By Lauren Dooley, Emma Holbrook, Becca Binnie and Carly Bennett
For centuries, society has been built upon a gender binary that instilled destructive, ‘concrete’ attributes for both men and women. Women were seen as prone to hysterics, while it was thought that only weak men could portray emotions. In recent years, this binary has grown less rigid, especially within the LGBTQ+ community. What happens when someone introspectively deconstructs gender for themselves and finds they do not belong within the binary? They may identify as genderfluid or genderqueer. For this article, we want to shine light on the non-binary identity. Someone who identifies as non-binary is abandoning the notion that gender is rigid and are exploring the fluidity of their own gender. Non-binary identities are on a large spectrum and many use different pronouns. To celebrate this beautiful identity, we have compiled a list of amazing books across multiple genres that have not only questioned the gender binary, but are written by inspiring, non-binary people.
The Brilliant Death by A.R Capetta
As a child, Teodora discovered that she could produce rare, outlawed magic, turning her mafia family's enemies into random objects. When their biggest rival sends a debilitating poison to her father, Teodora is forced towards revenge but there is one problem. She cannot get within an inch of her enemy as a woman. On the road to vengeance, Teodora befriends a fellow person of magic, who is genderless. Through their teaching, Teodora dons the name Teo and begins to find herself when she is free of restrictive gender norms.
This is a fantastical story about self-acceptance and the role of women in fantasy stories. A.R Capetta draws on their own experiences with gender to create a beautiful story of gender and identity.
Non-Binary Lives: An Anthology of Intersecting Identities by Jos Twist, Meg-John Barker, Kat Gupta, Ben Vincent, Jespa Jacob Smith, Vynn, Ynda Jas, LJ, Ludo Tolu and Mina Tolu
It is time to start improving our understanding of the non-binary community! Non-Binary Lives: An Anthology of Intersecting Identities is a collection of stories written by non-binary people revealing their experiences with deconstructing gender.
The non-binary narrative scene can sometimes feel limited but this selection of essays promotes a breadth of non-binary identities across the boundaries of race, class, age, sexuality, faith and more. This non-fiction piece describes how there is no right way to be non-binary, with powerful and honest examples of the diversity within gender identity. This is an educational, personal and insightful novel for both cis and non-binary book lovers.
The Many Half-Lived Lives of Sam Sylvester by Maya MacGregor
The Many Half-Lived Lives of Sam Sylvester is the beautiful debut of Maya MacGregor. Booklist has described this young adult story as being a fine-class read for anyone wanting some murder-mystery mixed with a little romance, claiming that “readers will leave this poetic book feeling that Sam and the people surrounding them are completely real, along with the ghosts of Astoria.”
When not-overly-optimistic-for-the-future Sam Sylvester moves to the quaint town of Astoria, Oregon, following a traumatic experience, they find themself making several new friends and a potential love interest that has them hoping for a better life. Only nothing is as it seems in Astoria, and the ghosts are ready for their story to be told, as Sam finds themself drawn to investigate the death of a teenage boy over thirty years ago. Sam soon finds themself caught in the gaze of a murderer, but will they escape untouched?
The Discomfort of Evening by Marieke Lucas Rijneveld
This tragic story is told from the perspective of a child named Jas following the death of her brother. This is a raw story about parents dealing with the grief of losing a child and how religion impacts the family. This story explores a child’s ability to internalise loss and how they learn to cope from parents succumbing to depression. The Discomfort of Evening won the 2020 International Booker Prize and is the debut of a dutch, non-binary author. This book was translated from Dutch and is one of the few translated works available from international non-binary authors.
The Strangeworlds Travel Agency by L.D. Lapinski
When it comes to middle grade literature, there is still a long way to go in terms of diversity and inclusion, especially when it comes to non-binary representation. With that being said…enter The Strangeworlds Travel Agency!
When twelve-year-old Flick Hudson moves to the sleepy village of Little Wyverns with her family, she doesn’t expect much – certainly not to stumble across a secret society that will set her on the path of friendship, adventure, and a great danger that threatens not only her world but a multitude of others.
Written by non-binary author L.D. Lapinski, and featuring a host of wonderfully diverse queer characters including a non-binary side character, The Strangeworlds Travel Agency is a warm, pulse-pounding hug of an adventure novel. Best of all? The final book is yet to be published, so there’s even more to get excited for.