It’s Banned Books Week, and I’ll get into my complicated feelings about that later in the newsletter. The TL;DR version, though, is please use this time to actively fight against book censorship — don’t just read banned books! That might be great for your reading life, but it doesn’t help the kids who have been denied access to them. Show up to school board meetings, vote in library and school board elections, contact your legislators, and throw your weight behind these life-saving books so that kids have the chance to read them when they need them!
One place you can help is by donating to EveryLibrary, which has been on the front lines of fighting censorship and supporting librarians.
Official #FReadom Librarian Unisex Long Sleeve Tshirt by KeenBeeStudio
The FReadom Fighters are a group of Texas librarians fighting censorship. You can help support them with this official shirt!
The Lost Century by Larissa Lai (Queer Historical Fiction)
When Fox is a Thousand by Larissa Lai is one of my favorite books, so of course in my infinite reading wisdom, I somehow have never read another of her books. I’m going to have to fix that soon, though, because this looks fascinating. It follows Tobie, who is just learning the story of her grandmother during the Japanese invasion of Hong Kong in the 1940s. It promises to explore “queer Asian history, underground resistance, the violence of war, and the rise of modern China.”
Other Ever Afters: New Queer Fairy Tales by Melanie Gillman (Queer Middle Grade Graphic Novel)
What a fantastic new releases day! Melanie Gillman is one of my favorite artists — just look at that detailed pencil crayon art! I just finished this collection and loved it. They do feel like timeless fairy tales, but they’re all queer and often about dismantling oppressive power structures. I highly recommend this for readers of any age!
The Old Place by Bobby Finger (Lesbian Fiction)
Less is Lost by Andrew Sean Greer (Gay Fiction)
The 99 Boyfriends of Micah Summers by Adam Sass (M/M YA Romance)
The Killing Code by Ellie Marney (Sapphic YA Historical Mystery)
Doughnuts and Doom by Balazs Lorinczi (F/F Fantasy Graphic Novel)
Twelve Percent Dread by Emily McGovern (Queer/Nonbinary Graphic Novel)
For more new releases, check out our New Books newsletter!
Banned Books Week
It’s Banned Books Week, and I’m feeling conflicted about it, to be honest. “Celebrating” Banned Books Week has always felt strange, and now that book censorship (especially against LGBTQ and BIPOC books as well as sex education books) has hit unprecedented levels in the U.S., it feels even more out of touch. The ALA, which hosts Banned Books Week, has had a disappointing response to this crisis while still collecting unmarked funds through Banned Book Week. Meanwhile, many librarians have reported that they aren’t even answering the phone when contacted for support.
Here in Canada, we celebrate Freedom to Read Week instead (in February). But rebranding is not enough. It’s about recognizing that “read banned books” is not an adequate response to conservative propaganda pulling much-needed diverse books out of schools and public libraries, and it doesn’t protect librarians who are being called “groomers” or stop hate groups from harassing library workers.
So, I do want to highlight a couple of queer books that have been challenged and banned a lot in recent years, but please, don’t have your takeaway be just “read these books.” This requires an active response, including showing up to school board meetings and voting in school board and library board elections. Check out our Banned Books Week Action List for more.
All Boys Aren’t Blue by George M. Johnson
If you see Banned Books Week displays that are mostly made up of books like To Kill a Mockingbird or The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, they are missing the mark. The books getting targeted now are queer books, especially by authors of color, like this beautiful nonbinary YA memoir and the asexual and nonbinary graphic memoir Gender Queer.
Melissa by Alex Gino
Melissa, previously published as George, has the dubious honor of being frequently banned and challenged before 2021 made banning queer books cool again. (I apologize for the sarcasm and anger dripping off this newsletter; I just really hate queer books getting banned.) This is a sweet middle grade novel about a trans girl who wants to play Charlotte in the school’s production of Charlotte’s Web.
If there’s a topic you’d like queer books recommendations for, let me know on Twitter and it might be my next Riot Rec!