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A Rainbow of Literary Choices

Book ‘em this season with these LGBTQ delights.

Unwrap a spectrum of literary wonders with our Queer Book 2023 Holiday Gift Guide. Introduce your loved ones to Andrew Holleran’s timeless fiction or immerse yourself in Barbra Streisand’s epic memoir. Dance through the pop music landscape with Lil Nas X and Madonna, or embark on a magical journey with Susan Ottaviano. Discover the legend of Coco Chanel or time-travel to the vibrant ‘90s gay club scene with David Kennerley. This holiday season, gift stories celebrate the diversity of queer voices.


  1. There’s no time like the “present” to introduce your loved ones to the extraordinary fiction works of gay writer Andrew Holleran. Fortunately, Holleran’s first three novels—the critically acclaimed Dancer from the Dance (1978), Nights in Aruba (1983), and The Beauty of Men (1996)—have all been reissued in new paperback editions. As a bonus, to mark the 45th anniversary of the publication of Dancer from the Dance, the book includes a new introduction by Garth Greenwell.

  2. Weighing in at more than 970 pages, with 20 pages of color and black-and-white photos, My Name Is Barbra (Viking, 2023) by Barbra Streisand is the memoir that virtually every LGBTQ person on the planet has been awaiting. Told in her own words, and available as an audiobook read by Streisand (and clocking in at 48 hours!), the grandest diva of all (and mother of gay son Jason Gould) doesn’t hold back (wait until you read what she has to say about Funny Lady), and no one would expect that from her.


  3. Bloomsbury and Duke University Press each have a book series about pop music. For Duke’s “Singles”  series (subtitled One Song, One Book, One of a Kind) music columnist and podcaster Chris Molanphy delves into “Old Town Road” (Duke, 2023), the mega-selling hit song performed by young, queer superstar Lil Nas X and Billy Ray Cyrus. Michael Dango takes an in-depth dive into Madonna’s 1992 album “Erotica” (Bloomsbury, 2023) for the acclaimed and long-running 33 series (Erotica is the 176th book in the series).

  4. One more music-oriented book worth mentioning is The Green Witch’s Guide to Magical Plants & Flowers (Skyhorse Publishing, 2023) by Chris Young and Susan Ottaviano. If Ottaviano’s name sounds familiar, perhaps it’s because she was the female lead vocalist in the popular ‘80s synth-pop band Book of Love (remember “Boy,” “I Touch Roses,” and “Modigliani”?). Additionally, Deborah Harry (of Blondie fame) wrote the foreword to this fabulously illustrated book in which two Green Witches “unlock the secrets hiding in your garden” for herbal infusions, sachets, tinctures, and more.

  5. The new 2023 edition of Justine Picardie’s Coco Chanel: The Legend and the Life (Dey Street, 2010) tells the story of the illustrious fashion designer from her 1883 birth as Gabrielle “in the poorhouse in Saumur, a market town on the River Loire” to her death at age 87 in January, 1971. The book includes an abundance of sketches, as well as photos, including one of Jackie Kennedy in the pink Chanel suit she wore on November 22, 1963.

  6. Every bit the labor of love that the Streisand memoir is, Getting In: NYC Club Flyers from the Gay 1990s (Daken Press, 2023) by journalist and clubgoer David Kennerley is the must-have coffee-table book of the holiday season. Following the foreword by Michael Musto and the introduction by HX Magazine co-founder and club promoter Matthew Bank, we are swept back a couple of decades to the mayhem of the gay club circuit of the 1990s, vividly and colorfully illustrated through flyers used to promote the incredible party scene. Even if you never made it past the bouncer, this book makes you feel like you were there. You can almost smell the hair gel, sweat, and poppers.

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Gregg Shapiro

Gregg Shapiro is a regular contributor to OutSmart Magazine.
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