In honor of Celebrate Bisexuality Day (also called Bisexual Visibility Day) on Saturday, we’ve compiled a list of some of the most noteworthy books featuring sexually fluid characters and themes from the past century. The collection of titles celebrates the evolution of bisexual storytelling, from trailblazing classics that play with metaphor and form to the wildly popular young adult romance novels and frank memoirs of the current era. Together, these works speak to the array of individuals and experiences that make up the often overlooked, majority contingency of the LGBTQ community.

‘Orlando: A Biography’ (1928)

By Virginia Woolf

Virginia Woolf’s time-traveling, gender-bending classic, “Orlando: A Biography,” can be seen as a model for how the last century’s fantasy and sci-fi books have treated bisexuality. In the novel that spans Elizabethan to late-1920s England, the titular hero — inspired by Woolf’s longtime muse, Vita Sackville-West, a successful writer and noted bisexual — makes love and art across Europe, first as a male and then as a female who comes to embrace gender-nonconformity. Well ahead of its time, the experimental work was immortalized decades later in Sally Potter’s 1992 film “Orlando,” starring a swashbuckling, androgynous Tilda Swinton. Like its source material, “Orlando” presents a fantastical, frolicking world in which the protagonist’s exploration of sexuality through their diverse lovers is taken as fact rather than a point to be belabored. 

‘Giovanni’s Room’ (1956)

By James Baldwin

There’s no doubt that James Baldwin’s queerness permeates his larger-than-life works. In his celebrated, semi-autobiographical debut novel, “Go Tell It on the Mountain,” Baldwin’s 14-year-old protagonist is grappling with his attraction to a male member of his father’s congregation, amid having his first religious experience. But in his second novel, “Giovanni’s Room,” Baldwin dedicates the entirety of the work to questions of identity, both sexual and racial. Written from Paris, the novel centers on a white American expat who is discomforted by the men in his life, especially a swaggering Italian bartender named Giovanni, because of their queerness and in spite of his own. In the nightlife venues of 1950s post-war Paris, the protagonist, David, engages in love affairs with men. But in the daylight, he wears his attraction to women like a badge of honor — one that can protect him from the humiliations of life as a gay man.

‘The Vampire Lestat’ (1985)

By Anne Rice

When Anne Rice published 1976’s “Interview With the Vampire,” the first novel in her “Vampire Chronicles” series, she found herself with a critical flop and an immediate commercial success that launched her prolific career. It also spawned a dozen more books about Louis and Lestat and their path to becoming bitter enemies. The first installment introduces the vampires’ early relationship, which is characterized by passion and enlivened by the young child, Claudia, they take in — becoming what Rice eventually described as the “first vampire same-sex parents.” But in 1985’s “The Vampire Lestat,” Rice dives much deeper into the characters’ tumultuous relationship by way of Lestat’s backstory. In this second novel in the series, the volatile vampire’s traumatic early life comes into focus as numerous male and female lovers from his mortal past are introduced.

‘The Garden of Eden’ (1986)

By Ernest Hemingway

Ernest Hemingway certainly isn’t famous for writing about queer romance, but “The Garden of Eden” is anything but typical Hemingway fare. The posthumously published novel — which the author worked on intermittently from 1946 to his death in 1961 — centers on a pair of wealthy American newlyweds who begin experimenting with gender, polyamory and same-sex lovers during their summer in the French Riviera. But what begins with gender play and bedroom games results in the two falling in love with the same woman, with disastrous and sometimes unhinged results. Over the years, many have chalked up the uncharacteristic bohemian quality of “The Garden of Eden” to the fact that Hemingway’s original, unfinished manuscript was heavily edited for publication. But, nevertheless, it does have a head-turning effect coming from the straight, hyper-masculine writer of “The Old Man and the Sea.”

