Our Queerest Shelves

Queer Pulp Fiction, LGBTQ BookTok, and Your Rage Reads of the Week

Ridiculous pulp cover of Satan Was a Lesbian

Hello readers! I hope you’re doing well. I just dropped off a whole stack of lesbian pulp postcards at the post office yesterday that are flinging their way across the continent right now, and I feel that I should tell you that you can do this. You can take a ridiculous, campy queer pulp cover, throw into a Canva postcard template, and get them to mail you a stack of them. (Or you can print them yourself, of course.) Then you can send all your friend postcards that will make your mail carrier do a double take. You’re welcome.

Queer Bookish Musings of the Week

Here’s a question: Why is Amazon so bad at recommending lesbian books? Last month, I wrote a post called If You Think There are No Good Lesbian Books, You’re Bad at Picking Books. In it, I talk about how ridiculous the idea is that there are no good lesbian books. The only way I can understand it is if you only discover books through Amazon.

if you Google “lesbian books,” you’ll get a helpful bar of titles. They’re all classics of lesbian literature. Nothing too innovative, but it’s a good place to start: Annie On My Mind, Fingersmith, Zami: these are all great reads. Scroll down and you’ll see lots of lists: some of them are better than others, but they’re pretty solid, overall. The bottom has another helpful bar of 2021 lesbian books, including Last Night at the Telegraph Club, Honey Girl, and Perfect On Paper (which is very much about being bisexual and not a lesbian, but there we are).

Search Goodreads lists for “lesbian books” and you’ll find a selection from Autostraddle with some great sapphic reads. Even YouTube will offer up quality recommendations, many from sapphic BookTubers.

Search Amazon for lesbian books, though, and none of those titles appear. In fact, you’ll get a lot of books that are by no definition “lesbian:” The Song of Achilles, a transphobic nonfiction title, and a journalism book, to name a few. M/M books regularly outrank sapphic books, though the top kindle results for both “lesbian fiction” and “lesbian romance” have bisexual women main characters. Other keywords will dredge up truly cringeworthy erotica titles that, interestingly enough, bear a striking resemblance to those 1950s pulp covers I was talking about.

It is possible to find lesbian books on Amazon, but it sure isn’t easy. Anyone wading through those selections would think there isn’t a lot of good quality lesbian literature out there. While I would like to lay the blame for the myth of lesbian books as low quality at Amazon’s feet, I do have to advise more generally: don’t use Amazon for book recommendations. Use book blogs, Google — even Goodreads or, Sappho forbid, twitter. But don’t let Amazon pick your queer TBR. (Stay tuned for another reason why in the links below!)

All the Links Fit to Click

Buckle up, because we’ve got some rough news stories to get through.

LGBTQ Book Riot Posts

New Releases This Week

I guess publishers pushed all their queer books in June, because I only have two books for you this week! Luckily, they both look great.

Cover of She Who Became the Sun by Shelley Parker-Chan

She Who Became the Sun by Shelley Parker-Chan (Non-Binary Fantasy)

This is being pitched as Mulan meets The Song of Achilles. It’s a feminist historical epic fantasy that grapples with the concept of destiny. It also has two genderqueer main characters! It’s about a set of siblings in an impoverished village who are given very different destinies: the son, greatness; the daughter, nothingness. When her brother dies, though, Zhu takes on his identity to secure a new future for herself. Be prepared for a brutal war story, but one that focuses on resilience and the main character’s defiance of the role she’s been placed in.

The Dire Days of Willowweep Manor cover

The Dire Days of Willowweep Manor by Shaenon K. Garrity and Christopher Baldwin (F/F YA Graphic Novel)

This is a YA graphic novel about a teenger pulled into another universe that looks suspiciously similar to the gothic romances she loves reading! She must save it from evil to be able to get home, or else both their worlds will be in danger. It’s a satirical take on gothic romance tropes that includes queer and disability representation (one of the characters uses forearm crutches).

That’s it for me this week! Until next time, you can find me on Twitter and on my book blog, the Lesbrary. You can also hear me on All the Books on the first Tuesday of the month, and I post weekly New Releases videos on the Book Riot Youtube channel. You can bet I sneak in as many queer titles as I can.

Happy reading!