You ever get that feeling when you walk into a place and feel like you’re at home?
That’s exactly how I felt when I walked into the Queer Lit store in Manchester on it’s opening day in Manchester. Armed with one of my fave people and a full bank account ready to buy books I was nothing short of excited.
It’s the kind of place you can spend hours in, and I have, for so so many reasons. From the beautiful design of the store – from gorgeous green bookshelves, amazingly co-ordinated shelves, the incredible staff who will go out of their way to help to Jasper the dog who’s on hand for belly rubs.
The store also stocks every kind of queer book you could ask for. From Queer Young Adult, to Queer Romance, to Queer Sci-fi and Fantasy to Queer Non-Ficition like art books and cook books to all different kinds of Queer History. It’s wonderful to see and browse and discover books that I might not even have thought to ever look for – like the gorgeous Queer Graphic Novel ‘Bloom’ to ‘The Queens’ English’ a LGBTQIA+ dictionary. Not only this but their shelves are split into many categories to help you browse. From the Gay, Bisexual and Lesbian shelves to the Trans shelf, to a shelf solely for BAME books and then shelves for poetry, graphic novels and drag books! It’s incredible. There’s even a gorgeous area for younger children full of queer picture books!
Honestly I witnessed some of the most beautiful moments whilst in store that actually reduced me to tears. Most notably that Matthew and the staff will go out of their way to help you find a book. There can be some really delicate conversations that take place in a queer bookstore from shy questioning people to queers that aren’t out yet to parents with their children looking to diversify their bookshelves. Yet the Queer Lit team handle them all wonderfully and it’s an absolute pleasure to see and hear some of the conversations they have with shoppers.
One of the best things about Queer Lit as a store and Matthew as the owner is that it/he doesn’t just stock big bestselling books – they put amazing indie/self-published books on their shelves which is incredible for an author outside of the traditional publishing world. Every time I go to the store I just stare at some of these incredible books that they stock from Rory Michaelson’s ‘Lesser Known Monsters’ to Jayme Bean’s ‘Untouched’ to Louise Willingham’s ‘Not Quite Out’ – there’s something for everyone from the indie world. Oh, and of course, my own Cherrington Duology!
There’s pretty much always a 10% off discount on all books, a tonne of the books are signed and when you check out – be that in store or online – the books are always wrapped in brightly coloured tissue paper and held together with a fun Queer Lit sticker. You also ALWAYS get a gorgeous, queer book mark with every purchase – what more could you ask for from a bookstore?
Not only do they have a gorgeous little shop in Manchester, but if you can’t get to the City you can shop their online store. It’s been going for over a year now and has over 1800 queer titles which is just freaking incredible! One of the amazing things they do with their online store is when you go to pay they give you the chance to add on up to 15% of your total basket to donate to their ‘Free Inclusive Books for School’s’ initiative. This Not For Profit program puts inclusive books back into schools so young LGBTQ+ people and allies can see themselves within the literature they read. I know when I was younger this is something that I would have loved and found incredibly helpful and I honestly think it’s so wonderful that they are doing something like this!
You can find the Queer Lit store in Manchester’s Northern Quarter at 39 Tib Street! If you can make the journey I would 100% recommend getting up there!
Thank you Matthew and team for all the incredible work you do x