It’s time for another Book Unicorn category of the Sapphic Book Bingo. This week’s post features sapphic books about faith and religion.
For this category, read a sapphic book in which faith, religion, or spiritual experiences play an important role. It could be any faith or religion, including Islam, Judaism, Christianity, Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism, Taoism, Confucianism, Bahá’í, Shinto, Jainism, or Zoroastrianism. You could also read a science fiction or fantasy novel with a fictional faith.
The main character could embrace faith or religion as a positive influence on their life or end up rejecting it.
What is the Book Unicorn?
A quick reminder: The Book Unicorn bingo card is an additional bingo card that you can tackle in addition to the regular bingo card or by itself. The goal is to read one book for each of the 12 squares of the Book Unicorn card. Each square represents a harder-to-find theme.
I’ll post book suggestions for one Book Unicorn category each month.
Download your Book Unicorn bingo card
If you haven’t done so already, download your Book Unicorn bingo card here. The PDF is clickable, so you can fill in the titles of the books you read on your computer, or you can print it out and fill it in by hand.
15 sapphic books about faith or religion
Here are my 15 book recommendations for the “sapphic book about faith” category:
When Tara Met Farah by Tara Pammi
Sunshine Girl needs math lessons…
Nineteen-year-old Tara Muvvala didn’t mean to lead a double life. But her bone-deep aversion to math + a soul-deep desire to please her mother = her failing math grade + exploding food vlog ‘this masala life’. Enter her mother’s research intern and resident math genius Farah Ahmed. Tara makes a deal with Farah – help her pass the math course and she’ll welcome Farah into the local Bollywood Drama & Dance Society.
Grumpy girl gets life lessons…
After losing her mom to a heart attack, dumping her small-minded boyfriend (she’s bisexual, not confused) and reluctantly moving to the US to be near her dad – all in the span of eighteen months, twenty-three-year-old Farah has hit the full quota on LIFE. Two things keep her going – her internship with a brilliant statistics professor and the possibility of meeting her dancing idol through the Bollywood Drama & Dance Society. That is, if her new hot-mess housemate will let her.
Soon Tara and Farah are bonding over chicken biryani, dancing to Bollywood Beats at midnight and kissing against all the odds. And maybe beginning to realize that while life’s even more complicated than math, love is the one variable that changes everything!
Will Tara and Farah realize that together they have the recipe for a Happily Ever After?
Hani and Ishu’s Guide to Fake Dating by Adiba Jaigirdar
Everyone likes Hani Khan – she’s easy going and one of the most popular girls at school. But when she comes out to her friends as bisexual, they don’t believe her, claiming she can’t be bi if she’s only dated guys. Panicked, Hani blurts out that she’s in a relationship… with a girl her friends can’t stand – Ishu Dey.
Ishu is the polar opposite of Hani. An academic overachiever, she hopes that becoming head girl will set her on the right track for university. Her only problem? Becoming head girl is a popularity contest and Ishu is hardly popular. Pretending to date Hani is the only way she’ll stand a chance of being elected.
Despite their mutually beneficial pact, they start developing real feelings for each other. But some people will do anything to stop two Bengali girls from achieving happily ever after.
Cool for the Summer by Dahlia Adler
The guy of her dreams… or the girl in her heart?
Lara’s had eyes for exactly one person throughout her three years of high school: Chase Harding. He’s tall, strong, sweet, a football star, and frankly, stupid hot. Oh, and he’s talking to her now. On purpose and everything. Maybe…flirting, even? No, wait, he’s definitely flirting, which is pretty much the sum of everything Lara’s wanted out of life.
Except she’s haunted by a memory. A memory of a confusing, romantic, strangely perfect summer spent with a girl named Jasmine. A memory that becomes a confusing, disorienting present when Jasmine herself walks through the front doors of the school to see Lara and Chase chatting it up in front of the lockers.
Lara has everything she ever wanted: a tight-knit group of friends, a job that borders on cool, and Chase, the boy of her literal dreams. But if she’s finally got the guy, why can’t she stop thinking about the girl?
The Olive Conspiracy by Shira Glassman
A love story between women, between queen and country, and between farmers and their crops.
When Ezra tries to blackmail Chef Yael about her being trans, she throws him out of her restaurant and immediately reports him to the queen. But when police find Ezra stabbed to death, Queen Shulamit realizes he may have also tried to extort someone more dangerous than a feisty old lady.
The royal investigation leads straight to an international terrorist plot to destroy her country’s economy—and worse, her first love, Crown Princess Carolina of Imbrio, may be involved. Since she’s got a dragon-shifting wizard at her disposal, contacts with friendly foreign witches, and the support of her partner Aviva, Shulamit has hope. What she doesn’t have is time.
Speak Its Name by Kathleen Jowitt
A new year at the University of Stancester, and Lydia Hawkins is trying to balance the demands of her studies with her responsibilities as an officer for the Christian Fellowship. Her mission: to make sure all the Christians in her hall stay on the straight and narrow, and to convert the remaining residents if possible. To pass her second year. And to ensure a certain secret stays very secret indeed.
