Lez Liberty Lit: Take A Break When You Need One


Hi and welcome to this week’s Lez Liberty Lit! Sometimes you read less than other times, and that’s okay.

Things About Queer Books (And Other Books Relevant To Your Interests)

At Brevity, Roxane Gay writes about being black in middle America:

“Friends in cities have long asked me how I do it—spending year after years in these small towns that are so inhospitable to blackness. I say I’m from the Midwest, which I am, and that I have never lived in a big city, which is also true. I say that the Midwest is home even if this home does not always embrace me, and that the Midwest is a vibrant, necessary place. I say I can be a writer anywhere and as an academic, I go where the work takes me. Or, I said these things. Now, I am simply weary. I say, “I hate it here,” and a rush of pleasure fills me. I worry that I can’t be happy or feel safe anywhere. But then I travel to places where my blackness is unremarkable, where I don’t feel like I have to constantly defend my right to breathe, to be. I am nurturing a new dream, of a place I already think of as home—bright sky, big ocean. I know the where and the why and even the who might be waiting there. I just need to say when.”

Nepantla: A Journal Dedicated to Queer Poets of Color is now available (for free!) at Lambda Literary.

Check out these nine Arab literary cult classics.

These ten books feature subversive women.

You should be reading these five trans-centric webcomics.

You should be listening to these five black podcasts.

Casey the Lesbrarian selected some favorite bi+ books of this year so far, including All Inclusive by Farzana Doctor, Corona by Bushra Rehman and Long Red Hair by Meags Fitzgerald.

And there have been some really great essay collections so far this year, too.

Here are some feminist coloring books. (One, Avie’s Dreams, is excerpted at Lit Hub.)

The key to writing fiction about people who don’t look like you is broad empathy: “There can be no story without empathy. Our stories begin because we are able to enter the lives of other people. We are able to imagine how a person might move through the world, how their family might operate, what their favorite foods might be, how their nation works, how their town works, and the smallest, most inconsequential aspects of their lives rise up to meet us at our desks. You can’t write if you can’t empathize. Solipsism is anathema to good writing.”

LitHub chronicles the history and present of book banning: “Most of the titles are by LGBTQ authors and authors of color who write about life beyond white, straight, middle-class America.”

Either algorithms are the future of publishing or they’re going to ruin everything. Or both:

“[There is] a larger movement in the publishing industry to replace gut instinct and wishful thinking with data. […] While these efforts could bring more profit to an oft-struggling industry, the effect for readers is unclear.

‘Part of the beautiful thing about books, unlike refrigerators or something, is that sometimes you pick up a book that you don’t know,’ says Katherine Flynn, a partner at Boston-based literary agency Kneerim & Williams. ‘You get exposed to things you wouldn’t have necessarily thought you liked. You thought you liked tennis, but you can read a book about basketball. It’s sad to think that data could narrow our tastes and possibilities.'”

“My long silence on the subject of race wasn’t respectful or polite, as I used to pretend. Instead, like so many others white Americans, I was being woefully, dangerously incurious about the real history of my home.

It’s okay to read less sometimes.

“What do we do with an idleness that is neither aspirational nor athletic? And if a woman is neither at work nor working out, where—or what—exactly is she?”

At TCJ, cartoonist Tillie Walden discusses emotional storytelling, leaving and reentering worlds, fine art, her process and more.

Book Riot has an exclusive peek at the forthcoming Reductress book How to Win at Feminism.

What’s your patronus? (Mine was a Siberian cat.)

The Penguin Shop in Toronto, Canada

The Penguin Shop in Toronto, Canada

Book Things To Do

31 October, online: Submissions for #Trans, an anthology about trans and non-binary experience, are due.

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

Books! They are really great. You just won’t believe how great they are. You may think that the Internet’s great, but that’s just peanuts compared to books. In Lez Liberty Lit, we talk about queer books and literary shit that’s happening that you should probably care about.

