The best books that remind us that nonbinary people are human, too

Why am I passionate about this?

As a Gen X kid growing up in a very conservative place, I struggled with gender, not feeling like the girl I was supposed to be. I knew I wasn’t a boy, and that just led to uncertainty and perpetual emotional discomfort. When I first heard about the concept of nonbinary gender a few years ago, my mind was blown. I knew if I were young, I would have immediately come out as nonbinary. But as an older person, it felt weird and pointless. Writing and reading books about people struggling with gender gave me the courage to finally be true to myself, and acknowledge that I am agender. 


I wrote...

Uglier

By Kelly Vincent,

Book cover of Uglier

What is my book about?

Oklahoma City. Nic Summers is ready for a fresh start. Entering her first semester at a boarding school far from her narrow-minded hometown, the talented teen artist hopes to continue exploring her gender identity in a safer environment. And after meeting a boy she likes, connecting with another student, and discovering a supportive teacher, she’s relieved things are looking up… until once again she faces a cruel bully. Trying to stay positive, the shy creative focuses on nurturing her fledgling friendships and honing her skills under the guidance of a kind mentor. But after Nic’s crush is vengefully outed as trans, she blurts out something awful and fears she’s ruined everything. Can she mend shattered trusts and reclaim her authentic self?

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of I Wish You All the Best

Kelly Vincent Why did I love this book?

I love stories crammed with internal strife and triumph in the end, especially ones about finding yourself.

In this YA contemporary, teen Ben faces the worst possible reaction from their parents when they come out to them as nonbinary. Fortunately, they round up some supportive family, but this marks the beginning of a long struggle to build up their confidence and come out to everyone, not just their family. Ben may know who they are, but being honest about it is hard, especially in certain places.

There are big differences in being nonbinary or trans in conservative states versus liberal states, and also between smaller towns and bigger cities. This book reminds readers that as long as you’re safe, being true to yourself is more rewarding than hiding yourself. 

By Mason Deaver,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked I Wish You All the Best as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 14, 15, 16, and 17.

What is this book about?

'A soft, sweet, and incredibly important story about a nonbinary teen finding their voice. This book is going to be so important to so many people.' - Alice Oseman, author of Heartstopper

It's just three words: I am nonbinary. But that's all it takes to change everything.

When Ben De Backer comes out as nonbinary, it doesn't go down as planned: they are thrown out of their house and forced to move in with their estranged older sister.

All Ben can do is try to keep a low profile in a new school. But Ben's attempts to go unnoticed are…


Book cover of Phoenix Extravagant

Kelly Vincent Why did I love this book?

I love stories about artists, and I loved the creativity of the whole idea behind this adult fantasy set against an Asian-inspired backdrop, where art is magic and can be used to make things happen in the physical world.

But even better is the fact that the main character—a skilled artist roped into working for a corrupt entity—is nonbinary, and this is nothing more than a mundane fact. It’s a clear reminder that gender is just one part of a person’s existence—and probably not the most important one. 

By Yoon Ha Lee,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Dragons. Art. Revolution.

Gyen Jebi isn't a fighter, or a subversive. They just want to paint.

One day they're jobless and desperate; the next, Jebi finds themself recruited by the Ministry of Armor to paint the mystical sigils that animate the occupying government's automaton soldiers.

But when Jebi discovers the depths of the Razanei government's horrifying crimes-and the awful source of the magical pigments they use-they find they can no longer stay out of politics.

What they can do is steal Arazi, the ministry's mighty dragon automaton, and find a way to fight...


Book cover of Mooncakes

Kelly Vincent Why did I love this book?

Reading this graphic novel just feels good. It’s so positive and full of all kinds of sweet relationships—romantic, friends, and family.

It’s also a fantastic portrayal of numerous people with something that makes them different from most others, including wearing hearing aids, lesbian grandmas, large bodies, and last but not least, being nonbinary. None of these things is an issue in the book, and instead they’re presented as being as normal as breathing.

I just love the normalization of human differences. Add to that the fun urban fantasy elements of magic and werewolves, and it’s a perfect mix.  

By Suzanne Walker, Wendy Xu (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Mooncakes 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?

"Mooncakes is spellbinding. It had everything I love in a story-magic that felt inventive, characters that became my friends, and a romance that felt truly authentic. It was one of those books that I was sad to see end. Luckily, I can always reread." -Tillie Walden, creator of Spinning and On a Sunbeam

"Mooncakes transported me to a gorgeous magical realm that I never want to leave, and introduced me to lovable characters who stuck with me long after I finished reading. This graphic novel is the joyful fantasy romance we all need right now, and it might just restore…


Book cover of Lizard Radio

Kelly Vincent Why did I love this book?

