Two new picture books show us nonbinary and gender creative kids having imaginative adventures in their fun, welcoming, queer, and sometimes magical communities.
A More Graceful Shaboom, written by Jacinta Bunnell and illustrated by Crystal Vielula (PM Press), is a surreal romp of a book that follows Harmon Jitney, a nonbinary child with “an extravagant collection of belongings” that they find hard to keep organized. They decide a purse is the answer, but their two mothers and sister are too busy with their own projects to help. Mama Millie Mapletush, for example, is “building an XJ-6350 Millennium Bipedal Astro Welding Robot from scratch,” whose components include a dishwasher and a movie theater popcorn machine.
Finally, a gender creative neighbor says he has a collection of purses, though he can’t quite remember where he put them. He and Harmon look behind a series of doors that reveal things as varied as a giant Muffin Monster, polar ice caps, and 66,500 Brussels sprouts. Ultimately, they find the purses. Harmon selects the purse of their dreams and proceeds to collect all of their treasured things into it, from belongings to friends, town, and, well, the entire universe. The magical ending is a celebration of community and love.
There’s an inspired silliness about the whole tale. It’s unclear exactly what age group the book is targeting, though, as the wordiness and level of vocabulary seem geared far above the usual picture-book range. Not that I’m against books that stretch young readers in this regard; adults should just be aware that they may need to do some explaining as they read through the book with kids, as least the first few times. What I appreciate most about it, though, is that the book isn’t “about” gender or identity, but rather about gender diverse characters simply having joyous adventures. We need more books like this.
Another new book that takes a similar joyous approach is Hooray, What A Day!/¡Viva, Qué Día! by Molly Allis, available through Allis’ website. The bilingual book is an extension of All Together Now, an animated kids’ show that Allis is creating. The show stars a child named Frankie, described as gender non-conforming in the show notes, who uses “they” pronouns and lives with their grandma. Frankie’s best friend is Jesse, who lives with his two dads and uses male pronouns, but likes to wear skirts, jewelry, and sometimes makeup. The book takes us on a day-long adventure as the two friends explore their queer and colorful community. They go to a parade, visit the community garden, stop at the cafe owned by one of Jesse’s dads, and make zines at the local bookstore.
Queerness is everywhere—Grandma makes rainbow pancakes and has Indigo Girls and ACT UP posters in her kitchen; we see rainbow and trans flags in the community; and several characters at the parade are clearly gender creative. More general progressive messages are also strewn throughout: one character wears a “Black Lives Matter” shirt; the parade marchers carry signs saying, “Otro Mundo Es Posible,” and “Be the Change.” At the end of the day, after storytime with Grandma, Frankie reflects on how happy they are to have spent the day in their community with friends and chosen family.
Hooray, What A Day!/¡Viva, Qué Día! doesn’t have the fantastical tone of A More Graceful Shaboom, but Allis’ multi-colored people and richly detailed backgrounds are equally imaginative and fun. Potential readers should know, though, that while queerness abounds in the community, Frankie and Jesse’s identities aren’t clear from the book alone, but only from the show notes on Allis’ website. We don’t learn that Frankie uses “they”; we might assume from the illustrations that Jesse is a cisgender, gender conforming girl; we meet one of Jesse’s dads, but never know he has two. It’s true that the story isn’t “about” Frankie and Jesse’s gender or family structure, and as I’ve explained, we need more stories like that. But is the lack of clarity about their identities a missed opportunity for queer representation or a chance for readers to assume identities for them that the readers can relate to, no matter what the author intended? I leave that to your interpretation. (Now that you’ve read this post, of course, you can inform young readers of the author’s intended identities for the characters as you see fit.)
Regardless, the community that Allis depicts is clearly full of other, if minor, characters who are more obviously queer, and it’s packed full of queer iconography. Frankie and Jesse are at ease with it all, so even if their identities are here unknown, this remains an empowering, queer-inclusive book that will brighten any bookshelf. Let’s hope there are more books (along with the still-pending show) about the diverse people of this cheery and inclusive world.
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It’s been a couple of years since I’ve done a roundup of kids’ books on LGBTQ history and there have been many new ones in that time! Here’s a fresh list of old and new for LGBTQ History Month—including an upcoming picture book about Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera!
I’m focusing here on books that delve into the history of Pride and LGBTQ people more generally; ones that look solely at the experience of a Pride march or the colors of the rainbow flag can be found in my roundup of Pride Books for Kids. Also, as far as I know, all the authors below identify as White; I wish there was much more diversity of authorship among these books that chart our diverse history. (I know there are LGBTQ-inclusive kids’ books by authors of color; I’m speaking just of history books here.) Publishers, you can do better than this.
An Upcoming Picture Book
Let’s start with one book I haven’t reviewed previously.Sylvia and Marsha Start a Revolution, by Joy Michael Ellison and Teshika Silver (Jessica Kingsley, 2020), isn’t out until November 21, but I’d be remiss not to mention it here. It tells the story of Stonewall icons and transgender activists Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera by focusing on their close friendship and how they cared for their community in the face of harassment by police and others. We see them at the heart of the Stonewall Rebellion, then opening a home for homeless trans girls and continuing to fight “for the survival and rights of transgender people.”
Some of the violence during the riots has been tempered for the age group and a few historical details could be argued, but as the authors note, this is only one retelling of what happened. What comes through clearly, though—and is probably most important for this age group—is the bond between Sylvia and Marsha and the overall sense of how they worked to help those in need. A few of the narrative transitions are a little jumpy, but the thread of Sylvia and Marsha’s friendship helps hold things together.
The back matter offers additional details on the two, a glossary, discussion questions, and activities. There are a couple of errors in the two online resources listed, though: “Queer Kids Stuff” should be “Queer Kid Stuff,” and “The Family Equality Council” should be just “Family Equality.” (Also, I would have added PFLAG and Gender Spectrum as key resources, since they do a lot of work with families of trans kids.) Those are minor issues, though. This inspiring story of friendship, community, and revolution rightly gives Sylvia and Marsha their place on our kids’ bookshelves alongside the mostly White and male figures who have dominated LGBTQ picture book biographies.
Other Elementary School Books
Stonewall: A Building. An Uprising. A Revolution, by Rob Sanders (Random House, 2019), uses the perspective of the Stonewall Inn itself to create a simple yet compelling story that focuses on the people in the neighborhood. Jamey Christoph’s evocative illustrations capture their diversity of race, gender identity, and sexual orientation. (Full review.)
Pride: The Story of Harvey Milk and the Rainbow Flag, written by Rob Sanders and illustrated by Steven Salerno (Random House: 2018), is an inspiring biography of Milk that stresses his friendship with Gilbert Baker, who designed the rainbow flag as a symbol of hope and inspiration. It does mention Milk’s assassination, although as gently as possible, but parents should still be prepared to address kids’ concerns there. (Full review.)
