What Are You Reading?

Smith I thought I'd put this question out there partly for selfish reasons. I finished Patti Smith's Just Kids over the holidays and am looking for my next book. I like switching between fiction and non- but sometimes stick in the same area for a while.

I also thought it might interest folks to hear what their fellow Towleroad readers are reading.

I thought Just Kids was a really fascinating picture of New York City in the late 60's and early 70's and it's really interesting to see NYC places that have undergone change through Smith's eyes. For instance, a loft she and Mapplethorpe lived in over what was once the Oasis Bar on 23rd street is now a nail salon over a place called Jake's Saloon. West 23rd street (along with the Chelsea Hotel) is practically its own character. Smith's memories of Mapplethorpe are also incredibly poignant. It's also a book to be read by anyone who is a struggling artist.

So, what book are you reading, or what have you just finished? Give us a brief summary and let us know if you like(d) it or not.

Comments

  1. Gene says

    What am reading? A Commissario Montalbano story, The Snack Thief by Andrea Camiller. This is just one of a series of detective stories situated in a small Sicilian city. They can only whet ones appetite to visit Sicily.

  2. MrRoboto says

    Jennifer Egan’s “A Visit from the Goon Squad”

    Paul Murray’s “Skippy Dies.”

    Tom Rachmann’s “The Imperfectionists” (as it involves news writers, I suspect it’d ring very true for you, Andy).

    And I second your recommendation of “Just Kids.” An achingly beautiful portrait of friendship.

  3. Chitown Kev says

    Voltaire’s Bastards by John Ralston Saul…reading it for the 3rd time actually.

    It’s a complex book but the basic thesis is that “reason” as has been understaood for abt. 500 years has proved to be no more a solution to problems than The Church did in ages prior to…well, Voltaire. It surveys everything from Voltaire to Marie Antoinette to Thomas Jefferson to the Holocaust to Henry Kissenger to Robert McNamara to the Harvard Business School to Walt Disney.

    I don’t agree with the entire thesis but I kinda sorta forgot why which is why I’m rereading. It’s giving me some insight as to the problems that we are faced with today (the book was written 20 years ago).

  4. says

    I am savoring David Rakoff’s new collection of essays “Half Empty.” I prefer him to Sedaris any day of the week. Also reading the touching/funny/bizarre book “Overqualified” by Joey Comeau. It’s a collection of fake job cover letters.

  5. Roy says

    I also recently read Patti Smith’s book over the holidays and was totally taken in. She is an intelligent and sensitive artist and the book was written from the heart. I put down The Secret Lives of Somerset Maugham by Selina Hastings to read the Patti Smith book and now need to get back to it. He is a fascinating character and the book is very well written.

  6. Donald says

    I’m working my way through the Band of Thebes Best of 2010. Currently starting THE SECRET HISTORIAN by Justin Spring. The other one I’m currently reading is MARY ANN IN AUGUST. The latest edition of the TALES OF THE CITY saga by Armistead Maupin.

  7. Rob says

    My book club and I just finished reading THE HELP – by: Kathryn Stockett.

    The Help is about a young white woman in the early 1960s in Mississippi who becomes interested in the plight of the black ladies’ maids that every family has working for them. She writes their stories about mistreatment, abuse and heartbreaks of working in white families’ homes, all just before the Civil Rights revolution.

    It’s amazing. AND it’s being turned into a movie as we speak, produced by a fabulous (and gay) production team.

  8. says

    I just finished “The Hunger Games” last week and expect to finish “Catching Fire,” the second book in the series, tonight. They are terrific young adult adventure novels, set in a post-apocalyptic future where the government annually forces 24 children to battle to the death as a means of entertaining their citizens and keeping down rebellions. They move so fast and are incredibly hard to put down – you’ll want to read each one in a single gulp, like I mostly have.

  9. Nathan says

    As a former Mormon, “Under the Banner of Heaven” by Jon Krakauer was incredibly insightful, disturbing, and addictive. It’s a f***ed up faith and everyone should read the true story behind it before you let the missionaries in.

  10. JonS says

    I’m reading Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin. It’s an account of Abraham Lincoln and his rivals for the Republican nomination for President, and how he later put them in his cabinet and together what they accomplished. It’s a great book not just for the history and insight but how in some ways America’s struggle to come to terms with slavery and morailty around oppression has resonance today with our struggle for equality. Clearly, it is not the same thing, but the bravery of Lincoln, Seward, Chase et al. is inspiring, even today.

  11. Ethan says

    I’m finishing up Annie Dillard’s ‘The Writing Life.’ Though it’s candid and obtusely beautiful–Dillard circles around and around a subject (like a moth to a flame, one could even say?)–it’s not the most inspiring since her beliefs and suggestions can feel defeatist.

    I’m also just starting Robert Fagles’ translation of ‘The Odyssey’, which is so succinct and beautiful it could probably captivate a flat-out hater of reading.

  12. JC says

    I’ve been reading a lot of Anne Rice, who has gotten my attention lately for being somewhat of an activist for our community against organized religion. I’d seen all of the movies based on her vampire books, and they of course don’t do her books justice… the depth with which she writes blows my mind. I also started reading one of her more recent novels, which is about the childhood of Christ; it pails in comparison to her vampire books, but it is interesting.

  13. MAZZAM says

    You simply have to read: CITY BOY by Edmund White–along the same lines as Patti Smith–did he know everyone? Also of note: THE CITY OF FALLING ANGELS by John Berendt, a great non-fiction visit of the city of Venice–couldn’t put it down. CLOUD ATLAS by David Mitchell–again, every page a surprise!

