On Reviewing GLBTQ Books by Renay

Hello, citizens of the internet! It’s (the end of) Book Blogger Appreciation Week! Currently, the sky is blue, birds are chirping, the last few BBAW memes have ensured that my to read list is never going anywhere, my Google Reader will probably always say +1000 because there are so many awesome book blogs to read, and I am here to talk to you about GLBTQ blogging.

I started book blogging in 2007. I looked and looked and looked for book bloggers covering GLBTQ novels and short story collections and speculative fiction, and shook Google like a recalcitrant piggy bank that refused to cough up the coins I knew would buy me a delicious snack. This was early 2007. I remember ranting to Dewey (for all those among us who remember her, she was always such a awesome listener, bless,) asking her how could it be possible that out of all the book blogs there were, no one was reading about people like me? Boy, girl, boy, girl, boy, girl, like the most unintentionally malicious, erasure filled game of duck duck goose ever without all the geese.

Take a gander: we were mostly invisible.

It’s true, now most of us are reading more widely and deliberately, reaching out to diversify our choices. It’s still not easy. In the mainstream, it’s still mostly about the ladies and the dudes making out. And hey, I appreciate some sexy heterosexual hijinks and adventures, I’ve written it and read it and I will do both again. For publishers to risk more on publishing GLBTQ stories, people have to want to read them. When we don’t read them, for whatever reason, publishers go, “Oh well, no one cares!” and the become niche titles in niche markets. It’s almost impossible to reach critical mass. How long until it’s just as normal to pick up a book from the shelf and not know what that couple is going to be? M/F? M/M? F/F? How long until it’s normal to feature transgender characters, or hey, even asexual characters? For that to happen, we have to read, and we have to share, and we have to be deliberate about it so in the future, it’s second nature.

I often quote Aja’s post “i know you care for him as much as i do.” — eventually she’ll probably come charge me for quoting her all the time — because things she wrote resonated with me so much, and I’ve never been able to let it go.

I want those main characters to fall in love and make out because it means that fans of their characters will have to come to terms with their gayness, exactly like they would have to do in real life. It’s one thing to start out a book, like Swordpoint and Havemercy did, introducing your main characters as gay from the start. Because from the outset the reader knows, the reader can choose whether they approve, or tolerate, or whatever. They can put that book down and walk away.

But reality doesn’t let you choose. Reality is when your best friend turns to you and says, “the thing is, I’m gay,” and your entire world turns upside down.

I know where I want us to end up. I want the same world that’s spun out in the above quote. We’re not there yet, but I have hope.

This week is all about appreciating book bloggers and looking at the book blogging community now, as a person who was here in 2007, I am overcome. People like me want the same books I do, are finding them and reading them and posting about them. Bloggers who self-identify as straight read GLBTQ books, and like them, and share their love with other people who self-identify as straight. I think of the dead ends I found when searching for GLBTQ blogs in 2007, or mainstream bloggers that reviewing GLBTQ books. This time, I had so many blogs I wanted to recommend for this post I had to take the time to read them and decide on just a few, instead of the multitudes that now exist.

That’s progress. That’s love.

I’m Here. I’m Queer. What the Hell do I Read?: Lee’s posts are always insightful and relevant. I’ve followed him from the beginning, and if its GLBTQ YA you want, well, his lists are excellent and he welcomes recommendations. I love what he’s doing and the resource he’s building. He’s one of our treasures and a great place to start if you’re interested in diving into GLBTQ YA.

QueerYA: This is my go-to blog for reviews and thoughts on obscure titles I might not hear about through my own searches, from a librarian’s perspective. The reviews are both subjective and reflect the culture around them, as well, which I really appreciate.

The Naughty Book Kitties: I love Brent just for existing. We have never exchanged a word, but it’s been pretty fascinating to watch him own his space in the community.

Dreaming in Books: I first learned of John through this post, which kind of made my cold, jaded cynical heart melt a little.

Stuff As Dreams Are Made On: Here’s someone who everyone probably already knows. Chris doesn’t just post about GLBTQ literature, but issues that impact the GLBTQ community, of course, when he’s not posting about growing stuff. wink I have learned a lot from Chris just reading his thoughts on books he wants to read and following him on Google Reader.

This is not even all the blogs covering GLBTQ literature, and is mostly YA. I am sure there are blogs out there covering other marketing categories and genres that I don’t even know about. That’s the beauty of this week: feel free to appreciate the GLBTQ book bloggers you read. Leave the links in the comments. Spread the love.

I am so very thankful for these blogs, and hey, that’s what this week is for, getting all sentimental and blubbery over blogs and their writers on this crazy series of tubes. Now excuse me, I have to get some tissue.

Renay blogs at the deus ex machina complex (and other theories)

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