Reflecting on Freedom to Read Week

Freedom to Read Week brings up mixed emotions for me. On the one hand, I relish the opportunity to challenge literary censorship and put some of my favourite books on display. On the other hand, it can be sobering to reflect on the types of books I’m putting out. The term “banned books” conjures images of salacious and violent classics like The Scarlet Letter or The Lord of the Flies, their banning a distant memory. In reality, books are still being challenged in libraries and schools, and a great deal of them are due to LGBTQ+ content.

ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom publishes annual lists of the top ten most challenged books, and half of the 2016 titles (the most recent available list) have been challenged over LGBTQ+ content.

These include:

This One Summer by Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki

This One Summer

Drama by Raina Telgemeier


George by Alex Gino


I Am Jazz by Jessica Herthel, Jazz Jennings, and Shelagh McNicholas

I Am Jazz

Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan

Two Boys Kissing

Previous years include many LGBTQ+ titles as well, such as

Fun Home by Alison Bechdel

Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic


Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out by Susan Kuklin

Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out

And Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell

(This title in particular has been on the list many years running, despite being based on a true story.)

And Tango Makes Three

It seems you could point at essentially any LGBTQ+ title, especially children’s or young adult, and it is likely to have been banned or challenged at some point.

Freedom to Read Kit

Canada is not immune from these challenges either. In this year’s Freedom to Read Kit, Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies professor Rob Bittner discusses the challenges that are frequently levied against children’s books with LGBTQ+ content. His article “You’re Letting My Kids Read What?!” explores the backlash and moral panic that often occurs when these books pop up in libraries and classrooms.

So, while I delighted in watching LGBTQ+ titles fly off the shelves this past week (marking them as banned really does seem to make them more enticing), it was with the heavy knowledge that these books are still under attack, especially when they have younger target audiences. However, it really makes me appreciate connecting with library professionals, academics, and other community members who are fighting for the acknowledgement and acceptance of LGBTQ+ literature for all ages.


2018 Rainbow Book List


The American Library Association’s GLBT Roundtable has released its annual Rainbow List. The list is “curated bibliography highlighting books with significant gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, or queer/questioning content, aimed at children and youth from birth to age 18.” All books on the list were published between July 2016 and December 2017.

For the full list, see under the cut.

Read More »

Canada Reads 2018 Longlist

The longlist for the 2018 Canada Reads competition was announced on January 16th, and there are two queer reads represented, Tomboy Survival Guide by Ivan Coyote and The Clothesline Swing by Ahmad Danny Ramadan.

The shortlist of five books will be announced January 30th, with debates happening March 26-29.

Read more about Ivan Coyote here, and more about Ahmad Danny Ramadan here and here.

Book Review: The Seafarer’s Kiss

Written by Julia Ember, a self-identified “polyamorous, bisexual writer.”
Published May 4, 2017 by Duet Books
230 pages
Goodreads, Kirkus, School Library Journal
Bisexual female protagonist, genderqueer Loki

Ersel is a mermaid living in an Arctic society ruled by a callous king, and is prized for her breeding capabilities in her low birth rate community. She has a fascination with human objects, often trekking into shipwreck ruins to search for new collectibles. She witnesses a ship going down and is intrigued by the lone survivor, a woman named Ragna with mysterious moving tattoos. Wishing to become human and be with Ragna, Ersel makes a 51d+jc+WPDL._SX326_BO1,204,203,200_deal with the shapeshifting and genderqueer Norse God Loki, but deals with the God of Lies often backfire. Now banned from her home and unable to be with the woman she loves, Ersel must find a way to outsmart Loki and save her community.

Marketed as a “Little Mermaid” retelling, The Seafarer’s Kiss definitely has some of the main plot points: mermaids, deals with “villains” involving legs and voices, and wanting to be human, but it manages to be its own story. Ersel reads as bisexual, having feelings for her male childhood best friend and for a human woman. Readers never really get much of an insight to the characters, and the writing (especially the ending) comes across a bit rushed. A lot is packed into the 230 pages, and there is enough happening to keep the story going, but it is easily skimmed.

The romance side also leaves a bit to be desired. There is a brief non-graphic sex scene between Ersel and Ragna, and they both declare their desire for one another, but there is not much beyond that.

I would recommend this book to fantasy lovers who don’t mind occasionally flawed writing, and for anyone looking for a quick and easy read. If you’re looking for more queer merfolk, check out this list on Goodreads.

