Categories
Our Queerest Shelves

The Bestselling, Revolutionary 1920s Japanese Lesbian Novelist You’ve Never Heard Of

I am currently leisurely making my way through Melt With You by Jennifer Dugan, and I can’t think of a better summer read. It’s a friends-to-lovers-to-enemies?-to-lovers? F/F YA romance with an ice cream truck road trip. Unfortunately, the weather is not cooperating with my reading mood, and it’s been overcast for the last few days. Oh well. It’s summer in my mind!

Today, I want to highlight the organization Equality Florida, which has filed a lawsuit against the recent “Don’t Say Gay” bill. You can find out more on their website and you can support them at their donation page.


Queer Books with Sprayed Edges

A trend in the bookish world lately has been sprayed and stenciled edges. While these aren’t new, the idea of having a fancy version of a new book with sprayed edges (such as from a book box), doing it yourself, or getting someone else to do it for you is a recent phenomenon.

Unfortunately, these are gorgeous and I want to collect them all. So far, I’ve been able to hold off, but I know it’s only a matter of time before I start collecting them, which is going to be brutal on my bank account. Let me spread that pain around by showing you a few queer books available with beautiful sprayed edge designs.

a copy of The Atlas Six with a sprayed edge design

You can get this copy of The Atlas Six by Olivie Blake, which is a queer dark academia fantasy, with a purple and sparkly celestial sprayed edge for $59

a photo of Song of Achilles with a sprayed edge design of two hands reaching towards each other

Fans of Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller (M/M historical fiction) won’t be able to resist this intricate edge design. $70 for the paperback or $85 for the hardcover.

a photo of The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue with a constellation pattern on the sprayed edge

This constellation sprayed edge design on The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by VE Schwab (bisexual fantasy) matches the cover so well! $52

a photo of Boyfriend Material with matching sprayed edges

This sprayed edge design on Boyfriend Material by Alexis Hall (M/M romance) blends so perfectly with the cover! $45

a photo of A Clash of Steel with purple sprayed edges with white waves

The cover of A Clash of Steel by C.B. Lee (sapphic YA Treasure Island retelling) is already gorgeous, but these edges take it over the top. $40

All the Links Fit to Click

Don’t forget you can get three free audiobooks at Audiobooks.com with a free trial!

LGBTQ Book Riot Posts

New Releases This Week

the cover of A Lady for a Duke

A Lady for a Duke by Alexis Hall (Trans Woman Historical Romance)

Viola used her presumed death at Waterloo to reinvent herself as the person she’s always known herself to be. But that meant walking away from everything, including her best friend, Gracewood, who is still mourning his friend’s death. When they meet again, Viola tries to help Gracewood return to his old self, but along the way, those old feelings of friendship transform into something new…

the cover of Just Your Local Bisexual Disaster

Just Your Local Bisexual Disaster by Andrea Mosqueda (Bi YA Contemporary)

If that title isn’t already enough to convince you to pick this up, you and I have very different taste in books. Maggie Gonzalez needs to find a date to her sister’s quinceañera, but her problem is an overabundance of options: should she ask her on-again off-again ex-boyfriend? Amanda, her best friend and longtime crush? Or the intriguing new girl in town? No matter what she chooses, her life is about to get very messy.

queer ducks book cover

Queer Ducks (And Other Animals): The Natural World of Sexuality by Eliot Schrefer and illustrated by Jules Zuckerberg (Queer YA Nonfiction)

Sexuality is complicated and diverse, and that’s true in human and non-human animals. In Queer Ducks, Schrefer discusses the range of sexual behaviors in the animal world, focusing on one species at a time. They’re also accompanied by cartoon explainers!

We Had To Remove This Post by Hanna Bervoets (Sapphic Fiction)

All the Things We Don’t Talk About by Amy Feltman (Non-binary, Queer Fiction)

Tell Me Everything by Laura Kay (Sapphic Fiction)

the cover of Solo Dance

Solo Dance by Li Kotomi, translated by Arthur Reiji Morris (Queer Literary Fiction)

You Made a Fool of Death with Your Beauty by Akwaeke Emezi (Bisexual M/F Romance)

Crimes of Passion by Jack Harbon, Narrated by Kevin Free and Ron Butler (M/M Romance)

Only on the Weekends by Dean Atta (M/M YA Contemporary)

Milo and Marcos at the End of the World by Kevin Christopher Snipes (M/M YA Contemporary)

the cover of Only On the Weekends

Beauty and the Besharam by Lillie Vale (Bisexual M/F YA Contemporary)

Primal Animals by Julia Lynn Rubin (Sapphic YA Horror)

Fight + Flight by Jules Machias (Sapphic Middle Grade Contemporary)

Bye Bye, Binary by Eric Geron and Charlene Chua (Gender Board Book)

This Body I Wore: A Memoir by Diana Goetsch (Trans Woman Memoir)

Brace for Impact: A Memoir by Gabe Montesanti (Queer Memoir)


That’s it for me this week! Until next time, you can find me at my bi and lesbian book blog, the Lesbrary, as well as on Twitter @danikaellis. You can also hear me on All the Books or you can read my Book Riot posts.

Happy reading!

Danika

Categories
Our Queerest Shelves

Queer Generations: Queer YA with Queer Parents

Does anyone else feel like this week is wonky? Have we tried turning it off and turning it on again? I feel like all my plans have gone sideways. Luckily, there are always queer books to bring me comfort.

This week, I wanted to highlight the Sylvia Rivera Law Project, which provides legal aid to low income trans, intersex, and gender-nonconforming people of color in New York City. You can find out more about them on the SRLP website and you can help out using their donation page.

If you know of a queer charity/nonprofit you’d like to see highlighted on OQS, let me know!


Queer Generations: Queer YA with Queer Parents

I recently read Home Field Advantage by Dahlia Adler (out June 7th) — which is a delight, by the way — and I was struck by the detail that one of the main characters has a bisexual mom. Amber is closeted at school, but totally out and accepted at home. (She’s still finding a label for herself, but it seems like polysexual fits best.)

the cover of Home Field Advantage

From board books upwards in age categories, it’s become much more common to find families with two moms or two dads. This felt different to me, though. Amber’s mother is single. She makes bi jokes. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a bisexual parent who is single in YA — or possibly any book? — before. It felt like a very normal, natural part of her family and home life. In a culture that still labels queer people and books about us as inherently too sexual or age inappropriate for kids and teens, this really stood out to me. (It might also be because I am now closer to her age than Amber’s…)

That got me thinking that I’ve noticed more YA books lately that have multiple generations of queer people in the family. Here are a few!

the cover of Full Disclosure

Full Disclosure by Camryn Garrett

This novel is packed full of queer people, which is always a plus. Simone is a teenager who has been HIV positive since birth, which is managed well with medication. It’s not a coincidence that she has two dads: after seeing so many of their friends go through the AIDS crisis, they wanted to be able to help raise a kid with HIV, knowing the stigma she would face. This is primarily a M/F romance, but it’s also about living as an HIV-positive teen, deciding who it’s safe to tell that to and when she has to hide it to keep herself safe. She’s surrounded by not only her two dads as support, but also a queer friend group: one is also bisexual and one is an asexual lesbian.

cover of the dead and the dark by courtney gould

The Dead and the Dark by Courtney Gould

Logan’s dads have a ghost hunting TV show that always has them on the road. When they stop into her dads’ hometown, though, Logan is on edge. She knows how homophobic it was for them to grow up there, and it hasn’t seemed to change much since. She resents the town for hurting her dads and is now facing that discrimination herself as a lesbian. This is a paranormal thriller/horror story with an F/F romance.

the cover of I Kissed Shara Wheeler by casey mcquiston; green with illustration of a young blonde woman holding a pink envelope covered in red lipstick kisses

I Kissed Shara Wheeler by Casey McQuiston

While this is a completely different genre than The Dead and the Dark, they do have something in common: they’re both about queer teenagers returning to their queer parents’ homophobic hometown. Like Logan, Chloe resents the town for being cruel and bigoted to her parent. Unlike Logan, though, this isn’t a temporary pit stop. Chloe has to live here until graduation, and she’s funneled her anger into showing up the school’s golden girl Shara Wheeler and attempting to snatch valedictorian status from her. But then Shara kisses her, disappears, and leaves a series of coded notes behind her. Now Chloe will have to find her — just out of a sense of competition, of course.

