Lez Liberty Lit: Go Visit Violet Valley Bookstore


Hi there and welcome to this week’s Lez Liberty Lit! Do you feel fresher and braver and stronger now that it’s 2018? I don’t, honestly, but I’m working on it.

Violet Valley Bookstore, in Oxford, Mississippi, is a new queer feminist bookstore that’s part of a legacy of queers making space for ourselves in the South.

In an interview at Hazlitt, Melissa Febos discusses queer worlds, weird as good, recurring symbols and more:

“I believe every individual’s life is rife with organic symbols. How could it not be? We wade through an infinity of images and symbols in a single day, and yet we remember only a miniscule number of these. In my late twenties, I began to think of every memory and image as symbolic, metaphorical in some way, and that immediately released me from the onerous pressure of finding or choosing the ‘right’ ones. It reframed my work as a writer—rather than ‘inventing’ my networks of images, which was at once a hubristic and impossible task, my job became that of uncovering or listening to the images that I already had. Perhaps this is especially relevant for the memoirist or personal essayist. When the subject of your work is your own life, why wouldn’t the images accumulated and made symbolic by that life be the most effective? “

Red Clocks author Leni Zumas discusses dismantling the power of white antifeminist America, as well as Sassy, the inadequacy of labels, binding yourself to being a woman, structural racism and more in an interview at Electric Literature, and notes:

“Recently someone asked me if I consider Red Clocks to be a feminist novel. When I said ‘Yes, absolutely,’ the woman looked uncomfortable. I am curious about people’s resistance to the term ‘feminist,’ even if the resistance scrapes my nerves. In this case, I was talking with a very intelligent and thoughtful person who believes fiction should be free of ideology. Whereas my take is: nothing is free of ideology. We all see the world through filters. As a feminist I look through a lens of skepticism, alert to what is hidden or buried, watchful for the ‘violence and power concealed under the languages of civility, happiness, and love’ (to borrow a phrase from Sara Ahmed’s brilliant Living a Feminist Life). Consciously and not, my writing bears the imprint of this watchfulness. As Ahmed puts it: ‘If we have been taught to turn away, we have to learn to turn toward.’”

Get ready for new Zora Neale Hurston.

“Maybe reading Sylvia Plath is a cry for help, only meant for us mad girls. That’s ok, because there sure are a lot of us.”

Trying to get more into reading this year? Here’s how to start. And here’s how to set up a new kindle or e-reader, just in case.

This is your definitive guide to 65 queer and feminist new book releases to get excited for in 2018. You’re welcome. Also check out: These 46 books by women of color coming in 2018. Bitch’s most-anticipated non-fiction and also necessary fiction coming in 2018, as well as what to read in January. Book Riot’s picks of queer books coming in 2018. Ms.’s short and sweet list of feminist winter reads.

And from 2017, you might have missed these under-the-radar books according to Book Riot, or these 40 most-overlooked books according to booksellers and Lit Hub. You also might have missed these poetry collections. Or Feministing’s favorite feminist books.

Plus: Read these fat-positive books. Read these self-help books about depression (and remember you can always call the Trevor Project at 1-866-488-7386 if you need to). Read these 9 books about being Southern and queer. Read these fictional books about climate change.

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?

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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. That Bitch Nonfiction list for 2018 is awesome. Is there some system that bundles an digital version of a new edition and sends you the paperback when it’s released? I don’t have room for more hardcover books, but I don’t want to wait to read these. I’m gonna have to get my library card fine situation figured out.

  2. This is my fave column! Always so excited to see it on the website. Thank you especially for the link to depression self-help books!

  3. When it comes to books about being Southern and queer, I’ve always liked Confessions of a Failed Southern Lady by Florence King. I still can’t believe it was published in 1985.

    • Ditto to an umpteenth degree; one of my favorite books ever (heard about it in a 1990 issue of Sassy magazine and searched forever before finally discovering it in 1995 in an Asheville, NC, bookstore–wow I feel old)!


    now i’m in a lot more of a hurry to visit home again

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