READING ROOM

10 Great Books To Get You Through The Holiday Season

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The holidays are upon us, which means you’re likely going to spend a lot of time traveling over the next two months, not to mention avoiding that conversation about Donald Trump back home in Ohio with Aunt Sally you have been studiously avoiding.

To make matters easier, and more enjoyable, we’ve compiled a list of reading recommendations.

Whether you’re in the mood for some serious literary fiction, a juicy biography, a funny memoir, or a thoughtful work of nonfiction, here are all the bases.

Scissors, Paper, Rock: A Novel by Fenton Johnson

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Along with his siblings, Raphael Hardin left his childhood home in rural Kentucky. Grappling with an AIDS diagnosis, he returns to care for his dying father. Told from the perspectives of Raphael, his family, and their lifelong neighbor, Fenton Johnson’s novel reveals the blood struggles and binding loves of a broken family made whole.

Carol by Patricia Highsmith

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Previously titled The Price of Salt, Patricia Highsmith’s novel Carol tells the drama of Therese, a stage designer trapped in a department-store day job, and Carol, a customer who comes in to buy her daughter a Christmas toy. The women fall in love and set out across the United States, ensnared by society’s confines and the imminent disapproval of others, yet propelled by their infatuation for one another.

Big Freedia: God Save the Queen Diva! by Big Freedia

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From the eponymous star of the most popular reality show in Fuse TV’s history, this no-holds-barred memoir tells the story of a gay, self-proclaimed mama’s boy who exploded onto the formerly underground Bounce music scene — a hip-hop subgenre — and found acceptance, healing, self-expression and stardom.

Kept Boy by Robert Rodi

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Long out of print, Robert Rodi’s 1996 comedy of manners has been re-released in paperback and as an e-book. It tells the story of 31-year-old Dennis Racine, the pampered, gym-toned boy-toy of a powerful Chicago theater impresario, as he struggles to preserve his privileged lifestyle after his sugar daddy falls for a 20-year-old pool boy.

Trans: A Memoir by Juliet Jacques

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In July 2012, aged thirty, Juliet Jacques underwent sex reassignment surgery — a process she chronicled with unflinching honesty in a serialized national newspaper column. Trans tells of her life to the present moment: a story of growing up, of defining yourself, and of the rapidly changing world of gender politics.

Visions and Revisions by Dale Peck

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Dale Peck’s new memoir takes readers on a journey through the beginning years of the AIDS epidemic, from what he calls the “serial killings” of gay men in New York, London, and Milwaukee, through Peck’s first loves upon coming out of the closet, to the transformation of LGBT people from marginal, idealistic fighters to their present place in a world of mainstream acceptance.

Alexander McQueen: Blood Beneath The Skin by Andrew Wilson

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When forty-year-old Alexander McQueen committed suicide in February 2010, a shocked world mourned the loss of a prodigious talent. The first definitive biography of the iconic, notoriously private British fashion designer explores the connections between his dark work and even darker personal life.

The Gay Revolution: The Story of the Struggle by Lillian Faderman

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This 800-page magnum opus by Lillian Faderman reads like a novel as it tells the sweeping story of the modern struggle for LGBTQ rights — from the 1950s to the present — based on interviews with politicians, military figures, legal activists and other members of the entire LGBTQ community.

Intimacy Idiot by Isaac Oliver

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This debut collection of essays by Isaac Oliver serves up a comedic cornucopia of sketches, vignettes, lists, and diaries from his life as a young, fanciful, and extremely single gay man in New York City. Whether he’s hooking up with a man who dresses as a dolphin, suffering on airplanes and buses next to people with Food From Home, or hovering around an impenetrable circle of attractive people at a cocktail party, Oliver captures the messy, moving and absurd moments of urban life as we live it today.

I Can Give You Anything But Love by Gary Indiana

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Not for the faint of heart, radical writer Gary Indiana’s new memoir offers readers a montage of excursions into his life and work — from his early days growing up gay in rural New Hampshire to his escape to Haight-Ashbury in the post-Summer of Love era, the sweltering 1970s in Los Angeles and ultimately his existence in New York in the 1980s as a bona fide downtown personality.

