Playing Catch Up: Missed GLBTQIA Titles
by Judi Tichacek
At the end of the year, we’ve all seen the ‘best’ lists: the best books of 2014, the worst books of 2014, the books you should be reading from 2014 but probably haven’t, the books you overlooked in 2014, and similar lists that go on and on. But for those interested in GLBTQIA literature, there’s not a whole of options for reading recommendations other than the list of the Stonewall Award winners, Over the Rainbow titles, and Lambda Literary recommendations. While those titles are known to be some of the best, it can be difficult to find newer, quality titles to whet your reading palate.
However, over the past year or two, there have been a few news/magazine outlets that feature GLBTQIA titles in their own “best of” lists. Below is a list of online articles from publications that feature GLBTQIA titles for adults:
Buzzfeed’s “27 Must-have Queer Summer Reads” (2013)
Advocate’s “10 Great LGBT Summer Reads” (2014)
Advocate’s “10 Best Transgender Non-Fiction Books” (2014)
Rukkle’s “The Best Gay Books of 2014” (2014)
Band of Thebes “The Best LGBT Books of 2013: 92 Writers Name Their Favorites” (2013)
Numerous titles are discussed or mentioned in these articles. While only a handful of titles are featured in this column, please check out the lists yourself to see more recommendations.
A few titles stand out from the crowd and should be added to your reading list if you haven’t picked them up already. Necessary Errors, the debut from journalist Caleb Crain, follows a young gay American man in 1990s Prague, where Czechoslovakia is at a turning point. The nation is trying to become a capitalist superpower and leave its communist ties in the past. Be forewarned: this is not a light read. With the paperback edition ringing in at just under 500 pages, the book might seem daunting to onlookers. But patient readers will be rewarded with complex characters and very descriptive prose throughout.
The Velvet Rage by Alan Downs, considered to be “a must read for all gay men”(R U Coming Out), dives into the psychology of gayness and how the straight male-dominated environment is not conducive to the gay mindset, resulting in shame and trying to hide it with fake attributes like material success. While it’s considered to be a self-help book, the book itself does not read that way. It brings into question what it really means to be happy as a gay man. Several reviewers have questioned the lack of statistical proof in his theory, but Downs does explain that he draws on his own experience and on that of his patients.
In Confessions of a Fairy’s Daughter: Growing Up with a Gay Dad, the author Alison Wearing weaves two stories: her gay father’s and her own. The reader learns of Weaving’s father and how he tried to be a great father while being gay at a time where both roles just did not coexist during the 1970s. But then the reader learns of Alison’s story — how she didn’t tell friends about her father and decided to “stay in” her own proverbial closet. Weaving eventually came to learn that she loved her dad for who he was and found life with her father enlightening. Humorous anecdotes and soul-searching truths found within will appeal to all readers.
Lastly, Janet Mock became a voice for the trans community with her book, Redefining Realness: My Path to Womanhood, Identity, Love, and So Much More. Mock describes her path to finding her own identity and the difficult path she had taken to get there. Readers will especially like this biography because of how Mock presents it: as a decision to share her tumultuous past with her serious boyfriend. Prepare to be impressed by how she also tackles heavy issues such as child abuse and how she defines her life by her own rules. An inspiring read for almost anyone.