Spring break is just around the corner, which means you’re going to need a good book to devour while dallying by the poolside. (Just don’t forget to wear your sunscreen, fellas!) Not only is reading a fun way to pass the time and exercise the imagination, but it’s also an excellent way to attract the attention of cute guys, since everyone agrees that reading is totally sexy.
So without any further ado, here are our 10 spring reading recommendations…
The American People: Volume 1: Search For My Heart: A Novel by Larry Kramer
Larry Kramer‘s epic 800-page novel took 40 years to write and follows a middle-class family living outside Washington, D.C. and trying to get along in the darkest of times. Volume 1 of the novel spans several decades, depicting prehistoric monkeys that spread a peculiar virus, a Native American shaman whose sexual explorations mutate into occult visions, and early English settlers who live as loving same-sex couples only to fall victim to the forces of bigotry. George Washington and Alexander Hamilton also make appearances, as well as John Wilkes Booth and Abraham Lincoln. The book also depicts a religious sect conspiring with eugenicists, McCarthyites, and Ivy Leaguers to exterminate homosexuals, and offers a haunting depiction of the early days of the AIDS epidemic.
Bettyville: A Memoir by George Hodgman
When George Hodgman leaves Manhattan for his hometown of Paris, Missouri to look after his aging mother, Betty, he finds himself confronted with a rarely acknowledged conflict: Betty, who is both outspoken yet cannot quite reveal her heart, has never truly accepted the fact that her son is gay. As the pair struggle to find a way of uniting their vastly different worlds, Hodgman reveals the challenges of Betty’s life and his own struggles with self-respect and self-acceptance in a bittersweet tale that is as humorous as it is heartbreaking.
Follies Of God: Tennessee William And The Women Of The Fog by James Grissom
Theater geeks take note: James Grissom’s absorbing new biography delves into the artistic inspirations and creative processes of one of America’s greatest playwrights, examining just how Tennessee Williams wrote, how he created characters like Amanda Wingfield, Blanche DuBois, and Stella Kowalski, and how his plays transformed the landscape of American theater. The book also profiles many of the original leading ladies in Williams’ plays, including Lillian Gish, Katharine Hepburn, Maureen Stapleton, Geraldine Page, Kim Stanley and others.
Sympathy For The Devil: Four Decades Of Friendship With Gore Vidal by Michael Mewshaw
While we’re on the subject of great American writers, Michael Mewshaw gossipy new biography of Gore Vidal offers an intimate glimpse at the man who prided himself on being difficult to know. The book documents forty years of friendship between the Mewshaw and Vidal, peeling back layer after layer of Vidal’s unflappable public persona to reveal the inner life and painful traumas of a man few people ever truly got to see.
Time On Two Crosses: The Collected Writing Of Bayard Rustin by Bayard Rustin
Widely considered one of the founding fathers of the modern civil rights movement, Bayard Rustin taught Martin Luther King Jr. strategies for nonviolent protesting and reached international notoriety in 1963 when he became known as the openly gay organizer of the March on Washington. Time on Two Crosses offers an insider’s look at many of the defining political moments of our time — from Gandhi’s impact on African-Americans, white supremacists in Congress, and the assassination of Malcolm X, to Rustin’s never-before-published essays on Louis Farrakhan, affirmative action, and the call for gay rights.
The Prince Of Los Cocuyos: A Miami Childhood by Richard Blanco
A finalist for the 2015 Randy Shilts Award for Gay Nonfiction, Richard Blanco’s new memoir of growing up in a family of Cuban exiles in Miami during the 1970s and ’80s, The Prince of Los Cocuyos, is a rich account of how Blanco, the first Latino and openly gay inaugural poet of the United States, came to understand his place in America while grappling with his burgeoning cultural, artistic, and sexual identities.
Blue, Too: More Writing By (For Or About) Working-Class Queers edited by Wendell Ricketts
If you’re in the mood for an engrossing anthology, check out Blue, Too. It includes short fiction, memoir, performance pieces, and prose poems by twenty different writers that illuminate the struggles, resistance to assimilation, and mental gentrification of working class people from the LGBT community. Lambda Literary Review called Blue, Too “the authority on working-class queer writing in the English language.”
Out At Home: The True Story Of Glenn Burke, Baseball’s First Openly Gay Player by Glenn Burke and Erik Sherman
Glenn Burke was a wildly popular Major League outfielder who managed to keep his sexuality a secret for two seasons. But when the Los Angeles Dodgers management discovered his homosexuality, it tried to talk him into a sham marriage. When Burke refused, he was traded to Oakland, where he received a less-than-warm welcome from incoming drunken manager Billy Martin. The prejudice, coupled with an injured knee, forced Burke into retirement at just 27. First published in 1995, the year Burke died from AIDS-related complications, Out At Home is being re-released in paperback with a new foreword by the great Billy Bean with a new afterword by co-author Erik Sherman reflecting on the two decades that have passed since Burke’s death.
Nobody Is Supposed To Know: Black Sexuality On The Down Low by C. Riley Snorton
Since the early 2000s, the phenomenon of black men who have sex with men as well as women but do not identify as gay or bisexual has exploded in news media and popular culture, from the Oprah Winfrey Show to R&B singer R. Kelly’s hip hopera Trapped in the Closet. In Nobody Is Supposed to Know, C. Riley Snorton examines the “down low” culture by looking closely at how contemporary media and popular culture encourage unhealthy ideals of black sexuality and masculinity.
The Upstairs Lounge Arson: Thirty-Two Deaths In A New Orleans Gay Bar, June 24, 1973 by Clayton Delery-Edwards
On June 24, 1973, a fire ripped through a New Orleans gay bar, killing 32 people. Though arson was suspected, no arrests were ever made. Local government and religious leaders also remained either silent or were openly disdainful of the dead, most of whom were gay men. Based upon hundreds of primary and secondary sources, including contemporary news accounts, interviews with former patrons of the lounge, and crime reports, The Up Stairs Lounge Arson tells the tragic tale of the men who used to frequent this bar, what happened on the day of the fire, and the lasting effects.