Under Consideration April 2022

The following titles have been read and recommended for inclusion on the final list by at least one juror:

Fiction and Poetry

All the White Spaces by Ally Wilkes
In the wake of the First World War, Jonathan Morgan stows away on an Antarctic expedition, determined to find his rightful place in the world of men. Aboard the expeditionary ship of his hero, the world-famous explorer James “Australis” Randall, Jonathan may live as his true self—and true gender—and have the adventures he has always been denied. But not all is smooth sailing: the war casts its long shadow over them all, and grief, guilt, and mistrust skulk among the explorers.

I’m So Not Over You by Kosoko Jackson
A chance to rewrite their ending is worth the risk in this swoony romantic comedy from Kosoko Jackson.

Monarch by Candice Wuehle
After waking up with a strange taste in her mouth and mysterious bruises, former child pageant star Jessica Clink unwittingly begins an investigation into a nefarious deep state underworld. Equipped with the eccentric education of her father, Dr. Clink (a professor of Boredom Studies and the founder of an elite study group known as the Devil’s Workshop), Jessica uncovers a disquieting connection between her former life as a beauty queen and an offshoot of Project MKUltra known as MONARCH

Time is a Mother by Ocean Voung
In this deeply intimate second poetry collection, Ocean Vuong searches for life among the aftershocks of his mother’s death, embodying the paradox of sitting within grief while being determined to survive beyond it. Shifting through memory, and in concert with the themes of his novel On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous, Vuong contends with personal loss, the meaning of family, and the cost of being the product of an American war in America. At once vivid, brave, and propulsive, Vuong’s poems circle fragmented lives to find both restoration as well as the epicenter of the break.

Walk Me to the Corner by Anneli Furmark
A loving home and husband; two grown sons; a lakeside cabin with a picnic table where their initials are carved; and the chance encounter at a party that destabilizes it all. Elise is in her mid-fifties and is satisfied with life. But the moment she sees Dagmar, she’s entranced. What begins as eye contact transitions to harmless texting, and quickly swells into the type of lust and yearning Elise did not know her life was lacking. Both are happily married and there’s trepidation, but they can’t resist. The two arrange to meet, changing the course of Elise’s stable and consistent life forever.

Nonfiction

All My Friends are Invisible by Jonathan Joly
This extraordinary and beautifully-written childhood memoir is not only an important, thought-provoking and exhilarating read, it provides hope and community for all those who have ever felt ‘other’, and proves how vital it is to provide children with the safe space to be themselves, the absence of which can have dire consequences.

Burning My Roti: Breaking Barriers as a Queer Indian Woman by Sharan Dhaliwal
Part memoir, part guide, Burning My Roti is essential reading for a new generation of South Asian women. With chapters covering sexual and cultural identity, body hair, colourism and mental health, and a particular focus on the suffocating beauty standards South Asian women are expected to adhere to, Sharan Dhaliwal speaks openly about her journey towards loving herself, offering advice, support and comfort to people that are encountering the same issues.

A Quick & Easy Guide to Asexuality by Molly Muldoon & Will Hernandez
Asexuality is often called The Invisible Orientation. You don’t learn about it in school, you don’t hear “ace” on television. So, it’s kinda hard to be ace in a society so steeped in sex that no one knows you exist. Too many young people grow up believing that their lack of sexual desire means they are broken – so writer Molly Muldoon and cartoonist Will Hernandez, both in the ace community, are here to shed light on society’s misconceptions of asexuality and what being ace is really like. This book is for anyone who wants to learn about asexuality, and for Ace people themselves, to validate their experiences. Asexuality is a real identity and it’s time the world recognizes it. Here’s to being invisible no more! 

Secret City: The Hidden History of Gay Washington by James Kirchick
Utilizing thousands of pages of declassified documents, interviews with over one hundred people, and material unearthed from presidential libraries and archives around the country, Secret City is a chronicle of American politics like no other. Beginning with the tragic story of Sumner Welles, Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s brilliant diplomatic advisor and the man at the center of “the greatest national scandal since the existence of the United States,” James Kirchick illuminates how homosexuality shaped each successive presidential administration through the end of the twentieth century. Magisterial in scope and intimate in detail, Secret City will forever transform our understanding of American history.

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What We are Reading–March-April 2022

The following titles have been read and have received at least one yes vote for the final list.

Fiction and Poetry

All the Things We Don’t Talk About by Amy Feltman

 A story of betrayal and trauma alongside queer love and resilience, All the Things We Don’t Talk About is a celebration of and a reckoning with the power and unintentional pain of a thoroughly modern family.

Broken Halves of a Milky Sun: Poems by Aaiún Nin

Nin shows the ways in which faith and devotion serve as forms of oppression and interrogates the nature of home by reclaiming the persistent echoes of trauma. A captivating blend of evocative prose and intimate testimony, Nin speaks to the universal vulnerability of existence

Love in the Big City by Sang Young Park

A funny, transporting, surprising, and poignant novel that was one of the highest selling debuts of recent years in Korea, Love in the Big City tells the story of a young gay man searching for happiness in the lonely city of Seoul

Manhunt by Gretchen Felker-Martin

Gretchen Felker-Martin’s Manhunt is an explosive post-apocalyptic novel that follows trans women and trans men on a grotesque journey of survival.

