Seven books that are perfect for the season of giving

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Megyn Kelly
Megyn Kelly "Settle for More"

While Megyn Kelly may have been one of the most polarizing (and maligned) personalities in the political field this year, her debut book Settle For More (Harper) gives us a peek behind the curtain as to what makes the unsinkable Ms. Kelly tick. While we know her as taking on some of the biggest names in the political world, her humble beginnings more than prepared her for it, with taking on middle school bullies. While law was her career, a shot in front of the camera became her passion, which she has taken to heights she may not have even dreamed would be possible. While Ms Kelly’s story is one of survival and persistence throughout, she does peel back the curtain on the 2016 election, letting us know exactly what her side of her feud with the President-elect is, as well as the inner workings of Fox News. Settle for More, while giving us the “scoop” of sorts that we are looking for, is a true tale of persistence and always looking ahead at what could possible be achieved.

Andy Cohen "Superficial"
Andy Cohen “Superficial”

With his third book Superficial Andy Cohen is just hitting his stride. (Henry Holt & Company). While his previous tomes Most Talkative and The Andy Cohen Diaries took us down memory lane in two very different ways, Superficial has a definite vibe of the here and now. While his first book was very celebrity heavy and housewife dishy, Superficial is the same, but with a bit more humanity to Mr. Cohen. He may be preparing for the Met Ball and having last minute fittings, but he is also dealing with an unruly and unpredictable Wacha. Seeing Shequida perform or hearing DJ Lina spin on Fire Island may be must stop spots for the summer, but dealing with dating and a major construction on his apartment balance it out. Hearing Cohen speak about his and his families reaction to the Ferguson verdict in their hometown of St. Louis is poignant, and slowly seeing a relationship that Cohen has waited quite some time for (with #BAS-read the book) is done in real time, and is ultra relatable for so many gay men. Cohen himself has called Superficial a perfect gift, and I could not agree more.

LeSueur "Mommie Smearest"
LeSueur “Mommie Smearest”

If you are a fan of Joan Crawford and the Faye Dunaway scenery chewing cult classic Mommie Dearest (and what gay man doesn’t? Then definitely grab the pop culture parody Mommie Smearest (Blue Core Omnimedia Inc.). It takes the legend of Miss Crawford and turns it on its ear, with Crawford reinventing herself as rap artist “m.o.m.m.i.e. D,” which is both parody and perfection. From the moment she is not allowed through Heaven’s gates, Crawford is a Robin Hood of sorts, tearing through Hollywood stereotypes and the phoniness that she put up with for so long as part of the Hollywood machine. Perfectly told throughout the story are smart “quotes” from Crawford with writer L. LeSueur demonstrating a laser sharp focus on who Crawford truly was throughout the book. While paying homage in a humorous way who Crawford was, Mommie Smearest  brings the legendary tale of this legend roaring into the twenty-first century.

Kathy Griffin "Celebrity run-ins"
Kathy Griffin “Celebrity run-ins”

If you’re looking for some good old-fashioned celebrity dish to put under your tree for someone, there is no book more comprehensive than Kathy Griffin’s Celebrity Run-Ins (Flatiron Books). It’s literally an “A to Z Index” cataloguing Griffin’s run ins with celebrities through out the years. While many books that claim to blow the lid off of certain celebrity encounters usually disappoint, Griffin’s does exactly the opposite. We are treated to insider tales with familiar adversaries like Elisabeth Hasselbeck and their notorious live “bring it” moment on The View to an interaction with an over served Jon Hamm during a dinner with a Hollywood legend. Griffin’s book is also sprinkled with a good amount of heart though, with stories detailing an evening with a living legend known as Cher and a story about Anderson Cooper showing that he is almost always game for anything when it comes to his fellow New Year’s Eve co-host. Some of the stories are quick vignettes, while others go into detail on the experience with the celebrity, but the ongoing theme for all of them is that there is no funnier or smarter perspective on one on one celebrity encounters than Kathy Griffin’s.

Amy Schumer "The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo"
Amy Schumer “The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo”

If there is any woman that has redefined what women is comedy are able to achieve. it’s Amy Schumer. Between feature films like Trainwreck and sold out comedy shows, it’s hard to believe she found the time to write her hilarious and deeply personal new autobiography “The Girl With The Lower Back Tattoo (Gallery Books). Schumer brings the humor and the cheeky humor that she is best known for, with copious amounts of dating stories interspersed. Now while parts of the book are literally laugh out loud funny, there are heartbreakingly real stories that detail a shockingly story with a former boyfriend, and numerous experiences where Schumer has had to, and continues to push back against the notorious comedy “boys club.” Like Joan Rivers and Kathy Griffin before her, Schumer is showing people that while she may be able to take the stage and make a theatre full of people laugh for ninety minutes straight, the woman behind the laughs is sometimes even more interesting.

Cesar Baquerizo "A Safe Place With you"
Cesar Baquerizo “A Safe Place With you”

There are so many LGBT novels online and in the bookstores, but Cesar Baquerizo’s novel A Safe Place With You stands out from the crowd for a myriad of reasons. This Ecuadorian-born writer writes not only about a conversion clinic, but is inspired by people that these experiences actually happened to. Main character Tomas Diaz is thrown into a world of homosexuality, uncertainty, and curiosity, which is at times suspenseful and incredibly gripping. While the topic is very timely in today’s political climate, it is incredibly interesting to see it from a perspective of someone who actually has seen it firsthand. The story moves quickly and while the subject matter is shocking at times, it is terribly important.

The practice of conversation therapy is a real, and unfortunately an active practice, but Baquerizo details through his writing and storytelling why the practice should definitely not continue.

While the LGBT book landscape is always chock full of books by both renowned and up and coming authors, the lesbian faction sometimes does not get the same amount of attention, for a myriad of reasons. With authors like Gabriella Meghan and her new novel As Told By Us  there is an opportunity for that to change. First some background; Philadelphia based author Meghan writes the story of Layla, who, like the author herself, was bullied during her high school experience, and, like the author and many others, left town to reinvent herself. The stories of gay men entering the world of nightclubs, drugs, and anonymous sex have been told numerous times, and it is refreshing to hear it from the perspective of someone within the lesbian community. Reading the various experiences that Layla goes through, from random run ins in a nightclub bathroom, to what she feels is pure and unadulterated “true love” are exciting, heartbreaking, and relatable. Whether you are just starting your journey or have been on it for quite some time, As Told By Us will relate on a multitude of levels.