Under Consideration for October 2023

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


And Then He Sang a Lullaby by Ani Kayode Somtochukwu

A searingly honest and resonant debut from a Nigerian writer and queer liberation activist, exploring what love and freedom cost in a society steeped in homophobia

apocrifa: Poems by Amber Flame

APOCRIFA is a nongendered love story told in verse, the journey of a lover and their beloved finding each other, falling apart, and then creating their own way to love together.

The Bell in the Fog by Lev A.C. Rosen

The Bell in the Fog, a dazzling historical mystery by Lev AC Rosen, asks—once you have finally found a family, how far would you go to prove yourself to them?

Bellies by Nicola Dinan

It begins as your typical boy meets boy. While out with friends at their local university drag night, Tom buys Ming a drink. Confident and witty, a magnetic young playwright, Ming is the perfect antidote to Tom’s awkward energy, and their connection is instant. Tom finds himself deeply and desperately drawn into Ming’s orbit, and on the cusp of graduation, he’s already mapped out their future together. But shortly after they move to London to start their next chapter, Ming announces her intention to transition.

The Late Americans by Brandon Taylor

The Booker Prize finalist and widely acclaimed author of Real Life and Filthy Animals returns with a deeply involving new novel of young men and women at a crossroads.


Creep: Accusations and Confessions by Myriam Gurba

A ruthless and razor-sharp essay collection that tackles the pervasive, creeping oppression and toxicity that has wormed its way into society—in our books, schools, and homes, as well as the systems that perpetuate them—from the acclaimed author of Mean, and one of our fiercest, foremost explorers of intersectional Latinx identity.

The Yards Between Us: A Memoir of Life, Love, and Football by R.K. Russell

A groundbreaking memoir from professional NFL player, writer, and advocate R.K. Russell, who made history by becoming the first out active NFL player to identify as bisexual.


Under Consideration for September 2023

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


A Lot of People Live in This House by Bailey Merlin

A Lot of People Live in This House follows Rachel as she arrives at the house on the hill alone as Job attends a meditation retreat in India for two weeks to unpack his own grief. She’s greeted by housemates who smile, bring her cups of tea, and seem happy she’s there. She hates it. Not long after, Job is trapped in India by a virus that’s grounded just about every plane in the world.

The Boy in the Rain by Stephanie Cowell

Set in England between 1901 and 1910, The Boy in the Rain portrays the illicit passion between two men. 

Boys Weekend by Mattie Lubchansky

From the award-winning cartoonist and editor at The Nib, a hilarious trans-“final girl” horror graphic novel about a bachelor party gone very, very wrong.

Dykette by Jenny Fran Davis

An addictive, absurd, and darkly hilarious debut novel about a young woman who embarks on a ten-day getaway with her partner and two other queer couples.

Feed them Silence by Lee Mandelo

Lee Mandelo dives into the minds of wolves in Feed Them Silence, a novella of the near future.

Last Drop of Hemlock by Katharine Schellman

In The Last Drop of Hemlock, the dazzling follow up to Last Call at the Nightingale, even a dance can come with a price…

Some Desperate Glory by Emily Tesh

A thrillingly told queer space opera about the wreckage of war, the family you find, and who you must become when every choice is stripped from you, Some Desperate Glory is Astounding Award Winner Emily Tesh’s explosive debut novel.


Glitter and Concrete: A Cultural History of Drag in New York City by Elyssa Maxx Goodman 

From journalist and drag historian Elyssa Maxx Goodman, an intimate, evocative history of drag in New York City exploring its dynamic role, from the Jazz Age to Drag Race, in queer liberation and urban life.


August 2023Books Under Consideration

These books have received at least one ‘Yes’ votes by the Over the Rainbow Roundtable readers.


The Celebrants by Steven Rowley

A deeply honest tribute to the growing pains of selfhood and the people who keep us going, coupled with Steven Rowley’s signature humor and heart, The Celebrants is a moving tale about the false invincibility of youth and the beautiful ways in which friendship helps us celebrate our lives, even amid the deepest challenges of living.

Chef’s Choice by TJ Alexander

A fake dating arrangement turns to real love in this deliciously delightful queer rom-com from the author of the sweetly satisfying Chef’s Kiss.

Girlfriends by Emily Zhou

Seven heartstoppingly gorgeous stories about young transgender life from the Upper Midwest to New York City.

Infamous by Lex Croucher

Will Eddie be forced to choose between her friendship with Rose and her literary dreams––or will she be able to write her own happily ever after?

The Love We Make by Harper Bliss

Best-selling sapphic romance author Harper Bliss brings you a heartfelt romance about overcoming differences, found family, and learning to see yourself through the eyes of the person you love.

Roaming by Jillian Tamaki and Mariko Tamaki

Spring break, 2009. High school best friends Zoe and Dani are now freshman college students, meeting in a place they’ve wanted to visit forever: New York City. Tagging along is Dani’s classmate Fiona, a mercurial art student with an opinion on everything. Together, the three cram in as much of the city as possible, gleefully falling into tourist traps, pondering so-called great works of art, sidestepping creeps, and eating lots and lots of pizza (folded in half, of course).