Encyclopedia Madonnica 20: Madonna from A to Z by Matthew Rettenmund

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The standard edition of the ultimate book on the Queen of Pop: Madonna! This twentieth-anniversary edition of the book that gets it all down (and gets it all right) is filled with never-before-seen and rare images, as well as fresh interviews. This encyclopedic tome covers every aspect of Madonna’s life and career: music, movies, TV, love life, family, tours and more.

Related: 15 Must-Read Gay Memoirs And Biographies

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12 Comments

  • alphacentauri

    No thanks.

  • joyce27

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  • AtticusBennett

    dear gays, tis the perfect time to discover the writings of Ethan Mordden. my favourite gay author.

    here are a few:
    “How Long Has This Been Going On?” – the “gay ROOTS” – it follows a number of gay characters across America from the 1940s to the mid 1990s. the book saved my life. it’s a tremendous achievement; funny, touching, sexy, and moving as hell.

    The Buddies Cycle – five novels following a “family” of gay friends in manhattan, from the 70s to the early 00s.
    they are, in order…
    1. I’ve a Feeling We’re Not in Kansas Anymore
    2. Buddies
    3. Everybody Loves You
    4. Some Men are Lookers
    5. How’s Your Romance?

    i recommend them to all of you, in particular those of you who presently avoid reading “gay literature” – i promise you, if you read these novels you will find and feel a new affinity for and brotherhood in being a gay man. these are stories of the love we share for each other, as friends and lovers and occasional rivals.

    they’re, in a word, Perfect.

    OH! and The Venice Adriana! the story of a young gay american who goes to Venice in the 1960s to help ghostwrite the autobiography of an opera singer, and gets caught up in a world of opera, sex, politics and the awakening of his gay identity. it’s a work of art.

  • jjose712

    Curious there’s no recomendation of any of the very praised gay related novels of this year (A little life, After the parade, Did you ever had a family?, or even a Brief story of seven killings)

  • martinbakman

    I’m just read

    Beyond Paradise: The Life of Roman Novarro

    star of the original Ben Hur.

    He was a closeted, film star. His family settled in LA, originally from Durango, Mexico.

    by Andre’ Soares

  • Prinny

    All these books scream of holiday mood /s And why is there a book about the old Mummy named Madonna on the list?

  • Bob LaBlah

    @Prinny: Agreed. That Madonna book for a Christmas present is almost like giving a Catholic school child abuse victim a beautifully gift wrapped dvd of The Boys of St. Vincent.

  • Maude

    I would add, “The Last Of The Wine” by Mary Renault.

    Google it and read the ‘blurbs’.

  • SeeingMoreClearly

    @Maude: That’s a good suggestion. And instead of all this mediocre stuff being recommended, get back to the classics (gay and straight), especially stuff you might not have read yet. look up what are considered the greatest books (nonfiction and fiction) ever. Ulysses; Moby Dick; The Great Gatsby ; The Dogs Bark (Capote at his most brilliant, better than in Cold Blood); In Search Of Lost Time (Proust); that Hadrian book by Yourcenar; The Sea Wolf by Jack London (totally homoerotic); Maupassant; Proust; Hawthorne; Poe; Crime and Punishment (Raskolnikov is strangely hot); Leaves Of Grass, by Whitman; on and on…

  • Paul

    I saw a review for I Can Give You Anything But Love by long-time gay activist Gary Indiana on edgechicago.com and I thought it sounded interesting. I will read it later.

  • Guy068

    Any or all of E Lynn Harris’s books should be here. The man could move you from laughter to tears and back again in a space of a in the span of a paragraph. And Kept Boy is the Rodi recommended? Closet Case and Drag Queen are MUCH better books. Closet Case had me ing so hard at its big finish. Kept Boy? The only Rodi I was ever unable to finish. It is SO not his best work!

  • writejordan

    I wrote a series of gay fiction novels in a Southern setting that ended up in Amazon’s Top Ten Rated LGBT Fiction list. Queerty even retweeted a few links. Check them out on Amazon. “Home is a Fire” and “The Fire Went Wild,” by Jordan Nasser.

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