This Poison Heart cover

This Poison Heart by Kalynn Bayron

While the previous three books I listed all have some connection between the parents’ identities and the main characters’, it doesn’t have to be that way. I haven’t read This Poison Heart yet, but as far as I can tell, Briseis has two moms and is also queer, and that’s not a plot point. Considering that queerness is at least somewhat heritable, it makes sense! So I’m hoping we soon see more families like this depicted in fiction. This is a story about magic and poisonous plants and Greek/Roman Mythology — with an F/F romance in there as well. I’ve heard only amazing things about this series!

This isn’t a complete list! You can find more YA books with queer parents (books with queer main characters as well are highlighted) at LGBTQ Reads, put together by who else but Dahlia Adler. (Yes, the author of Home Field Advantage. She’s just that good.)

Don’t forget you can get three free audiobooks at Audiobooks.com with a free trial!

All the Links Fit to Click

LGBTQ Book Riot Posts

New Releases This Week

the cover of Ma and Me

Ma and Me: A Memoir by Putsata Reang (Lesbian Memoir)

Putsata Reang was born in Cambodia, where she and her mother fled when she was just a baby. She barely lived through the experience and spent her childhood trying to live up to being a good Cambodian daughter. That carefully built dynamic between her and her mother crumbles, though, when she marries a woman.

the cover of Melt With You

Melt With You by Jennifer Dugan (F/F YA Contemporary)

If you’re looking for a sweet sapphic YA romance to read this summer, you can’t get better than this. Fallon and Chloe used to be best friends. Then they kissed, and Chloe left for college, and now they aren’t speaking anymore. But to make this messy situation a lot worse, their moms are best friends who own an ice cream truck together, and Chloe and Fallon have been tasked with taking it on a road trip through state fairs this summer. Yes, it’s a friends to lovers to enemies ice cream truck road trip romance. And look at that cover! Who could resist? I’m a few chapters into this one and loving it so far.

the cover of The Lesbiana's Guide to Catholic School

The Lesbiana’s Guide to Catholic School by Sonora Reyes (YA Contemporary)

I was already excited to read this book from the title and cover alone, but then I saw this tweet from the author describing it in the style of a Reddit post: “I (16F) got sent to a Catholic school with my brother (15M) after getting outed at my old school. I’m not out at the new school, but there’s this openly queer girl (16F) there who makes my gay heart do happy little flips. How do I date her without letting her know I’m gay?” That last line made me cackle, and I can’t wait to dive in.

Darknesses by Lachelle Seville (Lesbian Vampire Fantasy)

the cover of The Days of Bluegrass Love

The Days of Bluegrass Love by Edward van de Vendel, translated by Emma Rault (M/M YA Contemporary)

Twelfth by Janet Key (Queer Middle Grade Mystery)

If You’re a Drag Queen and You Know It by Lil Miss Hot Mess and Olga De Dios Ruiz (Picture Book)

Heathen: The Complete Series Omnibus Edition by Natasha Alterici, Ashley A. Woods, Rachel Deering, and Morgan Martinez (Sapphic Fantasy Graphic Novel)

the cover of the Heathen omnibus

Galaxy: The Prettiest Star by Jadzia Axelrod, illustrated by Jess Taylor (Gender Identity Sci Fi Graphic Novel)

I Want to be a Wall, Vol. 1 by Honami Shirono (Asexual Woman and Gay Man Manga)

Grandmaster of Demonic Cultivation: Mo Dao Zu Shi Vol. 2 by Mò Xiāng Tóng Xiù (M/M Fantasy Light Novel)

The Book of Non-Binary Joy: Embracing the Power of You by Ben Pechey (Non-Binary Nonfiction)


That’s it for me this week! Until next time, you can find me at my bi and lesbian book blog, the Lesbrary, as well as on Twitter @danikaellis. You can also hear me on All the Books or you can read my Book Riot posts.

Happy reading!

Danika

Categories
Our Queerest Shelves

Queer YA Novels About Book Banning

Right now, I’m feeling very sappy about the fact that I read I Kissed Shara Wheeler recently, I’m now reading Melt With You, and have Just Your Local Bisexual Disaster up next. I remember when having a mainstream sapphic YA romcom would be a once in a year (maybe) occurrence, and now they’re back-to-back! What a delight.

This week, I want to highlight the charity LGBT Books to Prisoners. You can donate either monetarily or with books. They’re especially looking for gay, bi, and trans books (they have an overflow of lesbian book at the moment). You can also purchase books off their Amazon wishlist.


Queer YA and MG Books About Book Banning

When I did an analysis of the 850 books Texas lawmaker Matt Krause wants to ban, I gave the award for most ironic book to be included on this list to The Year They Burned the Books by Nancy Garden, which was originally published in 1999 and is still unfortunately timely.

I was reminded of it when I saw the description for Answers in the Pages by David Levithan, a gay middle grade book that’s out this week and tackles the current wave of book banning.

I wasn’t able to find any books by authors of color on this subject, although books by authors of color have been targeted the most recently, especially books with Black queer main characters. I hope that in the coming years, we’ll see publishers support authors translating this experience at the intersection of racism and queerphobia to fiction.

the cover of Answers In the Pages, featuring an illustration of a line of turtles, two of them with rainbow shells

Answers in the Pages by David Levithan

Donovan was not expecting his 5th grade assigned reading of a book called The Adventurers to turn into a passionate community debate. But when his mom picked it up and interpreted the ending as implying the two boys become a couple, she arranged a meeting with the principal and demanded it be removed from the school. The situation is made more complicated by the fact that Donovan’s teacher is gay, and there is at least one out student in the class who doesn’t understand why the book would be considered inappropriate if it did gave gay characters. The narrative switches between Donovan and the book ban, the adventures of the two boys in the book, and two other boys in the school who start falling for each other while working together on a project.

David Levithan is the author of Boy Meets Boy and Two Boys Kissing (among many, many others) and he is an editor for a YA imprint at Scholastic, so he has an inside look at what it’s like to have queer books challenged and banned, as well as how important those narratives are — Boy Meets Boy was radical when it came out for imagining such an accepting environment for its queer characters. (Including a drag queen quarterback!)

the cover of The Day They Burned the Books

The Day They Burned the Books by Nancy Garden

As editor of her high school’s newspaper, Jamie writes an opinion piece about the update to the health curriculum, which now includes comprehensive sex ed and free condoms. The article starts a firestorm of backlash, both for the newspaper and the sex ed curriculum. The new textbooks are pulled from classes and a conservative parents’ group begins burning library books. Meanwhile, Jamie is starting to realize that she maybe, probably is falling for a female friend, though she hesitates to come out as her best friend, who’s gay, faces homophobia in the aftermath of her article.

