Book Review Interview

Queer Books, Queer Readers: Nico Recommends Little Blue Encyclopedia

Hello! My name is Nico (they/them pronouns), and I am a queer Torontonian who loves (and loves learning about) art and ASL. I identify as a genderqueer bi+ peep who is slowly getting into DnD and RPGs but has always loved literature and stories more than anything else. You can find me sneakily liking all your animal photos.  

What queer book have you chosen to share with our readers today?

It was a tough choice because I have a hard time picking favourites, but the queer book I chose to share today is Little Blue Encyclopedia (for Vivian) by Hazel Jane Plante. The book is a trans femme sapphic text. The premise is that this text is an encyclopedia for an imaginary show called “Little Blue,” a show which the narrator’s best friend / love interest is obsessed with. It is likely one of the queerest unrequited sapphic love letters I have ever read. Using encyclopedia entries as the framing device, the reader learns about the narrator, their best friend / love interest, “Little Blue” and how one’s relationship to fandom can be integral to your existence.  

Why is this book one of your favorites? 

This is one of my favourite representations of queer longing, which is so complicated and beautiful and could be carried for eons. The book asks you: What do you do with those emotions? Do you feel guilt and anger or anguish for carrying that longing for so long, knowing it will never be requited? This book proves that you can live with these questions and maybe never figure out any answers. I appreciate its messiness and how the emotions portrayed in the book bleed into one another. I find comfort in the loose ends and lack of resolution and resistance to completion.  

How would you describe yourself as a reader? 

I am a dedicated reader when I have enough time to be alone with a book. Right now, it’s a bit difficult to get that time, but I try to always carry something with me. That’s part of why I love travelling; books make the best travel companions, and that time is already there. I especially gravitate towards books with different structures or formats, which is why I love books like Little Blue and graphic novels like Are You Listening. I appreciate the meta approach taken in books that play with how they present themselves, and love writers and artists take risks that make their work different but meaningful.  

As a queer person, have books helped you explore or express your queer identity? 

Honestly, I think I am who I am because of queer literature. Queer books, queer bookstores, and the queer sections of every library and bookstore have been my havens and my mirrors when I needed them most, when I needed to know I was still real and still existed. My identity is oftentimes in this cycle of realization and affirmation thanks to books, and I discover things about myself, rediscover things I’ve forgotten, and reignite what I lost or gave away. I’m my own little forest of reading, and some of these stories bloom or decay along my path, but they are all always present and part of the cycle, nourishing me as I grow into the person I hope to be.  

Other than reading, are there any queer nerdy recommendations that you would like to leave with our readers? 

I recommend Shing Yin Khor and their games. I am currently playing Remember August, about a time-travelling friend who needs you to remember them, and I’ve responded to it so sincerely it kind of hurts sometimes. They are usually solo games, but I believe they can be adapted as needed.  
 
I also recommend the Tea Dragon Society series. Super queer, they are adorable graphic novels, but their creators also made the CUTEST dragon plushes ever.  
 
Also also, I recommend StoryGraph if you’re looking for a replacement for Good Reads; the site is run by a Black web designer who wanted a recommendation site that did not actively work with Amazon. I really liked the recommendations it gave me, and hope you do too 😊  

Thank you, Nico!

Check out our Queer Lil Library for more book recommendations and reviews!

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