The best books on yearning and revolution

Who am I?

I'm the author of over a dozen books featuring LGBT love stories across genres, including novels and short stories, contemporary and historical, young adult and scholarly pastiche. As my writing experience grows, I gain the skill to venture into new areas of literature by consulting quintessential classics like these. This list is about stories of yearning and revolution—books that are either set in times of social upheaval, contain radical personal evolutions, or both. The people portrayed in these stories each pine desperately for something: a better life, a better world, or the one they love. As a collection, these books contain an excellent education in love, loss, and liberty.

I wrote...

Riot Son

By L.A. Fields,

Book cover of Riot Son

What is my book about?

In an unnamed American city during the Black Lives Matter protests of 2020, two people meet in a cloud of tear gas, and experience love in the time of COVID-19.

Devon Amis is a thirty-something Texan and journalist dealing with the emotional fallout of a recent breakup and previous war correspondence. Garrett Robertson is a homeless genderqueer teen and freelance reporter newly emancipated from a cult religious upbringing. They and their fellow freedom fighters (lawyers, medics, and activists) experience right-wing violence, police brutality, autonomous zones, federal crackdowns, and murderous vehicular attacks—all of which combust in one life-altering conflagration on the Fourth of July. Riot Son weaves real-life news events from one turbulent summer with a romance for the ages.

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The books I picked & why

Call Me by Your Name

By André Aciman,

Book cover of Call Me by Your Name

Why did I love this book?

This book is the story of 17-year-old Elio’s summer romance with Oliver, a 24-year-old American scholar who stays at his family's Italian villa. It is achingly sensual, filled with longing, and the bittersweet knowledge that this once-in-a-lifetime affair will be short-lived. It is a relationship that will usher one teenager over the threshold into exquisitely painful adulthood.

Precocious and sensitive, Elio is leaving childhood behind in ways that are exciting, erotic, and welcome… even if he’s fully aware that such an intense passion can’t blaze forever. 

By André Aciman,

Why should I read it?

7 authors picked Call Me by Your Name as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Now a Major Motion Picture from Director Luca Guadagnino, Starring Armie Hammer and Timothee Chalamet, and Written by James Ivory

Nominated for Four Oscars

A New York Times Bestseller
A USA Today Bestseller
A Los Angeles Times Bestseller
A Vulture Book Club Pick

An Instant Classic and One of the Great Love Stories of Our Time

Andre Aciman's Call Me by Your Name is the story of a sudden and powerful romance that blossoms between an adolescent boy and a summer guest at his parents' cliffside mansion on the Italian Riviera. Each is unprepared…

Love in the Time of Cholera

By Gabriel García Márquez,

Book cover of Love in the Time of Cholera

Why did I love this book?

Love in the Time of Cholera tells the story of Florentino Ariza and Fermina Daza, who fall in love as youths before being separated by fate and society.

The novel spans 50 years and depicts historical changes and revolutions in Colombia, as well as universal human themes like love, aging, and death. Its style combines realistic and fantastical elements, with moments of dramatic irony that are almost too neatly coincidental to be true… and yet life imitates art just like that sometimes.

While politics, plagues, and pandemonium ensue, in the meantime people still live their lives, treasure their loves, and hope to survive long enough to experience relief.

By Gabriel García Márquez,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked Love in the Time of Cholera as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

There are novels, like journeys, which you never want to end: this is one of them. One seventh of July at six in the afternoon, a woman of 71 and a man of 78 ascend a gangplank and begin one of the greatest adventures in modern literature. The man is Florentino Ariza, President of the Carribean River Boat Company; the woman is his childhood sweetheart, the recently widowed Fermina Daza. She has earache. He is bald and lame. Their journey up-river, at an age when they can expect 'nothing more in life', holds out a shimmering promise: the consummation of…

The Great Gatsby

By F. Scott Fitzgerald,

Book cover of The Great Gatsby

Why did I love this book?