Like Levithan, Nancy Garden is a historic name in queer YA. She wrote Annie On My Mind in 1982, a groundbreaking YA lesbian love story. It continues to be challenged and banned today.

the cover of Hello, Groin

Hello, Groin by Beth Goobie

When Dylan volunteers to put together a library display assembling book covers onto silhouettes of bodies, it starts a domino effect that has her questioning her own relationship to sex. Her choices for the books to represent the groin area of the silhouette are apparently scandalous. As she tries to defend herself, she also begins to form a new relationship to her body and her desires, admitting that she’s more interested in kissing a random girl at a party than her boyfriend.

While this book is not as well known as something like Annie On My Mind, it made a big impression on me when I read it as a young adult. I loved that this didn’t just discuss sexuality in terms of orientation, but also the entire concept of sex and desire: “Anyway, why does that part of your body have to be treated like a wild animal that should be caged and controlled? Why can’t it be about decency and honor, and what’s true and good? And wise,” Dylan argues. Honestly, I still think that the message that sexuality (especially young people’s sexuality) doesn’t deserve to be demonized is still progressive, though this came out in 2006.

LGBTQ Book Riot Posts

Don’t forget you can get three free audiobooks at Audiobooks.com with a free trial!

New Releases This Week

Siren Queen by Nghi Vo cover

Siren Queen by Nghi Vo (Sapphic Fantasy)

I fell in love with Vo’s previous book, The Chosen and the Beautiful, so I can’t wait into this other historical fantasy! Lulli is a Chinese American girl trying to break into pre-code Hollywood, and she’s willing to do anything to make it. Behind the scenes, she finds a network of demons, dark magic, and blood pacts that decide what makes it to the screen.

cover image for Magic, Lies, and Deadly Pies

Magic, Lies, and Deadly Pies by Misha Popp (Bisexual Cozy Mystery)

Daisy runs the Pies Before Guys mobile bakery, which has a secret: baked into the delicious goodies is revenge against men who wrong women. But that secret is threatened when she starts getting blackmail letters. Well, that will make trying to win the state pie-baking content a little more complicated.

the cover of Café Con Lychee

Café Con Lychee by Emery Lee (M/M YA Contemporary)

If you, like me, are a fan of Meet Cute Diary, you’ll want to check out Lee’s newest, a M/M YA romance between two sons of competing restaurants. A new fusion café is poised to put both their families out of business, so they band together to try to save them. The close working conditions and secrecy, though, start to turn these rivals into something more than reluctant allies.

Bad Girls by Camila Sosa Villada, translated by Kit Maude (Trans Woman Fabulism)

The Wicked and the Willing by Lianyu Tan (F/F Paranormal Romance)

the cover of Nate Plus One

The Summer of Bitter and Sweet by Jen Ferguson (Demisexual YA Contemporary)

Nate Plus One by Kevin van Whye (M/M YA Contemporary)

Dead End Girls by Wendy Heard (Sapphic YA Thriller)

Answers in the Pages by David Levithan (Gay Middle Grade Contemporary)

The Science of Being Angry by Nicole Melleby (Sapphic Middle Grade)

Every Bird a Prince by Jenn Reese (Aromantic/Asexual Middle Grade Fantasy)

the cover of The Science of Being Angry

Strong written by Rob Kearney and Eric Rosswood, illustrated by Nidhi Chanani (Gay Picture Book)

Mizuno and Chayama by Yuhta Nishio (Yuri Manga)

The Women’s House of Detention: A Queer History of a Forgotten Prison by Hugh Ryan (Queer Nonfiction)

From Gay to Z: A Queer Compendium by Justin Sayre (Queer Nonfiction)


That’s it for me this week! Until next time, you can find me at my bi and lesbian book blog, the Lesbrary, as well as on Twitter @danikaellis. You can also hear me on All the Books or you can read my Book Riot posts.

Happy reading!

Danika

Categories
Our Queerest Shelves

Great Queer Books for Under $5

I have to admit, all I’m thinking about right now is the Roe vs. Wade draft leak. This puts so many people (including queer and trans people) in danger. Between this and the recent laws targeting trans people (especially youth) and the wave of book bans that accuse anyone writing/teaching/carrying queer kids’ or YA books of “grooming,” it feels like an erosion of progress when there was already so far to go. It would also set a precedented for rolling back further rights, including marriage equality.

If you have the ability, here is a list of abortion funds in every state. Contribute to organizations that are trans-inclusive: this isn’t just a women’s healthcare issue. It includes trans men and non-binary people who can get pregnant. My heart goes out to everyone affected by this, materially and emotionally. Take care of yourselves, and take care of each other.


Great Queer Books for Under $5

I was putting together the daily deals on Book Riot and saw that there were quite a few great queer books on sale right now, so I wanted to point them out to you! These were accurate when writing, which is the day before you’re seeing this, so I apologize if any have expired. Let’s jump in!

Apologies to your TBR and wallet!

All the Links Fit to Click

Don’t forget you can get three free audiobooks at Audiobooks.com with a free trial!

LGBTQ Book Riot Posts

New Releases This Week

Wow! There are so many queer books out today! I promise I narrowed it down — this isn’t a complete list — but it was hard to keep it to just this overflowing list.

the cover of When Women Were Dragons

When Women Were Dragons by Kelly Barnhill (Lesbian Fantasy)

In the 1950s, women’s repressed rage sparked the Mass Dragoning. Alex’s aunt Marla was one of the women who transformed, but her family refuses to speak about her now — dragons are impolite to even acknowledge. As her cousin Bea becomes obsessed with dragons, Alex struggles to find her place in this world. This has a lesbian main character and is a trans-inclusive story about misogyny and women’s anger. Barnhill also wrote a Twitter thread about the news story that led her to writing this book and how it is still painfully relevant years later.

the cover of I Kissed Shara Wheeler by casey mcquiston; green with illustration of a young blonde woman holding a pink envelope covered in red lipstick kisses

I Kissed Shara Wheeler by Casey McQuiston (F/F YA Contemporary)

From the author of Red, White, and Royal Blue and One Last Stop comes their YA debut! Chloe is determined to finally beat golden girl Shara and become valedictorian — and then Shara 1) kisses her and 2) disappears, leaving a trail of clues behind her. Chloe soon finds out she kissed two other people that night: the broody boy next door, Rory, and Shara’s boyfriend, Smith. Together, they try to find out where she went. Amidst this scavenger hunt with a countdown clock, Chloe realizes she might have had Chloe wrong — and also that her classmates may be more queer than she thought in this strict Christian school.

burn down rise up book cover

Burn Down, Rise Up by Vincent Tirado (Sapphic YA Horror)

This follows Raquel, who teams up with her crush, Charlize, to enter the Echo: a nightmare version of the worst time in the Bronx’s history. There, they try to rescue Charlize’s cousin and find a cure for the strange mold originating there that put Raquel’s mom into a coma. This weaves in lessons about the real-life history of the Bronx Burning, but there’s also body horror, monstrous centipedes, and just a pinch of discussions of cannibalism.

