Queer Joy Book Club

by | Mar 1, 2024 | 0 comments

What is this meetup all about? 

We partner with A Room of One’s Own Bookstore (“Room”) to feature monthly queer joy books and provide our members with a 10% discount. We also connect with the local libraries, fundraise for LGBTQIA2S+ charities, and participate in other queer clubs and organizations. Our goal is to provide a safe space for queer readers and see ourselves in stories that have joyful messages—something that is uncommon in mainstream media.

According to our social media presence, we are already at 240+ local members (at least 20 members join us in person each meeting!), and we are growing our reach virtually through social media and other online avenues. The club reads joyful queer books with a range of BIPOC/AAPI and LGBTQIA2S+ representation.

We celebrate stories with diverse queer main characters, found family, humor, and happy endings. We try to select and promote our featured books months in advance to allow time to drum up excitement, promote the book, and have our local bookstores prepared with pre-ordered copies or reservations at libraries.

How did this group get started? 

I went to “Room” and ordered some of K.J. Charles’ books, then I posted on her Facebook group, “Hey, Room is stocking up a whole bunch of her books.” A bunch of people from the Madison area were like, “Oh my gosh! That’s my favorite bookstore. It would be so great if we could get together.” So, we did!

There’s a lot of queer spaces that involve going out and partying and doing things that I don’t have anything against, but it’s just not really my jam. I’m fairly introverted, and I like books and sewing. So, I was just really looking for a community and space where like-minded people could get together and discuss queer books and find joy. So much of our mainstream media and the books that are promoted are incredibly straight—like, laughably straight! It’s frustrating to always see yourself as the side character, or the tragedy character, or the person who is the butt of the jokes. I wanted to find happy ending stories with queer main characters.

What’s it been like to watch the club grow? 

I’ve had a couple of people talk to me about how grateful they are for this space and how much it changed their lives, and it feels very surreal to me. It’s a space where people feel like they can come and be themselves, and they don’t have to mask that nerdiness.

You’ll meet people who will bring knitting, and they’ll just knit while we do a roundabout as a group. Some people don’t want to be the center of attention or focus, so we’re really careful in our book club meetings to say, “If you want to speak you can, but if you don’t, it’s okay! If you want to read the book you can, but if you didn’t read the book, it’s okay—you can still come.” We really just want to be a safe space; we just want to be a community.

Anything else? 

We’re more than a book club now. We really have become a community—it surprised me to realize it, but it’s true! Friendships have been made in this group. People that feel very shy and don’t often even leave their house have really come out of their shell. We’ve had people who said they lost a lot of their friendships, or they did not really like reading before joining the group.

The pandemic really shook their lives up, and this group has given them a sense of normalcy. We also do a lot of different things together that aren’t book related. We go to the Big Gay Market. We go to movies together. We host parties and potlucks. If people are really looking for a place to belong, and they don’t want it to just be going to a bar to look for friends, come to our book club!

To learn more, visit Instagram @queerjoy_bookclub, Facebook under the group “Queer Joy Book Club,” Discord under “Queer Joy Book Club,” or at roomofonesown.com/queer-joy-book-club.

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