11 Essential LGBTQ Books To Listen To Now

Audible's PRIDE club shares their favorite new and timeless stories about struggle, identity, and the need for unity.

PRIDE is an inclusive club comprising Audible’s LGBTQ employees and their supporters. Its aim is to engage, learn about, and celebrate topics that promote the community’s issues and interests; to offer a safe place for those who identify (or who are becoming comfortable identifying) with the LGBTQ community; and to promote respect and goodwill for Audible’s LGBTQ employees by openly and positively engaging with fellow colleagues. 

They are, of course, total audiobook mavens who love sharing recommendations. Here’s what PRIDE has been listening to and loving lately:

Tranny

Tranny

In 2012, when Laura Jane Grace of the band Against Me! began to publicly transition, it was a Very Big Deal, especially since her fans had to catch up and give her their full support -- and support they did. In 2014, Against Me! released Transgender Dysphoria Blues which was a hit with fans. Now, for the first time, Laura Jane Grace is sharing her life, her journals, and her truth with her fans in this poignant self-narrated memoir. Share this book with anyone who is yearning to become themself.

Patience and Sarah

Patience and Sarah

After Janis Ian won the Grammy Award for narrating her own book, Society’s Child, in the category of Best Spoken Word Performance in 2013, she wanted to go back into the audiobook studio. (BTW, Janis is a great performer, not just from a lifetime of singing, playing, and storytelling in concert, but also because she was mentored by Stella Adler and still teaches at the Stella Adler studio.) She said she wanted to read Patience and Sarah, written by Isabel Miller (a pseudonym) in 1969, and sold out of the trunk of her car by the author and her partner. The book was a word-of-mouth hit, and the ALA created the Stonewall Award in 1971 in time for Patience and Sarah to win it.

“Great story,” said our Christina to Janis, when she approached her about it. “But the rights are hard to acquire.” “Don’t worry,” Janis said. “I know the author’s ex, the partner who helped her sell the book on the road.” “OK,” Christina said, “but that seems like a lot of effort for one 40-year-old book ...” “This book is important,” Janis interrupted. “It’s the first book I ever read where the gay characters didn’t die a horrible death. It tells kids: You’re going to be OK.”

We're so glad Patience and Sarah will never again be forgotten thanks to the brilliant dual-voice narration of Janis Ian and Jean Smart.

Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl

Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl

This memoir could not have come at a more opportune time for Carrie Brownstein’s fans. Fresh off a blockbuster Sleater-Kinney reunion tour and at the height of Portlandia fame, Carrie Brownstein is in high demand. The book focuses on Carrie’s childhood, teenage years, riot grrrl, the highs and lows of being in a successful band, and what it’s like to decide to call it quits. She doesn’t take the listener into the present day (where we know they got back together, went on tour, and gave us a new album); instead, we get the delicious sense that another memoir is forthcoming. Regardless of whether or not you are a Sleater-Kinney fan or strictly a fan of Portlandia, there’s something here for everybody. Carrie is an extremely smart and talented writer, musician, and comedian and it comes through in this audiobook that you do not want to end.

Redefining Realness

Redefining Realness

Narrated by the author herself, Janet Mock’s Redefining Realness is meant to be heard. In the memoir, Mock, a transgender activist, details her progression from coming out as gay to coming out later in life as transgender. What makes the book so powerful is that Mock’s story and path, while unique, is universally empowering. In an era when gay rights are advancing, it’s all the more important to listen to the stories and voices that remain on the fringe, notably within the LGBTQ community itself, across racial and gender identities.

I'm Just a Person

I'm Just a Person

If you’re at all familiar with Tig Notaro’s story, you might be tempted to skip this memoir but DO NOT. It’s pretty well documented that Tig Notaro has had a tough few years: C. diff., cancer, a bilateral mastectomy, and her mom's death. Her stand up set Live, the documentary Tig, and the Amazon series One Mississippi all focus on this series of events, each looking at Tig’s life from a different angle. However I’m Just a Person is the deepest look at Tig’s life yet. Narrated in her laconic drawl, she draws the listener in so close that if she were to yell “Boo!” you’d jump. (Spoiler alert: She doesn’t.) This book will make you cry, touch your heart, and make you laugh in a way that only Tig can.

Running with Scissors

Running with Scissors

Before Ryan Murphy made the movie with a ’70s soundtrack, there was Augusten Burroughs’ memoir Running with Scissors about the year he lived with the family of his mother’s psychiatrist ... therapy not included! In Technicolor detail, Augusten chronicles his relationship with his mother, the personalities of his temporary family, and his romantic experience with an older man. Somehow, every page is laugh-out-loud funny, proving once and for all that tragedy plus time equals humor.

The Argonauts

The Argonauts

The Argonauts is so much more than can be described. It's a beautiful, deeply intelligent book about the intersection between love, sexuality, gender, and birth. Nelson, the author of several books that defy genre and the recipient of 2016's MacArthur “genius grant” Fellowship, intertwines personal stories about her life with literary allusions to identity and meditations on gender theory, creating a dazzling portrait of modern life. Her own narration helps bind you to the personal nature of this book in a way that soothes while it blows your mind. Prepare to be changed.

I Am Not Myself These Days

I Am Not Myself These Days

Our Coleen first got a copy of this book in the goodie bag at the GLAAD Media Awards in NYC. The premise interested her, as did their endorsement. She didn’t have time to read it, so she got the audiobook and was transfixed by Johnny Heller’s narration. Set in the ’90s, this is the true story of an art director by day who transforms into a drag queen by night, wearing a bra with fishbowl cups that actually have water and goldfish in them. This story was also fascinating to her because they likely crossed paths at megaclubs like The Tunnel. However, this book is riveting because it shows the dark underbelly of the colorful Club Kid scene as the author descends into drug addiction.

Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim

Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim

The wit and casual self-incrimination in David Sedaris' writing makes you love him, even if he’s telling you about a horrible thing he’s done — and his narration makes his great books even better. In Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim, he talks about the time his father kicked him out of the house for being gay but he didn’t realize it, the time he got caught murdering a mouse, his family’s wistful dream to buy a beach house, and so many others. Every book of his makes fans think, “No, this one is my favorite one! Wait no, it was this one!” Honestly, this might be your favorite one.

Happy Accidents

Happy Accidents

This book came out at the height of Glee fame and Jane Lynch’s bizarre character, Sue Sylvester, really got us. Even if you don't know much about Jane except that she pops up in positively everything (see her turn in Party Down as Constance Carmell if you want to cry laughing), give this book a try. Jane’s narration and writing is not only hilarious, it's inspirational too. Her adventurous spirit is infectious.

Not My Father's Son: A Memoir

Not My Father's Son: A Memoir

Where to start with this book. You will not be able to stop listening and it will be all you think about for a long time after. You might know Alan Cumming from The L Word or The Good Wife, but his is a personal story about a boy and his extremely distant and angry father. Alan takes us through his bleak upbringing in Scotland through his colorful Hollywood life as a working actor. During this epic memoir, Alan’s lyrical brogue takes us through the dark times, the tentatively peaceful times, the hopeful times, and the finality of his relationship with his father. The way this book is laid out is also fascinating because while Alan was writing it, an opportunity to go on the TV show Who Do You Think You Are comes up to teach him about his lineage. What he learns has deep ramifications on his life. So moving.

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