Harvey Milk, History, LGBT, LGBTQ History, Top Ten Tuesdays

Ten LGBT History Books for Harvey Milk Day

Today we remember an important figure in LGBT American History: Harvey Milk. Harvey Milk, known as the “Mayor of Castro Street,” was a gay rights activist and community leader. In 1977, Milk won a seat on the San Francisco Board. He became the city’s first openly gay officer and one of the first openly gay individuals elected to office in the United States. In addition to gay rights, his campaign platform incorporated a variety of issues, including child care and affordable housing, as well as a civilian police review board. Harvey Milk was assassinated on November 27, 1978, by a conservative political rival who infamously claimed the “Twinkie defense” at trial, asserting that his junk-food diet had made him mentally unstable. The jury convicted him of manslaughter rather than murder and sentenced him to just six years in prison.

To honor Milk’s memory, I would like to share ten books on LGBT history that I think everyone should read. Someday, I hope to add my own book on Gay American Literature to this list, but that will have to wait until it successfully finds a publisher. Feel free to reach out to me if you’re looking for a researched, academic text on early twentieth century gay American literature. It’s ready for you!

Gay New York: Gender, Urban Culture, and the Making of the Gay Male World 1890-1940 by George Chauncey: Gay New York brilliantly shatters the myth that before the 1960s gay life existed only in the closet, where gay men were isolated, invisible, and self-hating. Based on years of research and access to a rich trove of diaries, legal records, and other unpublished documents, this book is a fascinating portrait of a gay world that is not supposed to have existed.

A History of Bisexuality by Steven Angelides: Why is bisexuality the object of such skepticism? Why do sexologists steer clear of it in their research? Why has bisexuality, in stark contrast to homosexuality, only recently emerged as a nascent political and cultural identity? Bisexuality has been rendered as mostly irrelevant to the history, theory, and politics of sexuality. With A History of Bisexuality, Steven Angelides explores the reasons why, and invites us to rethink our preconceptions about sexual identity. Retracing the evolution of sexology, and revisiting modern epistemological categories of sexuality in psychoanalysis, gay liberation, social constructionism, queer theory, biology, and human genetics, Angelides argues that bisexuality has historically functioned as the structural other to sexual identity itself, undermining assumptions about heterosexuality and homosexuality.

The Straight State: Sexuality and Citizenship in Twentieth-Century America by Margot Canaday: The Straight State is the most expansive study of the federal regulation of homosexuality yet written. Unearthing startling new evidence from the National Archives, Margot Canaday shows how the state systematically came to penalize homosexuality, giving rise to a regime of second-class citizenship that sexual minorities still live under today.

How Sex Changed: A History of Transsexuality in the United States by Joanne J. Meyerowitz: From early twentieth-century sex experiments in Europe, to the saga of Christine Jorgensen, whose sex-change surgery made headlines in 1952, to today’s growing transgender movement, Meyerowitz gives us the first serious history of transsexuality. She focuses on the stories of transsexual men and women themselves, as well as a large supporting cast of doctors, scientists, journalists, lawyers, judges, feminists, and gay liberationists, as they debated the big questions of medical ethics, nature versus nurture, self and society, and the scope of human rights.

The Lavender Scare: The Cold War Persecution of Gays and Lesbians in the Federal Government by David K. Johnson: Historian David K. Johnson here relates the frightening, untold story of how, during the Cold War, homosexuals were considered as dangerous a threat to national security as Communists. Charges that the Roosevelt and Truman administrations were havens for homosexuals proved a potent political weapon, sparking a “Lavender Scare” more vehement and long-lasting than McCarthy’s Red Scare. Relying on newly declassified documents, years of research in the records of the National Archives and the FBI, and interviews with former civil servants, Johnson recreates the vibrant gay subculture that flourished in New Deal-era Washington and takes us inside the security interrogation rooms where thousands of Americans were questioned about their sex lives. The homosexual purges ended promising careers, ruined lives, and pushed many to suicide. But, as Johnson also shows, the purges brought victims together to protest their treatment, helping launch a new civil rights struggle.