It’s always great to get a reminder to be true to yourself when you don’t fit in easily.

This dystopian YA novel has good worldbuilding and a rich lexicon of new words that gives it that idiosyncratic futuristic feeling. The protagonist is a barely fifteen-year-old girl “bender”—someone who doesn’t feel comfortable in their assigned gender and doesn’t hide that. She has been sent to a camp that will determine her future, making sure she doesn’t end up in the “Blight”, a huge concentration camp for society’s undesirables.

But for a good outcome, she must conform, and her fellow campers and new experiences make that confusing and difficult. The ending is fairly open, but she has clearly learned to be true to herself and reject arbitrarily assigned labels.

By Pat Schmatz,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Lizard Radio as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 14, 15, 16, and 17.

What is this book about?

In a futuristic society run by an all-powerful Gov, a bender teen on the cusp of adulthood has choices to make that will change her life—and maybe the world.

Fifteen-year-old bender Kivali has had a rough time in a gender-rigid culture. Abandoned as a baby and raised by Sheila, an ardent nonconformist, Kivali has always been surrounded by uncertainty. Where did she come from? Is it true what Sheila says, that she was deposited on Earth by the mysterious saurians? What are you? people ask, and Kivali isn’t sure. Boy/girl? Human/lizard? Both/neither? Now she’s in CropCamp, with all of its…


Book cover of Life Isn't Binary: On Being Both, Beyond, and In-Between

Kelly Vincent Why did I love this book?

I loved this nonfiction book because it puts the gender binary in the context of other things that we often falsely consider binaries.

For instance, the mind-body binary is ridiculous when you consider that experiencing emotions is not entirely in the mind, given what we know emotions and stress do to the body, both short-term and long-term. The authors also point out that feelings can be something other than completely positive or completely negative, and that the idea that emotion and rationality, or work and play, are mutually exclusive is absurd.

What makes this book especially good is that it shares practical advice for changing the binary mindset, like avoiding the either/or view by making yourself consider what possibilities are real between two extremes—or in both extremes—at the same time. Marginalized people can use these techniques to avoid judging themselves so harshly, and allies can learn better ways to understand and advocate. 

By Meg-John Barker, Alex Iantaffi,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Life Isn't Binary as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'The book we all need for this moment in time.' CN LESTER
'An absolute must read' FOX FISHER
'A genius book' LIBRARY JOURNAL REVIEW

Much of society's thinking operates in a highly rigid and binary manner; something is good or bad, right or wrong, a success or a failure, and so on. Challenging this limited way of thinking, this ground-breaking book looks at how non-binary methods of thought can be applied to all aspects of life, and offer new and greater ways of understanding ourselves and how we relate to others.

Using bisexual and non-binary gender experiences as a starting…


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Captain James Heron First Into the Fray: Prequel to Harry Heron Into the Unknown of the Harry Heron Series

By Patrick G. Cox, Janet Angelo (editor),

Book cover of Captain James Heron First Into the Fray: Prequel to Harry Heron Into the Unknown of the Harry Heron Series

Patrick G. Cox Author Of Ned Farrier Master Mariner: Call of the Cape

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

On the expertise I claim only a deep interest in history, leadership, and social history. After some thirty-six years in the fire and emergency services I can, I think, claim to have seen the best and the worst of human behaviour and condition. History, particularly naval history, has always been one of my interests and the Battle of Jutland is a truly fascinating study in the importance of communication between the leader and every level between him/her and the people performing whatever task is required.  In my own career, on a very much smaller scale, this is a lesson every officer learns very quickly.

Patrick's book list on the Battle of Jutland

What is my book about?

Captain Heron finds himself embroiled in a conflict that threatens to bring down the world order he is sworn to defend when a secretive Consortium seeks to undermine the World Treaty Organisation and the democracies it represents as he oversees the building and commissioning of a new starship.

When the Consortium employs an assassin from the Pantheon, it becomes personal.

Captain James Heron First Into the Fray: Prequel to Harry Heron Into the Unknown of the Harry Heron Series

By Patrick G. Cox, Janet Angelo (editor),

What is this book about?

The year is 2202, and the recently widowed Captain James Heron is appointed to stand by his next command, the starship NECS Vanguard, while she is being built. He and his team soon discover that they are battling the Consortium, a shadowy corporate group that seeks to steal the specs for the ship’s new super weapon. The Consortium hires the Pantheon, a mysterious espionage agency, to do their dirty work as they lay plans to take down the Fleet and gain supreme power on an intergalactic scale. When Pantheon Agent Bast and her team kidnap Felicity Rowanberg, a Fleet agent…


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