The most recommended books about gender

Who picked these books? Meet our 28 experts.

28 authors created a book list connected to gender, and here are their favorite gender books.
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Book cover of Both Can Be True

Lisa Bunker Author Of Zenobia July

From my list on gender non-conforming humans for young readers.

Why am I passionate about this?

When I was growing up there were no trans characters in children’s books, and partly because I had no examples I could point to, it took me until my forties to express and claim my gender truth. Now that I am a happily transitioned author, activist, and elected official, I champion middle grade novels by and about gender non-conforming humans because I want today’s trans kids to see themselves in stories. I hope to empower them to lead their best authentic lives from the beginning. I also hope to teach an often uninformed and sometimes prejudiced world to accept gender non-conforming kids as the beautiful healthy humans they are.

Lisa's book list on gender non-conforming humans for young readers

Lisa Bunker Why did Lisa love this book?

I particularly like the dual narration in this 2021 debut, with two characters who challenge gender norms at different levels of intensity as they bond over a secret rescue dog. Daniel is a boy who feels all his emotions intensely, and who has been told over and over that he is too sensitive. Ash cycles through genders, feeling and expressing girl sometimes and boy other times. It’s so good to see a GNC character in a lead role. I also got a hoot out of the graphic elements, which are quirky and original.

By Jules Machias, Jules Machias,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Both Can Be True as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 8, 9, 10, and 11.

What is this book about?

*An Indie Next List Pick and a Top Ten Rainbow Book for Young Readers!*

Jules Machias explores identity, gender fluidity, and the power of friendship and acceptance in this dual-narrative story about two kids who join forces to save a dog . . . but wind up saving each other.

Ash is no stranger to feeling like an outcast. For someone who cycles through genders, it's a daily struggle to feel in control of how people perceive you. Some days Ash is undoubtedly girl, but other times, 100 percent guy. Daniel lacks control too-of his emotions. He's been told he's…


Book cover of On Intimate Terms

Carren Strock Author Of Married Women Who Love Women and More

From my list on lesbianism and married women who love women.

Why am I passionate about this?

I believe that creativity has no boundaries and that it is only desire and determination that separate those who succeed from those who don't. I'm equally at home with a paintbrush and canvas, a needle and thread, or a hammer and nails, and am as eclectic in my writing as I am in my other interests. I'm best known for my definitive sociological study, Married Women Who Love Women and More, which began as a catharsis for myself when I realized I was gay. I'm also the author of an autobiographical how-to, an exciting mystery, a lesbian paranormal romance, a rhyming picture book, a cookbook, and a middle grade chapter book.

Carren's book list on lesbianism and married women who love women

Carren Strock Why did Carren love this book?

I found this to be an interesting read about how people are drawn to each other regardless of gender. It also discusses the special attractions between women who have been attracted to other women from an early age and those who once considered themselves heterosexual as I did.

By Beverly Burch,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked On Intimate Terms as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This provocative exploration of the internal logic of lesbian relationships argues that they are not patterned after heterosexual ones but rely on the interplay of psychosexual differences between women.


Book cover of Melissa (Formerly Published as George)

Jules Machias Author Of Both Can Be True

From my list on young adult and middle grade transgender stories.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a trans parent of a trans teen. (I didn’t do it on purpose. It just worked out that way.) I’m always looking for books by trans authors that accurately reflect transgender experiences at every life stage, but particularly during middle school and the teen years. The books I’ve selected are my favorites because they’re authentic—and because they let readers learn difficult, complicated lessons through fiction. When I’m not writing books, reading books, editing books, or eating books for dessert, I’m caring for my disabled dogs, dirt-biking with my kid, or drawing near an open window with a mug of green tea and some lo-fi beats.

Jules' book list on young adult and middle grade transgender stories

Jules Machias Why did Jules love this book?

This book is a milestone in transgender literature for kids. Published in 2015, it follows a fourth-grader’s attempts to get classmates, teachers, parents, etc. to see past the surface: she’s a girl named Melissa, not a boy named George as everyone perceives. An argument often leveled against transgender kids is that they can’t know they’re transgender because they’re too young. This novel counters that by compassionately and realistically portraying a child who knows her identity from an early age, and it shows how devastating it is when the people who should love and support Melissa instead reject her assertion of her identity. It has a happy ending, but it leaves the reader thinking about how many transgender kids don’t get that—thereby inspiring advocacy. 

By Alex Gino,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Melissa (Formerly Published as George) as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 8, 9, 10, and 11.

What is this book about?

