Discover more from Books & Bakes
Volume 2, No. 52: Introducing the 2023 Queer Your Year Challenge!
Greetings, book and treat people! I’m writing to you from the heart of Cookie Extravaganza—I just washed the flour off my hands, and there are trays and trays of cookies cooling on the counter. I wish I could package up the way my kitchen smells and send it off to you.
This is the last newsletter of 2022. I’m taking the next three weeks off to take long winter walks, snuggle with my pup, spend time with dear ones, eat a lot of cookies, and rest, and rest, and rest.
But before I sign off for the year, I have a thrilling announcement! I’ve been working on this project for months, and I am beyond excited to finally tell you all about it. With a whole lot of fabulous gay fanfare, I present to you: The 2023 Queer Your Year Challenge, a yearlong reading challenge celebrating queer lit!
Queer Your Year 2023
If you’ve interacted with me on the internet (or, let’s be honest, in real life) for more than five seconds, you probably know how much I love queer lit. I didn’t read a lot of queer books as a teenager and young adult. There were certainly less queer books back then, but I also didn’t know how to find the queer books that did exist. I didn’t know that I could simply choose not to read books about straight people if I didn’t feel like it.
Now I’m a queer adult and a Professional Book Person living in the Golden Age of Queer Lit. There. Are. So. Many. Queer. Books. There are more queer books than I will ever be able to read in my lifetime! It is a glorious thing, a thing to celebrate, and celebrating queer lit has always been what Books & Bakes is all about. In 2023, I’m turning the celebration up to eleven.
The Queer Your Year Challenge is just that—an invitation to queer your reading, to dig deep into queer lit. It’s for everyone—whether you’re queer or not; whether you’re a seasoned queer lit connoisseur or you’ve just read your first queer book; whether you want to shake up your reading life in 2023 or just settle into what brings you joy.
It’s not about reading as many books as possible. There’s no finish line. It’s about discovering new queer books and authors, stretching outside of our comfort zones, making space for queer joy, and celebrating queer brilliance. There are a bunch of prompts, as well as fun monthly raffles for amazing prizes. I’ll be giving tons of recs throughout the year, and I hope you’ll join the conversation and get loud about your favorite queer books, too. I can’t wait to read with you!
How It Works
The challenge includes 48 prompts. You can view and download the game card here. Whenever you complete a prompt, write down the name of the book you read on your game card. You don’t have to do the prompts in order, and you don’t have to do all of them (or even half of them!) to participate. Even if you only complete one prompt, you’ll still have twelve chances to win a prize!
Here’s how the monthly raffles work:
In the last newsletter of each month, I’ll randomly select 6-8 numbers. It’s like bingo! If you’ve completed any of the prompts that correspond to those numbers, you’ll have till the end of the month to submit your game card.
Everyone who submits a game card will be entered into the monthly raffle for prizes. One number = one entry. If you’ve completed all six of the winning prompts for that month, you’ll get six raffle entries!
Your game card is yours for the whole year and entries are cumulative. So if you read a book for Prompt 25 in January, and 25 is a winning number in September, as long as you submit your game card in September, it counts!
Everyone who submits a game card will get a one-time prize pack of stickers, a bookmark, a postcard, and a handmade zine!
After you’ve won a prize pack, you can keep submitting your card each month (as long as you’ve completed at least one of the winning prompts) until you win the raffle—or the year ends.
At the end of the year, I’ll do one big raffle that anyone who has completed at least 12 prompts can enter.
It’s not complicated, I promise. It’s going to be awesome. We’re going to read so many queer books, and get so many amazing recommendations for our overflowing TBRs, and learn about so many brilliant queer authors and indie presses.
The Fine Print
All books must be queer! This includes books by LGBTQIA+ authors and/or books that focus on queer themes and characters.
All books must be read between January 1 and December 31, 2023.
Feel free to use a book for more one than one prompt!
In order to enter the monthly raffles and win prizes, you must be subscribed to Books & Bakes. (I’m grateful for every paid subscription, but you don’t need to pay to participate in Queer Your Year!)
To keep things fun for everyone, you’ll only be allowed to win one monthly prize. .
Prize packs ship internationally, but, unfortunately, monthly prizes are only available within the U.S.
I’ve curated a selection of incredible prizes from LGBTQ+ and BIPOC-owned businesses, artists, and indie presses. I’ll reveal each month’s prize when I call the winning numbers for the prior month. Some of the amazing prizes you can look forward to include: queer book bundles from some of my favorite indie presses, a one-time book subscription box, queer-themed art prints, and various items (tea, candles, mugs) handmade by queer artists.
