“I entered adulthood believing that my body was supposed to retain a certain kind of social capital in order to be valuable and desirable, and that capital lay in things like beauty, health, and sexual purity. A lot of the poems in the book chronicle my renegotiation of those beliefs in the wake of illness and assault. Letting go of all that allowed me to see myself clearer, see my God clearer, and reclaim my power.
But of course, in spite of all this work, everywhere I turn I’m reminded of how little this world values Black women, which affects me personally in some specific and contradictory ways. I’m often misread as being not enough of something: not smart enough, not beautiful enough, and in some instances, because I have albinism, not Black enough to even speak about these issues. Many of the poems in the book address that, but I also made space for the worlds in which I feel safest and most loved: the private spaces that me and Black women I love create with and for each other. That’s what’s saved me. That’s where I draw my strength, but also my sense of self-worth. I wanted the book to tell the totality of this reality: the blister and the balm.”
“As I sipped my own wine while reading this collection, I had the strong urge to put it down and never pick up a glass again, in part because I never felt judged. Ward and Libaire have mastered the delicate alchemy of instilling knowledge, understanding struggles, and conveying complete honesty all at once. Their words are powerful not because they demand change, but because they offer visionary wisdom about life after alcohol.”
Carolyn Yates was the NSFW Editor (2013–2018) and Literary Editor for Autostraddle.com, with bylines in Nylon, Refinery29, The Toast, Bitch, Xtra!, Jezebel, and elsewhere. They live in Los Angeles and also on twitter and instagram.
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!
This Pride, I wanted to put out a post every day celebrating bi and lesbian books: some of them new, some old favourites, and some updated versions of posts I’ve done before. I really enjoyed putting these together, and it’s given me new encouragement to keep regularly putting out articles and lists! I also made graphics for pretty much every post, which was a challenge for me, but I’m happy with how they turned out.
In case you missed it, here all the posts that went up in June, minus the usual reviews and link round ups:
Happy Pride! Here is Every Bi & Lesbian Book I’ve Read and Loved: Every single one of the (more than a hundred) queer women books that I recommend, organized by category and linked to their reviews!
Black Bi & Lesbian Book Recommendations: 14 of my favourite sapphic books by Black authors and why I love them, with resources to find more, and a long list of the ones on my TBR
10 Mind-Blowing Bi and Lesbian Books: Just a good old-fashioned list of some of the sapphic books that blew me away with their brilliance.
40 Bi and Lesbian Comics to Add to Your Pride TBR: My favourite sapphic comics/graphic novels and why I love them! They also have links to my full reviews, and I included a list of some of the bi and lesbian comics on my TBR
How to Spot a Queer Book in the Wild: How can you pick out queer books when browsing a bookstore, library, or book sale? It’s easy enough if you have a list, but how can you spot them in the wild? Here are my tips, honed from many years of searching.
Queer Book Blogs You Need to Read: The websites that I rely on to discover new LGBTQ books, including what kinds of representation they focus on and which genres they cover the most.
100 Must-Read Bisexual and Lesbian Books: A starter guide to the 100 sapphic books I consider essential, organized by genre.
Why We Need Queer Escapist Lit: An essay on the importance of queer escapist stories, including science fiction and fantasy books.
25+ Happy Sapphic Books to Make You Feel Warm & Fuzzy: Sometimes you want a queer book that has no tragedy or heartbreak–nothing but cotton candy and rainbows. These books may have a touch of conflict, but they’re fundamentally optimistic and light.
Bosom Friends: The Gay Anne of Green Gables Scandal: My essay about why I definitely think Anne is bisexual (even if LM Montgomery was homophobic), and a brief history of Gay Anne of Green Gables outrage, including the Anne Made Me Gay cabaret.
Trans Sapphic Books: 25 bi and lesbian books with trans women main characters, including literary fiction, YA, fantasy, sci fi, and comics.
Reading Black Joy: F/F Romances by Black Authors: Covers and blurbs of F/F romances by Black authors, with a few bonus bisexual M/F romances at the end.
Top 20 Lesbian Mystery Novels: Megan Casey, who runs the Art of the Lesbian Mystery Novel website, gives her very informed opinion of the top 20 best lesbian mysteries.
The Sapphic Fantastic: Bi and Lesbian Fantasy Books: My favourite 18 bi and lesbian fantasy books and why I love them! They’re also linked to my full reviews.
Where to Start Reading Lesbian Gothic: Carmella shares 10 books that act as a primer for the genre, and why they should top your TBR list!
Celebrate Pride with Rainbow Book Covers! Would it even be Pride without an explosion of rainbows? Here are a bunch of books with Pridetastic rainbow covers, including YA, kids’, and nonfiction titles (and the blurbs, in case the covers intrigue you!)
Do Queer Books Still Need a Happy Ending? This one is a video I did for Book Riot exploring whether all queer books need a happy ending, and how that might be complicated.
11 Literally Perfect Sapphic Novels: My favourite bi and lesbian books! These are the ones I’ve rated 5 stars, and why I think they’re absolutely perfect.
10 Poetry Collections by Black Queer Women: Meagan shares 10 poetry books by queer Black women authors, and why you should pick them up!
Let’s Talk About Racism in Lesbian Publishing: A recap of the latest iteration of the conversation about racism in lesbian publishing and events, specifically GCLS. Including tweets Black authors of f/f fiction speaking out and others to add to your TBR, as well as some of the steps that lesbian/LGBTQ publishing can take to address systemic racism in their organizations.
8 Books with Established F/F Relationships from the Start: Sometimes you want to read about two people slowly circling around each other until they get together in the last pages, and sometimes you want to read a book where there is already a happy F/F couple! Here are 8 books that begin with the couples already together.
What Charles and Anti-Charles Reveals About Goodreads Homophobia: A Goodreads user named Charles 1 stars thousands of LGBTQ books, especially F/F titles, including ones that are not yet released (and don’t have ARCs). Who is this person? Why are they doing it? And why is Goodreads allowing it?
6 of the Best Sapphic Shakespeare Retellings: Since Shakespeare was bisexual, and his plays are already filled with crossdressing and other queer shenanigans, why not re-imagine his stories as explicitly queer? These 6 books do!
Lesbian Poetry: Because it Didn’t End with Sappho: Excerpts of lesbian poetry, recommendations of lesbian poetry collections, and resources to find even more!
Coming Out Later In Life: Books About Coming Out as Bi or Lesbian at 30+: Not everyone comes out as a teen! Here are 15 books about characters that come out in their 30s or later.
Black Sapphic 2020 Releases: Has there ever been a better time to support queer books by Black authors than Pride month 2020? Of course, you should be reading these all year round, so here are some bi and lesbian Black new releases to buy or pre-order now. Check out the embedded videos for other LGBTQ titles by Black authors out this year.
And that wraps it up for Pride 2020! (Though, fun fact, Pride in my city actually takes place in July, so this has just been a warm up for me!) I won’t be able to keep up a post every day, but I do hope to be putting out more regular long-form content.
What articles would you like to see from the Lesbrary?
Support the Lesbrary on Patreon at $2 or more a month and be entered to win a queer women book every month! $5 and up patrons get guaranteed books throughout the year on top of the giveaways!