Resources, including Discussion Questions, for Selected LGBTQ+ and General Literature
This Book Resources page includes background material, including discussion questions, for selected LGBTQ+ and general works of literature, both contemporary and classic. These materials are for two book groups that I’m happy to participate in; with thanks to Tash and Beverly for their contributions! Hope this information will be of interest for your own discussion group (tips for starting one). Each of these diverse titles led to lively and interesting conversations. This page will expand frequently to include additional novels, non-fiction, plays, and poetry. Also, I have recommendations and resources for LGBTQ+ Literature, LGBTQ+ Cinema, and general Film.
- André Aciman, Call Me By Your Name (LGBTQ+ Novel, love affair of two American men in 1950s Italy)
- John Boyne, The Heart’s Invisible Furies (LGBTQ+ Novel, 70 years of modern Irish history through the life of a gay ‘everyman’)
- Bill Bryson, A Walk in the Woods (General Non-Fiction, memoir about the complicated friendship of two middle-aged men)
- Gillian Flynn, Gone Girl (General Fiction, a brilliantly twisty thriller)
- Yaa Gyasi, Homegoing (General Fiction, about eight generations of a Black family, from slavery until today; contains a poignant male-male relationship in the early chapter “Quey”)
- Matthew Lopez, The Inheritance (LGBTQ+ Play, experiences of contemporary NYC gay men, a reimagining of Howards End)
- Audre Lorde, Zami: A New Spelling of My Name (LGBTQ+ Autobiographical Fiction, growing up in 1950s Harlem and becoming, in her own words, a “Black, lesbian, mother, warrior, poet”)
- Emily St. John Mandel, The Glass Hotel (General Fiction, experimental thriller about two siblings trapped in a pyramid scheme)
- Cherríe Moraga, Native Country of the Heart, a Memoir (LGBTQ+ Non-Fiction, relationship of a lesbian Latina author/activist and her mother who has Alzheimer’s)
- Chinelo Okparanta, Under the Udala Trees (LGBTQ+ Novel, a young lesbian comes of age in war-torn 1960s Nigeria)
- Marcel Proust, In Search of Lost Time (aka Remembrance of Things Past) (LGBTQ+ Novel, intimate epic of the narrator’s experiences in late 19th / early 20th century French society; a defining classic of Modernism)
- Andy Weir, The Martian (General Fiction, realistic SF novel about an astronaut marooned on Mars)
- Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass (1855 “short” first version of 12 poems) (LGBTQ+ Poetry, the foundation of modern verse, its visionary inclusiveness remains inspiring)
* André Aciman, Call Me By Your Name (LGBTQ+ Novel)
The love affair of two American men in 1950s Italy.
- Call Me By Your Name – Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Call_Me_by_Your_Name_(novel)
- André Aciman’s website. https://findmenovel.com/#findme
- André Aciman resources, from his publisher. https://us.macmillan.com/author/andreaciman/
- Atlantic article about Call Me By Your Name (and the sequel, Find Me). https://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2019/11/andre-aciman-talks-find-me-and-call-me-your-name/601060/
- Time magazine article about Call Me By Your name and its sequel). https://time.com/5710568/find-me-call-me-by-your-name-sequel/
- Publishers’ Reading Guide and Discussion Questions. https://images.macmillan.com/folio-assets/rgg-guides/9780312426781RGG.pdf
- Thanks, Tash!
* John Boyne, The Heart’s Invisible Furies (LGBTQ+ Novel)
70 years of modern Irish history as lived by a gay man.
- John Boyne’s Website. https://johnboyne.com/
- John Boyne (Wikipedia). https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Boyne
- LitLovers guide, including a brief summary. https://www.litlovers.com/reading-guides/fiction/11065-hearts-invisible-furies-boyne
- BookRags detailed summary (free version). http://www.bookrags.com/studyguide-the-hearts-invisible-furies/#gsc.tab=0
- Review from The Guardian (February 18, 2017). https://www.theguardian.com/books/2017/feb/18/the-hearts-invisible-furies-by-john-boyne-review-sin-and-torment-in-catholic-ireland
- Ireland (Wikipedia). https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ireland
- LGBTQ+ Culture in Ireland (Wikipedia). https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LGBT_culture_in_Ireland
- Latest LGBTQ+ News from Ireland (IrishCentral). https://www.irishcentral.com/topic/lgbt
- The Heart’s Invisible Furies – Discussion Questions. https://www.litlovers.com/reading-guides/fiction/11065-hearts-invisible-furies-boyne?start=3
- Boyne’s title comes from a quotation by political theorist Hannah Arendt, referring to gay poet W.H. Auden (1970 photo).
- Boyne dedicated this novel to John Irving, author of the in some ways comparable, The World According to Garp (1976). https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_World_According_to_Garp
* Bill Bryson, A Walk in the Woods (General Non-Fiction)
Memoir about the complicated friendship of two middle-aged men hiking the Appalachian Trail.