Sewing the Rainbow: A Story About Gilbert Baker (Magination Press: 2018), written by Gayle Pitman and illustrated by Holly Clifton-Brown, flips the perspective Sanders used, and takes us along with Baker from his childhood, through adversity, to the request by his friend Milk to create a new symbol for their community. A few rough transitions may take adult explanation, but all will be inspired by this story and how Baker regained his lost sparkle. (Full review.)
The Harvey Milk Story, written by Kari Krakow and illustrated by David Gardner (Two Lives Publishing: 2001), conveys Milk’s significance with warmth and appreciation. It is wordier and more detailed that Sanders’ book, and probably best for older elementary students. Unfortunately out of print and only available in used versions; see if you can find a cheap one or seek it in a library.
The Fighting Infantryman, by Rob Sanders and illustrated by Nabi H. Ali (Little Bee, 2020), is the story of Albert D. J. Cashier, an immigrant, Union soldier in the U.S. Civil War, and a transgender man—though as Sanders notes, he probably wouldn’t have used that term. Terminology aside, Sanders reinforces that “His identity fit him as snug as his suspenders.” (Full review.)
Mayor Pete: The Story of Pete Buttigieg, written by Rob Sanders and illustrated by Levi Hastings (Henry Holt, 2020), takes us from Buttigieg’s birth in Indiana to his announcement of a groundbreaking run for president. “Only time will tell” who he will become, it concludes. It’s a smart way to end a book that was finished in May 2019 and fast-tracked for publication, as Sanders confirmed with me—well before Mayor Pete won the Iowa Democratic Caucuses but shortly thereafter dropped out of the race. It may inspire young readers on their own journeys of self-discovery and service. (Full review.)
For Spacious Skies: Katharine Lee Bates and the Inspiration for “America the Beautiful,” by Nancy Churnin and illustrated by Olga Baumert (Albert Whitman), tells of Bates’ childhood during the Civil War, her dedication to study, and her work to address social injustices, as well as the trip that inspired her most famous poem. It mentions “the home she shared with Katharine Coman”; an afterward calls their relationship “a close companionship,” though as I explain in my full review, it was likely more than that.
Be Amazing: A History of Pride, by “Drag Kid” Desmond Is Amazing (Farrar Staus Giroux, 2020), is less a detailed history than a short overview of the Stonewall Riots and the first March one year later; brief biographies of Stonewall icons Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera; and a description of the influence of Pride on Desmond’s life. A mention of President Obama’s 2009 declaration of Pride Month makes it (incorrectly) seem as if that legitimized the observance. What it lacks as a history it makes up for with dazzling illustrations from Dylan Glynn and an enthusiastic message to “Be amazing.”
Harvey Milk,Ellen DeGeneres, and RuPaul Charles from Little Bee Books (2020) with no stated author, illustrated by Victoria Grace Elliott, each offer simple takes on these figures’ lives, though not as simple as the board book format might imply. (Full review.)
Pride: The Celebration and the Struggle, by Robin Stevenson (Orca, 2020), is an updated edition of her 2016 Pride: Celebrating Diversity and Community, which blends a history of the event with a broader look at the struggle for LGBTQ equality, along with a look at what it means to come out, what to expect at Pride events around the world, a glossary, and an explanation of gender identity. The new edition places a greater focus on activism and activists, as the need for such work has grown over the past few years.
Gay & Lesbian History for Kids: The Century-Long Struggle for LGBT Rights, by Jerome Pohlen (Chicago Review Press, 2015), starts with Sappho, Alexander the Great, and other figures from distant history, but then focuses mostly on U.S. social and political history. A series of activities throughout the book add fun and engagement. Despite the main title, Pohlen is inclusive of the LGBT spectrum.
Stonewall: Our March Continues, by Olivia Higgins, illustrated by Tess Marie Vosevich Keller (self-published, 2019), straddles the picture book/middle grade line as it tells the tale through the eyes of young LGBT people in the 1960s seeking community in New York City. It’s an engaging approach, but the undifferentiated first-person narrative, intended to convey perspectives from different people, may be confusing. Young readers might also need adult guidance so they are not scared by the line, “My parents demand that I change or leave home forever.” (Full review.)
Young Adult Books
Queer There and Everywhere: 23 People Who Changed the World, by Sarah Prager (HarperCollins: 2017), aims for the teen audience, but adults will also learn much from her engaging profiles. Prager offers a thoughtful exploration of historical terms for what we now call “queer” identities, an overview of queerness around the world, and profiles that are both informative and entertaining.
Gayle Pitman’s The Stonewall Riots: Coming Out in the Streets(Abrams, 2019) is organized around 50 representative objects from the era and the event, such as photos, matchbooks, picket signs, and more. Pitman skillfully weaves the stories behind these objects into an accessible and substantial narrative. (Full review.)
What Was Stonewall? by Nico Medina (Penguin, 2019), looks at Stonewall in the context of the broader movement for LGBTQ equality both before 1969 and after, through 2016.
The Stonewall Riots: The Fight for LGBT Rights, by Tristan Poehlmann (Essential Library, 2016) is a solid overview, but only available in a $30 library edition, which may make it a better library pick than one for home bookshelves.
Rainbow Revolutions: Power, Pride, and Protest in the Fight for Queer Rights, by Jamie Lawson (Crocodile Books/Interlink, 2020), takes an more event-based approach to history, in contrast to Prager’s people-based one (see above), offering brief snapshots of significant moments and movements in LGBTQ history from the Victorian age to our current era. There’s a lot of fascinating information in the volume, although Lawson’s choices about what to focus on feels somewhat uneven. (Full review.)
Gay America: Struggle for Equality, by Linus Alsenas (Amulet: 2008), is explicitly limited to gay men and lesbians and a little dated now, but worthwhile within those limits, covering politics, culture, relations between the lesbian and gay rights movement and other civil rights movements, entertainment, the evolution of gay and lesbian identities, and more.
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For Indigenous People’s Day today, let’s take a look at the few queer-inclusive children’s books that celebrate indigenous people and cultures, and ask why there aren’t more.
Families, written by Jesse Unaapik Mike and Kerry McCluskey and illustrated by Lenny Lishchenko (Inhabit Media), is the story of Talittuq, a second-grade boy living with his mother in Iqaluit, the capital city of the Canadian territory of Nunavut. One year at the start of school, he realizes the many different family configurations that he, his friends, and his teacher have. While the plot in some ways sticks to well-worn paths trod by many other LGBTQ-inclusive books celebrating families, it stands out for its focus on an indigenous family and its use of Inuktitut terms and names throughout. (There’s a glossary at the end, although much is also understandable from the context.) Mike herself was raised in Iqaluit by a single mother, giving the book grounding and authenticity. Publisher Inhabit Media is an Inuit-owned publishing company with its head office in Iqaluit. And yes, the October Indigenous Peoples’ Day is a U.S. observance, while National Indigenous Peoples Day in Canada is held every June 21st. Still, indigenous stories, authors, and publishers deserve our support, not just today, but any day, and it’s great to see this goodhearted story that is queer inclusive as well. (Full review.)
