Required LGBT reading, as decided by respected writers

The Good Men Project has asked LGBT authors for their five choices of the best gay books of all time. Not surprisingly, they are varied lists, with so many great novels, memoirs and pieces of prose from and about queer lives. Among the authors polled, a handful of lesbian writers gave some suggestions that you might want to check out.

From what I can tell, Giovanni’s Room is just as popular with women as it is with men. (As it should be — the book is a great piece of gay-themed literature.) Also it appears a lot of the women agree on the relevancy (though not necessarily the same titles) of Virginia Woolf and Audre Lorde.

Here are the contributions from out female writers at The Good Men Project::

Eileen Myles

The Hotel Wentley Poems by John Wieners
La Batarde by Violette Leduc
Wrong by Dennis Cooper
Lesbian Nation: The Feminist Solution by Jill Johnston
Stone Butch Blues by Leslie Feinberg

My required reading by this author: Cool For You; Inferno.

Patricia Nell Warren

Seven Pillars of Wisdom: A Triumph: The Complete 1922 Text by T.E. Lawrence
The Celluloid Closet: Homosexuality in the Movies by Vito Russo
The Color Purple by Alice Walker
Reflections of a Rock Lobster: A Story about Growing Up Gay by Aaron Fricke
Christianity, Social Tolerance, and Homosexuality: Gay People in Western Europe from the Beginning of the Christian Era to the Fourteenth Century by John Boswell

My required reading by this author: The Front Runner.

Stacey D’Erasmo

Giovanni’s Room by James Baldwin
Bisexuality and the Eroticism of Everyday Life by Marjorie Garber
Conundrum by Jan Morris
Olivia by Olivia (pseudonym of Dorothy Strachey)
Orlando by Virginia Woolf

My required reading by this author: “The End of Sexual Identity

Sarah Schulman

Koolaids: The Art of War by Rabih Alameddine
“The Transformation of Silence Into Language and Action” from Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches by Audre Lorde
Aquamarine by Carol Anshaw
Funeral Rites by Jean Genet
The Ballad of the Sad Café by Carson McCullers

My required reading by this author: Girls, Visions and Everything; Ties That Bind.

Lucy Jane Bledsoe


Giovanni’s Room by James Baldwin
Mrs. Dallowayby Virginia Woolf
Zami: A New Spelling of My Name by Audre Lorde
The Master by Colm Toibin
Life Maskby by Emma Donoghue

My required reading by this author: The Big Bang Symphony.

Ali Liebegott

Autobiography of Red by Anne Carson

Giovanni’s Room by James Baldwin

Another Country by James Baldwin

Sister Outsider by Audre Lorde

Valencia by Michelle Tea

My required reading by this author: The IHOP Papers.

Colleen Coover

Love and Rockets by Los Bros Hernandez

Dar: A Super Girly Top Secret Comic Diary by Erika Moen

Don’t Bite the Sunand Drinking Sapphire Wine by Tanith Lee

Baker Street by Guy Davis

The Essential Dykes to Watch Out For by Alison Bechdel

My required reading by this author: Small Favors.

I think it’s an interesting mix of contemporary memoirs and grahpic novels or comic books with some of the first texts we had on lesbian life and relationships. I also like the inclusion of books by and about gay people of color, despite all of the authors polled being very, very white. There are a few I still haven’t read, and are hoping to find in a used bookstore or on my Kindle.

I’m kind of surprised no one chose The Well of Loneliness, Rubyfruit Jungle or any of Sarah Waters‘ work. What’s on your required reading list?

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