Autostraddle Read A F*cking Book Club

I’ve spent the last couple weeks neglecting important work and life responsibilities in order to finally read some books I’ve been wanting to: Sherman Alexie’s War Dances, Susanna Kaysen’s Girl, Interrupted, Franzen’s How to Be Alone: Essays. It’s been like, six days or something since we last talked to you about a book, or books in general, and obvs we had to fix that!

Hey. Hello. Hi. Have you guys ever read this blog called This Girl Called Automatic Win? It belongs to our editor Riese and she used to do this Book Club thing sometimes. Everyone read the same book and then shared their feelings. You know — a book club! We’ve kinda been doing that here, informally and pseudo-style, via Lambda Literary Award Nominees and our Fall and Summer Reading Lists, etc. Those have been nice. You’ve liked them, as have I.

On the heels of my recent reading binge, Autostraddlers, I pose this question: would you guys be into having every-two-monthly book clubs on Autostraddle, not entirely unlike our hot-as-balls Audiostraddle Record Club? Which was not a one-off, we promise, we’re going to do another one sooN!

We’d basically choose a book to read by a certain date, and on that date I’d publish my own thoughts on the book and we’d talk about how you feel in the comments. I’d wear a nice dress and bring cucumber sandwiches or vodka punch or whatever it is fancy people do at book club meetings.

If you think this is something you’re into, in a way similar to how you’re into boyshorts or tribadism, we’ll need to decide what to read! I feel like there are a lot of options for the Autostraddle Book Club For Winners, with a few stand-out categories.

Here are my ideas:

Gay Books by Gay Authors for Gay People That Are Gay:

This is the Book Riese Wants You to Pick,
So she found a large photograph of it to brainwash you

These could be (relatively) new releases, like Eileen Myles’ Inferno, or we could go with the classics, like Rubyfruit Jungle, if enough people haven’t read them or want to talk about them again. I am kind of assuming these will be fiction books, but I dunno, I guess they don’t have to be. Let’s say fiction plus memoirs, ok? Other books in this category might include:

The Creamsickle, Rhiannon Argo
Valencia, Michelle Tea
Mean Little deaf Queer: A Memoir, Terry Galloway
Likewise, Ariel Schrag

Fiction Books That are Shiny & New:

I gather that this is similar to what real book clubs do? Read like, the newest Oprah Book Club selection slash thing featured in People Magazine? In that vein, we could totally read Freedom if you want. That is very hip, very now. I will tell you right now, though, that we are not reading Stieg Larsson books. I’m sorry. Not happening. Other thoughts include:

Ape House, Sara Gruen
Nemesis, Philip Roth
Palo Alto: Stories, JAMES FRANCO
Imperial Bedrooms, Bret Easton Ellis
Room, Emma Donoghue
A Gate at the Stairs, Lorrie Moore
Home, Marilynne Robinson

Womyn’s Books By Womyn
For The Empowered Wommon Reader

Remember when we made that f*cking epic post of 70 feminism-related books you could edify yourself with? We can read some of those if you guys are, you know, into that. Lemme know.

Diary of a Mad Housewife, Sue Kaufman
Memoirs of an Ex-Prom Queen, Alix Kates Shulmans
The Handmaid’s Tale, Margaret Atwood
The Woman Warrior: Memoirs of a Girlhood Among Ghosts, Maxine Hong Kingston

I don’t know, guys, what do you think? I’ve focused mostly on fiction and memoirs here, but that’s just kind of because I felt like it. If something else is really lighting your fire, let us know. Like if you really want to read like Danielle Steele or something, that’s cool. I will still love you. Or if you don’t want to do this at all, that’s fine too. We can play Monopoly or something. You will probably win. SHARE WITH ME. WHAT ARE YOUR FEELINGS.

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Originally from Boston, MA, Rachel now lives in the Midwest. Topics dear to her heart include bisexuality, The X-Files and tacos. Her favorite Ciara video is probably "Ride," but if you're only going to watch one, she recommends "Like A Boy." You can follow her on twitter and instagram.

Rachel has written 1142 articles for us.


  1. GREAT IDEA!! maybe even a YA list? I recently shelved (so clever) my snobby ways and got into it. Or got back into it really. Used to read Number the Stars, Wolf By the Ears, Charlotte Doyle etc til I put on big-girl pants and turned up my nose. Anyhoo, The Hunger Games is obviously amazing but The Book Thief is my latest grand passion. READ IT! club or no club.

    • I’m scared to read The Book Thief as a friend read it when we were on holiday together, and there are great big wet tear drops all over the last twenty pages. Properly sobbing. We were in a public place, people stared.

