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Rainbow Reading: Give Me All the Queer Paleontology Novels!

A book in faded colors of the rainbow is open, and the words RAINBOW READING are on top of it.
illustration by A. Andrews

Hey howdy, crew!

In the last Rainbow Reading, reader KatieRainyDay came up with the GENIUS idea of putting recommendation prompts in each column — favorite book with a certain color cover, published in a certain year, from/about a certain country, etc. OBVIOUSLY we will be doing this now, that’s Rainbow Reading canon. (And if you have fun prompt ideas, send em my way!)

I’ve had a great couple reading weeks — telling y’all now that Lush Lives is every bit as fun as I’d hoped, and chasing it with The Weeds has been so satisfying. It’s nice to have a good run going, but it sure does set the bar high for whatever I grab off the TBR next 👀

Okiedokie, let’s make like the Love is Blind reunion and play (not!)

Sorry, I couldn’t resist. This week on Rainbow Reading, we’ve got:

Shelf Care: Reviews, Essays, and other Things of Note

  • After a disingenuous headline and dodgy interviewer tried to imply that Judy Blume was a TERF, the queen herself logged on to correct the record. She’s been a longstanding champion of books like Maia Kobabe’s Gender Queer, and it’s clear that her rapid, vehement correction has meant a lot to queer readers.
  • There was also a controversy in kids’ books, with author Maggie Tokuda-Hall revealing that her book, Love in the Library, was offered a prestigious and lucrative place in a Scholastic classroom collection on the condition that she remove all mentions of racism from her author’s note. She stood her ground, and started a powerful conversation about the ways that BIPOC authors are expected to sanitize and elide crucial parts of their stories for assumed-white audiences.
    • This story made major waves — you can read more about it from the San Francisco Chronicle, NPR, ABC, and more!
    • Scholastic issued an utterly toothless and embarrassing apology with big notes app energy.
  • Next week, Camille Kellogg’s Just As You Are is finally out!!! It’s a charming and witty rom-com, and it’s also a loving ode to queer media and the spaces we make for each other — with plenty of Autostraddle references and shout-outs!
  • Noted Rainbow Reading beloved Dahlia Adler has a great roundup over at Buzzfeed of 15 Amazing Upcoming YA Books With Queer Characters!
  • I’m delighted by the fact that I have not one but two YA rom-coms about queer girls with cerebral palsy finding love!
  • There’s also a trend of queer paleontology novels (??!!) and I like it, I love it, I want some more of it!!
    • The Paleontologist is a haunting ghost story about a, you guessed it, paleontologist who faces down a murderous spirit in the museum where his sister was abducted years before. This description had me GRIPPED gripped — look at this! “Strange animal sounds. Bloody footprints that no living creature could have left. A prehistoric killer looming in the shadows of the museum. Terrified he’s losing his grasp on reality, Simon turns to the handwritten research diaries of his predecessor and uncovers a blood-soaked mystery 150 million years in the making that could be the answer to everything.” Like!!!!!!!!!!!!
    • Our Hideous Progeny adds a supernatural twist — this is the one about Frankenstein’s niece that we mentioned a few weeks back!
    • Keep yer eyes peeled for my full review of The Weeds! Ghosts, murder, and botany truly is an elite combination.
  • Coming this August, Pride and Prejudice and Pittsburgh is a “Bridgerton meets Freaky Friday sapphic romcom” UH HELLO???
    • HOLD ONTO YER HATS: Manslaughter Park, a queer murder mystery YA retelling of Mansfield Park, is also out this summer. There’s something good and gay in the Jane Austen water, y’all!
  • Paging my Plain Bad Heroines posse — The Manor House Governess, coming out this November, “pays homage to the British classics — with a genderfluid protagonist and 21st-century twist.” I know I don’t even need to tell y’all that I will be at the front of the line for this one.
  • More deliciously eerie vibes from this one too — All That Consumes Us, from the genius behind Ghost Wood Song, The Restless Dark , and The River Has Teeth, will be out in time for Halloween.
  • A pilot and an ER nurse fall in very cute very hot love in Fly With Me, a rom-com from Andie Burke out this fall!
  • There have been so many exciting queer lit anthologies in the last year, haven’t there? Night of the Living Queers is a queer YA horror anthology coming at the end of August.
  • Isle McElroy, author of The Atmospherians, has their next book People Collide out this September, and there’s an excerpt + very very cool cover reveal over at Electric Lit.
  • DISASTER BISEXUAL DETECTIVE? Hell yes! Signals, the first volume in a graphic novel series by artist Nika, will be out in October and I cannot wait. I have such a soft spot for mysteries and detective stories where the detective is a problem-solver with a side of personal chaos.
i’m not a gaiman girly but this? this is the funniest thing lmao
  • CJ Connor has brought me a premise I never knew I needed but am now desperate for: a mystery set in a board game shop!!! Board to Death is out in August, but you can read an excerpt at BookRiot here.
    • This one’s gonna be a series too!!!! Between this and Lev A. C. Rosen’s forthcoming The Bell in the Fog, my series-hungry heart is THRILLED.
    • This is also the first time I’ve seen a mystery described as “quozy” (queer + cozy) and I love that
  • We fell in love with Emerson Whitney’s book Heaven last year, and this June they’ve got a memoir called Daddy Boy coming out, which examines masculinity, storm chasing, divorce, families of origin, and so much more. The things that Whitney is doing with nonfiction and memoir make my heart flutter.
  • Part psalter, part Sapphic verse, hints of Emily Dickinson? This poetry collection‘s certainly piqued my interest!
  • I’m not sure how to introduce this one, but all I can really say is that especially in the current political climate, it’s touching to see a book about parenting and faith that defends and celebrates trans/nonbinary kids’ childhoods. There’s so much religious trauma in our LGBTQ+ community but this gives me hope for future generations. Okay, that’s enough earnestness from me.

