Fall 2016 Book Preview: 48 Queer and Feminist Books To Add To Your Reading List

Fall 2016 is looking great for queer and feminist reading! With new work by heavy hitters like Zadie Smith, Ivan Coyote, Anne Carson, Margaret Atwood and Michelle Tea; newly translated work by Bae Suah; poetry collections; explorations of the intersections of race, gender and sexuality; light-hearted romance; queer comics; gay YA; memoirs in metaforms and more, your reading list is about to explode. You’re welcome.

queer-feminist-books-fall-2016

Georgia Peaches and Other Forbidden Fruit by Jaye Robin Brown

When Jo’s radio evangelist dad remarries and moves their family to conservative Rome, Georgia, he asks her to slide back into the closet for her senior year of high school — and, with the promise of her own teen radio show for discussing religion and queerness, she agrees. When she falls in love with a Christian lesbian who’s over the closet, things start to get complicated. (30 August)

The Graces by Laure Eve

The Graces are a glamorous family of teen witches who’ve cast a spell over their high school, their town and maybe the world. River, the new girl in town, desperately wants to be part of their family, for reasons that become clear even through layers of deception. (6 September)

As I Descended by Robin Talley

This YA paranormal Macbeth-inspired tragedy features a boarding school, queer love triangle, and chilling blur between the real and the imagined. (6 September)

Girl Mans Up by M-E Girard

YA still doesn’t excel at showing stable, happy queer relationships — but Girl Mans Up does. Through Pen and her conservative Portuguese family, her bullying childhood friend, and her hot new crush, this queer YA novel features questions of gender, sexuality, family, friendship and loyalty. One of Malinda Lo‘s favorite YA books about lesbian, bisexual and queer girls. (6 September)

Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Córdova

Córdova draws on Latin American magical folklore to tell the story of Alex, a teenage bruja who wants to give up her powers and live a normal life. When she casts a spell to send them away, she sends away her family instead and has to fight to bring them back and find herself. At Book Riot, Nicole Brinkley notes: “Brujas! Family love! Creepy monsters! Girls who love girls! A boy made of sunlight! Zoraida Cordova’s Labyrinth Lost was a fun and fast-paced venture through another world.” (6 September)

Boss Babes: A Coloring and Activity Book for Grown-Ups by Michelle Volansky

Adult coloring books are having a moment. Why not combine feminist theory, Beyoncé and facts about the notorious RBG with coloring and short activities? (6 September)

Not Your Sidekick by C.B. Lee

In a world where everyone has superpowers, internships are really complicated — and for Jess Tran, they get more so when she lands one with a supervillain alongside her long-time secret crush. A second crush, a mysterious figure, and a dangerous plot soon follow. (8 September)

Superwomen: Gender, Power, and Representation by Carolyn Cocca

Women superheroes, still a scarcity, have become a way to discuss gender, race, sexuality and ability. Cocca examines why they’re a rarity, how they’ve evolved over time, and why they’re important to cultural gender narrative. (8 September)

even this page is white by Vivek Shraya

Toronto trans artist and activist Shraya‘s debut poetry collection renders visible everyday racism; what it means to be racialized; and the origins, functions and limitations of skin. (13 September)

Avie’s Dreams: An Afro-Feminist Coloring Book by Makeda Lewis

Incorporating a narrative of race, gender, sexuality, and body image, this adult coloring book “investigates the trials and magic of a young black girl growing up in the world.” (13 September)

Black Wave by Michelle Tea

This genre-bending fiction-memoir-meta-poem is a look at art, love and the apocalypse from the author of Valencia. Maggie Nelson, author of The Argonauts, notes: “Somehow Michelle Tea has managed to write a hilarious, scorching, devastatingly observed novel about addiction, sex, identity, the 90s, apocalypse, and autobiography, while also gifting us with an indispensable meditation on what it means to write about those things—indeed, on what it means to write at all.” (13 September)

A Life In Trans Activism by A. Revathi and Nandini Murali

In this memoir, Revathi plots her journey as a trans activist, including her time at a trans-focused NGO, her research, her travels in India and around the world, and her efforts to amplify the voices of trans and nonbinary people. (15 September)

