Larry Kramer: TOP TEN BOOKS


Photo courtesy of Benedict Evans

In recent years,  Larry Kramer, founding member of both the Gay Men’s Health Crisis and ACT UP,  has had something of a renaissance. First, his groundbreaking play on AIDS, The Normal Heart, made it victoriously to the screen in Ryan Murphy’s Emmy-winning movie adaptation for HBO (it also won a Golden Globe for Matt Bomer), and second his magnum opus, The American People: A History, which he began writing in 1978, was published last year—an 800-page novel that queers up much of American history, making presidents Washington, Lincoln, Jackson, and Nixon gay in the process. “Successful activism is about being angry and loud enough to be heard,” Kramer told The Advocate magazine in 2015. “Choose your targets, and go after them in any way you think you can…. Anger, passion, and volume are your weapons. We all have these within us.”

Below are Larry Kramer’s favorite books, available to purchase as a set or individually.


A Handful of Dust

Evelyn Waugh
Waugh, along with P. G. Wodehouse, was one the greatest users of the English language. Both men just loved words and how to use them to their unusually best advantage. Anyone trying to master the English language would do well to study either one. Any of Waugh’s novels is impressive, but this one may be the best.
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The Iceman Cometh

Eugene O’Neill
This, with Long Day’s Journey Into Night, are the great American plays.
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Sweet Bird of Youth

Tennessee Williams
A very underrated Williams play, written for his friend, Tallulah Bankhead.
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IBM and the Holocaust

Edwin Black
How one of America’s greatest technology companies came to Hitler’s aid. This will utterly and completely shock you, or it should.
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Eichmann in Jerusalem

Hannah Arendt
Arendt was one of the greatest political philosophers and thinkers of the 20th century, and this is her masterpiece.
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The Big Sleep

Raymond Chandler
Chandler is another great writer who loves words and language.
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The Adolescent

Fyodor Dostoevsky

The greatest Dostoyevsky novel for me. I first read it in the Andrew MacAndrew translation (now published by W.W. Norton) which bowled me over.

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The Progress of Love

Alice Munro
In fact, anything by Munro.
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Voices from Chernobyl

Svetlana Alexievich
From the 2015 winner of the Nobel Prize for literature, comes one of the most heartbreaking records of destructive humanity that I've ever read.
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