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7 Gay Audiobooks to Listen to With Pride

Audiobooks Recommended Listening

7 Gay Audiobooks to Listen to With Pride

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We’re Here, We’re Queer, Listen To Us!

2017 and 2018 have been pretty good years for gay audiobooks. The breakout success of Call me By Your Name, a film based on the novel of the same name by Andre Aciman, is one example of the best gay novels released recently. Others include The Sparsholt Affair by Alan Hollinghurst, one of English letters’ heavyweight and Into? a very modern novel about the lives of gay men. To celebrate Pride Month here are 7 of the best gay audiobooks. Enjoy and take pride in your reading!

Call Me By Your Name by Andre Aciman

Narrated by Armie Hammer

Without doubt the most successful gay book-to-movie adaptation in recent years, Call Me By Your Name is the story of a romance between sultry 17-year old Elio and the handsome doctoral student Oliver, all set in the beautiful Lombardy countryside. Taking place in the 1980s, the novel chronicles the pair’s summer romance and the following twenty years.   

It’s interesting that the book, and the movie, weren’t praised simply because of their representation of a specifically gay romance, but for the quality of the narrative in the novel and the cinematic beauty of the film. Both also resisted the temptation, usually a feature in gay novels (see below), to sensationalize the same-sex aspect of the story, i.e. arduous coming out experiences, substance abuse, existential crises etc. In Call Me By Your Name however, the drama comes from the relationship between the two men and the galling loss of love.

The audiobook is narrated by Armie Hammer, who plays Oliver, nicely linking the novel and the film adaptation.

Listen to a preview:

“Perhaps we were friends first and lovers second. But then perhaps this is what lovers are.”

Call Me By Your Name

The House of Impossible Beauties by Jospeh Cassara

Narrated by Christian Barillas

1980s and 1990s New York holds a bittersweet place in gay history. Simultaneously the home of LGBT counter-culture and the Stonewall riots – the uprising that sparked the gay liberation movement – and an epicentre of the HIV/AIDS epidemic. The House of Impossible Beauties takes place in the Harlem ballroom scene, a competitive gay dance community, and follows a pleasingly eccentric cast of characters, some historical, some fictional.

Angel and Hector form the House of Xtravaganza, the first-ever all-latino ‘house’ on the ballroom scene. AIDS takes Hector and Angel is left to keep things going alone. Throw in prostitution, addiction, homophobia, and found families and you’ve got a very unconventional, but very human, story.

Listen to a sample:

“Life is a ferocious motherfucker, that’s what I always say. And it’s not death that you need to worry about. He always comes, and he’s usually quiet about it. But life, boy. She is loud and fast and—vicious”

The House of Impossible Beauties

When Katie Met Cassidy by Camille Perri

Narrated by Allyson Ryan

Camille Perri is the author of the acclaimed The Assistants; in her latest novel, women remain firmly center stage.

You’re 28 and you’ve just been dumped by your fiance. This is the reality of Katie Daniels’ life when she meets Cassidy Price, a confident, sexy New Yorker sporting a man’s suit. Like a lot of romance novels (and rom-com movies), the two start off not particularly fond of each other. Inevitably their paths cross, the stars align etc. and each of their worlds shift, dramatically.

When Katie Met Cassidy is a romantic comedy exploring identity, gender, sexuality and for once doesn’t have a dashing young man at the center of the story.

Listen to a sample:

Into? by North Morgan

Narrated by Christian Coulson

In stark contrast to Call Me By Your Name, Morgan’s novel is one for the Grindr generation of gay men. Leaving London for LA after his boyfriend leaves him, Konrad, suitably attractive and ‘gym fit’, embarks on a party lifestyle, drug taking, and endlessly scrolling through dating profiles. Then he meets someone.

Into? – the ubiquitous phrase used on gay social networking apps – highlights the contradictions of modern gay life: rising societal tolerance, marriage equality, and advances in HIV treatment, and the difficulty of a community to adapt to these new, hard won, opportunities and liberties.

Listen to a sample:

Simon vs. The Homosapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

Narrated by Becky Albertalli

A lot of Young Adult novels and TV shows will include gay (male) characters who usually receive very little character development and who often play second-fiddle to the romantic, angsty goings on of their heterosexual peers. In Simon, Albertalli shifts the focus to a gay character. Many of the stresses of adolescence are identical whatever one’s sexual orientation, but Simon also has to deal with being blackmailed by Martin, who threatens to reveal Simon’s sexuality and the identity of the latter’s burgeoning online romance, Blue. The book was adapted into a movie, Love, Simon in 2018.

Simon vs. the Homosapiens Agenda is a coming(out)-of-age novel for a generation of young people who quite rightly demand representation.

Listen to a sample:

“People really are like houses with vast rooms and tiny windows.”

Simon vs. The Homo Sapien Agenda

The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller

Narrated by Frazer Douglas

Let’s be honest: Ancient Greece was pretty gay – see Plato’s discussion in his Symposium. In Madeline Miller’s debut historical novel, Achilles, strong and beautiful, takes the exiled prince Patroclus under his wing. What starts out as a bromance develops into something a little more steamy. The two go off to war, with Patroclus following his love into battle. The Song of Achilles went on to win a Stonewall Book Award and The Orange Prize for Fiction, with prize judge Donna Tartt describing the novel as, “original, passionate, inventive and uplifting. Homer would be proud of her.”

Listen to a sample:

“In the darkness, two shadows, reaching through the hopeless, heavy dusk. Their hands meet, and light spills in a flood like a hundred golden urns pouring out of the sun.”

The Song of Achilles

The Sparsholt Affair by Alan Hollinghurst

Narrated by David Dawson

Hollinghurst is undeniably one of English literature’s greatest living writers (gay or otherwise). He’s best known for his 2004 Man Booker Prize winning novel, The Line of Beauty. The Sparsholt Affair is far more ambitious, spanning 70 years, from the 1940s to the present. David Sparsholt, athletic, charismatic, and attractive, is studying at Oxford. As the war rages over the skies of London, Oxford is left eerily untouched. Here, David meets Evert and their unconventional relationship intensifies, casting shadows long into both their futures.

The novel is divided into three sections and follows three generations of Sparsholts. As with other Hollinghurst novels, the book explores changes in British society, particularly in terms of morality and sexuality.

Listen to a sample:

“It is hard to do justice to old pleasures that cannot be revived—we seem half to disown our youthful selves, who loved and treasured them.”

The Sparsholt Affair
Steve Partridge

Steve is from the UK and has lived in London, Bulgaria, and Berlin. He studied Christian theology at King’s College London and spent several years working in publishing. His articles, books reviews, interviews and essays have been published in a range of digital and print magazines. In 2012, he was shortlisted for the Brighton Fringe Festival Writers Prize. His obsession with books and writing led him to start his own ‘BookTube’ channel on YouTube (to which you should probably subscribe). You can find him talking nonsense on Twitter @StPartridge. He looks after the hibooks blog and hosts The HiBooks Podcast. He was once told his spirit guide was a Native American chief (aren’t they always Native American chiefs?)

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