Transitioning Home by Heather K. O’Malley

Thomas Simmons nearly died when a rocket-propelled grenade threw him ass over teakettle while flanking insurgents in Mosul, ending his military career. Recovery’s rough and gives him all the time in the world to face the question he’s avoided all his life: Why does he feel jealous of women?

The Unfortunates by J.K. Chukwu

An edgy, bitingly funny debut about a queer, half-Nigerian college sophomore who, enraged and exhausted by the racism at her elite college, is determined to reveal the truth about The Unfortunates—the unlucky subset of Black undergrads who Just. Keep. Disappearing.


Better Living Through Birding: Notes by a Black Man in the Natural World by Christian Cooper

Central Park birder Christian Cooper takes us beyond the viral video that shocked a nation and into a world of avian adventures, global excursions, and the unexpected lessons you can learn from a life spent looking up.

Crying Wolf by Eden Boudreau

It’s a tale as old as time. Girl meets boy. Boy wants girl. Girl says no. Boy takes what he wants anyway.

It’s Hot in Here(Or Am I Suffering for All Eternity for the Sins I Committed on Earth) by Zach Zimmerman

In this debut collection of essays, lists, musings, and quips, New York-based comedian Zach Zimmerman delicately walks the fine line between tear-jerking and knee-slapping and does so with aplomb.

The Last Gay Man by Ype Driessen

A delightful graphic memoir told in photographs. 

Miss Major Speaks: Conversations with a Black Trans Revolutionary by Miss Major Griffin-Gracy and Toshio Meronek

Miss Major’s incredible story of a life lived and a world survived becomes a conduit for larger questions about the riddle of collective liberation. For a younger generation, she warns about the traps of ‘representation,’ the politics of ‘self-care,’ and the frequent dead-ends of non-profit organizing; for all of us, she is a strike against those who would erase these histories of struggle. Miss Major offers something that cannot be found elsewhere: an affirmation that our vision for freedom can and must be more expansive than those on offer by mainstream institutions.

We See Each Other: A Black, Trans Journey Through TV and Film by Tre’vell Anderson

A groundbreaking look at the history of transgender representation in TV and film, by an of-the-moment and in-demand culture reporter.


Under Considerations for July 2023

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


Horse Barbie by Geena Rocero

A dazzling testimony from an icon who sits at the center of transgender history and activism, Horse Barbie is a celebratory and universal story of survival, love, and pure joy.

Nobody Needs to Know by  Pidgeon Pagonis 

From intersex activist Pidgeon Pagonis comes a candid and life-affirming true story of identity, lies, family secrets, and the healing power of truth.

Page Boy by Elliot Page

Full of intimate stories, from chasing down secret love affairs to battling body image and struggling with familial strife, Pageboy is a love letter to the power of being seen. With this evocative and lyrical debut, Oscar-nominated star Elliot Page captures the universal human experience of searching for ourselves and our place in this complicated world.


Under Consideration for June 2023

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


Bad Cree by Jessica Johns

In this gripping, horror-laced debut, a young Cree woman’s dreams lead her on a perilous journey of self-discovery that ultimately forces her to confront the toll of a legacy of violence on her family, her community and the land they call home.

Couplets: A Love Story by Maggie Milner

A dazzling love story in poems about one woman’s coming-out, coming-of-age, and coming undone.

Open Throat by Henry Hoke

A lonely, lovable, queer mountain lion narrates this star-making fever dream of a novel.

The Salt Grows Heavy by Cassandra Khaw
You may think you know how the fairy tale goes: a mermaid comes to shore and weds the prince. But what the fables forget is that mermaids have teeth. And now, her daughters have devoured the kingdom and burned it to ashes.


And Don’t F&%k It Up by Maria Elena Fernandez

A definitive history and celebration of the groundbreaking show RuPaul’s Drag Race in its first decade, from a Burbank basement set all the way to the Emmy’s, and every weave in-between,  as told by its stars, producers and fans.

Engine Running: Essays by Cade Mason

Lush and innovative, these essays contemplate childhood memories and family secrets, religion and queerness in the rural South, and the ways rituals and contours of manhood are passed through generations. Most of all, we feel with Mason what it is to grapple with and love a place even as you yearn to leave.

Fat Off, Fat On by Clarkisha Kent

In this disarming and candid memoir, cultural critic Clarkisha Kent unpacks the kind of compounded problems you face when you’re a fat, Black, queer woman in a society obsessed with heteronormativity.

Floppy: Tales of a Genetic Freak of Nature at the End of the World by Alyssa Graybeal

One of the first books to explore the emotional landscape of living with Ehlers-Danlos syndrome from a patient’s perspective; a playful story of falling down, getting back up again, and realizing you should have gone to the hospital sooner.

Liberated by Kaz Rowe

Creative and courageous, Surrealist artist Claude Cahun championed freedom at every turn, from rejecting gender norms and finding queer love to risking death to sabotage the Nazis.

