The best books for mature men who have sex with men

Loren A. Olson, M. D. Author Of No More Neckties: A Memoir in Essays
By Loren A. Olson, M. D.

Who am I?

I’ve been gay for half my life; the other half I was confused, questioning, and considered a pathologic deviant by the American Psychiatric Association. I am no longer confused, or considered pathologic or deviant. I’m a father, psychiatrist, and author who grew up in Nebraska. I was a good boy, followed all the rules, and lived the life that was expected of me. I fit in but I never felt like I belonged. I took back control of my life and threw off expectations of what I should be. I want others to believe that they can have a richer life by living the life they were meant to live.


I wrote...

No More Neckties: A Memoir in Essays

By Loren A. Olson, M. D.,

Book cover of No More Neckties: A Memoir in Essays

What is my book about?

In No More Neckties: A Memoir in Essays, Loren A. Olson, MD writes that fitting in is not belonging. Growing up, he tried to fit in, but he felt lonely due to conflicted sexual feelings and a poor body image.

In No More Neckties, Dr. Olson shares the story of his life and its hard lessons. He writes about intensely personal events: tragedy and loss, love and heartbreak, infidelity and betrayal, and the fear of aging. He explores being gay in rural America, stereotypes and misconceptions, religious dogma, empathy and forgiveness, and the need for self-acceptance. Through the memoir’s essay format, Dr. Olson invites the reader to reflect on their own life. He believes that sharing our stories removes the loneliness and isolation we feel and changes peoples’ minds about who we are.

The books I picked & why

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Young Mungo

By Douglas Stuart,

Book cover of Young Mungo

Why this book?

This book was so good I immediately read it a second time. First, I read it for the story, then for the beauty of Stuart’s writing. 

Although the novel is set in Glasgow and I grew up in rural Nebraska, I related to the young Mungo in so many ways. He grew up poor in a single-parent home. Hyper-masculine values dominated, and he was confused and frightened by his romantic interest in another boy. 

It is a story of the bounds of masculinity, the push from and pull toward one’s home, and the dangers of loving another man. The story is so beautifully written I frequently thought, “God, how did Stuart come up with such beautiful or painful imagery!”


The Lie: A Memoir of Two Marriages, Catfishing & Coming Out

By William Dameron,

Book cover of The Lie: A Memoir of Two Marriages, Catfishing & Coming Out

Why this book?

When I explored coming out in my forties, I was lonely and searched for answers. I found nothing. So, I wrote my own book.

Gay people who’ve been in heterosexual marriages, especially those with children, face a predicament: a bad choice and a worse one. The Lie is a story of hope for anyone caught in the dilemma of either living a lie or leaving a family they love. Many consider suicide; many have attempted it.

The Lie is an emotional and honest story of Dameron’s coming out to live the life he was meant to live. He owns up to his past, sheds the shame and guilt, and seeks and finds forgiveness as he begins to live his life honestly.


What Belongs to You

By Garth Greenwell,

Book cover of What Belongs to You

Why this book?

When I came out, I learned about the underbelly of gay life: man-on-man sex in public spaces. Desire led me there; guilt and shame pushed me away. In his award-winning, charged debut novel, Greenwell captures this antagonism between desire and guilt, shame, and regret.

Anticipation, multifariousness, risk, and anonymity that heighten eroticism draw men, gay or straight, single or married, who seek anonymous, one-off sex. Predatory hustlers like Mitko also go with led to an erotically and psychologically charged relationship with the object of the narrator’s desire.

More than a gay novel, What Belongs to You captures the tension between what we want and what we don’t want to want. It is sexy and tender, painful and pitiable, and always unforgettable.


Less

By Andrew Sean Greer,

Book cover of Less

Why this book?

The happiest people are over fifty years old. At fifty, I realized I had more days behind than I had ahead of me. I began to throw off what was expected of me.

At fifty, Arthur Less, the failed novelist in Greer’s Pulitzer Prize-winning book, felt the same urgency. He hoped to find new meaning as he traveled to Paris, Berlin, Morocco, and India. In time, he transitions from measuring time to experiencing it and discovers love.

Less is a satire that artfully wraps humor around Greer’s poignancy. While reading what masks as a travelogue, one hardly realizes one is reading about the hard stuff like loneliness and the fear of aging.


Christodora

By Tim Murphy,

Book cover of Christodora

Why this book?

Sometimes I regret not having experienced the sex and drugs enjoyed by my contemporaries who came out much younger in life. The Christodora brought me back to reality. The reality of those years was much darker than my fantasies.

Murphy sketches out the diverse group of intertwined characters that inhabit the Christodora, a gentrified building in Manhattan’s East Village. I wanted to be the artistic Mateo who pushes through life’s difficulties to live an actualized life. But I can’t escape that I could have been one of the AIDS victims for whom the activism Murphy describes was so critical. Or I might have been Hector, an AIDS activist who descends into substance abuse after losing his lover.

Christodora recounts the heartbreak of AIDS but ultimately is a story of the healing of broken lives.


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