Contributed By: Mark Woodard
Check out these 10 popular LGBT-themed books from your local branch of the Gwinnett County Public Library
Basketball Jones by E. Lynn Harris (2009) AJ Richardson is living the good life with his longtime lover, NBA star Dray Jones. Built on a deep and abiding love, their hidden relationship sustains them both. But when Dray’s teammates begin to ask insinuating questions, Dray puts their doubts to rest by marrying Judi, a beautiful and ambitious woman. Judi knows nothing about Dray’s “other life.” Or does she? A novel that explores the consequences of loving someone who is desperate to conform.
Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Truman Capote (1958) Capote’s classic novella, the story is related by an unnamed narrator looking back at the autumn of 1943, when he lived in a brownstone on Manhattan’s Upper East Side and befriended his neighbor Holly Golightly. The enigmatic and beguiling young woman is a free spirit with no discernible means of support and for the next year, the narrator finds himself entranced, intoxicated, and exhausted by Holly’s lifestyle,
Carol by Patricia Highsmith (1952) Originally published as The Price of Salt, Highsmith’s riveting drama tells the story of Therese, a department-store salesgirl whose routine is forever shattered by the appearance of Carol, a mysterious wife and mother who is shopping for a Christmas present. They fall in love and set out across the United States, ensnared by society’s confines and the imminent disapproval of others, yet propelled by their infatuation.
The Color Purple by Alice Walker (1982) Beautifully imagined and deeply compassionate, Walker’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel about the self-actualization and sexual awakening of a young black woman caught in the post-Reconstruction South is a beautiful portrait of a nearly forgotten generation of African-American women. This classic novel of American literature is rich with passion, pain, inspiration, and an indomitable love of life.
Giovanni’s Room by James Baldwin (1956) Set in the 1950s Paris of American expatriates, liaisons, and violence, a young man finds himself caught between desire and conventional morality. Baldwin’s now-classic narrative delves into the mystery of loving and creates a moving story of death and passion that reveals the unspoken complexities of the human heart.
The Hap and Leonard Mystery series (1990-present) Hap and Leonard don’t fit any profile. As childhood friends and business associates, they have a gift for the worst kind of trouble: East Texan trouble. Hap Collins looks like a good ’ol boy, but his politics don’t match, and Vietnam veteran Leonard Pines is black, conservative, gay, and an occasional arsonist. Titles in the series include Rusty Puppy, Bad Chili, and Honky Tonk Samurai. The basis for the current Sundance Channel TV series.
The Hours by Michael Cunningham (1998) A deeply affecting novel that draws inventively on the life and work of Virginia Woolf to tell the story of a group of contemporary characters struggling with the conflicting claims of love, hope and despair. The narrative of Woolf’s last days before her suicide counterpoints the fictional stories of a famous poet whose life has been shadowed by his talented and troubled mother, and his lifelong friend who strives to forge a balanced life in spite of the demands of friends, lovers, and family.
The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters (2014) The book is set in 1922 England where spinster Frances lives with her genteel mother Mrs Wray and mourns the death of her brothers in the Great War. Her father has died leaving considerable debts and they are obliged to take in lodgers: Lilian and Leonard Barber of the ‘clerk class’. The guests bring with them color, fun and music but also stir dangerous desires in Frances.
Rubyfruit Jungle by Rita Mae Brown (1973) A landmark coming-of-age novel that tells the story of Molly Bolt, the adoptive daughter of a dirt-poor Southern couple who boldly forges her own path in America. With her startling beauty and crackling wit, Molly finds that women are drawn to her wherever she goes– and she refuses to apologize for loving them back.
Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan (2013) The story of Harry and Craig, two 17-year-olds who are about to take part in a 32-hour marathon of kissing to set a new Guinness World Record–all of which is narrated by a Greek Chorus of the generation of gay men lost to AIDS. Eventually, they become a focal point in the lives of other teen boys dealing with languishing long-term relationships, coming out, and navigating gender identity – all while trying to figure out their own feelings for each other