Colors of Aloha, written by Kanoa Kau-Arteaga and illustrated by J.R. Keaolani Bogac-Moore, follows a group of Hawai’ian children, plus one older brother and his boyfriend, as they explore their island and learn their colors, along with tidbits about various native Hawai’ian legends, culture, and foods. The joyous tale is published by queer-focused micro-press Flamingo Rampant, and only available through them.
47,000 Beads, written by Koja and Angel Adeyoha, and illustrated by Holly McGillis, also from Flamingo Rampant, tells of a Lakota child who gets a little help in expressing a two-spirit self and dancing at a pow wow.
When We Love Someone We Sing to Them/Cuando Amamos Cantamos, written by Ernesto Javier Martínez and illustrated by Maya Gonzalez (Reflection Press) is a gorgeous bilingual book in English and Spanish that honors the Mexican serenata tradition even as reframes it to include one boy creating a love song for another, with the help of his father. While it is a celebration of Mexican culture broadly speaking and the characters are not identified as indigenous, it includes references to Xochipilli, the Mesoamerican Nahua deity of creativity, dance, and song. A note at the end reminds us that “The Nahua people still continue to inhabit Central Mexico to this day.” (Full review.)
These are all great books for reading at any time, whether they reflect your own culture and experiences or offer windows into others. Still, I would love to see even more queer-inclusive children’s books that include indigenous characters and families (and people of color more generally), both from small presses like the above and from the major publishing houses. If Pete Buttigieg can have a picture book biography, why not Sharice Davids, the first openly LGBTQ Native American and one of the first two Native American women elected to the U.S. Congress? An enrolled member of the Ho-Chunk Nation, she was raised by a single mother and worked to put herself through college—then went on to law school, a mixed martial arts career, work in economic and community development on Native American reservations, and a stint as a White House Fellow under President Obama, before running successfully to become a U.S. representative for Kansas. Hers is only one of many, many stories waiting to be told.
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I wrote yesterday about the many attempts to ban LGBTQ-inclusive children’s books from schools and libraries—so here’s a story to counter that, about three different initiatives that are now offering free (yes, free!) LGBTQ-inclusive books and resources to educators and schools throughout the U.S.
Hope in a Box, which launched a pilot program with 30 schools in September 2019, is now a national nonprofit that focuses on public middle and high schools in rural areas and those receiving Title I federal funding. Founder Joe English, a former consultant for McKinsey & Company, grew up gay in a small rural town, and explained in an interview, “For a lot of kids who still live in rural towns, it’s scary to grow up queer. There isn’t the same type of acceptance that we see now in cities like Boston or New York or San Francisco.”
I think one of the most underreported stories in the mainstream press in the last six months has been how hard COVID has been on LGBTQ kids…. It’s even more important for educators to have the materials and the resources to make these kids feel safe and welcome and included.
By the end of October, Hope in a Box will have sent books to 300 schools across 50 states. The need for these books is greater than ever. “I think one of the most underreported stories in the mainstream press in the last six months has been how hard COVID has been on LGBTQ kids,” English said. This year, whether virtually or in-person, “It’s even more important for educators to have the materials and the resources to make these kids feel safe and welcome and included.”
Before agreeing to a request for books, he noted, Hope in a Box considers whether the situation is “right for potential impact” and if there are educators there who are “passionate” about the program and can put the materials to use. If so, they first sent a “library builder” box of many curated titles, from classics like “The Picture of Dorian Gray,” by Oscar Wilde to just-released works like “Red at the Bone,” by Jacqueline Woodson. After that, “If an educator wants to formally incorporate one of the books into their curriculum, then we will provide a class set.”
But books are only the first step. After the project first began, many teachers asked them for help incorporating the books into the curriculum and responding to concerns from parents. This fall, therefore, the organization is launching a new program, working with experienced English teachers to write a “detailed, Common Core-aligned curriculum” for each book, along with guides that include tips on teaching LGBTQ topics, sample student activities, additional resources, and more, all available free online. They also have two educators running a private Facebook group and monthly, small group Zoom calls for educators to connect, share, and find coaching and support.
Another similar project, Pride and Less Prejudice (PLP), is focusing on much younger children, offering free, LGBTQ-inclusive books for pre-K through third grade classrooms. Founder Lisa Forman has been a music teacher for 25 years and has two grown daughters. When her daughter Rebecca Damante, who is queer, was a teenager, “She started to see some LGBTQ representation on TV and to relate to the queer storylines,” Forman said. “I saw what a huge difference that made for her.” Forman “realized that must have been a big hole not just in her childhood, but in other children’s developmental years.”
After doing her own research and soliciting help from friends who were teachers, Forman launched PLP last November. Rebecca is the outreach coordinator and content editor; her other daughter, Ally Damante, is the creative content editor and videographer. They also have about 10 volunteers working on everything from resource guides for the books to social media, partnerships, and development. They’ve had requests from teachers in 36 states, in both public and private schools, and shipped over 200 books so far. Forty-five percent of the requests are from Title I schools.
They usually send two to three books per request, and Forman noted, “We’re trying to be really personal and customized” if there are particular topics a teacher wants to cover or if they already have certain books.
Most of the project’s growth has been through word of mouth, but when Rebecca posted about it last spring at Pantsuit Nation, a Facebook group with over three million members that had been founded to help elect Hillary Clinton, they realized they needed more money to support the flood of requests. Ally came up with the idea of a celebrity video; Rebecca reached out to more than 100 publicists. More than a dozen celebrities, including Adam Rippon, Nicole Maines, Tig Notaro, and Rufus Wainwright then offered their voices in support of the project. PLP used the video to launch their #ReadOutProud campaign in August, which seeks to raise $10,000 to provide 800 books to classrooms across the U.S. and Canada. They’re also offering an online professional development workshop on October 12.
A third initiative, the Make It Safe Project, gives free LGBTQ-inclusive books for teens to schools, youth homeless shelters, and juvenile detention centers. It was founded in 2011 by Amelia Roskin-Frazee, an out lesbian student, when she was 14 years old. She’s now a Ph.D. student in sociology at the University of California Irvine and Make It Safe has given more than 160,000 youth access to books. For three years, they have also offered a writing scholarship to LGBTQ teens, and the best submissions will be published in an upcoming anthology, she told me. They’ll be including it in their free book boxes and selling it online, with all proceeds supporting the project.
English and Forman say that while donations from individuals have been the bulk of their support so far, they are now also seeking grants from foundations and other organizations. If you are an educator interested in receiving books or would simply like to support any of these projects, visit hopeinabox.org, prideandlessprejudice.org, or makeitsafeproject.org.
