Hey hi, everyone!
Literally what do you mean that it’s December already? Wasn’t it August like five minutes ago? Once again, the passage of time takes me by surprise, and here we are. I’m behind on my Christmas shopping, personally — I’m sure all of you are very put-together this year, but I am not, and so I have gathered a list of books I read and adored this year that will get me in the right gift-giving state of mind. Next time, I’ll be gathering a list of some Wildly Cool 2023 Books To Preorder As Gifts For Literary Trendsetter Types, too; my friends preordered me some signed copies of books I’d been looking forward to last year, and as they arrived throughout the first months of the year they were such delightful surprises.
I know it’s been a heavy few weeks for the queer community; I hope you’re all taking good care of yourselves and your crew, and I hope your reading offers you the respite and reinvigoration you deserve.
Okiedoke, let’s make like the Stones and roll. This week on Rainbow Reading, we’ve got:
In no particular order, Rainbow Reading’s 15 Books of 2022 That Yash Loved Hollering About That You Should Buy As Presents For People You Actually Like:
- A Scatter of Light by Malinda Lo
- A Prayer for the Crown-Shy (sequel to A Psalm for the Wild-Built) by Becky Chambers
- All This Could Be Different by Sarah Thankam Mathews
- Body Grammar by Jules Ohman
- Cry Perfume by Sadie Dupuis
- How Far the Light Reaches by Sabrina Imbler
- Lavender House by Lev A. C. Rosen
- Manhunt by Gretchen Felker-Martin
- Our Wives Under the Sea by Julia Armfield
- Rainbow Rainbow by Lydia Conklin
- The Scratch Daughters (sequel to The Scapegracers) by H. A. Clarke
- The Women’s House of Detention by Hugh Ryan
- Vera Kelly, Lost and Found by Rosalie Knecht
- Virology by Joe Osmundson
- Yerba Buena by Nina LaCour
Shelf Care: Reviews, Essays, and other Things of Note
- In the wake of the tragedy at Club Q in Colorado, I want to boost this anthology, originally published after the Orlando massacre at Pulse: Our Happy Hours: LGBTQ Voices From the Gay Bars is a beautiful tribute to the spaces queer community has built for itself, and there’s a lot of galvanizing comfort to be found here. (You can also get an ebook copy of it here)
- I’ve had a crush on Sabrina Imbler’s writing ever since their poetry book Dyke (geology) swept me off my feet, and because life isn’t fair, they are ALSO a wildly talented nonfiction writer as well as a poet. How Far the Light Reaches, their debut essay collection, comes out on December 6, and it’s a fucking stunner. Imbler’s writing makes science sing, and they cut their science writing with a genius angle on memoir and a sly, cheeky sense of humor that we all came to love from their pieces like Started Out As A Fish. How Did It End Up Like This and I Respect Ticks But I Still Want Them Dead. You can read an excerpt here, and preorder your copy here!
- Happy pub day to Dahlia Adler’s latest anthology, At Midnight, which came out last week!
- (New Imbler, new Adler, new Clarke… should I start keeping an Official Roster of Rainbow Reading Book CrushesTM?)
- AND there’s new Isaac Fellman out this week too!
- I started The New Life by Tom Crewe last night, and I’m having the dreamiest time so far. I can’t believe it’s a debut — this novel is about two men in late 19th century London, writing a risky book arguing in defense of homosexuality, when their lives (and lavender marriages) are interrupted by Oscar Wilde’s devastating trial.
- Up next is going to be The Paris Bookseller — I’m so glad to see more attention paid to the role of Sylvia Beach and her partner in the literary scene of 1920s Paris, and this book focuses on how the iconic owners of Shakespeare & Co. published James Joyce’s Ulysses when other presses balked at the risk of such an experimental, groundbreaking, and (ahem) spicy novel.
- The author of Delilah Green Doesn’t Care is back with another banger! Astrid Parker Doesn’t Fail is the story of fixer-uppers and perfectionists finding love on an HGTV show, and it’s got such a great rivals-to-lovers arc!
- The First Bright Thing is out next summer, and I want all y’all to put this on your lists now. Remember me hollering about a novel billed as The Night Circus but gay? That’s this one, and it’s gorgeous.
- Jenn Shapland, author of National Book Award finalist My Autobiography of Carson McCullers, has a new book coming out next year with the most beautiful cover — take a look at the cover reveal over at LitHub!
- We Deserve Monuments by Jas Hammonds came out last week and this one sounds like the kind of book I wish I could give to my younger self. It means a lot to see so many amazing books about queer girls of color in the South!
- You all know how I feel about gay gothic boarding school hijinks: Marianne Ratcliffe’s The Secret of Matterdale Hall came out a couple weeks ago and sounds like a great time for a fireside read as the days get colder and shorter…
- Y’all know how stoked I am for Marisa Crane’s debut novel I Keep My Exoskeletons to Myself but like, don’t just take my word for it —Marissa Higgins reviewed it for The Daily Kos here!
- Another one that’s going to make a great gift —Life in Every Breath is a biography of Ester Blenda, one of the first undercover journalists, who herself lived an undercover closeted life in the early 20th century. She had the most incredible adventures, and sounds like such a complicated firecracker of a person; I’m so glad this bio’s been translated into English!
- I know this installment’s heavy on historical, but it’s not my fault there are so many excellent historical queer stories being told. Before All The World tackles an under-explored time and place, and this story of love and healing among the gay bars of 1930s Philadelphia features some powerful and poignant characterization. Definitely want to read more of Rothman-Zecher’s work after this!
Autocorrect: Books content from the last couple weeks at Autostraddle!
You already know that I’m going to say how great the books coverage is this week and every week.
- Casey gathered Eight Romance Novels Featuring Trans Women, By Trans Authors (and I was SO stoked to see The Companion by E. E. Ottoman on this list — I loved this book’s1940s throuple vibes!)
- Stef collected a rad anti-colonial Thanksgiving reading list!
- Kayla made us the perfect short fiction playlist for all your queer Thanksgiving needs!
- Casey also rounded up some delicious queer cookbooks for your holiday shopping!
- and while we’re here: the last Rainbow Reading outlined the aims of the HarperCollins Union strike and listed ways that readers, writers, and other literary community members can help support the movement.
Because I can and because none of you can stop me, here are also some of my favorite non-literary pieces from Autostraddle recently:
- Gabrielle’s piece about QTBIPOC land healing projects was superb!
- Niko’s essay about Twitter, community, grief, loss, and connection made me cry. (Damn you, Niko.)
- Julie absolutely nailed everything I love about Khruangbin in this list of 6 Albums to Help you Get Through the Work Day
- Sadie’s deep dive into the narrative mechanisms of Tár felt like one of the best post-movie unpacking conversations with a friend
- (And of course, Christina’s So You Want To Dress Like Tár is dreamy af.)
- Sa’iyda made a list of the BEST BLANKETS? You all know how seriously I take my coziness, you know what this list means to me.
- Drew, you absolute legend, thank you for digging up these rare lesbian cinema gems that aren’t available on streaming sites!
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.