Building Fires in the Snow: A Collection of Alaska LGBTQ Short Fiction and Poetry edited by Martha Amore and Lucian Childs

This collection investigates queer identity in Alaska from the perspective of many different backgrounds, viewpoints and experiences. (15 September)

Feminist Futures: Re-imagining Women, Culture and Development edited by Kum-Kum Bhavnani, John Foran, Priya Kurian and Debashish Munshi

How have women in the Global South transformed our ideas of development? In this updated collection, leading academics and new activists and scholars use the intersection of women, culture and development as a lens to examine sexuality, the environment, technology, the cultural politics of representation and more. (15 September)

Connexions: Histories of Race and Sex in North America edited by Jennifer Brier, Jim Downs and Jennifer L. Morgan

How do race and sexuality intersect in American history? This volume explores same-sex sexual desire and violence within slavery, whiteness in gay and lesbian history, how sexualized bodies were used to shape ideas of race and racial beauty and more. (15 September)

Ask Me About Polyamory: The Best of Kimchi Cuddles by Tikva Wolf and Sophie Labelle

This webcomic about polyamory, queer and genderqueer issues is now in print-book form. With discussions of practical, serious, and entertaining issues, Ask Me About Polyamory brings a multi-faceted approach to the many problems queer poly life can throw at us. (15 September)

Princess Princess Ever After by Katie O’Neill

Princess Amira rescues princess Sadie from her tower and the two become their own heroes and find happiness with themselves and each other. The original release of this book won Autostraddle‘s first Comic and Sequential Art Awards favorite graphic novel/book and Mey Rude wrote: “I’m so glad that there is a story like this that exists. The princesses don’t fit into the stereotype of the damsel in distress who wants desperately to be rescued by a prince. It has characters of different races and body types. It has two princesses who are their own heroes and don’t need to change who they are to save themselves and the day. It has a really cute queer couple. And all of this is in an all-ages comic.” (20 September)

Anybody: Poems by Ari Banias

In this poetry collection, Banias confronts the strangeness of being, of boundaries, and of a gendered, queer and emotive body. Maggie Nelson calls it “discursive, straight-talking, and thinky, then ghostlike, elliptical, and mischievous. It takes its time, then rushes; it’s quiet, then bold; it’s steeped in sociality, then ringing with solitude. I happily recognize its arrival, even if I know (as does Banias, quoting Berlant) that recognition may be but the misrecognition we can bear.” (20 September)

Trainwreck: The Women We Love to Hate, Mock, and Fear… and Why by Sady Doyle

What does it mean for women to “behave”? Trainwreck is an examination of women culture destroys, from Mary Wollstonecraft to Whitney Houston, and what that destruction means. Andi Zeisler, Bitch founder, notes: “Some people take a scalpel to the heart of media culture; Sady Doyle brings a bone saw […] Trainwreck is a blistering indictment of how history has normalized sexism as entertainment, defining — and destroying — the women we claim to love.” (20 September)

Six by Julie Marie Wade

The poems in this six-piece collection are viewable from six possible shifting angles, examining six facets of human experience: art, language, desire, vocation, faith and love. (22 September)

Rad Women Worldwide: Artists and Athletes, Pirates and Punks, and Other Revolutionaries Who Shaped History by Kate Schatz and Miriam Klein Stahl

The authors of Rad American Women A–Z return with forty profiles and cut-paper portraits of women from history and around the world, including Hatshepsut, Malala Yousafzi, Liv Arnesen and Ann Bancroft, and more. Get a copy to every kid you know and keep one for yourself, too. (27 September)

Shirley Jackson: A Rather Haunted Life by Ruth Franklin

Shirley Jackson, best-known for “The Lottery” and author of The Haunting of Hill House and We Have Always Lived in the Castle, has been often-overlooked within the American literary canon. In this volume, based on new interviews and discovered correspondence, Franklin examines Jackson’s focus on domestic horror and her own lived domestic horrors, and gives us, in Neil Gaiman’s words, “a way of reading Jackson and her work that threads her into the weave of the world of words, as a writer and as a woman, rather than excludes her as an anomaly.” (27 September)