  14. David John Fleck says

    ‎”Playing By the Rules” by Justin Crockett Elzie (Foreword by David Mixner) and “Secret Historian: The Life and Times of Samuel Steward, Professor, Tattoo Artist, and Sexual Renegade” by Justin Spring.

  15. encantospeed says

    Just finished Kristin Hersh’s “Rat Girl”. This is a truly unconventional memoir by one of rock’s most raw and intelligent deranged women. It is not the name droping poetic beauty of Patti Smith’s book (which I also loved), but there is also the gay friend in this book…

  16. pete N sfo says

    I’m reading, Portia de Rossi’s, Unbearable Lightness… a chronicle of her eating disorder.

    On Oprah, it was a really compelling interview. On the page, it’s just pain.

  17. Mark says

    “The Coming Storm” by Paul Russell (fiction). Engrossing story line, fine literature, complex characters. I’m almost done, and have started reading slowly so it will last longer!

  18. MichaelJ says

    I just finished “Never Let me Go,” a totally engaging novel by British writer Kazuo Ishiguro. (Ishiguro’s best-known work is “The Remains of the Day.”) It is a wonderfully written story of boarding school friends for life set in a re-imagined Britain. It was made into a movie earlier this year which I’m glad I missed, because not knowing anything about the story allowed the book’s slow revelation of the setting to have the maximum unsettling impact for me. (I avoided even reading the back-cover blurb.)
    I too loved “Just Kids.” Having grown up by Pratt Institute and knowing West 23rd Street well since my father worked there, I loved reading about all sorts of places I knew or knew of, though I was a little too young for my path to have actually crossed Patti’s or Robert’s. Recently I did see Patti Smith in a bookstore talking with the staff, and she looked and sounded great!

  19. tim b says

    After years of having friends tell me I’d love it, I’m finally catching up with Mikhail Bulgakov’s THE MASTER AND MARGARITA. I went to Moscow for the first time recently, so I figured it was about time.

    The book is as good as everyone says.

  20. Ted says

    Just finished, ‘The Widow Cliquot’, an enlightening study of the life and times of the woman behind the champagne I love. I’m now engrossed in ‘Napoleon’s Buttons – 17 molecules that changed history’ by Penny Le Couteur & Jay Burreson. I’m not deep enough into ‘Napoleon’s Buttons’ to offer any critique other than it’s very engaging, I’ve learned some things and I’ve had to unlearn some things I thought were truths.

  21. JMS says

    “The Great Gatsby”: a classic but has some beautiful prose.
    “The Windup Girl” by Paolo Bacigalupi: interesting take on a not-to-distant future where man-made diseases have devastated food crops. I enjoyed both very much.

  22. Ty says

    “Queen Victoria: A Personal History” by Christopher Hibbert
    (I’m planning on reading biographies on all monarchs from Victoria up through Elizabeth II… The King’s Speech sparked my fascination in the royal family.)

  23. Alex says

    Am loving “The Metropolis Case” by Matthew Gallaway. Incredibley moving and non-stereotypical gay characters as the major players. An amazing journey and must read!

  24. Drew says

    Just started Secret Historian: The Life and Times of Samuel Steward, Professor, Tattoo Artist, and Sexual Renegade by Justin Spring. For something light, I read How I Paid for College: A Novel of Sex, Theft, Friendship & Musical Theater by Marc Acito over the holidays. Pure mindless fun!

  25. Hardy Haberman says

    I just read “Just Kids” as well just a couple of weeks ago, wonderful read.

    Last book was Johnny Weirs “Welcome to my World”. The cover looks all disco and sparkles, but the stories are poignant and revealing. Weir’s bad boy image and his flamboyance shine through in a pretty much soul baring biography. If you lie sating or just dishing it’s a fun book.

  26. steve says

    Cutting for Stone – can’t put it down, about doctors and nuns and Ethiopia and politics and colonialism and love and loss. Fascinating and incredibly well written.

  27. peterparker says

    I’m reading “The God Delusion” by Richard Dawkins. He’s largely preaching to the converted here, but as a scientist, his insights into why there is most surely not a God hit home in a completely different way for those of us who have just been going on ‘gut feeling’ alone. I find the book dry, dense and somewhat pedantic, but nearly every page has me thinking “Of course! Why didn’t I think of it that way?!”

  28. ravewulf says

    Kyell Gold’s “Isolation Play” (sequel to “Out of Position”)
    http://www.sofawolf.com/catalog/product_info.php?products_id=128

    It’s AWESOME!

    “Devlin Miski thought coming out on national TV would be the hardest part about being a gay football player. But it’s when his press conference is over that the trouble really starts. The athletic tiger and his boyfriend Lee, a fox with a tongue as quick as his wit, still won’t get many breaks in their fight for understanding. They’ll need to deal with a stubborn reporter determined to get a story any way he can, furious parents, and hostile teammates–not to mention each other.

    All’s fair in love and war–and this is both.”

  29. Ken Cady says

    I am reading Code of Conduct, a gays in the military novel by Rick Merritt. It is kind of badly done, but with good intentions.

    Just Kids is just great. Bonfire of the Vanities got me through a 12 hour flight.

  30. says

    I slept with Joey Ramone, a Family Memoir.
    The Ramones are my favorite band. They never got the credit they deserved. The book is great. It shows what a sadist that right winger Johnny was, and how Joey and Dee Dee wrote most of the songs.

  31. rayrayj says

    Cleopatra: A life by Stacy Schiff. One of the most powerful rulers of her time and, the wealthiest ruler of her time, Cleopatra has been remembered for all the wrong reasons. Schiff examines the life of Cleopatra, separating fact from fiction.

