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Rainbow Reading: Give Me Your Most Escapist Book Recommendations

Feature image by Malte Mueller via Getty Images

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

Hi hi, friends!

So I’m gonna skip the pleasantries and assume that none of us are having, like, a Great time. I’m so sorry that the news continues to be relentlessly disheartening, and I hope you are all surrounding yourselves with the kind of art that lifts, lightens, and sustains you. Sometimes I get cynical about reading for pleasure and so I set it aside, but then a few weeks pass and I’m like why do i feel like literal garbage and the answer is that I’ve fed my brain nothing whatsoever with which to rebuild itself, so that’s my lesson learned. I’m trying to be more intentional, to treat my reading as akin to preventative healthcare, and to remember that joy and resilience don’t come out of nowhere — they’re faculties I have a responsibility to my community to train and sustain in myself. What are some nice things you’ve been reading? There’s been a ton of new queer romance coming out, as well as queer mystery, and I’m all ears for your best escapist recommendations.

Alrighty, let’s make like tennis and bounce. On this week’s Rainbow Reading, we’ve got:

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

  • Reductress, once again, with some evergreen comedy content: “Calling My Representative Wasn’t Enough, So I Fucked His Wife”
    • Publishers Weekly raved about it
    • Kirkus raved about it
    • Library Journal raved about it
    • The Guardian raved about it
    • this one queer writer you might’ve heard of named Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya says it’s one of the best books she’s ever read
    • I’m just saying, we can’t all be wrong lololol
  • American readers rejoice —LOTE is here! Shola von Reinhold’s stunning debut novel has been winning hearts, minds, and prizes in the UK these last couple years for its playful-yet-rigorous imaginative/speculative history imagining of Black artists in Modernist/Bloomsbury set circles of the early 20th century. It’s such a smart novel about the lost and found heroes of our artistic heritage, and it’s also (cannot stress this enough)fun as hell. Thank goodness the intrepid folks at Duke University Press have brought the novel to this side of the pond —it’s out now!
  • Davey Davis’s X hit shelves this week, and this kinky gay vigilante adventure is a goddamn delight. Leigh Cowart, author of the superb Hurts So Good, agrees with me:
  • A gritty coming-of-age set amidst the tattoo shops of the mid-1980s? Oh hell yeah! Jobs for Girls with Artistic Flair came out last week, and I’m so intrigued by this premise!
  • I’ve finally started reading Home Field Advantage and excuse me Dahlia Adler heLLO?? This book is doing things to my heart! I’m FAINT.
  • A genderswapped Leopold and Loeb historical fiction? 👀 You have my attention! Jazzed is Harlem Renaissance-era jazz-inflected riff on true crime that just came out this week!
  • Happy book birthday to Vera Kelly: Lost and Found, the conclusion in the beloved Vera Kelly mystery trilogy! Full disclosure, I was on Rosalie’s publicity team back when I worked in publishing, and getting to be part of the process was a career highlight for me. It’s a beautiful series, emotionally rich and historically detailed, and who could possibly resist such a gorgeous cover? I feel so lucky to get to savor this final installment as a civilian!
  • Also out in mid-July, Chris Belcher’s memoir Pretty Baby about her time as LA’s Lesbian Domme covers queerness, class, sex work, academia, and darkly-funny questions about how we navigate the darker sides of our desires.
  • I’ve not historically had the best time with quarter-life-crisis novels about zillennials in the workplace, but All This Could Be Different promises a refreshing new take on the genre that’s made me perk up my ears — this one is getting great early reviews and features a smartly-written Indian-American protagonist, which I love to see! Definitely excited to sink my teeth into this story of a young queer immigrant building community amidst societal chaos and absurdity. This one comes out this August.
  • NEW K-MING CHANG INCOMING —I’m not gonna have even a little chill about this one. The short story gods have heard my prayers, and Gods of Want is out on July 12, in a few short weeks!
  • Bad Gays, written by Huw Lemmey and Ben Miller who host a raucous and wonderful podcast of the same name, is out now! You all surely know how I feel about chaotic queers of history, so you can imagine how much fun I’ve been having with this one. I also loved last week’s conversation event between Ben and Grace Lavery, which you can watch here!
  • This one’s been getting some mixed reviews, and but the premise is interesting: in this debut novel, a ghost watches George Sand and Frederic Chopin’s affair and falls in love with Sand from afar while reflecting on the circumstances of her own death in the 14th century. Briefly, A Delicious Life comes out on July 19!
  • I can’t believe I’m only just hearing about this incredible memoir now: Another Appalachia is a memoir about growing up in Appalachia as a queer Indian girl, and the glowing reviews have lit me up. I’m so excited to report back about this one!
  • Playing the long game —this September, Duke University Press is releasing Feels Right: Black Queer Women and the Politics of Partying in Chicago, and I’ve already marked my calendar because this one sounds superb.

Hell Followed With Us has also been on my radar; this review from Megan at @booksnblazers has definitely pushed it up my TBR!

Watching a book of this artistic caliber succeed across the board feels like a triumph, especially at a time when every day seems to bring new punitive and restrictive legislation around affirming care for LGBTQ+ children and access to LGBTQ+ literature. I think a lot about this quote from my friend Lane, the indie queer artist behind Coyotesnout: queer teachers are living proof of queer futures. The same feels very, very true of LaCour and her career. Her writing for queer adults feels like a hopeful and heartening gesture to her younger readers as well, a promise that whomever they grow into, there will be stories waiting to meet them.

— Me, waxing poetic aboutYerba Buena by Nina LaCour

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

It’s been another awesome couple of weeks for Autostraddle books coverage — look at us go!

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. i fully bought 9 queer YA novels because nothing makes me happier than seeing baby gays finding themselves (and sometimes falling in love with other baby gay cuties along the way) BUT if you’re looking for pure sunshine in a book, i’ll be the one by lyla lee is the bisexual, fat positive, k-pop YA romance of your dreams. i can’t even think of that book without getting a dopey grin on my face, even right now :)

  2. Been on a YA kick this month, I’ve read ‘Epically Earnest’ by Amy Landon, “Just Your Local Bisexual Disaster” by Andrea Mosqueda, “Melt With You” by Jennifer Dugan, ‘Catch and Cradle’ by Katia Rose and ‘Vibe’ by Liza James. The last one isn’t YA, more NC-17.

  3. This is turning into my fortnightly reminder that I am failing in life because Our Wives Under The Sea has been out for months in the UK and I still haven’t bought it!!!

  4. A feel-good romcom that I totally recommend is “No Strings” by Lucy Bexley.

    It’s so funny, warmhearted, and kind that it’s the perfect escape from the dismal news cycle that we are currently living in.

    That book is guaranteed to bring you joy!

  5. So happy to see AS giving Our Wives Under the Sea the love it deserves. I’d also recommend Armfield’s short story collection Salt Slow (tbh I think I’ve been plugging it in comments sections since it came out but it’s worth reiterating!).

    I do not have any light escapist recommendations because I keep thinking I’m picking up something a bit lighter and then it turns out to be dark and weird (I just read Pet and Earthlings back to back this is fine I’m fine) so I’m excited to see what others recommend.

  6. I hope my search is just failing me, but I don’t see that we’ve talked about The Verifiers by Jane Pek? Queer author of color writing a queer protagonist of color in a super-fun detective story! And it leaves room at the end for an extra-gay sequel!

  7. Kind of escapist recommendations, at least more light-hearted: “The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet” and “A Psalm for the Wild-Built” by Becky Chambers. SciFi in a not perfect world, but with adorable characters, naturally including queer characters.

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