Intimate Justice: The Black Female Body and the Body Politic by Shatema Threadcraft

Black women’s bodily and sexual freedom and autonomy has long been under threat. Looking at the antebellum slavery, Reconstruction, the nadir, and the civil rights and women’s movement eras, Threadcraft traces the route of black women’s intimate freedom and equality, and challenges prevalent ideas of freedom and equality in American race and gender relations. (3 October)

The Color of Kink: Black Women, BDSM, and Pornography by Ariane Cruz

BDSM and porn are sites from which to rethink the links between Black women’s sexuality and violence. With personal interviews with porn performers and producers and dominatrices, visual and textual analysis and archival research, and using feminist and queer theory, critical race theory and media studies, Cruz looks at Black women and BDSM from the 1930s to today and “explores how violence becomes not just a vehicle of pleasure but also a mode of accessing and contesting power.” (4 October)

I’ll Tell You In Person by Chloe Caldwell

“Growing up I loved personal stories and true stories. In my late teens I’d read the essays in The Sun Magazine, because my mom had a subscription. The essays would often be about sex and drugs and death and break-ups, and I was into it. I was moved,” notes Caldwell in an interview at Lambda Literary. In this collection of essays, she mines those same topics, as well as first intimacies, career struggles and the many imperfect approaches to adulthood. (4 October)

No Tea, No Shade: New Writings in Black Queer Studies edited by E. Patrick Johnson

In this essay collection, scholars, activists, and community leaders explore black gender and sexuality through discussions of “raw” sex, porn, the carceral state, gentrification, gender nonconformity, queer art and more. No Tea, No Shade both exemplifies the black queer experience while pushing black queer studies in new directions. (7 October)

A Greater Music by Bae Suah

This novel from Bae Suah, one of the most highly acclaimed contemporary Korean authors, is newly translated by Deborah Smith, known for her work on The Vegetarian. When the narrator falls into an icy river, her memories begin to shift between the present with Joachim, her metalworking boyfriend, and the past with a woman called M, a German teacher who was once her lover. Music, language, literature, and emotion are at the fore. (11 October)

Upstream by Mary Oliver

Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Oliver’s appeal has been described as “her sharp eye, her tugs of emotion as she relates the outer world to a deeper interior experience” — qualities that are sure to appear in this essay collection. In Upstream, she positions herself as lost within the natural and literary worlds and meditates on a life centred on work and love. (11 October)

Tomboy Survival Guide by Ivan Coyote

In this collection of memoir-stories, Coyote — whose other collections include The Slow Fix and, with Rae Spoon, Gender Failure — discusses growing up in the Yukon, how they learned to embrace their tomboy past, and how they navigated the landscapes of gender. (11 October)

Future Sex by Emily Witt

In this history of the present, critic and journalist Witt examines porn, polyamory, the body, online dating, and other contemporary modes of connection and pleasure to paint an image of what women’s sexuality could be. Eileen Myles and Sheila Heti are all about it. (11 October)

Goldie Vance Vol. 1 by Hope Larson and Brittney Williams

Goldie is a 16-year-old girl who lives at a Florida resort her dad manages and dreams of becoming its in-house detective. When the current detective lands a case he can’t solve, Goldie gets a chance to step in. Mey Rude calls the series “absolutely irresistible.” (11 October)

Hag-Seed by Margaret Atwood

Pride of Canada Margaret Atwood retells Shakespeare’s The Tempest in Hag-Seed, a novel following a stage director putting on The Tempest in prison. The novel is the latest in the Hogarth Shakespeare series, which also included Jeanette Winterson‘s Gap of Time and Anne Tyler‘s Vinegar Girl. (11 October)

Kamala: Feminist Folktales from Around the World edited by Ethel Johnston Phelps, Suki Boynton and Kate Schatz