The Sweetness of Water by Nathan Harris (Gay Fiction) (Paperback Rerelease)

What We Do in the Dark by Michelle Hart (Sapphic Fiction)

cover of We Do What We Do in the Dark by Michelle Hart; repeating image of orange and pink arms holding hands

Little Rabbit by Alyssa Songsiridej (Queer Fiction) [Unhealthy M/F Relationship]

Chef’s Kiss by TJ Alexander (F/NB Romance)

Queerly Beloved by Book Rioter Susie Dumond (F/F Romance)

Sorrowland by Rivers Solomon (Queer Speculative Fiction) (Paperback Rerelease)

When You Call My Name by Tucker Shaw (Gay M/M YA 90s Historical Fiction)

The Many Half-Lived Lives of Sam Sylvester by Maya MacGregor (Non-binary YA Mystery)

the cover of The Many Half-Lived Lives of Sam Sylvester

The Real Riley Mayes by Rachel Elliott (Queer Middle Grade Fiction)

Cinderelliot: A Scrumptious Fairytale by Mark Ceilley, Rachel Smoka-Richardson, and Stephanie Laberis (Gay Picture Book)

‘Twas the Night Before Pride by Joanna McClintick and Juana Medina (Two Moms Picture Book)

Miss Rita, Mystery Reader by Sam Donovan and Kristen Wixted; illustrated by Violet Tobacco (Drag Queen Dad, Non-Binary Kid Picture Book)

Mizuno and Chayama by Yuhta Nishio (Yuri Manga)

the cover of Kisses for Jet

Kisses For Jet by Joris Bas Backer (Trans Graphic Memoir)

Punch Me Up to the Gods: A Memoir by Brian Broome (Gay Memoir) (Paperback Rerelease)

This Has Always Been a War: The Radicalization of a Working Class Queer by Lori Fox (Non-Binary Essays)

Missing from the Village: The Story of Serial Killer Bruce McArthur, the Search for Justice, and the System That Failed Toronto’s Queer Community by Justin Ling (Queer Nonfiction) (Paperback Rerelease)

You Still Look the Same by Farzana Doctor (Queer Poetry)

Diaries of a Terrorist by Christopher Soto (Queer Poetry)


That’s it for me this week! Until next time, you can find me at my bi and lesbian book blog, the Lesbrary, as well as on Twitter @danikaellis. You can also hear me on All the Books or you can read my Book Riot posts.

Happy reading!

Danika

Categories
Our Queerest Shelves

Everyone Loves Heartstopper, Everyone Hates the Killing Eve Finale

Today I woke up in a fog, and five hours later, my bed is still calling to me. I hope your week is going well and that you’re finding consciousness easier than I am. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m writing this intro last, so now I must nap.

This week, I wanted to highlight The Okra Project, which is a collective that provides meals and resources to Black trans people. They’ve done a ton of great work providing support, including free therapy, during the pandemic. You can learn more about them or donate here.

As always, if you have a recommendation for a queer charity you’d like to see highlighted in Our Queerest Shelves, let me know!


Sapphic Middle Grade Music Camp Books

Not long ago, queer middle grade books were few and far between. Luckily, that’s changed in recent years, and hopefully we’re just getting started. There are trans middle grade books, gay middle schooler protagonists, lesbian and bisexual kids represented, and more.

When I first read Drum Roll, Please by Lisa Jenn Bigelow, I was grateful to finally see a middle grade book about a girl who had a crush on girl, because I knew so many kids would feel seen by it. Now there are enough queer middle grade books out there that we can even see repeating settings, which is why I was so delighted to see another sapphic middle grade book set at music camp come out this week: In the Key of Us by Mariama J. Lockington.

the cover of Drum Roll, Please

Drum Roll, Please by Lisa Jenn Bigelow

Melly is a 13-year-old drummer who was excited about Camp Rockaway — until her parents dropped the bomb as they dropped her off that they’re getting divorced, and they left before she could begin to process it. She plans to hang out with her best friend Olivia and follow her lead, like she usually does, but Olivia is busy with a crush and isn’t around much. That’s when Melly meets a new friend at camp, a girl who gives her butterflies in her stomach — whatever that means.

Now Melly has to find her voice and learn how to communicate with her friends, her crush, and even her parents. It’s a story about her finding compassion for herself and others, even when it’s hard. This also does a great job in capturing the summer camp experience: the ephemeral nature of it, the intense friendships, and how it all seems to exist in its own bubble that feels unreal after you leave. This is a quiet, thoughtful read I highly recommend it.

cover of in the key of us by mariama j lockington

In the Key of Us by Mariama J. Lockington

Andi is 13 and has just lost her mother. When she arrives at Harmony Music Camp, she finds that she can’t play the trumpet like she used to. There she meets Zora, whose parents are pressuring her to be a flute prodigy — even though she’d rather be dancing. Andi and Zora are the only Black girls at camp, and they bond over their struggles with music and with their families — and slowly begin to fall for each other.

Andi and Zora are at camp for four weeks, and the book alternates perspectives every week. This is a middle grade book that tackles tough subject matter, including grief, self-harm, racism, and bully, but it’s also a hopeful read about friendship and first love.

Don’t forget you can get three free audiobooks at Audiobooks.com with a free trial!

All the Links Fit to Click

LGBTQ Book Riot Posts

New Releases This Week

the cover of Book Boyfriend

Book Boyfriend by Kris Ripper (M/M Romance)

PK has been in love with his best friend Art for years, so when Art moves in with him after a bad break up, it seems like the perfect opportunity. But Art seems to find the idea of them as a couple ridiculous, so instead, PK retreats to his writing. In his book, Art (thinly fictionalized) is the perfect boyfriend, and soon readers fall in love with him, too. But his convoluted plan to convince Art to fall for him may just be risking their friendship instead.

Kaikeyi by Vaishnavi Patel cover

Kaikeyi by Vaishnavi Patel (Asexual Woman Fantasy)

This is a retelling of the Indian epic Ramayana. Kaikeyi lost everything when her father banishes her mother, and her worth seems to only be measured by what kind of marriage she can secure. The gods she grew up hearing stories about won’t answer her calls. So she takes her fate into her own hands, heading on a path that will see her gain magic and power, but that will also pit her against the gods and their plan for her family’s lives.

the cover of Burn the Page

Burn the Page: A True Story of Torching Doubts, Blazing Trails, and Igniting Change by Danica Roem (Trans Woman Memoir)

Danica Roem was the first openly trans person to the U.S. state legislature, beating out a 26 year incumbent in Virginia. In Burn the Page, Roem describes her process in running for office, including having an opposition researcher find every story from her past that might be weaponized against her so that she could come out in front of it. It’s also a guide on how to own your own narrative.

Dot & Ralfie by Amy Hoffman (Sapphic Fiction)

Like a House on Fire by Lauren McBrayer (F/F Fiction)

the cover of Like a House on Fire

Spell Heaven: and Other Stories by Toni Mirosevich (Lesbian Short Stories)

The Ultimate Exit Strategy (Virginia Kelly Mystery #4) by Nikki Baker (Sapphic Mystery)

Every Word You Never Said by Jordon Greene (M/M YA Contemporary)

Arden Grey by Ray Stoeve (Sapphic (and Asexual?) YA Contemporary)

No Stopping Us Now by Lucy Jane Bledsoe (Sapphic YA 1970s Historical Fiction)

Dig Two Graves by Gretchen McNeil (Sapphic YA Thriller)

the cover of Every Word You Never Said

Harley Quinn: Reckoning by Rachael Allen (Sapphic YA Fantasy)

In the Key of Us by Mariama J. Lockington (F/F Middle Grade Contemporary)

Sasaki and Miyano, Vol 5 by Shou Harusono (Yaoi Manga)

sick by Tomo Kurahashi (Yaoi Manga)

Our Teachers Are Dating, Vol 4 by Pikachi Ohi (F/F Manga)

Reclaiming Two-Spirits Sexuality, Spiritual Renewal & Sovereignty in Native America by Gregory D. Smithers (Two-Spirits Nonfiction)


That’s it for me this week! Until next time, you can find me at my bi and lesbian book blog, the Lesbrary, as well as on Twitter @danikaellis. You can also hear me on All the Books or you can read my Book Riot posts.