Eminent Outlaws: The Gay Writers Who Changed America by Christopher Bram: In the years following World War II a group of gay writers established themselves as major cultural figures in American life. Truman Capote, the enfant terrible, whose finely wrought fiction and nonfiction captured the nation’s imagination. Gore Vidal, the wry, withering chronicler of politics, sex, and history. Tennessee Williams, whose powerful plays rocketed him to the top of the American theater. James Baldwin, the harrowingly perceptive novelist and social critic. Christopher Isherwood, the English novelist who became a thoroughly American novelist. And the exuberant Allen Ginsberg, whose poetry defied censorship and exploded minds. Together, their writing introduced America to gay experience and sensibility, and changed our literary culture. 

Gay L. A.: A History of Sexual Outlaws, Power Politics, and Lipstick Lesbians by Lillian Faderman and  Stuart Timmons: Drawing upon untouched archives of documents and photographs and over 200 new interviews, Lillian Faderman and Stuart Timmons chart L.A.’s unique gay history, from the first missionary encounters with Native American cross-gendered “two spirits” to cross-dressing frontier women in search of their fortunes; from the bohemian freedom of early Hollywood to the explosion of gay life during World War II to the underground radicalism sparked by the 1950s blacklist; from the 1960s gay liberation movement to the creation of gay marketing in the 1990s. Faderman and Timmons show how geography, economic opportunity, and a constant influx of new people created a city that was more compatible to gay life than any other in America. Combining broad historical scope with deftly wrought stories of real people, from the Hollywood sound stage to the barrio, Gay L.A. is American social history at its best.

Queer: A Graphic History by Meg-John Barker and Julia Scheele: Activist-academic Meg-John Barker and cartoonist Julia Scheele illuminate the histories of queer thought and LGBTQ+ action in this groundbreaking non-fiction graphic novel.From identity politics and gender roles to privilege and exclusion, Queer explores how we came to view sex, gender and sexuality in the ways that we do; how these ideas get tangled up with our culture and our understanding of biology, psychology and sexology; and how these views have been disputed and challenged.

Coming Out Under Fire: The History of Gay Men and Women in World War II by Allan Bérubé: During World War II, as the United States called on its citizens to serve in unprecedented numbers, the presence of gay Americans in the armed forces increasingly conflicted with the expanding anti-homosexual policies and procedures of the military. In Coming Out Under Fire, Allan Berube examines in depth and detail these social and political confrontation–not as a story of how the military victimized homosexuals, but as a story of how a dynamic power relationship developed between gay citizens and their government, transforming them both. Drawing on GIs’ wartime letters, extensive interviews with gay veterans, and declassified military documents, Berube thoughtfully constructs a startling history of the two wars gay military men and women fought–one for America and another as homosexuals within the military.

Colonialism and Homosexuality by Robert Aldrich: Colonialism and Homosexuality is a thorough investigation of the connections of homosexuality and imperialism from the late 1800s – the era of ‘new imperialism’ – until the era of decolonization. Robert Aldrich reconstructs the context of a number of liaisons, including those of famous men such as Cecil Rhodes, E.M. Forster or Andre Gide, and the historical situations which produced both the Europeans and their non-Western lovers. Each of the case-studies is a micro-history of a particular colonial situation, a sexual encounter, and its wider implications for cultural and political life. Students both of colonial history, and of gender and queer studies, will find this an informative read.

Blog Post, Just for Fun, Top Ten Tuesdays

Top Ten Books on My Summer TBR Pile

With just two weeks left in the spring academic semester, I’ve been thinking ahead to the reading I would like to do this summer. I thought I would harken back to the good ol’ days of blogging, when the Top Ten Tuesday feature was a regular staple, and share my list of “Top Ten Books on my Summer TBR Pile.” (Note: Top Ten Tuesday is still around. It is now hosted at That Artsy Reader Girl.)

