PHOTO GALLERY: Queer in the Stacks

Amanda / 29 / Washington DC

“There’s no way I could fit my 600+ books into one photo, but here’s my graduation photo from when I got my master’s in library science (which I hope isn’t a cop-out!). My IRL bookshelves are organized by author (for fiction) and Library of Congress call number order (for nonfiction; this is probably the nerdiest thing about me). Most of my shelves are in my living room, but the one small one in my bedroom is reserved for my *favorite* favorites, including The Handmaid’s Tale, The Poisonwood Bible, and Half of a Yellow Sun.”


Sophia / 28 / Minneapolis, MN

“It was difficult to choose just one bookcase (even here I technically cheated and chose two) as I have many. But for this photo I decided to highlight my nonfiction shelf. I take great pride in my personal quest of knowledge. Growing up I was bullied at home and school. I essentially failed at school, not due to being unintelligent but because I would bury my head and hide. The bullying was so bad that I hated that often windowless box that I was forced to sit at a desk in for five days a week. It was nothing but pain and suffering to me. Sadly it stayed that way all through high school. Anyways as I’ve gotten older I’ve found great enjoyment in learning. So this shelf represents my love of that. It’s filled with a lot of history and science and even a little bit of mythology. My favorite book is either A Short History of Nearly Everything or The Age of Wonder. Both are excellent books that delve into history and science, the two subjects I love most. It’s through learning that I’ve gained the most strength so that’s why this shelf means a lot to me.”


Caryl / 26 / Wellington, New Zealand

“I moved into my flat with one box of books, which thankfully all fit onto that top shelf above in this cupboard with room to spare. Not pictured: three video game art books and the Hamilton sitting on my table trying to be coffee table books even though they’re not on a coffee table, and three accordion files full of comics, one DC, one Marvel, one ostensibly indies but mostly Dark Horse. However, except for comics and songbooks, I’m mostly buying my books on Kindle these days anyway; most of my favorite books are on the Kindle in that Pokédex cover in front of my face.

The order of books on that one shelf: Non-fiction, like theatre and film books I haven’t finished but mean to, linguistics and TESOL books I referenced in uni and haven’t finished but mean to, The Secret Loves of Geek Girls (a rare fave I own in hardcopy); four plays; fiction, like New Zealand, Filipino, misc, video game spinoffs of variable canonicity; a handful of Disney and musical theatre vocal/piano songbooks and comic book trades that were too tall to fit onto the shelf standing up; comic trades including a memoir, Filipino comics, indies, and then DC and Marvel roughly in order of my favorite heroes. I only wish I could show other things off on that shelf – this cupboard hides other things like my pajamas, linen, and cosplay and photography gear.”


Carrie / 20 / NC

“The left half of this shelf is for all my childhood books, and on the right side I have classic and contemporary lit, mysteries, nonfiction, and a small but growing queer section (you can just see Fun Home to my left). Not pictured is my fantasy bookshelf, which is almost as large as the rest of my collection combined!”


Elizabeth English / 26 / Portland, OR

“My bookshelves are home to my 313 book children, and I strongly identify as the Friend Who Will Actually Read Your Book Recommendations. My favorite shelf is fondly nicknamed the English-Rosenberg Reading Room — it holds queer feminist Jewish texts collected by me and my pal Al Rosenberg, and someday it will grow into a real space where baby queers can come find themselves in the pages. I’ve always found it impossible to pick one favorite book, but my top reads over this summer were Nevada by Imogen Binnie, The Estrangement Principle by Ariel Goldberg, Monstress by Marjorie Liu and Sana Takeda, and The Book of Joan by Lidia Yuknavitch.”


Jess / 37 / Rotterdam, The Netherlands

“I’m a social theorist and this is my office bookshelf, so the books are arranged by research project. That usually means bringing two themes together and seeing what happens: science fiction and post-colonialism, robots and global capitalism, and so on. In a way, writing is a way of explaining how the books on my shelf make sense together — or better yet, why it’s important to combine and reimagine different aspects of the world to further social justice. In this photo, the top shelf has the first copies of my own book, which arrived just in time for my birthday. It’s bittersweet though, since right now it feels like ignorance is tearing the world apart, even as people are becoming more vocal about what’s wrong and figuring out how to fight it.”


Mary Margaret Tickle / 23 / Chattanooga, TN

“After living with tons of roommates and having to deal with a tiny bookcase for the last couple of years, this is my first full size bookcase in an apartment with just me and my wife. It’s already full, but I love it. My favorite book changes weekly, but a book I always come back to is Huntress by Malinda Lo. For a long time it was really important to me to read a book where being gay wasn’t something that was thought of as weird or different, and, probably more importantly, where being gay wasn’t your whole identity. The book focuses on two young women who are so strong in different ways, but they have this sweet, amazing love story that makes them stronger in their own way.

Right now I have them organized by color, but it makes me kind of antsy to not have books in the same series together. Who knows how they’ll end up.
I have a teapot, some driftwood, and candles mixed in as well. I think I’m 90% tea at this point in my life. Some of my happiest memories have taken place at the beach and I try to keep a little bit of the ocean with me in landlocked TN. Candles just smell nice.”


Trinica / 23 / Dunnigan, CA

“This is my mom’s bookshelf technically, but it’s filled with all the books I love and, sadly, won’t be able to take with me when I move next week to Austin, TX. It used to be obsessively organized alphabetically, but it’s in disarray now that I’m handpicking which books to take and which to leave. I’m taking a lot of books by/for queer/trans people of color, because my girlfriend and I (along with our cat, Aaron Purr) run an Instagram highlighting more diverse books. Check it out @qtpocbooks !”


Shay / 31 / Pittsburgh, PA

“This tiny lil bookshelf used to live in my basement and I have absolutely no idea how it came into my life. It’s only big enough to hold my favorites, the best of which you can mostly see on the top shelf, my fancy-ass edition of The Hobbit. Less visible: my H.P. Lovecraft Complete Works, Steven King’s Needful Things, Joe Haldeman’s All My Sins Remembered, and The Wicked + The Divine. Oh, also Good Omens. And Michelle Tea’s The Beautiful. And all my Bukowski. Etc, etc…

They’re loosely organized alphabetically, with the comics on the far right. (Mostly The X-Men) Pamphlets from theatre and ballet are on the middle left, and my pile of Beatles CD’s are on the bottom right. Hence ‘loosely organized’. My pup’s name is Kacey, she’s 15, lazy, and stubborn as a brick wall.”


Francesca / 28 / London, UK

“I basically stopped reading books by men two years ago, and I make sure that at least a third of what I read is by POC. It’s important to me as a reader to minimise how much of my time and money go toward consuming art by white dudes.”

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53 Comments

    • 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.”

    Trinica from CA/TX: BRB FOLLOWING YOUR QTPOCBOOKS INSTA

    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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