Category Archives: What’cha Reading

Reading is sexy

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It has been a relaxing week. I’m enjoying the slower pace and spending much of my time like this handsome guy. You reading anything good? Summer reading suggestions are welcome.

Paris versus New York

Last weekend when I was over at Frenchie and the Yankee house dinner party I happened to notice this book.  Graphic designer, Vharam Muratyan, playfully pits Paris and New York in a visual homage in page after page of images that offers a bit of whimsy and humor.

I loved this particular comparison. Boston GuyLike? You may buy Paris versus New York on Amazon, here.

Where have all the gay bookstores gone?

Earlier this year, I wrote a quick post about the demise of LGBT bookstores after reading Queerty’s article,The Last Chapter: A Look At LGBT Bookstores Around the World.

Not too long ago most large cities had a collection of LGBT bookstores, but over the years, most of these have closed.  Truth be told, I’m not much of a shopper, but I’ve always enjoyed nosing around a neighborhood bookstore and have visited a few of the places featured in the article.

After my initial post, several people made suggestions to the list of LGBT bookstores still in operation.  I wanted to give Boston’s Calamus Books a shout out and promote those remaining stores that serve our community.  If you live in one of these towns or plan on visiting – consider showing your support and making your next purchase of books, cards, DVDs or magazines there.

LGBT bookstores listed by city:

Amsterdam – Vrolijk  Ann Arbor – Common Language Bookstore  Atlanta – Outwrite  Boston – Calamus Books  Chicago – Unabridged Bookstore  London – Gay’s the word  Melbourne – Hares & Hyenas  Paris – Les Mots a la Bouche  Philadelphia – Giovanni’s Room  Provincetown – Now Voyager Bookstore  Sydney – The Bookshop  Vancouver – Little Sisters

Share this post or the information provided above on your facebook page. If you live near one of these places; not only check them out but bring a friend along as well.

Book review: Heyday

I read this book awhile back and meant to write about it because it was such an entertaining read.  The full title of M.V. Butler’s novel is actually, Heyday: That Shocking Novel of New York’s Lavender Underworld

Heyday takes place in post war NYC (that is WWI) and prior to the crash of the stock market at the height of Prohibition.   The story revolves around a charming protagonist (Mack Daly) who is surrounded by a family of friends that include several lovable but flawed personalities.  Mack’s crumbling marriage of convenience and his blossoming romance to Joe Imperio, a New York City gangster, spells trouble from the outset but you cannot help but get caught up in these flawed relationships.  Suspense is followed by hilarity as the ridiculous becomes the norm and I found myself reading the 200 page book in just a couple of days.  If you are looking for a light read that will entertain, I’d suggest checking out this book.

LGBT bookstores

Queerty’s article, The Last Chapter: A Look At LGBT Bookstores Around the World, got me to thinking about this small and quirky group  that have defied the odds by remaining open, and I’d like to wish all these owners success in 2012 and beyond. I love LGBT bookstores and consider Boston lucky to still have at least one in operation.

Not too long ago most large cities had a collection of LGBT bookstores that catered to the community, but over the years, most of these have closed.  Truth be told, I’m not much of a shopper, but I’ve always enjoyed nosing around a neighborhood bookstore and have visited a few of the places featured in the article.  Check out Queerty’s list and consider stopping by one of these shops.

If you live in Boston or plan to visit, certainly check out Calamus Bookstore in the Leather District near South Station and Chinatown.  If you’re unfamiliar with Boston, the Leather District may be a bit misleading. The neighborhood derives its name from the city’s leather tanneries located here in the 19th & 20th centuries. However, by sheer coincidence, you can buy all sorts of leather apparel at the Marquis de Sade which is just above Calamus bookstore.

More LGBT bookstores listed by city

Atlanta – Outwrite

Boston – Calamus Books

London – Gay’s the word

Paris – Les Mots a la Bouche

Philadelphia – Giovanni’s Room

Vancouver – Little Sisters

Washington DC – Kramerbooks

Share in the comments section of this post the names of any LGBT bookstores not mentioned – include the bookstore’s name, web address and city.  If I get a fair number of stores, I’ll compile a list and republish in the near future.

Book review: Winnie-the-Pooh

Over the holidays I donated a lot of books that had been collecting dust at my place to my local library.  In the process of cleaning house (so to speak), I stumbled upon my copy of Winnie-the-Pooh by A.A. Milne with decorations by Ernest H. Shepard.