Happy reading!

Danika

Categories
Our Queerest Shelves

Gay Yearning is the Foundation of Fandom

The countdown to Dewey’s 24 Hour Readathon is on in my house. It’s only a week away! I was on top of putting my library holds in on time this time, which means my shelves are currently buckling under the weight of reading choices for every possible mood I could be in that day. I hope you join me, even if it’s just reading a few more pages than you usually would!

This week, I wanted to highlight the charity Lambda Warszawa. They’re a Polish organization that supports LGBTQ people locally, but recently they’ve redirected resources to help LGBTQ Ukrainians fleeing the country. You can find out more from this Teen Vogue article.


The Worst Queer Books I’ve Ever Read

Welcome to the clickbait portion of today’s newsletter. When I started the Lesbrary, there were only a handful of sites covering LGBTQ books (most of them focused on M/M romance). Times have changed drastically in the ten years since, and now I can’t keep track of them all, especially spread across different platforms. I used to follow all the queer book blogs and BookTube accounts — really! I could do that! Now, happily, there’s an abundance of choice.

Of course, not everyone on the queer bookish internet has been camped out here for the last ten years, watching the trends come and go and the publishing industry shift. (Of course, some of have been in the queer literary world much longer than I have, too!) In fact, for some of the BookTubers and BookTokers getting started now or in the last few years, queer bookish content being plentiful seems completely normal.

With that change, I’ve also seen a shift in how people approach coverage of queer books. Where once queer readers would celebrate every LGBTQ book they could get their hands on, even if it had some serious flaws, the bar has been lifted somewhat. And I’m glad of that! I read some truly bad books in my first years of running the Lesbrary. Books that needed much more editing. Books that I gritted my teeth to get through. (Though I read a lot more that I loved.)

I’ve always reviewed books honestly, and that includes negative reviews. In fact, I recently put up a review of an upcoming sapphic book I found to be a frustrating and disappointing reading experience. Other people prefer to only post about book they love and recommend, and I respect that.

One thing I’ve began to see more of on TikTok (and to a lesser extent on BookTube) is content that is primarily about ranting about a certain diverse book, from creators who primarily read diverse books. It’s inevitable that you will come across books you dislike, including when reading diversely, but I confess that I still feel uncomfortable about these sort of videos.

Some accounts have a certain queer book they are known for hating and it comes up in many videos — again, these are accounts that primarily read and recommend diverse books. If this is because there’s something offensive about the book, I completely get it. But otherwise, and maybe it’s because I’ve seen how new it is to have this abundance of queer books and queer books coverage, it turns my stomach.

I don’t expect to like all the books I read, including diverse and queer books, and it’s easy enough to find my negative reviews or 1 and 2 star reads. But I don’t want to focus on them, and I don’t want to repeatedly draw attention to the fact I disliked them, especially if it’s for personal reasons. In fact, many times when I don’t like a book because of my own idiosyncratic tastes, especially when it’s diverse, I’ll refrain from reviewing it or assigning a star rating to it at all.

So, no, I won’t list the worst queer books I’ve ever read, though you’re welcome to sift through my reviews to find them. I’d rather concentrate on the many, many queer books that I adore instead.

Don’t forget you can get three free audiobooks at Audiobooks.com with a free trial!

All the Links Fit to Click

LGBTQ Book Riot Posts

New Releases This Week

Another highly-anticipated queer book out today is actually our sponsor, Spear by Nicola Griffith! Don’t forget to check that one out, too.

the memory librarian book cover

The Memory Librarian: And Other Stories of Dirty Computer by Janelle Monáe and collaborators (Queer Fantasy)

It’s time!! I feel like I’ve been counting down the moment until this release date for years. Janelle Monáe crafted a memorable, fascinating, and queer world in the Dirty Computer “emotion picture”, and now it’s been translated into a short story collection with collaborators including Alaya Dawn Johnson, Yohanca Delgado, Eve L. Ewing, Danny Lore, and Sheree Renée Thomas. It’s an Afrofuturist, high-tech, dystopian, liberatory vision I can’t wait to dive into.

the cover of Sofi and the Bone Song

Sofi and the Bone Song by Adrienne Tooley (Sapphic YA Fantasy)

I really enjoyed Tooley’s previous sapphic YA fantasy book, Sweet & Bitter Magic, so I have high hopes for this one. Sofi is heir to her father’s Musik title — one of only a handful of people permitted to channel magic through music. But her position is threatened by a inexperienced lute player who Sofi is convinced is using illegal magic to sway the judges. The more time she spends with her, though, the more she questions everything she thought she knew about her family and her place in the world.

the cover of New To Liberty

New to Liberty by DeMisty D. Bellinger (Sapphic Historical Fiction)

Fevered Star (Between Earth and Sky #2) by Rebecca Roanhorse (Queer Fantasy)

The Drowning Summer by Christine Lynn Herman (Bi F/Bi F YA Contemporary)

I am the Ghost in Your House by Maria Romasco-Moore (Bisexual YA Fantasy)

The Meaning of Pride by Rosiee Thor, illustrated by Sam Kirk (LGBTQ Picture Book)


That’s it for me this week! Until next time, you can find me at my bi and lesbian book blog, the Lesbrary, as well as on Twitter @danikaellis. You can also hear me on All the Books or you can read my Book Riot posts.

Happy reading!

Danika

Categories
Our Queerest Shelves

Which Books Belong in the Queer YA Canon?

Another day, another book ban. Did you hear the one about the author who was told not to read the book It’s Okay To Be a Unicorn! because a parent complained there was a rainbow on it? I’ll admit, after years of covering this, my eyes are starting to glaze over when I see a new, more ridiculous book ban or educational gag order. After all the work queer people and people of color have done over the years to move the needle just an inch forward, it’s depressing to see this massive backslide. But apathy is just what they want for us, so it’s time to dig deep and keep fighting for inclusive education and access to diverse books. We can’t let these right-wing “parent rights” groups take away all the progress that’s been made.

And while I’m on the topic, might I recommend donating to EveryLibrary? They’ve been fighting for libraries and against censorship throughout this tidal wave of book bans, and they’re building networks of support across the country to keep the fight going and prevent future censorship. For more information, check out the post for the matching campaign we did for them in 2021.


The Unique Relationship Between Queer Media and Spoilers

Something happened in the finale to Killing Eve. You know what’s funny? I would bet a majority of you reading this already know what it is, even if you have never watched an episode, just from that sentence. (If you don’t and you don’t want to know, maybe skip this part of the newsletter, because it will be implied. I won’t discuss it directly, though.)

Queer media has a special relationship to spoilers. For a brief moment on the queer bookternet, there was a debate about whether mentioning a character’s orientation or gender identity in a review counted as a spoiler. Pretty quickly, it was summarily declared that no, that’s not a spoiler. Even if the character doesn’t come out until 3/4 of the way through the book, you’re still within your rights to talk about it as a queer book and name the specific representation included. As a queer bookish community, we have rejected the idea of queer identity as plot twist.

(Spoilers for Buffy the Vampire Slayer and The 100 ahead!)

Before I started watching Buffy proper (I had seen episodes here and there as a kid, but I didn’t sit down to watch it from beginning to end until college), I knew Tara died. I couldn’t tell you where I learned it, but it was an event that permeated the sapphic consciousness. Similarly, I knew almost the moment Lexa was killed on The 100 — in a depressingly parallel way to Tara — despite not watching the show and not seeking the information out.