The name “Liberty Lit” was inspired by the short-lived literary journal produced by Angela Chase at Liberty High School in 1994.

Before you go! Autostraddle runs on the reader support of our AF+ Members. If this article meant something to you today — if it informed you or made you smile or feel seen, will you consider joining AF and supporting the people who make this queer media site possible?

Join AF+!

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 don’t mean to be negative but i dont get this validation for a ‘ reading break’ ? I mean, if its a break , then its a break. Why make it a task? I don’t get Goodread goals either…

    • I don’t think it’s a command, like, “Thou must take a reading break!” It’s more just like, if you haven’t read as much lately, it’s ok, you don’t need to feel guilty. :-)

      • No i meant, why make reading a task, that you might feel guilty taking breaks from it. I guess i find it strange cos i don’t feel guilty about taking any kind of breaks. Is that why im unemployed?

        • lol!

          if you don’t feel guilt or imperatives around reading, that’s awesome!

          when i was a kid i read 24/7, and sometimes i wish i was still that person. but i try not to put pressure on myself.

          • I only read some books 24/7. Otherwise i take my time. I can never be a book ninja sort of person, no matter how much i enjoy it. I suppose you are though. ;)

  2. My patronous is a lousy hedgehog. Its uglier than a rat, and completely useless… id rather be sucked dry by a dementor than conjure a patronous.
    I don’t think the post dementor kissed me would be much different though.

    • Aww, I think hedgehogs are cute! I saw one, once, when I lived in England.

      My patronus is a greyhound, so I guess I’m good at running away from danger :/

      • C’mon… Greyhound!! That’s legit.I love dogs .Im not calling a hedgehog, i like most animals you know. But hedgehog! No! Even porcupines are more badass.

      • Everybody loves dogs.Its a law of nature.You have a dog,and you’re in Ravenclaw, how cool is that. While i sit with my ugly hedgehog in my Hufflepuff common room. Life is unfair.

        • I would trade for a hedgehog! I really don’t like dogs much. I like my friends dogs, but I never want to own one. My cat is dog-like, though – she follows me everywhere and plays fetch :)

          • That is completely unfair.

            Do we even have hedgehogs in California, though? I’ve only seen them in England.

          • I just googled, because what else would I do during the last 5 minutes of work? The answer is no. They are only in Europe, Asia and Africa (and in New Zealand, through human introduction). It’s a shame, they really are the cutest.

        • Cats who are dogs are adorable. My cat was a semi dog too, she would come running to welcome me back. But she just stared if i threw stuff at her.

          • I read online that my cat’s breed (Highlander) can be taught to fetch, but she already knew how when I adopted her. So either her foster family taught her or Highlanders just KNOW.

  3. I finally read “Juliet Takes a Breath”! It was AMAZING! Can’t wait to see more books from you, Gabby!
    Thanks for the Bi Booklist. The Alan Cumming autobio went on my reading list as soon as I found out it existed.
    And I can’t wait for Pheobe Robinson’s, “You Can’t Touch My Hair”! I love both 2 Dope Queens and Soo Many White Guys.

    • Also, I too tend to get into reading slumps. I think it has to do with my depression/anxiety levels, the weather, what else is happening in my life, etc. It’s weird.

  4. Once again, I have a whole stack of new internet tabs to read before bed.

    Thank you, Autostraddle, for being so reliable in your contribution to my insomnia.

  5. Re algorithms and getting exposed to books you don’t know, picking up books I don’t know has been a tried and true method of mine since discovering poking around library stacks at age seven, but lately every time I go to my library somebody comes up in the stacks to ask me if I “need help finding anything” and it’s starting to feel like I’m shopping for jeans and being discouraged from finding new books. Can’t we have random anything any more?

  6. My Patronus is an otter. I’m so happy! I genuinely love otters.

    I have an idea for an epic fantasy saga that I hope to write and lately I’ve been thinking about how to make it more inclusive so thanks for that article on broad empathy.

    Now to go through all these tabs I’ve opened.

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