The Memory Librarian: and Other Stories of Dirty Computers by Janelle Monae

Expanding from the mythos in Dirty Librarian, these stories in The Memory Librarian fully explore what it’s like to live in a totalitarian existence…and what it takes to get out of it. 

The Other Mother by Rachel M. Harper

A page-turning generational saga about a young man’s search for a parent he never knew, and a moving portrait of motherhood, race, and the truths we hide in the name of family.

Our Wives Under the Sea by Julia Armfield

Our Wives Under The Sea is the debut novel from the critically acclaimed author of salt slow. It’s a story of falling in love, loss, grief, and what life there is in the deep, deep sea.

Wrath Goddess Sing by Maya Deanne

Drawing on ancient texts and modern archeology to reveal the trans woman’s story hidden underneath the well-known myths of The Iliad, Maya Deane’s Wrath Goddess Sing weaves a compelling, pitilessly beautiful vision of Achilles’ vanished world, perfect for fans of Song of Achilles and the Inheritance trilogy.

Nonfiction

The Third Person by Emma Grove

A boldly drawn, unforgettable memoir about trauma and the barriers to gender affirming health care.

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Under Consideration: February – March 2022

The following titles have been read and recommended for inclusion on the final list by at least one juror:

Fiction and Poetry

The Boy with a Bird in his Chest by Emme Lund
A heartbreaking yet hopeful novel about the things that make us unique and lovable, The Boy with a Bird in His Chest grapples with the fear, depression, and feelings of isolation that come with believing that we will never be loved, let alone accepted, for who we truly are, and learning to live fully and openly regardless.

Can’t Resist Her by Kianna Alexander
Two very determined women – in love, at odds, and risking a lot on a second chance.

Dead Collection by Isaac Fellman
A whirlwind romance between an eccentric archivist and a grieving widow explores what it means to be at home in your own body in this clever, humorous, and heartfelt novel.

Patricia Wants to Cuddle by Samantha Allen
The contestants of a reality television dating show compete for love—and their lives—in this pulse-pounding and viciously funny fiction debut from the GLAAD Award–winning author of Real Queer America.

Siren Queen by Nghi Vo
Siren Queen offers up an enthralling exploration of an outsider achieving stardom on her own terms, in a fantastical Hollywood where the monsters are real and the magic of the silver screen illuminates every page.

You Better be Lightning by Andrea Gibson
You Better Be Lightning by Andrea Gibson is a queer, political, and feminist collection guided by self-reflection.

Read Between the Lines by Rachel Lacey
From award-winning author Rachel Lacey comes a playful romance about a Manhattan bookstore owner and a reclusive author who love to hate—and hate to love—each other.

Nonfiction

Burn the Page: A True Story of Torching Doubts, Blazing Trails, and Igniting Change by Danica Roem
An inspirational memoir-meets-manifesto by Danica Roem, the nation’s first openly trans person elected to US state legislature.

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Over the Rainbow Press Release: Top Ten of 2021

CHICAGO – The Over the Rainbow committee of ALA’s Rainbow Roundtable gave careful consideration to 332 books across all genres, including memoir, history, true crime, mystery, romance, fiction, poetry, and more. The final ten selections showcased a wide range of queer stories and experiences, working to dispel, one book at a time, the single narrative.  

The Top 10 selections in fiction and non-fiction were:

  • “Black Boy Out of Time: A Memoir” by Hari Ziyad; Published by Little A
  • “The Natural Mother of the Child” by Krys Malcolm Belc; Published by Counterpoint
  • “Belly of the Beast: The Politics of Anti-Fatness and Anti-Blackness” by Da’Shaun Harrison; Published by North Atlantic Books
  • “With Teeth” by Kristen Arnett; Published by Riverhead Books
  • “Milk Fed” by Melissa Broder; Published by Scribner
  • “One Last Stop” by Casey McQuiston; Published by St. Martin’s Griffin, and imprint of St. Martin’s Publishing Group
  • “Detransition Baby: A Novel” by Torrey Peters; Published by One World, an imprint of Random House, a division of Penguin Random House
  • “Stone Fruit” by Lee Lai; Published by Fantagraphics
  • “Sorrowland” by Rivers Solomon; Published by MCD
  • “Patience & Esther” by SW Searle; Published by Iron Circus Comics

“In a year which saw more book challenges than any other, largely concerning books with queer content, it was heartening to also see publishers continue to feature, promote, and elevate queer narratives across all genres.” The Over the Rainbow Committee noted. “Queer stories can be heartbreaking, exciting, romantic, incredible, challenging, unbearable, exquisite, silly, and anything else you can think of. These selections prove it.”

The charge of the Over the Rainbow Book List Committee is to promote the improved quality and accessibility of LGBTQIA+ literature through the creation of an annual annotated bibliography of books for general adult readership. Committee members select titles that exhibit commendable literary quality and significant, authentic LGBTQIA+ content and are recommended for adults over age 18. The Over the Rainbow Book List Committee (OTR) coordinates with other Rainbow Round Table committees to promote the improved quality and accessibility of LGBTQIA+ literature.

The Rainbow Round Table (RRT) – formerly known as the GLBTRT – of the American Library Association, is the oldest professional association for LGBTQIA+ people in the United States. It is committed to serving the information needs of the LGBTQIA+ professional library community and information and access needs of individuals at large. It is home to Rainbow Book Month, a nationwide celebration every June, and the Stonewall Book Award, the first award honoring LGBTQIA+ books. The Rainbow Round Table is committed to encouraging and supporting the free and necessary access to all information, as reflected by the missions of the American Library Association and democratic institutions. 