I was glad for these spoilers. While most media outlets would see a backlash to spoiling a TV show in the title of an article, those responses were rare in these cases. That’s because many queer people only want to pick up a book or start a TV show with queer characters if they know those characters are okay in the end.

When Lexa died, Autostraddle put together a list of the hundreds of dead sapphic characters on TV from 1976 to the present. They determined that bi women and lesbian characters were exponentially more likely to be killed off than straight characters.

This phenomena (dubbed “Bury Your Gays”) isn’t isolated to TV. In the days of lesbian pulp fiction (mostly the 1950s-60s), there were hundreds of books about lesbians — but to get past the censors, they had to have an unhappy ending, so it didn’t seem like the books were condoning homosexuality. Some popular strategies were killing a character off, having a character magically become straight again, institutionalizing one, etc, etc.

This is the foundation from which we consume queer media. Although it’s improved a lot in recent years, most of us are still all full up on stories that imply that being queer leads to a tragic end. For queer people just coming out or who live in a hostile environment, queer media is usually a way to escape, and getting hit with the death of a character you relate to when you were looking for something affirming and comforting can be devastating.

This is why spoilers take on a different meaning when it comes to queer media. Most people who write about queer media online have a sense of responsibility to their readers, an obligation to warn them about media that may be harmful. This overrides any concerns about spoiling a TV show or book.

When I watched Buffy, I was braced for Tara’s death. (I was not prepared for her to temporarily lose her connection to reality, a deep fear of my own, so that sent me into a tailspin.) I’m grateful that it was spoiled for me, because as I empathized with this character and saw my queer identity reflected in her, I also some defenses put up. I can’t imagine what it would have been like to see her happiness snuffed out by a stray bullet if I hadn’t seen it coming.

So, if you ever wonder why a queer review site or blog spoils a major character’s death, that’s why. We rely on each other to alert us to stories that could reopen old wounds. It may be that you don’t need those kinds of warnings, but as long as some of us do, I’ll always be on that side of the spoiler line when in comes to tragic queer media.

Don’t forget you can get three free audiobooks at Audiobooks.com with a free trial!

All the Links Fit to Click

Book Riot Censorship Posts

LGBTQ Book Riot Posts

New Releases This Week

The Romantic Agenda Book Cover

The Romantic Agenda by Claire Kann (Asexual Romance)

You might remember Claire Kann for her asexual YA romance Let’s Talk About Love or one of her other queer YA books, but this is her first foray until adult romance! The Romantic Agenda also has an asexual main character, Joy. Joy is in love with her best friend, Malcolm, but he’s interested in Summer. In order to get his attention, she starts fake dating Fox, Summer’s ex, while they’re all on a summer vacation together. But maybe Fox is what she’s been looking for this whole time…

cover of different kinds of fruit by kyle lukoff

Different Kinds of Fruit by Kyle Lukoff (Non-binary Love Interest, Trans Parent Middle Grade Contemporary)

When Annabelle meets the new kid at school, Bailey, she’s immediately smitten with them. What she isn’t expecting is for her dad to say that him and Bailey have something in common: they’re both trans. Soon, Annabelle realizes her community isn’t accepting as she thought — and she’s determined to make it somewhere that her dad and her new friend (and crush) can feel like they belong. Along the way, she realizes that strict categories like boy and girl or fruit and vegetable aren’t as meaningful as they first appeared.

the cover of You Know, Sex

You Know, Sex: Bodies, Gender, Puberty, and Other Things by Cory Silverberg and Fiona Smyth (Queer- and Trans-Inclusive Middle Grade Nonfiction)

This is the third in a series of LGBTQ-inclusive sex ed and puberty books for kids, starting with What Makes a Baby and Sex Is a Funny Word. This volume is aimed at ages 10 and up, and it covers changing bodies, consent, pornography, trauma, boundaries, and everything else young adults are curious about when it comes to sex and puberty. Both the text and illustrations are inclusive of all bodies, including trans and intersex people, disabled people, and people of color. It’s sex ed from a social justice lens. Get it before it’s banned! (lolsob)

Violets by Kyung-Sook Shin, translated by Anton Hur (Sapphic Fiction)

Boy Overboard by Miski Harris (M/M Romance)

the cover of Violets by Kyung-Sook Shin

No Rings Attached by Rachel Lacey (F/F Romance)

The Language of Roses by Heather Rose Jones (Queer Beauty and the Beast Retelling)

Chef’s Kiss by Jarrett Melendez, Danica Brine, Hank Jones, and Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou (Gay M/M Graphic Novel)

Blaine for the Win by Robbie Couch (Gay YA Contemporary)

Meet Cute Diary by Emery Lee (Trans M/M YA Contemporary) (Paperback Rerelease)

the cover of Love That Story

Boys of The Beast by Monica Zepeda (Gay YA Contemporary)

Survive the Dome by Kosoko Jackson, narrated by Kevin R. Free (M/M YA Dystopia) (Audiobook Rerelease)

The Young Activist’s Dictionary of Social Justice by duopress labs and Ryse Tottingham, illustrated by Andy Passchier (Children’s Nonfiction)

Love That Story: Observations from a Gorgeously Queer Life
by Jonathan Van Ness (Non-Binary Memoir)


That’s it for me this week! Until next time, you can find me at my bi and lesbian book blog, the Lesbrary, as well as on Twitter @danikaellis. You can also hear me on All the Books or you can read my Book Riot posts.

Happy reading!

Danika

Categories
Our Queerest Shelves

Tune Into the National Book Ban Busters Read-In Tonight!

Happy Spring! The last few days here have had some of the worst rain and wind I’ve ever seen in my life. It was blowing completely sideways and was coming down in buckets. I took the dogs out during what I thought was a lull and then got caught in a (mild) hail downpour. Hopefully we’ll start seeing better outdoor reading weather soon.

Book Riot’s matching campaign to UNICEF’s relief efforts in Ukraine ended yesterday, but you can still donate to help UNICEF provide health care, safe water, emergency supplies, and more in Ukraine.


How To Have a Queer Readathon

Dewey’s 24 Hour Readathon is coming up at the end of the month, which is one of my favorite days of the year. I just went back in my blog to try to remember when I started doing it, and I found out that this month will be my tenth year celebrating it! I believe I’ve done it every year in that time.

Over the years, I have honed my strategy, and now I have it down to a science. I’ve written several posts on the topic: How to Last Through a 24 Hour Readathon, 12 Things That Happen When You Read for 24 Hours Straight, Beginner Mistakes To Avoid During a 24 Hour Readathon, and even essential readathon snacks. Surprisingly, I’ve found snack choices to be about as important as book choices for a successful readathon.

That’s all well and good for general advice, but what about if you want to specifically have a queer readathon? There are two components here: company and book choices.

I used to be a solo readathoner, but now I have a bookish roommate, and we readathon together. It’s a very cozy feeling to be reading with a friend (or partner) for hours on end, occasionally checking in about your process. Last year, we invited another friend, including having her stay the night so we could get started at 5 am. (Not mandatory, but that’s how seriously we take it.) It was such a success that we have a standing readathon date twice a year. I highly recommend gathering some queer bookish friends together if you want to have a queer readathon. You can swap books throughout the day and have a condensed book club!

Then there’s the TBR. Some people keep a strict one, while others pick their reads as they go. I like to gave a stack to choose from, including lots of quick reads: LGBTQ middle grade books, sapphic graphic novels, queer novellas, etc. Then, I pick from that the day of depending on my mood.

