The Best Overlooked Books
The Great Night by Chris Adrian (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux)
In this darker and smuttier retelling of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night's Dream,Adrian gives magic to the humans and humanity to the sprites.
Sheepish: Two Women, Fifty Sheep, and Enough Wool to Save the Planetby Catherine Friend (Da Capo Lifelong Books)
The lesbian author of Hit by a Farm is tired after 15 years of shepherding but reconsidering her retirement in this history of sheep and the current state of American small farms.
Blind: A Memoir by Belo Miguel Cipriani (Wheatmark)
In 2007, Cipriani was beaten so badly he lost his sight. As this memoir reveals, the perpetrators were his childhood friends. But the real story is in his learning to deal with his sudden disability.
Persistence: All Ways Butch and Femme, edited by Ivan E. Coyote (Arsenal Pulp Press)
Butch storyteller Coyote edits this anthology of queer, intersex, and trans authors including Jewelle Gomez (The Gilda Stories), Thea Hillman (Intersex), and S. Bear Bergman (Butch Is a Noun) writing about butch-femme identities and relationships.
Black Like Us: A Century of Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual African American Fiction, edited by Devon W. Carbado and Dwight McBride (Cleis Press)
This overview of 100 years of African-American writing demonstrates the interconnection between race, gender, and sexuality.
Triptych by J.M. Frey (Dragon Moon Press)
Wonderful Canadian sci-fi about bisexual alien refugees on Earth, queer family structures, identity, and murder.
a + e 4ever: A Graphic Novel by Ilike Merey (Lethe Press)
Graphic novel revolves around gender-queer teens Ash and Eulalie, two outcasts who find their identities and sexuality aren’t black and white.
Trans/Love: Radical Sex, Love & Relationships Beyond the Gender Binary, edited by Morty Diamond (Manic D Press)
Trans filmmaker Diamond has gathered stories of love, sex, and relationships in gender-variant communities.
We’re Here, We’re Queer by Owen Keehnen (CreateSpace)
A collection of 100 mostly ’90s-era interviews with activists, artists, and writers (including Quentin Crisp, Edmund White, Joan Nestle, and Camille Paglia) who played a part in the creation of the modern-day LGBT community.
Shorn: Toys to Men by Dennis Milam Bensie (Coffeetown Press)
Molested and bullied, Bensie found the salve for his mental wounds first by shearing off the hair of stolen Barbie dolls, then paying hundreds of rent boys to shave their heads. Later he turned those skills into a career as a theatrical wig designer.
I Rise: The Transformation of Toni Newman by Toni Newman (CreateSpace)
A memoir of a college-educated African-American trans woman who, as a male physique model, once posed for Playgirl and later chose to do sex work to support her transition.
The Unreal Life of Sergey Nabokov: A Novel by Paul Russell (Cleis)
This carefully researched novel is based on the gay brother of Vladimir Nabokov, a pre-revolutionary Russian who went on to commingle with folks like Picasso, Gertrude Stein, and Alice B. Toklas.
We the Animals by Justin Torres (Houghton Mifflin)
This highly acclaimed first novel is a coming-of-age story about three Puerto Rican brothers.
Sweet Like Sugar by Wayne Hoffman (Kensington)
A friendship develops between a gay 20-something and a straight elderly rabbi, demonstrating how our human quest is a search for parts of ourselves that can only be found in others.
True Stories: Portraits From My Past by Felice Picano (Chelsea Station)
New short memoirs from this Violet Quill Club cofounder and gay publishing pioneer.
Transfigurations by Jana Marcus (7 Angels Press)
The book version of an award-winning photography series about gender in the trans community shows that it is both natural and a social construct.
Sarah, Son of God by Justine Saracen (Bold Strokes Books)
This nested story within a story is about a heretical text and the scholars who seek it, but it really investigates how gender bending affects personal relationships and the course of history.
Don’t Breathe a Word by Jennifer McMahon (William Morrow)
The lesbian author of Island of Lost Girls once again weaves a story around a lost girl, this one who may have crossed into the land of fairies — or not. McMahon mines the dark land of family secrets.
Remembrance of Things I Forgot: A Novel by Bob Smith (University of Wisconsin Press)
What would you do if the boyfriend you were about to break up with just invented a time machine? Smith’s protagonist travels back in time, looking for do-overs of personal failures (and George W. Bush’s), but discovers that making positive changes has unforeseen negative consequences.
Darkness Embraced by Winter Pennington (Bold Strokes)
Lesbians, vampires, Byzantine political machinations — all you need to know to love this one.
Core by J.D. Glass (Outlines Press)
This punk novella is part graphic novel, part rock poetry from the Charm Alarm band member and author of Punk and Zen.
The German by Lee Thomas (Lethe Press)
In this powerful thriller, set in rural America circa 1944, a mysterious killer preys on young men — leaving pro-Nazi notes in the victims’ mouths — and the chief suspect is Ernst Lang, a gay ex-soldier who fled Germany years earlier.
Dying to Live by Kim Baldwin and Xenia Alexiou (Bold Strokes Books)
Romantic suspense ensues when an elite lesbian military operative must rescue a British socialite from Colombian rebels — and stop a virus from infecting them all in the process.