(Originally published as my Mombian newspaper column.)
Once again, it’s Banned Books Week—and a new list of the Top 100 Most Banned and Challenged Books from the last decade reminds us that LGBTQ-inclusive books for kids remain among the most (needlessly) controversial.
The American Library Association (ALA) has compiled its annual Top Ten Most Challenged Books lists into a list of the Top 100 Most Banned and Challenged Books: 2010-2019. Many are acclaimed novels, like Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye, John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men, and even the Bible. As the Banned Books Week Coalition said in its press release, however, many of the books on the list were targeted for LGBTQIA+ content. They include:
Many more of the books on the list also include LGBTQ characters or ones of other marginalized identities. When the annual list for 2019 came out this past April, the ALA noted “a rising number of coordinated, organized challenges to books, programs, speakers, and other library resources that address LGBTQIA+ issues and themes. A notable feature of these challenges is an effort to frame any material with LGBTQIA+ themes or characters as inherently pornographic or unsuitable for minors, even when the materials are intended for children and families and they are age and developmentally appropriate.” Additionally, they observed:
Organized groups also continued to protest and disrupt Drag Queen Story Hour events held in libraries, claiming that the events advance political, social, and religious agendas that are inconsistent with the groups’ conservative Christian beliefs about gender and sexual identity. In 2019, OIF [the ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom] tracked more than 30 challenges to Drag Queen Story Hours and other Pride programs, and identified a new and distressing trend of disinviting authors who had been invited to speak or read from their books, solely on the grounds that the authors identify as LGTBQIA+ or because their books include LGBTQIA+ themes. [Here’s my coverage of a school that disinvited author Phil Bildner from a virtual visit this May, and one that disinvited author Robin Stevenson from a talk last year.]
I don’t think I need to remind readers here of how damaging such censorship can be to LGBTQ children, children of LGBTQ parents, and also their peers, who will grow up never fully learning about the world around them. This is not to say that all books are appropriate for all children; some are clearly geared towards different age ranges. Yet even children of the same age have differing levels of maturity, so it is ultimately up to us parents or guardians to decide what books are appropriate for our own children. I will also add, speaking as the parent of a child who is almost grown, that inevitably our children will learn about some things in life before we think they should. It’s then up to us to help them understand and contextualize this information—and books are often more of a help here than a hinderance. Banning books from schools and libraries is rarely the answer and can even make a parent’s task harder.
The ALA also reminds us that the censorship of books in libraries is a violation of our First Amendment rights, yet 82 to 97 percent of challenges remain unreported. (To confidentially report a challenge, use this handy ALA online form.)
Despite the continuing challenges to LGBTQ books, however, I see several reasons for hope: Although Heather Has Two Mommies has been under fire since 1982, when it was used as an example of “the militant homosexual agenda” by an Oregon group campaigning to allow anti-gay discrimination, it came out in a new edition with revised text and graphics in 2015. And Tango Makes Three saw a 10th anniversary edition in 2015 that brought the tale to the board book format. Uncle Bobby’s Wedding, which has seen challenges since 2008, came out in a new edition this past May. Clearly, the challenges haven’t slowed down the popularity of these books or the commitment of their publishers.
As I wrote in April, too, I believe that the increase in challenges to Drag Queen Story Hours and queer-inclusive children’s books is in part an indicator of their success as they spread to more libraries and communities. I’m also heartened by the many, many LGBTQ-inclusive books I’ve reviewed that haven’t been banned, although I do wonder whether this is because they’re not becoming known and getting into libraries in the first place. I’d like to think that even though queer-inclusive books will undoubtedly face more challenges, it will be harder for them all to be challenged as their numbers grow. In 2018 and 2019 there was a rise in the number of queer-inclusive children’s books published, and 2020 is continuing the surge. Get them for your own family or recommend them to your local children’s librarian.
Want to hear more about banned books from an author who’s dealt with many challenges? Alex Gino’s George, an award-winning middle grade novel about a transgender girl, has been on the yearly Top 10 list for four years in a row, topping the list in 2018 and 2019. Gino will be joining the Banned Books Week Coalition and OIF for a special Facebook Live event on Wednesday, September 30, to talk about censorship and representation in literature. For even more (mostly virtual) events on various topics related to censorship, inclusion, and more, see the Banned Book Week Events listing. Read proudly this week and every other!
(I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program that provides a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.)
I follow hundreds of queer book blogs to scout out the best sapphic book news and reviews! Many of them get posted on Tumblr and Twitter as I discover them, but my favourites get saved for these link compilations. Here are some of the posts I’ve found interesting in the last few weeks.
If you want to do some good in the world by getting LGBTQ picture books into pre-K to grade classrooms, support Pride and Less Prejudice! They use donations to send free age-appropriate book bundles to teachers who request them.
And for more ways to spend your money supporting queer books, LGBTQ Reads has a list of queer books available at various indie bookstores, complete with buy links! It couldn’t be easier to pick up some new to you authors while giving indie bookstores the support they need right now.
Looking to blow up your TBR pile/preorder list? Check out Sasha and Amber Read’s 2021 – The Year of Sapphic Excellency. There’s also Hsinju’s Lit Log’s 2021 Sapphic Releases from LGBTQ+ Indies for even more. If you can’t preorder all the titles you’re interested in, I recommend putting them in your Google Calendar and sending a reminder the day before. Then you can put it on hold at the library! That’s how I keep my library holds always maxed out.
Of course, if you want to be aware of queer books coming even further out, there’s LGBTQ Reads’s August Book Deal Announcements post, which includes books that may not be out for years.
YA Pride interviewed teenagers about how queer books have affected their lives at Teens Talk About LGBTQIAP+ YA. If you, like me, are over 25, you will feel old reading these. But either way, they are heartwarming, and include how some of these teens explored and discovered their identity through books.
Reads Rainbow has a rapid-fire recommendation post of Sapphic YA Fantasy Recs, with the reasons you should read each pick.
The always-wonderful Casey wrote 8 Queer YA Novels With Coming of Age Hope to Relive Alice Wu’s “The Half of It”–and if you haven’t watched The Half of It on Netflix yet, run and do that first! I loved it. These books include: “falling in love through letter writing, figuring out your queer identity, keeping secrets, new friendships, small towns, and slowly getting to new your new girl crush.” Who can resist?
YA Pride’s The Path to Publication: Writing the Queer Black Girls of Cinderella Is Dead has Kalynn Bayron describe the obstacles to publishing Cinderella is Dead, including being told in writers’ groups that it wasn’t mainstream enough, while agents insisted the fairy tale retelling was overdone: “It’s not standard practice to reply to an agent at all, much less with the question, ‘How many of those reimaginings center BIPOC? And how many of them are also queer?’”
