Playing by the Book, by S. Chris Shirley

Jake, a naïve teen from Alabama, lives his life by the “Book,” that is, the Bible. Jake’s father is a preacher who expects him to follow in his footsteps. Fortunately, Jake’s love of journalism has him headed in another direction–to New York City and Columbia University’s prestigious summer journalism program.

- American Library Association

An author worth watching.

For some, coming out is still hard to do. Despite the current gay-teen-novel canon that depicts worlds where two boys can kiss in public for hour upon hour or dystopias where teen heroes can just happen to be gay, it can be refreshing to find a good, ol’ coming-out novel Seventeen-year-old... 

- Kirkus Reviews

10 Great LGBT Summer Reads

“In his debut novel, Shirley — president of the Lambda Literary Foundation— offers up a optimistic but not overly romanticized look at youth, becoming oneself, and the discomfort and joy that comes from finding out who you want to be in the world, whether your parents like it or not...

- The Advocate

Willing to love your LGBTQ neighbor as you love yourself?

If you are willing to love your LGBTQ neighbor as you love yourself, Playing By The Book will assist you, not so much with argument as with passion. The novel immerses the reader into the passions of Jake Powell during the summer between his junior and senior year in high school in Tarsus, Alabama...

- Louie Clay for Like the Dew

Chris Shirley's Playing by the Book

Ten years in the making, Chris Shirley's debut novel out today Playing By The Book [and Kindle] has already been named by the Advocate as one of this summer's ten great lgbt reads...

- Band of Thebes

The Book – a playbook for today?

S. Chris Shirley first novel is beautiful and profound and will move readers to question their own beliefs and their ability to look at people beyond the labels, beyond what we “see.” Mr. Shirley’s powerful prose draws us into Jake’s world

- Ruth Compton, Librarian Book Reviewer for Capitol Choices & ALA GLBTRT

The Son of a Preacher Man Is Gay

In Lambda Literary Foundation President of the Board S. Chris Shirley’s new Magnus Books novel Playing by the Book, more, much more education is in store for naïve, sheltered 17-year-old Jacob Henry Powell, son of a strict One-Way Bible fundamentalist Christian minister and editor of the small-town Tarsus (Alabama) High School Tattler, than learning how to write for a professional newspaper...

- New York Q News

‘Playing by the Book’ by S. Chris Shirley

Shirley–being fully American, fully disabused of Christianity and fully in charge of his themes–understands that in order to discuss and expose essentially legitimized gay men coming from a culture that abhors them, we must exhaust the experience of smart, funny, in-control women who understand them. The author has apparently lived a full life, and with Playing by the Book, he gives all of it to us.

- Michael Carroll for The Lambda Literary Review