For Immediate Release
Tue, 02/15/2022

Contact:
Monica Chapman
Program Coordinator, Coretta Scott King Book Awards and ODLOS Round Tables
ALA-ODLOS
3122804297
mlchapman@ala.org

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Over the Rainbow Long List

The shortlist of titles considered for the Over the Rainbow final bibliography for books published in 2021 are the following:

Fiction and Poetry

And Then The Gray Heaven. R.E. Katz. Dzanc Books, 2021. B, expert museum diorama designer & artist, has had a freak accident at home and ends up in the hospital. Because Jules, their partner, is not any legally recognized form of “family”, they are not allowed in to see B. When B passes away, Jules is permitted to attend the funeral and the family is convinced to give Jules ⅔ of B’s ashes. But what to do with them? What follows is a quietly humorous look back at B’s and Jules’ lives before they met, interspersed with Jules’ journey to bury B…in all the museum exhibits they ever helped curate.

Black Girl, Call Home. Jasmine Mans. Berkley, (Penguin Random House), 2021. Jasmine Mans’ poetry is specific to a Black girl’s experience. From the different ways they do their hair to their complicated feelings about their parents. It is also an homage to Black mothers, to the way they imparted knowledge and wisdom through their actions, their worries, their triumphs, and their mistakes. Mixed in with movements on pop culture, women’s history, and writings about the gentle awe of falling in love with a woman, the poems of this collection are powerful, moving, and timely.

Detransition Baby: A Novel. Torrey Peters. One World (Penguin Randomhouse), 2021. Peters’ debut novel explores womanhood and relationships as it follows Reese, a trans woman longing to become a mother, who is approached by her de-transitioned ex to raise a child with his pregnant, cisgender boss and lover.

Dreaming of You: A Novel in Verse. Melissa Lozada-Oliva. Astra House. 2021. Lozada-Oliva has written something which defies explanation and will prompt many a conversation. The narrator, Melissa, manages to resurrect Selena Quintanilla, and then has to live with her. Part dream, part surrealist nightmare, part existential dread, entirely beautiful, this novel will make you ask yourself the questions you’ve been avoiding about authenticity, celebrity, obsession, and loss. 

A Master of Djinn. P. Djèlí Clark. Tordotcom, 2021. Egypt in 1912 is a world power, but it has some help from djinn, and all manner of fantastical creatures. Fatma el-Sha’arawi, a government agent who investigates mystical goings on (and saved the universe), is called to solve the murder of an entire secret society dedicated to a famous, and famously absent, mystic Al-Jahiz, who may or may not have returned. Clues abound, including references to the great djinn powers still locked away. Fatma must find the person claiming to be Al-Jahiz before they release the most powerful djinn in the universe. This steampunk alternate historical mystery is a wild ride.

Milk Fed. Melissa Broder. Scribner, 2021. Broder explores different types of hunger in this novel about Rachel, a 24-year old woman with a highly restricted diet, a fascination with the Orthodox Jewish woman running her frozen yogurt shop, and a therapist who encourages her to examine her relationships with others and with herself. 

One Last Stop. Casey McQuiston. St. Martin’s Griffin, 2021. August’s move to New York City is supposed to prove her right: that things like magic and cinematic love stories don’t exist. A few weird roommates and a job at a 24 hour pancake house shouldn’t change that. But then she sees Jane on the subway everyday.  Dazzling, charming, mysterious…her subway crush. Except Jane doesn’t just look like a 1970s punk rocker – she’s actually displaced in time from the 1970s and August will need to use every skill she has to help her.

Patience & Esther: An Edwardian Romance. SW Searles. Iron Circus Comics, 2021. A steamily romantic graphic novel about the love between Patience, a Scottish parlor maid, and Esther, an Indian-born ladies’ maid. Searles’ art portrays lovingly drawn characters of different body types and sizes, and highlights themes of class, race, and orientation in a realistic, yet hopeful, way.

Persephone Station. Stina Leicht. Gallery/Saga Press. 2021. Angel, an ex-soldier turned merc, just wants to get paid and fly under the radar.  She and her crew, a motley assortment of skills and personalities, take on assignments for which no one else has the guts. Under the surface, though, a timeless battle of wills rages for control of space itself. Stina Leicht has crafted an entertaining mercenary space opera that is as grand as it is expansive that puts women and nonbinary queer folk at the forefront.

Sorrowland. Rivers Solomon. Farrar, Strauss & Giroux. A novel about a mother trying hard to survive in a land of fiends. The novel shifts backwards and forwards through time, encompassing the lives of Vern, Howling, and Feral, and the people that circulate around them. Solomon belongs in the tradition of Toni Morrison and Jesmyn Ward.

Stone Fruit. Lee Lai. Fantagraphics, 2021. An emotionally honest graphic novel about three women navigating complex familial and romantic relationships while caring for a six-year-old girl. Lee Lai’s beautiful illustrations evoke the wildness of the liminal spaces where love, duty, and identity intersect.

