Yesterday, I wrote about my own bisexual characters, and I promised that today I would deliver a list of my favorites written by other people. So here they are, in alphabetical order. I’ve posted reviews for most of these books, although there are a few I haven’t.
Addison, Forever Burn by Adrian J. Smith – I don’t think Addy ever uses the word “bisexual,” but she clearly has relationships with people of more than one gender in her history. She has a special place in my heart because her story was one of the first ones I ever beta-read through a now-defunct web service. The book led to a long-standing friendship, so it gets bonus points for that.
Colette, Speak Its Name by Kathleen Jowitt – I loved this book. It’s a really good look at reconciling faith with sexuality. Colette is not the narrator; she’s the main character’s girlfriend. She’s a Christian, and she’s bisexual, and she’s unapologetic about both those things.
Corey, Out of Order by Casey Lawrence – This is a fantastic read, suspenseful and intriguing. As the title implies, it’s told out of order, with each new scene bringing new clues to the mystery. Corey is an excellent narrator. Her bisexuality factors into the story, but it isn’t actually what drives the plot. There are hints at a relationship, but it’s not the main focus. I would love to see more YA along these lines, contemporary fiction which does not center on a love story.
Curtis, Adrian, and Simone, Blank Space by Francis Gideon – This book has not one, not two, but THREE bisexual characters (and they are not in a poly triad). Curtis and Adrian are in love with each other and with their wives, and the story is mainly about how they work through it and find wholeness for all of them. I spent a good majority of this crying while I read.
Danny and AJ, Defying Convention by Cecil Wilde – Danny is a trans man, and AJ is genderqueer; I’m not 100% sure if they both identify as bisexual, as I don’t recall the word being used. However, the author identifies as bi and non-binary themselves, so it wouldn’t surprise me. This is a cute, romantic, geeky story about online pals who finally meet in person.
Etain, Surrogate by Jeanne G’Fellers – A new-to-me author who manages to push all the right buttons from the outset? Yes, please! Etain does not identify as bisexual because it is simply a natural part of her species. This, for me, was a fresh way to address the no-labels concept. Etain is big-hearted, and her love radiates to the people around her. I enjoyed her perspective, and it was interesting watching her Circle (her partners, lovers, friends) learn how to return her love.
Gaspard, Where You’ll Find Him by Mel Bossa – I do love a good May-December romance, and having a bisexual character makes it all the better. If I recall correctly, Gaspard’s ex-wife is also bi. They have a friendship based on their years together, rather than being contentious, and their bisexuality was not the cause of their divorce. This is one which requires a first reading for the story and a second reading to get all the connections to The Wizard of Oz.
Jesse, The Making of Us by Debbie McGowan – There is not a single thing about this book that I don’t love. Body positivity, a bisexual protagonist, open discussion about gender identity, it’s all in there. Unlike the other books in the series, the sex is understated and gentle, much like Jesse himself. Anything more explicit would’ve done a disservice to who he is as a person. Everyone deserves someone like Jesse, who will accept them just as they are without reservation.
Jez and Mac, Helping Hand by Jay Northcote – This is the only book close to erotica on my list. I read it for a review web site, and I think half a dozen of us thought the premise was so funny and sexy that we all snapped it up. It got rave reviews, as I recall. It is indeed as amusing as the blurb suggests, but it’s also really deep. Jez gets bonus points for telling his family that bisexuality doesn’t just go away based on who you’re dating. Mac is pretty close to gay-for-you, but it seems more about discovering himself than the denial usually present in such stories. Both of them approach their bisexuality differently, but neither of them denies past, present, or future attractions. Cute, hilarious, sexy as hell, and well-written.
John, Midsummer by Racheline Maltese & Erin McRae – John really struggles with his coming out. Once again, we have a divorced man whose sexuality was not the cause; that’s always a refreshing change. Both characters wrestle with letting go and how to be part of each other’s lives in a meaningful way. This is a thoughtful romance, and John’s almost grudging (but not homophobic) acceptance of his bisexuality feels real.
