Bookstore and writers’ group lead the charge on queer lit in Lansing


You can normally find Wayfaring Booksellers at the REO Town Marketplace, but at the upcoming Lansing and East Lansing Pride celebrations, the shop will take to the streets to sell its primarily queer-focused literature.
The relatively new bookstore, co-owned by Eleanor Richards and Casey Holland, started as a pop-up at the REO Town Marketplace’s 2021 Jolly Holiday Market and expanded into a small shop in the back of the marketplace in January 2022. It offers a tightly curated selection of books, according to Richards.
“We started by selling used books and built up gradually, and now we’ve moved up front, where there’s sunlight,” Richards said. “It’s a place where people can come sit down with friends and talk. We offer a diverse selection of new and used books but are very connected to the queer community.”
Richards was inspired to start selling books by shops like women-, queer- and veteran-owned Bettie’s Pages in Lowell that cater to underrepresented communities. She said there’s been an influx of niche bookstores like this across the country in the past four years.
In addition to traditional novels, Wayfaring carries a selection of graphic novels and children’s books.
The owners choose their inventory from a variety of sources, including what their friends are reading and books authors and publishers send them.
“We also keep our eyes on lists like the New York Times’ bestsellers, but we aren’t driven by bestsellers,” Richards said.
For Richards, who has a background in technical theater, the hardest part of getting the bookstore up and running was learning the business side of it. However, both she and Holland previously worked for East Lansing’s long-running Curious and Archives book shops.
“The other businesses in the marketplace have helped out with the business end,” Richards said.
Even though the bookstore’s focus for the next few weeks is the Pride events, Richards said, “We want you to read queer all year.”
Richards’ own reading skews toward nonfiction, fantasy and science fiction.
“Casey and I both love books, and I can’t read a book without recommending it to someone else,” she said.

Her current favorite book to recommend to customers, C.E. McGill’s “Our Hideous Progeny,” fits that niche like a glove. It follows Victor Frankenstein’s great-niece, a paleontologist, as she tries to replicate a dinosaur. It’s a spinoff of Mary Shelley’s classic novel, with themes of gender and queerness woven in.
“The book covers everything from historical gothic to science fiction,” Richards said.
Richards believes members of the queer community are drawn to science fiction and fantasy because those genres “challenge what we know about society, and queer people can connect with them.”
Like other bookshop owners, Richards is concerned about the long-term implications of book banning.
“It’s important we speak up for those books,” she said.
In the short term, banned book lists may help sell books, but in the long term, publishers and editors may shy away from releasing controversial books.
Richards’ advice for booksellers is to “have a mission and sell the books you love.”
In downtown Lansing, the nonprofit Salus Center is using writing as a means for members of the queer community to build dignity and express themselves. Mimi Gonzalez leads the group Write Hear 4 Queer, which meets monthly for group writing sessions using a series of prompts based on a poetry reading.
Gonzalez, a professional comedian who travels across the country doing standup, stressed that the program is free, and participants don’t need to be professional writers.
“Writing together in a group makes the writing process safe for each other. They don’t feel alone,” she said.
For more information on the group, visit


No comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here

Connect with us