2014: The Year in Lesbian/Bi Books

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The publishing industry has faced challenges like any other with the advent of consumers believing everything should be free and available when they want it, and they want it now. On one hand, this means the loss of LGBT and feminist bookstores, mom and pop (or sometimes mom and mom, or pop and pop) brick-and-mortars that have spent most of their final years in business trying to make ends meet. On a positive note, however, the relative ease of self-publishing and availability of e-books has made it much more possible for marginalized voices to be seen and read. 

But in a market that faces over-saturation, it can still be difficult to navigate; to find the stories by and about us we are looking for, and those that are of the best quality and the most truthful. Whether it’s in the form of novels or non-fiction, tales of our triumphs and tribulations are necessary for readers of all ages. We are still in a time of censorship, which was publicly demonstrated this last year with the Cape Henlopen School Board banning of Emily Danforth‘s lesbian-themed YA novel, The Miseducation of Cameron Post

Here’s what was written about us, by us and/or for us in 2014. 

Bestsellers

Sarah Waters released her sixth novel this fall, and she did not disappoint. The Paying Guests was a new piece of historical fiction from the author of beloved books like Fingersmith and Tipping the Velvet, and her return to a lesbian-focused relationship was a happy one for her fanbase, despite the not-so-optimistic story it contained. The Paying Guests hit number 12 on The New York Times Best-Sellers list and received favorable reviews.

Edinburgh International Book Festival

Patricia Cornwell continues her reign as one of the most prolific authors ever with this year’s addition to the Kay Scarpetta series (her 22nd!), Flesh and Blood. A NY Times best-seller, the book includes a storyline about Scarpetta’s lesbian niece, Lucy.

Although she didn’t publish any new books this year, graphic novelist Alison Bechdel was awarded a MacArthur Genius Grant and says she is hard at work on her follow up to Are You My Mother? Her award-winning graphic memoir, Fun Home, was adapted into a stage musical that was so successful, it’s hitting Broadway this spring.

Best-selling graphic novelist Neil Gaiman‘s Sleeper and the Spindle featured two female characters kissing. Though he’s had queer characters in previous work, this time was most notable for it being included in a children’s book.

sleeperandthespindle

Lena Dunham‘s Not That Kind of Girl was one of the most talked-about memoirs of the year, and her essays included several moments of Sapphic fodder, including one dedicated to her queer sister, Grace. However parts of her book enraged readers, as the Girls creator spoke frankly about her fascination with Grace as a young girl, including some sections that critics said bordered on sexual abuse.

The best-selling author of RoomEmma Donoghuepublished Frog Music this spring, which follows burlesque dancer Blanche’s attempts to find out who killed her gender-bending friend, Jenny. Emma’s first crime novel, Frog Music was a best-seller in Canada (based on pre-sales) before it was published. Meanwhile, the film adaptation of Room wrapped production this year.

Out author Jennifer McMahon released her sixth novel, The Winter People, which debuted at #17 on the Hardcover Fiction list.

In 2014 bisexual writer Roxane Gay had two books:essay collection Bad Feminist and novel An Untamed State, both with major publishers. A biracial Haitian American, Roxane’s views on feminism, queerness and everything else in pop culture through her very specific lens has been praised by critics and readers alike. Bad Feminist was a New York Times’ bestseller.

r-gay

L.A. Times columnist Meghan Daum published her collection of essays, Unspeakable, which included a piece titled “Honorary Dyke.” In it, Meghan writes about the lesbian friends she had in college and her flirtation with bisexuality.

Jane Lynch and ex-wife (and clinical psychologist) Lara Embry worked together on a children’s book, Marlene, Marlene, Queen of Mean, which focused on bullying and featured illustrations from Tricia Tusa. It was published by Random House in September.

Jane Lynch Signs And Discusses Her New Book "Marlene, Marlene, Queen Of Mean"

One of America’s most beloved and award-winning poets, Mary Oliver had a new collection published this year. Blue Horses became an instant best-seller, of which Mary said, “I am truly delighted.”

Novelist and creator of the Moomins children’s series, Tove Jansson‘s short stories were collected and published in English for the first time this year in The Woman Who Borrowed Memories. The Finnish novelist passed away in 2001, but her work continues to be translated into different languages, and Tove was featured on commemorative coins, stamps and in a large museum exhibit that went from Helsinki to Japan in 2014. 

Wonderland by Stacey D’Erasmo is the out writer’s fifth book, which chronicled the life of a fictional 44-year-old female rock star. Part of her research for the book was done on tour with the Scissor Sisters.

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