This anthology of classic folktales from across time and place positions women’s bravery, intelligence and power at the narrative centre. Reissued from Phelps’s collection and illustrated by Boynton, these stories remind us that women have power apart from patriarchy. (11 October)

Dead Feminists: Historic Heroines in Living Color by Chandler O’Leary and Jessica Spring

This visual book combines feminist history, feminist future, and letterpress inspiration in 27 profiles of women who have changed the world, including Sappho, Virginia Woolf, Fatima al-Fihri, Rywka Lipszyc and more. (11 October)

The Secret Loves of Geek Girls: Expanded Edition edited by Hope Nicholson

This non-fiction prose, comics and illustrated anthology depicts the live of over fifty creators and fans of comics, video games and sci-fi. Its contributors include Margaret Atwood, Mariko Tamaki, Marguerite Bennett, Noelle Stevenson and more. (18 October)

A Thin Bright Line by Lucy Jane Bledsoe

Based on Bledsoe’s aunt’s story, this look at queer life in the Cold War era follows geology editor Lucybelle Bledsoe as she accepts a government climate research position and the compromises to her identity it will entail — until falling in love makes things more complicated. Rabih Alameddine notes: “Bledsoe’s writing is intelligent, unadorned, and unsentimental, which allows us to look at a difficult time in American history with clarity instead of nostalgia.” (18 October)

Cakewalk: A Novel by Rita Mae Brown

Brown is best-known as the author Rubyfruit Jungle, an iconic lesbian coming-of-age novel that Emily Danforth says “made me conceptualize just how many ways of being were available for a girl who liked girls — beyond my family, beyond my town.” Set in interwar Runnymeade, a small town that straddles the Mason-Dixon Line, Cakewalk is a lesbian-centric family saga that explores love, sin, virtue and more. (18 October)

Feminist Spirituality under Capitalism: Witches, Fairies and Nomads by Kathleen Skott-Myhre

Women’s spirituality has been important both throughout history and also in the contemporary socio-economic landscape. In this academic volume, Skott-Myhre looks at how psychology and psychiatry relate to the oppression of women, and sees women’s spirituality as a political force that can forge a path forward in feminist and critical psychology, resistance, and alternatives to capitalism. (22 October)

Float by Anne Carson

Carson, a “poet of perversities” best known for Autobiography of Red, returns with a new collection of poetry in which she explores beauty, loss, memory and myth with her signature challenge to language and form. Presented as individual chapbooks to be read in any order within a transparent case, Float “kaleidoscopically illuminates the uncanny magic that comes with letting go of expectations and boundaries.” (25 October)

Spill: Scenes of Black Feminist Fugitivity by Alexis Pauline Gumbs

This poetry collection from self-described queer Black troublemaker and Black feminist love evangelist Gumbs conceives of poetry as a tool of feminist theory and examines the lives of Black women who seek freedom from racism and gendered violence. Omise’eke Natasha Tinsley, author of Thiefing Sugar, calls it a “luminous, heartbreaking work.” (28 October)

Marian by Ella Lyons

A gender-flipped Robin Hood retelling centering on Maid Marian, Ella Lyons’ queer YA novel is full of sword fights and swooning. Marian is a country girl forced to move to the city of Nottingham with her father, Sir Erik. Robin is a farmer’s daughter with her eyes set on becoming the first woman knight in the king’s army. They become fast friends, and then something more. (3 November)

Swing Time by Zadie Smith

The author of On Beauty, White Teeth, and NW returns with a novel set in North-West London and West Africa. Swing Time examines two girls’ friendship, tap dancing, blackness, roots and time. It has already been described as “dazzlingly energetic and deeply human.” (15 November)

Queer: A Graphic History by Meg-John Barker and Julia Scheele

The histories of queer thought and action come to life in this non-fiction graphic novel, which shows the foundation of contemporary ideas on sex, gender and sexuality; how they are enmeshed in culture; and where we can challenge them. (Bleeding Cool has a sneak peak.) (15 November)

