Lez Liberty Lit #75: Don’t Read Twice, It’s All Right

Feature image via noobsphotography.

Reading fiction, and literary fiction specifically, can make you a better person, make you treat others better, fix your brain and more:

“For all avid readers who have been self-medicating with great books their entire lives, it comes as no surprise that reading books can be good for your mental health and your relationships with others, but exactly why and how is now becoming clearer, thanks to new research on reading’s effects on the brain. Since the discovery, in the mid-nineties, of “mirror neurons”—neurons that fire in our brains both when we perform an action ourselves and when we see an action performed by someone else—the neuroscience of empathy has become clearer. A 2011 study published in the Annual Review of Psychology, based on analysis of fMRI brain scans of participants, showed that, when people read about an experience, they display stimulation within the same neurological regions as when they go through that experience themselves. We draw on the same brain networks when we’re reading stories and when we’re trying to guess at another person’s feelings.”

Obviously, you should especially focus on reading if you’re trying to write.

The Queer Book Club has a great list of books that feature the voices of trans people and/or trans protagonists.

Malinda Lo’s short story “The Cure” is available at Interfictions (for free!) and is a horror/fantasy/historical fiction hybrid about one possible reason for hysteria.

The rainbow flag is now at MoMA as a design icon.

“In the driest language possible, I would say that fan fiction successfully undermines the traditional American heteronormative dynamic in ways that can’t be undone.”

What should you read this summer? Gawker names the 25 best books released this summer. Flavorwire has 20 comic book series and also 25 literary series to read now.

Adults color too. Related: there’s a Badass Feminist Coloring Book currently trying to make it on Kickstarter.

There are a lot of great writers no one reads any more.

I love snooping on other peoples’ desks and you can too with these writers’ photos of their workspaces.

Small press And Other Stories will publish only women in 2018.

Harry Potter ebooks will be 25% off through July.

Jenny Diski discussed writing about lung cancer at the New York Times, noting:

“‘Under no circumstances is anyone to say that I lost a battle with cancer,’ she told Patterson after they left the doctor’s office. ‘Or that I bore it bravely. I am not fighting, losing, winning or bearing.’ In the L.R.B. essay, Diski alights upon a different metaphor: ‘I try but I can’t think of a single aspect of having cancer, start to finish, that isn’t an act in a pantomime in which my participation is guaranteed however I believe I choose to play each scene. I have been given this role. … I have no choice but to perform and to be embarrassed to death.'”

One outcome of working in a used bookstore is growing to see yourself as one in line of owners of any given book, writes Danika Ellis.

People on the internet sure have a lot of feelings about book stacks.

Want books featuring asexuals? Casey the Canadian Lesbrarian recommends The Bone People, Quicksilver and more.

At Lambda Literary, July Westhale reviewed Vera’s Will by Shelly Erringer. Sara Rauch reviewed Sphinx by Anne Garreta.

At the Lesbrary, Amanda Clay reviewed Femme by Mette Bach. Audrey reviewed Maplecroft: The Borden Dispatches by Cherie Priest.

Mey wrote about Lumberjanes #15. Carmen reviewed Out of Orange. Riese wrote about Queer Sultry Summer, a book we wrote for you.

Book Things To Do In Person

July 31: Submissions (poetry, fiction, and non-fiction) for Polychrome Ink, from diverse authors and/or featuring diverse themes, are due.

August 1: “Editors David Levithan and Billy Merrell are searching for non-fiction entries to include in the upcoming expanded edition of The Full Spectrum, with an emphasis on diversity.”

1 December: Submissions for Topside’s short speculative fiction anthology by trans writers are due.

Know of a queer event with literary merit? Send it to us! The Liberty Lit is bi-weekly.

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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. I really enjoyed that first piece, although I’m more of sci-fi/fantasy reader than lit fic. There are some books that I think cross genre, though – Slow River by Nicola Griffith maybe, or Kindred by Octavia Butler.

    • the list of writers nobody reads anymore is so inspirational. I have to add quite a few things to my reading list, but my problem atm is that I read too little in German (my native language) and Swedish (my second language)…

  2. Book stacks article was great. I love book stacks – I have them in every room: that way when I am drifting from one room to the next, looking for that thing I’ve just misplaced, my eye will be caught by a book somewhere in its stack and I’ll think now is a good time to just sit down for a minute next to the stack and maybe just read a couple of pages before I keep looking for that other thing. Best of all though, is after half an hour of reading I’ve completely forgotten what I was looking for in the first place (clearly wasn’t important) and I can see no good reason not to keep on reading. So I relocate to my couch, book in hand and smugly relegate everything else to ‘I’ll do it in a little bit…’

  3. This article about the poet and the fanfic is fascinating. I appreciate that he isn’t dismissive of the form, even as he remains concerned about the integrity of his own work/legacy.

    The list of book series is so tempting and at the same time so exhausting! Between that and the “authors nobody reads anymore” and the used bookstore one… I’ll never have read everything I want to have read. I guess it’s like that old Internet saying: you can’t hug every cat.

    Also, I don’t think I realized that Maplecroft had queer content (I’d heard of it in a fantasty/horror context), but now it’s moving on up my to-read list.

    • Ahhh, I love that you used the phrase “old Internet saying” – it totally made me smile and then want to go rewatch that video.

  4. so excited about that feminist coloring book! coloring really is comforting (thanks npr for telling me what i know)

  5. There’s so many things I love about this post. Perhaps it will help me write!

    Also I am so happy that Malinda Lo’s story is online for free. :D

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