The best gay books of all time, chosen by the best LGBT writers

As I’ve said before I LOVE LISTS! And yes, I know all the risks that come with making lists. But they’re fun so get over it.  So….The best gay books of all time, chosen by the best LGBT writers — The Good Men Project Magazine, by Benoit Denizet-Lewis.

He writes:

I wish someone had given me a list of required gay reading when I was coming out. Gay men gave me a lot of things back then (porn, theater tickets, crabs), but no one gave me book titles. As a young gay man, I could have used a literary roadmap to help me put my experiences—and my feelings—in some historical and sociological context. As a young writer, I could have used being better read. Why didn’t anyone tell me that I needed to know who Paul Monette was?

In an effort to right those wrongs, and to do my part to promote gay cultural literacy in a time of vanishing gay bookstores and vanishing attention spans, I’ve asked some of the country’s most interesting and iconic LGBT writers—including Michael Cunningham, Edmund White, John Waters, and Patricia Nell Warren—to suggest five books that every LGBT person should have on his bookshelf (or Kindle).

Not many poets asked (maybe three?).  Sigh. Poets mentioned include Weiners, Schuyler, Myles, Campo, Manrique, Lorde, Merrill, Bishop, Auden, but sometimes the book mentioned isn’t their poetry.

Many mention Genet, Andrew Holleran, Alan Hollinghurst, Christopher Isherwood, Anne Carson, Herman Melville, Alice Walker, Virginia Woolf, Edmund White, Alison Bechdel, J.R. Ackerley, and Tony Kushner.

But check out Allan Gurganus’ list!

The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde
Collected Poems
by Arthur Rimbaud
Remembrance of Things Past by Marcel Proust
Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman
Complete Poems by Constantine Cavafy

Three out of five are books of poetry! And who could blame him for including Proust and Wilde!

3 responses to “The best gay books of all time, chosen by the best LGBT writers

  1. It’s a pretty good list, I think. But no surprises.

    If it were me, I might have bent the rules a little to include one more book: Pale Fire, by Vladimir Nabokov. His demented narrator, Charles Kinbote, may be one of the most maddening, most imaginative, most poignant gay characters ever created.

  2. Not that many surprises. A few books I was pleased to see on various lists, because I feel the same way about them. Interesting to see Virginia Woolf mentioned a few times, for example. It’s also nice to see Burroughs and Wojnoarowicz mentioned once.

    But where’s Lorca?

    I think you have to keep in mind that most of those asked were not poets, or not poets only, or not poets first.

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