Each year, members of the American Library Association’s Rainbow Roundtable select highlights from the diverse landscape of queer publishing for their Over the Rainbow Book List. Books span a variety of genres and include both fiction and nonfiction titles, but all of their selections combine great storytelling and authentic LGBTQ content for adult readers.
“I hope people will appreciate the ever-widening representation of the LGBTQ experience—that novels and memoirs aren't just coming out stories, and that religion, race, age, and region also matter,” says Jenny Colvin, librarian at Furman University and vice-chair for the 2019-20 Over the Rainbow Book List Committee. “These books are a rich trove for all readers.”
Selected books include In the Dream House by Carmen Maria Machado, which Jenny describes as “an essential read to draw attention to abuse in the queer community, how it can look different but also the same, and Machado's own experience with it. Not only is the focus important, but her writing is breathtaking in its ability to communicate the emotion and confusion of the experience.”
Here are the top ten books chosen for this year’s Over the Rainbow Book List:
Black Leopard, Red Wolf by Marlon James
Buying Gay: How Physique Entrepreneurs Sparked a Movement by David K. Johnson
Claiming the B in LGBT: Illuminating the Bisexual Narrative edited by Kate Harrad
Eyes Bottle Dark with a Mouthful of Flowers by Jake Skeets
Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir
In the Dream House by Carmen Maria Machado
Introduction to Transgender Studies by Ardel Haefele-Thomas
The Lady's Guide to Celestial Mechanics by Olivia Waite
The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon
When Brooklyn Was Queer by Hugh Ryan
Readers can support LGBTQ collections at their local libraries just by checking out titles like those on the Over the Rainbow Book List, Jenny says: “Request the books. Ask for ‘more books like this.’” In addition to supplying books, libraries also offer queer-focused programs—attending and speaking up for those events is another way to support LGBTQ representation at your library.
Find more LGBTQ-focused book recommendations at the Rainbow Round Table website.