The Sapphic Bookshelf strives to honestly and reliably review, recommend, and discuss books featuring sapphic characters and relationships. The term sapphic here refers to any character who is a woman and identifies as (but is not limited to) lesbian, bisexual, or pansexual. The selection of books mentioned on this blog are not limited by genre.
I’ve seen a few other blogs focused on lesbian-specific books, but I want to be clear about how I define the term sapphic. Sapphic comes from the name Sappho, a Greek lyric poet from antiquity who lived on the island of Lesbos (where the word lesbian comes from) and is believed to have been a lesbian. Colloquially, people sometimes use the word sapphic as a broad term to describe women who identify as (but not limited to) lesbian, bisexual, or pansexual. The Sapphic Bookshelf is interested in reading books focused on characters who are sapphic according to this context.
WHY SUCH A SPECIFIC BOOK BLOG?
At the risk of sounding overly sentimental, The Sapphic Bookshelf is a complete passion project, but one that I hope others might find useful, too.
For a long time, I only read books with m/m and straight representation. It wasn’t a conscious decision I made, but I never sought out books with other identities. On some level, I think I was under the impression that books with sapphic characters were poorly written or… embarrassing isn’t quite the right word, but the point is, I think I read my first book with a lesbian protagonist in early 2019. And I hated it. I can’t even remember what it was; I borrowed it on Libby and almost immediately returned it. It was enough to resolutely turn me away for months.
But then I started seeing all of these book announcements for fantasy series, fairy and folk tale retellings, and cute romantic comedies with f/f relationships coming out in 2020 and 2021. The more I noticed, the more I felt a heavy weight lift from my heart, because for the first time, I found myself looking forward to reading about characters like me. I still haven’t found a plethora of sapphic books that claim me entirely in quite the way I wish they did, but I’m optimistic about the ever-changing terrain of books with sapphic representation. (Though, I’m still holding out hope for the sapphic rom-com of my heart with girls in their twenties falling in love, tropey shenanigans, and happily-ever-after goodness… that I may or may not be setting out to write soon, myself.)
Recently, after realizing that I’d read eight whole books with some kind of sapphic representation this year, I made the conscious decision to seek out more books with sapphic characters and relationships. Even after the small amount I’d read already, I started feeling differently about myself. I’ve never had any issue with my sexuality on a conscious level–I’ve been in a relationship with a woman for a long time and I never had any real trouble coming out. Seeing myself in the books I read has been nothing short of life-changing, but I’ll spare you the more intimate details.
Obviously, the Publishing Industry™ is a constantly changing and intimidating beast. (I say “obviously” as if everyone agrees with me. I feel like it’s a fairly reasonable statement.) There are so many new sapphic titles that sound completely swoon-worthy set to publish now and in the coming future, and there’s just so much potential. I hope to be able to read a lot of these so that I can honestly review and recommend them to you.
TL;DR Reading sapphic books is good for your soul and I want to tell you about as many of them as I can through The Sapphic Bookshelf. Also, representation matters, but we knew that.
Special thanks to E.M. Hall for designing The Sapphic Bookshelf’s logo, header, and overall aesthetic. And thank you, Eleanor, for all of your help building and maintaining this blog!