PHOTO GALLERY: Queer in the Stacks

Dafna / 28 / Tel Aviv

“We live in a commune with ten friends, so our bookshelf holds everyone’s books. The shelves themselves were built by a friend of ours. The right shelf is fiction and the left shelf is nonfiction organized by topic. When we moved house last year, we packed the books into twenty-eight boxes (!), and the friends who helped us move were pretty pissed when we started unpacking and they realized that most of the boxes we’d lugged all day contained books.

One book we reference frequently is The Art of Loving by Erich Fromm, who was  a German social psychologist. He writes,  “If I truly love one person I love all persons, I love the world, I love life. If I can say to somebody else, “I love you,” I must be able to say, “I love in you everybody, I love through you the world, I love in you also myself.”

We try to conduct our relationships in the commune according to Fromm’s theory of love. And through our educational work, we aim to build a society based on equality and respect for all.”

Hanna / 23 / Raleigh, NC

“I built my bookshelf myself (by which I mean IKEA made all the pieces and I put those pieces together) the day I moved to Raleigh last month. I’m getting my master’s degree in library science, so unpacking and organizing my books was a really important part of making my new space a home. Surprisingly—maybe a little contradictorily, given what I’m studying—there’s very little rhyme or reason to how the books are actually organized on the shelves. My personal collection is pretty diverse and wide-ranging in topics and genres; I like to see the scope of that diversity not by categorizing them, but by mixing them all together. My favorite (well, currently, but has also been so in the past) is Angela Carter’s The Bloody Chamber. It changed the way I thought about gender and fairytale storytelling when I first read it at 16. My two most prized not-book possessions that live on the shelf are a growler from my favorite brewery in my home state (Iowa pride, baby!) and a reproduction of a WWI propaganda poster featuring one of my lady heroes, Joan of Arc.”

Erica and Natalie / 30, 29 / Nashville, TN by way of Houston, TX

“This is my fiancée and I. We have been together for five and a half years. We met at work where we are both teachers and fell in love because of a crazy obsession with YA books! Some faves with great lady dates: If You Could Be Mine and Miseducation of Cameron Post. When we helped to plan the first ever school district Pride Plus summit (for LGBTQ students and their allies) we helped create the representation through books list and had a raffle!

When we started carpooling together we would take turns driving and the other would read aloud a book! (So nerdy!) We recently moved and has to do some serious soul searching on which books would make the cross country move with us. We decided only books we haven’t read yet would make the cut, and it still ended up being a full floor to ceiling bookshelf.”

Danno Mannino (they·them) / 23 / Ashland, OR

“Favorite books: Lost Boi by Sassafras Lowrey, Exile and Pride: Disability, Queerness, and Liberation by Eli Clare, and All About Love: New Visions by bell hooks. My bookshelf features that Autostraddle calendar from 2014 above (haha), also a lamp I got from the SOU Queer Resource Center when they were remodeling, my “grey flannel” candle #gaaaayy, and little to no organization.”

Daphne / 26 / Rotterdam, the Netherlands

“I wouldn’t call my books strictly organized. There’s some books that I didn’t know where to put, so the Hitchhikers’s Guide to the Galaxy is hanging out next to a book named The Confused Guinea Pig. Roughly, the sections are English literature, beloved (Dutch) books from my childhood, sci-fi/fantasy, YA novels, Harry Potter, and on the final shelf there’s some comics. The Green Flower trilogy is my favourite thing on these shelves probably. It’s the coming-of-age/coming-out story of a 16-year-old boy in Victorian London, during the time of Oscar Wilde’s trial. My second favourite thing are my Hawkeye comics. Last year I wondered if I had lost the joy in reading, but since then I’ve discovered that I just needed to get my hands on fantasy novels with queer characters in them.

Useless fun fact: several of my Harry Potter editions are literally taped together. They’ve been through a lot.”

Ngaire / 25 / Australia

“I have mostly fiction books that are arranged in alphabetical order by author and then my system collapses once I get to nonfiction and other random books, including new books because there isn’t space for them. I love nothing more than reading a book with a cup of tea. I also love this cute cross stitch I picked up at the gay markets.”