Shotgun Seamstress by Osa Atoe

A cut & paste celebration of Black punk and outsider identity, this is the only complete collection of the fanzine Shotgun Seamstress, a legendary DIY project that centered the scope of Blackness outside of mainstream corporate consumerist identity.

Who does that bitch think she is? By Craig Seligam  

A vivid new history of drag told through the life of the pioneering queen Doris Fish.


Under Consideration for May 2023

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


Charlotte Iles is Not a Detective by Katie Siegel.

For anyone seeking to satisfy their Harriet the Spy or Encyclopedia Brown nostalgia, this modern, witty debut based on the popular @katiefliesaway TikTok series stars a twentysomething former kid detective who’s coaxed out of retirement for one last case.

Daughters of Nantucket by Julie Gerstenblatt

Set against Nantucket’s Great Fire of 1846, this sweeping, emotional novel brings together three courageous women battling to save everything they hold dear.

A Day of Fallen Night by Samantha Shannon

In A Day of Fallen Night, Samantha Shannon sweeps readers back to the universe of Priory of the Orange Tree and into the lives of four women, showing us a course of events that shaped their world for generations to come.

Our Hideous Progeny by C.E. McGill

A queer, feminist masterpiece inspired by Mary Shelley’s classic, Our Hideous Progeny is a sumptuous tale of ambition and obsession, of forbidden love and sabotage and a twisty Gothic adventure that may forever change your view of human nature.

Pomegranate by Helen Elaine Lee 

The acclaimed author of The Serpent’s Gift returns with this gripping and powerful novel of healing, redemption, and love, following a queer Black woman who works to stay clean, pull her life together, and heal after being released from prison.

Rosewater by Liv Little

For fans of Bolu Babalola and Tia Williams comes a “tender, soulful, and sexy” (Phoebe Robinson) debut novel about finding love in an unexpected place.

Small Joys by Elvin James Mensah

As secrets and jealousies endanger all that Harley has come to depend on, he finds himself faltering once again, even though he finally has something—and someone—to live for. Soul-stirring and witty, full of hope and peopled with characters who feel like close friends, Small Joys explores a young man’s turbulent journey toward happiness and announces the arrival of an exciting voice in fiction.

We Could be so Good by Cat Sebastian

Casey McQuiston meets The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo in this mid-century rom-dram about a scrappy reporter and a newspaper mogul’s son.


The Girl that Can’t Get a Girlfriend by Mieri Hiranishi

From first crush to first crushed! The autobiographical manga about one woman’s quest for the hot short-haired girlfriend of her dreams!

How Far the Light Reaches: A Life in Ten Sea Creatures by Sabrina Imbler

A fascinating tour of creatures from the surface to the deepest ocean floor, inviting us to envision wilder, grander, and more abundant possibilities for the way we live.

Leg by Greg Marshall

A hilarious and poignant memoir grappling with family, disability, and coming of age in two closets—as a gay man and as a man living with cerebral palsy.

The Out Side: Trans & Nonbinary Comics Compiled by The KaoDavid Daneman and Min Christensen

In this vibrant and affirming comics anthology, 29 trans & nonbinary comic artists share their personal journeys of self-discovery and acceptance.

Until I Love Myself, Vol. 1: The Journey of a Nonbinary Manga Artist by Poppy Pesuyama

A bravely blunt autobiography about confronting the tangled traumas of gender dysphoria and workplace sexual harassment.


Under Consideration April 2023

These titles have gotten at least one yes from our committee readers.


Behind the Scenes by Karelia Stetz-Waters

Fans of Abby Jimenez and Meryl Wilsner will fall in love with this hilarious and refreshingly authentic novel about second chances, pugs, and finding the perfect muse . . .

Best Men by Sidney Karger

When two best men in a wedding party fall for each other, they realize love isn’t a piece of cake in this hilarious and heartfelt romantic comedy debut by screenwriter Sidney Karger.

Blinded: Poems by H. Warren

“I sew myself together / again and again” in urgent vulnerability, H Warren’s debut collection, Binded, discloses their reality of living nonbinary in the rural context of Alaska. With breasts bound by compression, these poems explore the space that binds the body into itself, stuck in unrelenting forces of binary politics and violence. Each poem is a stitching and restitching of the self—an examination of trans-survival. This is a courageous collection—an anthem of Queer resilience and a reminder of the healing powers of community care.

Blackward by Lawrence Lindell

Lawrence Lindell’s characters pop from the page in playful Technicolor. From mental health to romance, micro—and macro—aggressions to joy, our crew tackles everything life throws at them in this heartwarming tale about building a place to belong and the power of community.

Blessed Cure by Mario Cesar

Blessed Cure narrates Acacio’s life through the decades since the 60’s. Each chapter shows the provocations of other children at school, the awakening of his sexuality as a teenager, the demands of his parents for him to fit in with the standards dictated by the majority, the beginning of his adult life, the first time he falls in love with another man, the persecution of the Brazilian military dictatorship against LGBTQ+ people, the prejudice in the workplace and the dilemma between following his most intimate instincts or going according to what society imposes and marrying a woman.