      • Relatedly, I just got a book out of the library about the race to understand Egyptian hieroglyphics so they could rediscover long-dead kings and gods that hadn’t had an altar for fifteen centuries, and the title page is spotted with candlewax. Thank you, previous reader, for making this experience that much more awesome for me.

        • Best thing I ever got out of a library book (a homogay library book no less) was a bookmark with the handwritten inscription ‘loving you in starshine, in moonshine, in sunshine’. Previous readers rock.

      • it’s certainly a tear-fest in spots. lots of spots. BUT WORTH IT! :) i promise. it’s beautiful. the writing is playful and very clever. it’s wonderfully done and, obviously, incredibly moving. emotional roller coaster for sure. perhaps even more than normal because it could so easily be true.

        • The incident was made much funnier by said friend having spent the previous week complaining about how much she hated the writing style. I’d agree with her, but was crying to The Heart is a Lonely Hunter at the same time.

  2. well, i’m not reading anything gay at the moment. But I am reading Captain Correlli’s Mandolin, which is awesome. And then A Fine Balance, and then Corrections by Jonanthan Franzen, and then Freedom by Jonathan Franzen, and ugghh….I CAN’T STOP READING.

    I wish there were better gay themed books out there. Best I’ve read ever was Fall On Your Knees. And I hate Sarah Waters.

  3. I vote “no” on Diary of a Mad Housewife for selfish reasons. I have heard that it was somewhat autobiographical, and she was married to someone who headed the organization that I work for. He seemed harmless enough to me, but I don’t want his image in any way associated with hot lesbo book club action.

    I vote for the queer books option.

  4. Eileen Myles for sure! I’ve been dying to break in my new Amazon Kindle, so anything that is available as an eBook would be cool, but not a huge priority. As for the theme of the book club, I echo Amanda that it should be focused on queer/LGBT/etc. books.

  5. what if WHAT IF we choose a book from group A, Gay Books by Gay Authors for Gay People That Are Gay, for the first round. THEN we pick one from B for the next round AND THEN AFTER THAT we see how we feel about group C. and what i mean by that is, i don’t wanna read anything from group C until i’ve finished Manifesta OH THAT’S RIGHT I HAVEN’T FINISHED MANIFESTA. NOW WHAT.

    i want to read Room, ftr, to see if it makes me feel as brainfucked as Richard Yates did at first. that’s just ftr. fyi. nbd.

  6. I am really really really super 100% for this, and I think it needs to be 100% by gay for gay, because this world and this country in particular is really just kind of WOW in terms of not being for us, so we really need to be FOR us, you know?

    As much as humanly possible, because they need our support, I think.

    So, yes, I am IN, even though that scares me because I am currently in an Anna Karenina Book Club and have 1.5 weeks to read through P3 and I am on pg. 56.

  7. I just want everyone to know that the opening line of Inferno is “My English professor’s ass was so beautiful. It was perfect and full and round as she stood at the board writing some important word.”


        • This is kind of my #1 concern…
          If they’re really new/rear it’s hard to get cheap versions/get hold of them, meaning I’ll have to order them online, and shipping things to Norway costs more than the f*cking book. I already spent all my money on other books/comic books (has anyone read Top 10? LOVE.), so basically, I’m broke.

  8. Imperial Bedrooms! Bret Easton Ellis! He’s a queer author!

    But I’m also willing to read books that I know nothing about, which is everything else on this list. Whatever you choose, bring it on. I’m excited.

  9. Amazing Idea!I am in a queer bookclub on goodreads,but sadly it isn’t as active as i wish.So I’m really happy about this and it gives me another reason to read homolicious books.
    I vote for Inferno!

  10. yes times a thousand i will read whatever! maybe it can be a not-so-sad book though? i have to do an “increase your happiness” project this semester (i actually go to a hardcore science school dont laugh at this) (k fine, just dont laugh too hard) and i want reading actual books to be part of this project. anyway yes please. books. gay books.

  11. I am so excited for thissss! I think mainly gay gay gay gay gay but mixing it up a little every now and then would be friggin’ sweet.

    Also, can we play Monopoly anyway? I can never get anyone to play with me. I have a secret. You can’t tell anyone, you guys. Okay, so when I was like 14 I was babysitting my neighbor’s kids. One girl was 7-ish and the other girl was potty training. The older girl and I were playing Monopoly when the younger one came over and peed all over the board. We kept playing.

    • BAHAHAHAHA!!!!! that is tooo freaking funnyliciously great!!! or maybe a little disgusting? but mainly, im finding it great! yes, monopoly too please, and vodka…in my beer. all your railroads are belong to me!…and inferno!!

