It’s no secret, I love reading. I love books. I love literature. I am always reading something. I love sharing books with friends. I love being in a book club. I loved teaching high school English, loved trying to instill in my students a love of literature. (How many times can I write love in one paragraph!) Side note, two novels I did NOT love teaching were “1984” and “The Scarlet Letter” – not every American student from now until the end of time needs to read exactly these books. There are literally hundreds and hundreds of books that can be added to the “required high school reading” lists.
Some of my favorite authors include John Irving, Tom Perotta, John Green, Armistead Maupin, David Sedaris. Also love a good beach read from Jane Green or Lianne Moriarty.
If you are looking for your next great GAY read, check out this, by no means exhaustive, list. Many of these titles have been made into movies or television shows, you know the drill – read the book first, then see the movie. The book is always better! (“Gays of our Lives” providing hours of entertainment!) Happy Reading! #readersrock
“Tales of the City” – Armistead Maupin – This book should be handed to every gay man once they come out of the proverbial gay closet. Numerous novels in the series depict San Francisco in the 1970s and 1980s as seen through the eyes of the residents of Barbary Lane. Maupin continued the series a few years ago adding three new novels to show his characters as they grew older and “wiser!”. The Netflix reboot airs later this year with Laura Linney returning to play Mary Ann along with new cast members including Ellen Page and transgender actress Jen Richards. (Also of interest: “Logical Family” Maupin’s autobiography released in 2017.)
“Like People in History” – Felice Picano – If you are looking for an epic gay novel spanning decades then this is the book for you. Two gay cousins become best friends amidst the backdrop of historic gay milestones. Set primarily in Greenwich Village, the story moves from San Francisco to Fire Island as the characters witness the modern day gay rights movement begin. One of the first books that I truly saw myself mirrored in the lives on the characters.
“Flesh and Blood” – Michael Cunningham – Another epic family saga, this time a close knit Greek-American family on the Lower East Side of NYC. Heartbreaking and heartwarming at the same time. Truth be told, I was never a huge fan of Michael Cunningham but I am huge fan of this book.
“Boy Meets Boy” – David Levithan – Yes it’s technically a YA book, but don’t let that stop your enjoyment from discovering this modern day gay rom-com classic. Words are words, books are books whether the intended audience is an adult or a teen. The YA genre is churning out book after book where the gay characters are the main characters, not the funny sidekick, or the sick nobly suffering AIDS patient. The gay characters are multi-dimensional and being gay is NOT the main problem of the story.
This book was the first book I read where two males fall in and out of love with all the hijinks of a “Notting Hill” or “27 Dresses.” (See also: “Two Boys Kissing” and “Wide Awake” from Levithan. His catalog is huge and filled with story after story of cute, charming gay love stories.)
“The Great Believers” – Rebecca Makkai – Devastating. Alternating points of view weave seamlessly together in this story centering on the early days of the AIDS epidemic in Chicago. Have tissues ready.
“The Perks of Being a Wallflower” – Stephen Chbowsky – Another modern day classic. If you haven’t read it by now, stop what you are doing and immediately read this book. Some might wonder as to why this book is included on this list as the main character doesn’t identify as gay. However, the themes of bullying, depression, loneliness are all too familiar for a closeted gay teen. The novel is at its core uplifting even through all the tragedy. A stellar film version starring Emma Watson only makes this novel even better.
“The Object of My Affection – Stephen McCauley – Yes, I admit I do love the 90s movie starring Paul Rudd and Jennifer Aniston. But I loved the book years before the movie came out. McCauley, an out and proud gay writer penned this oh so familiar tale of the gay man/straight female best friend relationship, elevating it with sharp wit and beautiful prose. (See also: “My Ex-Life” and “Alternatives to Sex”)
Michael Thomas Ford novels – I say this with love and no shade, Michael Thomas Ford is the Danielle Steel of gay literature. Soapy romantic escapades ensue in his novels, many set in the gay summer destination of Provincetown, Massachusetts. Grab one of his books, some suntan lotion, a beach umbrella and lose yourself for hours! Popular titles include, “Changing Tides,” “What We Remember,” “The Road Home,” “Full Circle.”
“Hero” – Percy Moore – Also technically YA, this book passed through the hands of every person in our vacation house one summer. The story of a young gay superhero trying find both his superpower and his place in the world speaks to the superhero inside all of us! Inspiring and Empowering!
“Making Gay History” – Eric Marcus – KNOW.YOUR.GAY.HISTORY.
For more gay themed literature check out David Sedaris, Augusten Burroughs, Patricia Highsmith, Oscar Wilde, Christopher Isherwood and many many others!