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LESBIAN 1. “Nobody Passes,” by Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore (Seal Press, 354 pp., $15.95 pb). A collection of essays that confronts, challenges and examines the perilous intersections of identity, categorization and community. 2. “Middle of Somewhere,” by Clifford Henderson (Bold Strokes, 280 pp., $15.95 pb). Start with one independent, urban lesbian who cashes out her life in San Francisco for a secondhand travel trailer and sets off to the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival in search of a new life. Add to this a broken-down ’66 T-bird, a bunch of small-town Texas Baptists, a ton of fried food and a church scandal. Pepper with a hot love interest and a dash of greed, and what you get is Eadie T. Pratt’s road trip gone awry. 3. “Uncross My Heart,” by Andrews & Austin (Bold Strokes, 235 pp., $15.95). Falling in lust with a priest is the last thing on Vivienne Wilde’s agenda … but then she’s yet to meet Alexandra Westbrooke. 4. “Fireside,” by Cate Culpepper (Bold Strokes, 232 pp., $15.95 pb). A story of love, friendship, healing and laying our ghosts to rest at last. 5. “Paybacks,” by Gabrielle Goldsby (Bold Strokes, 192 pp., $14.95 pb). Two women with a fiery past discover paybacks can be hell … and just as hot. 6. “Essential Dykes to Watch Out For,” by Alison Bechdel (Houghton Mifflin, 392 pp., $25 hb). For 25 years Bechdel’s path-breaking “Dykes to Watch Out For” strip has been collected in award-winning volumes, syndicated in alternative newspapers and translated into many languages. This collection gathers 60 of the newest strips. 7. “Turn Back Time,” by Radclyffe (Bold Strokes, 277 pp., $15.95 pb). Two women with nothing in common but a shared passion for surgery clash at every opportunity, especially when matters of the heart are suddenly at stake. 8. “Trails Merge,” by Rachel Spangler (Bold Strokes, 233 pp., $15.95 pb). After a devastating ultimatum from her lover, Campbell Carson returns to her childhood home, Bear Run Ski Resort, seeking her family’s unconditional solace and support. As barely healed wounds reopen, unexpected obstacles threaten any hope for a future together. 9. “Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic,” by Alison Bechdel (Mariner, 232 pp., $13.95 pb). Through narrative that is alternately heartbreaking and funny, readers are drawn into a daughter’s complex yearning for her father.
GAY 1. “Basketball Jones,” by E. Lynn Harris (Doubleday, 256 pp., $22.95 hb). E. Lynn Harris returns to explore the down-low culture that made his first novel, “Invisible Life,” a groundbreaking phenomenon in his latest tale of sex, secrets and betrayal. 2. “The Torturer’s Wife,” by Thomas Glave (City Lights, 261 pp., $15.95 pb). Thomas Glave, known for his stylistic brio, expands and deepens his lyrical experimentation in stories that focus — explicitly and allegorically — on the horrors of despotic dictatorships, terror, antigay violence, the weight of memory, secret fetishes, erotic longing, desire and intimacy. 3. “Big Trips: More Good Gay Travel Writing,” edited by Raphael Kadushin (U. of Wisconsin, 296 pp., $24.95 hb). In this border-hopping anthology of travel memoir and fiction, every trip is a big one, as an advance guard of adventurous writers scatter across the globe, face the pure euphoria and sheer anxiety of travel and survive a lot of very fast living. 4. “Hotel de Dream,” by Edmund White (Harper Perennial, 225 pp., $13.95 pb). In the midst of gathering tragedy, Stephen Crane begins dictating what will surely be his final work: a strange and poignant novel of a boy prostitute in 1890s New York and the married man who ruins his own life to win his love. 5. “Uncommon Reader,” by Alan Bennett (Picador, 120 pp., $12 pb). From one of England’s most celebrated writers, the author of the award-winning “The History Boys,” comes a mischievous novella about the Queen of England and the subversive power of reading. 6. “Drifting Toward Love: Black, Brown, Gay & Coming of Age on the Streets of New York,” by Kai Wright (Beacon Press, 224 pp., $16 pb). Prostitution, homelessness, drugs and violence against gay men of color are all discussed in unflinching, at times wrenchingly, intimate detail, alongside touching reminiscences of first love and the initial realization of a “different” sexuality. An important book about an often-marginalized group. 7. “Men Who Love Men,” by William J. Mann (Kensington, 330 pp., $15 pb). Mann tackles the big questions of contemporary gay life, delivering a beautiful, thoughtful book about love, sex, commitment, friendship and fantasy, about the lives we engineer and the joyful surprises that happen when we least expect them. 8. “In the Life: A Black Gay Anthology,” edited by Joseph Beam (Redbone, 223 pp., $17 pb). In the life, an expression which means being gay, is also the title of this collection of writings in which more than 25 black authors explore what it means to be doubly different — both black and gay — in modern America. 9. “Got ’til It’s Gone,” by Larry Duplechan (Arsenal Pulp, 256 pp., $17.95 pb). In the midst of a midlife crisis, Johnny Ray falls for a much younger man with some serious issues. Throughout it all, he tries to look at love and life from both sides. A queer romantic comedy for the ages.