5 Canadian Queer Beach Reads

When I say “beach reads,” I mean books that are relatively light-hearted in content, have a writing style that isn’t dense, and are easy to pick up and put down (i.e., don’t have very convoluted plots). You may read these at the beach, lake, and/or pool as you see fit, or also possibly while travelling by car, bus, train, or airplane, or maybe just in your backyard! Wherever you are, you will enjoy these fun, summery books.

Huntsmen by Michelle Osgood

Lesbian werewolves, anyone? This urban fantasy blend with queer feminist romance is set in Vancouver’s lesbian community and starts with a scenario many queer women know all too well: running into your ex at a queer event. Kiara is at drag king night when she is stunned to see her genderqueer ex Taryn (Ryn) on stage. She doesn’t have much time to complain, though, because her friend spots someone with a tattoo of the huntsmen (humans who track werewolves). Since Kiara, her friends, and Ryn are all werewolves, they hightail it out of the club fast. Kiara and Ryn end up being in close quarters again as they hide out from the huntsmen and try to figure out how to deal with them, which, of course, leads to some relationship … reworkings. And some hot lesbian werewolf sex!

Don’t Bang the Barista by Leigh Matthews

Contemporary revamped lesbian pulp with all of the best things about the genre and none of the bad is an obvious strong contender for best queer beach read ever. Also set in Vancouver, Don’t Bang the Barista is wonderfully lighthearted and entertaining but also really smart. British ex-pat Kate is the main character; she’s still getting over her ex, she has a crush on one of the baristas at her favourite café, and she has a more-complicated-than-it-seemed-at-first kind of queer friendship with Cass, a Shane-like lady killer type. When Kate realizes Cass is acting weird about her barista crush Hanna, she can’t figure out where it’s coming from. Is her favourite café that sacred to her? Does Cass like Hanna too? Who will sleep with who? Who will end up with who? Where will the lesbian drama take them? Check out my full review.

This One Summer by Jillian and Mariko Tamaki

This absolutely gorgeous graphic novel is set during the summer in Ontario lake country, giving it a wonderfully summery feel despite some of the heavier content (at least compared to the other books on this list). The book is about two Toronto girls, Rose and Windy, teetering on the edge of teenagehood.  Rose is slightly older than Windy, and is feeling that superior sense of maturity and know-it-allness that only someone who is young can so confidently exude. Rose is also starting to be interested in boys where Windy appears to maybe be a burgeoning little baby dyke. While enjoying their seemingly carefree summer, a lot of stuff is happening in the background of Windy and Rose’s lives, namely an unplanned teen pregnancy all the older teens are talking about and Rose’s mom’s depression. Read my full review here.

The Change Room by Karen Connelly

If your idea of a great beach read is a book with lots of hot lesbian sex but also smart, complex things to say about relationships, then The Change Room is for you. I mean, the blurb on the front cover calls it a “juicy peach of a novel,” after all. It’s a wonderful blend of literary realism and erotica, with just the right amount of both. The central character is Eliza, a Torontonian living a seemingly perfect white middle class life. But she wants more: specifically, sexual and erotic pleasure in her life is seriously lacking. Key a steamy affair with Shar, a younger woman Eliza meets at the community pool who’s fascinating in her own right and representative of so many of the things Eliza feels are missing from her life. In case you missed my recent review, here it is.

All Inclusive by Farzana Doctor

All Inclusive is one of those books that sounds like it couldn’t possibly work on paper but is an undeniably successful and moving novel. Doctor somehow manages to combine some serious questions about race, spirituality, terrorism, and death with a narrative that is also really fun and sexy. Ameera is our main character, a mixed race (Indian and white) woman in her late twenties who’s been working at an all-inclusive in Mexico for years. Since she’s been there, she’s discovered that she’s both bisexual and non-monogamous through sleeping with couples visiting the resort. Ameera’s journey of personal growth is inextricably tied to her sexuality as she also explores her feelings about her lifelong absent father and what she’s going to do with her career moving forward. Doctor doesn’t shy away from writing explicit sex scenes, happily. See my full gushing review here.

Do you have any queer (Canadian) beach reads to recommend? Add them to the comments below!

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About CaseytheCanadianLesbrarian

Known in some internet circles as Casey the Canadian Lesbrarian, Casey Stepaniuk is a writer and future librarian who holds an MA in English literature and is currently studying for an MLIS in the unceded territory of the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh First Nations (Vancouver, BC). Topics and activities dear to her heart include cats, bisexuality, libraries, queer (Canadian) literature, running, and drinking tea. She runs the website Casey the Canadian Lesbrarian, where you can find reviews of LGBTQ2IA+ Canadian books, archives of the book advice column Ask Your Friendly Neighbourhood Lesbrarian, and some other queer, bookish stuff. She also writes for Autostraddle, Book Riot and Inside Vancouver. Find her on Twitter: @canlesbrarian. Some of her old reviews, especially the non-Canadian variety, can be found at the Lesbrary.
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