Lesbrary Sneak Peek: Anthologies and books about lesbian books!

Okay, so I got these a while back in that giant book sale I was telling you about, but I’m still super excited about them. Actually, these are the books I’m most excited about reading.

To start off with, there’s Piece of my Heart: A Lesbian of Colour Anthology. I’m always on the lookout for lesbian books that break out of the white, middle-class standard. To me, being queer is all about diversity, so I’m so sick of only seeing it represented by non-threatening cisgendered, white, middle-class, abled, American men. I also like anthologies for the chance to discover new writers. Piece of my Heart is separated into Coming Out, Finding Home; Memories…Distances…Exile…; Sister to Sister; We Will Not Be Invisible; Pain and Betrayal; Cravings; The Wanting and the Passion; and Coming Into Our Own Power. Piece of my Heart collects together North American lesbians of colour’s stories from 1985-1991, but as always I don’t think that makes it outdated as much as it gives us insight into the past. Does anyone know of a similar, more recent effort?

The Very Inside: An Anthology of Writing by Asian and Pacific Islander Lesbian and Bisexual Women offers a look at lesbian writing outside of the Western perspective. I’m excited about this one for similar reasons to Piece of my Heart. The Very Inside includes essays, interviews, poetry and prose and it split up into Origins, Departures; Finding/Founding Community; Waking From a Dream of Love; Life Struggle; and Out of Fire, Grace. It was published in 1994.

Two of my favorite genres of books are lesbian books (gasp!) and books about books. These next four combine these into one magnificent subject that left me dancing with joy when I spotted them: books about lesbian books. Epic. Thie first is called Sweet Dreams: Sexuality, Gender, and Popular Fiction and was published in 1988. Sweet Dreams is a collection of essays about feminist, lesbian, and gay books published in the 70s and 80s as well as, I think, how more traditional books can be read from a feminist, lesbian, or gay perspective (now we call it queering!). It looks like it will be a pretty academic book, so that’s intimidating, but it also looks very interesting.

I first spotted Sex Variant Women in Literature at Powell’s Books when I was visiting Oregon last summer (if you can, definitely check it out. They had a whole aisle of lesbian books; I was in heaven). I had no money and was devastated to leave it behind. Luckily, the great big book sale had it! Sex Variant Women claims to cover 2600 years of lesbian writing. Twenty-six hundred years! Sure, it was first published in 1956, so it’s missing 54 years now, but what’s 54 years out of 2654? Seriously, this is like the book I’ve been searching for all my lesbian life… and she wrote it in the 1950s! That is a very impressive feat! … Now I want to drop the book I’m reading and start this one. Soon!

Oh Naiad Press, how are you so awesome? Lesbiana: Book Reviews from the Ladder is a book I hadn’t heard of until I spotted it at the book sale, and considering I’ve been adding to my wish list of lesbian books for several years now, I find that surprising. Picking it up now,  I see that the back cover says “This collection starts where Jeannette H. Foster’s Sex Variant Women in Literature ends.” Well… perfect! Wow, it’s like they were publishing just for me… Lesbiana is a collection of lesbian book reviews by Barbara Grier which first appeared in The Ladder… which I’ve never heard of. Does anyone know what The Ladder was? Anyways, Lesbiana combines the reviews of hundreds of titles and was in 1976, which I suppose means we’re only missing 34 years now!

Lastly, I have no idea how I missed it, but the day after I went the book sale my girlfriend went to it and unearthed this other amazing book I’d never heard of: Lesbians In Print: A Bibliography of 1,500 Books with Synopses. It attempts to tell you every lesbian book there is! Of course, it’s published in 1995, but if these three books do what they claim to do, than all the Lesbrary has to do is cover the last 15 years, because apparently I was late to the party. Seriously, how amazing are these?

Have you read any of these books or similar ones? What did you think of them?

7 Replies to “Lesbrary Sneak Peek: Anthologies and books about lesbian books!”

  1. Rie

    FYI: There is an excellent biography of Jeanette Howard Foster called Sex Variant Woman. She lead a fascinating life!

    Well, fascinating if you love books, lesbians, and academia. 😀

    Reply
  2. bookish butch

    The Ladder was the first Lesbian publication in the US. It was the communication branch of the Daughters of Bilitis founded by some of the women who would go on to found Naiad. Wikipedia has a pretty good article.

    Reply
      1. Stefanie

        Danika,

        You might be interested in adding Different Daughters, by Marcia Gallo to your reading list; it’s all about the Daughters of Bilitis and has a lot of info on The Ladder in it: http://www.amazon.com/Different-Daughters-History-Bilitis-Movement/dp/1580052525/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1278292842&sr=8-1

        I wrote a bit about The Ladder and the visual images the DOB included in it in my dissertation, which I just finally finished (phew!). It was a really amazing and fascinating publication that changed drastically over the 17ish years it was in print.

        Reply
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