Monday, February 9, 2009

Rainbow List 2009

OK, I'm a week late on this--actually, I'm really surprised I haven't seen more publicity; I knew this was coming, and I've been waiting for it--but the 2009 Rainbow List, featuring "well-written and/or well-illustrated titles with authentic and significant gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgendered/queer/questioning (GLBTQ) content for youth from birth through age 18" is out.

It's astonishing that this many books with GLBTQ content were published in the last year-or-so. Sometimes these books are too sad/scary for me to read, but it's great to have a list--especially for YA librarians, I imagine, if they don't know what to purchase or recommend.

As great as having this list is... I sort of wish they'd been more selective. They do mark four books that are particularly outstanding, but I think I'd rather see a list of maybe ten YA fiction books (that's the only section that's really long, unsurprisingly) along with the others. I'd also be interested in seeing some more generic nonfiction books that are GLBTQ-positive without being specifically GLBTQ--I haven't read Body Drama (Nancy Amanda Redd) yet, so I don't know if it's GLBTQ-positive or if that even comes into it, but books like that, or history books, and so on. I think that's another designation that would be useful for librarians--but maybe that falls outside the scope of the Rainbow List.

I may be biased on the issue of wanting fewer books, because there's a book on the list that I read and didn't think was very good or "authentic enough". Maybe everyone else thinks "the longer, the better", and I can see that point of view, too. Any thoughts?

Oh, and I definitely recommend Awkward and Definition by Ariel Schrag. It must read like historical fiction to today's teenagers... I read the older editions of these and loved them, so I'm really happy to see them in print and (I think) wider release.

1 comment:

wrigleyfield said...

Yeah, it seems like there's two different goals here, and they might be better met with separate lists. One is a comprehensive list of LGBT-friendly books meeting some sort of minimal standard; having a list like this might be useful for a variety of reasons. And the other is more like a prize for the best LGBT books in a given year, useful for those of us who buy/read a limited number of books.

A press I volunteer for, Haymarket Books, had a similar issue when updating our website, which carries books from a wide range of other presses as well as our own. On the one hand, we carry a range of titles because we think there's a value in making a broader set of ideas available (we're an independent, progressive press, and we're mostly promoting books from other small presses; our feeling is we all need to stick together). The books shouldn't all have the same viewpoint. On the other hand, we do want to limit it to books we genuinely think are very good in some way, because we want people to be able to use the site as some sort of assurance of quality (dependent, of course, on their acceptance of our judgment; we do have a base of regular and enthusiastic readers of the press, who'd be most likely to use the site this way). My point is just that this can be a hard line to walk in practice.

I agree with you on the usefulness of a list of good nonfiction that's LGBT friendly regardless of subject matter. But it might be a harder list to compile, since you'd have to either be incredibly well-read or solicit nominations/suggestions from a lot of people (as opposed to just searching for LGBT-themed books).