These are books I already own and literally have sitting in a pile (or a few piles). I’ve chosen some for my TBR Pile Challenge and some for my Classics Club Challenge, as well as a few that I just want to read while I have a little more free time (so that I can immerse myself better). Here we go!

  1. The White Album by Joan Didion for 2018 TBR Pile Challenge
  2. Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi for 2018 TBR Pile Challenge
  3. A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy by William Irvine for 2018 TBR Pile Challenge.
  4. Paradise Lost by John Milton for The Classics Club Challenge
  5. A Vindication of the Rights of Woman by Mary Wollstonecraft for The Classics Club Challenge
  6. At Swim, Two Boys by Jamie O’Neill for The Classics Club Challenge
  7. Thank You for Arguing: What Aristotle, Lincoln, and Homer Simpson Can Teach Us About the Art of Persuasion by Jay Heinrichs
  8. The Grammar of God A Journey into the Words and Worlds of the Bible by Aviya Kushner
  9. Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders
  10. Timequake by Kurt Vonnegut

If I’m being realistic, I will probably end up reading about half of these, and veering off in a bunch of other directions randomly (there’s a new Stephen King coming out soon, for example, that I’ll probably get my hands on and read right away).

What are your summer reading plans? Anything I should add to my list?

Meme, Top Ten Tuesdays

Ten Books “On Tap” for This Winter

857226Aloha, Readers!

I very rarely participate in blog memes (or, let’s be honest, in blogging at all, lately!), but this one caught my eye when I saw it posted over on O’s blog, Behold the Stars. The winters here in the Midwestern United States are cold, long, and brutal. We tend to get buried in snow and bitter sub-zero temperatures for days on end.

So, what better way to prepare, to spark a little internal flame, than to think about the books I’m looking forward to cozying up with in the coming months?

This week’s topic, from The Broke and the Bookish, is: Top 10 Books on My Winter TBR.

  • The Turn of the Screw by Henry James
  • Trifles by Susan Glaspell
  • Ariel by Sylvia Plath
  • Studies in Classic American Literature by D.H. Lawrence
  • I Could Tell You Stories by Patricia Hampl
  • Like People in History by Felice Picano
  • Dancer from the Dance by Andrew Holleran
  • The Man Who Fell in Love with the Moon by Tom Spanbauer
  • Playing the Game: The Homosexual Novel in America by Roger Austen
  • The History of Sexuality by Michel Foucault
Favorites, Meme, Top Ten Tuesdays

10 Best Reads in 2014 (So Far)

toptentuesday2It’s been a while since I’ve participated in a “Top Ten Tuesday” meme. These are hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, and they always have great topics.  This week’s topic is “favorites of the year so far.” Since I like to keep track of my own personal favorites, and share them with others (what else is a book blog for, anyway?), I thought this week’s topic was a good one to post.

According to my records, I have read 40 books so far this year, which puts me a bit ahead of schedule (I only had a goal of 60 for the whole year).  I’m also reading A TON of books for my summer independent reading (preparation for doctoral exams in January), so I’m sure I’ll be way ahead of schedule come mid-August. If I manage to keep up with the reading list, that is. HAH.

Now, the folks at The Broke and The Bookish say, specifically, “favorites.” Not best books, not top rated etc. So, “favorite” being the only qualifier, I have chosen 5 works of fiction and 5 works of non-fiction that I really enjoyed in this first half of the year. I could have included a poetry section, too, as I’ve read some great poetry in this first half of the year, but I spent too much time trimming each of these sections down from 10 works to 7 and, finally, to 5. So, yay for poetry but, no, it’s not making the list this time!


  • The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
  • Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
  • Imre: A Memorandum by Edward Prime-Stevenson
  • The Stand by Stephen King
  • Ulysses by James Joyce


  • Eminent Outlaws by Christopher Bram
  • If This Isn’t Nice, What Is? by Kurt Vonnegut
  • This is Water by David Foster Wallace
  • The Lavender Scare by David K. Johnson
  • Gay New York by George Chauncey

Have you read any of these? If so, what did you think?  And what are some of your own personal favorites so far this year?

