21 LGBT Biographies or Memoirs You Should Read Now

From German counts to Utah cave-dwellers, there's something for every reader on this list.

BY Diane Anderson-Minshall

August 13 2012 12:29 PM ET

The Man Who Quit Money by Mark Sundeen (Riverhead, $15)

Daniel Suelo does not pay taxes, or accept food stamps or welfare. He doesn't have a "job" but he works a great deal — never accepting money for his contributions. He lives free in the caves of the Utah canyonlands, foraging wild onions and berries, scavenging garbageboms, and grilling up road kill. Why? Suelo gave up money over a decade ago. The story of how this 50-year-old gay man came to live in such a sustainable way, and the spiritual morality that still guides both his environmentalism and his beliefs about volunteerism, is a fascinating page-turner and a veritible Walden for the 21st century. Beautifully subversive and thought-provoking, Suelo's story is really about universal desires and how you strip away what's all artifice and you find what's really important in life, especially at a time when politicians are still debating climate change and sustainable energies. Expect to see this one become a classic environmental text. (Amazon.com)

David Hockney: The Biography by Christopher Simon Sykes (Nan A. Talese, $35)

Born in England in 1937, David Hockney didn’t struggle as an artist, but did struggle with his sexuality. Still, when he found a supportive environment at college, he immediately came out and his art reflected his new identity as a "queer" and "unorthodox lover." In 1961, Hockney traveled to New York and was so moved by both the art and gay scenes that he remained in the U.S., although he was soon drawn to Southern California’s endless sun, pools, beaches, and tan boys. Hockney was immortalized in Jack Hazan’s biographical film A Bigger Splash, which — much to Hockney’s chagrin — ended up focusing less on his art and more on the breakup of his five-year relationship with his (much) younger lover, Peter Schlesinger. 

This biography of Hockney is full of insiders' anecdotes (the author has known his subject since the 1960s) and includes color reprints of many of his most famous works (including The Rake’s Progress and his internationally recognized paintings of Los Angeles pools) as well as photos of Hockney and his lovers. But the book is marred by ending while the Hockney is still in his 30s, with half a career to come. Likely it was rushed to time its publication with the major Hockney retrospective at the British Royal Academy, but many readers will want to continue Hockney's journey a lot longer than Sykes did. (Powells.com)

Mind Your Own Life: The Journey Back to Love by Aaron Anson (Balboa Press, $19.95)

Aaron Anson is a “largely self-taught” inspirational speaker, consultant, and “New-Thought coach” who chronicles his struggle to overcome his conservative political and religious indoctrination as a devout Christian Southerner and embrace his gay sexuality in this memoir that argues we don't have to be held captive by others' expectations. Certainly a good lesson to embrace. (BalboaPress.com)

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