- A Walk in the Woods (book), 1998 book by Bill Bryson – Wikipedia
- A Walk in the Woods (film), 2015 film by Ken Kwapis, based on Bryson’s book – Wikipedia
- Resources (websites, interviews, videos, audio, images), about the Appalachian Trail, Bill Bryson, this book, and more.
- Bill Bryson – Publisher’s website.
- A Walk in the Woods – Discussion Questions.
* Gillian Flynn, Gone Girl (General Fiction)
Brilliantly twisty thriller about marriage, and murder.
- Gone Girl (novel), a 2012 thriller novel by American writer Gillian Flynn – Wikipedia
- Gone Girl (film), a 2014 film based on the novel from director David Fincher – Wikipedia
- Gillian Flynn’s website.
- Gone Girl Reading Group Discussion Questions.
* Yaa Gyasi, Homegoing (General Fiction)
Novel about eight generations of a Black family, from slavery until today; contains a poignant male-male relationship in the early chapter “Quey.”
- Wikipedia (includes a summary, a genealogy map: the story spans eight generations, and more resources) – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homegoing_(Gyasi_novel)
- Publisher’s website – https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/533857/homegoing-by-yaa-gyasi/9781101947135/
- Reader’s Guide with Discussion Questions – https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/533857/homegoing-by-yaa-gyasi/9781101947135/readers-guide/
- Brief Summary plus a Detailed Summary, Themes, Characters, more (LitCharts) – https://www.litcharts.com/lit/homegoing
- Goodreads (includes readers’ reviews) – https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/27071490-homegoing
- Review (The New Yorker: it notes that “Homegoing‘s title comes from an old African-American belief that death allowed an enslaved person’s spirit to travel back to Africa) – https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2016/05/30/yaa-gyasis-homegoing
- Review (NPR) – https://www.npr.org/2016/06/07/480477931/homegoing-is-a-sprawling-epic-brimming-with-compassion
- Homegoing Book Guide, with discussion questions and additional resources. https://www.marmaladeandmustardseed.com/bookguidesblog/homegoing
* Matthew Lopez, The Inheritance (LGBTQ+ Play)
The experiences of contemporary NYC gay men in an epic two-part play that reimagines Howards End.
– MATTHEW LOPEZ
- Matthew Lopez – from Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Matthew_Lopez_(playwright)
– THE INHERITANCE
- The Inheritance – from Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Inheritance_(play)
- In-depth article on Matthew Lopez and The Inheritance – The New Yorker – September 9, 2019. https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2019/09/09/how-matthew-lopez-transformed-howards-end-into-an-epic-play-about-gay-life
The Inheritance – London (2018)
- London production review (provocative, discusses characters, themes, formal elements) – Variety – play opened, reviewed March 28, 2018. https://variety.com/2018/legit/reviews/the-inheritance-review-play-1202739184/
- London production photos – The Guardian – March 19, 2018. https://www.theguardian.com/stage/gallery/2018/mar/19/vanessa-redgrave-the-inheritance-matthew-lopez-young-vic-theatre-london-in-pictures
The Inheritance – Broadway (2019)
- Matthew Lopez – Interview Magazine – November 14, 2019. https://www.interviewmagazine.com/culture/matthew-lopez-the-inheritance-broadway-play-aids-gay-storytelling
- Interview with Matthew Lopez – Entertainment Weekly – November 18, 2019. https://ew.com/theater/2019/11/18/the-inheritance-matthew-lopez-interview/
- Broadway production photos. https://www.broadway.com/shows/the-inheritance/photos/
- Video Interview with Matthew Lopez. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zNK6Rhs5heQ
- Video Interview with Broadway cast of The Inheritance. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8GknujbmljQ
– HOWARDS END: E.M. Forster’s 1910 Novel and James Ivory’s 1992 Film – the Forster masterpiece inspired Matthew Lopez to reimagine it in contemporary terms
- E.M. Forster’s Howards End (1910) – one of the most deeply moving and thoughtful novels I’ve read. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Howards_End
- Howards End (public domain – FREE in every format: ePub, Kindle, more – or read directly online). https://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/2891
- Howards End (1992, directed by James Ivory). https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Howards_End_(film)
* Audre Lorde, Zami: A New Spelling of My Name (LGBTQ+ Autobiographical Fiction)
Powerful “biomythography” (memoir) of growing up in 1950s Harlem and becoming, in her own words, a “Black, lesbian, mother, warrior, poet.”
- Wikipedia entry on Audre Lorde.
- Wikipedia entry on Zami: A New Spelling of My Name.
- Zami: A New Spelling of My Name – Discussion Questions.
- Audre Lorde – selected poems (Poetry Foundation).
* Emily St. John Mandel, The Glass Hotel (General Fiction)
Experimental thriller about two siblings trapped in a pyramid scheme.
