A Bookish Pause Before The End of Pride Month

That feeling when you’ve just finished a great book – and don’t know what to read next. For me, that’s one of the most crazy-making feelings in the world. It’s some strange mix of anxiety and dread with a little bit of retail therapy mixed in. “I’ll never find another novel as good as this one?” meets “Why aren’t there more books about men like me and families like mine?” all staring into the vastness of just how many books I haven’t read and realistically will never get to. Sometimes I worry that this feeling chokes off the buzz I can get from finishing a great read.

Before all the glitter goes down the gutter at the end of Pride month, I wanted to call out some finds. Full disclosure: I haven’t read any of these yet. I’ll jump back here next time my Kindle tells me I only have 10% of my book left and the weird “I don’t know what I’m reading next” feelings kick up again.

I saw Part 1 of Angels in America on Broadway about 10 days ago. The epic scale and nuance of this play still hasn’t settled over me, but I have been wondering about new novels that might have more to say about the AIDS crisis. The New York Times jumps in with Michael Cunningham’s beautiful review of Rebecca Makkia’s The Great Believers. Cunningham’s The Hours is the high water mark for connecting stories; him calling The Great Believers “ingeniously interwoven” with “deep emotional impact” has me ready to start this book right away.

Now I’m a big non-fiction reader, but Caleb Crain’s New York Times review of Queer City: Gay London from the Romans to the Present Day by Peter Ackroyd is enticing. I struggle with reading history, even our own gay history. The review says: “This is a guided helicopter tour, not a research seminar. Still, it’s impressive how much detail can be seen even at this elevation and speed.” I think I’m in. I’d like to try it. By there way, this reviewer Caleb Crain has a novel I’m been meaning to read for a long time: Necessary Errors.

I’ve been planning to read a novel by Rakesh Satyal for a long time now. Satyal won a Lambda Literary award for his first book Blue Boy. Yesterday, I got an email from Goodreads announcing that the Kindle edition of his second book No One Can Pronounce My Name is on sale for $2.99. I grabbed it right away – knowing it would be an easy answer to my nagging “what should I read next” sometime soon.

Right now I’m reading The People We Hate At The Wedding by fellow Brooklynite Grant Ginder. How about you?

 

Lambda Literary Finalists Announced

Rainbow Book Pile

This morning Lambda Literary announced the Lammy award nominees this morning.

Here are the nominees for the gay fiction category:

I’ve read three of these gay novels: After the Blue Hour, The End of Eddy, and Less. What I find exciting about seeing these three books together is how different they are. The dark and moody terror of After the Blue Hour is a world apart from the witty jet-setting age-anxiety in Less. The End of Eddy is an autobiographical novel about a struggling young boy in France.

I haven’t read any of the Gay Memoir/Biography nominees. Have you?:

 

How To Find Great Gay Books

Young Man Sunbathing Lying On A Towel In A Garden Near A Pool

Finding good gay books is hard. Too hard. Most of the gay bookstores have closed and the gay sections of Amazon and Barnes and Noble are hard to browse. There’s no one place to catch up on classic gay fiction and read reviews of new novels.

Here’s how I try to stay in the loop on the world of gay literature. I’m sure I’m missing some things – so please comment or email me if you have more ideas to share

  1. Lambda Literary is a non-profit supporting LGBTQ readers and writers. Annually they give out Lammys, the Oscars of the queer book world. The list of past Lammy winners can be a virtual bookstore of greatist hits. Lambda Literary’s new LGBTQ book reviews are a great way to stay in the loop on smaller press books that probably won’t show up in newspapers or magazines.
  2. Band Of Thebes is the best gay book blog. Whenever my reading list feels especially stalled, I can head here and find something great. The site had been on hiatus for a bit, but I’m so glad to see some new posts up lately. This The Most Anticipated LGBT Books of 2018 list is gold.
  3. Round-ups of great gay books bring new energy to your reading list. I just found this list of The Best LGBT Books of All Time from The Good Men Project.  “I wish someone had given me a list of required gay reading when I was coming out. Gay men gave me a lot of things back then (porn, theater tickets, crabs), but no one gave me book titles,” wrote Benoit Denizet-Lewis. This list of 21 Books Every Gay Man Should Read Right Now from Thought Catalog is a great round up of classics. I haven’t read them all but I do love the shout out to one of my favorites: Patti Smith’s Just Kids. There’s also this British list, this LGBTQ book timeline,
  4. Before I became a dad to a busy toddler, I had more time to leisurely read book reviews. Finding a book with a gay character mentioned in the New York Times felt like finding a goldmine – or a bitcoin. Lately I rely on Google Alerts to scan the book reviews for me. My Google Alert tracking “gay book latimes” helped me to find this review of Some Hell by Patrick Nathan. I have Google Alert searches set up to ping me gay book news from  Boston Globe, LA Times, New York Times and Entertainment Weekly.
  5. I got my introduction to gay reading through a gay book club I found via The Center here in NYC. Book clubs can be a great way to get our noses out of books and into real life. But here’s my hack: even if you can’t find time to attend the book group or don’t have a gay book group in you city or don’t feel comfortable going to the meetings, you can still read the books they are talking about. Meetup is a good spot to find some gay book clubs and see what they are up to.
  6. Ask for help finding a new read in a good independent book store. I realize not everyone feels comfortable doing this and some parts of the country don’t have independent book stores. The owners and managers of these stores try to shape their stores around what we’re reading. They also speak to publishers about the kinds of books their customers want. I believe buying gay books at independent book stores helps to make more gay books. Here’s my story of three books I found at Three Lives and Co.

Let me know what you’re reading and how you stay up to date on the best gay books.