PHOTO GALLERY: Queer in the Stacks

Valerie Anne / 30 / Astoria, NY

“The actual bookshelf is left over from a past roommate who didn’t feel like shlepping it, but I love it because it has little windowed doors on it to help keep my books from getting crazy dusty. I use my bookshelves as favorite tiers and then put them by size. (Confession: I did a little rearranging so all my favorites were showing.) My Harry Potter collection is easily my favorite, followed closely by the books I have that are written by people I know in real life. I also love my PostSecret books and someday when I’m in an apartment big enough for a coffee table they will be my coffee table books.”

h.e. / 24 / Denver, CO

“I’m a writer, and my book collection is my pride and joy. I actually just rearranged my bookshelves yesterday, as an antidote to a bad mental health day. I find books so soothing, just their physical presence. I  guess I kind of organize my books like a bookstore, which is where I spent most of my time growing up– there wasn’t much to do in my suburb besides putz around the local corporate book chain. Left to right, top to bottom, this one’s got tapes and CDs, philosophy, spirituality and metaphysics, prose fiction, old journals, and comics/graphic novels. The top also doubles as a witchy altar space, full of my equally beloved stones and candles and such, and I guess the whole shelf is part of the altar; I believe that books are sacred, and more than that that stories and words hold unbelievable power and sanctity. There’s another one out of frame to the left that has poetry and the rest. I’m pretty proud of my poetry collection, but this shelf made a better photo, so here we are. My favorite book that’s somewhere in  this photo is Neil Gaiman’s and Terry Pratchett’s sublime collaborative comedy novel about Armageddon, Good Omens. I just finished a book of selected poems by H.D. though and I’m falling madly in love with her all over again.”

Kai / 22 / Denver, CO

“My favorite “bookshelf” is made out of two wooden boxes, gifts from a favorite ex-professor. These make up my Neil Gaiman and Queer Theory sections, two sections that at first may seem unrelated but combine into the definition of queer and sad. My favorite book is Mean Little Deaf Queer, an autobiography by Terry Galloway, a queer deaf theatre practitioner who basically embodies what I want to do for the rest of my life. My books are organized using a combination of ADHD and OCD, which is to say that they are separated by subject matter and little else. Some of the beloved items you can see here are my foam roller, which I use religiously, a piece of wood that fell off of a tree struck by lightening, which I use religiously in a different sense, and my ever-present coffee cup, a constant daily companion that I often rest on my bookshelf box and forget about.”

Lou / 26 / Rennes, Bretagne, France

“A small collection of books because it’s expansive but they reflect my interests, including LGBT activism. You can also see my two flip books on the top, next to zines I subscribed to via Tipee. And also my favourite book for kids: Arc-en-ciel, a communist fish.”

Jes (they·them) Kenzi (she·her); Em (they·them); Smote (they·them) / 33, 37, 26, 28/ Raleigh, NC

“This bookshelf is the merge of four different collections!  Our poly family moved in together this June and after the first few weeks we got the books on the shelf. We were happy to find this shelf built into our new house.  The sorting method is by browsing topic and then by author (and then by publication date or series). This is also only one of six bookshelves total; this one houses Adult and YA Fiction, Children’s Books and Mythology, and Art Books.  Other shelves hold our Non-Fiction, Poetry and Plays, Comics and Graphic Novels, and Queer and Women’s Literature, and Cook Books.

Jes: A jumble of mine and my poly family’s books, lots of fantasy and young adult, as well as many many treasured art collections.  What sadly couldn’t fit on these shelves (so are on the other side of the room) are my many comic books, both from the big two and independently published titles, and my books about comic book culture and history

Kenzi:  I’m a science nerd so I love books like John Gribbin’s Schrödinger’s Kittens and the Search for Reality and Simon Singh’s The Code Book, but my favorite book is more practical for the socially-awkward: Dale Carnegie’s How To Win Friends and Influence People.

Em:  Lately I’ve been into collecting queer sex ed books and zines, graphic novels, and vegan cookbooks, which aren’t pictured. I am still proud of my art reference collection and 10 encyclopedias of dog breeds.

Smote: I’m currently working on my Masters in Library Science so of course I’ve now cataloged our collection. It’s difficult to pick a favorite though I do have some books that are near and dear to my heart.  The Tortall series and Circle series by Tamora Pierce (two of which are signed by the author), The Old Kingdom Series by Garth Nix, and Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor.  It’s a house filled with books and I couldn’t be happier!”

Al / 24 / Toronto

“Pictured with some gay books, a gay flask, and (obscured by my elbow) a lil foam heart patched up with a Jane Austen band aid that my cool aunt gave to me the last time I got my heart broken.”

Kells / 39 / Lake Worth, FL

“So I just moved into a new place, and my personal collection of books hasn’t been completely unpacked yet. But I am lucky enough to get to do something I love, and that is work with books every day, all day. This pic is taken in front of one of my favorite stacks at work – the LGBTQ  (Library of Congress HQ74-76) section. Taken at Palm Beach State College Library – Lake Worth.”

Heather / 38 / Astoria, NY

“When I moved from my hometown to New York City a few years ago, I took 22 boxes of stuff to Goodwill. Nineteen of those boxes were books. Then I moved, with one hiking backpack full of clothes and shoes, two suitcases full of my favorite books, and that’s it. I love books. I love books. I read nonstop all the time always. I’ll download stuff to my Kindle if I need to, but nothing beats holding a physical book in my hands.

This bookshelf is mostly my Georgia books. Up top is my collection of international Harry Potters. When I travel to other countries, I always just buy Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone as a souvenir. I have them from all over Europe and some from South America. Sometimes my friends and family bring back Harry Potter as a souvenir for me when they travel. There’s not time to get into it but Harry Potter is the most transformative and instrumental book my entire life. It was the catalyst for my decision to leave my Baptist church, come out, quit my life as an accountant, travel the world, and try to make it as a writer. There’s no piece of art in the world more important to me.

Second shelf is mostly classic lit. My Jane Austens, Brontes, etc. And then it’s just a hodgepodge of fantasy books with female protagonists, comic book trades, and my favorite modern authors like Barbara Kingsolver. At some point mine and Stacy’s books just started mingling themselves together so we’ve got a zillion books all over bookshelves all over the house, but I have a soft spot for the books I lugged with me a thousand miles to start a new life with this woman I love, and I like to keep them all together.”

Kelly H / 36 / Boston, MA

“Pictured is a portion of of my adult fiction section and most of my young adult fiction section.  We had a built-in library put in a couple years ago; it lines the room and I love it.  My favorite book would be a tie between CS Lewis’ Till We Have Faces, which you can see on the third shelf up behind me if you squint, and Emma Donoghue’s Room, which you can’t because it’s off-screen. Many of my favorite books are faced out though.”

Samantha (she·her)/ 24 / Madison, WI

“The blue bookshelf was, at one point, organized in order of lesbianism (including lesbian pulp fiction, queer theory, cat books, witchy books, etc.). Other than that, my books are roughly organized into the following categories: summer reading, dystopian “fiction,” memoir/biography, self-help & trauma, fairy tales, travel books, poetry, books by old/dead white guys that I probably had to buy for a class.

Also featured: One of my cats (Dorian Gray), A-Camp embroidery sampler, two copies each of Tipping the Velvet and Fun Home (because that’s what happens when you co-habitate), a few decks of tarot cards.”

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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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