The Daily Tar Heel
Printing news. Raising hell. Since 1893.
Tuesday, Nov. 28, 2023 Newsletters Latest print issue

We keep you informed.

Help us keep going. Donate Today.
The Daily Tar Heel

Epilogue's Queer Reader book club fosters affirming space for LGBTQ+ readers

Jaime Sanchez, manager of Epilogue Books Chocolate Brews, is pictured here holding the book of the month on Wednesday, Sept. 20, 2023.

The Queer Reader book club at Epilogue Books Chocolate Brews is a community space that Gaby Iori, Epilogue's events and social media manager, wishes she had in high school or college.

Queer Reader, a monthly book club hosted at Epilogue, intends to provide an affirming and accessible space for LGBTQ+ readers to create connections while discussing queer literature. 

“Sometimes you don't know how badly you need a community space until one is advertised to you,” Iori said. 

She said that Queer Reader was inspired by her desire to create a community space for queer people that didn’t revolve around nightlife.

Molly Hoch, a Ph.D. student in the Department of Biostatistics, said that there’s so much to learn from the experiences of other readers and authors within the LGBTQ+ community. 

“If you look at the political climate in the country, in North Carolina more specifically, there's a lot of queer issues that are at the forefront, a lot of issues with trans rights and stuff,” Hoch said. “It's something that you think about all the time, and then to have a space where you're not the only one thinking about it too, I think is an important thing to cultivate.”

A typical meeting will consist of ten minutes of chat, where everyone catches up. The group then moves into basic questions, like if the attendees enjoyed the book. Then, it slowly transitions to a deeper discussion about the assigned literature.

During the first few months of running Queer Reader, Iori said that she prepared a list of thought-provoking discussion questions before each meeting. Although she still prepares for the discussions, she is now more comfortable as host of the book club and lets the conversation flow naturally.

“The great thing about everyone that comes to Queer Reader is that they're all so smart and willing to share their thoughts about whatever we're reading,” Iori said. 

This month, the club will meet on Sept. 26 at 7 p.m. They are reading "In the Dream House" by Carmen Maria Machado, a memoir about the author's experiences with domestic abuse.

Tickets to attend the meeting are $6. 

Seth Mitchell, a Ph.D. student in occupational science, said that he moved to Chapel Hill from Los Angeles last summer after finishing his master's degree and knew that he wanted to look for community. He discovered Queer Reader through a quick Google search of queer events happening near him.  

“Because it’s low stakes and you can come and go as you please and everyone’s just excited to see people there — whether you’re new or come frequently — it’s just a really natural way of getting to know each other,” Mitchell said. 

Over the past few years, Iori said she’s been "jazzed" to see that the publishing industry has made a shift towards welcoming more kinds of narratives — other than the coming-out storyline — and representations of the range of LGBTQ+ identities.

“Queer people are sort of infiltrating the book market, and I love to see it,” she said.

Iori said that when she first started the book club, she picked books that were distinctly lesbian because she is a lesbian herself. It was what felt most comfortable to her. As the club progressed, she looked toward the bookselling team at Epilogue to provide new book recommendations with diverse identities across genres.  

She said that members are still able to find something in each book that resonates with them, even if it's not about their own identity. 

“I think this book club probably heals a part of the closeted high school kid that I was — being able to talk very freely about being queer and reading queer literature very openly and stuff like that," Iori said. "I just think it's really cool, and it is probably fixing me in many ways.” 


@dthlifestyle |

To get the day's news and headlines in your inbox each morning, sign up for our email newsletters.