  32. Nedjelko says

    I just read The Curious Case of the Dog in the Night Time. I know, I’m a little late to the party. I always thought it was an airport book – you know, one you would never read because everybody is reading it at the airport. But, then I picked it up over the holidays. It’s a fast read, it made me cry a little.
    Now, Status Anxiety by Alain de Botton, The Rest of Life by Mary Gordon, and for bus reading I re-read Lorrie Moore’s A Gate At the Stairs for the fourth time.

  33. TANK says

    Vanna White’s “Vanna Speaks!” on tape.

    Billy Joel: Piano Man
    ————————————
    consider the lobster

    girl who played with fire

    autobio of mark twain

  34. Omar says

    “A Mercy” by Toni Morrison. A great return to form from one of my favorite authors. The story of life in 17th century America as seen through the eyes of a discarded slave girl, an Indian servant and a farmer’s/trader’s wife among others.. Beautifully written and terribly interesting.

  35. adamf says

    Stumbled upon the Spellman Files tetralogy, and just finished those last week…they were fun and intriguing. Just about to start the last in the Hunger Games series…of all the books I’ve been reading, they’re the hardest to put down. Couldn’t get into Super Sad True Love Story.

  36. Taro says

    “STARSEED TRANSMISSIONS” by Ken Carey. If your on the fence between Non-Fiction and Fiction then this is for you because you can decide for yourself! The text is from CHANNELED extraterrestrial intelligence so it is exciting like fiction though the text is soo clear and true that I tend to believe it is real and am going to follow up with the 3 following books of his.
    Considering all these mass animals dying and unreal natural disasters of late, the book offered a compelling look into that.

  37. DaveCo123 says

    Most recently finished:

    “The Persian Boy” by Mary Renault. It’s a very interesting story of Alexander The Great’s life, times and conquests told through the eyes of his eunuch-lover.

    Also, a story book tale called “The Wind in the Willows” by Kenneth Grahame.

    Next up: “The Bonfire of the Vanities” by Tom Wolfe, which everyone seems to love.

  38. Rob says

    I just finished reading a fantasy novel called “The Book of Joby” for the fourth time…cannot recommend it highly enough, even for non-fantasy lovers. God and the devil make a bet, there’s a Camelot twist and it’s just generally heart warming and emotionally expansive.

    Also reading “As You Like It” to cut it for a directing project in early April and Stephenson’s “Anathema”. Oh, and “The Vegetarian Manifesto”…while eating a burger…

    There’s a pattern here…I swear…

  39. emarell says

    I recently finished “The Twin,” by Gerbrand Bakker [the translation into English]. It’s a novel about a mature man whose twin brother was lost in his youth via a car accident. Set in the stark environs of northern Netherlands, this minimalist work is also oddly beautiful, rich, and compelling, delving deeply into the psyche of the main character. His intense relationships and ways of coping, as well as ways of expressing, are fully explored. Those of us who like intense realism may be as fascinated as I was… and am, because it continues to echo in my mind.

  40. Theo says

    I am reading “The Road of Lost Innocence”. I almost finish and I like it a lot so far, especially the fact that I do not intuitively sense the exaggeration/fabrication or dramatization like those whose intention was to sell the book. Just bought a new book this evening titled “The Japanese has words for it”.

  41. Michael says

    The 3 books that I loved this year have all been recommended (Just Kids, Secret Historian and Mary Ann in Autumn) I read all of Christopher Rice’s novels this year and found them wonderfully written and very entertaining. The apple did not fall far from the tree!

  42. Glen says

    The 4-hour body by Timothy Ferriss – changes the way you think about food, excercise, testoserone and god help me how to give a woman a 15 min orgasim..(you can skip this chapter).

  43. DanMc says

    Room: a Novel by Emma Donoghue.

    I won’t say much, because the story unfold gradually and very uniquely, but the protagonist is a five-year old boy that has lived his life in one room. Compelling, horrifying, exciting and breathtaking. It is like a literary roller coaster. Amazing book.

    I also read The Help which was mentioned above. Excellent book and beautifully written. A good reminder of how the last civil rights battle began in the south.

  44. Louis Johnson says

    I’m reading Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen, by Christopher McDougal. It makes me want to start running again, really inspiring and insightful.

    Full of incredible characters, amazing athletic achievements, cutting-edge science, and, most of all, pure inspiration, Born to Run is an epic adventure that began with one simple question: Why does my foot hurt? In search of an answer, Christopher McDougall sets off to find a tribe of the world’s greatest distance runners and learn their secrets, and in the process shows us that everything we thought we knew about running is wrong.

  45. jonny says

    I just finished Barbara Kingsolver’s The Poisonwood Bible. I could not put it down – almost literally. It took me 3 nights to read over 500 pages and I’m normally 10 pages a night before going to bed.
    Fantastic insight into the stubborn world of Missionaries and the chaotic world of the Congo in a very tumultuous period. But at the same time, she writes of the village that is almost entirely unaffected by the turmoil going on in the capital. It reminded me a bit of how some kids and adults living in an isolated area, may hear of positive gay news, but they realize it probably won’t have much affect on their lives.

  46. BOBBY says

    ALL I COULD BARE by Craig Seymour. It’s a memoir about his time as a nude dancer in D.C.’s clubs while he was in the education system. It is an interesting read.

  47. says

    Well, I just finished two different books and am wrapping up a third. (Warning, I am a voracious reader)

    First was a book I was reading purely for fun (full disclosure, I know the author and think that she is a really spiffy person). And that is part one of the Newsflesh trilogy – Feed by Mira Grant. The book is one part political thriller, one part medical drama/thriller, and one part “zombie” apocolypse, with the protagonists of the book being the bloggers who are determined to report to the world on the truth. Best summary I ever read for the book in this case is the publisher’s summary, so here it goes.

