A gay-lesbian book recommendation: Christodora: A Novel by Tim Murphy

A critic review (source Star Tribune) can be read at: http://strib.mn/2fswIKA.
This is a novel that abounds with ambition, but it largely succeeds in grappling with a host of grand themes.
Review from booklistonline.com:
Activism, addiction, and the redemptive power of art feature prominently in Murphy’s perceptive novel about the ongoing aftermath of the AIDS crisis. Milly and Jared, artists with day jobs and good intentions, adopt young Mateo, who was orphaned when his mother died of AIDS, but find that they can’t cope when teenage Mateo, now a talented artist, turns to heroin to numb his unceasing grief over his mother. Mateo hangs out with neighbor Hector, a former AIDS activist who salves his personal loss and profound professional burnout with methamphetamine. Their lives intertwine in more ways than either realizes as the two addicts careen toward disaster. As he reveals his characters’ backstories, Murphy vividly recaptures 1980s and ’90s New York, dampening any pop-culture nostalgia with reminders of the crude pharmacology and callous bureaucracy imposed upon those struggling with AIDS, realities journalist Murphy reported on extensively. His multigenerational tale is a clever inversion of the usual addiction-begets-AIDS narrative and a reminder that despite recent medical advances, the disease still finds ways to ravage people’s lives. And if the novel expresses a degree of ambivalence about the recent decline of AIDS activism, it never wavers in its warmth toward its characters, or its insistence upon the possibility of healing. — Brendan Driscoll
The book is rated 4.34/5 at goodreads.com, from 385 ratings. See 132 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2dZWHnm.
Buy it or see reader reviews on amazon.com at: http://amzn.to/2dZWz7r.

A parenting-relationships book recommendation: The Rainbow Comes and Goes: A Mother and Son On Life, Love, and Loss by Anderson Cooper

A critic review (source Washington Times) can be read at: http://bit.ly/1OAppY5.
Their brave engagement with what they confront so staunchly in this extraordinary dialogue leaves me quite simply awestruck.
Review from booklistonline.com:
When the ever-youthful artist, designer, and writer Gloria Vanderbilt (It Seemed Important at the Time, 2004) became ill at age 91, her son, journalist and CNN anchor Anderson Cooper (Dispatches from the Edge, 2006), decided it was high time for them to open up to each other. So mother and son embarked on a strikingly candid, psychologically intricate email correspondence, sharing memories, clarifying facts, articulating their very different outlooks on life, confiding dreams and fears, and expressing love. They compare their feelings when they first talked about Cooper being gay and consider how profoundly losing their fathers as children shaped their sense of self and high-profile lives. Cooper slips into reporter mode and asks difficult questions; Vanderbilt quotes poetry and offers hopeful life lessons. She also stuns her son with frank revelations about her traumatic childhood, teenage Hollywood affairs with much older men, difficult marriages, and, following her phenomenal success as a designer, the cruel betrayal that left her in financial ruin. Cooper observes that he always identified more with his father’s poor Mississippi family than with the wealthy Vanderbilts, and he reveals how his brother’s suicide led to his becoming a journalist. Fascinating, forthright, philosophical, and inspiring, these mother-and-son musings on family, life, death, forgiveness, fame, and perseverance are at once uniquely personal and deeply human. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Star power will be at work as promotional efforts reach out to the avid followers of both grande dame Vanderbilt and award-winning journalist and best-selling author Cooper. — Donna Seaman
The book is rated 3.74/5 at goodreads.com, from 10084 ratings. See 1055 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/1OApsDq.
Buy it or see reader reviews on amazon.com at: http://amzn.to/2fsvaAh.

