Whether your jam is urban fantasy, food memoir, erotica, graphic coming-of-age, epic fantasy, romance, or contemporary queer realism, there’s a bisexual Canadian book on this list for you!
She of the Mountains by Vivek Shraya
“In the beginning, there is no he. There is no she. Two cells make up one cell. This is the mathematics behind creation. One plus one makes one. Life begets life. We are the period to a sentence, the effect to a cause, always belonging to someone. We are never our own. This is why we are so lonely.” This is just a beautiful, poetic novel that I think everybody should read. It tells two stories, reimagining more than one Hindu mythological tale and combining that with the contemporary narrative of an unnamed bisexual protagonist “he.” It’s an exploration of queer identity, but also the body and emotions, and how all of these are tied together. What does it mean to love who we love?, the book asks. The illustrations by Raymond Biesinger (see the cover for an example) are delightful and add so much to the experience of reading the book.
What the Mouth Wants by Monica Meneghetti
This mouthwatering, intimate, and sensual memoir traces Monica Meneghetti’s unique life journey through her relationship with food, family and love. As the youngest child of a traditional Italian-Catholic immigrant family, Monica learns the intimacy of the dinner table and the ritual of meals, along with the requirements of conformity both at the table and in life. As Monica becomes an adult, she discovers a part of her self that rebels against the rigours of her traditional upbringing at the same time that she is discovering her sexuality in the wake of her mother’s death from breast cancer. And as the layers of her bisexuality and polyamory are revealed she begins to understand that like herbs infusing a sauce with flavour, her differences add a delicious complexity to her life.
The Change Room by Karen Connelly
The Change Room is a beautifully written literary novel with a lot of graphic, lovingly depicted sex—between women and between men and women—with a lot of attention to the emotional aspects of sex but also just pleasure for pleasure’s sake. In fact, the novel is about searching for erotic and sensual pleasure amidst the weight of mid-life middle class married life with young children. Eliza Keenan is a woman in her early forties who lives in Toronto with her beloved family. She loves her math professor husband Andrew—who is adorably described as “deliciously rumpled.” Eliza runs her own high-end floral business. They have two young sons to whom both parents are tenderly dedicated. They own a house (plus a mountain of debt from renovating it). She is living the middle-class dream. How could she possibly ask for more? See my full review here.
All Inclusive by Farzana Doctor
If someone had told me, hey, Farzana Doctor’s All Inclusive is a critical look at all-inclusive resorts, bisexuality, swinging and polyamory, spirituality, death, and terrorism, I probably would have said, are you kidding? But Doctor manages to make her third novel a huge success. As always with Doctor’s novels, there’s her trademark sharp insight into the human psyche and this gentle, calming, empathetic lens as she explores her characters. Ameera is the late twenties biracial (white and Indian) main character. She works at an all-inclusive in Mexico, where she’s discovered since arriving that she’s bisexual and enjoys having sex with (mostly man-woman) couples. But just when you’re settling into her story, the perspective shifts, and we get someone named Azeez, but back in 1985 instead of Ameera’s 2015. You guess immediately that Azeez is Ameera’s father and you know that he’s never been a part of her life. But you’ll never guess why he disappeared… (Full review here).
Long Red Hair by Meags Fitzgerald
Long Red Hair is a graphic memoir of coming-of-age, bisexual coming out, and teenage rebellion. It’s heartbreaking when Meags tells her friend: “I just want to be gay or straight. Being bisexual is way too confusing … If I’m bi that means I don’t have a soulmate and I’ll never be satisfied loving just one person for the rest of my life. It’d be like … a curse.” This memoir is also full of the kind of weird stuff I was super into when I was a teenager: conducting séances and chanting Bloody Mary at sleepovers, wanting to be a witch / identifying very strongly with witches, watching scary movies, and being obsessed with make-believe and the powers of your imagination at an age when you’ve supposed to have grown out of that already. It’s also chock-full of 90s witchy pop culture references from Buffy to Charmed to Sabrina the Teenage Witch to Hocus Pocus. Full review here.