Flux by Jinwoo Chong

A blazingly original and stylish debut novel about a young man  whose reality unravels when he suspects his employers have inadvertently discovered time travel and are covering up a string of violent crimes.

In Memoriam by Alice Winn

An epic tale of both the devastating tragedies of war and the forbidden romance that blooms in its grip, In Memoriam is a breathtaking debut.

Mimosa by Archie Bongiovanni

Best friends and chosen family Chris, Elise, Jo, and Alex work hard to keep themselves afloat. Their regular brunches hold them together even as the rest of their lives threaten to fall apart. In an effort to avoid being the oldest gays at the party, the crew decides to put on a new queer event called Grind–specifically for homos in their dirty thirties.

Monstrilio by Gerardo Sámano Córdova

A “genuinely scary” horror debut written in “prose so beautiful you won’t want to rush” about a boy who transforms into a monster, a monster who tries to be a man, and the people who love him in every form he takes (Ana Reyes)  

The Skin and Its Girl by Sarah Cyper

A young, queer Palestinian American woman pieces together her great-aunt’s secrets in this “enchanting, memorable” (Bustle) debut, confronting questions of sexual identity, exile, and lineage.

Something Wild and Wonderful by Anita Kelly

From the author of Love & Other Disasters comes a sparkling sullen-meets-sunshine romance featuring two men’s sweeping journey across the Western wilderness. 

Sorry, Bro by Taleen Voskuni

An Armenian-American woman rediscovers her roots and embraces who she really is in this vibrant and heartfelt queer rom-com by debut author Taleen Voskuni.

We could be so good by Cat Sebastian

Casey McQuiston meets The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo in this mid-century rom-dram about a scrappy reporter and a newspaper mogul’s son.

Your love is not good by Johanna Hedva

Your Love is Not Good stuffs queer explosive into the cracks between identity and aspiration, between desire and art, and revels in the raining debris.


365 Gays of the Year by Lewis Laney

Discover your queer hero and learn something new every day with 365 Gays of the Year, an accessible and fun introduction to LGBTQ+ history through the people that made it.

Believable: The Portraits of Lola Flash by Lola Flash

A stunning full-color collection of photographs, old and new, by the renowned photographer and LGBTQIA+ activist Lola Flash

Fieldwork: A Forager’s Memoir by Iliana Regan

From National Book Award–nominee Iliana Regan, a new memoir of her life and heritage as a forager, spanning her ancestry in Eastern Europe, her childhood in rural Indiana, and her new life set in the remote forests of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Fieldwork explores how Regan’s complex gender identity informs her acclaimed work as a chef and her profound experience of the natural world.

Hijab Butch Blues by Lamya H

A queer hijabi Muslim immigrant survives her coming-of-age by drawing strength and hope from stories in the Quran in this daring, provocative, and radically hopeful memoir.

A Place for Us by Brandon J. Wolf

From one of the most vital and passionate LGBTQ+ activists comes a powerful memoir about self-discovery, community, love, and resilience in the face of adversity.

Queer Career: Sexuality and Work in Modern America by Margot Canaday

A masterful history of the LGBT workforce in America

Tar Hollow Trans by Stacy Jane Grover

Together, her essays write transgender experience into broader cultural narratives beyond transition and interrogate the failures of concepts such as memory, metaphor, heritage, and tradition. Tar Hollow Trans investigates the ways the labels of transgender and Appalachian have been created and understood and reckons with the ways the ever-becoming transgender self, like a stigmatized region, can find new spaces of growth.An epic tale of both the devastating tragedies of war and the forbidden romance that blooms in its grip, In Memoriam is a breathtaking debut.


Under Consideration for March 2023

These are the titles under consideration for March 2023 and have at least one yes vote.


After Sappho by Shelby Wynn Schwartz

An exhilarating debut from a radiant new voice, After Sappho reimagines the intertwined lives of feminists at the turn of the twentieth century.

Any Other City by Hazel Jane Plante

By the author of Little Blue Encyclopedia (for Vivian): the fictional memoir of a trans indie rock musician that reveals how the act of creation can heal trauma and even change the past.

The Battle Drum by Saara El-Arifi

Murder. Secrets. Sacrifice: Three women seek the truth of the empire’s past. And the truth they find will have the power to ignite a war, in the sequel to The Final Strife, the continuation of a visionary fantasy trilogy inspired by the myths of Africa and Arabia.

Because You Were Mine by Brionne Janae

In their latest collection of poems, Cave Canem Poetry Prize winner Brionne Janae dives into the deep, unsettled waters of intimate partner violence, queerness, grief, and survival.

Confidence by Rafael Frumkin

Best friends (and occasional lovers) Ezra and Orson are teetering on top of the world after founding a company that promises instant enlightenment in this thrilling caper about scams, schemes, and the absurdity of the American Dream.