2014 Challenges, Blog Post, Personal, Top Ten Tuesdays

Ten Influential Books in My Life

Yesterday, Jillian of Random Ramblings posted her “Most Influential Books” and asked me if I would share mine, too.

I really love her particular spin on this, which is that we share without giving any sort of explanation whatsoever.  It’s harder than it sounds! When I love a book, I want to tell everyone why & try to convince them to read it.  But, I can also see the beauty in sharing these favorites and allowing others to discover them completely on their own, and maybe fall in love with them for their own reasons.

So, here is a list of 10 books that have affected me greatly, for various reasons. I desperately want to say something about each of them, but I will refrain.  I challenge you all to give this a shot on your own blogs, and I especially challenge you to read a title from this list that you haven’t, yet!

In no particular order:

  • The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
  • The Confidence-Man by Herman Melville
  • The Giver by Lois Lowry
  • The Mayor of Casterbridge by Thomas Hardy
  • Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling
  • Dream Boy by Jim Grimsley
  • The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
  • The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
  • Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
  • Tender is the Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Care to share any books that have had a profound affect on your life?

Meme, Top Ten Tuesdays

10 Books to read this Fall

The folks over at The Broke and the Bookish have come up with another “Top 10” list that I couldn’t help but think about.  With the start of school last week, and with my tendency to be over-organized and list-happy in the first place, I found this week’s topic not just interesting, but appropriate and helpful. 

I will be reading far more than 10 books this Fall (because I need to read 20+ just for school), but I thought I would choose 5 books from my required reading that I’m most looking forward to, plus 5 books that I hope to read for fun.  Here we go!

Required Reading:

1.  The Good Soldier by Ford Madox Ford.  I have never been particularly excited by or interested in reading this particular book; however, I have never read anything by Madox Ford, so when I saw him on the syllabus for my Narratology course this Fall, I thought: “Cool!”  I’m always happy to add new/more authors to my bucket.

2.  The Sense of an Ending: Studies in the Theory of Fiction by Frank Kermode.  Another text for my Narratology course.  I imagine this one will be rather dense (just like the one I’m currently reading, Narratology by Schmid, but it is a fascinating subject for anyone studying literature at an advanced level, so I look forward to it.

3.  White Noise by Don DeLillo.  This one is for my American Lit seminar course, and I am very excited about it.  DeLillo is another author I have yet to experience, and this specific book of his has been on my “wish list” for a long, long time.  I now own a copy & will finally get to read it and discuss it in an academic setting. Stoked!

4.  Green Grass, Running Water by Thomas King.  Another for my American Lit seminar.  I know absolutely nothing about this author and I know absolutely nothing about this book; BUT, my experiences with Native American fiction, so far, have all been fantastic.  It’s a particular sub-genre of American Lit. that I find very interesting and appealing, so I can’t wait to delve a little deeper with this one.

5.  From Puritanism to Postmodernism: A History of American Literature by Malcolm Bradbury and Richard Ruland.  This is the only non-fiction text listed on my syllabus for American Lit, and it is “optional.”  Optional texts, as far as school syllabi are concerned, tend to become “required” reading for me, personally.  I feel that the professors put these texts on their syllabi for specific reasons (1. They add to the content of the course; 2. They aid understanding of the subject matter; 3. They are resources when it comes to writing research and analysis papers, etc.), so I may be the only one in the class who actually reads this one, but considering I’m a student of American Lit, how could I not?  And how could I be anything but excited to get started?!

Pleasure Reading:

6.  The Fire Chronicle by John Stephens.  This is book #2 in the YA series, Books of Beginning.  The first book, The Emerald Atlas, came out last year.  I was lucky enough to receive an ARC and I fell in love with it.  It really filled a void for this Harry Potter-loving reader!  I can’t wait to get this book in October.