    The year was 2014. We had cured cancer. We had beat the common cold. But in doing so, we created something new, something terrible that no one could stop. The infection spread, virus blocks taking over bodies and minds with one, unstoppable command: FEED.

    Now, 20 years after the Rising, Georgia and Shaun Mason are on the trail of the biggest story of their lives – the dark conspiracy behind the infected. The truth will out, even if it kills them.

    You can read the first chapter at http://www.thefeedbook.com/

    ******

    The other two books were satisfying personal curiousity for me. Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach. This book details the different uses of cadavers in art, science, education and testing through history. It is really quite a facinating read that kept me busy for the better part of a weekend.

    ******

    And finally, I am reading right now:

    A Country of Vast Designs: James K. Polk, the Mexican War and the Conquest of the American Continent by Robert W Merry – basically, this is a 600 page book on what happened in Polk’s one term presidency, which turns out to be a whole lot, even though Polk historically is a fairly underrated president. (Keep in mind that during his four years, the United States grew in land size by about one third by annexing Texas, California, Arizona, and New Mexico, he also oversaw the Mexican-American War, the opening of U.S. Naval Academy, the Smithsonian Institution, the groundbreaking of the Washington Monument, and the issuance of the first postage stamps)

    Heck, one of the really interesting things is that part of his election bid was that he intended to only serve one term, and he kept that election promise by not even attempting to run for re-election.

  48. Tell It Like It Is says

    I can not rave enough about “Just Kids.” Reading it was like being transported. It was an emotional journey with each page. I had wanted to read it when it was released in hardcover and never did so. Then I saw an interview with Patti Smith on this site and got a copy and I am so glad I did. So glad Andy made mention of it.

  49. Bading says

    I too tend to go in themes. I just finished both ‘Secret Historian’ and ‘Just Kids’ and am starting on ‘The Bad Life’ any suggestion for the fourth one?

  50. Talisman says

    @JC I’ve read all of Rice’s books up to Violin. For a novelette, it took me almost a year to make it through that book. It was excruciating, full of brooding characters and detailed nothingness. On the heals of The Servant of the Bones and the New Vampire Chronicle (including Armand The Vampire and Vittorio The Vampire), I haven’t been able to stomach a Rice book since.

  51. Eric says

    I’m reading Dale Peck’s Martin and John. I’m enjoying it a lot. A very interesting method of storytelling.

    From the back cover:
    “In Martin and John, Dale Peck weaves together two narratives to create a heartrending coming-of-age tale that is also a haunting love story set in the very near past. The first is told episodically by John, who in 1982 is a hustler in New York. He falls in love with Martin, who becomes ill with AIDS and dies two years later. To order his new existence without Martin, John starts to keep a journal and then to write stories. Interwoven with these stories is a second set of stories, also written by John. Each has a first-person narrator named John; each centers on a couple named Martin and John, who are always, it turns out, different characters. John knows he is HIV-positive, but through his writing he learns to accept the prospect of a life that, however brief, has at least been examined.

  52. says

    Just finished Wendy Moffat’s EM Forster: A New Life. Completely fascinating and engrossing account of Forster’s growing acceptance of his homosexuality and the impact that had on his writing and thinking. Best biography I’ve read since ‘Just Kids.’

  53. khem says

    Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer. It’s about his findings, thoughts and journey towards becoming a vegetarian. The book is grounded, intelligent, interesting and often very funny.

  54. mike says

    I just finished reading “As Meat Loves Salt” by Maria McCann and was surprised at how much it affected me. I couldn’t stop thinking about it for a week. It involves a gay relationship during the English Civil War (neither subjects are ones I usually seek out). It’s an emotional roller coaster and I couldn’t put it down. It was painful, but I loved it.

    I also highly recommend “The Imperfectionists” by Tom Rachman. The story surrounds the people at an international newspaper based in Rome. One of the best books I read last year.

  55. says

    I highly highly recommend Piers Dungeon – Neverland: J.M, Barrie, The DuMauriers, and The Dark Side of Peter Pan. Excellent nonfiction read into the darkness surround the birth of a “children’s classic”

  56. Joseph says

    Mike Davis’ “City of Quartz.”

    I’m almost finished with this one, and if you’re interested at all in the history, power dynamics, race/class relations, or urban character of Los Angeles and SoCal, this is a fascinating read. Davis is very “left” politically, which shines through in his book, but this is well documented and well written. Only drawback is that it was written about 1990…. Wish there was an update for the next 20 years!

  57. Derek M says

    The Boston Gay Men’s Book Club just finished reading John Waters’ “Role Models” (2010). It’s a light read that reminds us about the inspirations we can take from life’s anomalies. The BGMBC has read a really diverse selection of books across all genres over the past 2 1/2 years.

    Personally, I’m reading “The Penguin History of Latin America,” which is really good – if you’re into history and Latin America and stuff.

  58. Jason says

    I just finished Patti Smith’s book. I finished an even more fascinating book just before it– the new biography of Frank Sinatra’s young life (birth to 1950) called The Voice. It reads like a novel!

  59. elangay says

    Just finished reading “Those Who Save Us” by Jenna Blum. Engrossing, evocative, and provocative novel of two women, mother and daughter, coping with an array of emotions related to surviving the holocaust. Beautifully written and deeply affecting, it is a page-turner I shall ponder for a long time to come.

  60. Mike says

    I just recently finished “Will Grayson, Will Grayson”. It was very good, and not just for the “young adult” demographic that Amazon suggests it for. I only wish I had a best friend as entertaining (though not quite as annoying) as Tiny Cooper. I finished it in two days, quite a feat for a slow reader like myself.