Even though I knew the end by C. L. Polk

C. L. Polk turns their considerable powers to a fantastical noir with Even Though I Knew the End.

Gay Poems for Red States by William Edward Taylor Carver Jr.

In Gay Poems for Red States, Carver counters the injustice of a persistent anti-LGBTQ+ movement by asserting that a life full of beauty and pride is possible for everyone. More than a collection of poetry, Carver’s earnest and heartfelt verses are for those wishing to discover and understand the vastness of Appalachia, and for the LGBTQ+ Appalachians who long for a future—for a home—in an often unwelcoming place.

More Sure: Poems and Interruptions by A. Light Zachary

A book of poems and interruptions, recording instances of love, self-realization, and recovery in non-binary, queer, and autistic lives.

People Who Report More Stress: The Stories by Alejandro Varela

The People Who Report More Stress is a collection of interconnected stories brimming with the anxieties of people who retreat into themselves while living in the margins, acutely aware of the stresses that modern life takes upon the body and the body politic.

The Secret Lives of Country Gentleman by KJ Charles

Gothic scandal meets Bridgerton intrigue in this swashbuckling Regency romance from celebrated author KJ Charles.

Solomon’s Crown by Natasha Siegel

Two rival kings fall desperately in love—but the fate of medieval Europe hangs in the balance.


A Trans Man Walks Into a Gay Bar by Harry Nicholas

In this raw, intimate and unflinchingly honest book, we follow Harry as he navigates the sometimes fraught and contradictory worlds of contemporary gay culture as a trans gay man, from Grindr, dating and gay bars, to saunas, sex and ultimately, falling in love. Harry’s brave and uplifting journey will show you there is joy in finding who you are.

Ace and Aro Journeys by The Ace and Aro Advocacy Project

Combining a rigorous exploration of identity and sexuality models with hundreds of candid and poignant testimonials – this companion vouches for your personal truth, wherever you lie on the aspec spectrum. You are not invisible! You are among friends.

Boyslut: A Memoir and Manifesto by Zachary Zane

A sex and relationship columnist bares it all in a series of essays—part memoir, part manifesto—that explore the author’s coming-of-age and coming out as a bisexual man and move toward embracing and celebrating sex unencumbered by shame.

The Other Pandemic: An AIDS Memoir by Lynn Curlee

A searing photo-illustrated historical memoir from the LGBTQIA+ frontlines of the AIDS epidemic of the 1980s and 1990s.

You’re That Bitch: & Other Cute Lessons about Being Unapologetically Yourself by Bretman Rock

A chaotically joyous collection of essays from one of the original influencers and the internet’s sweetheart, Bretman “The Baddest” Rock.


Under Consideration for February 2023

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


Camp Damascus by Chuck Tingle. Simon & Schuster. 2023

From beloved internet icon Chuck Tingle, Camp Damascus is a searing and earnest horror debut about the demons the queer community face in America, the price of keeping secrets, and finding the courage to burn it all down.

Chlorine by Jade Song. William Morrow. 2023

In the vein of The Pisces and The VegetarianChlorine is a debut novel that blurs the line between a literary coming-of-age narrative and a dark unsettling horror tale, told from an adult perspective on the trials and tribulations of growing up in a society that puts pressure on young women and their bodies… a powerful, relevant novel of immigration, sapphic longing, and fierce, defiant becoming.

Endpapers by Jennifer Savran Kelly. ‎Algonquin Books. 2023

A queer book conservator finds a mysterious old love letter, setting off a search for the author who wrote it and for a meaningful life beyond the binary in early-2000s New York City.

I Keep My Exoskeletons to Myself by Marisa Crane. Catapult. 2023

Dept. of Speculation meets Black Mirror in this lyrical, speculative debut about a queer mother raising her daughter in an unjust surveillance state.

Judas Goat by Gabrielle Bates. Tin House Books. 2023

In confession, in illumination, Bates establishes herself as an unflinching witness to the risks that desire necessitates, as Judas Goat holds readers close and whispers its unforgettable lines.

Sister, Maiden, Monster by Lucy Snyder. Tor Nightfire. 2023

Sister, Maiden, Monster is a visceral story set in the aftermath of our planet’s disastrous transformation and told through the eyes of three women trying to survive the nightmare, from Bram Stoker Award-winning author Lucy A. Snyder.

Stop Lying by Aaron Smith. University of Pittsburgh Press. 2023

Stop Lying is Aaron Smith’s most personal and vulnerable work yet. Revolving around the death of the poet’s mother and how Smith, a gay man, faces his upbringing where his sexuality was viewed as sinful and unnatural, these poems plumb the complexities of what families say and choose not to say. 

Tell me I’m Worthless by Alison Rumfitt. Tor Nightfire. 2023

A dark, unflinching haunted house novel that takes readers from the well of the literary gothic, up through Brighton’s queer scene, and out into the heart of modern day trans experience in the UK


Ace Notes by Michele Kirichanskaya. Jessica Kingsley Publishers. 2023

Covering everything from coming out, explaining asexuality and understanding different types of attraction, to marriage, relationships, sex, consent, gatekeeping, religion, ace culture and more, this is the ultimate arsenal for whatever the allo world throws at you.

