15 Queer/Feminist Books To Read In Early 2016

Feature image by Maya Karmon at stocksnap.io.

Early 2016 is looking good for queer and feminist reading! Books to look out for include new work from Roxane Gay, Tig Notaro, Jessica Valenti and our own Gabby Rivera.* With poetry, erotica, academic analysis and fiction of all genres on the menu, you won’t have any problems finding something to devour.

queer feminist books 2016

Juliet Takes a Breath, by Gabby Rivera: Juliet Milagros Palante is leaving the Bronx and the mother who, since Juliet came out, might never speak to her again for an internship with a queer feminist author in Portland, Oregon. This debut YA novel from Autostraddle editor Gabby Rivera tells what happens when coming out doesn’t go well — and when running away from your problems looks a lot like solving them. In anticipation, check out Gabby’s writing in our archives. (January 29)

Girls Will Be Boys: Cross-Dressed Women, Lesbians, and American Cinema, 1908-1934, by Laura Horak: Drawing on the early archives of American cinema, Horak questions the assumption that cross-dressing actresses were inherently transgressive. She also argues that cinema played a pivotal role in the representation of lesbian identity, and provides a new lens through which to view gender, sexuality and film. (January 29)

Ask a Queer Chick: A Guide to Sex, Love, and Life for Girls Who Dig Girls, by Lindsay King-Miller: This advice book by long-running Hairpin advice columnist King-Miller covers the range between coming out, your first gay haircut, your first gay wedding and more. (February 2)

Bombshells and Butches: Best Lesbian Erotica, edited by Kathleen Warnock: The latest erotica collection from long-time erotica editor Warnock features all sorts of sex among all sorts of women and people, in places from bars to kitchens to beds to flowerbeds, as well as an introduction by Orange Is the New Black‘s Lea DeLaria. (February 5)

All the Single Ladies: Unmarried Women and the Rise of an Independent Nation, by Rebecca Traister: “[H]istorically, when women were given options beyond early heterosexual marriage, the results were massive social change — temperance, abolition, secondary education, and more.” Traister explores the role of unmarried women across class, race and sexual orientation in radical change in America in this exhaustively researched volume. (March 1)

My Year Zero, by Rachel Gold: Lauren thinks that getting a girlfriend and getting better at school will fix her life, but things get complicated when she meets Sierra and Blake. Gold addresses dealing with mental illness and being out at 16 with her signature empathy and finesse. (March 29)

Urban Revolutions: A Woman’s Guide to Two-Wheeled Transportation, by Emilie Bahr: Cyclist and transportation planner Bahr writes about bike-friendly cities, what makes bicycling a women’s issue, how environments shape opportunities and more in this practical discussion of urban bicycling. (April 12)

play dead, by Francine J. Harris: Harris chronicles sex, rape, addiction, suicide, Detroit and the “too-little-discussed trials and dangers women face” in this raw poetry collection. (April 12)

The Black Maria, by Aracelis Girmay: In her latest collection, 2015 Whiting Award for Poetry winner Girmay examines the African diaspora, racism within American culture and human identity. (April 12)

Collected Poems: 1950-2012, by Adrienne Rich: Rich is one of the most prolific and influential poets of our time, queer or otherwise, and is notable for her examinations of gender, race and class through poetry. This volume, featuring an introduction by Claudia Rankine, brings together every single poem in her oeuvre, including Diving Into the Wreck and Atlas of the Difficult World. (April 16)

Weekend, by Jane Eaton Hamilton: Two lesbian couples living side-by-side for the summer investigate the crossroads of their relationships, as well as trust, negotiation, what isn’t worth keeping and what is. (May 10)

Sex Object: A Memoir, by Jessica Valenti: “[It]t’s a memoir about growing up in a culture that values women based on whether or not they’re sexy, but hates them for having sex. And, more broadly, my experience of trying to find my humanity and sanity in a culture that doesn’t really see women as full people,” says notable feminist Valenti of her forthcoming memoir at the Cut. (June 7)

I’m Just a Person, by Tig Notaro: A new memoir from notable and hilarious comedian Notaro examines the year she got C. diff, her mother died, she had a breakup and was diagnosed with bilateral breast cancer. Combining silliness and vulnerability, she brings readers along into the dark and out of it. (June 14)

Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body, by Roxane Gay: An anticipated memoir from the author of Bad Feminist and An Untamed State, in Hunger Gay is “trying to balance liking myself and hating my body and wanting to feel comfortable in my body and believing that we need to, as a culture, do some serious work in changing our expectations for human bodies” and more. (June 14)

Problems, by Jade Sharma: Sharma’s debut novel is also the first book in Emily Books’s imprint with Coffee House Press. Following Maya as her life falls apart, it “takes every tired trope about addiction and recovery, ‘likeable’ characters, and redemption narratives, and blows them to pieces.” (July 5)

* This list is dude-free but please talk to me about Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton: The Revolution, coming in April, anyway.

