The best books about neurodiversity and relationships

Why am I passionate about this?

Relationships are treacherous terrain for people outside the mainstream. Whether we’re tangling with the unwelcome biases of those who do not understand us or trying to navigate situations designed without us in mind, trying to find “our people” is tricky and often exhausting. I am an autistic polyamorous sapphic trans woman and each of those adjectives adds a layer of challenge to the life I have to lead. I am also the holder of a doctorate and like to think I’m pretty clever. Between these realities, I’ve found books about relationships, neurodivergence, and what it’s like to be someone like me that I think do a pretty good job. I hope you enjoy them.

I wrote...

Nonmonogamy and Neurodiversity: A More Than Two Essentials Guide

By Alyssa Gonzalez,

Book cover of Nonmonogamy and Neurodiversity: A More Than Two Essentials Guide

What is my book about?

The neurodivergent community is marginalized, de-sexualized, or patronized. Neurodivergent people are often not seen as part of the romantic or sexual landscape, let alone as people who can have multiple partners. However, the fact that neurodivergent people do not see the world or operate within it as other people do makes nonmonogamy both uniquely challenging and uniquely well-suited to them.

This book is for neurodivergent people considering or practicing non-monogamy. Its goal is to help neurodivergent people understand how well-suited they are to the polyamorous life, and to help them recognize and manage the challenges that being neurodivergent can bring to nonmonogamy. It's also for the partners and potential partners of neurodivergent people, to encourage them to understand different perspectives and to help them be understanding, accommodating, and well informed. 

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Sex at Dawn: the Prehistoric Origins of Modern Sexuality

Alyssa Gonzalez Why did I love this book?

It is important for books that challenge established ideas in the popular science space to be fun, and Sex at Dawn has that nailed.

A fascinating tour through anthropological research, sociological conspiracy, and biological reality leads to the inescapable yet intuitive conclusion that monogamy, as a social institution, is at odds with basic facts about human behavior, and the effort that legal, religious, and other systems put into enforcing it is precisely because it is not something most humans can easily do on their own.

Sex at Dawn’s scientific rigor is questionable, but its conclusions hold and its style is unbeatable.

By Christopher Ryan, Cacilda Jetha,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Sex at Dawn as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In this controversial, thought-provoking, and brilliant book, renegade thinkers Christopher Ryan and Cacilda Jetha debunk almost everything we know about sex, weaving together convergent, frequently overlooked evidence from anthropology, archaeology, primatology, anatomy, and psychosexuality to show how far from human nature monogamy really is. In "Sex at Dawn", the authors expose the ancient roots of human sexuality while pointing toward a more optimistic future illuminated by our innate capacities for love, cooperation, and generosity.

Book cover of The Ethical Slut: A Practical Guide to Polyamory, Open Relationships, and Other Freedoms in Sex and Love

Alyssa Gonzalez Why did I love this book?

The Ethical Slut is an evocatively titled primer on polyamory as a relationship model.

It is intentionally written as an introductory resource that is very enthusiastic about the possibilities it presents, which is useful in a space that often feels it must make constant apologies for existing or is full of higher-level works about niche sub-topics.

It addresses key topics such as consent, communication, concerns about raising a family, and more. Older editions suffer from ill-considered language around transgender people that feels dated at best, but more recent editions have been updated to reflect changing demographics and be more considerate to this and other minorities. 

By Dossie Easton, Catherine A. Liszt,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Ethical Slut as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

At last a comprehensive, no-holds-barred guide for anyone who dreams of having all the sex and love and friendship they want. Here are the skills you need for successful - and ethical - sluthood, from scheduling dates to handling jealousy, finding partners to resolving conflict, raising children to caring for your health. If you've ever envisioned a universe beyond traditional lifetime monogamy, this is the book for you.

Book cover of Test Chamber

Alyssa Gonzalez Why did I love this book?

The Spoon Knife anthology series is the seminal place to find short neuroqueer fiction: fiction that explores what neurodivergent minds have to offer, how we see the world, and what our lives can be like, usually via speculative or sci-fi elements.

Spoon Knife 2: Test Chamber is loosely themed on the idea of the “test chamber,” a space in which one’s every move, choice, and outcome is scrutinized, and its 36 essays, poems, and short stories all approach this idea from different directions.

Several of its essays deal directly with neurodivergent and queer experience without the interpretive lens of science fiction and can help readers understand people like us and people like us to feel seen and comprehended.

By Dani Alexis Ryskamp (editor), Sam Harvey (editor),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Test Chamber as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Spoon Knife Anthology is NeuroQueer Books' annual open-call collection to find new talent and to bring together our favorite regular contributors in a celebration of literature that pushes boundaries and defines the interiors of neurodivergent, Queer, and Mad experiences.