People usually recall The Great Gatsby being about yearning (the green light across the water) and the inaccessibility of the American dream. I recommend it for the yearning, but not Gatsby’s longing for Daisy—instead, read it with an eye to narrator Nick’s pining for Gatsby.

Nick’s awe of Gatsby’s stainless optimism is coupled with a dreadful disgust that Gatsby aspires to the vacuous, selfish, destructive lifestyle of Daisy and Tom Buchanan. In the end, the impression from Nick is that Gatsby is too good for this world and the ash heaps in it.

There’s a shocking chasm between the admiration for American ambition and the tragedy of a dream deferred. These kinds of dashed hopes occur in every generation. Do we still love America after seeing the cowardly worst of her?

By F. Scott Fitzgerald,

Why should I read it?

16 authors picked The Great Gatsby as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

As the summer unfolds, Nick is drawn into Gatsby's world of luxury cars, speedboats and extravagant parties. But the more he hears about Gatsby - even from what Gatsby himself tells him - the less he seems to believe. Did he really go to Oxford University? Was Gatsby a hero in the war? Did he once kill a man? Nick recalls how he comes to know Gatsby and how he also enters the world of his cousin Daisy and her wealthy husband Tom. Does their money make them any happier? Do the stories all connect? Shall we come to know…

Another Country

By James Baldwin,

Book cover of Another Country

Why did I love this book?

Set against the backdrop of the sociopolitical turmoil of the 1960s, James Baldwin’s Another Country captures a diverse group of friends in cities both foreign and domestic (NYC and France) who are struggling with interconnected issues of race, sexuality, gender, and class.

As history repeats itself in the 21st century, there is wisdom in reviewing how people survived the last round of radical social upheaval. They did so without losing themselves, nor their opportunities to forge meaningful human connections in the melee.

How do you learn from ex-lovers? How do you make peace with the dead? How do you stay sane when the world is hassling you over unchangeable characteristics you’re working to embrace rather than despise? These characters are trying to build something real on shifting sands, and their stories are still relatable today.

By James Baldwin,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Another Country as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'A masterwork... an almost unbearable, tumultuous, blood-pounding experience' Washinton Post

When Another Country appeared in 1962, it caused a literary sensation. James Baldwin's masterly story of desire, hatred and violence opens with the unforgettable character of Rufus Scott, a scavenging Harlem jazz musician adrift in New York. Self-destructive, bad and brilliant, he draws us into a Bohemian underworld pulsing with heat, music and sex, where desperate and dangerous characters betray, love and test each other to the limit.

'In Another Country, Baldwin created the essential American drama of the century' Colm Toibin

Les Miserables

By Victor Hugo, Lee Fahnestock (translator), Norman Macafee (translator)

Book cover of Les Miserables

Why did I love this book?

Les Misérables showcases the terrible power imbalance between the poor and the morality police. Jean Valjean is irredeemable in the eyes of Inspector Javert for stealing a single loaf of bread. Fantine is forever tainted by one dalliance with a boy of privilege. Her daughter Cosette is considered illegitimate at birth and exploited at every turn.

These rag-tag individuals find solidarity in the gutter. They reinvent themselves as needed, care for the lost children of others, and fall in love with hope for the future. Some even take to the streets in a revolt inspired by the bloody Paris Uprising of 1832.

While Les Misérables is a beastly long book (what my French lit professor called “un pavé,” a paving stone), Victor Hugo’s characters show the value of perseverance. This resistance manifesto inspires one to fight the good fight.

By Victor Hugo, Lee Fahnestock (translator), Norman Macafee (translator)

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked Les Miserables as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?


The only completely unabridged paperback edition of Victor Hugo’s masterpiece—a sweeping tale of love, loss, valor, and passion.

Introducing one of the most famous characters in literature, Jean Valjean—the noble peasant imprisoned for stealing a loaf of bread—Les Misérables ranks among the greatest novels of all time. In it, Victor Hugo takes readers deep into the Parisian underworld, immerses them in a battle between good and evil, and carries them to the barricades during the uprising of 1832 with a breathtaking realism that is unsurpassed in modern prose.

Within his dramatic story…

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