The Reading List

Get a jump on the gifting season with these recommendations

MFriedmanBooks are the kinds of gifts that keep on giving. So, whatever you do, keep on giving books as gifts.

Stacey Ballis, whose essay “Everything I Always Wanted to Know About Sex (and Life) I Learned From Gay Men” appeared in the 2007 book Girls Who Like Boys Who Like Boys, is a familiar name in the realm of what is affectionately referred to as “chick-lit.” Her latest novel, involving siblings Jodi and Jill Spangold, is titled The Spinsters Sisters (Berkley). This is a good book, perhaps, for a favorite sister.

Cuban lesbian writer Achy Obejas is the editor of Havana Noir (Akashic Books), part of the publisher’s award-winning series of original noir anthologies. In the introduction, Obejas writes “In the stories of ‘Havana Noir,’ current and former residents of the city—some internationally known, others undiscovered and startling—relate tales of ambiguous moralities, misologistic brutality, collective cruelty, and the damage inured by self-preservation at all costs.” This one is recommended for the mystery lover on your list.

In the 1980s, some of S.E. Hinton’s young adult novels—originally published in the late ’60s and early ’70s—were turned into movies. The films were notable for a few things, including the fact that Francis Ford Coppola directed two of them. They also starred a number of handsome young actors, Matt Dillon being the most famous at the time, who went on to become stars in their own right. The Outsiders is perhaps the most notable of the film adaptations, not only for the cast that included Tom Cruise, Patrick Swayze, C. Thomas Howell, Ralph Macchio, Emilio Estevez, and Rob Lowe (whose shower scene lives on in infamy), but also for the air of homoeroticism that lingered over the predominantly all-male production. Those reared on Hinton’s novels will probably be pleased to know that she has returned with Some of Tim’s Stories (University of Oklahoma Press), which also includes exclusive interviews with the author. This is a good bet for those in a nostalgic mood.

Speaking of classic young-adult lit, a commemorative edition of Nancy Garden’s groundbreaking GLBT-geared Annie on my Mind (Farrar Straus Giroux) has been reissued in honor of the 25th anniversary of its publication. The edition also includes an interview with the author. The winner of the 2006 Publishing Triangle Edmund White Award for Debut Fiction, Setting the Lawn on Fire (Terrace Books) by Mack Friedman, is newly available in paperback. His book is suggested for GLBT adults, young and old, on your list.

Recipient of three 2007 Tony Awards, Grey Gardens is the acclaimed musical adaptation—book by Doug Wright, music by Scott Frankel, and lyrics by Michael Korie—of the equally renowned Maysles brothers documentary of the same name, which recounts the twisted but true story of mother Edith Bouvier Beale and daughter Little Edie. Grey Gardens: The Complete Book and Lyrics of the Broadway Musical (Applause) also includes 16 pages of color photographs from the stage production. The openly gay Wright also received the 2004 Tony, Drama Desk, and Pulitzer Prize for his play I Am My Own Wife. This is the perfect read for your favorite drama queen.

At the other end of the musical spectrum, The Anti-Matter Anthology: A 1990s Post-Punk & Hardcore Reader (Revelation Records), is a definitive collection of interviews and feature stories amassed from a decade of music writing by New York-based writer/musician Norman Brannon, the man behind the fanzine Anti-Matter. Interview subjects include Craig Wedren of Shudder to Think, members of Rancid, Ian MacKaye of Fugazi, the members of Rage Against the Machine, and the late Elliott Smith, to mention a few. Consider this for the literary punk types.

JTaymorWhether or not the recipient has a coffee table, the next couple of oversized books also make swell gifts. The third edition of Julie Taymor: Playing With Fire (Harry N. Abrams, 1999/2007, $50) is expanded to include a new section, “From Stage to Screen,” that explores, in pictures and text, theatrical director and designer Taymor’s film work, such as Frida and the recently released Across the Universe.

Man to Man: A History of Gay Photography (Vendome) by Pierre Borhan, traces a chronology that begins around 1840 and continues to the present day. Among the photographers represented are Thomas Eakins, Herb Ritts, Duane Michaels, Jeff Palmer, Pierre et Gilles, David Morgan, Peter Hujar, Robert Mapplethorpe, Wolfgang Tillmans, Victor Skrebneski, David LaChapelle, Andres Serrano, George Platt Lynes, Nan Goldin, Tom Bianchi, George Hoyningen-Huene, Horst P. Horst, Brassaï, and many others.

Finally, for those who want to go beyond gay photography to something of a more cinematic (and smutty) nature, consider More Starz (Star Books Press) by Owen Keehnen. A sequel to Keehnen’s 2005 Starz, this book features photographs and in-depth interviews with 79 of the biggest, uh, most recognizable, names in gay adult entertainment, including Colton Ford, Brad Patton, Mark Williams, Arpad Miklos, Marcus Iron, Sam Crockett, Flex Deon-Blake, and Manuel Torres, to mention a few. Surely you know someone who would enjoy receiving this book as a gift.

Gregg Shapiro writes regularly about entertainment and the arts for OutSmart. He interviewed Mary Gauthier for GrooveOut in this issue (“Oh, Mary”).

ReadOut Shorts

Are There Closets in Heaven? A Catholic Father and Lesbian Daughter Share Their Story by Carol and Robert Curoe
Syren Book Company (
ClosetsinHeavenAre There Closets in Heaven? details one family’s coming-out journey through the writings of a lesbian daughter and her Catholic father. Honest and heartwarming, the Curoes share the very real pain and very real struggles they share on the road from “all is secret” to PFLAG activist dad and two-mom-family-rights daughter. Hand this one to your parents when you finally do come out to them. — Review: Angel Curtis

Knock Yourself Up: A Tell-All Guide to Becoming a Single Mom by Louise Sloan
Penguin Group (
For those women whose biological clock is ticking, Knock Yourself Up provides all the information you need before becoming a mom-without-a-man. Sloan mixes personal stories, solid information, and true wit to help the reader sort out all available options for conception. — Review: A.C. 


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