    I’m currently in the middle of “Just Kids”. So far, so good, though I’m not sure I’m appreciating it as much as the acclaim led me to believe I would be.

    Next up, “By Nightfall” by Michael Cunningham.

  61. Andy says

    I’m also reading Isabelle Wilkerson’s “The Warmth of Other Suns,” and finding it fascinating if horrifying. The Great Migration was still going on when I was a kid and it didn’t have a name yet, as far as I knew. Wilkerson casts the flight of African-Americans from the south in the same light as those of Jews escaping Europe and Irish escaping Ireland. It’s a great read.

  62. kodiak says

    1. “Andy Warhol” by Arthur Danto, 2. “Just Kids”, 3. “Roman Conquests” by Phil Andros, 4. “Hide/Seek difference and desire in american portraiture. 5. that’s it!

  63. Daniel Vammen says

    I just started reading “The Un-Natural State. Arkansas and the Queer South.” I’m not that far into it, but it is quite interesting. The author is a friend-of-a-friend, and I was skeptical…but it really is worth more than just a glance.

    It’s a history of small-town gay existence in the South, well written and well cited. It’s published by the University of Arkansas Press and I really wish the towleroad.com group finds it and reads it.

  64. DRoseDARs says

    Kim Stanley Robinson’s Blue Mars, 3rd in the Mars Trilogy preceded by Red Mars then Green Mars. Follows the lives and times of the First Hundred (100 scientific colonists) of Mars circa the 2030s through to the early 2200s and the events they witness and take part in.

  65. Roger says

    Just finished “Everything but the Squeal” by John Barlow. A chronical of eating pork in Galicia. Very funny. Worth reading just for the chapter titled “Dirty Day in Laza.”

    Reading “Venice, Pure City” by Peter Ackroyd. Interesting so far.

    Next up is a reread of “Monsieur d’Eon is a Woman” by Gary Kates. Factual story of a celebrated eighteenth century Frenchman who was both Diplomat and Spy to the courts of the Empress Elizabeth of Russia and George III who was forced by King Louis to proclaim himself a woman and live out his days in drag (wardrobe by Her Magesty’s dressmaker).

  66. JeffSF says

    Just finished “A Visit from the Goon Squad” by Jennifer Egan. Sweet, funny, story told in a surprising original style.

    Now working on Dickens’ “A Tale of Two Cities”. Work is the operative word here. Feels a little like required reading in school, but some of the writing is pretty amazing. Not that he needs mine (or Oprah’s) recommendation.

  67. Homer says

    God Is Not Great by Christopher Hitchens

    Enlightening. Recommended reading for those searching for rational arguments after years of living by “faith”.

  68. Michael42 says

    “Olive Kitteridge” by Elizabeth Strout
    This story revolves around one Olive Kitteridge, who is a blunt, brusque and at times petty retired school teacher from Maine.

    “Tales from Ise” By Ariwara no Narihira
    This is a collection of 125 loosely connected short stories including poems. Nice read.

    “H.P Lovecraft: Tales”
    I think this includes all of his stories, but I might be wrong. This author essentially wrote horror stories for atheists, so instead of trying to inspire fear of divine retribution or the like, many of his characters loose their grip on reality when they are exposed to otherworldy beings or artifacts.

  69. Isto says

    Terry Galloway’s memoir “Mean Little Deaf Queer” is wonderful! It is a incredibly powerful story of struggle greater than most of us have faced, mixed with one most of us have. A must read.

  70. says

    @ ALEX & PETER L: thanks for the reference to “Metropolis Case”—hadn’t heard about it and it sounds like my kind of book. I also recently finished “As Meat Loves Salt” and LOVED it. My husband didn’t—once he saw the actions of the protagonist, he stopped caring. [If you are interested in gay historical novels, you’ll also want to read the Lord John books by Barbara Gabaldon.] Now I’ve got him about to start the wonderful “Cutting for Stone”. I read “The Imperecftionists” last year and wanted to like it so much more than I did. In the end, though, I found it unsatisfying, or dare I say, imperfect.

    Right now I’m reading the scary “The Family” by Jeff Sharlett about the vast right wing Jesus conspiracy that infects our government. One interesting thing is that while Sharlett is apparently straight, his descriptions of men and their interactions show a gay sensibility.

    My shameless plug: I write a book (and sometimes music) blog and really, I’ll be updating it soon! Check it out by clicking my name.

  71. says

    I just finished reading the Keith Richards bio and half way thru the Book Thief, but losing interest.So I started reading Dean Koontz’s new book. I read everything and anything..History, fiction, non fiction, bios, sports, humor, etc. I just love to read.

  72. Bradley says

    My go-to book (series) for when I have down time is Kushiel’s Dart by Jacqueline Carey. It’s “historical fantasy” following the journey of a young woman who can only be explained as a “divine prostitute” and her helping her country in a time of crisis. It’s beautifully written and contains some excelent postulations about love and it’s power, both bright and dark. There are some rather detailed sex scenes, so be forewarned, but the love connections in the book are what drive it for me. A beautiful and compelling story, if a little difficult to get into. Trust me, trudge through the first bit and everything after will be worth it.

  73. says

    Just finished Michael Cunningham “By Nightfall”.
    I’m not sure if it is the main character in the book or the author of the book, ie the tone, strikes me as the most pretentious thing I’ve ever read.
    And I did like “A Home at the End of the World”. !!!

  74. JAMES says

    Diary Of An Innocent by Tony Duvert. In a time when we still have moral panics and booking banning, such as that which Amazon.com was recently pressured to undertake, it’s heartening to be able to finally read in English this remarkable novel by the most famous French homosexual paedophile since Peyrefitte. The only scandal is that it took over a quarter of a century to be translated.