A parenting-relationships book recommendation: In the Slender Margin: The Intimate Strangeness of Death and Dying by Eve Joseph

A critic review (source National Post arts) can be read at: http://bit.ly/2dfLEvR.
Joseph’s lack of judgment, her willingness to listen to the world of loss, and to invent for us an intimate language for grief makes death a site of wonder as much as pain.
Book description from Google Books:
Like Joan Didion’s The Year of Magical Thinking, an extraordinarily moving and engaging look at loss and death.Eve Joseph is an award-winning poet who worked for twenty years as a palliative care counselor in a hospice. When she was a young girl, she lost a much older brother, and her experience as a grown woman helping others face death, dying, and grief opens the path for her to recollect and understand his loss in a way she could not as a child.In the Slender Margin is an insider’s look at an experience that awaits us all, and that is at once deeply fascinating, frightening, and in modern society shunned. The book is an intimate invitation to consider death and our response to it without fear or morbidity, but rather with wonder and a curious mind.Writing with a poet’s precise language and in short meditative chapters leavened with insight, warmth, and occasional humor, Joseph cites her hospice experience as well as the writings of others across generationsfrom the realms of mythology, psychology, science, religion, history, and literatureto illuminate the many facets of dying and death. Offering examples from cultural traditions, practices, and beliefs from around the world, her book is at once an exploration of the unknowable and a very humane journey through the land of grief.
The book is rated 4.01/5 at goodreads.com, from 101 ratings. See 20 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2cqn59h.
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A humour book recommendation: The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo by Amy Schumer

A critic review (source AV Club) can be read at: http://bit.ly/2evdijx.
The material is thick with jokes, landing effortlessly from someone you can easily imagine as your good vulgar friend, filling you in on the mundane and the sordid details of her life.
Book description from Google Books:
#1 New York Times Bestseller “Amy Schumer’s book will make you love her even more. For a comedian of unbridled (and generally hilarious) causticity, Schumer has written a probing, confessional, unguarded, and, yes, majorly humanizing non-memoir, a book that trades less on sarcasm, and more on emotional resonance.” —Vogue “The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo is an alternatingly meditative, sexually explicit, side-splittingly hilarious, heart-wrenching, disturbing, passionately political, and always staggeringly authentic ride through the highs and lows of the comedic powerhouse’s life to date.” —Harper’s Bazaar “This is your happy hour with Amy Schumer…It’s Bossypants meets Trainwreck meets your long weekend.” —TheSkimm “Amy’s got your back. She’s in your corner. She’s an honesty bomb. And she’s coming for you.” —Actress Tilda Swinton and Trainwreck co-star The Emmy Award-winning comedian, actress, writer, and star of Inside Amy Schumer and the acclaimed film Trainwreck has taken the entertainment world by storm with her winning blend of smart, satirical humor. Now, Amy Schumer has written a refreshingly candid and uproariously funny collection of (extremely) personal and observational essays.In The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo, Amy mines her past for stories about her teenage years, her family, relationships, and sex and shares the experiences that have shaped who she is—a woman with the courage to bare her soul to stand up for what she believes in, all while making us laugh. Ranging from the raucous to the romantic, the heartfelt to the harrowing, this highly entertaining and universally appealing collection is the literary equivalent of a night out with your best friend—an unforgettable and fun adventure that you wish could last forever. Whether she’s experiencing lust-at-first-sight while in the airport security line, sharing her own views on love and marriage, admitting to being an introvert, or discovering her cross-fit instructor’s secret bad habit, Amy Schumer proves to be a bighearted, brave, and thoughtful storyteller that will leave you nodding your head in recognition, laughing out loud, and sobbing uncontrollably—but only because it’s over.
The book is rated 3.93/5 at goodreads.com, from 16101 ratings. See 2092 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2eve7Jm.
Buy it or see reader reviews on amazon.com at: http://amzn.to/2dZIgzY.

A comic book recommendation: Patience by Daniel Clowes

A critic review (source Guardian) can be read at: http://bit.ly/2dhYVyB.
This isn’t my favourite of Clowes’s books; I prefer the altogether less strenuous Wilson, Mister Wonderful and Ghost World. But I still like it a lot, and I certainly can’t go along with a recent review that deemed it misogynistic.
Book description from Google Books:
Patience is a psychedelic science-fiction love story, veering with uncanny precision from violent destruction to deeply personal tenderness in a way that is both quintessentially “Clowesian” and utterly unique in the author’s body of work. This 180-page, full-color original graphic novel affords Clowes the opportunity to draw some of the most exuberant and breathtaking pages of his life, and to tell his most suspenseful, surprising and affecting story yet.
The book is rated 3.90/5 at goodreads.com, from 3320 ratings. See 328 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/1WDF54P.
Buy it or see reader reviews on amazon.com at: http://amzn.to/2dZJ0ov.