Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Library & Information Science


Dr. Catherine Sheldrick Ross

Second Advisor

Dr. Pamela J. McKenzie

Third Advisor

Dr. Carole Färber


This exploratory, qualitative study of pleasure reading practices which occur in the lives of adult, self-identified lesbian, gay, bisexual, and queer women examines the relationship between solitary and social reading for these participants. Of the 31 participants involved in this study, 19 self-identified as readers and as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or queer and 12 belonged to one book club which has a significant lesbian membership and is lesbian-friendly. Data were collected using: 1) individual, open- ended interviews with the individual readers and 2) a six-month engagement as participant-as-observer with the book club. Data analysis was conducted using methods appropriate for naturalistic inquiry, with the data coded for recurring themes. Discussion incorporates participants’ responses in their own words. For participants, not only was reading found to be solitary and social but it also turned out to include the ‘grafted space’ of reading, which is the place where the solitary and social aspects bridge. Members of the book club used their reading to understand better their own personal characteristics. They read collectively to develop the culture of their book club, which included the activity of choosing suitable books for the club, and to collectively develop new insights on titles read. The club used reading to speak out for the marginalised and used their identity to interpret texts as lesbian and to ‘read against the grain.’ Individual participants read to learn about themselves and to understand their sexual and gender identities. They used fictional, ‘strong, female characters’ as personal models for living, and read to connect to a wider community of readers, to develop friendships, and to find love. Readers developed their reading communities and used iii trust to help diminish the risk of choosing books to read. Reading in the ‘grafted space’ is explained as it occurred for both the book club and individual readers. A model for the general reader who encounters the ‘grafted space’ of reading is offered. Implications for Library and Information Science are discussed.



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