Formally titled George, this is the unforgettable
debut from Alex Gino

"Allow me to introduce you to a remarkable book, full of love,
wonder, hope, and the importance of getting to be who you were
meant to be. You must read this." - David Levithan, author
of Every Day and editor of George.

When people look at George, they think they see a boy. But she
knows she's not a boy. She knows she's a girl.

George thinks she'll have to keep this a secret forever. Then
her teacher announces that their class play is going to be Charlotte's
Web.…


Book cover of A Voice From the South

Helga Varden Author Of Sex, Love, and Gender: A Kantian Theory

From my list on sex, love, and gender.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a professor in philosophy, political science, and gender and women’s studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (USA), where I live with my wife. I have a PhD in philosophy from the University of Toronto (Canada), an MA in philosophy from the University of Tromsø (Norway), a MSc in Industrial Relations and Personnel Management from the London School of Economics and Political Science (UK), and a BA(Hons) in Business Management from the University of Newcastle Upon Tyne (UK). One of the most important lessons from my first two degrees was that I love theory (about theories) and, so, those two degrees enabled me to find my way to philosophy, which I have been in love with since. 

Helga's book list on sex, love, and gender

Helga Varden Why did Helga love this book?

I only recently discovered the work of Anna J. Cooper, but I find myself reading and thinking about and with her a lot. She’s not an obvious philosophical love for me in that she never writes about LGBTQIA life and does write about men and women from a relatively conservative, Christian, cis, and straight point of view. However, Cooper gives voice to and insight into the struggles of Black women, and her work helps me, as someone who is both racialized as white and an immigrant to the US, perceive and feel important dimensions of the reality in which I now live.

Thus, in her writings about the things she knows about, I find a friend and a colleague as I’m trying to think about intersectional issues that go beyond the life I know first-personally.

By Anna J. Cooper,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Voice From the South as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The first book by Anna J. Cooper, A Voice From the South, presents strong ideals supporting racial and gender equality as well as economic progress. It's a forward-thinking narrative that highlights many disparities hindering the African American community.

Anna J. Cooper was an accomplished educator who used her influence to encourage and elevate African Americans. With A Voice From the South, she delivers a poignant analysis of the country's affairs as they relate to Black people, specifically Black women. She stresses the importance of education, which she sees as a great equalizer. Cooper considers it a necessary investment in not…


Book cover of Femininity

Peg Tittle Author Of Gender Fraud: a fiction

From my list on to make you think about gender and sex.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am the author of several novels—in addition to the one featured here, Impact, It Wasn't Enough (Finalist for the Eric Hoffer Award), Exile, and What Happened to Tom (on Goodreads' "Fiction Books That Opened Your Eyes To A Social Or Political Issue" list).  I was a columnist for The Philosopher Magazine for eight years, Philosophy Now for two years, and the Ethics and Emerging Technologies website for a year ("TransGendered Courage" received 35,000 hits, making it #3 of the year, and "Ethics without Philosophers" received 34,000 hits, making it #5 of the year), and I've published a collection of think pieces titled Sexist Shit that Pisses Me Off. 

Peg's book list on to make you think about gender and sex

Peg Tittle Why did Peg love this book?

Another classic, written in 1984 by the author of Against Our Will: Men, Women, and Rape, Brownmiller covers a lot: body, hair, clothes, voice, skin, movement, emotion, ambition. She says in her prologue, "I offer this book ... in the hope that the feminine ideal will no longer be used to perpetuate inequality between the sexes, and that exaggeration will not be required to rest secure in biological gender." 

By Susan Brownmiller,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

"Illuminating and informative....Essential reading."
THE NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW
Writing with great passion, warmth, and wit on a subject that's never been explored in these terms before, Susan Brownmiller draws on the many manifestations of femininity through the ages, and demonstrates in beautiful and telling detail the many powerful nuances of that one word.
"A positive joy to read!"
Nora Ephron
CHICAGO TRIBUNE BOOK WORLD


Book cover of The Bone Doll's Twin

David B. Coe Author Of The Chalice War: Stone

From my list on fantasy that made me say ‘wow!'.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have been writing fantasy professionally for more than twenty-five years, and have published novels of epic fantasy, contemporary urban fantasy, supernatural thriller, and (as D.B. Jackson) historical fantasy. I have devoted my professional life to the genre because I love writing about magic and the people who wield it. I believe fantasy novels should thrill and intrigue, but also touch our emotions, and carry us through narratives with beautiful writing. That is what I try to do with my books, and that is what draws me to the novels I have listed here. I hope you enjoy them as much as I have.

