Mystery, Drugs, Unstoppable Sex & Rachel Maddow: Nine Audio Books You Should Listen To

By Diane Anderson-Minshall

Originally published on Advocate.com October 25 2012 6:07 PM ET

A Sticky End, The Secret Tunnel, Hot Valley, The Back Passage, and The Palace of Varieties by James Lear ($19.95, Audible.com)

The most exciting thing to happen to gay mystery loving audiophiles was when all of James Lear's Cleis Press novels were released by Audible.com. Like gay reimagings of Agatha Christie's murder mysteries  (The Back Passage is a sexy and witty must-hear gay version of  Murder on the Orient Express),  all of Lear's books are worth a listen. The wonderful Daniel Carter, whose accent alone draws readers in to the storyline, narrates Lear's audio books including A Sticky End, The Secret Tunnel, Hot Valley, The Back Passage, and The Palace of Varieties. Murder, mystery, and unstoppable sex — if you have a long flight over the holidays, you'll want to download this incredibly skilled author's books and just listen. (Audible.com)

Listen to an excerpt of The Back Passage at Audible.

Society’s Child by Janis Ian ($24.95, Audible.com)

Lesbian musician Janis Ian came to fame at 14, when she wrote "Society's Child,” a song about an interracial couple she first performed at Greenwich Village’s Gaslight Café. It got her boos on stage and a racist hate mail and death threats at what was then a taboo topic. She followed up with the feminist classic "Seventeen" (both songs have been have been inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame) and continued writing and singing for decades. Now her autobiography, which includes everything from her financial catastrophe, near fatal health issues, failed relationships (with both men and women),  an abusive marriage, coming out, is available as an audio book for the first time. Produced by Grammy Award winner Stefan Rudnicki, and read by the author herself, Society's Child is a must read for music buffs and anyone interested in LGBT history and it's so much better than the print book because when Ian is talking about particular songs she actually sings them so it's like an album and book all in one. Two factoids from a prolific up-and-down life: Ian performed on the very first broadcast of Saturday Night Live and she did drugs with Jimi Hendrix. (Audible.com)

 

Watch this video of Ian performing in 1976

Drift by Rachel Maddow ($17.50, Random House Audio)

MSNBC host Rachel Maddow brings her usual bracing wit and intelligence to this audiobook (read by the author) that looks at how far we've moved from the original ideals of the the country's founders to become a "nationa weirdly at peace with perpetual war." Maddow looks at every war or military action between Vietnam to Afghanistan and comes up with some startling discoveries, including the bottom line: the trade offs we make to priortize  the "national security state"  overpower all political discourse. The book reads like a non-fiction reminder that Maddow wins every fight she picks; let's hope this is true here. (RandomHouseAudio.com)

 

Listen to Maddow read from the book below

Island of Vice by Richard Zacks ($45, Random House Audio)

Even if you're not a history buff, you might enjoy journalist and best-selling author Richard Zack's look at the lewd underbelly of New York in the late 1800s — and Teddy Roosevelt's crusade to clean it up (almost 120 years before Rudy Giuliani supposedly "cleaned up" Times Square). Narrated by Joe Ochman (who you'd recognize from turns on CSI and Criminal Minds). We learn about Roosevelt's strong moral convictions (he believed infidelity was a crime and his brother's alcoholism a form of insanity) and how that helped shape him as cocksure crusading cop. As police commissioner, Roosevelt went up against Tammany Hall, tried to crack down on brothels (including ones with gay hustlers and transgender sex workers), and banned drinking in bars on Sundays. It led to a bit of a revolt and Rosevelt discovered that New Yorkers even then loved sin more than salvation. (RandomHouseAudio.com)

 

Listen to an excerpt from Vice below

 

 

Gulliver Takes Five by Justin Luke Zirilli ($15.99, Brilliance Audio)

The author of the ever-popular Gulliver Takes Manhattan (which was a bit of Tales of the City meets Sex and the City — with a gay bed- and club-hopping twist) is back with a refreshingly interesting collection of five intersecting stories about twink drama, gay romance, and great sex in New York's gay scene. Read by Cole Ferguson (who also narrated the first Gulliver book), Zirilli introduces us to six men (the warring exes, a nightlife promoter, a cute go-go boy, an aspiring Broadway actor, and a man scorned) who are all learning hard truths about themselves on one wild night in New York. As candid, shocking, and sad as the first book, and the author should be escpecially lauded for doing something unheard of in sequels: he lets the titular character, twenty-something L.A. expat Gulliver Leverenz sit this one out (hence the title "Takes Five"). (BrillianceAudio.com)

 

Zirilli being interviewed about his first book