Most sapphic books, like most books in general, are set in the United States, and there are also a lot of sapphic books that take place in the United Kingdom. For this category of the Sapphic Book Bingo, I’d like you to read a book that is set in a country other than the US or the UK.
I’ll share 15 book recommendations below. For more books set all over the world, check out the “country you don’t live in” post of last year’s Sapphic Reading Challenge.
How to get started if you are new to Sapphic Book Bingo
If you have only just discovered the Sapphic Book Bingo, you can still join us! Read up on the rules, download your book bingo card, and take a look at my suggestions for the “sapphic book not set in the US or UK” square below.
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15 recommended sapphic books that are not set in the US or the UK
Here are my book recommendations for sapphic books that are taking place in a country other than the US or the UK.
Paper Love by Jae (Germany)
Susanne Wolff isn’t thrilled when her mother sends her all the way across the country to Freiburg to save her uncle’s stationery store from bankruptcy. Freiburg is too provincial for her taste, and besides, pen and paper are outdated anyway.
Anja Lamm, Paper Love’s only full-time employee, takes an instant dislike to the arrogant, digital-loving snob who’s supposed to be her temporary boss.But thanks to a meddling cat, a business trip to a stationery fair, and an armada of origami boats, Anja soon starts to see beneath Susanne’s aloof exterior, and Susanne discovers how sexy pens and notebooks can be—at least when Anja handles them.
As the end of Susanne’s three-month stay approaches, will she stick to her plan to leave, or will she open her heart to more than just paper love?
Perks of Office by Liz Rain (Australia)
When your new boss is hot as hell, what hope is there for a poor lovestruck office worker? A light-hearted, age-gap lesbian office romance with sexual tension leading the polls.
After high-powered politician Bridget O’Keefe sweeps into the uninspiring life of Australian electorate officer Emma Ives, nothing is the same again.
Hapless, hopeless Emma is smacked with an instant crush on the polished woman who’s her new boss…her hot, untouchable, straight boss. Yes, she knows she’s an idiot because unrequited lust at work is a terrible idea. Even so, she can dream.
One long night changes everything. A political scandal leads to a fall from grace and Emma suddenly finds herself the one Bridget turns to for comfort. There’s a lot for Emma to wrap her mind around, even as her body loves wrapping itself around Bridget’s curves.
Is it just a meaningless night of passion, nothing more? Because there’s absolutely no way ambitious, beautiful Bridget wants anything more from Emma. Is there?
Under the Udala Trees by Chinelo Okparanta (Nigeria)
One day in 1968, at the height of the Biafran civil war, Ijeoma’s father is killed and her world is transformed forever. Separated from her grief-stricken mother, she meets another young lost girl, Amina, and the two become inseparable. Theirs is a relationship that will shake the foundations of Ijeoma’s faith, test her resolve and flood her heart.
In this masterful novel of faith, love and redemption, Okparanta takes us from Ijeoma’s childhood in war torn Biafra, through the perils and pleasures of her blossoming sexuality, her wrong turns, and into the everyday sorrows and joys of marriage and motherhood. As we journey with Ijeoma we are drawn to the question: what is the value of love and what is the cost?
Bliss by Fiona Zedde (Jamaica)
Bliss Sinclair’s life of dull routine and unhappiness makes her imagination the only place she can find fulfillment. Until she meets Regina, a provocative writer who pulls her out of her head and into a sensuously real world alive with flavors and sensations beyond any she’d ever imagined. This real world is exciting and rich with irresistible pleasures, but Sinclair quickly learns these pleasures are not what they seem.
She discovers that lust can simply be another illusion, and passion without love can poison just as easily as it redeems. To cleanse herself of Regina’s poison, she escapes to Jamaica, the place where she was born, in hopes that the sun and ocean breezes will heal both old and new wounds. But among the brilliant flowers and crystal waters of the island, Sinclair finds ghosts from her past as well as strangers who challenge her very understanding of life and love.
From hidden grottos bubbling with desire to dangerous streets where violence is just a breath away, Sinclair must fight for the love she deserves, fight for herself, and for the satisfaction that was meant to be hers all along.
I Can’t Think Straight by Shamim Sarif (Jordan)
Spirited Christian Tala and shy Muslim Leyla could not be more different from each other, but the attraction is immediate and goes deeper than friendship. Moving between Middle Eastern high society and London’s West End, this story explores the clashes between East and West, love and marriage, and convention and individuality creating a humorous and tender tale of unexpected love.
The World Unseen by Shamim Sarif (South Africa)
In 1950’s South Africa, a free-spirited café owner falls for a young wife and mother. Their unexpected attraction pushes them to question the cruel rules of a world that divides white from black and women from men, but a world that might just allow an unexpected love to survive.
Spells, Snow, & Sky by Coffee Quills (Japan)
Sky needs breathing room. Keeping a photographer on a short leash is, in her opinion, an act of cruelty. Fleeing Florida and landing in Hokkaido might just be the act that saves her sanity, even if it dooms her romantically.
Yuki wishes to leave Japan. Not forever, but to at least travel the world for a while with a lover at her side. The hard part is figuring out how a being of ice and snow can survive outside of Hokkaido’s winters.
Nyssa needs to find her runaway girlfriend. Too bad she doesn’t want to be found and has turned off her phone. When Nyssa receives a panicked farewell though, all her wants center on arriving in enough time to save her love. It’s going to take honesty, communication, and some heart-felt apologizing for things to be okay between everyone… but Sky’s not going to settle for just “okay” when, with a little push, there’s happiness on the horizon for all of them.
