The top 10 LGBT books to give this holiday season
I have always been well-loved by family that always wanted to give me the world. And they did. From Eric Carle’s The Very Hungry Caterpillar to St. Antoine de Saint-Exupery’s The Little Prince. And from John F. Kennedy’s Profiles in Courage to Ann Patchett’s Truth & Beauty: A Friendship, they gave me the world in books.
I’m living a dream life. I’m surrounded by words. I read books. I review them. And, I write them. I like to imagine my soon-to-be-finished novel in the hands of the dreamers out there. To think, someday someone might have MY book on their Christmas list.
I think about the LGBTQ-themed and related books I’ve read this year. Here are the top ten (in no particular order), sure to be the perfect gift to put in the hands of at least one of the dreamers in your life this holiday season:
Heart Canals by Kyle Over-Soul - What a delight it is to be able to celebrate the work of local authors! Heart Canals is the book for the lovers on your list. Over-Soul’s prosaic poetry collection is an intimate journey of love and loss written in raw, sparing, and tender prose. Over-Soul “invests in writing as a source of healing and channeling of identity through gender, cultural, social, and economic constraints.”
How to Tell Toledo from the Night Sky by Lydia Netzer – This one knocked my socks off! I knew it would be in my top ten this year months ago and have been holding off singing its praises. For the quirky, oddball, brainy star-gazers on your list. I can’t tell you how excited I was that it had a fairly significant LGBT storyline.
Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult - For the readers of mainstream fiction on your list, Picoult’s stories are always compelling. They’re the perfect beach read or airplane companion. InLeaving Time, Picoult joins a host of mainstream writers (including Stephen King in his latest, Revival)adding LGBT flavor to their work. The tide is turning.
My Favorite Uncle by Marshall Thornton - For the young adult and young at heart readers on your list. Thornton’s story about a devout Christian nephew who shows up on his gay uncle’s doorstep to announce he’s gay is charming, funny, and touching. You can’t choose your family, but can you learn to love them?
Other Voices, Other Rooms by Truman Capote – For those on your list who like their fiction classic. I don’t know how I’ve missed out on this one. I’m a huge Capote fan. Mailer calls Capote “the most perfect writer of my generation.” Hard to argue with that after readingOther Voices. This Southern gothic coming-of-age story will creep you out and then haunt you.
Risking the Rune Sword. J. Andrew Killian’s novel is a stretch for this list. It’s not LGBT-themed, but Killian is an ally who is a top-notch fantasy writer. It’s my hope that someday books will just be books and we won’t have to work so hard to point out those with relevant LGBT-themes. We’ll judge the books on the strength of their character(s) and not on their sexual/gender orientation. This one is for the fantasy lovers on your list. Join Killian’s motley crew of rogue travelers risking everything to find the Rune sword.
The Medici Boy by John L’Heureux – Historical fiction is not generally my favorite genre. But Heureux rose to the top of my list with his fictional account of Donatello’s creation of David and an exploration of Donatello’s forbidden homosexual passions. For those who like the collision of art, politics and passion, with a historical bent, The Medici Boy does not disappoint.
Tales of the City by Armistead Maupin - Tales was the Queer Book Nerds’ Book Group’s favorite read this year. It definitely generated our most spirited discussion. For those on your list who want to revisit Maupin’s charming tales of life in 1970s San Francisco, or want to get acquainted with some of the must-read LGBT literature. The whole series is can’t-put-it-down good.
Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz – “To be careful with people and words was a rare and beautiful thing.” Just reading the words gets me choked up again. This is definitely for those on your list who read with a box of tissues next to them. Fall in love with angry teen Aristotle and know-it-all Dante as they navigate complicated adolescence and the line between friendship and romance.
Spirit Home by Ruth Perkinson – Last but not least, local author Ruth Perkinson’s Spirit Home is for those who celebrate the mystery of this season. Perkinson takes the reader on an intimate, personal journey of the “sacred pathways we traverse each day.” It is Perkinson who taught me that to connect with a reader you have to “unzip” and bare yourself to tell your story. When Perkinson unzips, we are the richer for it.
For all you dreamers – Lesbian, Gay, Bi, Trans, Queer, Questioning, Allied, etc – Merry Christmas! Happy Hanukkah! Joyous Kwanzaa! Blessed Yule! Seasons’ Greetings! . . . however your spirit celebrates the joy in this holiday season.
Julie Harthill Clayton is an out and proud bisexual with a passion for reading, writing . . . and NOT arithmetic. Her work has appeared in the Christian Science Monitor, the Internet Review of Books, Curve Magazine, Lambda Literary and more. She is working on her first novel - Two Tickets to Freedom - a semi-autobiographical queer coming-of-age tale. A paralegal by day, Julie spends her free time knitting, writing, and reading anything she can get her hands on. She lives in Richmond with her partner, local artist David Turner, and their mischievous and loving hunting dog, Max.
Walker is unapologetically queer in a time when many queer authors long for anonymity in the mainstream.January 18, 2017
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