Let Me Introduce My Shelf: Brendan

Alice Mottram 12 February 2015

1. Christopher And His Kind, Christopher Isherwood

Isherwood’s autobiography, covering his years in Berlin and the ensuing desperate struggle to save his other half, Heinz, from the Nazis, evokes a sense of existential crisis. In a particularly poignant passage describing the ejection of Heinz from Britain, the reader is subjected to the same sense of injustice that the protagonists must surely have felt.

2. The Swimming Pool Library, Alan Hollinghurst

Many find Hollinghurt’s lead character, Will Beckwith, an unpleasant man. I think he is supposed to be. Deeply flawed and as imperfect as any of us, Beckwith’s life in 1980s London is one of promos uity; themes of shame, brushes with the law and plain old cruising are common fare. An uncomfortable yet enthralling read.

3. A Boy’s Own Story, Edmund White

For me, a quintessential coming-of-age story. Set in 1950s America, the narrator presents a powerful tale, juxtaposing his strive for acceptance and fulfilment from the other characters’ rejection and self-doubt. At times, the novel seems all too familiar and hits rather close to home.

4. On Liberty, Shami Chakrabarti

I’ve long flirted with a career in law, for which the PhD in Chemistry I’m working towards would ill equip me, but On Liberty reignited these embers. It argues for the scrapping of the Human Rights Act, to which LGBT+ people in Europe owe many of the legal advances of recent years. A must read for libertarians everywhere.

5. Darkness at Dawn, The Rise of the Russian Criminal State, David Satter

With Russia lurching ever further into the dark depths of LGBT+phobia (only last month they banned trans people from driving), this book purports to offer an insight into the psyche of those in power in Russia. Darkly compelling, Satter weaves a narrative through the experiences of ordinary Russians.

Brendan Mahon is President of CUSU LGBT+. The Harry Harris LGBT+ Library houses academic journals, novels, music and films of interest to LGBT+ people. Harry Harris (1986-2011) was a student at Trinity College, Cambridge, reading for a PhD in Medical Genetics. The LGBT+ Library is named in his honour. Located at CUSU on the New Museums site, the library is open to all.