What Do Nightmares Dream of by Antonija Meznaric (Croatia)
There’s someone else living in Sanja’s flat and they don’t pay the rent. But for Sanja, the next time she falls asleep she just might end up paying the ultimate price.
Sanja has already made some hard choices in life. She took out a loan to get her own place for the first time ever, and now she’s repaying it by working at the most ungrateful job in history: elementary school teacher.
The last thing she needs is her nightmares to start tormenting her, as if her grandmother’s special breed of childcare wasn’t enough.
In a world that doesn’t believe in old wives’ tales, her options are limited. It’s now up to her to deal with her supernatural pest or forever fall asleep trying.
Falling Into Place by Sheryn Munir (India)
Romance is not for Tara. Embittered after a college fling, she vows to never fall in love again–especially since she believes there’s no future for same-sex love in her home in urban India. Then, one rain-drenched evening, an insane decision brings the bubbly Sameen into her life and everything changes. Sameen is beautiful, a breath of fresh air…and almost certainly straight. All Tara’s carefully built-up defences start to crumble, one after the other. But is this relationship doomed before it can even start?
Last Night in Nuuk by Niviaq Korneliussen (Greenland)
Niviaq Korneliussen is a ground-breaking young writer hailed for creating “[her] own genre” (Politiken, Denmark) in her witty and fearless debut Last Night in Nuuk. A work of daring invention about young life in Greenland, Korneliussen brilliantly weaves together the coming of age of five young people in the capital city, Nuuk. Fia has recently sworn off sausage (men) only to discover that the woman she wants is unavailable. Arnaq struggles to cope with her past as her hard-partying life spirals out of control and she betrays those she loves most. Inuk, Fia’s brother, is forced to escape Greenland after political scandal implicates him, and confronts the true meaning of home.
Meanwhile, Ivik and Sara must confront an important transition in their relationship. In a collection of blurry nights and bleary mornings after, Korneliussen creates a Greenlandic literature unlike any we have known before―young, urbane, stream-of-consciousness, studded with textspeak and delirious with nightlife.
Once in Sweden by Emma Sterner-Radley (Sweden)
American Aubrey DeValle is currently working as a nurse in London. Once a vibrant and confident world traveller, she is now lonely and both physically and mentally in recovery. Her whole life has been turned upside down and she’s not sure if the controversial decisions she made were the right ones.
Swedish Elina Lindvall is brooding in her small town and about to be whisked away by her best friends to a summer cabin in the south of Sweden, where she knows they will pump her for information about her breakup and why she refuses to talk about what happened.
When we go back in time and find out what paths led each woman to their present, will we find solutions to their problems or merely more issues to overcome? Moreover, does the past hold the key to how they can both dare to love again? And if so, can love beat the greatest obstacle of all?
Shepherd’s Derelict by A.G. Bennett (Canada)
What does it take to build a life from broken pieces? For Michelle Shepherd, the question is essential. On the foundations of an erratic and sometimes violent childhood, Michelle has created surprising success as an artist in British Columbia while caretaking her elderly father and his expat Vietnam war buddies. Michelle’s father begins drinking and making risky, possibly criminal choices just as she unexpectedly falls in love with a theater director named Celeste-two situations for which she has little adult experience and few skills.
When grisly evidence of a crime washes up beneath her remote cabin home, Michelle is convinced of her father’s guilt and is forced to a reckoning with family secrets-some she’s kept from others, and some she’s kept from herself. Access to the past opens up surprising possibilities but also a minefield of difficult choices. Will Michelle brave those choices, or retreat into the safety of the familiar? Dark and atmospheric, rooted in the Pacific Northwest, Shepherd’s Derelict is a portrait of a troubled found family and the sacrifices we make for love.
If You Could Be Mine by Sara Farizan (Iran)
Seventeen-year-old Sahar has been in love with her best friend, Nasrin, since they were six. They’ve shared stolen kisses and romantic promises. But Iran is a dangerous place for two girls in love–Sahar and Nasrin could be beaten, imprisoned, even executed. So they carry on in secret until Nasrin’s parents suddenly announce that they’ve arranged for her marriage.
Then Sahar discovers what seems like the perfect solution: homosexuality may be a crime, but to be a man trapped in a woman’s body is seen as nature’s mistake, and sex reassignment is legal and accessible. Sahar will never be able to love Nasrin in the body she wants to be loved in without risking their lives, but is saving their love worth sacrificing her true self?
That Woman Next Door by Harper Bliss (France)
Olivia Chevalier is perfectly happy living a quiet life of solitude with her two cats in the tempestuous countryside of Brittany.
Olivia’s peace is disrupted when heartbreaker extraordinaire Marie Dievart moves in to the holiday home next door after an event at work makes her flee her everyday life.
Olivia hates having a neighbour and Marie is put off by Olivia’s cranky ways.
But maybe these two women have more in common than they first believe.
Broad Awakening by Mickey Brent (Belgium)
After kissing at the Belgian coast, Hélène and Sylvie find ruts in their road to eternal bliss. In this sequel to Underwater Vibes, Hélène struggles to avoid Sylvie, her sexy Greek swimming coach. Attempting to shun her deepest emotions to save her marriage, inner turmoil makes Hélène react in bizarre, self-destructive ways. An intimate dinner turns sour as Sylvie’s tempting ex lurks nearby. When Sylvie heads to the airport with a mysterious, gorgeous woman, and a psychic reveals unexpected news, Hélène must face up to her feelings or risk losing Sylvie forever.
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