Non-Binary Lives edited by Jos Twist, Ben Vincent, Meg-John Barker, and Kat Gupta

Non-Binary Lives is a diverse collection of personal narratives that encompasses a huge variety of perspectives, reminding readers that there are endless ways to be non-binary. There are so many identities and intersections in this book: age (including coming out at different ages), health, neurodiversity, sexuality, body size, family size (including pregnancy and parenthood), gender identity, gender assigned at birth, race, nationality, class, faith. I especially loved Fred Langridge's essay "Non-Binary Experience in a Liberal Faith Community," about being a member of the Quaker community. And Lucy/Luc Nicholas's essay "Am I Allowed To Be Non-Binary, Too?" hit me right in the gut. Cis readers will learn a great deal from this collection. There are some surprising perspectives in here, and…

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Good Boy by Jennifer Finney Boylan

It's no secret that I love Jennifer Finney Boylan's writing, fiction and nonfiction alike. Her phrasing is beautiful and engaging, making it oh-so-difficult to put down her books. I read her latest memoir, Good Boy, in less than a day. What a lovely premise, to set up a memoir organized by the dogs in one's life. And Boylan's dogs were chock full of personality! Her descriptions are incredibly vivid, whether she's flipping an omelet or describing Matt the Mutt (I'm still laughing at that dog's antics!) knock down a guacamole-carrying visitor. I could seriously listen to her stories all day long. Anyone with pets knows that the animals in our lives can teach us a great deal about ourselves, and…

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The Book of Forgiving by Desmond and Mpho Tutu

I picked up The Book of Forgiving: The Fourfold Path for Healing Ourselves and Our World to read during Lent along with the folks at Cafeteria Christian. I love Desmond Tutu, though, and I'm not good at sticking to a reading schedule, so I finished it way ahead of time. I was frustrated by this book at first because it felt like it was barely scratching the surface. I wanted more details, more explanation, and I just wasn't getting it. I'm so glad I stuck with it, though! Each chapter revealed another layer, and another, and yet another. The same stories circled back, but with a deeper understanding of the forgiveness process as the book moved on. I got a…

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What Shines From It by Sara Rauch

There are 11 short stories in Sara Rauch's collection What Shines From It, and overall this was a solid "it was good, I liked it" read for me. The first five and the final stories really wowed me, but the ones in between didn't have the same impact. I found my mind wandering as I read. Sara Rauch has a knack for telling people stories, though, getting to the heart of what motivates and moves her characters and how they interact with each other. Her writing flows easily and is filled with warmth, even when exploring darker themes. If you love character-driven short stories, be sure to check out this book.

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Pet by Akwaeke Emezi

The town of Lucille is essentially a utopia. Its older citizens have done some hard, difficult work. Justice is restorative, not punitive. There's a deep sense of community, of caring for each other as if they're all family, of getting to the root of problems and working them out. The community emphasizes free access to knowledge and the importance of public spaces like libraries. But Lucille is also a reminder that when we think we've figured things out, we must stay vigilant; complacency makes us unable and/or unwilling to acknowledge that injustices continue to occur. The characters in Pet are wonderfully diverse without their diversity being a plot point. And Jam and Redemption's friendship is the most loving, beautifully written…

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How To Do Nothing by Jenny Odell

I went into Jenny Odell's How To Do Nothing thinking I was getting a general "how to slim down your social media usage" type of book, but this completely surprised me! I loved its nuanced, anti-capitalist perspective. Odell discusses the far-reaching implications of how our attention is being used as a commodity, as well as how to subvert that in deeply meaningful ways. She makes great points about how the ability to choose to unplug from social media involves a lot of privilege, and how it misses a larger, more important point. Instead, she encourages readers to resist and redirect our attention in order to regain control, without giving up connection and community. (Including a cool bit about the free,…

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Finna by Nino Cipri

FINNA is a fun, anti-capitalist, wonderfully queer, light sci-fi adventure novella and I'm all about it. It's like NBC's Superstore meets Grady Hendrix's Horrorstör, but FINNA has its own unique style. You've got wormholes and multiverses, danger and discovery, humor and heart. I would have been thrilled to read a slightly longer book that fleshed out the characters a little bit more, but this shorter format worked great, too. I raced through this book right along with Jules and Ava, and I'm rushing off to read Nino Cipri's short story collection Homesick ASAP.

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Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy by Rey Terciero and Bre Indigo

Confession: I'm really not fond of Alcott's Little Women. But Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy is a contemporary retelling, in graphic novel format, and it removed a lot of the reasons I couldn't make it past the halfway mark of the original story. Sometimes the girls' letters to their dad felt clunky, more like an info dump than realistic letters from his children. (This didn't bother my 10-year-old at all, though. She said she enjoyed the letters.) The Women's March illustration at the end included some trans-exclusive imagery, which was especially disappointing considering how diverse and inclusive the book otherwise was. But overall, I enjoyed this retelling. The characters are facing situations and issues that kids today can relate to,…

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Wishtree by Katherine Applegate

Wishtree is a sweet story about loving your neighbor and taking action in the face of injustice. Red, a 216-year-old raggy tree, is our narrator; the community ties wishes to Red's branches once a year. Interesting nature facts and vocabulary are casually woven into this beautiful narrative. I would have liked this to be a tad longer so the friendship between Stephen and Samar could have been fleshed out more. If insta-friends are a thing, these two were it. But I otherwise really enjoyed this gentle early middle grade novel.

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Amateur by Thomas Page McBee

In his memoir Amateur, Thomas Page McBee tackles the masculinity crisis and toxic masculinity, drawing from his own experiences as a trans man. McBee's insights complement the works of both Julia Serano and Brené Brown. If you're like me and the thought of reading about boxing makes your eyes glaze over, don't worry - it's honestly not too bad, and he connects it to broader, truly important points. This was so compelling that I listened to the audiobook straight through. Even though I was left feeling grieved at the end, I also had a lot of points to mull over, things I'd never considered before. Amateur is the kind of book that sparks compassion, encourages discussion, and effects change.

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