Here are just a few of the books on my readathon TBR right now (all queer books, all quick reads):

And so many more! The readathon will be April 30th: check out Dewey’s 24 Hour Readathon for more information, and I hope to see you there! What will you be reading?

All the Links Fit to Click

Don’t forget you can get three free audiobooks at Audiobooks.com with a free trial!

LGBTQ Book Riot Posts

New Releases This Week

This week has one of the biggest new releases days of the year! I went back and forth over which books to feature, because there are so many great options. I talk about a few of these more in depth on the April 5th All the Books podcast episode.

nothing burns as bright as you book cover

Nothing Burns as Bright as You by Ashley Woodfolk (Sapphic YA Contemporary)

We begin at the end: with the two unnamed main characters walking away from each other after they set fire to a dumpster behind their school. Then we go back to see how they got there: their protective friendship that turned into a not-quite-romance and toxic codependency. This is a novel in verse, and it promises to be a fast-paced read with a very intense relationship.

the cover of Rabbit Chase

Rabbit Chase by Elizabeth LaPensée and K.C. Oster (Non-binary Middle Grade Graphic Novel)

This is non-binary middle grade graphic novel Alice in Wonderland retelling! Aimée is a a non-binary Anishinaabe middle-schooler who finds themselves pulled into a world populated by Anishinaabe figures and has to fight the land-grabbing Queen of Hearts and team up with Trickster to get back home.

the cover of Fine by Rhea Ewing

Fine: A Comic About Gender by Rhea Ewing (Graphic Nonfiction)

This is graphic nonfiction that’s part memoir, part documentary. Over the course of a decade, Rhea interviewed people from across the country, most of them trans, about their relationship to gender. The book is divided into themes, and each theme includes moments from Rhea’s life, excerpts from interviews on that theme, and finally Rhea’s own thoughts about it.

Little Foxes Took Up Matches by Katya Kazbek (Queer, Gender-Questioning Fiction)

the cover of She Gets the Girl

Young Mungo by Douglas Stuart (M/M Fiction)

Portrait of a Thief by Grace D. Li (Thriller, Sapphic POV)

Reputation by Lex Croucher (F/F Historical Romance)

The Bladed Faith (The Vagrant Gods #1) by David Dalglish (F/F Fantasy)

She Gets the Girl by Rachael Lippincott and Alyson Derrick (F/F YA Romance)

the cover of Burning Butch by R/B Mertz; illustration of Joan of Arc on a matchbook cover

Burning My Roti: Breaking Barriers as a Queer Indian Woman by Sharan Dhaliwal (Memoir)

Burning Butch by R/B Mertz (Genderqueer Memoir)

Content Warning: Everything by Akwaeke Emezi (Non-binary Poetry)

Time Is a Mother by Ocean Vuong (Queer Poetry)

Beast at Every Threshold by Natalie Wee (Queer Poetry)


That’s it for me this week! Until next time, you can find me at my bi and lesbian book blog, the Lesbrary, as well as on Twitter @danikaellis. You can also hear me on All the Books or you can read my Book Riot posts.

Happy reading!

Danika

Categories
Our Queerest Shelves

Read These Trans Books for Transgender Day of Visibility

Happy Transgender Day of Visibility! Definitely take this opportunity to pick up some trans books (especially if you can buy from trans authors), but I also invite you to think about what else we can do as a bookish community to fight transphobia. Pay attention to your local politics, because many states are trying to pass transphobic legislation right now (and some already have). Show up, make some noise, call your local representative to defend trans rights.

There’s also been a lot of trans books targeted recently, especially in school libraries. Check out Book Riot’s Anti-Censorship Tool Kit to learn about how to fight censorship and book challenges in your community and on a larger scale.


Some of My Favorite Trans Books

It’s Transgender Day of Visibility, which is a day for celebrating trans people as well as raising awareness for the discrimination that trans people face. It’s been around since 2009, and it was created because at the time, the only widely recognized day dedicated to trans people was Transgender Day of Remembrance, which doesn’t celebrate living trans people.

In the past decade or so, there’s definitely been an increase in trans authors being published, but while sapphic and M/M books have seen a sharp rise in numbers, we’re still only seeing a gradual increase of trans and non-binary books hitting the shelves.

I’ve included some links later in the newsletter to other Book Riot articles for trans book recommendations, but I wanted to shout out a few of my personal favorites today. These are all ones that I’ve read and loved, but of course I have many more jostling for position on my TBR!

the cover of Nevada

Nevada by Imogen Binnie

This was originally published in 2013, but I am so happy to say that’s being rereleased in June! This book blew my mind when I first read it, because so many of the queer books I was reading back then were Good Queer Representation: they were very careful to have queer characters who were practically flawless. Then came Nevada, the first trans lesbian book I’d ever read, and it had a relatable complete mess of a main character. When Maria’s girlfriend breaks up with her, she steals her car and goes on an impromptu road trip, bumping into James, who reminds Maria of her pre-transition self. It’s funny, sometimes dark, and memorable from the very first lines.

A Dream of a Woman cover

A Dream of a Woman by Casey Plett

One of the prized books in my collection is Plett’s “Lizzy and Annie,” a short story illustrated by Annie Mok and bound zine-style. The story, which is about two trans women in love in New York, is a personal favorite. I loved her newest short story collection just as much. The collection centers trans women and deals with transmisogyny, but it’s also just about the complexities and messiness of relationships (of all kinds). It begins with a gut punch of a story that left me staring at the wall for a while afterwards in order to process it. The collection has a melancholic tone, but also moments of hope and connection. (A Dream of a Woman also has several sapphic stories.)

Light from Uncommon Stars book cover

Light From Uncommon Stars by Ryka Aoki

This may be the best book I have no idea how to recommend. It’s about a woman who made a deal with the devil to become an expert violinist, and also about a refugee from an alien planet who runs a donut shop. And they fall in love. It’s also a coming of age story about a trans aspiring violinist who may well sacrifice her own soul just to find a place to call home. It’s part sci fi, part fantasy, part literary fiction. It’s hopeful and life-affirming, but it also has some of the most brutal scenes of abuse, transphobia, and racism I’ve read before. This is an event of a reading experience that I was itching to reread as soon as I finished it.

The Heartbreak Bakery book cover

The Heartbreak Bakery by A.R. Capetta

I love all of the books I’ve read by Capetta, and this is no exception. It’s a YA magical baking romance between an agender main character and a genderfluid love interest, which is just as good as it sounds. When Syd’s girlfriend breaks up with Syd, that pain gets funneled into brownies. Unfortunately, everyone who bought those brownies at the bakery ends up breaking up with their partner. So now Syd and the genderfluid bakery delivery person, Harley, are on a mission to track down everyone who ate a breakup brownie and fix Syd’s mistake. But along the way, fixing these breakups seems to be bringing Harley and Syd closer together…

Meet Cute Diary Book Cover

Meet Cute Diary by Emery Lee

This is a cute fake dating romance with a trans main character and a non-binary side character experimenting with pronouns (who I think steals the show). Noah writes Meet Cute Diary, a blog collecting happy trans meet cutes — except he secretly writes them all himself. When this gets exposed to the merciless audience of the internet, he decides to bring one of his meet cutes to life to prove they’re real, and Drew, the handsome stranger he bumped into, is game. My favorite thing about this story is that Noah is flawed and makes mistakes over the course of the book. I love a multidimensional main character, especially queer characters.