I used the down time this past week to read the book again, which can be read from cover-to-cover or as consecutive short stories about Christopher Robin, Pooh and all his friends.  I forgot how much I loved the illustrations and the stories (okay – I’ll admit I skipped through a few of the stories deferring to some of my favorites like In Which Pooh Goes Visiting and Gets Into a Tight Place).  I can’t think of a better book to start the year reading and would strongly recommend adding this to your personal library.  Apologies for those who have completely switched to eBooks because I’m not sure the nostalgia and appreciation for Milne’s famous bear will translate.

Book review: Land’s End

Land’s End by Pulitzer-Prize winning author, Michael Cunningham, is a quick read (172 pages) that was written a decade ago about Provincetown, MA.

Cunningham literally dissects the town into geographies with chapters like the West End and East End.  Individual chapters describe the town and some of the more unique aspects of Provincetown like the dunes and wilderness.  Through out the book he shares a loving (almost reverent) perspective of Ptown; talking about specific residents, locations and the many unique attributes of the city and the city’s history.  For those familiar with Provincetown, you will find yourself nodding and smiling. And as was my case, often times thinking “next year I need to check that out.”

For those who have never been to this special place at the tip of the Cape, its still worth the read.  Cunningham’s profound love for this place is obvious and will be  endearing for you to read.

I love how Cunningham describes Provincetown near the start of the book: Provincetown stands on a finger of land at the tip of Cape Cod, the barb at the hook’s end, a fragile and low-lying geological assertion that was once knitted together by the roots of trees.

Gay in America book signing

Scott Pasfield will be signing copies of his latest book, Gay in America at the Harvard COOP bookstore on Monday, November 14th starting at 7PM.

Photographer Scott Pasfield spent three years travelling the United States gathering stories and documenting the lives of 140 gay men from all 50 states in the United States. The stories of these men are moving testaments of what it means to be gay and challenges stereotypes we all have.  The hard cover book is 224 pages with 100 full color photographs and retails for $45.00.

For more information about the signing call the COOP at (617) 499-2000.

Boston Book Festival: October 15, 2011

The third annual Boston Book Festival (the largest literary event in New England) is this Saturday (October 15) in Copley Square.  The event will host more than 100 world-renowned authors, workshops and events.   If you are in the city, check out the festival.

Whatever your interests, fiction, history, science, food writing, sports writing, crime fiction, etc… they have something for you.  You can check out the full calendar of events by linking to their site here and individual event descriptions here.

Book Review: Empire by Steven Saylor

In truth, this is less of a review about Steven Saylor’s book, Empire: The Novel of Imperial Rome, published in 2010 by St. Martin’s Griffin than it is a recognition of this gay author who writes superb historical fiction novels at a mind-boggling rate.

For those fascinated by ancient Rome, his novels are compelling reads.   Saylor is best known for his Roma Sub Rosa series, set in ancient Rome featuring a detective named “Gordianus the Finder” who lived during the time of Cicero, Julius Caesar and Cleopatra.

Empire is nearly 600-pages and opens in Rome in 14 AD with Lucius Pinarius, a young man born into a prominent Roman family. The novel traces the Pinarius family for the next 100+ years.  With imperial Rome as a backdrop, Saylor weaves a story chalk full of intrigue, drama and action.

If you enjoy historical fiction or are fascinated with this era, I would recommend trying one of Saylor’s novels. He has an easy-t0-read writing style.  Should you opt to buy one of Saylor’s books, I’d recommend Calamus Bookstore.  Calamus is the last standing GLBT bookstore in Boston and you can purchase books online if you don’t live in the area.

Calamus Bookstore 92B South Street, Boston  Tel: (617) 338-1931

The Help by Kathryn Stockett

I’ve been a bit disappointed by the past few books I’ve read, but that all ended when on impulse I picked up Kathryn Stockett’s 500+ page book, The Help.

This book had me regularly reading late into the night. For those unfamiliar with the book which I understand has been made into a movie that will star, Emma Stone, Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer, it takes place in Jackson, MS during the early 1960s.

For those not familiar with modern US history, it may be shocking to realize the evil that was called segregation. The story centers around a college educated, single woman in her early 20s who’s returned home after getting her degree and is struggling to start her career as a journalist / writer as well as two maids who work for different white families in Jackson.