Caitlin / 33 / Northern CA

“When I moved into my house I couldn’t feasibly take my large bookcase with me. I currently have 3 small shelves that house my books, with the bookshelf pictured being the most recent addition. This bookshelf is my favorite because not only does it fit the majority of my books, but my cat can lounge on it and spy on the neighbors (cat not pictured — she was too cool to take a selfie with her mom). Half of the shelf is devoted to my queer book collection, which I began in 2000 with Tipping the Velvet. I used to organize my books by subject, then by author (an author with multiple books was then organized by publication date). I wasn’t as detailed with this new bookshelf, but I did separate queer from non-queer! My favorite book is Fall on Your Knees by Ann Marie MacDonald. It has traveled from home, to college, to the U.K., and back again. As much as I love my Kindle, nothing compares to the beauty of books.”

Elodie / 33 / Toulouse, France

“My bookshelf is in a dressing, because I don’t have that many clothes and I might as well use the space left to store books and board games. The book you can see the cover of is my favorite novel: a beautifully written story about a teenager’s journey to love (with an older woman), loss, and love gain. It won an award in the 90s.”

Nani / 25 / Minneapolis, MN

“My father was always an avid reader, I wanted to be just like him when I was little so I read anything and everything I could get my hands on. He would collect books about religion, astrology, science, history, and countless of subjects. Books allowed me to have a very vast view of the world since I was very young. When I moved to America I brought two bags: one full of clothes, and one full of books. They’re the last reminders of my home, and I hope if I ever go back to my country I get to bring back a couple more of them with me.”

Priscila / 25 / Toronto, ON

“My bookshelves are the central pieces in my living room/kitchen situation. They make home my home. I have my comics (I have to thank Mey for a lot of recs here) and my top books on display on the first pic, and whatever is left on the second pic. They aren’t really organized right now because I had to free up space for some visiting relatives, so I just threw the books back in for the picture. A lot of my books are back home because my parents kept getting mad at me every time I moved, so I just let them have them :( I won’t dare pick a favourite book, but I really love the Engelsfors Trilogy, which are Buffy meets Pretty Little Liars, and I’m re-reading them right now. (The Key is the third one in the series, visible in the first pic.) You’ll see a lot of random stuff and prints and funkos (and my A-Camp badge!) all over my shelves. The bookshelf in the first pic has been with me for a couple of years and I really love it. It even survived a move from the US to Canada. It is one of the few pieces I actually brought with me, I had to sell/give away most of my other stuff.”

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    • Gillian is concerned that she won’t be able to leave the flat for being mobbed, now that she’s made the AS front page.

  1. This is so utterly charming! I wanted to contribute a picture of me in my work stacks but didn’t get it together. I’m so excited to see all the library workers and LIS students pictured (including a couple of UNC SILS students?)

    • I’m an LIS student at a different school in NC, and my heart is so full right now. SO MUCH REPRESENTATION!

  2. Not sure what I like best, the people that have the same books as I have or the people who have cats the same breed and colour as mine so it looks like the same cat.

  3. I love this post! The collection of books, or the lack thereof, is usually the first thing I am drawn to when I am in someone’s house. I have a feeling I will be peering through this post occasionally to get more and more reading ideas.

    I have 2 large, filled bookcases, and they still cannot hold everything. I’ve even purged the last couple of moves but still ended up with about 7 or 8 very large boxes. I can’t seem to make the switch to digital reading, but I have certainly been a friend of the library since I can remember.

    Thanks for sharing ladies!

  4. So next photo gallery idea-Queers in the Library? Libraries are cool and a lot of them have neat designs of books or cute kid’s/teen sections and I wanna see them! And maybe some of you live near Presidential Libraries or other cool libraries in Europe or something that are super old and in super old buildings?

    • I love this idea! I work in a library. Also it feels like a lot queers come out first while sneakily browsing in the secluded gay sections of libraries.

