The Year in Books

The year’s best gay reads.
December 21, 2012

Whether you need a last-minute gift for the gentleman scholar in your life—or a good escape for the long flight home—2012 has you covered.

1. Jack Holmes and His Friend

by Edmund White (Bloomsbury USA)
From a major name in gay contemporary literature and the author of over 20 books comes one of the finest novels of his career, charting a decades-long friendship between a gay man and a straight one. Recommended: for anyone, gay or straight, who loves a great story.

2. Eminent Outlaws: The Gay Writers Who Changed America

by Christopher Bram (Twelve)
Meet the major gay writers of the 20th century whose stories helped bring about incredible progress in the acceptance of gay Americans. Novelist Christopher Bram writes about their lives and work with equal insight. Recommended: for avid readers and literary novices alike.

3. How to Be Gay

by David Halperin (The Belknap Press/Harvard University Press)
Leading gay thinker Halperin’s latest book is an ambitious, thorough look at camp sensibility, gay subjectivity and why we can’t quit loving Joan Crawford. Recommended: for intellectuals and diva worshippers.

4. Slow Lightning

by Eduardo C. Corral (Yale University Press)
If you’re going to read one book of poems this year, make it Slow Lightning, the first book by a Latino author to win the prestigious Yale Series of Younger Poets prize. Corral’s poems are lyrical, full of music and political without ever sacrificing artfulness. Recommended: for a rich and rewarding encounter with contemporary poetry.

5. Fire in the Belly: The Life and Times of David Wojnarowicz

by Cynthia Carr (Bloomsbury USA)
Carr’s biography of the late David Wojnarowicz, an important figure in the Downtown New York art scene of the 1980s, is meticulous, passionate and vital—preserving not just the story of a gay cultural figure, but of a gay New York that has ceased to exist. Recommended: for artists, boys too young to remember that East Village.

6. Lovers

by Daniel Arsand (Europa Editions)
Translated from the French by Howard Curtis, this historical novel about a forbidden gay love affair in ancien régime France is heartbreaking, over-the-top and beautifully written. Recommended: for romantics, literary types and Francophiles.

7. Are You My Mother?: A Comic Drama

by Alison Bechdel (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
America’s favorite lesbian graphic memoirist is back with the follow-up to 2006’s celebrated Fun Home. This time, Bechdel turns her artist’s eye on her troubled relationship with her mother and experiences in therapy. Recommended: for anyone spending the holidays with an overbearing and/or emotionally withholding mother.

8. This Is How: Proven Aid in Overcoming Shyness, Molestation, Fatness, Spinsterhood, Grief, Disease, Lushery, Decrepitude & More. For Young and Old Alike.

by Augusten Burroughs (St. Martin’s Press)
Beloved memoirist Burroughs takes a break from telling his life story to offer some old-fashioned good advice. Sharper (and darker) than your run-of-the-mill self-help author, Burroughs still manages plenty of laughs. Recommended: to help overcome shyness, etc.—you get the picture!

9. Real Man Adventures

by T Cooper (McSweeney’s)
Cooper’s freewheeling, hybrid-genre manifesto on his gender transition is intelligent, finely-crafted and entirely original. An accomplished addition to trans literature. Recommended: for a good think about what it means to be a man.

10. Does This Baby Make Me Look Straight?

by Dan Bucatinsky (Touchstone Books)
In this debut memoir, actor/producer Bucatinsky chronicles his misadventures in parenting with joy, exasperation and laughter. Recommended: for fans of The New Normal and dads-to-be.