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10 tips on how to complete your Lesbian Book Bingo card when you don’t like speculative fiction

how to complete lesbian book bingo when you don't like speculative fictionI’ve had several readers ask me: How can I ever complete my Lesbian Book Bingo card when I don’t like speculative fiction?

Speculative fiction is an umbrella term that includes fantasy, science fiction, and paranormal fiction. If you, too, struggle to fill your Lesbian Book Bingo squares for these genres, here are a few tips for you:

1. Keep an open mind

First off, I think being “forced” to read something that is a little out of your usual comfort zone can be a good thing. Keep an open mind—you might just find that you don’t really dislike that genre after all or maybe at the very least find a couple of books in the genre that you do enjoy. You should be able to find bits and pieces that you can relate to in at least one book in every category, even if you find that you still don’t like the genre very much.

2. Take a look at your favorite lesbian fiction authors in your preferred genres

Many lesbian fiction authors write across several genres. Maybe the author of your favorite lesbian romance novel has also penned a fantasy novel, and you might like it because you enjoy that author’s style. For example, EJ Noyes, who usually writes contemporary romances, has also written a paranormal romance titled Reaping the Benefits, and Karin Kallmaker has written a retelling of The Little Mermaid, titled A Fish out of Water.

3. Try one of the highly recommended books in these genres

Ask around for recommendations in Goodreads or Facebook groups, or check out The Lesbian Review’s top 10 lists for lesbian science fiction and supernatural lesbian books. In particular, look for recommendations from other readers who don’t usually read those genres either. Two books that I often see recommended are Daughter of Mystery by Heather Rose Jones (fantasy) and Without a Front by Fletcher DeLancey (science fiction).

4. Download excerpts of several books that other readers recommended

Find one that makes you want to read on at the end of the excerpt. It doesn’t always have to be the genre that grabs you; it can be an engaging writing style or an interesting character too.

5. Take a look at the subgenres of lesbian fantasy and science fiction

Realize that speculative fiction is a very broad category, and even within the different genres, there’s a lot of variety. Science fiction isn’t all about aliens and spaceships, and fantasy isn’t all about elves and magic. Dystopian fiction, for example, is grouped under sci-fi, but they often read more like adventure stories, so even people who don’t like science fiction might enjoy books such as Survival Instincts by May Dawney.

6. Search out books that are light on speculative aspects

If you dislike speculative fiction because you prefer books that are set in “the real world,” look for novels that keep the fantastical elements at a minimum. For example, my novel Heart Trouble is a contemporary romance/medical romance set in our normal world, but with a bit of a paranormal twist.

7. Pick a book that blends science fiction, fantasy, or paranormal fiction with a genre that you like

For example, if you love lesbian romance novels but don’t usually like science fiction, look for a sci-fi romance such as The Lily and the Crown by Roslyn Sinclair.

8. Try a speculative fiction audiobook

If you love audiobooks, look for a speculative fiction book narrated by one of your favorite narrators. I’ve heard good things about the audiobook version of Meghan O’Brien’s paranormal romance Wild, for example.

9. Look for books that have tropes you like

For example, Chasing Stars by Alex K. Thorne is a superheroine novel, but it also fits the celebrity romance trope and the fake relationship trope.

10. Go for shorter works

If all else fails, pick a speculative fiction novella or a short novel instead of a 500-page tome. My paranormal romance Manhattan Moon, for example, is a 29,000-word novella.

I hope these tips will help you find a lesbian fantasy, science fiction, or paranormal book you will enjoy!

Have any of you struggled with some of the squares on the Lesbian Book Bingo card because you don’t usually like that genre? How did you handle those squares? Did you find that after forcing yourself to read a book for those squares, you don’t dislike that genre after all?

The Romance Bet by Jae

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10 thoughts on “10 tips on how to complete your Lesbian Book Bingo card when you don’t like speculative fiction”

  1. I have no problem filling the paranormal squares. I actually like a lot of books in this genre. Whether it is about werewolves or about somebody seeing ghosts, it’s all fine with me.

    The ones I’m having trouble with are science fiction and fantasy. It’s actually very strange that I can’t really seem to get into the science fiction, because I absolutely love science fiction series and movies. I guess I just have to keep looking for the good ones.

    Fantasy is a different story. I have never been that interested in fantasy. The whole magic and swords thing just isn’t for me. But I’m sure there are some books out there that I will like.