Under the Whispering Door. T.J. Klune. Tor Books, 2021. Wallace Price is not ready to be dead, and is certainly not ready to move on to whatever mysterious “hereafter” he can expect. Hugo, a ferryman who guides souls to the afterlife, tells Wallace he can stay with him at his tea shop, Charon’s Crossing, until Wallace is ready to go. But as Wallace begins to realize all the beauty, compassion, and love he missed in his life, how will he prepare himself for death?

With Teeth. Kristen Arnett. Riverhead Books, 2021. Kristen Arnett’s dark irreverence and visceral storytelling bring to light the unspoken difficulties of queer relationships, motherhood, self-hood, and the limits of each. It will leave you deeply uncomfortable, as it deals with truths easily ignored and rarely dwelt in, with a main character who will frustrate you to no end, but you will recognize in an instant.

Nonfiction

Belly of the Beast: The Politics of Anti-Fatness as Anti-Blackness. Da’Shaun Harrison. North Atlantic Books, 2021. This title is in conversation with Sonya Renee Taylor’s The Body is Not An Apology, but instead looks through a wider lens explaining how anti-fatness is also anti-blackness, using modern examples and drawing from others’ work. An excellent read for understanding anti-fatness as anti-blackness and for beginning to imagine what a more just and loving world could look like.

Black Boy Out of Time. Hari Ziyad. Little a, 2021. Hari Ziyad was raised by their Hare Krishna mother and Muslim father in a blended family, growing up in Cleveland with eighteen siblings. Ziyad, who is the editor in chief of RaceBaitr, writes with tender rage about what it means to live beyond imposed narratives of race and gender.

The Breaks: An Essay. Julietta Singh. Coffee House Press and Daunt Books Originals,, 2021. A “messay” (the newly coined Memoir/Essay) disguised as a letter to the author’s daughter that challenges what a queer family can look like without every defining what it must be. Addressing climate change, race, colonialism, identity, and inheritance, Singh asks us how we can choose to move forward through each of these challenging realities, and offers some guidance on how to do so.  

Dear Senthuran: A Black Spirit Memoir. Akwaeke Emezi. Riverhead Books, 2021. In a series of letters addressed to the people in their life, Akwaeke reflects on the various journeys they’ve taken: embracing their identity, navigating the world of publishing, encountering heartbreak, and arriving at a spiritual truth, among other difficult and beautiful experiences. It joins, and shines within, a recent spate of publishing non-traditional and genre-defying narratives centering historically oppressed voices. 

Everybody (Else) Is Perfect: How I survived Hypocrisy, Beauty, Clicks, and Likes. Gabrielle Korn. Atria Books, 2021. A collection of essays touching on the author’s own experience with feminism, sexuality, beauty standards, self-esteem, and other women-centered issues, as the editor-in-chief of Nylon. Though narrow in scope and perspective, many of the points in these essays will resonate with women in similar positions. 

A History of Scars. Laura Lee. Atria Books, 2021. This collection of essays delves into the mind of someone who has schizophrenia. The book names and opens discussions around family history, trauma, and healing. Highly lauded by the likes of Roxane Gay, this belongs on the same shelf as other contemporary illness non-fiction narratives. 

I Never Promised You a Rose Garden. Mannie Murphy. Fantagraphic Books, 2021. In this work of graphic nonfiction that takes the form of an illustrated diary, a nostalgic reminiscence about River Phoenix becomes the thread that Murphy follows deep into the heart of Portland, Oregon’s history of white supremacy. Murphy traces the connections between White Aryan Resistance founder Tom Metzger, filmmaker Gus Van Sant, and the street kids like Ken Death who appeared in Van Sant’s films.

Leaving Isn’t the Hardest Thing. Lauren Hough. Vintage, 2021. A collection of contemporary essays telling about the author’s childhood growing up in a cult;  young adulthood in the military; and adulthood working as a bartender and “cable guy” in and around Washington DC as a butch lesbian. Hough’s work will have you both laughing and near tears from her experiences. At times a peer to Tara Westover’s Educated. 

Like a Boy But Not a Boy: Navigating Life, Mental Health, and Parenthood Outside the Gender Binary. Andrea Bennett. Arsenal Pulp Press, 2020. In a series of essays, Bennett explores the experiences of being a non-binary parent, growing up queer in a small town, and balancing creative work with the necessities of survival. Interspersed throughout is “Everyone is Sober and No One Can Drive,” sixteen biographical sketches based on interviews with other queer Millennials who grew up in small towns in Canada.

The Natural Mother of the Child: A Memoir of Nonbinary Parenthood. Krys Malcolm Belc. Counterpoint LLC, 2021. As a nonbinary, transmasculine parent, giving birth to his son Samson clarified Krys Belc’s gender identity. And yet, when his partner, Anna, adopted Samson, the legal documents listed Belc as “the natural mother of the child.” In interlocking essays, illustrated with legal documents and other official paperback, Belc examines his experiences and his ambivalent relationship with tidy “before” and “after” transition stories.

The Queens’ English: The LGBTQIA+ Dictionary of Lingo and Colloquial Phrases. Chloe O. Davis. Clarkson Potter Publishers, 2021. Do you know what a “bear” is? When did “sickening” start to mean “something amazing”? This comprehensive dictionary provides an in-depth look at queer language, from Sappho to “Ru Paul’s Drag Race.” Full color illustrations and photographs throughout, as well as profiles of the people and events that shaped LGBTQIA+ history and culture.

