Lambda Literary Awards 2010: 12 Queer Books You’ll Love

Lesbian Memoir/Biography


mean little deaf queerMean Little Deaf Queer

Jay-Z once said “When they got you in the mag/ for like half a billy/ and your ass ain’t lily/ white that mean that shit you write/ must be illy.” What I’m trying to say is that I first heard about how good this book is from a source that’s not even queer, so it must be fantastic if even straight people are paying attention. Also, Dorothy Allison (Bastard Out of Carolina) called it “a damn fine piece of work” and I’m in love with her, so. Experimental antibiotics given to Galloway’s mother during her pregnancy caused Galloway to be born deaf, and good fortune caused her to be born queer. I don’t know why she’s such a good writer, or hilarious, but I’m not going to complain about it. Galloway’s dark (but funny!) memoir chronicles her life with disability and a lesbian identity, and explores her connection to theater, drama and art. I have the feeling she is going to turn out to be the next Augusten Burroughs, I dunno. I’m definitely going to read her book though!


Lesbian Debut Fiction


creamsickleThe Creamsickle, by Rhiannon Argo

(Spinsters Ink)
You guys! Rhiannon Argo read a portion of this to me out loud, in real life. There were a lot of other people there too because it was part of a Sister Spit tour, but it was still really great. Anyways I am 110% positive that this is the best way you could possibly spend $11.21 on Amazon because it’s going to be amazing: it’s San Francisco and skater bois and genderqueer and Chicana dykes and Rhiannan Argo is essentially a perfect human being. Having met the incredible women of Sister Spit, I know that they are all broke. Consider picking up a book so they can afford fancy booze for the road!


Lesbian Fiction


this one's going to last foreverThis One’s Going to Last Forever, by Nairne Holtz

(Insomniac Press)
My first thought was that the cover of this looks exactly like something I would have wanted to read when I was fifteen. I still read the same kind of books I did when I was fifteen, and one of the reviews describes this as being like that Blur song “Girls and Boys,” and I was basically sold instantly. I like to imagine that this short story collection is like a beautifully written literary version of Skins – sexy people making bad decisions that you can completely relate to.


Lesbian Poetry


bird eating birdBird Eating Bird, by Kristin Naca

Naca’s debut volume of poetry has so much to say it can’t even pick one language; she writes in a mixture of English, Spanish, and Tagalog, often about what Publishers Weekly hilariously calls “sexual joy between women.” Her book was chosen for the National Poetry Series by Pulitzer winner Yusef Komunyakaa and she’s been compared to Neruda, which is a pretty big deal. Her poems are described as “self-consciously youthful” and are about stuff like getting high in Mexico City, which sounds a lot like us! I will predict I will love this, and you probably will too.


LGBT Non-Fiction


I Am Your Sister: Collected and Unpublished Writings of Audre Lorde (Transgressing Boundaries: Studies in Black Politics and Black Communities)

Hey remember in the 1960s, when all the ladies of the feminist movement were like, “i feel so empty inside as a housewife so i take tranquilizers and buy expensive kitchen appliances but all i really want is a career” and poet/activist/author Audre Lorde was like, “hey listen up, I’m a black lesbian, don’t ignore us, and btw i think the master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house!” and then went on to pretty much change the world?

For the first time in print, I Am Your Sister offers a collection of speeches & essays by one of the most important radical black feminists ever; works grappling with sexuality, race, gender, class, arts, disease, parenting and resistance. C’mon this shit is blurbed by Ms., Adrienne Rich and Angela Davis. Here’s what Angela thinks: ‘”Audre Lorde’s unpublished writings, combined with her now classic essays, reveal her to be as relevant today as during the latter twentieth century when she first spoke to us. This new collection should be read by all who understand justice to be indivisible, embracing race, gender, sexuality, class, and beyond, and who recognize, as she so succinctly put it, that ‘there is no separate survival.” The book is part of the “Transgressing Boundaries: Studies in Black politics and Black Communities” series.


Lesbian Memoir/Biography


LikewiseLikewise: The High School Comic Chronicles of Ariel Schrag

If you’re one of the many talented, awkward, emo adolescent queers who just doesn’t fit in, then you should read some fucking Schrag and feel better fast. The last installment in Ariel Schrag’s High School Comic Chronicles follows Schrag’s senior year; her first ex-girlfriend is away at college, Schrag has to figure out her own future, and she’s decided to read James Joyce’s Ulysses in her spare time. Between the masturbation and the fighting with the parents, Schrag’s obsessive documentation of her own life really pays off in this volume as she gives visual resonance to diary entries, tape recordings, comic sketches and word-docs she had going at the time. (schrag fans check out our interview with Sister Spit.

So if you wanna win big in the Lammy Awards office pool, you better go read all these books, and the rest of the nominees, right fucking now.

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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. This is really exciting and such a great list of books. I have really enjoyed Ariel Schrag’s graphic novels lately. They’re light, quick, hilarious reads. Also looking forward to getting into some of the non-fiction on this list. Thanks for this:)


    i’ll definitely be looking for Mean Little Deaf Queer and Ash — i am all memoir and YA, all the time. DON’T MESS WITH TEXAS / ME.