Indigo Springs by A.M. Dellamonica
Amazing, unique world building? Dynamic bisexual main character whose sexuality is named and not a big deal? Where have you been hiding, Indigo Springs, oh wonderfully imaginative, queer fantasy novel? Indigo Springs is based on a tried-and-true formula that there is magic hidden beneath our everyday, and that this magic might have dangerous and unexpected consequences. Joining Astrid the main character on this magical journey are her best friend Sahara and ex-stepbrother/friend Jacks. They make quite the interesting trio: Astrid is quiet, smart, accommodating, and constantly refereeing conflicts between the two people most important to her: Sahara, a charismatic but manipulative woman, and Jacks, an almost-too-sweet outdoorsy sweetheart. This is a love triangle but in an unexpected way. You can bet that these three are not going to be able to agree on how to deal with the bright blue liquid magic that is spewing out of a hole in their living room floor. See my full review here.
Sister Mine by Nalo Hopkinson
Our (bisexual) protagonist is Makeda and she has a unique yet familiarly dysfunctional relationship with her twin sister Abby. They were born conjoined and Abby was left physically disabled –she uses crutches – and Makeda has been left with a distinct lack of celestial magic as a result of their separation. But that’s the ‘normal’ part of their life, because their father is a demi-god. Their dad’s family wasn’t exactly thrilled with his choice of a human partner so they’ve punished him by turning him into a mortal and Makeda’s mom into a giant silver lake creature. When her father goes missing Makeda is forced to reconcile with her sister and jump back into the magical world she tried to leave. Tackling themes of sibling rivalry as well as reimagining sexuality that lacks the taboos of queerness, polyamory, and incest, Sister Mine is set in a fantastical world informed by Afro-Caribbean mythology, but this is mixed with a realist, contemporary Toronto. Full review here.
Holding Still For As Long As Possible by Zoe Whittall
Reading Zoe Whittall’s Toronto-set novel Holding Still For As Long As Possible is kind of like reading a wittier, more exciting version of my urban early-to-mid-twenties queer life in the 2000s. I mean, in a very specific and limited but amazing way: these are white, bike-riding, middle-class background, artsy, educated, FAAB queers. Holding Still is about two cis queer/bisexual women and a straight trans guy, with a kind of bisexual love triangle, character-driven storyline. Billy is an ex-teen girl singer-songwriter who used to be famous in the hey-days of Lilith Fair—a has-been at the ripe old age of 25 dealing with anxiety and a lack of direction in life. Josh is the sweetest of the three characters and the most grown-up: he’s got a ‘real’ job as a paramedic. Amy is a sometimes self-righteous and hypocritical hipster who wants to look broke and bohemian for lots of money, and she’s a filmmaker. Also, she’s hilarious and so is Zoe Whittall. Read my full review here.
The Way of Thorn and Thunder series by Daniel Heath Justice
One of the main characters in this queer feminist Indigenous fantasy is Tarsa: a bisexual former warrior whose destiny to be a Wielder—a kind of healer/priestess/witch. Abruptly ripped from her community because of her now marked difference, she begins a journey with her aunt to learn how to be what she has now discovered she is. This journey, however, is fraught with danger, because everything is changing for the different peoples in the once-peaceful Everland: Men are threatening their sovereignty, with an eye to their natural resources. The love triangle that has been dangling on the edges of Tarsa’s story swings more towards centre focus in the third book, as she is now travelling with two love interests: Jitanti, a female Kyn warrior, and Daladir, a male Kyn diplomat. Bisexual drama! You might be interested to know that this storyline takes a polyamorous turn, which is fun and totally appropriate for the world building. Check out my review of the first, second and third books in this fantastic series.
Spelling Mississippi by Marnie Woodrow
Spelling Mississippi begins with an extraordinary event: Cleo, a Canadian in her late twenties visiting New Orleans, witnesses a striking older woman jump headfirst into Mississippi river in the middle of the night, wearing full evening dress including a tiara and high heels. Cleo, assuming the dive is a suicide, is momentarily stunned and then runs panicked from the scene. This initial encounter between Cleo, a traveller in search of meaning and belonging, and Madeline, the bisexual diving diva who it turns out is not suicidal but seeking the exhilaration of danger, is the catalyst for a moving love story. Although at first terrified to face the consequences of what she saw, Cleo becomes obsessed with the mysterious midnight swimmer once she discovers that the woman is still alive, ending up haunting the streets of New Orleans’s French quarter, a kind of detective hunting down clues about Madeline’s eccentric life and, consequently, falling in love with her. Read my full review here.
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