PHOTO GALLERY: Queer in the Stacks

Ana and Kelly / 24 / Cincinnati, OH

“Our book case is composed of wine crates that Kelly brings home from work. It’s assembly took hours of careful stacking and lots of hope that physics would be on our side and not send the crates crashing down.

When confronted with the question of our favorite book, we both had mini-existential crises, so we narrowed it down to our favorite books that we’ve read in 2017. Kelly’s favorite is Alyssa Mastramonaco’s Who Thought This Was a Good Idea?: And Other Questions You Should Have Answers to When You Work in the White House. It’s full of anecdotes, like the excerpt about Obama telling Mastramonaco that he saw her cat’s spirit soaring over a mountain in an attempt to comfort her over the loss of said cat, that offer some political comfort and laughs that are desperately needed in order to face and resist the current administration. Ana’s favorite book in Spanish is Las cosas que perdimos en el fuego by Mariana Enríquez, and her favorite in English is The Tsar of Love and Techno; Stories by Anthony Marra. She likes these books because they are like snow globes: brutal, honest, and sometimes violent. But still gives you some type of semi-satisfied acquiescence in the end  when you look at it after the shaking has occurred.

Ana’s books are organized by genre and author. Kelly’s books are organized in Netflix-esque categories (e.g. nonfiction about women in rock and roll organized by the amount of Joan Jett featured). Our bookcase showcases our mutual loves. Our biggest mutual love is the Harry Potter series, and the bookcase includes our wands from the theme park, a Harry plush (yes, we know we need a Hermione), a pygmy puff, and the illustrated Chamber of Secrets cracked open to one of our favorite pages. Ana’s running medals are on display under her Slytherin banner. Kelly’s movie tickets are in a jar that constantly sees new additions. We also have a scarf and a foam sword from FC Cincinnati soccer games, the only team we both get excited about. Finally, we have the sheet music of the Everything in Transit album, the perfect album to obnoxiously sing along to on late-night drives.”

Emily / 20 / Davis, CA

“Right now my bookshelf is not a bookshelf at all; it’s a pile on the floor because I live in a shared bedroom in a small apartment and never got around to finding a bookshelf that fits. It used to be organized by author’s last name, but now it’s organized by whatever won’t tip over. My favorite book in the stack is Mrs. Dalloway. David Foster Wallace said that “You find certain writers who when they write, it makes your own brain voice like a tuning fork, and you just resonate with them”; Virginia Woolf was that writer for me, and Clarissa’s brief musing on loving women made me go “oh. OH.” and everything fell into place. It’s forever a watershed moment in my life and I will keep that 99-cent paperback that made me realize I’m gay until the day I die.”

Ari / 20 / St. Louis, MO

“I just moved to St. Louis and until I have the time and energy and motivation to assemble my bookcase, my schoolbooks are on a shelf in the kitchen and my personal books are on the bottom level of my nightstand. I am a complete disorganized mess but I brought all my most important books to St Louis: Fun Home and Are You My Mother? by Alison Bechdel, The Art Of Asking by Amanda Palmer, and Mastering the Art of Soviet Cooking by Anya von Bremzen.”

Hannah / 25 / Oslo, Norway

“I used to have a proper system, now its mostly sorted into I can probably manage to fit another book in here if I just squeeze it in. It’s a problem I don’t want to fix in any other way than buying more shelves. Choosing one favorite is too hard, but I must admit I have a soft spot for my old Harry Potter books.”

Linsey / 28 / Madison, WI

“I don’t really have a “favorite bookshelf” because I have too many books and not enough bookshelves, so I have books sitting around in some fashion (in a stack or on a shelf or in a cabinet or on a table or any other way they can look semi-organized) all around my house. This isn’t really my favorite bookshelf, but it is my favorite reading spot because when I saw this house I knew immediately this would be the perfect place for a book nook. I love that the sun comes in so bright through the little window, and that it’s tucked away from everything else.”

Emma / 26 / Viroqua, WI

“My favorite books in this queer section of my bookshelf are books of poetry by Valerie Wetlaufer, a friend I met at A-Camp 7.5. Framed on top of the shelf are the lyrics to my favorite song: Over the Bow by Jenny Owen Youngs, from the illustrated companion book for her Slack Tide EP.”

Sarah / 30 / Madison, WI

“This is my library! I can’t really pick a favorite book, but I’ve downsized my library significantly over the past year and these are the favorites that remain, organized by color. Memoirs, poetry, Harry Potter, higher education (my field), and children’s books figure prominently. The bookends on top of the shelf are carved wooden elephants from a trip to India. Also my dog Henry is here!”

Esmé / 23 / Dublin, Ireland

“I don’t believe in organising my books in any big fashion. I have poetry and plays on a different shelf to my Terry Pratchett’s, but really I just find my books end up in the right place for me on their own. I own so many books at this point that I just don’t have shelf space for them all.”

Candice/ 25 / Indianapolis, IN

“I’ve recently settled into a new apartment and set up my living room bookcase. When I’m relaxing on the couch with my girlfriend (who was awesome and helped me stage this photo), I can take in my Harry Potter and manga collections. Best part of my HP collection is my Goblet of Fire, which is in Thai script! Currently re-reading: Interview with a Vampire, by Anne Rice. Other items displayed: sheet music for viola, a giant stuffed lamb, various figurines (Ron, Harry, Hermione, Sailor Moon, Sailor Jupiter, Inuyasha, Mikasa Ackerman).”

Isabella / IL

“My coffee table, where I keep all of my art books (I’m an aspiring art historian), my couch and record player, my clock, a Monet print that I’m absolutely obsessed with, my makeup mirror, an end table I’ve been trying to get rid of, and of course my bookshelf; which I have organized (from top-down, left to right) into non-fiction, fantasy, classic 20th century books, comic books, classic pre-20th century books, kids books, and foreign language books; with candles, some framed prints my mom got me when I was little, and three bins of stuff I didn’t have anywhere else to put — as well as me, sporting a look I call “little boy on the way to his piano lesson.”
Not Pictured: My huge dog getting in the way of every other photo, the dirty clothes all over my floor.”

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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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