Sapphic Crossings: Cross-Dressing Women in Eighteenth-Century British Literature. Ula Lukszo Klein. University of Virginia Press, 2021. Details cross-dressing women in various genres,  prompting readers to rethink the roots lesbian and transgender identities. Advances the field of gender and sexuality. Well-documented.

Three Dads and a Baby: Adventures in Modern Parenting. Ian Jenkins. Cleis Press, 2021. The story of a polyamorous throuple (three boyfriends) and their efforts to conceive a baby. A heartfelt adventure. Well-documented with sources.

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2021 Over the Rainbow Fiction and Poetry Longlist

After Rubén. Francisco Aragón. Red Hen Press, 2020. Poems and essays inspired by and in conversation with Nicaraguan writer Rubén Darío.

Amora: Stories. Natalia Borges Polesso, translated by Julia Sanches. Amazon Crossing, 2020. The translations in this book are about love between women in various types of relationships. The strength of these stories is in the everyday life writing, the capture of truths in daily moments.

Box Hill: A story of low self-esteem. Mars-Jones, Adam. New Directions, 2020. On his eighteenth birthday, awkward, clueless Colin literally stumbles upon the confident Ray, a motorcycle-riding “daddy,” 10 years his senior, and thus begins a transformative relationship. On the surface, Box Hill is a sexy gay-male romance about a dominant-submissive relationship, but told with a depth and humor that make it a unique and moving coming-of-age tale.

Cut to Bloom. Arhm Choi Wild. Write Bloody Publishing, 2020. This poem collection looks to explore identities, that of a Korean American and of a queer person. This collection dives into the devastation of trauma and the process by which one can recover and bloom from those same wounds.

The Death of Vivek Oji. Akwaeke Emezi. Riverhead Books, 2020. This novel told from multiple perspectives looks back on the events that lead up to the death of Vivek Oji. The book showcases the experiences of characters with various queer identities in modern day Nigeria and illustrates how efforts to protect can sometimes be as damaging as any threat.

Dispatch: Poems. Cameron Awkward-Rich. Persea, 2019. Poems offered through the lens of the poets that came before, to explore bodies and self navigating a world of violence and disruption.

The Foley Artist: Stories. Ricco Villanueva Siasoco. Gaudy Boy, 2020.  Nine short stories that explore the intersectional identities of the Filipino diaspora in America as they interrogate intimacy, foreignness, and silence in an absurd world.

The Gospel of Breaking. Christmas, Jillian. Arsenal Pulp Press, 2020. A deeply-felt, wide-ranging collection of poetry, taking on topics of racism, politics, love, and family history.  Fierce and funny, the book is a celebratory, revelatory word-fest.

Guillotine: Poems. Eduardo C. Corral. Graywolf Press, 2020. Poems exploring gay male life and the experiences of migrants trying to enter America.

Harrow the Ninth. Tamsyn Muir. Tor.com, 2020. Harrowhawk Nonagesimus is the last necromancer of the Ninth House and, as such, has been drafted into an unwinnable war. Now she must become a perfect angel of death even while her health and mind seem to be simultaneously failing her and her own weapon seems to be making her sick. To truly summarize this book in a few words, it is gothic lesbian necromancers in space and all of the drama that comes with such an epic story.

Homesick: Stories. Nino Cipri. Dzanc Books, 2019. An eclectic mix of short stories across genres from romance to horror to science fiction that includes multiple queer identities and characters across the gender spectrum.

Homie: Poems. Danez Smith. Graywolf Press, 2020.  Poetry that explores queerness, friendship, family, illness, race, and death in America.

Indigo. Ellen Bass. Copper Canyon Press, 2020. Indigo’s poems roll off of the tongue and materialize in the mind. Thought-provoking and honest, this work will make you re-evaluate all of your relationships with others and yourself. Clear and precise, Bass poses questions while conjuring eternal themes of life, death, love, and yes, food.

Invisible Kingdom, Volume 1: Walking the Path. G. Willow Wilson with artist Christian Ward. Berger Books, 2019. This sci-fi saga focuses on two very different sects of one society and a small rogue spaceship on the run from both. It also draws the focus on two women from very different backgrounds and how their fates collide and connect with each other — and how the knowledge they unveil could change the very core of their society.

Junebat. John Elizabeth Stintzi. House of Anansi Press, 2020. This collection is a journey through identity exploration, specifically gender, of folding and unfolding, of becoming, of others seeing what you see or feel, and all the emotions and self-doubt that can go along with it. Also featured are a curious junebat, and Hale-Bopp, the queer cactus.

Little Blue Encyclopedia (For Vivian). Plante, Hazel Jane. Metonymy Press, 2019. The narrator, mourning the loss of her beloved friend Vivian, begins a project of writing about Vivian’s favorite TV show, the fictional Little Blue, as a way of remembering and memorializing her friend. Writing about the TV show in encyclopedic form provides a framework for a deep dive into the show, which reveals the life of her friend all the more. Unconventional in form, yet highly readable; playful and with a love of pop culture, the book is a celebration of friendship between trans women.

The Malevolent Volume. Justin Phillip Reed. Coffee House Press, 2020.
Reed’s works are in conversation with other poems, mythology, and effuse emotion and experience.