  75. scar2 says

    JACKFKNTWIST: I mostly agree with you about By Nightfall (I did like parts of it). It was disappointing compared to At Home At The End of the World (hated the movie) & The Hours (loved the book & movie).

    As far as gay books go, I recently loved Stephen Mccauley’s Insignificant Others, about the complexities of a gay middle-life relationship. The main character is deeply-flawed but still likable somehow. Very honest, poignant, & funny.

    Borrowing Just Kids from my sister after she couldn’t stop raving about it. I just have to promise to give it back.

  76. says

    I loved JUST KIDS, too — although I was left with the nagging feeling that Patti Smith is cooler than anyone has a right to be.

    I just finished a novel called SHANTARAM by Gregory David Roberts, about an Australian guy who escapes from prison and flees to Bombay, India, in the early 1980s. There he gets swept up in the Indian underworld of organized crime, and even gets involved in the war against the Russians in Afghanistan. It’s amazingly well-written and deeply engrossing, with astounding details about the settings and life in Bombay.

  77. Paul says

    Just finished “Mary Ann In August” by Armistead Maupin, his latest in the Tales Of The City saga. It made me want to go back and re-read the collection.

  78. Mike says

    J.R.Ackerley’s “We Think the World of You” (1960) the only novel of the openly-gay author of My Dog Tulip, and the astonigshing memoir “Me and My Father”. Beautifully written.

    Next up is probably a big volume of H.P. Lovecraft that I’ve had on my must read list for some time.

  79. David B. Boyce says

    Have you read “As Meat Loves Salt” by Maria McCann? It’s a historical novel set during the time of Cromwell’s army in England and a love that develops between two men. Beautifully written and paced.

  80. says

    I’m reading Cooking For Geeks by Jeff Potter, published by O’Reilly, a press that normally specializes in computer programming and other technical titles.

    It’s a fantastic instructional book that approaches food preparation from a primarily scientific and/or engineering perspective. Ever wonder why brined chicken is moister? What’s the difference between baking powder and baking soda, and what purpose does each serve in a recipe? How to balance flavors of things you’ve never tasted in combination before? Potter interviews chefs, food scientists, and … well, geeks to uncover the mysteries of “why” behind the “how” of cooking.

    It’s sprinkled with recipes from a variety of sources that illustrate the basic principles of cooking. It’s a great book for inquisitive people who’ve been hesitant to dive too deeply into cooking as a hobby because they are the sort of folks who need to know why they’re doing what they are doing. But it’s also a fantastic book for anyone frustrated that they can’t cook “off recipe” with much success, because it gives you the knowledge to create food on the fly.

    It’s written in the vernacular of programmers, hackers, and engineers, but you definitely don’t need to be a geek to really enjoy it.

  81. David says

    “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” by Stieg Larsson and the two that follow it – great detective fiction, wonderful characters…. and now, a YA fantasy novel called “Incarceron” by Catherine Fisher about a utopian society where half the population has been imprisoned in an underground prison run by a computer. And the other half has established a society based on a return to earlier times.

  82. JH says

    Just finished ” The Art Instinct” by Denis Dutton – recently deceased aesthete Dutton, founder of the blog ‘Arts&Letters’ writes that art is evolutionary too. Wonderful writer, but the argument gets precious and insular toward the end. Starting “Apollo’s Angel’s” by Jennifer Homans. It claims to be the first cultural history of ballet. A professional dance writer myself for many years, I admire Homans’ writing skill and grace.Some of the best writing on dance I have ever read. Too soon to know if I agree with her on all her provocative points: ballet is dead, ( god is dead, art is dead…) . Loving this post and comments. Great readership.

  83. Daniel says

    the Good Soldiers by David Finkel was just incredible–a memoir of learning leadership at West Point and then his in-battle experience in the current US wars.

    shantaram by gregory david roberts is about an Australian who breaks out of jail, lives in the slums of Mumbai, then travels to Afghanistan–it’s just a wild story, supposedly based on true events yet billed as fiction. i’ve heard johnny depp is starring in a movie version of this.

    blood river by tim butcher, about traveling through the Congo retracing the expeditions of the explorer Stanley. Saddest part is the author speaking to people who remember modernity–trains, electricity, working ferries–in their grandfather’s generation, yet have no hope to seeing it return soon. Includes interesting bits about the current UN missions stationed there, as well as the history of the Belgian colonial era. My synopsis maybe makes it sound like dry reportage, but it’s a real page-turner.

  84. alan says

    “Secret Historian…” reading now
    “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks” Amazing.
    “MaryAnn in Autumn” Great to get back to those characters again.
    “Just Kids” was GREAT! One of the best I have read in a long time.
    and for my “trashy” selection “Chelsea Handler My Horizontal Life”…so funny.

  85. Jon says

    Nonfiction: “Of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself,” by David Lipsky. It’s basically a transcript of the author’s conversations with the late David Foster Wallace during Wallace’s book tour for “Infinite Jest.” I’m still not over Wallace’s suicide, but Lipsky’s book has helped. He does a nice job of capturing Wallace’s humane and troubled voice.

  86. Brad says

    “House” by Robert Remini. Picked it up at the LIbrary of Congress bookstore on a recent visit. A concise history of the house of representatives from the time of the American revolution until the end of the 20th century. Fascinating read. So outrageous at times it could be thought of as fiction, but of course it’s not.

