Journalist Jonathan Rauch has written movingly about many personal topics, from caring for his infirm parents to being an introvert. But his latest book—ebook, actually—is his most confessional and compelling yet. Denial: My 25 Years Without a Soul (Atlantic) is Rauch’s account of his first quarter century, in which he was unable to come to grips with the fact that he was gay.

Borrowing an old-fashioned psychiatric term, Rauch describes himself as an “invert”: His life, he says, was like “a photographic negative.” Despite teen puppy love, a tingly interest in male musculature, a profound lack of interest in sex with women, and no particular anti-gay animus, Rauch concluded only that he was “a monster,” destined to be cut off from the pleasures of intimacy and family.

What a strange and wonderful world we live in where a D.C. think tanker can pour out this tortured tale (with a mercifully happy ending!), make it instantly available for $1.99 on Amazon, and be greeted with applause. —Katherine Mangu-Ward