Don’t forget you can get three free audiobooks at Audiobooks.com with a free trial!

And there you have it! Some fun, light reads, and some ones that brought me to tears. Remember to check out the links below for more trans book recs from other Book Riot writers!

All the Links Fit to Click

LGBTQ Book Riot Posts

New Releases This Week

the cover of Wild and Wicked Things

Wild and Wicked Things by Francesca May (Lesbian Fantasy)

Annie Mason has arrived at Crow Island to settle her late father’s estate and to reconnect with an old friend, but she soon stumbles into a world of witchcraft, secrets, and danger. This is supposed to have The Great Gatsby vibes, but sapphic and on an island… needless to say, this is at the top of my to read list.

Cover of Survive the Dome by Kosoko Jackson; image of young Black man surrounded by a white circle

Survive the Dome by Kosoko Jackson (M/M YA Dystopia)

Jamal is an aspiring journalist who travelled to Baltimore to document the protests against police brutality in the wake of a Black man being murdered by police. But before the protests can even get properly started, the city enacts a security feature called “the dome,” and no one can get in or out. He and some new friends will have to find a way to escape — and to expose the corruption within the police department.

the cover of Conversations with People Who Hate Me by Dylan Marron

Conversations with People Who Hate Me by Dylan Marron (Nonfiction)

You might recognize the title of this book from Marron’s podcast, where he connects people who have feuded online. Can you imagine talking to the person who wrote terrible things about you online? It sounds like a nightmare, but in this book, Marron discusses what he’s learned from talking to people who hate him. It comes recommended by Glennon Doyle, Jason Sudeikis, Franchesca Ramsey, and many more.

The Most Dazzling Girl in Berlin by Kip Wilson (F/F Historical Fiction)

Going Public by Hudson Lin (M/M Romance)

so this is ever after book cover

Monarch by Candice Wuehle (Queer Thriller)

All the White Spaces by Ally Wilkes (Trans Horror)

Anything But Fine by Tobias Madden (M/M YA Contemporary)

Live, Laugh, Kidnap by Gabby Noone (Sapphic YA Contemporary)

So This Is Ever After by F.T. Lukens (M/M YA Fantasy)

My Dearest Darkest by Kayla Cottingham (Sapphic YA Horror)

The Secret Sunshine Project by Benjamin Dean (Two Dads Middle Grade) (UK Release)

cover of mama and mommy and me in the middle by nina lacour

Mama and Mommy and Me in the Middle by Nina LaCour and Kaylani Juanita (Two Moms Picture Book)

let the dead in by Saida Agostini (Queer Poetry)

Ten Steps to Nanette: A Memoir Situation by Hannah Gadsby (Lesbian Memoir)

Body Becoming: A Path to Our Liberation by Robyn Henderson-Espinoza (Non-binary Memoir)

Poetic Operations: Trans of Color Art in Digital Media by Micha Cárdenas (Trans Nonfiction)


That’s it for me this week! Until next time, you can find me at my bi and lesbian book blog, the Lesbrary, as well as on Twitter @danikaellis. You can also hear me on All the Books or you can read my Book Riot posts.

Happy reading!

Danika

Categories
Our Queerest Shelves

What Counts a Queer Book?

I finally got art to put up in my office. And by office, I mean one side of my bedroom. I’ve always been a bare walls kind of gal, and what do you know, it makes a big difference seeing some art there! I bought a Tea Dragon Society print, which is an adorable queer graphic novel series, and it makes me happy to see it every day.

Today, I want to highlight some charities that are helping LGBTQ people in Ukraine, including one I’ve mentioned before: Rainbow Railroad. For more places to help, check out this article from Queerty.


What Counts a Queer Book?

The funny thing about being on queer booktok as someone who’s been on the queer book internet for more than a decade is that you can see the same arguments recycle over and over. Where I lived through them on Tumblr, today’s young queer readers are rehashing them on TikTok. (And yes, I started a TikTok. I couldn’t resist.)

In a recent example of this, there was an ongoing argument about what counts as a sapphic book, and specifically about recommendations being rejected for not being sapphic enough, because they didn’t have an F/F romance. Sapphic is a term that’s only recently increased in popularity, and I saw it happening on Tumblr. It was used to be more bi-inclusive, and it refers to anyone who doesn’t identity as a man and is attracted to people who don’t identify as men. (So, all lesbians and bi or pan women, but also non-binary people who identify under that umbrella.)

Any book with a sapphic main character is, by definition, sapphic. Even if they just mention it in passing. Even if there’s no romance, or the romance is with a guy.

What many of these people were looking for was an F/F romance, which is a romance between two women. Simple enough. But for some reason, this term seems to have been lost in the newest iteration of the queer book internet, which means “sapphic book” is being used to signify a bunch of very specific, conflicting things by different people.

Even if we’re all seeking out more queer books to read, that doesn’t mean we’re looking for the same thing. Some people are looking for books that affirm their experiences and reflect their own identity, while some are looking to expand their horizons and read from other queer perspectives. Some people are looking for books where being queer is the focus and is explored in depth, while others want books where it’s not a big deal (for example, queernormative fantasy books).

There’s no need to fight over which kind of queer book is better: there’s room for all of them. We need books that grapple with prejudice/oppression and hopeful stories we can escape with. We need books with queer couples as well as book with queer single people, including those who have no desire to be in a relationship. Turning on each other isn’t helpful.

So what counts as a queer book? It’s a book with a queer main character (or, in the case of nonfiction, one that’s focused on queer people). That’s it. You may be looking for something more specific, but that doesn’t invalidate other queer books. There’s room for stories that speak to each one of us.

All the Links Fit to Click

LGBTQ Book Riot Posts

New Releases This Week

Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to find many LGBTQ new releases by authors of color this week. Especially if you leave off the manga titles, this week’s list over-represents white authors. I am once again asking publishing to do better.

Cover of The City of Dusk by Tara Sim

The City of Dusk (The Dark Gods #1) by Tara Sim (Queer Fantasy)

This is a truly epic fantasy about a city abandoned by its four gods. The gods’ heirs try to save it, but it means turning their backs on the gods. There are seven point of view characters, complex world-building, and several queer main characters. Laynie Rose, one of my favorite booktokers, has been singing the praises of this for months, so I can’t wait to dive in.

the cover of Ellen Outside the Lines

Ellen Outside the Lines by A.J. Sass (Sapphic Middle Grade Contemporary)

This is a middle grade novel with a queer, Jewish, autistic main character on a school trip to Barcelona. During a school project that throws her together with some different classmates to go on a scavenger hunt to learn Spanish culture, she makes new friends and lets go of some old habits. There’s also a nonbinary side character/love interest.

My Volcano by John Elizabeth Stintzi (Queer Fiction)

The Town of Babylon by Alejandro Varela (Queer Guy Fiction)

the cover of The Town of Babylon

Shake Things Up by Skye Kilaen (Polyamorous M/F/F Romance)

A Million Quiet Revolutions by Robin Gow (Trans YA Novel in Verse)

Kiss & Tell by Adib Khorram (Gay YA Contemporary)

Catch These Hands! Vol. 1 by murata (Yuri Manga)

Dekoboko Bittersweet Days, Vol. 2 by Atsuko Yusen (M/M Manga)

Don’t forget you can get three free audiobooks at Audiobooks.com with a free trial!


That’s it for me this week! Until next time, you can find me at my bi and lesbian book blog, the Lesbrary, as well as on Twitter @danikaellis. You can also hear me on All the Books or you can read my Book Riot posts.

Happy reading!

Danika