  5. Everyone here has such great taste in books, interior decorating, and knick knacks. I now have even more books on my already-bloated to-read list. I wish Eli Clare’s Exile and Pride was a better known book, because it’s fantastic. And I love Audrey’s pink bookshelf. It’s so cute. Plus I didn’t even know tin dollhouses were a thing, but I’m going to go do some research on them because those are relevant to my interests.

    • Exile and pride is totally amazing and totally on my shelf, and I just added his new book to the shelf and can’t wait to read it!

  6. “My favorite book is anything by Jeanette Winterson.” I feel you, Jax, though I feel like Sexing the Cherry and/or Art and Lies is way more important to share than Written on the Body. Still- lovely books all! I loved seeing many of my favorites on so many people’s shelves- Virginia Woolf, Amy Tan, Gray’s Anatomy- brilliant!

  7. Hello Mary Margaret Tickle and your wife who both live in my city and seem very cool based on this gallery!!!

  8. all of y’all with the floor to ceiling bookshelves in your houses are really living your best lives!!!

    also I would LOVE recommendations from whoever listed “lesbian science fiction” as a category

  9. There is so much inspiration seeing these pics– can’t wait to spend some more time working on my collection.
    Themes: Queers in the (pumpkin) patch aka ‘what does your fall/upcoming season look like’. Or SPOOKY SKELLINGTONS (please have a Halloween gallery)

    • Thank you for the nod to Southern Hemisphere folks with “upcoming season” ;)

      Halloween gallery idea: Queer in Costume?

  10. I’m so behind that I didn’t even know this one was happening, but I’m excited to hear about the next one! I’m travelling at the moment so I’ve only got four books with me anyway.

  11. Dear Laneia, that wasn’t a typo in mine, I did mean the HamiltoME (the book about the show!), not the HamiltoN :) Sliders are working great tho!

    That said! Y’all have cool shelves (my favorites are the pink, the precarious wine crates, and the TARDIS) and display bits and bobs on your shelves. I wish to come to everyone’s house.

  12. managed to scroll through this without choking to death on my jealousy. my books are all in storage right now–one batch from when i moved in 2014, and another from when i moved last year. ana and kelly, very inspiring shelves! taking notes for my new place.

    very interested to read about how other librarians organize their shelves at home. i like to organize mine by mouthfeel.

  13. Molly / 26 / Salt Lake City, UT – your thesis sounds so interesting! Animals portraying queer identities – maybe you could do an Autostraddle article sometime!!?

    Also I especially love all colour-sorted bookshelfs :)

  14. Mati from MA: I was scrolling through this and realized we’re friends on Facebook, although I’m not sure how I know you, so hello.

    Amanda from DC: I have a small shelf in my bedroom reserved for my *favorite* favorites too!

    Mary Margaret from TN: I see and appreciate your copy of Rainbow Rowell’s “Fangirl.”


    Francesca from London: I made a similar decision a while back re: not consuming books by and/or centered on straight, white, cis men, and it’s made a surprisingly big difference in my life. It’s been really cool to cultivate a space that’s pretty much exclusively inhabited by marginalized voices, characters I can see myself in, etc.

    Launa from WA: I too have every Animorph book (except the Hork Bajir Chronicles, for some reason) and every BSC book. #TWINNING

    Ana and Kelly from OH: Wine crate bookshelves!!! Also, the “nonfiction about women in rock and roll organized by the amount of Joan Jett featured” method of organization is iconic. Also, OBAMA SEEING A SOARING SPIRIT CAT omg I need this book immediately.

    Sally and Gillian from Manchester: BYE I need to purchase the book about LESBIAN GANGSTERS IN MANCHESTER

    Heather!!!! – I love the idea of buying a translation of a book as a souvenir from another country.

    Riese: Your bookshelves are flawless and so is your face. I need a copy – possibly more than one – of “Sapphic Slashers” posthaste.

    Carrie: “I recently read that ‘libraries are never neutral’ and could not agree more. It’s important that I’m visible here, as a queer person, dispensing knowledge.” <3 <3 <3

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