Updated: Jan 3, 2022
Now, if you've been a reader of the blog or listener of the podcast in longstanding, you'll know by now that I am a big reader and tv watcher, and mediocre consumer of film and music, and that I crave better polyamorous representation in my media. TV has been doing an interesting -if uneven- job trying to step up its game with representation of nonmonogamy in the last couple of years, and I've been doing my best to keep up (and to let logic dictate that we shouldn't associate with bad characters, so it's OK if reprehensible characters do polyam badly, etc - I'm looking at you, You). Books with non-monogamy representation, I've seen less of, but to be honest, as a former-English-major-current-steals-the-Times-book-review-from-a-wealthy-relative, my sense of what's current is not always accurate, so I recently went on a quest to get a good To Be Read list going of fiction with polyam and nonmono relationships represented in normalized manners.
I feel like everyone knows the granddaddy of non-mono fiction representation: Heinlein's Stranger in A Strange Land. While it's maybe not everyone, my former father-in-law referenced it when we came out as polyamorous to him, so like, it's a cultural touchstone at least? And as a sci-fi and fantasy nerd of youth, I'm putting a re-read of it near the end of my personal reading list. With some crowd-sourcing help from the Ready for Polyamory facebook group and TikTok, and a recommendation from Claire from PolyPages, here's my current polyamorous representation To Be Read:
Fledgling by Octavia Butler
A Conspiracy of Truths by Alexandra Rowland
Iron Widow by Xiran Jay Zhao
Fifth Sacred Thing by Starhawk
The Hollows series by Kim Harrison
The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemison
Long Way to a Small Angry Planet by Becky Chambers
Forget Yourself by Redfern Jon Barrett
The Island on the Edge of Normal by Guy New York
Stranger in a Strange Land, The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, and Friday by Robert Heinlein
This whole list of course leaves out the many series that people mentioned as "Oh this series casually introduces as background characters some aspects of polyamory or some characters who are polyam for parts of the run of a couple books of an 8-to-25 book series." If you, like me as a younger human love to consume large worlds and large series, the Expanse books by James S.A. Corey normalize several kinds of nonmonogamy; the Anita Blake and Merry Gentry series by Laurel K. Hamilton include some polyam relationships along with a bunch of supernatural elements; the Valdemar series by Mercedes Lackey include some nonmonogamous groupings in some books (but it's an enormous series I read a very long time ago, so don't ask me for more than a couple sentences on which and how - just, like many fantasy worlds, being cishetmono was less of a concern in that setting); the Kushiel's Dart series needs a trigger warning for sexual violence but also contains a bunch of nonmono relationships, some of which are healthy; the Wheel of Time series also needs some warnings for content if I remember correctly (but it's also been a decade since I read them) and has some non-monogamous relationships over the 14 book series.
I'm going to be reading a bunch and at least mentioning on my various social media what I think of the different books as I go, and then do a podcast roundup, I think, in several weeks. Does anyone have a favorite book with polyamorous representation that my brief search missed that you think I'll love? Drop me a comment or an email!
You can find the podcast at readyforpolyamory.fireside.fm, you can join us on facebook at www.facebook.com/groups/readyforpolyamory, follow on Twitter @lauracb88 & instagram @readyforpolyamory, on TikTok @readyforpolyamory, and if you'd like to support us financially we're on ko-fi at ko-fi.com/readyforpolyamory. You can find 1-1 and group peer support sessions here. The book is available on Amazon; please leave a review if you enjoy it!
There's a book giveaway on at Tiktok until Thursday 11/18 in the evening, if you follow there and leave a comment on the giveaway video you'll be entered for a chance to win a copy of Ready for Polyamory: A Pragmatic Guide to Consensual Non-Monogamy.