From the Writers: Our Year in Review
1. What were the best queer book(s) you read in 2017?
Hannah: I read so many absolutely fantastic ones. I can't believe it's only been a year since I discovered Santino Hassell. I loved: Hassell's Five Boroughs series, which I wrote about here: his Cyberlove series co-written with Megan Erickson (gorgeous on audio), and Melissa Eastlake's creative YA debut The Uncrossing (review here).
The best read goes to Roan Parrish's The Remaking of Corbin Wale. When I imagine walking into an infinite library and picking up the perfect book, its pretty close to Parrish's masterpiece. It went beyond what I thought m/m romance could achieve.
Giorgi: TOO LIKE THE LIGHTNING TOO LIKE THE LIGHTNING TOO LIKE THE LIGHTNING
Ahem. In 2017 I had the pleasure of reading not one but three of the books in Ada Palmer's Terra Ignota series, the first of which is Too Like The Lightning, which I reviewed here. It is literally the queerest thing I have ever read. I also discovered Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo, which is queer in canon, and even queerer in the fandom!
Tel: A Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet is very good; I devoured it over about two days this summer, and I've already reread it once since then.
The narration was good, but it was the dialogue in this book that really shone for me. It felt familiar—sort of, vernacular?—in a way that I'm used to only fanfiction reading, in the best possible way. The characters talked like me and my friends might, give or take a few centuries.
As far as nonfiction goes, Becoming a Visible Man by Jamison Green was a very healing read for me. It has its weird points, and some trans-related language and thinking has shifted since then, but because it's primarily a memoir, I found it easy to get through regardless.
So much of trans activism, especially online, is young, desperate, and raw. There are some wonderful and valuable things that can come from that, but Green's patient, level, and occasionally didactic tone was a refreshing change of pace for me.
2. What were the best non-queer book(s) you discovered in 2017?
Hannah: An Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson was beautiful and poignant. A great feminist romance if you're prickly like me.
This was also a great year for poetry: There Are Things More Beautiful Than Beyonce by Morgan Parker, Afterland by Mai Der Vang, Whereas by Layli Long Soldier.
Giorgi: I've been a fan of the "Best American" series for a while, and Junot Diaz's guest editing on the Best American Short Stories of 2016 was excellent, as were all the stories! "Wonders of the Shore," by Andrea Barrett was a particular favorite of mine because it was low-key queer af. I also highly recommend the Best American Science Fiction/Fantasy Stories collection. Other faves included Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman, Seveneves by Neal Stephenson, A Field Guide to Getting Lost by Rebecca Solnit, The Method Actors by Carl Shuker, On Beauty by Zadie Smith, and All About Love by bell hooks (wrote about that here).
Tel: They aren't exactly discoveries, since they're sequels, but I read Log Horizon volumes 5-8.
Log Horizon is probably better known as an anime series, but it originally started out as a serial story online, that was later published in light novel form before being made into an anime. There aren't a lot of light novels available in English, but this is one of them!
Much like the anime, the Log Horizon books offer a range of perspective characters of a variety of ages and genders, all with believable internal struggles. Better yet, those struggles are written with a very matter-of-fact, straightforward emotional intelligence.
It's one of the things that's always struck me in my favorite anime, so it was nice to get to see a similar treatment of characters' internal worlds in book form.
3. Did you discover any new authors?
Hannah: Santino Hassell. And I finally read Octavia Butler. People keep saying we need to stop putting her on all the scifi rec lists, and I understand why (token black lady scifi writer), but that discouraged me from reading her sooner, and her Lilith's Brood trilogy was astonishing.
Giorgi: Terry Pratchett! I had been meaning to get into Discworld for a while and I'm glad I did! Neal Stephenson also sated my desire for hard science fiction admirably, and I enjoyed reading more of Roxane Gay, whom I had only read on the internet before. Oooh and Jorge Luis Borges!
Tel: Seanan McGuire! I enjoyed Every Heart a Doorway, and I'm planning to catch up with the other ones soon. It's rare that I find an author with an online presence I enjoy even separate from their work.
4. What was your favorite rereading experience?
Hannah: Rereading is a 2018 goal...
Giorgi: HARRY POTTER HARRY POTTER HARRY POTTER
Ahem. If you want more coverage of my epic holiday-season-2017 reread of Harry Potter, refer to my instagram, where I am located at username giorgi_piorgi. (EDITOR'S NOTE: Giorgi's captions are a JOY.)
Tel: The webcomic Harbourmaster. I've reread it at least four or five times now, and I still get something new out of it every time.
5. What books are you most looking forward to in 2018?
Hannah: Santino Hassell and Piper Vaughn are releasing Bishop's Move, which involves gay romance in a virtual reality world. Here's the Goodreads page. I'm also starving for Cassandra Clare's next book, Queen of Air and Darkness. Marlon James has an African fantasy trilogy on the horizon.
Giorgi: I'm currently reading the Best American Short Stories of 2017 (the first story, "Maidencane," is excellent and queer af), and the Best American Science Fiction/Fantasy is on the docket after that! I'm also looking forward to the fourth Terra Ignota book, as well as Crooked Kingdom, Leigh Bardugo's follow-up to Six of Crows. I've also got books piling up from my Haymarket Books membership --Haymarket is a leftist publishing house in Chicago, which will send you every book they publish, for only $30 a month!
Tel: If Sorcerer to the Crown's sequel makes it out this year, I'm definitely there for that!
Not sure how I'm going to get my hands on them yet, but later translations of the Log Horizon light novel series are definitely up there for me. Same with the tankobon volumes of Cardcaptor Sakura, which seem to be coming out in English not too far behind the Japanese releases.
If I'm being entirely honest, I'm still only dipping a toe into queer fiction. Probably I'm going to feel like that forever, regardless of how involved I get! But still, I collect more things thinking "ooh, that's interesting," than I follow up on. It's a bit of a resolution of mine to stop being afraid of what I might (not) find, and dig in.