PHOTO GALLERY: Queer in the Stacks

Katy / 31 / KY

“I bought my first place last year and the first thing I did was install built-in shelves on either side of my fireplace, which are already full because sometimes I think I like buying books more than I like reading them. I have two other bookcases that are mostly full of old textbooks and academic journals that I’ll probably never read again. My Type A personality won’t let me sort my books in anything but alphabetical order (because how else are you supposed to find them?). I’m holding my favorite book of all time, The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver, but other contenders for that title include anything by Paul Farmer or Howard Zinn. My bedside table is also usually stacked with books, since my short attention span means I’m perpetually reading more than one book at a time.”

Carissa / 39 / Milton, DE

“This is our library (though most rooms also have a bookshelf, and my home office has three). It is hard to choose a favorite book — 11/22/63, Little Women, and The Other Boleyn Girl are at the top of the  list. As for organization, my wife and I couldn’t decide on a system to blend our books together, so to my right are her fiction books (which I alphabetized by author for her). To my left are my books in a thematic system that probably only makes sense to me, but I can find anything I need. On top of the shelves are my tin dollhouses and the wooden house my mom built for me when I was little.  We were both English majors and are teachers, so our shared love of books drew us together.”

Tierney / 25 / Greensboro, NC

“The bookshelf behind me (one of two in my apartment) is currently organized by book weight/size, with the heaviest books at the bottom because the shelf felt tippy when we moved here… there is some clumping by author but I would love to get some good organization by genre and author last name going (I am a librarian)… someday! I can’t pick a favorite book – lately I have been reading a lot of queer fantasy and sci-fi, many of which were recommendations from Autostraddle’s own Friendly Neighborhood Lesbrarian Casey! Also featured in this photo are my cat Tara and various cat-themed decorative items.”

Conni / 23 / Chattanooga, TN

“The top shelf features a bunch of books I loved in a past life but don’t relate to anymore. There are some gems but most of them I would never read again or only read when I was trying to be a different person. The second and third shelf are the items closest to my heart: my air plant, Oscar Wilde figurine, Muhammed Ali coaster, a handmade Christmas card from my mom, my dead dog, and my Frida Kahlo candle. My head is obscuring the Drake candle and Drake birthday card also handmade by my mom. The third shelf has my record player which is my most prized possession and plays Donna Summer and Solange records flawlessly. The small stack of books resides on my bedside table which is always messy.”

Jillian Guenther / 26 / Greensboro, NC

“These shelves are built into the wall of our apartment – bonus! It’s a hodgepodge assortment: sci-fi, handmade journals, comics and graphic novels, bird books (behind my head…), library books, children’s story books, and a print of an old French cheese label with, of course, a cat on it.”

Az (they·them) / 29 / York, UK

“Don’t tell my other bookshelves, but this is definitely my favourite. For one thing, it’s green. For another thing, it lives in the reading nook and houses my most important books. My absolute would-recommend-to-anyone-but-dont-talk-to-me-about-it-or-I-might-start-crying novel is The Last Unicorn by Peter Beagle. It’s beautiful and funny and clever and tragic and wonderful. This copy is older than I am and well loved. Other important books are Arundhati Roy’s The God of Small Things, my growing collection of Wintersons (especially Written on the Body) and Niffeneggers (especially The Time Traveller’s Wife), Harlan Ellison’s I Have No Mouth, and Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials. The tiny glass unicorn in the third photo was bought from a local glass blower when I was very small, and is truly treasured. And, oh, yeah, hi, that’s me scowling into the selfie-cam.”

Rachel / 24 / HI

“My favorite bookcase is my homemade TARDIS. I have a few other ones, but the TARDIS looks the coolest, it contains my comic books and a lot of sci-fi and fantasy. My favorite book (today) is Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. Nothing is arranged in any real order except for comic books by title on one shelf. My shelves also include my Doctor Who and Orphan Black DVD collection, and random Doctor Who collectibles.”

Rachel / 33 / Chicago, IL

“We have bookcases all over our 1-bedroom apartment. Fiction is arranged by author, nonfiction is arranged by subject. My wife gets final vote because she is a real-life librarian (we have a lot of books). I wanted this shot though, because you can see the bookcase of booze that we have next to the three bookcases of books in our dining room. I’m a bartender; I get to arrange that bookcase.”

Kenzie / 24 / Los Angeles, CA

“Books have always been my preferred medium for learning and I’m 100% a proud book hoarder so I have like six shelves scattered around my house. I display all my white-spined books in my dining room for ~aesthetic purposes~ but other than that I keep stacks everywhere.  I’m an artist who majored in sociology at a christian university who ALSO can’t say no to airport books/Oprah’s suggestions, so I have everything from gross evangelical modesty books (I used for my thesis and like to keep them around to occasionally bring out and laugh at) to middle-age self-help books to queer sex anthologies and multiple copies of The New Jim Crow that I try to give to anyone who hasn’t read it. My current favorite is No One Belongs Here More Than You by Miranda July!”

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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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