Plain Bad Heroines. Emily M. Danforth. William Morrow, 2020. A queer, feminist horror-comedy centered on the deaths of five young women at a cursed New England boarding school for girls and the horror film now being shot on the school grounds.

The Prettiest Star. Carter Sickels. Hub City Press, 2020. In the final stages of AIDS, Brian Jackson returns to his small Ohio hometown from New York City in 1986 after a six year absence. The story is told in shifting perspectives from Brian, his mother, and his younger sister. The book showcases the fullness of life in the throes of illness and the potential and limits for growth and forgiveness.

Real Life. Brandon Taylor. Riverhead Books, 2020. Wallace is a young, black man from Alabama attending a Midwestern university to earn his biochem degree. Wallace also happens to be queer. These facts have led to him being understandably distanced even within his circle of friends until the events of one weekend threaten that distance as well as expose very real threats. This book discusses homophobia and racism in a very real way while also delving deeply into the helplessness and trauma that can come along with those experiences.

The Seep. Porter, Chana. Soho Press, 2020. Not your typical alien invaders, The Seep, have brought not destruction, but utopia, to Earth. Trina Goldberg-Oneka, a fifty-year-old trans woman, and her wife Deeba, are living a seemingly nice life under The Seep, with capitalism gone and where anything seems possible, until Deeba decides she wants to be reborn which, yes, is possible. Heartbroken at the loss of Deeba, and questioning utopia, Trina goes on a quest to save a lost boy from The Seep.

Shine Of The Ever. Foster, Claire Rudy. Interlude Press, 2019. Set in Portland in the 1990s, and described as a “literary mixtape,” Shine of the Ever is a collection of witty, bittersweet vignettes about characters young and queer, searching for love and community, making mistakes and sometimes succumbing to insecurities, yet doing it all in style.

The Subtweet. Vivek Shraya. ECW Press, 2020. The story starts with one musician covering the song of another, leading to a friendship that strains when one becomes more famous than the other. The author shows how texts and social media can complicate relationships, and how music can unite and divide.

This Town Sleeps. Dennis E. Staples. Counterpoint, 2020. A romantic mystery, with a supernatural twist, set on an Ojibwe reservation in northern Minnesota, involving Marion, a midtwenties gay Ojibwe man, and his old high school classmate, the closeted, and white, Shannon. Drawn back to his hometown for reasons he can’t explain, Marion enters into a complicated relationship with Shannon, and becomes entangled in the mystery of another classmate who was murdered years earlier.

Thrown in the Throat. Benjamin Garcia. Milkweed Editions, 2020. A fantastic debut of poetry by the son of Mexican immigrants breaks down the walls and boldly questions who belongs—in closets or in countries—and how and why do either exist?

Upright Women Wanted. Sarah Gailey. Tom Doherty Associates/Tor, 2020. An amazingly queer romp into an imagined future American Southwest which follows a stowaway young woman and the antifascist librarians that she runs away with.

Vera Kelly Is Not a Mystery. Rosalie Knecht. Tin House Books, 2020.  After losing her job and having her girlfriend leave her, Vera Kelly sets up a private detective agency and her first case involves a lost foster child, political intrigue and the internal workings of the Dominican community in the US.

You Exist Too Much. Zaina Arafat. Catapult, 2020. A story told in vignettes that goes between the U.S. and the Middle East while following the life of a Palestinian-American woman who when she comes out as queer to her mother is simply told that she exists too much. This book is a powerful look into queerness, trauma, mental, illness, and familial relationships as well as how all of these things affect someone’s search for love.

Honorable mentions

  • Boyfriend Material. Alexis Hall. Sourcebooks Casablanca, 2020.
  • The House in the Cerulean Sea. TJ Klune. Tor Books, 2020.
  • The Kill Club. Wendy Heard. Mira Books, 2019.

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2021 Over the Rainbow Nonfiction Longlist

Ace: What Asexuality Reveals About Desire, Society, and the Meaning of Sex. Angela Chen. Beacon Press, 2020. An exploration of what asexuality means and what it reveals about a society that is obsessed with sex. Chen includes a diverse range of identities, and is frank about the book’s biases and why these biases exist.

Angry Queer Somali Boy: A Complicated Memoir. Mohamed Abdulkarim Ali. University of Regina Press, 2019. Ali writes about coming of age while being traumatically uprooted to Abu Dhabi, The Netherlands, and Canada.  The writing is compelling and jarring, offering unique perspectives on immigration, homelessness, addiction, and loss.

Archiving an Epidemic: Art, AIDS, and the Queer Chicanx Avant-Garde. Robb Hernádez. New York University Press, 2019. Even in 2020 we are learning lessons of AIDS’ impact on queer culture. In Archiving an Epidemic, Hernández coins the theory Archival Body/archival Space and reimagines the Chicanx Avant-Garde movement in a queer way and artists’ works as Mexican American memorials. As we are currently in another pandemic, this book provides evidence and memory of what was lost during the AIDS epidemic.

The Art of Drag. Jake Hall. Artwork by Sofie Birkin, Hellen Li, Jashyot, Dingh Hans. Nobrow Ltd, 2020. This beautifully illustrated, hand-sized book takes the reader through a pictorial history of drag, providing brief, reference-like written entries to how drag has been perceived, experienced and has influenced throughout history. Whether it be activism or pop culture, this book celebrates the diversity and queerness of drag.

