2020 Sapphic Book Roundup

Happy New Year’s Eve! It’s been a horrible year, but you already knew that. One silver lining I’ve been able to find is that there have been a ton of sapphic book releases this year (and even more announced for the coming years). Before 2020, I had never before read a book with queer women characters that I could actually enjoy; in fact, that’s what inspired me to write my senior thesis, a new adult sapphic rom-com (that will *fingers crossed* have a complete first draft sometime this spring). But things are changing. And this year, I read 23 whole sapphic books, most of them really amazing.

Here is a list of all the sapphic books I read this year, in order of when I read them. I’m not going to include the summaries, but I’ll link their respective Goodreads pages so you can find them, as well as links to my reviews!

The Library of the Unwritten by A.J. Hackwith
(Hell’s Library #1)
Genre: Adult Fantasy Tags: Books about books, demons, afterlife
Published October 1, 2019
The Library of the Unwritten is a masterpiece and easily one of the coolest concepts I read all year. Found family, the importance of the life of books and their characters, all of the world-building and frustrating (but lovable) characters—what more could you want? Note: The plot is definitely not queer- or romance-centric, but the main character is a pansexual Black woman, another main character is queer, and there are other queer side characters.

Murder at the Estate Sale by Lily Charles
(Molly & Emma Bookseller Mystery Series #1)
Genre: Adult Mystery Tags: Books about books
Published August 12, 2020
Murder at the Estate Sale is the first in a series of bibliomystery novels about occult booksellers Molly and Emma. I’m definitely looking forward to the next installment. You can read my review here.

Music from Another World by Robin Talley
Published March 31, 2020
Genre: YA Historical Romance Tags: Music, coming out
This was the first Robin Talley novel I read, but it certainly won’t be the last (and it wasn’t, as I’ve read her second 2020 release, further down on this list). I love books in epistolary form, and this was such a gripping historical romance story about two teen girls in the seventies, sprinkled with queer history. Read my review here.

The Gravity Between Us by Kristen Zimmer
Published October 15, 2013
Genre: New Adult Contemporary Romance Tags: Famous/non-famous, coming out
Warnings: Ableist language, toxic pressure to come out
The Gravity Between Us is one of the New Adult genre’s earlier publications, and also one of the first “New Adult” lesbian books. I read it for an independent study I did about the NA genre in preparation for writing my own sapphic NA novel, and it unfortunately wasn’t my favorite—there were several instances of ableist language, pressure to come out, and more.

Girl Crushed by Katie Heaney
Published April 7, 2020
Genre: YA Contemporary Romance Tags: Sports
Warning: Biphobia
Girl Crushed is a sapphic coming-of-age rom-com about finding your path when things don’t go as planned. It had the potential for lots of funny, poignant, and important moments, but my judgment was clouded by the overt biphobia throughout the novel. Read my review here.

The Scapegracers by Hannah Abigail Clarke
(The Scapegracers #1)
Published September 15, 2020
Genre: YA Fantasy Tags: Witches
Listen, please read The Scapegracers. It was my one of my favorite reads of the year, a bright spot in 2020. Witches! Covens! Occult shops! Goth lesbian outcast protagonist! I loved the characters, the angst, the idea, the writing. Just read it. See my review here.

Burn Our Bodies Down by Rory Power
Published July 7, 2020
Genre: YA Horror Tags: Intergenerational trauma (kind of?), strained mother/daughter relationships
Warnings: Fire, emotional abuse, body horror/gore, death, gun violence
Burn Our Bodies Down was another instant favorite. Rory Power has easily become one of my new favorite authors. There’s corn, fire, strange family mysteries, and looming over it all is the idea of what you inherit from your family. Read my review here.

Wilder Girls by Rory Power
Published July 9, 2020
Genre: YA Horror Tags: Boarding school, quarantine
Warnings: Body horror/gore, death, self-harm, chemical gassing, suicide & suicidal ideation
After reading her sophomore novel that absolutely blew me away, of course I had to read Power’s debut, Wilder Girls. This one was uh… hard to read fairly early on in the pandemic, honestly. It was a very intense, weird read. I wholeheartedly recommend it, but I would consider your own mental health prior to starting it! Full review here.

You Should See Me in a Crown by Leah Johnson
Published June 2, 2020
Genre: YA Contemporary Romance Tags: Prom, coming out
Another instant favorite. Look, 2020 was truly a strong year for sapphic books, and we needed it considering the rest of what 2020 gave us. Liz Lighty and Mack were such a cute match, and the end of the book had me in happy tears. Also, Alaska Jackson was an amazing narrator! I literally cannot wait for Leah Johnson’s next book.

I Think I Love You by Auriane Desombre
Releases March 2, 2021
Genre: YA Contemporary Romance Tags: Movies/TV, enemies-to-lovers, coming out
I’ll be honest, this wasn’t my favorite book of the year. The reason for Emma and Sophia’s enmity was flimsy, I couldn’t sympathize with any of the characters, and it just didn’t work for me. If you’re looking for a summery rom-com full of shenanigans, though, I think you’ll still enjoy I Think I Love You.