Comparisons with Lee’s To Kill a Mocking Bird are easy to make. Both authors are southern woman, both address the racism that was rampant and the social injustices that seem inconceivable to us today. Unlike Lee’s novel though, Stockett’s story balances tension with humor and I found myself regularly laughing out loud. This may go down as my favorite book of 2011.

Looking for some summer reading? Don’t be put off by the deep nature of the subject matter; this book is an absolute page turner. For those who are not of the reading variety, I’ve included the official movie trailer.

Go the F#ck to Sleep

Have you heard of Adam Mansbach’s book which was released last week?

The book’s facebook page, describes the story as a beautifully, subversive, and pants-wettingly funny book for parents new, old, and expectant.

Although I have no children, I’m familiar with the sleep deprivation that seems to go hand-in-hand with parenting and in light of this past Sunday’s celebration of Fathers, I thought it somewhat timely to share. The book can be bought online and is sold at most major bookstore retailers.

The real reason gay men don’t get fat

Have you read the book, Gay Men Don’t Get Fat? Its modeled after the successful (and cheeky) book, French Women Don’t Get Fat.

According to the article in Gawker, “There is only one thing that keeps gay men in shape: fear. Yes, every gay—at least those of the stereotypical abdominal-obsessed physique that populates Fire Island and Palm Springs—is brought about because gay men are afraid that they will be alone for the rest of their lives.”

I’m definitely prone to obsess about my weight and definitely have a far more intimate relationship with my gym (a.k.a. The Gay Temple) than any of my straight / heterosexual friends, but am I a walking cliche? What do you think? You can read the full article on Gawker, here.

UPDATE A reader pointed out that back in April I wrote a post called Is it vanity or health? The brief post was a question to readers who work out; what was their motivation. (Thanks for the reminder Mike.)

Thanks to Andy for pointing me to the article.

Gay fiction book reviews

I’ve been reading a fair amount of gay fiction lately and wanted to write about two books for anyone looking for something to read. The first book, Catch Me If You Can by LB Gregg was a surprisingly funny and quick read. In just over 200 pages Gregg weaves a tale told from the perspective of Caesar Romano, “a lowly gallery assistant” who is living with his grandmother in New York City. Returning to work the following morning after a particularly successful gallery opening, Caesar realizes all is not right when a Justin Timberlake bust from the collection is missing. What ensues is an entertaining mystery full of miscommunications, misunderstandings and a hint of romance. If you are looking for a light and easy read, this is one worth trying.

The Silver Hearted is a darker, less straight forward story than the previous book. Billed as an updated gay-themed version of Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, this 200+ page book is less transparent and more ominous. The parallels to Conrad’s classic are obvious (maybe too obvious). However, the author, David McConnell, is a gifted writer and he quickly pulled me in with his exotic settings and strange characters. Similar to the classic a sense of confusion and foreboding persists throughout. Where this book definitely deviates from Conrad’s is the gay theme, which is subtly introduced and beautifully written. The sexual tension between the main character and a young deck hand is the real story and becomes more enthralling with each passing chapter.

I hope that by providing two very different options, one may speak to you and you will go to your local library or bookstore to take-out or buy a copy. If possible, I’d like to encourage other avid readers to support their local libraries which have been strapped for cash and can certainly use your patronage or if owning a personal copy is important – consider going to your local bookstore. Too many local bookshops have had to close shop in recent years.

Books everyone should read (so they say)

I saw this “consensus cloud” on Iced Tea & Sarcasm and figured I would post it (click on image below to make larger). I underlined the books I remember reading. Clearly, based on this list, I have a lot of reading ahead of me. According to Information is Beautiful, the source of the “consensus cloud”, the image is based on the most mentioned titles from various book polls and top 100 lists.
I can’t help but add my two cents for books I would have liked to have seen included. I’ve focused on adding books from authors that appear to have been snubbed vs. listing a preferred book from an author who was mentioned. Here’s a short list of books I would suggest adding.

Classics: Anything from Shakespeare, Murders in the Rue Morgue, The Great Gatsby, Ivanhoe, Count of Monte Carlo (oops…) Cristo, Robinson Crusoe, Murder on the Orient Express

Modern Classics: Night, In Cold Blood, Cujo, The Godfather, Pillars of the Earth, The Bourne Identity

Gay: Tales of the City, The Men from the Boys, Giovanni’s Room, Call Me By Your Name

I’m curious, what books you would have suggested adding to this list?