July is fast approaching and we are well into Pride month, but there’s still plenty of time to add a few queer books to your reading list. If you’re looking for sapphic story recommendations here’s a list of ten lesbian and bisexual books that have been adapted for television and/or film.
Whether you’re familiar with the screen adaptations or not, these ten novels are a must-read for anyone who can’t get enough of queer, female-led stories!
1. ‘The Hours’, by Michael Cunningham
In this Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, Michael Cunningham details a single day in the life of three generations of questionably queer women (in 1923, 1949, and the end of the 20th century) all affected by the classic novel Mrs Dalloway by Virginia Woolf. Transformed into a film of the same name in 2002, starring Nicole Kidman, Julianne Moore, and Meryl Streep, The Hours is a compelling read that sees the lives of three seemingly unconnected women intertwine.
2. ‘The Miseducation of Cameron Post’, by Emily M. Danforth
The debut novel from Emily M. Danforth, The Miseducation of Cameron Post, is a coming-of-age story that addresses themes of sexuality, tradition, and acceptance. The 2018 film adaption of the same name, starring Chloë Grace Moretz, glosses over a few details included within the book yet both are bound to stir your emotions nonetheless.
3. ‘Tipping the Velvet’, by Sarah Waters
The debut novel from Sarah Waters, Tipping the Velvet, was transformed into a television drama by the BBC in 2002. Waters is said to have been surprised that the adaption “faithfully followed the relish and detail of the sexual escapades” depicted in this queer Victorian tale.
4. ‘Fingersmith’, by Sarah Waters
Also by Sarah Waters and set in Victorian-era Britain, Fingersmith is the tale of orphan Sue Trinder and gentlewoman Maud Lilly and their intertwining worlds. Transformed into a two-part BBC mini-series in 2005, this compelling Victorian heist novel will keep you on your toes and guessing until the very end.
5. ‘The Secret Diaries of Miss Anne Lister’, by Anne Lister, Helena Whitbread (Editor)
The Secret Diaries of Miss Anne Lister, decrypted and curated by Helena Whitbread to be published for modern consumption, detail the life of Anne Lister, the “first modern lesbian” who repeatedly defied the role of womanhood. The diaries have been transformed into both a biographical historical drama film in 2010, and a television series in 2019. Whether you begin with the books, film, or series, the diaries of real-life lesbian Anne Lister are a must read for any queer, history fan.
6. ‘Aimée & Jaguar: A Love Story, Berlin 1943’, by Erica Fischer
Set in 1942 Germany, Aimée & Jaguar is the real-life love story of Lilly “Aimée” Wust, wife of a Nazi officer, and Felice “Jaguar” Schragenheim, a Jewish woman living underground in Berlin. Published in 1995 and adapted for screen in 1999, this tragic tale details the persecution of minority groups during World War II and a love that defied the odds.
7. ‘Blue is the Warmest Color (Le bleu est une couleur chaude)’, by Jul Maroh
The 2013 film, Blue is the Warmest Color (La Vie d’Adèle), was a fairly popular watch upon its release eight years ago but has since garnered some controversy. The original French graphic novel from Jul Maroh however, is a compelling (and beautifully illustrated) story of queer love, hardship, and heartbreak that will have you in pieces by the final pages.
8. ‘The Color Purple’, by Alice Walker
This iconic modern classic — winner of the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award — details the troubled life of Celie, a young black girl born into segregation in the 1930s. The Color Purple (both the novel and the 1985 film adaption by Steven Spielberg), tackles many important themes such as race, class, sexual assault, domestic abuse, and religion. One theme however, which is not depicted so plainly in the film, is the central same-sex relationship between our protagonist and the glamorous Shug Avery; reason enough to give this unforgettable book a read.
9. ‘I Can’t Think Straight’, by Shamim Sarif
In this 2008 novel author Shamim Sarif tackles themes of sexuality, coming out, and interfaith relationships. I Can’t Think Straight explores the differences between East and West, conventions and individuality, tradition and love, and is bound to move you. Transformed into a film of the same name, and directed by the author herself, the book reads almost like a screenplay of the film.
10. ‘The Price of Salt’, by Patricia Highsmith
First published in 1952, The Price of Salt is also well-known as Carol after its republication as such in 1990 and the 2015 film adaption by Todd Haynes. Brought to life on screen by Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara, Carol Aird and Therese Belivet — our two entangled protagonists — are bound to capture your heart in this sapphic love story.
So if you’re looking for a novel with a lesbian or bisexual protagonist to lose yourself in this month, why not give one of these titles a go? Who knows, you may discover a new favourite film as well as a book.