David's book list on fantasy that made me say ‘wow!'

David B. Coe Why did David love this book?

Lynn Flewelling’s The Bone Doll’s Twin is the opening volume of her Tamir Trilogy, an alternate-world fantasy and quite possibly the best series you’ve never heard of.

The trilogy is part epic fantasy, part ghost story, part romance. It is a gender-bending story that is literally twenty years ahead of its time. The writing is gorgeous (spoiler alert for the rest of my list: I love beautiful prose) and the narrative is haunting and powerful.

The entire series will surprise you again and again, and each book will keep you turning pages long into the night.

By Lynn Flewelling,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Bone Doll's Twin as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Sometimes the price of destiny is higher than anyone imagined....

Dark Magic, Hidden Destiny

For three centuries a divine prophecy and a line of warrior queens protected Skala. But the people grew complacent and Erius, a usurper king, claimed his young half sister’s throne.

Now plague and drought stalk the land, war with Skala’s ancient rival Plenimar drains the country’s lifeblood, and to be born female into the royal line has become a death sentence as the king fights to ensure the succession of his only heir, a son. For King Erius the greatest threat comes from his own line…


Book cover of The Gender Creative Child: Pathways for Nurturing and Supporting Children Who Live Outside Gender Boxes

Zoë Playdon Author Of The Hidden Case of Ewan Forbes: And the Unwritten History of the Trans Experience

From my list on trans liberation.

Why am I passionate about this?

Alongside my professional role as Emeritus professor and former head of postgraduate medical and dental education for NHS London and the South East region, I’ve been engaged with LGBTI human rights for thirty years, working with legal teams and advising a range of government departments and stakeholders. I wrote The Hidden Case of Ewan Forbes to remind us all that until the late 1960s, trans people self-identified, received affirmative medical care, corrected their birth certificates, and lived in full equality. At a time when discussion of trans lives is almost submerged by entrenched ideological dogma, the historical and scientific facts of trans experience feel particularly important. I hope you enjoy my selection on this theme. 

Zoë's book list on trans liberation

Zoë Playdon Why did Zoë love this book?

The first trans child we know of to self-identify and receive affirmative medical care was Ewan Forbes, whose mother accessed early testosterone treatments for him in the 1920s. A hundred years later, when I’m asked by parents for one book to understand the how’s and why’s of trans kids, Diane’s is my go-to recommendation. Based on her own real-life clinical experience, she sets out a spectrum of gender diversity, and shows how parents can support their children’s explorations and decisions.

Key to this is letting children define their own social presentation and activity, for as she puts it, ‘if we want to know a child’s gender, it is not for us to say but for the child to tell’. Diane demonstrates that this approach allows both child and parent to identify whether their gender expression is ‘insistent, consistent, and persistent’, in other words, the direction in which the…

By Diane Ehrensaft,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Developmental and clinical psychologist Diane Ehrensaft, PhD, has devoted her career to the care of children and teens who do not abide by the gender binary, either in their gender identities or expressions. In her first book, Gender Born, Gender Made, she coined the phrase "gender creative" to replace what the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, at the time, still officially termed a "disorder." Now, in The Gender Creative Child, Dr. Ehrensaft gives families, teachers, and therapists a totally up-to-date, comprehensive resource to caring for children whose gender expression is fluid or who question the gender they were assigned at birth.…


Book cover of Undersong

Pamela Mulloy Author Of As Little As Nothing

From my list on women in history challenging the limitations of gender.

Why am I passionate about this?

I became fascinated with the lives of women around the period of World War Two when I discovered the female aviators of the Air Transport Auxiliary based in England. It wasn’t until I researched the history of reproductive rights after attending the Women’s March in 2017 in Toronto, Canada that I realized the period of the 1930s was a particularly progressive time for women, a time of early feminism. As a novelist I am drawn to the social history and the impact of wars. My first novel explored PTSD, and in this one I’m exploring the lives of women who fought against the gender norms at the time.

Pamela's book list on women in history challenging the limitations of gender

Pamela Mulloy Why did Pamela love this book?

Here we are taken into the world of Dorothy Wordsworth, considered to be the creative collaborator of her brother William Wordsworth, in this highly original re-imagining of her life. Although as an adult she lived with her brother, she remained in the shadows while he mined her writing for phrases he might use in his own poetry. Her unconventional life is portrayed here through the eyes of others, including a hired hand, James Dixon, whose reverence for her helps shape the story, and the curious but effective use of an old tree, named Sycamore, who provides insightful meditations on her character. I was taken with how intimately we entered Dorothy’s world who, though frail in body, was strong in mind. The internal workings and close observations are what make the novel fascinating, a historical portrait of both woman and artist. An original and thought-provoking work.