  87. Jim says

    I just got a Kindle for my birthday in November so I’ve been on a reading rampage these past two months. Definitely check out the HUNGER GAMES trilogy – surprisingly well written for YA fiction, and really engrossing and emotionally/politically charged. I was stunned by Jon Krakauer’s WHERE MEN WIN GLORY about the coverup of football start Pat Tillman’s friendly fire death in Afghanistan – not to mention all the other Bush era coverups that Krakauer uncovers. I think you can skip PATTI LUPONE’S memoir. Clegg’s PORTRAIT OF AN ADDICT AS A YOUNG MAN was interesting, but felt like it was written too soon. I wanted it to be more like Josh Kilmer Purcell’s I AM NOT MYSELF THESE DAYS, which was both poignant, heartwrenching, AND funny. Maupin’s MARY ANN IN AUTUMN was a wonderful read for us hardcore TALES OF THE CITY fans. Finally, I travelled to India during the holiday, and am now reading INDIA CALLING, which is a stunning account of a rapidly changing modern country. Please, tell us what you read next!

  88. ratbastard says

    I’m re-reading ‘The Guns of August’, the preeminent history of the first world war by Barbara Tuchman. I finished re-reading her history of the western world pre-WW1 [1900-1914] a week and a half ago.

    Generally though, I favor contemporary fiction, and I especially like short story fiction.

  89. tooboot says

    I just re-read the last part of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows to remind myself about what happens and now I’m in the middle of Bright Shiny Morning by James Frey. Great book, has a “Crash” kind of feel to it. I like his writing style.

  90. ratbastard says

    I also read an anthology of short gothic-type horror stories published in the late 80’s by English author Patrick McGrath, called ‘Blood and Water and Other Tales.’ One story in particular is about a fallen angel in late 1980’s NYC. He does an excellent job of describing what urban life was like in that period, in addition to being just a cool, little tale.

  91. robert says

    “War” by Sebastian Junger – an engrossing, non-fiction account of the author’s time spent embedded in a US military unit in Afghanistan.

    “Let the Great World Spin” by Colum McCann – a lyrical and throughly engrossing, fictional account of New Yorkers on the day Philippe Petit walked between the Twin Towers. Just beautiful.

  92. says

    Just finished Michael Cunningham’s “By Nightfall”. It recycles old Cunningham-friendly themes, nevertheless it is very beautifully written. So beautifully in fact that it made me want to start writing again.

    Which is always a good sign.

  93. Tom says

    Our book club is reading “Secret Historian: The Life and Times of Samuel Steward, Professor, Tattoo Artist and Sexual Renegade” by Justin Spring. It’s a fascinating depiction of gay life before Stonewall.

  94. says

    I just finished reading Chuck Palahniuk’s “Survivor.” It’s a gripping fictional account from someone who was the last surivor of a death cult. It sounds morbid, but it’s a fascinating look at how the media creates characters for their own profit.

    Goes highly recommended.

  95. steve says

    I am reading Colm Toibin’s latest short story collection The Empty Family. I read everything he writes as soom as it is released. The Master is one of the best novels I have read in quite a while. I just finished Stacey Shiff’s Cleopatra and was ready for fiction.

  96. Butch says

    Finally gave up on trying to finish Larsson’s “The Girl Who…” series. David Sedaris’ “Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk” was also disappointing – in fact, I wish I hadn’t bothered to read it. Currently working on Taibbi’s “Griftopia,” which is outstanding.

  97. Richard says

    At home I’m reading APOLLO’S ANGELS, a history of ballet but very much more. On the subwway (NYC), SEX AT DAWN a sociological history of human sexuality. Both books were on many best of 2010 lists.

  98. zac says

    I just finished Ryan Quinn’s “The Fall” recently. Fiction. A quick read, and a fairly accurate portrayal of college-life for a gay athlete and the people in his orbit. Has some really important things to say about how we work hard to come out from under our parents shadow, and how that makes us so skittish about our own shadows. I loved it.

  99. Glenn says

    Some great books:
    “The Hustle” by Doug Merlino
    Rich white kids play basketball with poor black kids and the author follows them years later to see how it affected their lives.

    “Dog Years” by Mark Doty
    The award-winning gay poet writes about love and loss.

    “Mother of Sorrows” by Richard McCann
    Although he writes it as fiction, the author beautifully recounts his childhood that includes trying on his mother’s clothes.

  100. Lester Malizia says

    I am reading Michael Chambon’s Werewolves in Their Youth. He is an amazing writer His charecters are so unique and his view of them is very compassionate. His use of language is amazing he is an outstanding writer . You will love him. I am in the process of reading everything by him that I can find

  101. Tim says

    The Passage by Justin Cronin is reminiscent of King’s The Stand. Murder in the Garden District by James Herren – part of his Chance McLeod series. Stray Dog Winter by David Francis.

    My next two books are Just Kids by Patti Smith and The Help by katherine Stockett.

  102. Tony D says

    I’ve been on an Anne Rice kick lately. Just started “The Vampire Lastat.” After that I plan to read “The Good Omen” by Neil Guiman (I probably spelled the last name wrong). I think it has to do with these people losing the anti-christ. A friend recommended it to me.

  103. JSH says

    Currently I’m reading “Just My Type” by Simon Garfield — a collection of essays about fonts/typestyles and the way that they affect/impact our lives. (Probably sounds like dry reading to most, but I’m a fontaholic!)

    These days I tend to listen to a lot of unabridged audiobooks while driving. Currently I’m listening to Terry Pratchett’s Discworld novel “I Shall Wear Midnight.” Good stuff, very dark in places!

  104. JSH says

    Also, I was heartened to see a couple of people reading H.P. Lovecraft! 😀

    And recently I’ve been listening to the unabridged audiobooks of Robert E. Howard’s Conan the Barbarian stories. Haven’t read them since I was a teenager, and these are Howard’s writings unadulterated by L. Sprague de Camp and others!

