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Highlights from the Over the Rainbow Book List

In the same way that the Alex Award recognizes books published for adults that have teen appeal, other book lists and awards intended for adults may contain titles that older teen readers will enjoy. The Over the Rainbow List recognizes LGBTQ titles for adults, but some of the books the committee chose are definitely cross-over titles. Committee chair Arla Jones features a few in this post. –ed.

For those of you who may not know about us, let me explain a bit: four years ago, the American Library Association’s GLBT-RT’s (Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Transgender Round Table) launched The Rainbow Project. The Rainbow Project’s mission is to publish a recommended list of LGBTIQ books for youth, from birth to age 18. The Rainbow List was so well-received that we launched another committee last year, whose mission is to publish a recommended list of LGBTIQ books for adult readers–the Over the Rainbow Book Committee (OTR). I chaired OTR for the first two years, and I must say that we have been quite pleased with the reception of the list. One of the most rewarding aspects of this committee is that we have the opportunity to bring attention to so many small and independent publishers and authors. This year’s list has 74 titles, and if you go to our website, you can see the entire list and see the committee’s top ten titles for the year.

Among the committee’s favorites this year are two very different and wonderful graphic narratives. The first, a + e 4ever was written and drawn by Ilike Merey. Merey’s graphic novel was published by Lethe Press. I’m highlighting this title because it is about high school students who are struggling genderqueers, yearning for romance. It’s definitely a book that some young adults might find interesting.

Our other graphically narrated title this year is The Complete Wendel by Howard Cruse. This compendium contains every episode of Cruse’s 1980’s Wendel series. Wendel is said to be the first gay comic strip to be published in the mainstream press (by The Advocate magazine).

There are six art books on this year’s list, including Hide/Seek: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture, a companion to the Smithsonian’s exhibition by the same name. Another favorite art offering this year is Shades of Love: Photographs Inspired by the Poems of C.P. Cavafy. The author, Dimitris Yeros, began a collection of photographs inspired by the works of Greek poet C.P. Cavafy. It is a gorgeous coffee table book that presents Yeros’ photographs together with the poems that inspired them.

I encourage everyone to visit our blog on the ALA website frequently throughout the year because we publish a list of nominations each month until Halloween, when we start to winnow down our nominations into the final bibliography that comes out (excuse the pun!) at the end of Midwinter Conference. We had a total of nearly 300 titles under consideration this year. By Halloween we had 140 nominated titles, and from those 140 titles, we selected 74 titles to be included on the final bibliography. It was another excellent year for LGBT publishing for adult readers!

— Arla Jones

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One Comment

  1. […] horizons just as it can encourage old stereotypes to remain. So every time I read a book from the Over the Rainbow List, I have more empathy for people of the GLBT community. However if read a book that is dismissive of […]

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