By Kathleen Winter,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

“A stunning, spellbinding, poetic triumph." —Toronto Star
 
From Giller-shortlisted author Kathleen Winter (author of the bestseller Annabel): A stunning novel reimagining the lost years of misunderstood Romantic Era genius Dorothy Wordsworth.

When young James Dixon, a local jack-of-all-trades recently returned from the Battle of Waterloo, meets Dorothy Wordsworth, he quickly realizes he’s never met another woman anything like her. In her early thirties, Dorothy has already lived a wildly unconventional life. And as her famous brother William Wordsworth’s confidante and creative collaborator—considered by some in their circle to be the secret to his success as a poet—she has carved a…


Book cover of Beautiful Shadow: A Life of Patricia Highsmith

Gail Crowther Author Of Three-Martini Afternoons at the Ritz: The Rebellion of Sylvia Plath & Anne Sexton

From my list on rebellious women.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a writer who loves writing about women. All sorts of women. Strong, witty, complicated, unlikeable, and intelligent. It is important for me to understand the lived experience of women both inside and outside my own time and cultural context. So many women live with intersecting social characteristics, norms, expectations, nearly all of which hinder or harm. Yet so many women resist and rebel to change life for others. It is this sense of solidarity through history, one group of women paving the way for others, that I find especially fascinating and hopeful. And it is why rebellious women are so crucial. They cannot, and will not, be ignored.   

Gail's book list on rebellious women

Gail Crowther Why did Gail love this book?

This book about the ultimate rebel woman Patricia Highsmith explores in depth the many ways Highsmith rejected social expectations of her time in terms of her gender, sexuality, and writing material. The biography does not shy away from presenting Highsmith in all her glorious complexity – equal parts humorous, wry, loathsome, disturbing. This was one of the first biographies that I read where I realized the power of archives, what they can reveal, and how enlightening they can be when used so brilliantly, as Andrew Wilson does here. 

By Andrew Wilson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Patricia Highsmith - author of STRANGERS ON A TRAIN and THE TALENTED MR RIPLEY - had more than her fair share of secrets. During her life, she felt uncomfortable about discussing the source of her fiction and refused to answer questions about her private life. Yet after her death in February 1995, Highsmith left behind a vast archive of personal documents - diaries, notebooks and letters - which detail the links between her life and her work. Drawing on these intimate papers, together with material gleaned from her closest friends and lovers, Andrew Wilson has written the first biography of…


Book cover of Ancillary Mercy

Andrew Sweet Author Of Southern Highlands: Obi of Mars

From my list on sci-fi featuring world-changing female badasses.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve always loved science fiction. My father was an Asimov junkie, and our house was packed with science fiction novels and stories from Azimov to Heinlein to Wyndham and Wilhelm. I began writing science fiction in high school, yet only recently published my first 4 novels (one of which won a Bookfest award). I hold a bachelor’s degree in computer science (bioinformatics), and I stay on top of science to inform my writing. It’s through this background that I select novels, seeking out new tropes and ideas in technological advancement. Each of these novels I mention exceeded my expectations and then some. Pick one up today—you won’t be disappointed!

Andrew's book list on sci-fi featuring world-changing female badasses

Andrew Sweet Why did Andrew love this book?

What a phenomenal novel by Ann Leckie! I came across Ann Leckie’s series as I was working through books about cloning while I was writing my books. What do I love about it? The concepts, for sure: AI ships being negotiated, the entire idea of shipping minds around, a leader who sabotages herself to the detriment of her realm. All of these have been done to some extent before, but not at the scale that Ann Leckie takes on. She also manages to avoid some dead clone tropes and dead or dying AI tropes while she entertains. This novel (and series) were done well and the characters pop with personality. Loved it!

By Ann Leckie,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Ancillary Mercy as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Breq and her crew must stand against an old and powerful enemy, the Lord of the Radch, and fight for the right to determine their own destinies in the stunning conclusion to the NYT bestselling Imperial Radch trilogy A must read for fans of Ursula K. Le Guin and James S. A. Corey.

For a moment, things seemed to be under control for Breq, the soldier who used to be a warship. Then a search of Athoek Station's slums turns up someone who shouldn't exist, and a messenger from the mysterious Presger empire arrives, as does Breq's enemy, the divided…