Fiona Zedde posted on Woman and Words Black LesBiQueer Books, Y’all!, highlighting some recent releases by Black queer women, including lots of romance and erotica recs!
It seems ridiculous to try to explain why roller derby appeals to queer women. A woman-centric sport? People with different body types playing a hardcore sport together? Puns? What’s not to love? Unfortunately, there have not been nearly enough books or movies to capitalize on the inherent potential of an amazing F/F roller derby romance. (I’m looking at you, Whip It.) I have been able to put together a list of 10 sapphic books that feature roller derby, but unfortunately, this is a very white list. There is one book on this list out in 2021 by an author of colour, but I hope that publishers seek out more roller derby stories from a variety of authors in the future, offering different points of view, because there’s no reason this list should be so white.
One of the most exciting things I’ve seen in queer lit in the last five years or so is the emergence of LGBTQ middle grade novels! For a long time, we had picture books and YA, and nothing in between. The Derby Daredevils is a series about a junior roller derby team started by Kenzie, who is the point of view character in this first volume. Her mother is a derby girl, and she desperately wants her and her best friend to play in the new junior league, which means they have to put together a team, pronto. This is an adorable short chapter book with tons of illustrations, and a diverse cast of characters in terms of race, personality, and body types. Kenzie has a crush on a girl, and she also has a trans dad. This is a perfect pick for kids just starting to get into chapter books. (Or adults, because I loved it.)
Okay, I’m a little early on this, because Bruised doesn’t come out until 2021, but I am eagerly awaiting it. From the author of Kings, Queens, and In-Betweens, this follows Daya, who is just beginning in the roller derby world. She and her parents were in an accident, and only she survived; since then, she’s been looking for ways to deal with it, usually by throwing herself into physically painful situations. She hopes that the bruises from roller derby will distract her from the emotional pain, but being part of this community ends up meaning a lot more than an excuse to throw herself into danger. I’m not sure of the exact sapphic content in this yet, but I’ve been assured that it’s there, and given her previous novel, I see no reason to doubt that!
There’s never a bad reason to read Lumberjanes, and volume 9 just happens to include a roller derby bout against some yetis. Lumberjanes has been queer from the beginning, with an adorable romance between two of the girls, and it also has trans representation in the later volumes. This volume even has a nonbinary character who starts using gender neutral pronouns and is immediately accepted! As always, this is just a fun, happy read.
Jennifer and Maise meet at “Fresh Meat” orientation and immediately hit it off—unfortunately, they’re put onto different teams. As they go from being rookies to finding their places on their teams, they begin to grow apart. Does this sound like the beginning of a friends-to-rivals romance? It does. Unfortunately, this isn’t that, but we do get a lesbian character in Jennifer (who is on the cover). Part of the appeal of roller derby is the close-knit friendships and community that grow from being part of a team, and that’s what Slam! focuses on—so this is more about the romance of friendship!
I might have done a romance bait-and-switch with Slam!, but don’t worry: most of the books on this list are proper romances. Roller Girl is about Tina, who is a recently divorced trans woman looking for a fresh start. When her very attractive butch plumber Joanna recommends roller derby, she jumps at the chance. The only problem is that Joanna is the coach, which means the plumber/derby girl is off limits. Will they be able to resist their mutual attraction? Will the sexual tension ever be resolved? Okay, yes, obviously. But will they be able to keep their secret relationship from the team?
Dot Mauser is the “bad girl” of the roller derby rink. As far as she’s concerned, the referee Kat has it out for her. Little does she know that while Kat is handing Dot plenty of penalties, she has her eye on her for different reasons. During the derby’s Pride event, these two find out that they’re both artists: Dot upcycles “junk” and Kat is a photographer. They form an unlikely alliance, though Dot is sure Kat hates her. There’s plenty of drama, and some darker topics than the premise would suggest, but there’s also a lot of heat between the two characters. Bonus: this is written by a roller derby girl herself, with a preface and appendix with more information.
Megan’s life revolves around roller derby, and she takes it very seriously. Yes, she’s constantly surrounded by beautiful women, but she’s never let that distract her. That is, until she finds herself falling head over heels (literally) for the opposing team’s blocker Gianna. Megan is determined to keep her focus on the competition, but it’s definitely hard to keep her eyes on the prize when she can’t stop looking at her opponent. This is a quick, fun romance with a fat love interest and some steamy scenes.
Virginia Harris is the star of a lesbian web series, and it’s gone to her head. She’s used to being recognized, and has no problem finding women. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise when she is told by Allison that she was catfished by someone using her photo. Allison seems like the perfect girl, but she’s disheartened by the whole dating app experience and is ready to jump back into roller derby before she meets Virginia—can she separate the real Virginia from the catfish version she just fell for? This is one for fans of complex and “unlikable” female characters, because Virginia is a divisive love interest.
And now for something completely different. Roller Deb is an outcast in her town, but when her popular sister goes missing, it’s up to her to rescue her. In her search, she finds a world of trolls, fairies, gangsters, and a bloodthirsty version of roller derby. This is a dark fantasy and includes sex, drugs, and violence. Roller Deb first is pulled into this world as part of her rescue mission, but her roller derby skills make her powerful and sought-after here, and she will have to resist being pulled under completely if she wants to escape with her sister.
While I may hold roller derby’s appeal to queer women to be self-evident, Margot Atwell wrote a Huffington Post article called Why Is Roller Derby Important To So Many Queer Women? In it, she talked about why she wanted to honour queer women in her kickstarted roller derby colouring book, including how being part of the roller derby community helped her to discover her own sexuality and come out. This includes several portraits of queer roller derby role models.
And that’s it for sapphic roller derby books I could find! Feel free to let me know (@lesbrary) if I missed any! There is also a novella in Hot Ice: 3 Romance Novellas: “Ice on Wheels” by Aurora Rey, so there’s a bonus for you. I hope that in the coming years, we’ll see many more queer roller derby books come out, whether they’re F/F romances, nonbinary YA novels, bisexual comics, or anything else under the rainbow & roller derby umbrella!
Would you believe that more than 80 sapphic books come out this month? It’s true! Unfortunately, it’s not always easy to find out which books have queer representation, or what kind of representation they have. So here’s a big list of bi and lesbian books out this month, sorted by genre.
Usually, I’d put the publisher’s descriptions, but with the amount of books coming out, it’s just too much! So I’ve highlighted a few of the books I’m most interested in, but click through to see the other titles’ blurbs!
As always, if you can get these through an indie bookstore, that is ideal, but if you can’t, the titles and covers are linked to my Amazon affiliate link. If you click through and buy something, I’ll get a small percentage. On to the books!
A gorgeous and magical collaboration between two critically acclaimed, powerhouse YA authors offers a richly imagined underdog story perfect for fans of Dumplin’ and Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe.
