PHOTO GALLERY: Queer in the Stacks

Allison / 39 / Brooklyn, NY

“I’m a big library user, so while I read a lot my book collection is minimal. The books I do buy tend to be about my interests in Art History, Fashion, Finland and Madonna! The shelves are built into the bedroom of my brownstone apartment and the books are organized via the rainbow.”


Serena / 25 / Long Beach, CA

“This is my living room bookshelf — right now it’s a hodgepodge of teacher pedagogy books for work, old favorites, and books on my to-read list. Oh, and I always forget that my Kindle (which I haven’t turned on in years!) is hiding underneath.”


Stasia / 31 / Seattle, WI

“I really love comics and they’re about 3/4 of my book collection. Whats even better is that there hasn’t been a better time for getting queer comics than right now, so I’ve got a ton.”


Olivia and Kira / 25, 6 months / FL

“I have always loved reading and it’s super important for my wife and me to instill that love in our daughter. We have several bookshelves around our house but the Billy is my favorite. I think it’s the doors that make it feel like the kind of bookshelf I would want to fill an entire room with were I ever to have a dedicated space for a library (fingers crossed it will happen one day!) Our books are broken into fiction and nonfiction, with fiction separated by read and unread, then alphabetized (mostly). Billy holds fiction books we’ve read and a few unread that wouldn’t fit on our other shelves. My wife thinks we need to slow down on buying books, but I think we just need to buy more bookshelves!”


Brigitte and Karlee / 30-something / Australia

“We have tried to keep our own styles while creating a new aesthetic in our cute little apartment. Our bookshelves are fairly queer, like us! We both like comics too!

Karlee: I like lots of colour and little figurines hiding in the stacks – my book shelf doubles as a display shelf.
Brigitte: I have a few little bikes and antique cigarette tins along with my books. And a Peridot figurine to scare away the clods.”


Frances / 29 / Paris, France

“My books are currently organised into read (a jumble) and unread (with specific sections: unread food and travel, unread English fiction, etc). It was supposed to shame me into not buying any more until I finish this lot, at least two metres worth. There is a Japanese word for this problem, tsundoku. One day I’d like a collection of matching tree trunks to hold up the shelves, for now I have one tree and more piles of books for structure. And a collection of butterflies started by my father.

Favourite book? is a mean question. I think I have read Travels with Herodotus the most. And I have a Stephen Dunn collection by my bed because of one of Riese’s essays.”


Sally and Gillian / 35, 30 / Winchester, UK

“In this photo I am attempting to absorb knowledge from my current read (We Go Around in the Night and are Consumed By Fire, about lesbian gangsters in Manchester) directly into my brain. Gillian is incensed because she has read ahead in Fetch and discovers something bad happens. Our shelves are a disarray of books (lesbian science fiction, cook books, 20th century craft theory) and various sentimental mementos. The royal mugs are all Gillian’s and I have told her they are not coming with us when we move out.”


Sarah / 24 / New York, NY

“My bookshelf is quite eclectic. I have sci-fi, YA fantasy, fiction, old school lit and quite a few non fiction titles. As you can see, LGBTQ books take up the majority of my collection in each genre. My top three books this year are The Edge of the Abyss by Emily Skrutskie, Juliet Takes a Breath by Gabby Rivera and Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. I’d say my favorite book of all time is The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton because it was the first book that really had me falling in love with reading. My book shelf is in order of height. The middle section contains a few coffee table books. I also keep my collection of crystals on my bookshelf.”


Stef / NY

“I used to organize my books by author last name but have abandoned any kind of system for the moment. somehow, despite being 100% at book capacity all the time, I can always manage to squeeze one more onto the shelf. I can never get rid of books and frankly refuse to ever switch to a Kindle.”


Sophia / 27 / Firestone Library

“I recently had to clean several piles of books off of my desk in a shared graduate student office, some of which I squeezed two rows deep onto shelves and surfaces at home and some of which I relocated to this locker in the university library. I chose to photograph this locker because it holds many of the library books I am using for my third dissertation chapter, where all the sexuality and gender theory I didn’t want to touch with a ten-foot pole in undergrad comes bursting out as I talk about Erauso and Céspedes. These are the books I’m wrestling with as I write about the intersections between race, religion, sex, and gender, and the struggles to read and write ambiguous bodies like those of Erauso and Céspedes (who in today’s terms might be considered transgender and intersex, respectively).”

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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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