LGBTQ+ Library Spotlight: Out On The Shelves Library at UBC

One of our lovely members, Casey S., has written up this profile of the newly re-opened Out On The Shelves Library up at the University of British Columbia! Thank you Casey!


For those of you in the Vancouver area, there is very exciting news in the world of queer books: Out On The Shelves, Vancouver’s only LGBTQ2IA+ library, has just re-opened! I’m one of the co-coordinators and I couldn’t be happier and more excited and proud that my and a lot of volunteers’ hard work over the past year has resulted in our precious little library actually being open to the public again!

Some of you might remember the Out On The Shelves library from its time downtown off of Davie St in the Qmunity building. Out On The Shelves was actually founded in 1983 by a group of volunteers and it has had a long journey at different locations around the Davie St gaybourhood before its arrival at our new location on the West Point Grey UBC campus on Musqueam territory! If you frequented the old Out On The Shelves, we would love to have you back! If you’ve never heard of Out On The Shelves, we would love to sign you up for a library card for the first time! We are also always looking for volunteers to staff the library as well as other library tasks such as collection development, fundraising, social media, cataloguing, and more. No library experience required, although of course we love to have library workers and/or library students.


It’s free for anyone to get a library card with us. Although we are located at UBC, you don’t have to be a student or staff at UBC; we’re not affiliated with the university library. We have some pretty rad LGBTQ2IA+ books, including some you can’t find anywhere else in Vancouver. We’re a great place to find an available copy of a new queer book that your local public library has a long hold list for or an older book that your local public library doesn’t carry anymore. We have a diverse range of popular fiction and non-fiction with strong collections in Canadian materials and a nice balance of older seminal books and brand new ones. We are presently focused on building our collection of underrepresented parts of LGBTQ2IA+ communities, including books by authors of colour and/or featuring bisexual, trans, two-spirit, intersex, and asexual characters and/or written by BT2IA authors. We are always accepting donations of materials and suggestions for specific items that we should have.

Check out our catalogue here to see what we have. You can follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and Instagram. Stay tuned for an official grand opening and party in January 2018!


If you know of an LGBTQ+ library or special collection, please write up a profile and submit it to either Lindsay or myself!

2018 Rainbow Book List Nominees

Every year the Rainbow Book List Committee of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Round Table of the American Library Association puts out a bibliography of “quality books with significant and authentic GLBTQ content, which are recommended for people from birth through eighteen years of age”. On November 1st the committee released the nominees list for the 2018 Rainbow Book List, compiled from suggestions by the public. The final list, including the committee members Top 10, will be announced in February 2018.

The goal of the Rainbow Book List is to provide youth with a list of high quality LGBTQ+ books and to aid library staff in collection development.

2018’s nominee list sees authors April Daniels, Adam Silvera, and Robin Talley each nominated twice. We also have Canadian representation in Emma Donoghue, Carrie Mac, and Sara O’Leary.

Visit the GLBT Roudtable’s website to view the full nominee list.

Where Are All The LGBTQ+ Book Subscription Boxes?

My family and I celebrate Christmas, and I like to get my gift shopping done early. As I was wandering around the internet looking for wow inducing gifts, I stumbled upon the website for Gertrude Press, a non-profit organization that publishes Gertrude, a queer literary journal. On their homepage is this image:


Intrigued, I look a little further. The Gertie Book Club is a box of two new literary works by LGBTQ+ authors sent every three months, and there are three subscription options: The Boy Box (gay fiction only), The Girl Box (lesbian fiction only), and The Queer Box (anything goes). Other than Gertrude, Gertrude Press mainly publishes poetry and/or chapbooks, and it seems to me that that is what would mostly be in this box. I figured I’d pass, but I got thinking about other LGBTQ+ book subscription boxes and if there was one more to my liking, so back to Google I went.

Subscription boxes have become a very “in” thing, from ones for dog and cat owners, make-up enthusiasts, tea drinkers, and everything in between and outside. The other year I bought a quarterly make-up box as a Christmas gift for my sister, and currently subscribe to a bimonthly box filled with cat treats and toys. They are a fun surprise and have proven to be great gifts. I was hoping that if there was one LGBTQ+ book box out there, there must be more.

There aren’t (at least that my Google skills could find).

Sure, there are a few LGBTQ+ boxes that send sex toys, undies, and even binders for trans men, but no other book boxes. While this should not have surprised me, I was still disappointed. How can there only be one literary subscription box dedicated specifically to LGBTQ+ material and authors? How are we to create such a thing?