What queer/ feminist books are you excited about this winter/spring? Tell us in the comments!

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Ryan Yates

Ryan Yates was the NSFW Editor (2013–2018) and Literary Editor for Autostraddle.com, with bylines in Nylon, Refinery29, The Toast, Bitch, The Daily Beast, Jezebel, and elsewhere. They live in Los Angeles and also on twitter and instagram.

Ryan has written 1142 articles for us.


  1. Thanks Carolyn, I am too excited for all of these (especially Gabby’s book, I’ve been a fan of her writing for so long!)

  2. I’m hoping Cassandra Duffy has anew book this year! And as always, if you want a queer feminist novel, check out anything else she’s written and you can’t go wrong.

  3. One of my new year’s resolutions is to read 50 books this year, and this list has helped me out greatly with options! Thanks!

  4. For sure adding this to the pile of not-quite-read books that I have going….sigh…..they are everywhere. I see them in my sleep. They are haunting me. Read us, they say. No, I say, and continue to lie down as they crush my spine with their unbearable weight.

    particularly looking forward to gabby’s!

  5. I don’t know why “your first gay wedding” is making me chuckle. Are you going to have multiple gay weddings? At least its realistic.

  6. This doesn’t quite count because it came out late 2015 think, but I’m looking forward to reading Sue Perkins’ memoir, Spectacles

  7. On the one hand, I’m delighted to hear about all of these new books, and I love that Autostraddle promotes work being published by small presses.

    On the other, I find it discouraging that the only big mainstream press book on this list is Hunger by Roxane Gay (which I am super excited to read!). It’s depressing to see how little is being published for and by queer and feminist women at the big houses.

    I’m really looking forward to the new fantasy novel by Sofia Samatar, Winged Histories. I LOVED her first book, A Stranger in Olondria, and how can you not adore this description?

    “Four women–soldier, scholar, poet, and socialite–are caught up on different sides of a violent rebellion. As war erupts and their families are torn apart, they fear they may disappear into the unwritten pages of history. Using the sword and the pen, the body and the voice, they struggle not just to survive, but to make history.”

    • Actually I misspoke–Traister and Valenti also have big mainstream publisher (and oh, the cover copy for Valenti’s book is terrible and obnoxious, but that’s not her fault)–but their books are not overtly queer, and nonfiction, and I’m more focused on fiction.

      Seriously, we’ve been talking about the double standard whereby lesbian and bisexual women are less likely than gay men to get published by large presses or win large literary grants, both of which make it easier to earn a living as a writer and write more, for 25 years! And so little progress has been made.

  8. The combination of ‘Emily’, ‘Maya’ and ‘coffee’ convinced me a PLL spinoff was coming out for about 5 wonderful seconds.

  9. I can’t even put into words how excited I am for Gabby’s book. I will buy multiple copies.
    I’m not sure how much of Tig Notaro’s book will be new to me because the podcast and stand up specials and tv show cover so much but I’m excited for it anyway.

  10. So now you have to be a lesbian to be a feminist. Weird. Why did you all do this? You are your own worst enemies. By having feminism become a bucket for odd people, you have destroyed feminism.

    • “Bucket for odd people” is sort of selling us short. I like to think of feminism as at least a decent-sized pool for odd people.

      • Of course you should be included if you are truly feminists. But, you should not steal feminism just to “belong” someplace. You are people in your own right, and your cause is real and important, but to say it is feminism? It has shut down so much feminism, in so many places.

    • Autostraddle posts an article about books that are queer AND feminist and some internet dude with a ‘doctorate’ takes that as “only lesbians can be feminist.” For commenting on an article about books to read, and being so highly educated, your reading comprehension could use some work

      How about you don’t encroach onto a website for lesbian and bi women to spit your homophobic nonsense? (we’re all odd people…nice)

      • You are right Veronica. Not my place to comment. Why was I sent to that site in the first place? I don’t know. Sorry I offended you. I still am sorry that feminism because a bucket for so many people, and so has lost sight of feminism. .. michael

    • Joining a website that caters explicitly to a demographic you find obviously perplexing and frustrating is very “odd” behavior. Why are you here? I can only imagine you have some deeply unconscious urges that would lead you to seek out lesbians to harangue.

    • Nowhere in this article does it say you have to be a lesbian to be a feminist. You came up with that shit all on your own. A bucket for “odd people”? Is that what lesbians are to you? Sounds to me like you have a problem with lesbians in general, particularly us identifying as feminist. I didn’t know feminism was only for straight women. Thanks straight guy.

      Whatever. We occasionally get homophobic trolls like you every so often and I’m going to tell you the same thing I tell them. This is clearly not the website for you. Maybe go over to Breitbert. I’m sure you will find more like-minded individuals over there.

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