Interview with a Queer Reader: Lara Talks Getting Queer Books in Small Town Eastern Europe, FINGERSMITH by Sarah Waters, and More!

Meet Lara, who is a 22-year-old nonbinary lesbian from Europe! She is currently a computer engineering major who likes linguistics as a guilty pleasure; this means she doesn’t have a lot of free time on her hands! When Lara was a kid she watched a lot of Xena Warrior Princess, which led to her practising a bunch of different martial arts when she was younger. This is probably the reason she still owns a sword today! These days in her limited spare time she plays with her dog, watches TV, and plays video games. Lara also runs a sapphic book blog on tumblr, which is a big motivator to get reading done. You can also find her personal tumblr here.

lara

Keep reading to hear about what it’s like trying to find queer books when you live in a small town in Eastern Europe, Fingersmith by Sarah Waters, hosting an online Sapphic book club, and more!

What was the first LGBTQ2IA+ book(s) you remember reading? How did you end up reading it (i.e., were you searching for queer books or did you just happen across it?)

The first LGBTQ book I’ve read was Fingersmith by Sarah Waters. I live in a non-English speaking and sadly pretty homophobic part of Eastern Europe so there was (and still is) no way for me to be exposed to LGBTQ books anywhere in public. It only dawned to me just a few years back that I’d never actually read a book with two women who fall in love (admittedly, my need for those up until then was satiated by fanfiction). Thankfully by then I had been able to safely purchase books online so I did a quick search for a book that was among top rated books that I’d still find interesting plot wise, and I have to say it did not disappoint.

What is/are your favourite LGBTQ2IA+ books, and why?

Fingersmith by Sarah Waters is definitely one of my favorite books, and not just because I’m biased since it was my first. It’s just a well written book that reminded me of books I was forced to read in lit class, but this time infinitely more enjoyable.
One of my recent favorite reads is Enchanters by K.F. Bradshaw which I really loved since I can’t resist a good YA fantasy books with magic and women loving women.
I’m one of those people who can’t stand contemporary books, and I try but end up disliking almost any I read, but I picked up Out on Good Behavior by Dahlia Adler and I was pleasantly surprised.

There’s also a novella called Concordant by Izzy Almaz (it’s also free on Lulu!) which was the first book I read where I actually felt represented in both as a lesbian and a female aligned nonbinary person. I had a chance of talking to the author who was the loveliest person and I also got a signed copy so it’s one of my prized possessions.
And I feel like I’m cheating with this one, but the graphic novels in The Wicked + The Divine series are such a fun read and have a bunch of different LGBTQ characters and crazy plot so there’s something for everyone in them!

Which LGBTQ2IA+ book have you read that best reflects your experiences as an LGBTQ2IA+ person?

Besides just characters that reflect parts of me as a person, I don’t think there are any that fully represent me. And I do believe that as a community we have infinite amounts of similar experiences, be it coming out or dealing with homophobia and/or transphobia, but ultimately I think all of our experiences are unique. But if anyone ever writes a book about a nonbinary butch lesbian growing up in a small town in Eastern Europe, trust me I’ll be the first one to read it!

Which LGBTQ2IA+ book do you wish you could read but can’t because it doesn’t exist yet?

Something set in a dystopian/fantasy setting, dragons or other mystical creatures are a bonus, where the majority of the characters are nonbinary people (and obviously by default no one is straight). Also with diversity in other aspects too, such as people of color and neurodivergent people.

How do you find LGBTQ2IA+ books? How easy or hard is it in your experience finding the ones that you want to read?

I run a book recommendations blog specifically for f/f books (so books with lesbian/bi/pan women, nonbinary and trans inclusive) called Sapphic Literature so it’s sort of my “job” to be good at finding LGBTQ books. And trust me, on my lists I have a good few hundreds of them so never think there’s no books for you out there. That said, I am personally only able to find them online (and here I would briefly like to thank all bookstores who have free shipping) since there aren’t any in libraries and bookstores where I live.

Do you know other LGBTQ2IA+ readers or participate in any LGBTQ2IA+ reading communities (in person or on the Internet)? What’s it like? Why or why not?

I do! I’m actually a host of the Sapphic Book Club on discord and we currently have over 300 members. Since I’m the host I’m biased but I do think it’s fun to have a safe space to talk about books you’ve read (especially for younger kids who don’t have that at all) plus sometimes we get free books to read from authors so I think it’s a win-win for everyone who joins.

Thanks so much for sharing with us Lara! I’m sure other people can sympathize with living in a place where there’s nowhere in person to be exposed to queer books. But it sounds like you’ve done a lot to compensate for that with your online queer bookish networking! I hope one day you get to read about a nonbinary butch lesbian growing up in a small town in Eastern Europe!

About CaseytheCanadianLesbrarian

Known in some internet circles as Casey the Canadian Lesbrarian, Casey Stepaniuk is a writer and librarian who holds an MA in English literature. She lives and works in the unceded territory of the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh First Nations (Vancouver, BC). Topics and activities dear to her heart include cats, bisexuality, libraries, queer (Canadian) literature, running, and drinking tea. She runs the website Casey the Canadian Lesbrarian, where you can find reviews of LGBTQ2IA+ Canadian books, archives of the book advice column Ask Your Friendly Neighbourhood Lesbrarian, and some other queer, bookish stuff. She also writes for Autostraddle, Book Riot and Inside Vancouver. Find her on Twitter: @canlesbrarian. Some of her old reviews, especially the non-Canadian variety, can be found at the Lesbrary.
This entry was posted in Butch, Fantasy, Fiction, Graphic, Interview with a Queer Reader, Lesbian, Non Binary, Non-Canadian, Queer. Bookmark the permalink.

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