When she encounters the eccentric, ecumenical student household at 27 Alma Road, Lydia is forced to expand her assumptions about who’s a Christian to include radical Quaker activist Becky, bells-and-smells bus-spotter Peter, and out (bisexual) and proud (Methodist) Colette. As the year unfolds, Lydia discovers that there are more ways to be Christian – and more ways to be herself – than she had ever imagined.
Then a disgruntled member of the Catholic Society starts asking whether the Christian Fellowship is really as Christian as it claims to be, and Lydia finds herself at the centre of a row that will reach far beyond the campus. Speak Its Name explores what happens when faith, love and politics mix and explode.
Higher by Roz Alexander
Tali Blue is definitely going back to finish her last semester of rabbinical school…eventually. When she moved back to her hometown seven years ago to help her grandparents raise her younger sisters, she planned on it being temporary. Now though, she has a stable job and a stable life surrounded by the people she’s known forever. It’s all just fine – and then there’s the incredibly annoying surprise of Maple.
Maple just wanted to make weird art and practice her Ladino. And just like that, 15 years of adulthood has built a solid career, a great reputation as an art instructor, and a lackluster love life. It doesn’t help that she’s been spending all her free time consumed with making it as a Sephardic Jew into the Jewish art world that never seems to have space for her.
When Tali’s love of family, Maple’s art ambitions, and a Rosh Hashanah effort to #savethebees force these two together, both of them may learn that the only way out is up, together. This new year the honey is dripping on a lot more than apples. Higher is a steamy, butch for butch, grump-sunshine lesbian romance about what happens when you choose to take your dreams higher.
Carmilla & Laura by S D Simper
In the late 19th century, Laura lives a lonely life in a schloss by the forest, Styria, with only her doting father and two governesses for company. A chance accident brings a new companion, however – the eccentric and beautiful Carmilla.
With charm unparalleled and habits as mysterious as her history, Carmilla’s allure is undeniable, drawing Laura closer with every affectionate touch and word. Attraction blossoms into a temptation Laura fears to name, a tantalizing passion burning brighter than the fires of hell. But when a mysterious plague begins stealing the lives of young women in her home and the village beyond, Laura wrestles to reconcile the truth – that the gentle, fragile woman she loves may be a monster cast out of heaven.
Carmilla, the classic vampire novella written by J Sheridan LeFanu, receives new life in this gorgeous retelling, centered on the provocative, controversial leads of the original, Carmilla and Laura.
Posterity by Jess Newton
Fifty years ago, Captain Nina Brooke hand-picked a crew from across the world to accompany her on the mission of a lifetime. Today, they’re all waking up. The Posterity is making her final approach to their new home planet, and the work is about to begin. Humanity wasn’t an endangered species when they set off on this mission, but it’s a darn sight closer to being one now. No pressure, then.
The new planet seems perfect; plenty of resources, good settlement locations, habitable climates. After what happened to Earth, Nina is conscious that they need to take better care of this one. It takes all sorts to make a world, and Nina’s got all sorts asleep in her cryobay; not only the people required to build it, but the ones to make it feel like home, too. After all, what good is saving humanity if you leave the best parts of it behind?
Some people find it easier than others to start new lives here on the other side of the galaxy, but then, it all depends on what they left behind. As Nina navigates relationships old and new, will she finally find the one thing she’s never had: a home?
Invisible, as Music by Caren J. Werlinger
Henrietta Cochran has spent nearly forty years dealing with the effects of the polio she contracted in 1945. Her braces and crutches restrict her, define her, but they also give her independence. Almost. She hates that she has become increasingly reliant on a series of live-in companions to help her. For some reason, the companions never seem to want to stay very long. So Henrietta retreats further and further into her art, where her physical limitations don’t matter.
Into her life sails Meryn Fleming: out, outspoken, and fiercely political. She’s young, enthusiastically diving into her first job as a history professor at the local college. When she falls, almost literally, into Henrietta’s path, she seems like a godsend.
Little does Henrietta know that this young woman is about to upend her carefully structured existence. Ryn challenges everything, barging right through the walls Henrietta has built to keep others at a distance.
To Ryn, Henrietta is an enigma: prickly and easily insulted at the slightest suggestion that she can’t do things for herself; a brilliant artist capable of producing the most beautiful paintings; and sometimes, when Henrietta doesn’t realize she’s letting her guard down, a tender and sensitive woman.
With Meryn’s youthful optimism pitted against Henrietta’s jaded acceptance of the world as it is, life will never be the same for either of them.
Romance at Stonegate by Ellen M. Levy
Deborah and Miriam, young Jewish girls vacationing in Western Massachusetts the summer of 1910, are immediately attracted to one another, though neither understands. As they explore their intense connection with one another, they face challenges in their community, their families, their religion, and within themselves. These young women are products of the turn-of-the-century values, yet have discovered love with one another, a rarely accepted behavior in post-Victorian America. They explore ways to fit into a culture that is unforgiving of the choices they make to be together.
