Bookshelf: Five Great Overlooked Lesbian Books From 2012

By Diane Anderson-Minshall

Originally published on Advocate.com October 17 2012 4:00 AM ET

Something Spectacular: The True Story of One Rockette's Battle With Bulimia by Greta Gleissner (Seal Press)

After she fulfilled a longtime dream to become a Rockette, the famous dancers who perform at Radio City Music Hall in New York, author Greta Gleissner swore she'd change her life. Unfortunately, her habit of bingeing and purging got worse, and the dancer fell into the grip of an eating disorder that poisoned her life "from the inside out." As her struggle to look like the other Rockettes intensifies, Gleissner goes on a search of self-discovery that reveals not only her sense of inadequacy but also her unspoken queerness. (SealPress.com)

Red Nails, Black Skates: Gender, Cash and Pleasure On and Off the Ice by Erica Rand (Duke University Press)

The author was already a 40-something women's studies professor when she bought a pair of skates to get in shape. Within a few years she was competing in Gay Games and U.S. Figure Skating's annual Adult Nationals competition. Along the way Rand (a queer femme) addresses issues inherent in figure skating (like homophobia and heterosexism), looks at trans issues in sports, and explores the sexual norms and economic factors affecting athletics. Rather than being overly academic, Red Nails is smart and witty and warmly personal, a fascinating read for anyone interested in LGBT sports and queer lives. (DukeUPress.edu)

A Theory of Small Earthquakes by Meredith Maran (Soft Skull)

The debut novel from award-winning lesbian journalist Meredith Maran is a heartfelt and wrenching story about love, sexual fluidity, and the families we create. Set against the backdrop of San Francisco's political upheaval over two decades, the book follows Alison Rose, who has been with another woman, Zoe, for many years when she leaves Zoe for a man and a "normal life." Zoe will come back into her life, though, and how Alison handles the love of these two people and two genders, and how her son factors into this world, is the beauty of Maran's audacious novel. (SoftSkull.com)

The Wild Girls by Ursula K. Le Guin (PM Press)

If you haven't discovered Ursula K. Le Guin's complex and intellectually sophisticated tales in the 40 years she's been the grand dame of science fiction, The Wild Girls is a great easy introduction. In book form for the first time, The Wild Girls is a short story that tells the story of two "dirt children," captives in a world of sword and silk and violence. Also included: an interview with Le Guin and her scandalous Harper's essay "Staying Awake While We Read." (PMPress.org)

Getting Somewhere by Beth Neff (Viking)

Four teen girls ( inquisitive Jenna, secretive Cassie, cynical Sarah, and bitter Lauren) find their lives colliding in an experimental juvenile detention center in the middle of nowhere. This young adult book that can't quite be called a lesbian novel, but one of the characters is indeed queer, and because of that LGBT teens and adults both might enjoy it.The novel focuses on the teen characters one at a time (much like The Grounding of Group Six did) as it unpacks all of their secrets, issues, and prejudices, making it an easy, interesting feminist read. (BethNeff.com)