Hey howdy, team!
First up, a hearty, happy congratulations to the HarperCollins Union on (FINALLY) getting management to reach an agreement — I hope all the union members are receiving a warm welcome back at work this week, and I’m wishing all the inbox blessings for them! We’re staring down March, and they’d been on strike since November, but their advocacy has been impressive at every turn. I can’t wait to see the ripple effect this has on the rest of the industry!
This week’s gonna be a beefy one, since I had a week off; it’s great to be back in my inbox and my apartment packed to the gills with very gay books, and I’m stoked to share the results of my queer romance read-a-thon with my friend Caroline from Rainbow Reading’s last installment! We’ve got a lot of ground to cover, and I’m about to holler myself (metaphorically) hoarse over all the cool queer books coming out this spring, so let’s get to it.
Okiedokie, let’s make like the red carpet and roll out. This week on Rainbow Reading, we’ve got:
Shelf Care: Reviews, Essays, and other Things of Note
- Happy book birthday to Planning Perfect, a charming wedding-planner romance ft. a lovable ace heroine!
- “It’s all ours if we want it. Clear eyes, full hearts, can’tlose.” For my fellow sports gays, here’s my favorite thing I’ve read in the last month — Samantha Paige Rosen wrote this loving tribute to Friday Night Lights, claiming it for the queer canon, and somehow turned cheeky sports-show homoeroticism into a moving survey of 90s and 00s pop culture and the very act of “queering” the media we love.
- Instead of going over the NYT’s gross defense of ~TERFada Kedavra~, let’s take a moment to enjoy the … surprisingly on-it takes of bonkers poster-in-chief Joyce Carol Oates? Sure didn’t have this one on my 2023 bingo card, but I’ll take it!
- Jack Mirkinson, in his debut for The Nation, does a great job contextualizing the NYT’s transphobia within its abysmal cover of LGBTQ+ issues during the HIV/AIDS crisis — if you’re going to read one piece about the ongoing shitstorm, make it this one.
- Don’t forget to sign the open letter to the NYT if you haven’t already!
- RIP Catapult: the indie publishing powerhouse surprised us all by announcing last week that it will be closing its online magazine and its writing classes in order to focus on its book publishing arm. This news is a real bummer!
- I’ve been advice column trash my whole life, but the advice column of my heart has always been Danny Lavery’s run as Dear Prudence. I quote Lavery with the same fervor that my crushes quote Cheryl Strayed. Y’all can only imagine how excited I am for the collected Dear Prudence columns to be published at the end of May!
- The clock is ticking, but there’s still time to donate to this awesome indie publishing project — New Cosmologies, a series of mini chapbooks from Sword and Kettle press, features some awesome queer and trans authors writing across form, genre, and myth.
- Just a few weeks until A Manual for How to Love Us comes out — this short story collection is like Grimm’s fairy tales if the thing that goes bump in the night was, like, grief or the concept of embodiment.
- I don’t get to feature as much middle grade in this column as I’d like, but wowowow this one sounds winning — The House That Whispers is the haunting and joyful story of a young trans detective launching a ghost hunt in a house full of family secrets.
- If you thought I was done yelling about I Keep My Exoskeletons to Myself, no tf I’m not. Check out this amazing rave review it got from Lydia Kiesling!
- Keah Brown, author of the beloved essay collection The Pretty One, has her debut novel coming out this June! In The Secret Summer Promise, a Black girl with cerebral palsy faces her feelings for her best friend while checking off her bucket list to make it the #BestSummerEver. You know anything billed as “nerdy queer love” is gonna get my attention!
- Marjorie Taylor Greene and George Santos, political blights that they are, are co-sponsoring a bill that would further expand and legally enshrine the banning of LGBTQ+ books. Get absolutely wrecked, you minuscule fucks.
- Elizabeth Acevedo describes Lorraine Avila’s writing as an “uppercut to the senses”, and Avila’s forthcoming YA novel The Making of Yolanda La Bruja sounds like a fearless story situated at the intersection of race, education, ancestral spirituality, gun violence, and queer coming-of-age.
- The prolific Alexis Hall is at it again — Something Spectacular, coming this April, is a groundbreaking and delightful historical romance featuring not one but two genderqueer protagonists!
- The Shadow Cabinet, the superbly-titled sequel to Her Majesty’s Royal Coven, has moved its publication date to mid-June; get your preorders in now!
- This Is The Way The World Ends, a YA thriller with Secret History-meets-7 1/2 Lives of Evelyn Hardcastle vibes, features a lovable and badass queer autistic heroine caught between the glitz of her prestigious school’s gala, a gruesome murder, and a global tech blackout. This one comes out this May!
- Alien diplomats, a missing translator, and neopronouns in space — Ann Leckie’s Translation State sounds cool as hell!
- ROBIN HOOD MEETS THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS??? Robin and Her Misfits features a badass lady biker gang protecting the queer girls of their community, and when I read its description I near about slapped my inbox out of the cloud.
- Goofy, inclusive, and cheekily affirming, Laid and Confused: Why We Tolerate Bad Sex And How To Stop digs into sexuality and pleasure with all the charm that made author Maria Yagoda’s Sex Machina column at VICE so beloved.