“I don’t think I’ve ever read a story about a trans woman that explored her pre-transition self and thinking, that addressed the reality that many of us spendyearsresisting the ostensibly dangerous allure of transsexualism. I saw an uncomfortable amount of my own pre-transition thoughts reflected in Young Tracy’s. Also, despite charting Tracy’s transition to a degree, it isn’tabouther transition. Her journey — finding a way to understand and express herself, figuring out how to love imperfect people and be loved as one, reckoning with the passage of time and the irretrievability of the past — is universal.”

— Abeni on Any Other City

Autocorrect: Books content from the last couple weeks at Autostraddle!

One for the road:

Our first prompt! In honor of this delightful spoiler, in the comments, please tell me about your favorite book with a memorable cat!

That’s all she wrote, folks! If you’re a queer writer, particularly an early-career queer writer: I’d love to hear about the cool things you’re up to so that I can share links to your published essays, book reviews, short stories, poems, and longform features on LGBTQ+ topics! Please email me links for consideration at [email protected] with the subject line “Rainbow Reading Submission” — I’m an avid browser-tab-collector, and I especially want to hear from you if you’ve just landed your first publication or first major byline.

Before you go! Autostraddle runs on the reader support of our AF+ Members. If this article meant something to you today — if it informed you or made you smile or feel seen, will you consider joining AF and supporting the people who make this queer media site possible?

Join AF+!


Yashwina Canter is a reader, writer, and dyke putting down roots in Portland, Oregon. You can find her online at @yashwinacanter.

Yashwina has written 53 articles for us.


  1. The Wicked Enchantment by Margot Benary-Isbert! It’s a kids’ book from the 1950s featuring a German town under a curse, a bunch of smart women who resolve the problems their menfolk bring down on them, a plucky girl and her dog, and a cat named Minette who appears in dreams and speaks in riddles.

  2. Casey Plett’s debut short story collection has mostly realist stories about trans women but there is one that has a talking cat in it, just to shake things up. The whole book is incredible!

  3. !!!!!!!!!!!!!! I’m so glad you liked the idea!

    My first rec would be Terrier by Tamora Pierce! (And the whole Beka Cooper series). Pounce the cat is excellent, and I love a good diary-style. Also, while they’re aren’t queer women characters in it as I recall (though there are explicitly queer characters) the glossary said the term for a queer woman was “honeylove” which my teen self was obsessed with.

  4. My answer to the prompt: The Butter House by Sarah Gerard!!! Yes, I’m biased because this was the first book I ever blurbed, but IT IS SO GOOD!!!!!!!!! And cats are a huge plot point

  5. For more queer paleontology try The Last Days of Dinosaurs. It’s non fiction about what it was like before the Chixilub impact, and the seconds/minutes/hours/days/weeks/months/years/centuries/millenia afterwards.
    The author is a trans woman and it’s very good!

  6. I’m loving the recommendations. I also just like being able to use this space to talk about what I’m reading.

    I finally finished A Day of Fallen Night by Samantha Shannon and it was SO GOOD.

    As for most memorable cats, Games of Command by Linnea Sinclair has telepathic space cats! I don’t remember if there are queer characters in it – it’s space opera with a straight romance between a swashbuckling former outlaw and a by the book cyborg. I kind of think there might be a gay man romance subplot, but I don’t remember. It’s been quite a few years but I really enjoyed it when I read it. A lot of science fiction romance doesn’t meet my SF standards in terms of world building and plot but Linnea Sinclair is quite good, if you read straight romance.

  7. For the cat prompt, I will recommend Count Your Lucky Stars by Alexandria Bellefleur. It’s a fun rom-com that features many funny scenes involving one of the love interests’ cat and one particularly funny scene involving the cat playing with a vibrator. Also there’s drawings of the cat on the bottom of the pages in between chapters, which is delightful.

  8. Tanya Huff’s Summon the Keeper series features two memorable cats of which Austin is my favorite! Huff wrote queerness into mass market fantasy and sci-fi when fiction was not nearly so queer friendly. Her mcs were not usually queer in her earlier books (though some were!), but she always crafted extremely queer surrounding worlds. Summon the Keeper is an extremely fun series that I first read at 15 and still holds up 20 years later.

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