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Hey hi hello!
I know we all talk about “staying up late reading under the covers” as a nostalgic shorthand for illicit enjoyment, but we’re all adults here, and when was the last time we actually did that? For me, it had been a minute, but following a top-tier recommendation by Tor.com’s Molly Templeton (and a co-sign from Autostraddle alum A.E. Osworth) the latest installment in Becky Chambers’ Monk and Robot series had me reading in bed, turning out the lights, and switching on my little camping lantern for the full experience. That’s the highest praise i can fathom —gosh, I’ve needed something utopian desperately and this series is healing everything that has ailed me. Sibling Dex, a nonbinary tea monk, bicycles around their post-apocalyptic eco-utopia with a sentient robot named Mosscap, surveying what it is that humans want in a world where they have everything they need. If Ursula Le Guin wrote The Little Prince, I imagine it would feel something like this.
Publishing loves its dystopian novels, and true utopias feel even nicer for their scarcity. The last time I read a book that felt utopian, it was the 1915 novel Herland by Charlotte Perkins Gilman (best known for AP English staple The Yellow Wallpaper), and that was, uh, before this mixed-race dyke learned about Gilman’s virulently racist and eugenicist principles. That’ll spoil the vibe for sure 🙃 so please, what other utopian novels should I read? Are there (gasp) any other particularly gay utopian novels? I’ve got a hankering for more! My favorite printmaker Cj of Black Lodge Press has a poster that declares “Queer utopias are not fantasies, queer utopias are necessities!” and that’s never felt truer.
Alrighty, let’s make like a volcano and rumble. On this week’s Rainbow Reading, we’ve got:
Shelf Care: Reviews, Essays, and other Things of Note
- Read Molly Templeton’s piece on the Monk and Robot series: Becky Chambers’ Books Give Us Permission to Be Human
- Yashwina Canter Kills the Buzz: Unfortunately, our world is currently distinctly un-utopian, and this week’s essay in TIME by Sarah Rose Etter about the difficult decision to leave Texas in the wake of Roe v. Wade tackles the nuances of exodus and desperation in a way that deeply resonated.
- Y’all know how I feel about archives, and I’ve just started Lost in the Archives, E. Saxey’s short fiction collection!
- You can read one of the stories from the collection here!
- E. Saxey also wins this week’s 🏆 Yash Award For Best Line In An Author Bio:
“Their writing desk was presented to its first owner by the Ancient Order of Druids (and purchased on Ebay).”
- Been struggling to read lately? Same, same, very same. Here’s How To Fall Back In Love With Reading Even When Your Brain Feels Like Mush
- Dahlia Adler compiled a superb list of titles for celebrating International Nonbinary People’s Day on 7/14!
- I fell in love with the premise, and now I’m smitten with the audiobook of Jobs For Girls With Artistic Flair!
- This queer, Māori-inspired debut fantasy about a sentient city and a pirate crew sounds like the perfect post-Our-Flag-Means-Death escapist read!
- Gay Witch Coven! The Witchery by S. Isabelle came out this week!
- Four queer romances? In one year? In this economy? Alexis Hall is a force to behold — check out his convo with Elena Nicolau for TODAY.com about how writing romance is a bit like owning a pub (the cutest metaphor ever!)
- YOU SNOOZE YOU LOSE: Print copies of Max Delsohn’s debut chapbook Rules For Trans Guys and Other Sonnets, but there are PDFs available on Max’s instagram! I’ve admired Max’s writing ever since working with him on this brilliant review of Detransition, Baby in Triangle House, and let the record state: a Yash loves sonnets. I have an Edna St Vincent Millay neck tattoo and that means you are legally required to send me all the gay sonnets.
- All Bangers, No Skips: Take a look at this new anthology of queer and trans reflections of horror coming this fall from the total babes at The Feminist Press!
- Lio Min’s debut Beating Heart Baby is out now!
- “A novel of sharp-edged tempers, accidents waiting to happen and dark inheritances.” Dirt Creek is out next week, and I’m so curious about the nuance in this novel’s depiction of a lesbian detective in rural Australia.
- Such a great roundup of queer love poems in Electric Lit! Send these to your crush. Go forth!
- Has anyone read Patricia Wants to Cuddle yet? I’m hearing delightfully chaotic things about this queer Bachelorette-meets-Bigfoot novel! Stay tuned for an upcoming review from Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya.
- A Strange and Stubborn Endurance by Foz Meadows is out this week as well!
“It is tension: living well on a viral warming planet is too much to ask of any person. And yet it is what our circumstances are asking of us.”
—Joe Osmundson in conversation with Vanessa Friedman about Virology!
Autocorrect: Books content from the last couple weeks at Autostraddle!
[Kings of Leon voice] oHHHHhhHHHhh, this section’s on fiiiIIIiiiiiIIIiiiiRE~
- Katie gathered a list of 12 Books to Read to Be a Better Ally to Disabled People This Disability Pride Month!
- Vanessa interviewed Joe Osmundson!
- Heather reviewed Spear!
- Vanessa interviewed Michelle Tea! AND Joe Osmundson!
- Stef reviewed A+ Book Club Pick Pretty Baby!
- Kayla reviewed Sirens & Muses!
Early Career Queer Spotlight:
Jessie Ulmer’s debut chapbook, Bewildered, combines poetry and prose to reimagine the story of Hansel and Gretel! Chapbook, zine, and indie press culture are some of my favorite corners of the queer literary scene, and it’s such a delight to celebrate these.
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@example.com 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.
Indie authors are amazing for queer utopias!
Ivana Skye’s _The Size of the World_ and the _Evocation_ series are really beautiful. I also like the work of Ennis Rook Bashe and Shira Glassman.
I’m so glad to read that you liked A Prayer for the Crown-Shy by Becky Chambers! I’m #18 (out of 6 copies) on my library wait list and I’m so impatient to read it.
Oh I loved Rosaline Palmer takes the cake, thank you for reminding me the follow up was coming! Also, queer horror anthology, YES
Have you read Becky Chambers’ Wayfarers series? It’s not *technically* a queer utopia, but it offers all these spectacular visions of alternate societies, most striving to be as good as possible. And they’re all excellently queer.
Is there a queer book club running on autostraddle?
Because I for one would love to join if there is
There’s a new book club for A+ members that had it’s first meeting (via discord) recently – https://www.autostraddle.com/chris-belcher-talked-with-the-a-book-club-about-academia-memory-and-more/