- If you thought I was letting you out of here without reminding you to preorder Amelia Possanza’s beautiful memoir Lesbian Love Story, think tf again!!!!!!!!
“Lamya’s ability to bring seemingly disparate elements together to paint such a vivid picture of what it’s like to have to make the choices they’ve made in the ways they’ve made them is absolutely stunning in its execution. Lamya proves throughout the text the myriad possibilities that are open and available to queer Muslims and queer people of other religions when and if they choose to pursue a life of piety and devotion to something beyond the trappings of our material world.” – Stef on Hijab Butch Blues
Crush Corner: Rounding Up More Romance!
Still hankering for something swoony after Valentine’s Day? My wonderful friend Caroline and I have been reading through my megastack of new and forthcoming queer romance, and she’s devised a genius alignment chart to help you situate the books you’ve enjoyed and find the ones you’ll love next! We had a great time agreeing about how much we loved Dahlia Adler’s latest, and Caroline’s convinced me to give Behind the Scenes a go next. What else should we add to our gay love TBR? Where on the chart would you put your recent reads? Let us know in the comments!
Caroline’s Dispatches from the Feels:
“Home Field Advantage did more to make me love football than living in Texas for eighteen years. A queer spin on the high school cheerleader/quarterback pairing, this YA enemies-to-lovers romance balances the sweetness of young love with heavier issues like homophobia and misogyny. While not always lighthearted, it’s a cute romance that will leave you cheering.”
Spice scale: 🌶️
“Season of Love tries to give us what The Happiest Season (2020) never could, putting a queer (and Jewish) spin on the Hallmark Christmas movie framework. It isn’t so much of a rom-com, but it’s a heartwarming story about opening oneself up to emotional risk and undertaking the often arduous task of showing up for our communities, our chosen families, and ourselves. More fat butch representation in romance novels, please!”
Spice scale: 🌶️🌶️
“I’m not going to lie, Behind the Scenes‘ sexy ASMR subplot is a hard sell. Throw in pugs, snappy banter, and Ghost (1990) references, though, and I’m in. This tender lesbian romance also features protagonists in their late 30s/early 40s, which is a refreshing change for the genre.”
Spice scale: 🌶️🌶️🌶️
“Paris Daillencourt Is About to Crumble is like a surprise cake: it skews toward saccharine on the outside, but there’s something surprising and substantial at its core. While a little light on the romance, I nonetheless enjoyed this meditation on how our mental health not only affects us but our relationships. Perfect for Bake-Off lovers and for people with anxiety—a Venn diagram that I suspect is a circle.”
Spice scale: 🌶️
“I can think of no greater punishment than hiking the Pacific Crest Trail with a guy who has subpar social skills and a guy who has a man bun—but Anita Kelly manages to make this grumpy-sunshine romance charming! The second entry in what I’ve affectionately dubbed “the Anita-verse,wp_postsSomething Wild & Wonderful weaves an endearing story about braving the wilds of one’s deepest insecurities and finding the heart’s true north, and it comes out in a week and a half!“
Spice scale: 🌶️🌶️🌶️
“It’s not just that I want all of you to read it; it’s that I want all of you tohave read it already,so that I’m not so alone with the enormity of my feelings about it and you’ll already know exactly what I mean. Crane has not only created a world that opens a door for marginalized people’s deeply felt concerns; they’ve also done the work to shut the door behind us, to preempt any both-sides-ism and make clear that our communities’ fears about oppression and suppression are never the same as reactionary distractions.wp_posts— Yashwina (moi) on I Keep My Exoskeletons to Myself
Autocorrect: Books content from the last couple weeks at Autostraddle!
Yoooooo, it’s been a PACKED few weeks in the Autostraddle books section — Kayla and the team are bringing the heat!!!
- Stef took a look at OutWrite: The Speeches That Shaped LGBTQ Literary Culture!
- Nico reviewed essay collection Unsafe Words!
- Kayla reviewed buzzy age-gap bee-beset novel Big Swiss! (I will not be apologizing for this pun so don’t ask.)
- Stef reviewed the anthology Wanting: Women Writing About Desire!
- Casey gathered 8 rad books covering the queer autistic experience!
- Christina reviewed Sorry Bro!
- shea reviewed A Darker Wilderness!
- Nico reviewed the short story collection Sweetlust!
- A. Tony reviewed butch4butch manga The Girl That Can’t Get A Girlfriend!
- Sa’iyda reviewed adorable queer YA rom-com Friday I’m In Love!
- Christina followed up her review of The Fixer with a review of its sequel, Chaos Agent!
- Darcy reviewed Endpapers!
- Stef reviewed Hijab Butch Blues and Kayla rounded up a list of butch memoirs to read alongside it!
- Ya boi reviewed I Keep My Exoskeletons to Myself, which was this month’s A+ Read A Fucking Book Club selection!
- Chinelo wrote about The Lives of Great Men!
- Lauren spoke with the author of Lesbian Death!
Plus, a few cool lil queer history/politics bits I found on Twitter — I love when people share what they’re reading like this!
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.