Black on Black by Daniel Black. Hanover Square Press. 2023

A piercing collection of essays on racial tension in America and the ongoing fight for visibility, change, and lasting hope.

Choosing Family by Francesca Royster. Abrams Family. 2023

A brilliant literary memoir of chosen family and chosen heritage, told against the backdrop of Chicago’s North and South Sides.

Sounds Fake but Okay by Sarah Costello. Jessica Kingsley Publishers. 2023

Spanning the whole range of relationships we have in our lives – to family, friends, lovers, society, our gender, and ourselves, this book asks you to let your imagination roam, and think again what human connection really is.

Transformer: A Story of Glitter, Glam Rock, and Loving Lou Reed by Simon Doonan. HarperCollins. 2023

In this funny and poignant memoir and cultural history, the television personality, columnist, and author of Drag pays homage to Lou Reed’s groundbreaking album Transformer on its fiftieth anniversary and recalls its influence on his coming of age and coming out through glam rock.


Over the Rainbow Short List 2022

The shortlist of titles considered for the Over the Rainbow final bibliography for books published in 2022 are the following:

All My Friends are Invisible. Jonathan Joly. Quercus Publishing, 2022. When Jonathan Joly has what might be described as a hallucination in a crowded airport, he is prompted to recall the world of imagination he escaped into as a child, a world in which he had a friend in the girl who lived inside of him, and his reasons for doing so. Joly does not interrogate his experiences, but rather relates them openly, and reveals that the world of his imagination, and his invisible friends, continue to be a part of his reality. 

All the Things We Don’t Talk About. Amy Feltman. Grand Central Publishing, 2022. Feltman weaves a multiperspective story that is at once heartbreaking and heartwarming. The diverse cast of characters feel incredibly real as they tackle serious issues such as drug addiction, neurodivergence, gender, and sex. 

Asylum: A Memoir & Manifesto. Edafe Okporo. Simon & Schuster, 2022. Forced to flee his home in Nigeria after he is revealed to be a gay man, Edafe Okporo escapes to the United States and seeks asylum from persecution due to his sexual identity. What he encounters in the United States is a cell, and a system that does not work for the humane treatment and integration of immigrants and refugees. Asylum is the story of Okporo’s survival, but also a call to action, and a vision of a more compassionate system. 

Bi: Bisexual, Pansexual, Fluid, and Nonbinary Youth. Ritch C. Savin-Williams. NYU Press, 2022. In its examination of a queer population often misunderstood, this book answers questions that many readers may have about bisexuality. With real-world examples and historical backing, Savin-Williams weaves one of, if not the most, comprehensive guide on bisexuality currently available.  

The Boy with a Bird in His Chest: A Novel. Emme Lund. Atria Books, 2022. Owen always knew he was different; after all, he was born with a bird in his chest. For so long his bird and his mother are Owen’s only companions. Then one day Owen’s mother leaves him with his uncle for his own protection and suddenly it seems like the whole wide world is open to him. Overwhelmed, afraid, and completely curious, Owen begins to explore. This allegorical tale of magical realism tells a story of Owen’s coming of age and coming out. Exploring themes of belonging, isolation, found family, sexuality, and identity, The Boy with a Bird in His Chest is both somber and delightful, unexpected and universal, without being cliché. 

Burn the Page: A True Story of Torching Doubts, Blazing Trails, and Ignite Change. Danica Roem. Viking Publishing, 2022. As the first openly transgender member elected to the U.S. State Legislature, Roem’s memoir is part reflective and part manifesto. Roem describes herself as a transgender storyteller, and this memoir reads like a novel, entwining the stories of Roem’s childhood, transition, and political life. Striking a good balance between humor and politics, Burn the Page has a message that is ultimately hopeful, showing that while we all make mistakes, it is possible for an individual to change the world for the better by sharing their authentic self.

Burning My Roti: Breaking Barriers as a Queer Indian Woman. Sharan Dhaliwal. Hardie Grant, 2022. Burning My Roti is a visually stunning blended-genre book which looks at the experience of queer South Asian women through essays, interviews and illustrations. Part memoir, this is both a broad look at the issues queer South Asian women face, as well as Dhaliwal’s own reckoning with her role in confronting those systems.  

Boys Come First. Aaron Foley. Belt Publishing, 2022. Dominick, Tony, and Remy have been friends for years. Growing up gay and Black in Detroit, when you find your crew, you stick with them; even when it gets hard and even when you have to tell them about themselves. There aren’t many books that embrace and celebrate Black male friendship, discuss intimate partner abuse in gay relationships, and tackle neighborhood gentrification all at once. This book does all that and more, and does it well.