Once Ghosted, Twice Shy

Once Ghosted, Twice Shy by Alyssa Cole
(Reluctant Royals #2.5)
Published January 8, 2019
Genre: Adult Romance Tags: Second-chance romance
I’d never read any of Alyssa Cole’s other books, even the ones that come before this one in the series, but Once Ghosted, Twice Shy popped up on enough sapphic book lists that I had to give this second-chance romance a try—and I am so glad that I did. The writing and chemistry between Likotsi and Fabiola were just phenomenal. You do not need to read the other books in the series to understand and enjoy this novella.

When We Were Magic by Sarah Gailey
Published March 3, 2020
Genre: YA Fantasy Tags: Witches, friends-to-lovers
Warnings: Murder, gore
Apparently sapphic witches is a genre of book I didn’t know I needed or loved so much, but here we are. This was such a funny, intense, strange book, and I loved every second of it.

Yellow Jessamine by Caitlin Sterling
Published September 5, 2020
Genre: Adult Horror
Warnings: Drugs, murder, gore
I… am not completely sure that I understood what I read in this book. The atmosphere was great, the writing was beautiful, but the ending was odd, to say the least. I think fans of historical fiction, science fiction, and poison (yes, you read that correctly) will enjoy this.

Cinderella is Dead by Kalynn Bayron
Published July 7, 2020
Genre: YA Fantasy Tags: Retelling, coming out
Again, an immediate favorite book. This was so well done! As someone who loves fairy tales and folklore in both leisurely and scholarly ways, Cinderella is Dead was total brain candy for me. Ugh. I love it so much. Read my full review here.

I Kissed Alice by Anna Birch
Published July 28, 2020
Genre: YA Contemporary Romance Tags: Enemies-to-lovers
This was undoubtedly my most anticipated 2020 release, and it let me down. Another book where the animosity between two characters feels weak and unnecessary. I couldn’t connect with any of the characters, either. This is another instance where I think a lot of people will enjoy this book, but I Kissed Alice just wasn’t right for me.

Late to the Party by Kelly Quindlen
Published April 21, 2020
Genre: YA Contemporary Romance Tags: Coming-of-age, summer romance, coming out
I borrowed the audiobook of this from my library on a whim, not even aware that it was sapphic, and I’m so glad that I did. I could really relate to Codi and all of her struggles, and I think it’s a really perfect coming-of-age story with a sweet romance and good friends on top.

The Falling in Love Montage by Ciara Smyth
Published June 9, 2020
Genre: YA/New Adult Contemporary Romance Tags: Summer romance
Warnings: Family member with dementia
Ughhh, The Falling in Love Montage was SO. GOOD. I loved the characters, the premise, everything. I also appreciate how the author chose to resolve the end.

The Henna Wars by Adiba Jaigirdar
Published May 12, 2020
Genre: YA Contemporary Romance Tags: Enemies-to-lovers, coming out
First of all, look at that gorgeous cover. Second of all, I loved this. Just as the Goodreads blurb promises, it totally gave me Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda vibes.

The Year Shakespeare Ruined My Life by Dani Jansen
Published September 22, 2020
Genre: YA Contemporary Romance Tags: Theatre, coming out
Warnings: Mention of homophobic parent, toxic pressure to come out
This was a fun, shenanigan-filled rom-com set mostly on a high school theatre stage. I could definitely relate to Alison and her need to control everyone/thing a little too much. However, I had a problem with how Jansen handled the topic of sexuality throughout the story with different characters. Read my review here.

Plain Bad Heroines by Emily M. Danforth
Published October 20, 2020
Genre: mostly New Adult Horror
Warnings: Multiple on-page character deaths (of queer women), suicide (off-page but mentioned in detail)
I had very complex feelings about this 600-page book. Full review here.

Written in the Stars by Alexandria Bellefleur
Published November 10, 2020
Genre: Adult Contemporary Romance Tags: Fake dating, enemies-to-lovers
I loooooved this book. It was the exact kind of holiday rom-com I needed, and the writing style was so fun to read. Read my review here.

The Love Curse of Melody McIntyre by Robin Talley
Published December 1, 2020
Genre: YA Contemporary Romance Tags: Theatre, coming out
Finally, the aforementioned second Robin Talley novel I read this year! Yet another YA rom-com about theatre shenanigans where plays ruin lives. I absolutely adored The Love Curse of Melody McIntyre. Review here.

Harvest of Sighs by Sierra Simone
(Thornchapel #3)
Published May 1, 2020
Genre: New Adult Fantasy/Erotica Tags: BDSM, magic
Warnings: Mention of rape, character with PTSD, incestuous themes
And last but not least: Harvest of Sighs. I don’t even know where to begin. You definitely need to read the first two books in the series to understand anything that’s happening here. There’s so much going on, and it’s all so beautifully written in lush prose, that the only real thing I can say is read this series if the convergence of strange magical phenomena, pagan rituals, BDSM, old English estates, and polyamory sound like your thing. This installment focuses on two main characters who are in a sapphic relationship, but there are four other main characters and two other main non-sapphic relationships.

Well, that’s a wrap on 2020! What did you read this year?

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