genres, each with their own plot line. It provides this amazing opportunity–you know when you’re reading a book or watching a movie, and the main character clearly has the most chemistry with her best friend, and you wish they would just get together instead? In this book, you get to do that! You get to wrench the story away from the expected plot and instead go explore a mystery in Egypt with the intriguing woman you just met! It’s a dream. I ended up enjoying it so much that I went back and tried almost every path, and I enjoyed them all!
Sexual Fluidity: Understanding Women’s Love and Desire by Lisa M. Diamond
This is one of the most life-changing books that I have ever read, but I would only recommend it with some caveats. The concept of sexual fluidity that I learned from reading this was a huge help for my own understanding of my identity and romantic history, but it does feel like a very important first step–not the final say on the subject. My main complaint is that it is cissexist, framing things on a male/female binary with no significant inclusion of trans people (despite the fact that at least one of the people followed transitioned during the time the study took place). Whether you’re unfamiliar with the concept of sexual fluidity or you feel like it might be a part of your identity, I highly recommend picking this up to add another dimension to how we think about sexual and romantic attraction. (But I do hope an updated book on this topic comes out soon that’s trans inclusive.)
Sugar Town by Hazel Newlevant
This book makes my heart happy. It’s about Hazel, who’s in an open, long-distance relationship with her boyfriend. She meets Argent, a kind and confident domme who helps her learn about negotiating polyamorous relationships. This is such a heart-warming book for me because the relationships are supportive, and everyone is kind and communicative. They have their flaws, but Hazel freely discusses how she’s dealing with her jealousy issues, and Argent is actively addressing her mental health concerns. They check in with each other. It’s gentle and sweet, and the colorful art reflects the tone. This is a very quick read, but it’s one of my favorites.
The Legend of Korra: Turf Wars (Volumes 1-3) by Michael Dante DiMartino
If you’re a fan of The Legend of Korra, you’ve probably already picked up the comics, but even if you weren’t completely sold on the show, it’s well worth trying Turf Wars. (I will admit that I’m not sure how this would translate if you haven’t watched Korra, or if you’ve watched neither Korra nor Avatar: The Last Airbender.) Spoilers for the TV show: this picks up directly where the show leaves off, except where Korrasami was pretty clear by the show finale, it’s 100% canon in the comics. In fact, the first part of the comics is just the two of them on a romantic vacation. And isn’t that exactly what we wanted?
Little & Lion by Brandy Colbert
Although it may not be happening as quickly as I’d like, we are finally getting more diverse, intersectional stories being told (especially in YA). Where once having a bi protagonist at all was a huge leap in representation, we now have books like Little & Lion, which features a bi, black, Jewish main character whose brother, Lionel, has recently been diagnosed as bipolar. The two of them were once very close, but after his diagnosis, she was sent away to boarding school. Now she’s back, and they’re struggling to build their relationship back up. This deals deftly with microaggressions, and with the complex relationships that spin out between characters.
Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Córdova
Alex, a Brooklyn bruja (witch) who resents her own powers. They have only caused trouble for her family, she believes, and she’s in no hurry to summon the spirits of her dead ancestors in order to access it. It’s not that easy to run from herself, though, and when her attempts to disavow her powers go spectacularly wrong, she’s forced to enter another world to repair the damage. Daniel Jose Older calls this a mix between Alice in Wonderland and Dante’s Inferno, and I can’t say it better than that. There is a love triangle here between Alex, a brooding brujo she has just met, and Rishi, her bubbly best friend. (You can guess who I was rooting for.) Definitely pick this up for a YA fantasy based in Latin American and Afro-Cuban cultures and beliefs–a welcome departure from the typical Eurocentric fantasy fare.
Adaptation and Inheritance (and the Natural Selection lo novella) by Malinda Lo
The Adaptation duology is one of my all-time YA favorites. The first book begins with chaos: birds are dropping dead out of the skies in droves, planes are crashing simultaneously, the government is censoring any information about the event, and panic ensues–including looting. This is the first chapter. From there, the tension only ratchets up, and the entire book has a strong X-Files vibe. There government cover up and–possibly–aliens. There is a love triangle here, but it’s not a typical one. Inheritance is slightly less tense than the first book, but it is fascinating, and it grapples with all the questions raised in Adaptation. I also recommend Natural Selection, the “Adaptation #1.5” novella, which gives some background to Amber, one of Reese’s love interests.
Drum Roll, Please by Lisa Jenn Bigelow
Drum Roll, Please is a middle-grade novel about Melly, who just found out that her parents are getting divorced when they dropped her off at music camp. Now she’s trying to process this information, as well as her best friend’s new obsession, when she meets Adeline. Adeline is her bandmate, and she seems to be the only one who can break through Melly’s shell. This is, to be fair, more “questioning” than “bisexual” rep: Melly doesn’t settle on a label in the book. She’s 13, and she’s just had her first crush on a girl (though she has had a long-term crush on a boy before). She’s still figuring herself out, and her romantic/sexual identity is the least of it.
Star-Crossed by Barbara Dee
Look at how cute this cover is! Star-Crossed is another middle grade novel, which we are just starting to see represent queer kids. This one balances Shakespeare references (they’re putting on Romeo and Juliet) and the dizzying experience of a middle school crush. This is a perfectly light, fluffy read that could mean so much to a questioning or openly bisexual tween. It doesn’t use the word bisexual, but Mattie acknowledges that she gets crushes on boys and girls.
Those are some of my favorite bisexual women books! Let me know if I’ve missed any of your favorites!