  105. E. Thor Carlson says

    I am currently reading Madison and Jefferson by Andrew Burstein and Nancy Isenberg. It has some interesting insights about the founding and early development of our republic.
    I’m also re-reading Chrome by George Nader.

  106. says

    “The Last Kashmiri Rose”, Barbara Cleverly. A murder mystery set in the time of the British raj. Ultimately daft plot, but extremely engaging. Six more in the series…whoopee! BTW, will look for the Nixon/Mao book. China fascinates me. Overall, this is a great idea.

  107. says

    @STINGO :
    I respect you comments…….and I’ve read some critics who agree with you that “By Nightfall” is beautifully written……

    Maybe I’m distracted by the crippling allusions which are on every page…….yet, they may well be the author’s device for painting the suffocating atmosphere of self regarding New York Art Dealers’ world.
    I’m confusing myself !

  108. Cameron says

    I second “The Help” and “Immortal life on Henrietta Lacks”.

    I really enjoyed “Cloud Atlas” by David Mitchel. It’s 6 stories in one, stacked like the Russian dolls.

    I’m finishing “Room” now. It’s told from the point of view of a 5 year old who’s mother was kidnapped and held in an 11×11 shed. He only knows the room as his whole world. It’s intense and very well written in a 5 y/o voice.

  109. Brian says

    Colum McCann’s LET THE GREAT WORLD SPIN is a spectacular, heart-breaking novel. Won the National Book Award a couple of years back. And after you’ve finished that read his novel DANCER about the life of Nureyev.

    Loved all of Ruth Reichl’s books – must reads for all New Yorkers and foodies.

    Also check out Ryan Quinn’s THE FALL. Brand new release from an up and coming gay author.

  110. Michael says

    I’m looking forward to Just Kids. I spent most of the Holiday season reading “Shantaram” by Gregory David Roberts. It’s a sensational story (944 pages)and highly recommended.

    I am now reading “A Dirty Job” by Christopher Moore. Really fun book!

  111. says

    I really enjoyed Fannie Flagg’s latest, I still Dream About You which will no doubt become a movie. Takes place in Birmingham, Alabama and is about a former Miss Alabama who returns home to sell real estate. Set in late 2008 and just a delight to read.

  112. ezwriter says

    “Things I’ve Been Silent About” by Azar Nafisi.

    Her earlier work, “Reading Lolita in Tehran” wasn’t my favorite book about pre-and-post revolutionary Iran, but it was interesting enough to make me want to read more about her experiences.

    I’m only about 1/4 the way through, but I’m liking it a lot more than the first book.

  113. says

    Non-fiction:

    STIFF: THE CURIOUS LIVES OF HUMAN CADAVERS (Mary Roach)

    RATS: OBSERVATIONS ON THE HISTORY AND HABITAT OF THE CITY’S MOST UNWANTED INHABITANTS (Robert Sullivan)

    MERLE’S DOOR: LESSONS FROM A FREETHINKING DOG (Ted Kersasote)

    BAD SCIENCE: QUACKS, HACKS AND BIG PHARMA FLACKS (Ben Goldacre)

    Fiction:

    THE STORY OF EDGAR SAWTELLE (David Wroblewski)

  114. Carter says

    I am finishing The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson. It is a breath-taking, beautifully written oral history of the Great Migration of black people from the South from 1915-1970.

  115. KMC says

    Fellow Travelers by Thomas Mallon (Fiction). Gay couple in DC in the 1950’s. Politics, McCarthyism and a gay love story. Halfway through, compelling story.

  116. Richard says

    Great thread. I noticed someone said to skip Patti Lupone’s memoire, which I sort of understand but I listened to the audio version which she reads herself and some of it is HILARIOUS b/c of her delivery and some funny stories. A lot is self indulgent….of course, no surprise there…but she is pretty frank and forthright about herself. Probably only for the hard core theater crowd.

  117. says

    I just read “The Last Speakers,” by a linguist who travels all over the world recording languages that are being lost because all of the speakers have died out. There are about 7,000 languages in the world right now, some spoken by just a handful of people. Unbelievable!

  118. Just A Suggestion says

    Everything Neal Stephenson wrote, except for his latest digital work. A classic of his is Snow Crash. The Diamond Age, a book about an electronic book. His three trilogies. His early work about Boston University and the Boston area.

    Sometimes it is more interesting to know WHO you are reading rather than WHAT. When I really like a book I look for everything else the author has done.

  119. Steven says

    Am in the midst of the Wendy Moffat biography of EM Forster, A Great Unrecorded History: A New Life of E.M. Forster. Very intelligent take on his acceptance of being homosexual and finding a way to explore that within his fairly repressed life.

  120. Scott Kjeer says

    I know it has been out for a while, but I “read” audiobooks, and just finished “Water for Elephants” and “Devil in the White City” both are being made into films, and SO rightly so!! Amazing, both of them. WFE releases in April with Robert Pattinson and Reese Witherspoon and DITWC, a true story about America’s first serial killer and the 1893 Chicago World Fair stars and produced by Leo DiCaprio. You won’t regret either read!

  121. Arthur Corbin says

    Starting an English award winner, Gabriel’s Angels by Mark Radcliffe.

    Finished Gay America by Linas Alsenas. Written for a teenage audience this is a succinct and readable history. Ask you library to purchase this or buy it for them as I did.

    The Visual Miscellaneum by David McCandliss is a fascinating visual presentation of a wide range of statistics. One of my favorites is on page 104 and 105, titled Low Resolution. This is a visual representation of how much sensory information reaches the brain. The conclusion? The amount consciously perceived is 0.045%.

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