Set in rural Massachusetts during their two summers together, and later in Boston and New York, Miriam and Deborah explore their communities through each other’s eyes. They visit local sites in each location, focusing on the culturally rich aspects of each other’s worlds. They also explore their Jewish heritage, finding that old-fashioned beliefs challenge their love.
Deborah and Miriam find loneliness in their love for each other. Their secret connection makes them feel disconnected from their families. They face discrimination from Miriam’s rabbi, her sister, and later other family members. They seek to find other girls who love girls, but they struggle to find those connections in 1911 New England. They look to the suffrage movement, where they heard there are women “who wear pants” and are rewarded with their first connection with other homosexuals.
Join Deborah and Miriam as they explore the physical and emotional pull of young love. Passion pulls them together but separates them from everything that is familiar. It is exciting, yet frightening to discover what it means to be a lesbian in a world that is not ready for them.
Olivia by Genevieve McCluer
How does a centuries-old vampire suffering from severe PTSD take her parrot to the vet? With Olivia’s intense fear of humans, what sounds like the start of a joke is instead the start of therapy. Only when she has help can her parrot receive his.
Veterinarian Mia Sun knows all about being damaged, and she and Olivia slowly build a friendship that develops into something a lot more intriguing. When a figure from Olivia’s past surfaces, hell-bent on ruining any happiness she’s managing to find, Olivia must fight back if she wants to forge a new life with Mia. Will she be strong enough to face her own worst fears for love?
Always Believe by Aimée
Lieutenant-Colonel Greyson Walsden returns to her hometown of Gloucester after a fulfilling career as an Army doctor. She takes a position as a general practitioner while pursuing ordination as an Anglican priest. Overworked and naturally reserved, she doesn’t have time or patience for socializing, let alone for falling in love.
For Angela Arlingham, life as she knows it is over. God played a cruel trick on her by robbing her of her daughter, Sybil, and Angela refuses to believe in Him any longer. When she meets Greyson Walsden, she’s impressed by the handsome doctor, but struggling with her loss makes falling in love with a priest all but impossible.
As circumstances throw them together again and again, the choice to follow their hearts may be the most difficult one of all.
The Papercutter by Cindy Rizzo
A deeply polarized and ungovernable United States of America has separated into two nations—the God Fearing States (GFS) and the United Progressive Regions (UPR).
Judith Braverman, a teenager living in an Orthodox Jewish community in the GFS, is not only a talented artist accomplished in the ancient craft of papercutting, she also has the gift of seeing into peoples’ souls—and can tell instantly if someone is good or evil.
Jeffrey Schwartz has no love for religion or conformity and yearns to escape to the freedom of the UPR. When he’s accepted into an experimental pen pal program and paired with Dani Fine, an openly queer girl in the UPR, he hopes that he can finally find a way out.
As danger mounts and their alarm grows, Judith embeds a secret code in her papercuts so that she and Jeffrey can tell Dani what’s happening to Jews in the GFS without raising suspicions from the government. When the three arrange a quick, clandestine meeting, Jeffrey is finally faced with the choice to flee or to stay and resist. And Judith is reeling from a pull toward Dani that is unlike anything she has ever felt before.
Guardian by Jen Lawrence
Every Guardian was born a warrior with powerful magic and a soulmate to complete her. All except for Luna, it seemed, who despite having mastered her craft, continued her fight in solitude. She was an enigma in their society—alone for far longer than any Guardian before her. Still, Luna remained hopeful that one day her soulmate would find her, and all the tender yearning would have been worth it.
Then Gia stumbles into her life. Gia—who lives a Human life, in Human glamour, with a Human fiancé.
Now Luna finds herself questioning everything that she—and the Guardians—have believed in for millennia.
“Love isn’t always enough.” Luna had always understood the words, but she had never actually believed them.
Vision of Virtue by Brey Willows
Clio Ardalides loves being in the limelight. As the Muse of History and Virtue, it’s her job to share all the laudable traits and accomplishments of the gods, and she’s turned her work into a national television show. For Clio, the perception of events and highlighting the positive is sometimes a little more important than authenticity. Who wants reality when there’s glamour and beauty in the world?
Kit Kalloway wants the truth. And not the shiny, polished version people are getting from the news or shows like Clio’s. As the headline reporter for Truth Spotter, she uncovers the things not getting done and the people being left behind. To Kit, Clio has sold out. No matter how sexy and vivacious she is, she’s just another self-obsessed influencer only interested in being admired.
When disaster strikes and they must depend on one another, desire and passion are ready and waiting. But will it be enough for them to find a shared vision?
Bold Strokes Books (on pre-order; out in September 2022)
Amazon (on pre-order; out in September 2022)
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