There hasn’t been a winner of the Miss Meteor beauty pageant who looks like Lita Perez or Chicky Quintanilla in all its history.
But that’s not the only reason Lita wants to enter the contest, or her ex-best friend Chicky wants to help her. The road to becoming Miss Meteor isn’t about being perfect; it’s about sharing who you are with the world—and loving the parts of yourself no one else understands.
So to pull off the unlikeliest underdog story in pageant history, Lita and Chicky are going to have to forget the past and imagine a future where girls like them are more than enough—they are everything.
There are two things that Corinne Parker knows to be true: that she is in love with Maggie Bailey, the captain of the rival high school’s cross-country team and her secret girlfriend of a year, and that she isn’t ready for anyone to know she’s bisexual.
But then Maggie dies, and Corinne quickly learns that the only thing worse than losing Maggie is being left heartbroken over a relationship no one knows existed. And to make things even more complicated, the only person she can turn to is Elissa — Maggie’s ex, and the single person who understands how Corinne is feeling.
As Corinne struggles to make sense of her grief and what she truly wants out of life, she begins to have feelings for the last person she should fall for. But to move forward after losing Maggie, Corinne will have to learn to be honest with the people in her life… starting with herself.
Eleven fresh vampire stories from young adult fiction’s leading voices!
In this delicious new collection, you’ll find stories about lurking vampires of social media, rebellious vampires hungry for more than just blood, eager vampires coming out—and going out for their first kill—and other bold, breathtaking, dangerous, dreamy, eerie, iconic, powerful creatures of the night.
Welcome to the evolution of the vampire—and a revolution on the page.
Vampires Never Get Old includes stories by authors both bestselling and acclaimed, including Samira Ahmed, Dhonielle Clayton, Zoraida Córdova and Natalie C. Parker, Tessa Gratton, Heidi Heilig, Julie Murphy, Mark Oshiro, Rebecca Roanhorse, Laura Ruby, Victoria “V. E.” Schwab, and Kayla Whaley.
One girl and her doppelgangers try to stop the end of the world in this YA sci-fi adventure
When Hazel Stanczak was born, an interdimensional rift tore open near her family’s home, which prompted immediate government attention. They soon learned that if Hazel strayed too far, the rift would become volatile and fling things from other dimensions onto their front lawn—or it could swallow up their whole town. As a result, Hazel has never left her small Pennsylvania town, and the government agents garrisoned on her lawn make sure it stays that way. On her sixteenth birthday, though, the rift spins completely out of control. Hazel comes face-to-face with a surprise: a second Hazel. Then another. And another. Three other Hazels from three different dimensions! Now, for the first time, Hazel has to step into the world to learn about her connection to the rift—and how to close it. But is Hazel—even more than one of her—really capable of saving the world?
Nancy Drew meets Harriet the Spy in this action-packed and heartfelt debut middle grade following an overzealous amateur sleuth as she investigates a shocking family secret—and unravels the mystery of her developing feelings for girls.
Rule One: Your loyalty is to the case.
Amateur detective Pepper Blouse has always held true to this rule, even if it meant pushing people away. But when the results of Pepper’s latest case cost her any hope of the girl she likes returning her feelings, she decides that maybe she should lay low for a while.
That is, until her Great Aunt Florence passes away under mysterious circumstances. And even though her dad insists there’s nothing to investigate, Pepper can’t just ignore rule fourteen: Trust your gut.
But there’s nothing in the rulebook that could’ve prepared her for the family secrets her investigation uncovers.
A modern-day graphic novel adaptation of Little Women that explores identity, friendships, and new experiences through the eyes of thirteen-year-old Jo March. A must-read for fans of Raina Telgemeier.
With the start of eighth grade, Jo March decides it’s time to get serious about her writing and joins the school newspaper. But even with her new friend Freddie cheering her on, becoming a hard-hitting journalist is a lot harder than Jo imagined.
That’s not all that’s tough. Jo and her sisters—Meg, Beth, and Amy—are getting used to a new normal at home, with their dad deployed overseas and their mom, a nurse, working overtime.
And while it helps to hang out with Laurie, the boy who just moved next door, things get complicated when he tells Jo he has feelings for her. Feelings that Jo doesn’t have for him…or for any boy. Feelings she’s never shared with anyone before. Feelings that Jo might have for Freddie.
What does it take to figure out who you are? Jo March is about to find out.
Bestiary by K-Ming Chang
Three generations of Taiwanese American women are haunted by the myths of their homeland in this spellbinding, visceral debut about one family’s queer desires, violent impulses, and buried secrets.
One evening, Mother tells Daughter a story about a tiger spirit who lived in a woman’s body. She was called Hu Gu Po, and she hungered to eat children, especially their toes. Soon afterward, Daughter awakes with a tiger tail. And more mysterious events follow: Holes in the backyard spit up letters penned by her grandmother; a visiting aunt arrives with snakes in her belly; a brother tests the possibility of flight. All the while, Daughter is falling for Ben, a neighborhood girl with strange powers of her own. As the two young lovers translate the grandmother’s letters, Daughter begins to understand that each woman in her family embodies a myth—and that she will have to bring her family’s secrets to light in order to change their destiny.
With a poetic voice of crackling electricity, K-Ming Chang is an explosive young writer who combines the wit and fabulism of Helen Oyeyemi with the subversive storytelling of Maxine Hong Kingston. Tracing one family’s history from Taiwan to America, from Arkansas to California, Bestiary is a novel of migration, queer lineages, and girlhood.
A college fling between two women turns into a lifelong connection—and spells out a new kind of love story for a millennial, immigrant America.
“A sweetly poignant look at the transformative power of young love.” —O, The Oprah Magazine
In 2004, college students Eleanor Suzuki and Leena Shah meet in an elevator. Both girls are on the brink of adulthood, each full of possibility and big ideas, and they fall into a whirlwind romance. Years later, Eleanor and Leena collide on the streets of San Francisco. Although grown and changed and each separately partnered, the two find themselves, once again, irresistibly pulled back together.
Emily Hashimoto’s debut novel perfectly captures the wonder and confusion of growing up and growing closer. Narrated in sparkling prose, A World Between follows two strikingly different but interconnected women as they navigate family, female friendship, and their own fraught history.
A novel reminiscent of the works of Herman Koch and Rachel Cusk, in which a lesbian couple attempts to escape the secrets of their pasts.
Polar Vortex is a seductive and tension-filled novel about Priya and Alex, a lesbian couple who left the big city to relocate to a bucolic countryside community. It seemed like a good way to leave their past behind and cement their newish, later-in-life relationship. But there’s leaving the past behind–and then there’s running away from awkward histories.
Priya has a secret–a long-standing, on-again, off-again relationship with a man, Prakash. In Priya’s mind Prakash is little more than an old friend, but in reality things are a bit complicated. Why has she never told Alex about him? Prakash has tracked Priya down in her new life, and before she realizes what she’s doing, she invites him to visit.
