Autumn is the time of year to curl up with a good book and read, whilst drinking a pumpkin spice latte. When it comes to finding that good book to curl up with, it is often hard to find one that queer readers are able to relate to. Queer authors have far too often been pushed to the sidelines, not getting the recognition that their level of work deserves. The distinction between queer authors and queer books is a very thin line, yet one that changes the entire context of the book. It has been popular in the past few years for cis-het authors to write about queer stories. While pigeonholing authors into one category or another is not suitable for the ongoing development of society, and the growth of all people, highlighting the queer novels written by non-queer authors neglects the firsthand accounts from the queer author themselves, taking out the life and meaning behind a piece of literature.
A rant about the equality and whitewashing of queer stories in publishing is not why either of us are here today. Autumn has become a large moment maker for publishing companies, with that, along with preparation for the holidays, different book titles begin to fill the shelves, from every Waterstones to very small independent bookstores in the country and across the globe. To begin the list of new releases is a memoir from a recent micro-celebrity, and internet sensation, Amy Schneider. Her debut memoir is titled, In the Form of a Question: The Joys and Rewards of a Curious Life. Schneider took the world by storm a few years ago when she was the longest running woman on Jeopardy!. Schneider showed it was possible for both women and transgender people, that it was possible to fight for intellectual superiority on one of America’s most watched television programs. Her new memoir was released on the 3rd of October, and is currently getting rave reviews from the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and countless more reviewers.
Another title that is one to watch out for is Mudflowers, by Aley Waterman. Waterman explores the complexity in coming out later in a woman’s twenties, while she is still trying to figure out everything else about her life, she now has to add on her sexuality. Studying the vast differences everyday in a young, emerging, adult can be, Waterman enlightens their audience with the struggles of financial instability, along with entering the job market as a person who does not know who they are yet, let alone what they are looking for. Mudflowers was released on the 17th October, so far the reviews have been all good!
A book that has risen to the top of my reading list is by the award-winning author of Lot, and Memorial, Bryan Washington. Bryan Washington’s new book, Family Meal, a book about the grief of getting over a deceased loved one, while also coping with the reemergence of a past relationship, all while reconnecting with your roots. It’s a coming-of-age story about someone who thought they already had theirs. Exploring the complicated world of guilt-ridden love, heartbreak, death, grief. Washington’s former two books, Lot, and Memorial, are continuations of queer literary masterpieces. Lot, a collection of short stories about Washington’s life as a young, Black, queer man. And Memorial, a story about a love that is falling apart, while their life begins to fall apart around them too. His stories are wrapped around the theme of feelings that are too complicated to speak, but too intense to feel. A feeling that is intensely universal – however, even more so, isolating. At points, you never feel more alone than with the person who you think knows you the best.
This autumn, however unbearable the weather may be, is a time to reconnect with yourselves. Reflecting on the year so far, and the new year that is rapidly approaching. With that, a book about the lives of people like us, or the lives of people who we wish to be like, is something that will help us do so. Well, that and a pumpkin spice latte.
By Ian Ziegler (he/him)