Dead collections. Isaac Fellman. Penguin Books, 2022. Being a transmasculine archivist and a vampire can leave Sol Katz feeling like life is stagnant and unchanging, forever frozen in the early days of transitioning and living in the archives surrounded by remnants of times gone by. When the widow Elsie enters his life, Sol finds himself seeing life in a whole new way. As the two work together unraveling Elsie’s wife’s memorabilia, the two find themselves in a whirlwind romance, which may just be what they both need to heal their hearts. Delightfully humorous while being as real as a vampire novel can be, Dead Collections explores sexuality, gender, identity, and belonging in a way that is unexpectedly charming and heartfelt. 

Fine: A Comic about Gender. Rhea Ewing. Liveright Publishing Corporation, 2022. An honest look at how one’s gender definition can be different from person to person depending on everything from personality, religion, culture, to upbringing. With a diverse mix of authentic perspectives, this book shows that there is an unlimited number of ways to define oneself.

Flung Out of Space: Inspired by the Indecent Adventures of Patricia Highsmith. Grace Ellis and Hannah Templer. Harry N. Abrams, 2022. Following the life of author Patrcia Highsmith as she navigates a world filled with sexism, homophobia, and her own self-doubt, this graphic novel is for all readers regardless if they know her work or not. Not only does it paint the picture of a hard-working and strong woman who made her way in the world and stood up for what she believed in, but it inspires others to do the same.

The Gender Identity Guide for Parents: Compassionate Advice to Help Your Child Be Their Most Authentic Self. Tavi Hawn. Rockridge Press, 2022.  Written by a licensed therapist, Hawn answers many of the questions potential parents may have about gender. The writing is compassionate and kind as it guides readers through scenarios they may encounter, stressing how no one individual has all the answers but that a willingness to listen and learn can go a long way. 

Girl’s Guide to Leaving. Laura Villareal. University of Wisconsin, 2022. Many struggle everyday with how to leave. Leave a relationship, leave home, leave family. How does one separate themselves from something that is harming them, especially when it is rooted in love? Girl’s Guide to Leaving is a collection of poems that tell the story of finding identity in culture, and community in identifying and letting go. It calls out abusive systems without shying away from the reality of trauma and connection, of loving what you fear and holding what you want to let go of.  

I’m So (Not) Over You. Kosoko Jackson. Berkeley, 2022. Kian Andrews is single and ready to mingle. Except, he’s really not. He’s still stinging from his breakup with his ex Hudson Rivers, who, conveniently, needs his help. Hudson’s old money parents are in town, and he needs Kian to pretend to still be his boyfriend. The next thing they know, Kian is invited to a Rivers family wedding, and neither man is ready for what forced proximity will do to their not-real-anymore relationship. A big-hearted second chance romantic comedy that reminds readers that what you want and what you need are often different things, and that asking for them is not a bad thing.

Like a House on Fire. Lauren McBrayer. GP Putnam’s Sons, 2022. Merit has been a dutiful wife and mother for twelve years, and now she’s ready to jump into her career again. When her new boss Jane seems to see her as a whole person, in a way she hasn’t been seen in years, Merit begins to be open to the possibility of a deeper relationship than she’s known. This is a trope-heavy read with great character development, and a relationship experience that is not often explored.  

Love & Other Disasters. Anita Kelly. Forever, 2022. In this classic contemporary romance you follow two contestants on a cooking show competition. Dahlia just got out of a terrible marriage and put her hopes and dreams on this trip through reality TV. London is nonbinary and has to deal with the fallout of coming out on national TV while still trying to win the competition. Sparks fly between them, complicating matters even worse. Will they be able to figure out their relationship before the competition is over?  

Love in the Big City. Sang Young Park, translated by Anton Hur. Grove Press, 2021. A gay millennial experiences love and loneliness in Seoul. Told in four parts, the author explores topics of family, homophobia, sex, HIV status, and activism.

Ma and Me: A Memoir. Putsata Reang. MCD, Farrar, Straus and Giroux. 2022. This beautifully written memoir alternates between the author’s own story growing up in Oregon, coming out, and finding her way professionally as a journalist, and her mother’s story of escaping genocidal war in Cambodia. The author describes her deep desire to please her mother, while struggling with living between two cultures and coming to terms with her own sexuality. 

Miss Memory Lane: A Memoir. Colton Hayes. Atria Books, 2022. Detailing his start as a small-town kid wanting more, to his time as a well-known television actor, this book reads like a confessional. Hayes’s writing is honest and full of heart as he tells what is like being a gay actor in Hollywood.

Monarch. Candace Wuehle. Soft Skull, 2022. An examination of what it means to be human and how even the hidden parts of ourselves can bring immense changes. Wuehle weaves an immersive and intricate story, covering a range of emotions from love and loss to hatred and uncertainty.

The Other Mother. Rachel M. Harper. Counterpoint, 2022. A family drama told from multiple perspectives. A lesbian couple in the 90’s use a sperm donor to have a baby. After they split up the birth mother abandons the other mother and hides her existence from the child, Jenry. Jenry goes to college expecting to meet his estranged grandfather and learn about his dead father, but discovers more about his family than he could have ever expected. The novel eloquently poses the question: what makes someone family: blood or love?