Luke, Caught Inside by Jamie Deacon – Good gravy, this book is fantastic. There is a raw realism to Luke’s awakening to himself. What I loved is that he’s got this lackluster relationship with his girlfriend that could easily have turned the story into a “nah, he was always just gay” moment. Instead, Luke’s falling in love opens him to understand his full bisexual potential, including that he still likes women. It’s emotional and beautifully done.
Mark, Pale Winter Sun by Michael R. Collins – I’ve read a few bisexual YA books with girl protagonists, but this was my first with a boy. Mark’s internal battle and his fears are very real. I liked this in particular for highlighting the problem of homeless/runaway rural youth. It’s easy to assume everyone has the ability to get to a large city and more resources, but access is limited for teens like Mark. I also appreciated how despite the religious bigotry, this was not about hating religion or people of faith. There are some great moments between Mark and the people whose faith leads them to love him more fully for who he is.
Mick, Torque by Charley Descoteaux – This is not a fluffy kittens kind of story. These are people who live on the fringes of their town and society in general, for many reasons. What I like about Mick is his inner life. He’s genuinely bisexual, but this has been a source of turmoil for him because he hasn’t been able to fully explore it in multiple ways. The struggle for emotional intimacy among the characters has a realistic feel to it.
Miles, In the Present Tense by Carrie Pack – I read this book in about two days; it would have been less without Real Life getting in the way. It’s a wild ride, so buckle up before you take off. This is bisexual science fiction done right, integrating Miles’ sexuality without making it a trope. While there’s a very real plot here, I also think this is a terrific metaphor of life as a bisexual person.
Natalie, Vow of Celibacy by Erin Judge – I have to admit, much as I love Natalie, her BFF Anastaze is pretty much the embodiment of every one of my girl crushes. Too bad she’s straight. Natalie is a terrific narrator. She’s imperfect, and yet she’s likable even in her flaws. This whole book is full of so much sex-positivity and body-positivity. Not only is there no shame for Natalie in her choices, there is also no shame for Anastaze, whose life is almost the polar opposite of Natalie’s. This one should be at the top of every bisexual woman’s reading list.
Rell, Bowl Full of Cherries by Raine O’Tierney – Rell doesn’t use the word bisexual either, and on the surface, it looks like a gay-for-you story. It’s not, and this one also gets bonus points for having a character literally accuse Rell of pulling a gay-for-you. Extra bonus points because it features a fat (yes, I said the word) character and plenty of body positivity. This book is a favorite, and it gets a read every Christmas.
Samus, The Big Reveal by Eve Francis – First of all, I love well-written trans women. One friend lamented that there’s a serious lack of trans women in books who read as authentic. I’m not a trans woman myself, so I can’t really say whether Samus would meet my friend’s criteria, but I loved her. She reminded me of someone who was instrumental in my coming out, so on that level, she rang true to at least one person in my life. This book is definitely worth a read.
Tyler, The 12 Days of Hipster by Raine O’Tierney – I adore Raine’s writing, and this is one of her best. It’s hilarious and sweet and charming. It’s a perfect send-up of both the gay-for-you trope and the eternal wangsting common in coming out novels. Tyler is written brilliantly, and the whole story is like a giant holiday hug.
Unnamed Narrator, Cigarettes & Wine by J.E. Sumerau – This novel hit home because the main character (whose name we never learn) is coming of age around the same time I did. They are of non-binary gender, and there are lots of realistic moments of growing self-awareness. This is a complex story in which no easy answers are given.
This is not a complete list of all the bisexual books I have read and loved. These are simply some of my favorites. (Apparently, I need a book with a bi character named Matthew, since I just noticed I have Mark, Luke, and John!) If you’ve read any books with bi themes or characters which you want to recommend (yours or anyone else’s), tell me about it in the comments. I’d love to add a few more to my reading list!
Happy reading, and happy #BiWeek!