Before Trans: Three Gender Stories from Nineteenth-Century France. Rachel Mesch. Stanford University Press, 2020. Mesch discusses “trans before trans” and “gender before gender” in this thought-provoking book. Are the ways that we understand gender and the ways that gender has been placed on others the way that those in history experienced it? Unlikely, but Mesch provides detailed research and analysis to help us understand why.

Female Husbands: A Trans History. Jen Manion. Cambridge University Press, 2020.Were women assigned female at birth who took on male roles and were deemed “female husbands” lesbians or transgender? Manion looks at these earliest accounts of queerness that have been told through the lesbian or intimacy between women lens of sexuality, and instead examines these accounts through the lens of gender. How do we make meaning of people and relationships that existed far before the labels we now use? There may be no decisive answer by Female Husbands gives us a lot to consider.

Figure It Out. Written by Wayne Koestenaum. Soft Skull, 2020. This book of brief essays is perfect reading for the times we find ourselves in. How can a text be about nothing and everything at the same time? Introspective stories on things that commonly ground us and bind us together are awaiting.

Gender: A Graphic Guide. Meg-John Barker. Icon Books, 2020.  An excellent introduction to many facets of gender, explained with sensitivity and clarity.  The writing and illustrations are accessible and enlightening without feeling pedantic.  For an introduction, this title covers a lot of ground, including contemporary topics like geek masculinities, trans time, the #MeToo movement, and the #ThisIsWhatNonBinaryLooksLike hashtag.

Here for It: Or, How to Save Your Soul in America. R. Eric Thomas. Ballantine Books, 2020. A hilarious memoir about growing up as a gay Christian Black man in the US. The contents range from poignant and personal essays to witty viral Facebook posts.

A History of My Brief Body. Billy-Ray Belcourt. Two Dollar Radio, 2020.  Billy-Ray’s memoir details his early life in the Driftpile First Nation community, sexual exploration and identity, using writing as a survival technique, and love and loss.

Imagining Queer Methods. Edited by Matt Brim and Amin Ghaziani. New York University Press, 2019. This collection of innovative works in the field of queer scholarship aims to showcase the newly emerging field of queer studies. The works in the books cover a diverse array of topics from race studies to psychology to scientific appeals to many more. Brim and Ghaziana have done an incredible job of collecting these scholars into one volume that allows the reader to get an in-depth look into what queer theory is and what it could be.

Lady Romeo: The Radical and Revolutionary Life of Charlotte Cushman, America’s First Celebrity. Tana Wojczuk. Avid Reader Press, 2020.Did you know that America’s first international celebrity was a tomboy and a lesbian? Wojczuk’s Lady Romeo tells the story of famous nineteenth century actress Charlotte Cushman, who played male characters in Europe and across the United States including Romeo on the London stage. This short, but compelling, read takes the reader through the life of Cushman’s career, her relationships with lovers, and a time when Shakespeare was the original binge watching.

My Autobiography of Carson McCullers: A Memoir. Jenn Shapland. Tin House, 2020. While working as an intern in the archives at the Harry Ransom Center, Jenn Shapland encounters the love letters between Carson McCullers and a woman named Annemarie. The result is this book, an interweaving of a new biography of McCullers, the story of how Shapland approached her research, and a memoir of the way Shapland’s efforts to understand McCullers brought her closer to understanding herself. The result brings the reader into intimate contact both with Carson McCullers and with the author herself, as the uncovering of McCullers’ queer identity mirrors Shapland’s own self-examination.

Something That May Shock and Discredit You. Daniel Lavery. Atria Books, 2020. A delightful mix of transmasculine memoir, biblical and pop culture references, and literary parodies reminiscent of Lavery’s work on The Toast website.  This book is funny, relatable, and moving — often all at the same time.

Spellbound: A Graphic Memoir. Bishakh Kumar Som. Street Noise Books, 2020. This graphic novel memoir takes us through the author’s life from the view she sees herself in, as a woman fully inside and out. This is a work that focuses not on how others perceive a transgender person but rather focuses on how they see themselves.

Tasty Pride: 75 Recipes and Stories from the Queer Food Community. Compiled by Jesse Szewczyk. Clarkson Potter, 2020. A recipe book that collects the stories and recipes from 75 chefs and celebrities from across the queer community. The recipes are simple and easy to understand and let the reader experience and connect to the stories in a real and physical way.

Tomboyland: Essays. Melissa Faliveno. Topple Books, 2020. Melissa Faliveno grew up a self-described tomboy in the Midwest, a land of softball, tornadoes, guns, and casseroles. In this collection of essays, the author revisits the internal and external landscapes of her childhood as a queer adult.

What’s Your Pronoun?: Beyond He and She. Dennis Baron. Liveright, 2020. A comprehensive and scholarly look at the history of pronouns and their usage in our society. This work puts pronouns outside of he and she into historical context, bringing new understanding to their usage.

Honorable mentions

  • The Fixed Stars. Molly Wizenberg. Abrams Press, 2020.
  • Rib Joint: A Memoir in Essays. Julia Koets. Red Hen Press, 2020.
  • Seeing Gender. Iris Gottlieb. Chronicle Books, 2019.
  • The Times I Knew I Was Gay. Eleanor Crewes. Scribner, 2020.

