PHOTO GALLERY: Queer in the Stacks

Jay / 22 / Portland, OR

“I just moved and the first thing I fully unpacked and organized were my books and shelves. My favorite shelf is the green one in the middle, my grandpa made it, and the top is the perfect place for my little altar. I keep a lot of sentimental knick knacks on my shelves, so they are a really grounding space for me.”

Amelia and Mariel / 26, 24 / Brooklyn, NY

“My girlfriend and I just moved in together and combined our many, many books (and bookshelves). We haven’t quite finished unpacking yet, and we’ll be curious to see if everything fits. Will we organize by color? Genre? Alphabetically? Most likely, we will just continue to stack books wherever there is space. In the meantime, we’re just excited to have this sun-drenched, plant-filled room where we can read together.”

Launa and Trice (cat) / 28, 16 / Port Orchard, WA

“I’ve known three things since I was a child: I want to be a parent, I want to read to my kids, and I want to have a library in my house.

Throughout my childhood my dad would buy books by the box at garage sales, read them, and put the ones he liked/thought my sister and I would like in a room lined entirely with book shelves. I loved it. I kept it alphabetized and sorted by subject. As an adult I’ve kept up the tradition as best as I can while still being able to move without filling a moving van with books. Currently my library is three big book shelves next to a bay window open to the forest.

Most of my collection is “mature young adult” but I also have every Animorph book, Babysitters Club book (regular and little sisters) and most of the boxcar children. I have nearly every book published by Tamora Pierce (some signed) and Tolkien. I have comics and shelves of nonfiction on various subjects. I like variety. My current favorite in the collection is Kushiel’s Dart, but that changes constantly. One day I hope it fills an entire room.”

Hannah / 18 / Southern CA

“Cool stuff in my bookshelves: an axe, a bunch of woodwind instruments, a coffin-shaped archery trophy, shotgun shells, Voldemort’s wand, a faceless Enjolras figure, part of a steam turbine, my beloved atlas collection, and other books (mostly historical fiction, classics, and poetry)
Not pictured: the mountain of books I need to order for my first quarter of college.”

Erica / 26 / Sacramento, CA

“So I finally decided to organize my bookshelves a few weeks ago alphabetical by author and man, did that take a while! It was fun but also slightly exhausting, and I found out I have slightly over 250 books! How did this happen? And I just bought four more (, ftw)! Ya’ll, I have a problem.

On my bookshelves I have Stephen King — which I was very into in high school, childhood books, nonfiction books-mostly about international relations and politics, lots and lots of novels, some comics/graphic novels, and a growing queer nonfiction/lit section. I also have a lot of knicknacks-Pokémon dolls, a Lincoln figurine I got in DC, a small globe, a plush of Gandalf (the wizard, not to be confused with my cat), Funko pops of Sulu, Spock, Kirk, and Chekov from Star Trek Beyond, as well as a Funko pop of Neville from Harry Potter. There’s also candles, a picture of me and my mom, and an origami crane my friend made for me.”

Ann / 19 / Long Beach, CA

“My bookshelf is roughly organized by genre, but within that category organization is pretty loose. I like having to look through all my books to find the one I want! This picture shows only about half of my bookshelves, including the “boys growing up” and “girls growing up” and “LGBT YA” (located next to my shoulder) sections. I have too many books to pick a favorite, but my favorite LGBT YA book is Everything Leads to You by Robin Talley, which I recommend to everyone!”

Tess / 20 / Dorset, UK

“Books have been a huge part of my life for as long as I can remember, and as a result I own more books than many people I know! I organise them alphabetically by author’s last name (and split fiction/non-fiction) because that’s the only way that makes sense. I’ve just finished The Liars’ Gospel by Naomi Alderman, and I’m currently reading American Gods by Neil Gaiman – both very good!”

Kris / 36 / Seattle, WA

“I’m a queer reader and mom at the ripe old age of 36! What can I say, I LOVE books! I spend a lot of time taking my toddler to various libraries and encouraging him to love the written word as well.”

Jax / 27 / St. Louis, MO

“I got this bookcase for free by sneaking into my office on a Sunday night with my roommate, who generously agreed to help me lug it downstairs and transfer it to my feeble yet trusty 2004 Kia Optima. We drove the highway home at approximately 10 miles per hour because the lower half of the bookcase was hanging out of the open trunk threatening doom at every incline and I had not thought this through enough to bring along any kind of tying mechanism. (This was shortly after my ex moved out and took most of the furniture with them, so it was one of many outings that involved cramming uncooperative pieces into a very cooperative car whose acts of saintliness are surpassed only by that of said roommate.) (Also not very cooperative: my pup who REFUSED to sit for this picture so instead I am gazing down at him lovingly as he sits on my foot and pretends he doesn’t love me back.)

Anyway I’m super boring so I organize my books by genre, then author’s last name. This bookcase houses memoir/essays (top shelf), drama/other plays (meager pile on top shelf) and fiction (remaining shelves). I have some nonfiction/theory and reference books somewhere else and I keep all the Books I Own But Haven’t Read Yet quarantined as well. I have poetry books scattered in strategic locations all around my apartment because I want to appear painfully hip even though I am not.

My favorite book is anything by Jeanette Winterson — I own everything she’s ever written and have given away/replaced so many copies of Written on the Body that I’ve lost count — but I try to read 50 books a year so there’s a lot to love. I just finished (devoured) Creamsickle by Rhiannon Argo, and I’m currently reading “I’ll Tell You In Person” by Chloe Caldwell, which had me hooked after the first essay.”

Taylor / 23 / Cincinnati, OH

“My personal book collection is not very impressive, mainly because I’ve been a lifelong public library patron. And since I now work at one too, I figured showing it off would be the truest personal representation of my relationship with books. I chose to stand with our Teen section, since probably 70% of what I read for pleasure is YA fiction with LGBT+ content. The library is also about way more than books, especially since my branch serves a low-income neighborhood. I even got to walk with a library group in Cincinnati’s Pride parade this year!”

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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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