Alex is not pleased, and soon the existing cracks in their relationship widen, revealing secrets Alex herself would have preferred to keep. Into the fissure walks Prakash, whose own agenda forces all three to face the inevitable consequences of their choices.
Your favorite trio return for one last shot at winning it all in the game of love …
Alexis and Sera are finally on the other side of issues that would have broken a weaker relationship. Yet their bond has remained strong and their love for each other has seen them through it all. Now that they are settled, they want to take the next step: parenthood. Alexis thinks they’ve been through it all but this one might be the hardest yet.
Stevie has come to understand who she is and what she can offer in a relationship as well as what she needs in return. Now she just has to convince Chloe that she’s changed. When another woman enters the picture, she discovers what might be the missing link to making it all work.
As the end of her European tour fast approaches, Victoria is ready to hit the ground running. Seemingly overnight she’s become one of the most in demand photographers in the entertainment industry. Despite her success, she just wants to fill the void in her heart left by the one who got away, Savannah. Not ready to give up , she makes a last ditch effort to save what has the potential to be the greatest love she’s ever known.
Sometimes it takes everything going wrong to make you see how right things are.
Dana Gottfried is a stressed-out Jewish lesbian who’s just quit her job and wants to get home to see her grandmother. When her car breaks down in Indiana on Christmas Eve, Dana is stranded―until she’s rescued by Charlie, a pig farmer who doesn’t identify as male or female. Although they come from different worlds, Dana is intrigued by Charlie’s sense of humor and kindness. Despite her better judgment, Dana says yes when Charlie offers a ride.
But the journey home is paved with detours. From car accidents to scheming exgirlfriends to a snowy and deserted Chicago Loop, everything that could go wrong on their road trip does, but it leads Dana on a path of self-discovery that just might end in love.
In Stone and Steel, when General Aaliyah returns triumphant to the city of Titus, she expects to find the people prospering under the rule of her Queen, the stone mage Odessa. Instead, she finds a troubling imbalance in both the citizens’ wellbeing and Odessa’s rule. Aaliyah must rely on all of her allies, old and new, to do right by the city that made her.
“Stone and Steel is a sharp and sexy story of love, loyalty and magic. Eboni has given us a world where Black Queerness reigns supreme, and our world is better for it.” — Danny Lore, co-author of Queen of Bad Dreams
“This queer, elementally themed world should appeal to fans of Laurie J. Marks’ Elemental Logic series.” — Booklist
“This will be an easy pick for anyone looking for queer, Black speculative fiction—and for fantasy fans more broadly.” — Publishers Weekly
“This is a prayer hymn, a battle cry, a lovesong, a legendary call and response bonfire talisman tale. This is medicine for a broken world.” —Daniel José Older Award-winning author Andrea Hairston weaves together African folktales and postcolonial literature into unforgettable fantasy in Master of Poisons
The world is changing. Poison desert eats good farmland. Once-sweet water turns foul. The wind blows sand and sadness across the Empire. To get caught in a storm is death. To live and do nothing is death. There is magic in the world, but good conjure is hard to find.
Djola, righthand man and spymaster of the lord of the Arkhysian Empire, is desperately trying to save his adopted homeland, even in exile.
Awa, a young woman training to be a powerful griot, tests the limits of her knowledge and comes into her own in a world of sorcery, floating cities, kindly beasts, and uncertain men.
Awash in the rhythms of folklore and storytelling and rich with Hairston’s characteristic lush prose, Master of Poisons is epic fantasy that will bleed your mind with its turns of phrase and leave you aching for the world it burns into being.
Burning Roses is a gorgeous fairy tale of love and family, of demons and lost gods, for fans of Zen Cho and JY Yang.
Rosa, also known as Red Riding Hood, is done with wolves and woods.
Hou Yi the Archer is tired, and knows she’s past her prime.
They would both rather just be retired, but that’s not what the world has ready for them.
When deadly sunbirds begin to ravage the countryside, threatening everything they’ve both grown to love, the two must join forces. Now blessed and burdened with the hindsight of middle age, they begin a quest that’s a reckoning of sacrifices made and mistakes mourned, of choices and family and the quest for immortality.
Millions died after the first contact. An alien weapon holds the key to redemption―or annihilation. Experience Karen Osborne’s unforgettable science fiction debut, Architects of Memory.
SyFY Wire SFF Reads to pick up in September
Terminally ill salvage pilot Ash Jackson lost everything in the war with the alien Vai, but she’ll be damned if she loses her future. Her plan: to buy, beg, or lie her way out of corporate indenture and find a cure. When her crew salvages a genocidal weapon from a ravaged starship above a dead colony, Ash uncovers a conspiracy of corporate intrigue and betrayal that threatens to turn her into a living weapon.
Anna does boring things for terrible people because even criminals need office help and she needs a job. Working for a monster lurking beneath the surface of the world isn’t glamorous. But is it really worse than working for an oil conglomerate or an insurance company? In this economy?
As a temp, she’s just a cog in the machine. But when she finally gets a promising assignment, everything goes very wrong, and an encounter with the so-called “hero” leaves her badly injured. And, to her horror, compared to the other bodies strewn about, she’s the lucky one.
So, of course, then she gets laid off.
With no money and no mobility, with only her anger and internet research acumen, she discovers her suffering at the hands of a hero is far from unique. When people start listening to the story that her data tells, she realizes she might not be as powerless as she thinks.
Because the key to everything is data: knowing how to collate it, how to manipulate it, and how to weaponize it. By tallying up the human cost these caped forces of nature wreak upon the world, she discovers that the line between good and evil is mostly marketing. And with social media and viral videos, she can control that appearance.
It’s not too long before she’s employed once more, this time by one of the worst villains on earth. As she becomes an increasingly valuable lieutenant, she might just save the world.
A sharp, witty, modern debut, Hench explores the individual cost of justice through a fascinating mix of Millennial office politics, heroism measured through data science, body horror, and a profound misunderstanding of quantum mechanics.
The Eisner Award–winning story about a student figuring out radical politics in a messy world
Sophie is young and queer and into feminist theory. She decides to study abroad, choosing Paris for no firm reason beyond liking French comics. Feeling a bit lonely and out of place, she’s desperate for community and a sense of belonging. She stumbles into what/who she’s looking for when she meets Zena. An anarchist student-activist committed to veganism and shoplifting, Zena offers Sophie a whole new political ideology that feels electric. Enamored―of Zena, of the idea of living more righteously―Sophie finds herself swept up in a whirlwind friendship that blows her even further from her rural California roots as they embark on a disastrous hitchhiking trip to Amsterdam and Berlin, full of couch surfing, drug tripping, and radical book fairs.