- Wikipedia entry on The Glass Hotel.
- Emily St. John Mandel’s website.
- The Glass Hotel Reader’s Guide.
- Thanks, Beverly!
* Cherríe Moraga, Native Country of the Heart, a Memoir (LGBTQ+ Non-Fiction)
The relationship of a lesbian Latina author/activist and her mother who has Alzheimer’s.
- Cherríe Moraga’s site – books, theater, teaching, people, places and política. https://cherriemoraga.com/
- Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cherríe_Moraga
- Voices of Feminism Oral History Project (Smith College, Sophia Smith Collection of Women’s History) – Interview with Cherríe Moraga, June 6 and 7, 2005 – download PDF. https://tinyurl.com/moragainterview
- From Cherríe Moraga’s Publisher. https://us.macmillan.com/books/9780374219666
* Chinelo Okparanta, Under the Udala Trees (LGBTQ+ Novel)
A young lesbian comes of age in war-torn 1960s Nigeria.
- Chinelo Okparanta’s site – bio, reviews, news, more
- Chinelo Okparanta – Wikipedia
- Under the Udala Trees – Wikipedia, includes summary and links
- Under the Udala Trees – discussion guide
- Udala trees (chrysophyllum africanum, commonly known as African star apple) – Wikipedia
* Marcel Proust, In Search of Lost Time (aka Remembrance of Things Past) (LGBTQ+ Novel)
Intimate epic of the narrator’s experiences in late 19th / early 20th century French society; a defining classic of Modernism.
- Proust resources (from a discussion group I organized in NYC) – background, book and film links, plus a recipe for madeleines, the tasty treats that set Proust’s intimate epic in motion (they were a hit at the NYC group!)
* Andy Weir, The Martian (General Fiction)
Realistic science fiction novel about an astronaut marooned on Mars.
- The Martian – Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Martian_(Weir_novel)
- “Diary Of An AssCan: A Mark Watney Short Story” – this is a brief (couple of pages) prequel, by Andy Weir himself, to The Martian, about what the main character, Mark Watney, did just before leaving on his Mars mission. NOTE (quote): “This story includes language that some might find offensive.” https://the-martian.fandom.com/wiki/Diary_Of_An_AssCan:_A_Mark_Watney_Short_Story
- Mars – Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mars
- Interview with Andy Weir about The Martian, from the author’s website. https://www.andyweirauthor.com/books/the-martian-tr
- “How scientifically accurate is ‘The Martian’? Ask W&M’s [the College of William & Mary] budding astrobotanists.” Students recreate the science behind The Martian, and show that it’s accurate. https://www.wm.edu/news/stories/2020/how-scientifically-accurate-is-the-martian-ask-wms-budding-astrobotanists.php
- Readers’ comments on The Martian, from Goodreads. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18007564-the-martian
- The Martian – Shmoop guide, including resources and discussion questions. (Shmoop is always both informative and laugh out loud funny). https://www.shmoop.com/study-guides/literature/the-martian
- The Martian – LitLovers guide. Besides a summary and other resources, there’s a podcast with two reviewers discussing both the novel and movie. https://www.litlovers.com/reading-guides/13-fiction/9666-martian-weir
- Discussion Guide: “Who knew potatoes, duct tape, and ‘70s reruns were the key to space survival?” – From ReadingGroupGuides discussion questions. https://www.readinggroupguides.com/reviews/the-martian/guide
- Discussion questions from Mount Prospect Public Library, of Illinois. https://mppl.org/check_it_out/book-discussion-questions-the-martian-by-andy-weir/
- Film of The Martian – Wikipedia (2015 film directed by Ridley Scott, who also made Alien, Thelma & Louise, Gladiator). https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Martian_(film)
- WOW! Mars in 4K ultra high definition, actual video of Mars from three of NASA’s Rovers. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZEyAs3NWH4A
* Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass (1855 “short” first version) (LGBTQ+ Poetry)
The foundation of modern poetry, its visionary inclusiveness remains inspiring.
- Free PDF of the 1855 “short” first version of Leaves of Grass. http://www.rosingsdigitalpublications.com/download.php?file=whitman_walt_leaves_of_grass_1855_ed.pdf
- Walt Whitman – Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Walt_Whitman
- Provocative article by Mark Edmundson, about Whitman, from the May 2019 issue of The Atlantic: “Walt Whitman’s Guide to a Thriving Democracy: America had a mind shaped by its Founders, but the country needed the poet to discover its spirit.” https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2019/05/walt-whitman-leaves-of-grass-american-democracy/586045/
- Commentary on the 1855 edition, from the Walt Whitman Archive. https://whitmanarchive.org/criticism/current/encyclopedia/entry_21.html
NOTE: Additional books and resources will be added frequently.
Begun March 20, 2021 / Revised April 14, 2021