‘Call Me By Your Name’ (2007)

By André Aciman

André Aciman’s “Call Me By Your Name” explores the devastating force of a first great love. The novel is told in flashbacks from the viewpoint of the protagonist, Elio, who becomes enamored with the American writer staying at his family’s summer home in Italy. After much watching and fantasizing — during which he all but forgets about his budding romance with a local girl — the teenage Elio learns that the attraction is mutual, and a passionate, borderline obsessive romance is born. The book, which largely takes place in the early 1980s, was adapted into a 2018 Oscar-winning film by Luca Guadagnino, starring Timothée Chalamet as Elio. While the film ultimately tones down the heat between its central lovers — only alluding to a blush-worthy scene involving a peach — and largely ignores its female characters, its release and best adapted screenplay Academy Award win did reignite much-deserved interest in Aciman’s heart-wrenching coming-of-age tale. 

‘Fire Shut Up in My Bones’ (2014)

By Charles Blow

Journalist and commentator Charles Blow’s powerful memoir, “Fire Shut Up in My Bones,” recounts how a childhood marred by sexual abuse gave way to an adulthood plagued by self-doubt. As he describes in the book, The New York Times op-ed writer grew up in small-town Louisiana, raised by a large, complicated family that contained both good and bad. When he was just 7 years old, Blow was molested by an older cousin, and that trauma, along with dangerous, pervasive notions about masculinity, left him grappling with his bisexuality well into adulthood.

‘Conversations With Friends’ (2017)

By Sally Rooney

At just 26 years old, Irish writer Sally Rooney published her debut novel, “Conversations With Friends,” to massive acclaim. At the center of the story are Bobbi and Frances, former girlfriends turned best friends, who begin a long flirtation with a married couple they meet while performing spoken word poetry. As the friends spend more time with the couple — chic photographer-writer Melissa and handsome actor Nick — Rooney inspects how gender and sexuality dictate power in relationships among apparent equals. While the storyline draws from a rich tradition of books about complicated partner-swapping, Rooney’s novel puts a modern spin on the trope with its sexually fluid lens.

‘Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body’ (2017)

By Roxane Gay

The same year that writer Roxane Gay published “Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body,” she also published the short story collection “Difficult Women.” In some ways, the books are similar, both dealing with sexual violence and the scars it leaves. But “Hunger,” which Gay has described as “by far the hardest” book she’s written, goes a step further, offering a raw, personal account of rape, overeating and life as a queer Black woman. While hardly an unremarkable story, Gay’s memoir speaks to statistical realities about the victimization of bisexual women, as well as the ways that they’re ignored and even censored.

‘Heartstopper’ Volumes 1-4 (2019-2021)

By Alice Oseman

Even before being adapted into a beloved Netflix show, Alice Oseman’s YA graphic novel series “Heartstopper,” which first launched as a webcomic, possessed a healthy cult following. The four-volume series, which will get a fifth installment later this year, follows the romance between two classmates at a U.K. boys school, which kicks off in proper rom-com style. At the start of the series, Charlie, an introvert who has been bullied for being gay, and Nick, the charming star of the school’s rugby team, get paired together in homeroom, and the two develop a warm friendship that eventually blossoms into a wholesome romance.

‘Red, White & Royal Blue’ (2019)

By Casey McQuiston

Casey McQuiston’s debut novel, “Red, White & Royal Blue,” is a case study in the power of BookTok: Thanks to going viral on the literary-minded TikTok sub-community, McQuiston’s YA romance has held must-read status since its release. The novel is about a steamy relationship that’s ignited (via a rivalry) between the fictional son of the U.S. president, Alex, and second in line to the British throne, Prince Henry. The junior world leaders’ hot-and-heavy romance, which is complicated by neither being out, is also the subject of a 2023 film adaptation from Tony Award-winning playwright Matthew López.

‘Old Enough’ (2023)

By Haley Jakobson

Haley Jakobson’s debut novel, “Old Enough,” reckons with a type of assault that doesn’t often appear in works of art but is a common coming-of-age trauma. When the book opens, Savannah, a 19-year-old bisexual college student, is navigating the standard highs and lows of life as a queer sophomore, including finding her community and getting over a recent “situationship.” But the normalcy of Savannah’s collegiate life is interrupted when her best childhood friend, Izzie, reaches out after getting engaged. With that, the memories of a nonconsensual sexual encounter with Izzie’s brother come flooding back, along with the ways she was abandoned and shamed by her friend — and everyone else who couldn’t face that particular, common trauma.