Penny Arcade: TOP TEN BOOKS


Words are how Arcade make her living—brilliant torrents of words that rush and flow and settle into illuminating inquisitions on the world in which we live. “I’m a truth-teller, which is problematic in a world of hypocrisy,” she has said. In addition to appearing in Warhol’s 1971 film, Women in Revolt, her stage works, including Bitch! Dyke! Faghag! Whore! and Bad Reputation, have come to be seen as landmarks of New York’s avant-garde.

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


The Little Prince

Antoine de Saint-Exupery
The Little Prince will be on many peoples best loved book lists. I first read this at 14 and the anarchic wisdom of this book with it's delicate philosophy of the outsider influenced my own thinking about the pitfalls of trading childhood wonder for adulthood,but most of all it taught me about accepting other's differences and the fragile nature of relationship. "That which is essential is invisible to the eye"
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The Prophet

Kahil Gibran
This book will be on many peoples best loved book lists. I read this at 14 and it gave me my first overview of the elements of life, love and society. This book contains ruiminations if not answers on what it means to be fully human.
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On Lies, Secrets, and Silence

Adrienne Rich
I discovered this book by the poet Adreienne Rich in the now long gone Feminist Book Store in NY's Greenwich Village when I was 25 years old. The title called out to me and became the basis for how I formed my relationship to my own authenticity and how I have approached relationships with other people for my entire life.
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The Vagabond

This early 20th century novel about a music hall dancer, a performance artist of that time, who measures her freedom between relationship and touring has not aged at all. No one writes about relationships as perceptively as Colette and very few write as well.
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The Romanian

Bruce Benderson
There are many pleasures in this book: sex, travel, philosophy, art history. Benderson's louche tale is woven through a closely observed study of Romania, politically, historically and sociologically, the end of his mother's life, and the love affair between Romania's interbellum King Carol II and his Jewish mistress Magda Lupescu.
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Earthly Powers

Anthony Burgess
A big, bold novel that spans six decades of the 20th century and opens with one of my favorite lines in literature: "It was the afternoon of my eighty-first birthday, and I was in bed with my catamite when Ali announced that the archbishop had come to see me. Earthly Powers is like a big over packed old mansion you enter and never want to leave.
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Our Lady of the Flowers

Jean Genet
I discovered this book at 15 at a time when society’s view of the gay world was fugitive criminal. Looking thru Genet’s poetic eyes into queer life in France grounded in criminality, in the margins of humanity was a both a validation of the people I was meeting, with their fierce sense of self identification and a window into my future in the NY Underground.
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The Collect Short Stories

Jean Rhys
I discovered Jean Rhys thru Jon an anarchist bookseller in London in 2012 who runs a book barge Word On The Water. He approached me with this book of short stories. Written mainly in the late 20's and 30's. Rhys's voice is utterly contemporary. She writes from her own life with an unsparing eye capturing the essence of outsider women left to their own devices, caught up in bad relationships, and loneliness in rented rooms and café's in London and Paris.
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Memoirs Of A Beatnik

Diane DiPrima
Poet Diane Di Prima wrote this book for the money in 1968 but is is still an unabashed portait of Beat and queer life in the 1950's to the late 60's. It is an erotic travelogue of NY in the 60's and shines a special light on the New York Underground when being queer, feminist and an artist was still a way to be oppositional to the dominant culture.
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The Quiet American

Graham Greene
It is hard to choose just one book by Graham Greene but The Quiet American is one that I can return to without opening it's pages, the mood and atmosphere Greeene created of life in 1950's Saigon is so strong. The Quiet American is both a war novel and a story of ethical inquiry set in a love story.
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