Because Reading Is What? FUNDAMENTAL!

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Heading to the beach for a long weekend? Spending Labor Day weekend camping with friends?Need a new book for your morning commute? 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! Happy Reading! #readersrock 


“Tales of the City” by 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 2019 Netflix reboot with Laura Linney returning to play Mary Ann along with new cast members Ellen Page and transgender actress Jen Richards was EPIC! (Also of interest: “Logical Family” Maupin’s autobiography released in 2017.)

“Like People in History” by 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 scenery changes to San Francisco and Fire Island as the characters witness the modern-day gay rights movement begin. One of the first books where I saw myself mirrored in the lives of the characters.

“Flesh and Blood” by 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 Michael Cunningham fan but I am a huge fan of this book.

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“Boy Meets Boy” by David Levithan – Yes it’s technically a YA book, but don’t let that stop your enjoyment from discovering this modern day gay romantic comedy 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, 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” by 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.

“Blue Heaven” by Joe Keenan – One spot on this list needs to be held by a slapstick raucous comedic novel and Blue Heaven does not disappoint. Lies! Manipulation! Mafia! Greed! Sham marriages! Mistaken Identities! This book has it all.



“The Object of My Affection by 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, an 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 to find both his superpower and place in the world speaks to the superhero inside all of us! Inspiring and Empowering!


“Dancer from the Dance” by Andrew Holleran – referred to by many as the greatest gay novel of a generation. Highest praise.


Honorable Mentions: “Maurice.” “Breaking the Surface.” “The Front Runner.” “And the Band Played On.” “The Velvet Rage.” “The Best Little Boy in the World.” “Nightswimmer.” For more gay themed literature check out David Sedaris, Augusten Burroughs, Patricia Highsmith, Oscar Wilde, Christopher Isherwood and many many others! HAPPY READING!

3 thoughts on “Because Reading Is What? FUNDAMENTAL!”

  1. Dancer from the Dance was one of my favourites. I also loved James Kirkwood’s novels but they seem to be out of print. Nice to see a wide representation in the literature of LGBTQ++ community at my local gay bookshop; if you can’t find what you’re looking for, check online – it’s out there.

  2. Front Runner was one of the best early gay romance novels ever written, and it deserves much more than honorable mention! It was also the first work of contemporary gay fiction to make the New York Times Best Seller list. Patricia Nell Warren also wrote another worthy gay novel titled The Fancy Dancer, the first bestseller to portray a gay priest and to explore gay life in a small town

  3. It’s 2021 and apparently “required reading” still does not include reading about all of the LGBT+ community.


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