In Spoon Knife 2: Test Chamber, editors Dani Alexis Ryskamp and Sam Harvey give you a series of examinations of what it means to live in an environment where one feels that existence itself is a series of tests that must be successfully navigated. From the back cover:

"The writers (and editors and publishers) of the book you now hold…

Book cover of Intellectual Foreplay: Questions for Lovers and Lovers-to-be

Alyssa Gonzalez Why did I love this book?

Neurodivergent people are notoriously averse to small talk, but where to go from there?

Intellectual Foreplay provides an extensive collection of conversation topics and questions one can use to get to know someone better, whether you’re already close or just getting started.

In between, this book provides a treatment of how this sort of conversation works and, crucially, actions that can be taken in response to the answers one receives.

It’s an interesting book, even if it’s not particularly interesting to read straight through. Reference volumes often aren’t, so this is not a point against it.

By Eve Eschner Hogan, Steve Hogan,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Intellectual Foreplay as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This solutions-oriented guide offers problem solving and behavior changing strategies for people working on their most intimate relationships. The book provides readers with: enhanced knowledge of their own and their partners' beliefs, values, habits, desires, goals, likes, and dislikes; ideas for opening communication and deepening a relationship; skills for making healthy decisions about lifestyles and boundaries; an in-depth understanding of the role of self-esteem in relationships; increased ability to let go of the past and embrace the present; and the knowledge that it is important not only to choose the right partner, but also to be the right partner. What…

Book cover of Fierce Femmes And Notorious Liars: A Dangerous Trans Girl's Confabulous Memoir

Alyssa Gonzalez Why did I love this book?

Neurodivergence, queerness, and the power of spreading love far and wide will find few more apt combinations than in Kai Cheng Thom’s magical-realist faux-memoir, Fierce Femmes and Notorious Liars.

This surreal, poignant piece of fiction hits so many notes that resonate for people like us that it is difficult to list them all.

In its violent and sometimes confusing splendor, one finds a story of someone finding the people who will love her through the pain of a world that neither understands nor respects our difference, and in the end, what more could we want than that?

By Kai Cheng Thom,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Fierce Femmes And Notorious Liars as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 13, 14, 15, and 16.

What is this book about?

Fiction. LGBTQIA Studies. Asian and Asian American Studies. Young Adult. FIERCE FEMMES AND NOTORIOUS LIARS: A DANGEROUS TRANS GIRL'S CONFABULOUS MEMOIR is the highly sensational, ultra-exciting, sort-of true coming-of-age story of a young Asian trans girl, pathological liar, and kung-fu expert who runs away from her parents' abusive home in a rainy city called Gloom. Striking off on her own, she finds her true family in a group of larger-than-life trans femmes who live in a mysterious pleasure district known only as the Street of Miracles. Under the wings of this fierce and fabulous flock, the protagonist blossoms into the…

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Love, Sex, and Other Calamities: 15 Stories and a Poem by Ralph Hickok

By Ralph Hickok,

Book cover of Love, Sex, and Other Calamities: 15 Stories and a Poem by Ralph Hickok

Ralph Hickok Author Of Vagabond Halfback: The Saga of Johnny Blood McNally

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

I grew up in Green Bay and my dad was the official scorer for the Packers, so I was immersed in pro football history even as a child. During my careers as a newspaper feature writer and editor and as an advertising copywriter, I also became a sports historian. My magnum opus was “The Encyclopedia of North American Sports History,” 650,000 words. But my favorite by far is my biography of Johnny Blood. I was 12 or 13 when I decided I wanted to write it, 33 when I began working on it, 38 when I finished it, and 78 when it was finally published.

Ralph's book list on the history of pro football

What is my book about?

From Kirkus Reviews: "This debut short-story collection paints the wistful life of a newspaper journalist as seen through his sexual and romantic encounters...

Throughout, Hickok writes in an assured style, pulling readers along. The narrow sexual focus results in a distorted picture, yet other aspects of Art's life emerge at the edges—his intelligence, his career as a journalist, and even the sincerity with which he gives in to his male urges and construes sex as love... 

Subdued yet alluring; a pensive reflection on the male psyche."

Love, Sex, and Other Calamities: 15 Stories and a Poem by Ralph Hickok

By Ralph Hickok,

What is this book about?

A man arrives in a new city, hoping to start a new life, but he’s still haunted by memories of past loves…
A 12-year-old boy and an 11-year-old girl have a brief romantic encounter when their families are vacationing in neighboring lakeside cottages…
Two teenagers enjoy sexual experimentation when she babysits for her little brother while her parents are out drinking…
A high school boy has a crush on an older woman who identifies with Molly Bloom…
A college freshman falls in love with a high school freshman and is amazed at the depths of her passion…
A guy wins…

5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in neurodiversity, topics and characters, and choosing a mate?

10,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about neurodiversity, topics and characters, and choosing a mate.

Neurodiversity Explore 78 books about neurodiversity
Topics And Characters Explore 115 books about topics and characters
Choosing A Mate Explore 17 books about choosing a mate