    • I loved Ash so much. So much so, in fact, that I read it alone in a coffee shop on a snow day instead of sledding with my friends. It was that good!

  3. should i make it a goal in life to be on this list? actually my goal in life is to be featured on autostraddle as the next jk rowling.

    anyways, i’m putting some of these on my summer reading list. can’t wait to have free time!

  4. This was by FAR the sickest Queer list everrrr.

    Reading Rainbow. How very appropriate. Levar ain’t got SHIT on AS.

  5. Kaisa in Ash is totally beyond hot and has like a bow and arrow… I don’t know exactly what I mean by that but it’s awesome right? I loved loved loved this book.

    I’m about 3/4 through Mean Little deaf Queer right now, and loving it (side note, she wasn’t born completely deaf, she lost most of her hearing gradually and got hearing aids when she was maybe 10? someone correct me on that because I don’t have the book beside me right now?)

    planning to get The Nearest Exit May Be Behind You this summer, hell I will probably get all of these at some point, also my gf says Staceyann Chin’s “The other Side of Paradise” is amazing, so that’s next in line…I second what Emily said about having free time this summer, I won’t really but I will pretend I do and read a lot anyway!

    • re: Kaisa being hot/bow and arrow: I KNEW IT. Actually did you ever read Tamora Pierce books and totally have a crush on that one chick? Dairine or something? She could talk to horses. Anyways, she totally had a bow and arrow and it was completely hot so I know exactly what you mean by that.

      • OH MY GOD tamora pierce, read like EVERY book she wrote before 1999, I don’t remember having a crush on girls becoming knights so much as wanting to BE a girl becoming a knight… this one time at (not band) camp I shot an apple off the top of a haystack during archery and i think that’s still in the top five coolest things ive ever accomplished

      • Um, Tamora Pierce might be the only author I read (besides stuff for school) until I was about 13. Her books were definitely one of those things that should’ve tipped me off to my own gayness.

      • Woah, you are so right about Tamora Peirce! I read all of her books when I was about middle school age. Should have tipped me off too.

        • okay looking at her list of titles, “The Woman Who Rides Like a Man” probably should have been a clue right?

          • i want her to pull a j.k. rowling and be like “just fyi, i’m now announcing that all my characters are actually gay, even if it never actually literally came up in the books.”

          • I graduated from Tamora Pierce’s Alanna to Kerowyn, Tarma, and Kethry in Mercedes Lackey’s Valemar series, and Paksennarian in Elizabeth Moon’s trilogy. Here’s to heroic women.

    • Jenn- you know I convinced you to buy “Mean Little Deaf Queer” mostly because I wanted to read it :)

    • Also as the above mentioned GF who recommended “The Other Side of Paradise” all i have to say is READ IT. “But of course you don’t have to take my word for it.”

  6. Creamsickle is such a great book! Rhiannon Argo also read some of it aloud to me and then signed my copy :) And Ariel Schrag narrated some of her comics while playing them on a power point (I think it was from Likewise)… gotta love Sister Spit. Ariel’s books are still in my pile of ‘need to read’ but they are getting closer to the top. I’ve also been meaning to pick up Ash and The Nearest Exit May Be Behind You. And about 1000 other books.

  7. Being a Women’s Studies major I squealed when I saw AUDRE LORDE!!! I am an Audre Lorde fan girl and she changed my life NGL.

    On a completely random note does anyone else share a love of Octavia E. Butler?

  8. I’m going to badger my school library to get these. Because the lesbians that I know exist somewhere in those hallowed halls need books. And my school library buys queer books. Srsly.

    Also, I’m broke.

    • I love that your school buys queer books. I was talking to some of the school media specialists in my local school district (I work in our county’s public library, so it’s not an issue) and they weren’t even allowed to talk to teenagers about being anything like that…even in terms of getting them “fiction” for pleasure reading. Breaks my heart.

      Teens who want to read LGBTQ fiction (or parents of these teens), if the schools won’t get these books, check with your public libraries…we have different mandates and different collection development guidelines.

      Also…libraries great for those of us who have no $. :)

  9. I actually just started reading Potential a few days before this was posted! That can only mean I have a mystic Autostraddle connection. ALSO, Google Chrome, why do you not recognize Autostraddle as a word? Look, now you do.

    • Might I also mention how super excited I am about some of these books? I’m getting knee surgery soon so that gives me the perfect excuse to do some quality reading! :)

  10. My name is Gabrielle Rivera and my short story “Juliet Takes a Breath” is in Portland Queer!
    This article is super awesome and I am so pleased that our book made your list!

    Please check out my little queer latina short film at the link above.

    Let’s all support each other!

  11. i know this was posted way back when but – i follow the books and music lists you reco like a religion. ordering Rhiannon Argo and Ash Right.Now. I have Schrag proudly displayed like its a medal.

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