Our Colors. Gengoroh Tagame. Pantheon, 2022. This tender graphic novel follows 16-year-old Sora Ikeda as he discovers the possibility of living as an out gay man. He sparks an unlikely friendship with an older coffee shop owner, who helps him understand that being out and proud comes with challenges, but it is much better than the alternative. Tagame’s precise lines still allow the story to sing, imbuing a dream-like quality to this gentle coming-of-age.

Our Wives Under the Sea. Julia Armfield. Flatiron Books, 2022.
Miri and Leah are in love and living a happily married life, until Leah leaves on a mysterious deep-sea journey and returns months later profoundly changed. Alternating between the perspectives of the two women, this hauntingly strange novel slowly reveals the bizarre story of what happened to Leah in the ocean depths, and what Miri must do to save the woman she loves. 

Queer Conception: The Complete Fertility Guide for Queer and Trans Parents-to-Be. Kristin L. Kali. Sasquatch Books, 2022. Comprehensive yet approachable title on fertility and conception for all of the LGBTQ+ community including trans* readers. Written by a queer midwife, topics range from making the decision to have a baby to dealing with issues of sperm donors, surrogacy, insemination, early pregnancy, and lactation.

A Quick and Easy Guide to Asexuality. Molly Muldoon and Will Hernandez. Limerence Press, 2022. This graphic novel covers a community that is often misunderstood and lost in today’s sexual world. With humor and plenty of examples, this book breaks down misconceptions to foster understanding.

Secret City: The Hidden History of Gay Washington. James Kirchick. Henry Holt and Company, 2022. A riveting look at gay Washington DC and the fight for equality – from Franklin Delano Roosevelt to Bill Clinton. Well documented.

Sedating Elaine. Dawn Winter. Knopf Publishing Group, 2022. Frances is in over her head, in more ways than one, and decides the best solution to her problems is to sedate her girlfriend while attempting to evade her drug dealer. Yes, this story is as ridiculous as it sounds, but it is also riotously funny, well-written, irreverent, and at times outright gruesome, with characters that jump off the page with almost no prompting.   

Sex is as Sex Does: Governing Transgender Identity. Paisley Currah. NYU Press, 2022. This comprehensive book is not weighed down by overly jargonized terminology or statistics as it discusses a serious issue for many transgender individuals: how the government regulates gender. Using real-world examples, Sex is as Sex Does details not only the history of gender regulations but also the “why” of it, all of which accumulates in a book that shows the process as the convoluted and often painful mess that it is.

Siren Queen. Nghi Vo. TorDotCom, 2022. Luli Wei knows what girls that look like her end up doing in the movies, and she’s determined to be none of those things – she’s going to be a star. But becoming a star in a world that survives on the currency of the expendable masses reaching for glory requires more than a pretty face and a little luck. It will take allies, cunning, ruthless ambition and an iron fortitude. It will take a monster. Nghi Vo has crafted a world that is recognizable and utterly unfamiliar. This is a book that dwells somewhere between satire and horror, and situated firmly within queerness. It brings to mind questions about secrecy, about the price we’re willing to pay to live authentically, what we’re willing to do to be free, and what paying those prices will do to us.

Sirens & Muses. Antonia Angress. Ballantine Books, 2022. Young art students Louisa, Karina, and Preston plunge headfirst into the New York art world amidst Occupy Wall Street, while veteran artist Robert rejoins it. Tensions abound over talent, taste, romances, and capitalism in the art world.

The Third Person. Emma Grove. Drawn and Quarterly, 2022. A raw memoir of the author’s mental health struggle through bad therapists and self-doubt. With authentic storytelling, this graphic novel addresses how harmful stigmatizing mental health can be as well as the potential damage gatekeeping can be during a transgender person’s transition process.

Walk Me to the Corner. Anneli Furmark. Drawn and Quarterly, 2022. A late-in-life queer love story beautifully conveyed with fairly simple text and pictures, and sometimes no text at all. Furmark allows us to walk with these two women in their fifties as they fall in love, develop a passionate relationship, and navigate that passion with their lives as spouses and parents. It is an emotional journey related with compassion and realism.

You Better Be Lightning. Andrea Gibson. Button Poetry, 2022. You Better be Lightning is a collection of poetry that touches on the deeply personal while seeming to remain vast in scope. To say it is evocative fails to capture the experience of reading Gibson, which is akin to beginning to shake the hand of a friend only to have them pull you close in an enveloping hug.  

Young Mungo. Douglas Stuart. Grove Press, 2022. The story of Mungo, a teenager in early 1990s Glasgow, Scotland. The book flashes between the time when Mungo discovers his feelings for a boy, James and starts to explore that relationship and five months later to a disastrous camping trip to a loch in Western Scotland that his mother sends him on with two neighbors. Mungo faces challenges due to not only his sexuality, but his class, a gang leader brother, an absentee and alcoholic mother, and an undiagnosed facial tic. The book elegantly captures the complicated feelings of a teen boy in a terrible situation. CW: sexual violence.