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Over the Rainbow Press Release, ALA Midwinter 2020

CHICAGO-The Over the Rainbow committee of ALA’s Rainbow Roundtable gave careful consideration to 312 books this year.  We chose 29 fiction and poetry titles and 19 nonfiction titles to make up the complete 2021 Over the Rainbow book list.  The titles on this list all exhibit commendable literary quality and significant authentic LGBTQIA+ content.

In the books we reviewed, we were pleased to note the increased diversity of transgender, asexual, immigrant, indigenous, and asexual experiences.  Authors explored history and contemporary politics through new lenses, while we also saw innovations in formats — including a cookbook.

The top ten fiction and nonfiction titles are:

  • Ace: What Asexuality Reveals About Desire, Society, and the Meaning of Sex. Angela Chen. Beacon Press, 2020.
  • Here for It: Or, How to Save Your Soul in America. R. Eric Thomas. Ballantine Books, 2020.
  • A History of My Brief Body. Billy-Ray Belcourt. Two Dollar Radio, 2020.
  • Homesick: Stories. Nino Cipri. Dzanc Books, 2019.
  • Homie: Poems. Danez Smith. Graywolf Press, 2020.
  • My Autobiography of Carson McCullers: A Memoir. Jenn Shapland. Tin House, 2020.
  • Plain Bad Heroines. Emily M. Danforth. William Morrow, 2020.
  • The Prettiest Star. Carter Sickels. Hub City Press, 2020.
  • Real Life. Brandon Taylor. Riverhead, 2020.
  • What’s Your Pronoun?: Beyond He and She. Dennis Baron. Liveright, 2020.
Image of the top ten books of the Over the Rainbow book list
The top ten books of the 2021 Over the Rainbow Booklist

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Under consideration for December 2020

The following titles have been read and recommended for inclusion on the final list by at least one juror:

Fiction and Poetry

Blount, Tommye. Fantasia for the Man in Blue. Four Way Books, 2020.

Brant, Beth. A Generous Spirit: Selected Work by Beth Brant. Inanna Press, 2020.

Clarke, Diana. Thin Girls. HarperCollins, 2020.

Donoghue, Emma. Pull of the Stars. Little, Brown, 2020.

Fargo, Layne. They Never Learn. Scout Press, 2020.

Head, Cheryl A. Find Me When I’m Lost. Bywater Books, 2020.

Jae. The Roommate Arrangement. Ylva Publishing, 2019.

Joukhadar, Zeyn. The Thirty Names of Night. Atria Books, 2020.

Lenhardt, Melissa. The Secret of You and Me. Graydon House, 2020.

Malerich, C. S. The Factory Witches of Lowell. Tor, 2020.

McDonnell, MZ. Poet, prophet, fox : the tale of Sinnach the Seer. Book one, How the fox gained his sight. Moose Maple Press, 2019.

Milliken, Kate. Kept Animals. Simon & Schuster, 2020.

Salam, Anbara. Belladonna. Berkley Books, 2020.

Stearns, R. E. Gravity of a Distant Sun. Saga, 2020.

Ulanday Barrett, Kay. More than Organs. Sibling Rivalry Press, 2020.

Wilsner, Meryl. Something to Talk About. Berkley Books, 2020.

Nonfiction

Gieseking, Jen Jack. A Queer New York: Geographies of Lesbians, Dykes, and Queers. New York University Press, 2020.

Giorno, John. Great Demon Kings. Farrar Strauss & Giroux, 2020.

Jackson, Richie. Gay Like Me: A Father Writes to His Son. Harper, 2020.

James, Evan. I’ve Been Wrong Before. Atria Books, 2020.

Montez, Ricardo. Keith Haring’s Line: Race and the Performance of Desire. Duke University Press, 2020.

Rastrelli, Tom. Confessions of a Gay Priest: A Memoir of Sex, Love, Abuse, and Scandal in the Catholic Seminary. University of Iowa Press, 2020.

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Under consideration for November 2020

The following titles have been read and recommended for inclusion on the final list by at least one juror:

Fiction and Poetry

Chin, Staceyann. Crossfire: A Litany for Survival. Haymarket Press, 2019.

Emezi, Akwaeke. The Death of Vivek Oji. Riverhead Books, 2020.

Hart, Ellen. In a Midnight Wood. Minotaur Books, 2020.

La Mackerel, Kama. Zom-Fam. Metonymy Press, 2020.

Ring, Dave (editor). Glitter + Ashes: Queer Tales of a World that Wouldn’t Die. Neon Hemlock Press, 2020.

Sarais, Michael. All of My Friends Are Rich. Cloudy Day Publishing, 2020.

Nonfiction

Ali, Mohamed Abdulkarim. Angry Queer Somali Boy: A Complicated Memoir. University of Regina Press, 2019.

Burgess, Rebecca. How to Be Ace: A Memoir of Growing Up Asexual. Jessica Kingsley, 2020.

Glaude, Eddie S., Jr. Begin Again: James Baldwin’s America and its Urgent Lessons for Our Own. Crown, 2020.

Lisicky, Paul. Later: My Life at the Edge of the World. Graywolf Press, 2020.

Rapinoe, Megan. One Life. Penguin Press, 2020.

Sullivan, Lou. We Both Laughed in Pleasure. Nightboat Books, 2020.

Sycamore, Mattilda Bernstein. The Freezer Door. Semiotext(e), 2020.

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