  12. yes yes yes I love book clubs I kept trying to start one among my friends but they mostly ignore me and everyone hates all the books everyone else likes to read in my circle of friends, so that’s an obstacle…

    i always love autostraddle book reccomendations, i feel like maybe we should trust you guys with this one

  13. gay gay gay please.

    i am so excited about this, you don’t even know. i was at my local lgbt center yesterday helping the woman who is in charge of the library and she told me she is so sad because no one reads the books there and i told her ‘i will read these books!’ my future book list looks very, very rainbow right now.

  14. I am totally in my sister myself and 2 other lesbians have a book club its awesome but instead of reading the same book we all buy 3 or 4 review put notes etc and then pass them soo you know what parts struck samantha in a way and me in a way etc…It also saves a little money and we all get together on holidays or whenever we r free to talk about what we read etc and its a must to txt email or call after u read the book….its super amazing we pick books that r real and depict women who had a rough life either gay or str8 doesnt matter and it really helps us see life differently..Sometimes we complain about our lives and then u read some1 had it differ or rougher and your like if she can do it soo can I..My sister is in school for criminal profiling and Samantha is a famous lesbian model anothe friend and Me im just a entrepreneur that has had a very E-Tru Hollywood story soo i relate to it all ohh soo well.,..I have actually started writing my own book no ghost writer here and i write poetry I actually have a girl-interupted ish/gia like journal of the daily and just my life after rape from the times where i was manic and out of my head to times i was suicidal even my writing and styles change with my mood its creepy to look back at it but its real life and i didnt intend for it to ever go anywhere it is my journal but im impelled to help women of sexual assault sooo if my journal can relate to one person and make them feel they r not crazy i have helped them out and im the person if my book got published 50% of sales would be donated to a place that tests every rape kit no matter what bc its a national epidemic and its not fair and its worst to be gay it really is bc no1 believes you its crazy but thats another blog soo basically I am all in for the club when and how do we know what book to read etc

  15. Happy tears. My innermost longing for a long time has been to discuss The Girl with the…oh, never mind. Sad tears.

    Tomfoolery aside, I’m into this. I would read anything youse choose, I think, but I echo the ’emphasize-the-gay’ sentiments.

    The cover shown in that large photograph is really attractive and hypnotic, same thing goes for the excerpt. Also, Riese says “JUST SAYING”, and Laneia says “LOOK”, and commenters say “yes”, and Bechdel says “Just read it”.

    So: Inferno would be a nice one to start, it seems. So much (gay) pressure. My brain feels so clean. Pressure tears.

  16. I’m in. I sort of reluctantly clicked on this post because I have no money and therefor books are a luxury right now (right after toilet paper and food more expensive than ramen), but then I saw the suggestion for Mean Little Deaf Queer and my brain went WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR THIS IS GONNA BE EPIC, but then nobody was as excited for that book as I was.

    But I’m still in. Inferno looks good too.

  17. This means I’m gonna have to pay off the ridiculous amount of fines I owe my library (went abroad for 4 months without returning my books first, oops) so they’ll order Inferno in for me. I hope you’re happy. I’m also going to order Hunger Games so I’m very happy indeed.

    Persuant to that, I really like the idea of it being every two months so I have time to order books in. And I vote yes to fiction, especially queer stuff and YA (YA! YA!). I am not so fond of non-fiction & memoirs in a bookclub setting though. I would prefer to stick to fiction, is my feeling.

  18. Hi,
    I’m a recently out of the closet lesbian (only came out a year ago at the ripe ole’ age of 31) and brand-new to Autostraddle. However, when I saw this article as I am a major book addict and am anxious to explore my new queer world and what better way than with books??
    I have Stieg Larsson’s books in a pile by my bed but haven’t started them yet because Suzanne Collin’s “The Hunger Games” series sucked me in. I’m on the last one already and I only finished the first one on Monday!!! Yes, they are THAT good (although they are YA which makes them an easy read as well).
    I am open to reading any of the books on this list since I know nothing about any of them or the authors. Due to this lack of knowledge I am super excited to take part in this book club.

  19. I’m down for some massively queer homogay books. Esp. Inferno after Reise posted the first lines of the book. Want.

    My only problem being, is that I’m a broke ass college queer who just bought 4 new books this week and has no time to read them.

  20. Bring on the gay lady books!

    Also…The Woman Warrior is in my top three favorite books of all time. It. Is. AH-Mazing. Maxine Hong Kingston isn’t gay, as far as I could gather, but I would definitely call her queer. She came to UCLA to speak during the book fair and I got her to sign a copy afterwards. She is a fucking adorable 80something genius you guys. I attempted to write a paper on this book for a postmodern fiction class but gave up after a week of trying because there were just TOO MANY GOOD THEMES AND THINGS i could not just pick one focus! (I ended up going with Goodbye, Columbus). Read woman warrior you guys, it’s fucking great.