    It’s actually one of the things I like very much about this bingo. I am “forced” to go outside my comfort zone and try new things. I have no problem doing this with food, so why not try it with books.

  2. Good advice, especially with regards to giving book excerpt or novellas a whirl if you’re not sure about a genre—definitely if you already like an author’s more traditional offerings. Some authors like Radclyffe and Jae write in, like, every genre under the sun and do so without compromising their signature storytelling styles. So, it’s easier to take that leap if your favorite author or an author you’re familiar with writes in your least favorite or much disliked genre. I didn’t so much dig historical lesfic until I read two of Sarah Waters books (and those are not short reads by any measurement, so I really was invested thanks to her storytelling prowess).

    Super lucky, I guess, because I enjoy trying books from just about any genre if: 1) I like the author (my favorite authors’ books are auto-read/auto-buy anyway)
    2) a book’s sample reads well (grabs me within the first few paragraphs)
    3) a books is a novella (low time investment)
    4) a book has many positive reviews on Goodreads.

    Take a chance on a new genre, and if you must DNF a book, it happens, so don’t fret and just try a different book. Buddy read it with someone so you can make it feel less of a chore and make it have more of a book club-ish camaraderie component. Reward yourself for tackling a book in a genre you’re not keen on so there’s light at the end of that there tunnel, lol. But, yeah, I suppose the safest bet is to put bank on an author you love who writes in the genre square on your bingo card that you’re having a tough time filling, especially if reviews for that book average 4 star or above.

  3. I thought I hated Fantasy, and then I read “When Women Were Warriors.” I couldn’t put it down. What’s worked best for me is taking the advice of other readers and authors, and finding books that mix in the speculative genre with a more favored genre…

    • For readers who need a little something extra to take that leap of faith into the fantasy genre, here’s news to entice: the first book in the “When Women Were Warriors” series is free on Kindle; you can see if the series appeals to you and give the lesfic fantasy genre a chance, if you have a Kindle or the Kindle app. “When Women Were Warriors” also has tons of reviews on Amazon and on Goodreads, so you can sift through a bunch of reviews to see if the book captures your attention (probably good bet to sift through reviews on Goodreads first, since book spoilers tend to be hidden in those reviews.) The Lesbian Review also has a very favorable review of the book on their site (the audio version), and they’re one of the best review sites around.

  4. We all have categories that are more challenging. I think it’s important to push our boundaries. There are many areas of spec fic that I’m not interested in. But I’ve read plenty that really aren’t that different from our world. Some that I’ve read are from Natalie Debrabandere and Bridget Essex. Bridget especially has books that are more and less paranormal, so you can play around with it. I’m not really a vampire and werewolf person, yet I enjoyed quite a few of her books. I think something like Wolf Town is an easy one as it isn’t as dark as typical paranormal books.

    Basically, I’ve learned you can find books that are rather light on paranormal and rather fun romances. Get recommendations and see if the excerpt draws you in, as Jae said.

  5. This is one of my favorite categories! Try Raging at the Stars by Lesley Davis, Soulwalker by Erica Lawson, Paradox Valley by Gerri Hill and Good enough to Eat by Jae and Allison. This is just to name a few. The elements to fill the category are there but you will be caught up in the story. Happy reading!

  6. If you’re struggling with the Fantasy genre try Broken Wings by L J Baker. I just finished it and while they travel on brooms and flying carpets… most of the time I forget she’s a Fairy. There are no swords or anything like that. It mostly deals with her immigration status as a fairy and a little romance too.

  7. I’ll continue to recommend the lovely little fantasy novel ‘Nightshade’ by Brooke Radley. It’s a very easy to read novel, and quite a sweet, slow-burn romance as well! As for scifi, I’m quite enjoying ‘ADDICT’ by Matt Doyle, it’s actually something of a crime fiction/noir story, but set in the future.

    I don’t know if anyone here is willing to take a chance on a debut author, but my scifi novel ‘Beneath the Surface’ is soft scifi – as in it doesn’t focus on a great deal of detail about the technology. It’s a character-driven story, rather than an action-driven tale, with a core focus on political themes.

  8. I’m basically a romance reader. But Raging at the Stars by Lesley Davis, as well as her book Truth Behind the Mask are both excellent reads!


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