7.  Passenger by Andrew Smith.  This is the highly anticipated sequel to Smith’s The Marbury Lens, which I just recently read and reviewed for our Andrew Smith Saturdays event.  I really enjoyed The Marbury Lens, and I have enjoyed every Andrew Smith book so far (I own and have read his complete works), so I’m definitely eager to read this one in October as well.

8.  The Mark of Athena by Rick Riordan.  Another October release! Wow – it’s going to be a busy month.  I’m not sure I’ll actually be able to read all of these in October, but I know I’ll be buying this one, as well as the other 2, on their release dates.  Mark of Athena is Book 3 in the Heroes of Olympus series, which I have loved so far.  I am a big fan of the Percy Jackson & the Olympians series, as well as The Kane Chronicles, both by Riordan.  So, this one is a must.

9.  The Good Book: A Humanist Bible by A.C. Grayling.  I’ve had this one on my shelf since it released quite some time ago.  I keep wanting to read it, but keep putting it off (something I am forced to do far too often, with far too many books!).  I really have been itching to get it done, though – so I’m going to try to read it in pieces over the course of the next few months.

10.  Cannery Row by John Steinbeck.  I have just a few books left on my 2012 TBR Pile Challenge List to complete (I’m almost done!), and this is one that I most look forward to reading. Every time I read something by Steinbeck (fiction or non-fiction), I fall deeper and deeper in love with him.  There are a few books left on my list (Hemingway’s Islands in the Stream and Dickens’s Our Mutual Friend, for example) that I very much look forward to, but I think Steinbeck will be up next!

There you have it.  10 books, required or otherwise, that I’m really looking forward to reading this Fall!  What’s on your “to read” list for the coming months?? 

Blog Post, Personal, Top Ten Tuesdays

10 Posts to Get a Glimpse of Me!

While we are in the middle of our Austen in August event, I still could not pass on this week’s topic at The Broke and the Bookish.  Their “Top 10” prompt today is to consider and share the ten posts that most represent who you are, as a person, blogger, reader, etc.  I found this idea very intriguing and, as I know I have been steadily gathering new subscribers over the years, I thought it would be a great way to re-introduce myself, with old and new posts alike.  So, here we go! 

1.  Censoring Mark Twain: A Literary Embarrassment.  My response to the news that Alan Gribben and NewSouth Books planned to release an expurgated edition of Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.

2.  Darkness and Light. My take on the argument that some Young Adult fiction is “too dark.”  This is where I support the authors.

3.  Saturdays, Uncensored: Thoughtful Musings.  One of my regular memes in the past was a “Saturdays, Uncensored” post, where I discussed various issues related to book banning, censorship, etc. This post was a gear-up to the ALA’s Banned Books Week. Saturdays, Uncensored might be returning soon.

4.  Book Review: War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy.  Probably my personal favorite review, of any I have written. I was so surprised by how much I loved this book.    

5.  The Empathetic Reader & The Effective Reviewer.  My thoughts on responsible book blogging and the standards I try to uphold.

6.  Three Years, Thirty: A Reflection. An introspective post on what the past three years as a book blogger and last thirty (almost) years of life have taught me.

7.  Dear Jerome: A Letter to J.D. Salinger.  Wherein I write a letter to one of my favorite writers (who inspired the name of my blogger persona) and say the things I feel need to be said.

8.  Experimental Review: Nova Express by William S. Burroughs.  I have a little fun with this review, attempting to write it in a similar style to that in which the novel is constructed.  I’m heavily influenced by Burroughs’s prose, so this was fun for me.

9.  Starbucks: Indie Giant Meets Corporate Greed.  This is a totally non-bookish post.  It tells a little bit more about the everyday me, I think.  It’s really just an out-and-out rant, which can be fun, sometimes.

10.  I’m From: An Autobiography.  This post is, quite literally, all about me.  It’s a creative autobiography about who I am, where I’m from, and where I hope to go in the future.

There you have it.  10 posts which, I hope, will help my readers get a better understanding of who I am. 

It’s nice to meet you (again)!