Most of these businesses and artists have donated prizes. I’m so grateful for their support of this project—there’s no way I could have funded such amazing prizes out of my own pocket! I encourage you to shop from these artists and buy books from these queer-owned and queer-inclusive indie presses when you can. I’ll be recommending their amazing stuff all year.
January: The 2023 Fertile Futures Calendar by Molly Costello
Molly is a “white non-binary queer illustrator, food grower, honeybee tender and a seeker of mysticism. Through their creative work they explore themes of interconnectedness, cosmology, reciprocity, biomimicry, and are interested in cultivating our radical imaginations to help us shape our emergent new world.” They are a thoughtful, transparent business owner, and they donate 10% of their annual profits to Black abolitionist, LGBTQIA, and immigrant orgs. This calendar is such a gorgeous work of art! I’ve been buying Molly’s calendars for a few years now, and I love each one more than the last. I often frame the prints at the end of the year.
The winning prompts for January are: 2, 8, 31, 21, 19, 14, 29, and 24.
The Queer Your Year Prize Pack
Every month, one lucky raffle winner will receive one of the above prizes. But everyone who submits a game card will receive a prize pack full of bookish treats! Prize packs will include stickers, a bookmark, a homemade Queer Your Year zine, and a postcard of a queer and/or literary icon (like this one).
There are 48 prompts. The point isn’t to complete them all—the point is to read fabulous queer books, and discover some wonderful new-to-you genres and/or authors. I purposely came up with a list of prompts that is a mix of serious and silly, fun and challenging. I want this challenge to be what you need it to be: if you want to use it as permission to read a whole lot of queer fluff, there are prompts for that! If you want to challenge yourself to read queer books outside your comfort zone, there are prompts for that, too!
I’ll include recommendations for each prompt in every free newsletter, and I’ll link to those rec lists below. You can also check out the Queer Your Year list on Bookshop and the Queer Your Year Challenge on Storygraph.
3. A book published before you were born
4. Intersex author
5. A classic
6. A novel set in a rural place
7. Protagonist over 50
8. A Black history book
9. A mystery
10. A work of fiction by a disabled author
11. A nonfiction book about queer parenting
12. A collection of letters or journals
13. A book with less than 100 ratings on Goodreads
14. A book set on a continent you don’t live on
15. An essay collection
16. An SFF book by an Indigenous author
17. A book about queer joy
18. Asexual author
19. A YA book without a central romance
20. A work of graphic nonfiction
22. A novel in verse
23. South Asian author
24. A book under 150 pages
25. Fat author
26. A book recommended to you by a queer friend or family member
27. A retelling
28. A romance with BIPOC leads
29. A book about drag
30. A middle grade book featuring a queer family
31. Caribbean author
32. A book of nature or science writing
33. Weird Queer!
34. A historical novel with a trans protagonist
35. A book set in space
36. An M/F romance novel
37. A work of genre fiction by a trans author
38. A book published in the decade you were born
39. A Lambda Award finalist or winner
40. African author
41. A work of historical fiction set before 1950
42. A debut poetry collection
44. A book published by Arsenal Pulp Press
45. A book over 500 pages
46. A book by or about a celebrity or famous historical figure
Ready to Queer Your Year?
Download the 2023 Queer Your Year game card here.
Make sure you’re subscribed to Books & Bakes! I’ll announce each month’s winning numbers in the newsletter. You must be a subscriber to enter the monthly raffle and win prizes.
Submit your game card at the end of each month here.
I also welcome your recommendations! If you’ve read a great book that fits a prompt, let me know via email (email@example.com), on Insta (@openbookopen), or drop a comment on one of the newsletters linked in the above prompts list.
If you’re on Instagram, post what you’re reading using the #QueerYourYear hashtag, and tag me (@openbookopen), so that I can share your posts.
All this information is now live on the Queer Your Year page. I’ll be updating it with monthly prizes, links to rec lists, and more. Please feel free to share the challenge far and wide!
I am so excited about this—beyond excited—and I can’t wait to read with you all! I’ll be posting monthly rec threads (and I might even do one next week so we can all start building our TBRs), so stay tuned for that. In the meantime, if you have questions, please drop them in the comments!
And that’s a wrap on Books & Bakes in 2022! Thanks so much for reading. It means the world to me.
I’m wishing you all a beautiful December. I hope the last weeks of the year are filled with light and warmth and sweetness. I hope you can make space for the people and places that bring you joy. I’ll be back with the first regular newsletter of 2023 on January 11th. Until then, if you want to chat about Queer Your Year, you can find me on Insta (@openbookopen), or via email (firstname.lastname@example.org).