Capturing that time in your life where you’re meeting new people and learning about the world―when everything feels vital and urgent―The Contradictions is Sophie Yanow’s fictionalized coming-of-age story. Sophie’s attempts at ideological purity are challenged time and again, putting into question the plausibility of a life of dogma in a world filled with contradictions. Keenly observed, frank, and very funny, The Contradictions speaks to a specific reality while also being incredibly relatable, reminding us that we are all imperfect people in an imperfect world.
The emotions of girls burn bright, but love can be especially intense…Éclair is back in this fourth installment with an exciting new collection of impassioned romances. With chapters from returning artists like Canno (Kiss and White Lily for My Dearest Girl) and Kabocha (Kemono Friends à la Carte), plus fresh additions like Akiko Morishima (The Conditions of Paradise), this volume is sure to thrill.
This first-of-its-kind anthology brings together the best of contemporary queer poetry from South Asia, both from the subcontinent and its many diasporas.The anthology features well-known voices like Hoshang Merchant, Ruth Vanita, Suniti Namjoshi, Kazim Ali, Rajiv Mohabir as well as a host of new poets. The themes range from desire and loneliness, sexual intimacy and struggles, caste and language, activism both on the streets and in the homes, the role of family both given and chosen, and heartbreaks and heartjoins. Writing from Bangalore, Baroda, Benares, Boston, Chennai, Colombo, Dhaka, Delhi, Dublin, Karachi, Kathmandu, Lahore, London, New York City, and writing in languages including Bengali, Gujarati, Hindi, Kannada, Urdu, Manipuri, Malayalam, Marathi, Punjabi, Tamil, and, of course, English, the result is an urgent, imaginative and beautiful testament to the diversity, politics, aesthetics and ethics of queer life in South Asia today.
JAIMIE KELTON and ROBIN HOPKINS, the creators and hosts of the popular podcast If These Ovaries Could Talk, realized the world needed to know there was more than one way to make an LGBTQ family. Each of their families came about in different ways, so how many other stories were out there? Turns out, lots. Inspired, the two friends launched their podcast asking LGTBQ families every question imaginable about their journeys to parenthood.
Now the two hosts have written a book based on dozens of interviews to help address recurring questions that came up during their podcast. Is it important to have a child with your genetics? How does one pick a sperm donor? How will you talk to your children about where they came from? And just how does one pay for a baby because rumor has it, it costs a lot? With insights and stories from guests such as StaceyAnn Chin, Judy Gold, and State Senator Zach Wahls, Jaimie and Robin go humorously in-depth and guide you on a journey that is equal parts funny, serious, happy, sad, celebratory, cautionary, and powerful. You can read this book cover-to-cover or skip around like your very own LGBTQ choose your own baby adventure book. You’ll learn a lot and laugh even more along the way! Who knew making a baby could be this much fun?
The Wild Kindness: A Psilocybin Odyssey is the lyrical, unforgettable memoir of Bett Williams’s relationship with psilocybin mushrooms, otherwise known as magic mushrooms. In pursuit of self-healing, she begins experimenting with mushrooms in solitary ceremonies by the fire. Word soon gets out about her New Mexican desert mushroom farm, though, and people arrive in droves. Not long after, the police read her her Miranda Rights, her relationships fall out of whack, and her dog Rosie just might be CIA.
On a quest to find help through the psychedelic community, Bett is led to Cleveland to meet Kai Wingo, an African American leader within a high-dose psilocybin community, and to Huautla de Jiménez, home of well-known, well-respected curandera María Sabina. Back home, Bett begins a solid ritual practice with the help of her partner and friends, bearing in mind the medicine’s indigenous roots and power to transform one’s life.
Amidst the mainstream flood of New Age practices and products, The Wild Kindness: A Psilocybin Odyssey is a dreamlike reminder that psilocybin mushrooms are a medicine of the people, not to be neatly packaged, marketed, or appropriated.
In the spirit of Richard Avedon, this book contains striking photographic portraits of 10,000 people from across the US, bringing readers face to face with LGBTQ America.
The Declaration of Independence states that it is self-evident that we are all created equal. Millions of people in the US, however, are deprived of basic rights merely because they aren’t heteronormative. Believing that it’s impossible to deny the humanity of anyone once you look into their eyes, iO Tillett Wright embarked on an ambitious project to photograph the faces of people across the country who identify as anything other than 100% straight or cisgender. This enormous undertaking–10,000 people from all fifty states, shot over a nearly ten-year period–is presented in its entirety in this aweinspiring book. In these pages readers will encounter faces of every complexion, lined with age or punctuated with piercings, smiling broadly or deadly serious. While some faces are famous, most are familiar. They may look like your grandmother, your neighbor, your mail carrier, or your doctor. Each of these images tells a personal story. And each of these stories has the power to transform stereotypes into complex views of a multifaceted group of people. Self Evident Truths asks fundamental questions about identity and freedom while proving that the concepts of sexuality and gender are not black and white. They are 10,000 beautiful, bold, and unapologetic shades of queer.
I recently had the great pleasure of being on the Rad Child Podcast to talk about queer-inclusive children’s books. Have a listen!
Host Seth Day and co-host Rebecca Hachmyer invited me to speak with them on the topic of picture books about sexual orientation. Rebecca has a master’s degree in children’s literature and currently reviews children’s books for the Horn Book, one of the oldest and most prestigious publications about children’s and young adult literature; Seth’s an educator who has been working in childcare for over 10 years. Needless to say, they have a lot of expertise—and it was great to explore a number of books with them, looking at where we’d say “way to go” or suggest there’s “room to grow.” Thanks to them for having me on the show!
After that, check out some more of their great episodes on how to talk with children about topics often considered “taboo” or “too complicated” for them, including race, gender, sexuality, mental health, disability and more!
I follow hundreds of queer book blogs to scout out the best sapphic book news and reviews! Many of them get posted on Tumblr and Twitter as I discover them, but my favourites get saved for these link compilations. Here are some of the posts I’ve found interesting in the last few weeks.
Along the same lines, also check out Book Riot’s 20 Must-Read Black Authors of LGBTQ Books. I always look through these LGBTQ lists to make sure they’re not mostly m/m books, so rest assured there are lots of sapphic books to add to your TBR here.
If you’re looking for something a little more political, Electric Literature posted A Syllabus for the Uprising, which recommends books to get read for the queer Black revolution.
I’ve been mentioning this every round up, but that’s because you should be aware of Autostraddle’s Year of Our (Audre) Lorde, where Jehan reads Audre Lorde poems and connects them to what’s happening in the world right now. Last month was July Is a Black Unicorn.
Speaking of Black sapphic reads, Sometimes Leelynn Reads created The Cinderella is Dead Book Tag, so if you read and loved Cinderella is Dead and have a book blog/bookstagram account/booktuber channel, give this tag a try, and let me know what your answers are!