21 Questions by Mason Dixon

Kenya Davis is great at hiring but bad at dating. Simone Bailey is great at bartending, at music, and at getting women’s attention — which is why it’s so perplexing that she can’t get Kenya’s. She resolves to get closer to her, one question at a time, in this queer romance. (15 November)

Of Fire and Stars by Audrey Coulthurst

Two princesses from rival kingdoms team up to solve a shocking assassination, and “forced to choose between their duty and their hearts, Mare and Denna must find a way to save their kingdoms — and each other.” One of Malinda Lo’s favorite YA books about lesbian, bisexual and queer girls. (22 November)

Bitch Planet Vol. 2: President Bitch by Kelly Sue DeConnick, Taki Soma and Valentine De Landro

Mey Rude describes Bitch Planet as “sort of like an extra-violent, outer-spacey Orange is the New Black.” In volume two, we learn how the new patriarchal world order came to be and meet President Bitch. (23 November)

Lumberjanes Vol. 5: Band Together by Shannon Watters, Kat Leyh and Carolyn Nowak

In the latest collection of this award-winning beloved series, the Roanoke cabin turns an underwater mermaid band rivalry into disaster and must try to save the day. This volume features the story of how the cabin first met by Noelle Stevenson and Brooke Allen. (13 December)

Difficult Women by Roxane Gay

The first short-story collection from the author of Bad Feminist and An Untamed State isn’t coming out until January but it’s never too early to get excited. The book has been described as “a wry, beautiful, haunting vision of modern America reminiscent of Merritt Tierce, Jamie Quatro and Miranda July.” (3 January)


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Carolyn Yates is the NSFW Editor and Literary Editor for Autostraddle.com. Her writing has appeared in Bitch, Nylon, Refinery29, The Toast, Xtra!, Jezebel, and elsewhere. She recently moved to Los Angeles from Montreal. Find her on twitter.

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27 Comments

  1. Thanks so much for this list! So many words to read, so little time!

    I can’t wait to read the poetry collection ‘Even This Page is White,’ because if a title alone can evoke that much nuance and power, the book itself must be AMAZING!!

  2. The Obelisk Gate is all of these things! Its the sequel to N.K Jemisins Fifth Season. I haven’t read it yet (grr slow library) but if it’s anything like the Fifth Season its going to be a deep exploration of race, gender, sexuality, colonial means of control, and state intrusion into the body. Theres a queer de facto poly relationship and a scientist who’s a trans man too.

    • I have a sneaking suspicion that the trans character might actually be a trans woman? They’re in an apocalyptic environment wearing lots of protective gear, without a lot of gendered markers around. Definitely not cis though!

  3. Girl Mans Up is AMAZING! I got an ARC from the author so that I could booktalk it at the Minnesota Library Association annual conference, and I cannot stop raving about it! Pen is such a real and relatable character, and this book made it glaringly apparent to me how far we have to go in LGBTQ+ young adult literature, because I’ve never encountered a character quite like her before. Everyone should read this book! 🙂

  4. Thanks for your excellent list. I would like to add one more title to your selection. The book is called “Women Beyond Belief: Discovering Life Without Religion” and was edited by Karen L. Garst, Phd. It includes chapters by more than 20 women authors. Shameless plug, I am one of them!
    The Pitchstone Publishing book is available on Amazon. Every author in the book has a compelling story to tell. Thanks.

  5. Hasn’t Roxane Gay already published a short story collection called Ayiti? Is this a new book, or a reissue of that (which seems very hard to find)? I’m genuinely curious and excited in either case!

      • Thank you so much! I appreciate it.

        For moral reasons I never buy anything on Amazon (both the evil they’ve done in the book world and their notoriously bad treatment of employees), so I will continue my campaign of getting local libraries to order the book, but I so appreciate your help here!

        Also excited for Roxane Gay’s new memoir, Hunger, which should be in my hands any day now!

  6. Incredible list! I only knew 2 of these, I’m so glad! <3

    I think Helen Oyeyemi's new book "What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours" could be on the list too. It's short stories but in each one there are queer and POC people, usually as the protagonists.

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