  21. Queer Librarian to the rescue!

    So, I know we all want to support gay books by gay authors for gay people that are gay. BUT if you are a gay person who is currently debating whether your next purchase should be ramen or your electric bill, there’s another way:

    Get a card at your local library and then, if you can’t find the book you’re looking for in the catalog, try going to:

    From there, advanced search is your best bet, using the title and the author’s name. WorldCat will give you the nearest libraries that have the book and if the listed library and your library participate in an Inter-Library-Loan program you might be able to order a copy of the book to be shipped to you (library contact info is listed next to the locations of the closest libraries shelving your coveted read).

    Unfortunately, it might be a little harder to get your hands on recently published books, like, as of two seconds ago I could only find two libraries near where I live that are currently claiming a copy of, Inferno, but for books that have been in print for upwards of six months to a year, it’s pretty likely you’ll be able to track down a copy, and if you’re successful, it’s for sure cheaper than buying them online.

    ALSO, GAY NERDS (my nickname in high school):

    Type in a title or author you like, see what recommendations pop up. Might not tell you queers any more than you already know, but it’s kinda fun.


    • And use the entire title when searching WorldCat. For instance, if I search for “Likewise” it brings up copies that are 500+ miles away. “Likewise : the high school comic chronicles of Ariel Schrag” has better results: a copy that is 20 miles away.

  22. I love basically any book club, any time.

    I do want to point out that I recently read A Gate at the Stairs, and it was FABULOUS. I went into crazy obsessive, half-convinced I was living in fucking Wisconsin reading mode. (The book takes place there. It wasn’t just a random feeling.)


    Right now I’m reading The Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver (she wrote The Poisonwood Bible). SO GOOD, and it’s got a gay protagonist too!

  23. you guys… i spent too much money at barnes and noble TOO MUCH MONEY THAT I DON’T HAVE but i couldn’t say no to the books. THE BOOKS! they were all looking at me, going “hey you, we know you already have too much to do with school and work and being broke, but you need more books, MORE BOOKS” and i couldn’t say no… i should get a library card, but that would be no use to me since our library is outdated and run by conservative assholes. so i have all these shiny new books begging to be read and literature homework that needs to be done and no money. i’m fucked, and addicted but if anyone needs a book i’ll be glad to lend them to you, since i have ALL THE BOOKS . i’m off to read “the purity myth” and maybe finish canterbury tales if i have time…

  24. OKAY YOU GUYS WE’LL READ INFERNO. OKAY. I’ll write a real post declaring this and also declaring subsequent books for the next few months, b/c I like Laneia’s idea of taking one from one category at a time, but if anyone is feverishly refreshing this thread trying to figure out what to buy, just get Inferno. I love you.

  25. What’s the problem with Steig Larson? People keep insisting I should care and I’ve been meaning to but if it’s a waste of time I won’t bother. I’ve got The Hunger Games to get to. Also, Freedom, Lit, and Like Me.

    • Yeah, I just paid my library £10 (£10!) in fines and then went on to the catalogue to find it does not exist in my city. I filled in the form that told them they should buy it though, you could do it too! I wrote that queer fiction is really underrepresented in their catalogue in the hopes that would help. We have until November, we can make this happen!

  26. future recommendation: Zami: A New Spelling of My Name by Audre Lorde. It is incredible, really gay, explores homophobia, classicm, racism, all at once. Also, a classic, could be found at most college/bigger city libraries. and BEAUTIFULLY written. Audre Lorde is this fantastic poet so her work is, of course, poetic.

  27. Wants!!

    Seriously. I’ve been wanting to read in a book club for ages. Every other month or so sounds good, because being an English major I’ve already got stacks and stacks of (horrible!) reading on my required lists… but, damn it’d be swell to read something for fun every once in awhile!!

    I think I could justify the time spent away from studies if it was in connection to a book club, lol. ;)


    The first book will be Inferno? But it’s not out til end of November?

    I keep putting off buying new books, because I feel like I should get through the unread ones I have, but I just looked at the top row on the bookcase and not a single one appeals to me.

    I need the gay words! Feed me the words, I need to get my passion for reading back.

  29. But why the bullying of Stieg Larsson?

    Just curious though. I am always happy for suggestions even though there are way too many books in this room that I don’t have the time to read. But I have to have them.
    Oh, and the copies of the first two novels for our seminar on postmodern scandinavian literature.

    but other than that, I’m up for anything, especially gender theory/lesbo/gay/history stuff.

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