lgbtqia+ book squee comics gender studies Philosophy nonbinary transgender

What I'm Reading: Trans Love, Queer Witches, and Walkaways

By Novae Caelum
Mar 25, 2020 · 738 words · 3 minutes

Photo by Jason Leung via Unsplash.

From the author: I love squeeing about books! Especially books that are meaningful to me. From non-fic to fiction to comics, and much queerness, I hope you might find something that sparks your interest, too!

I've never been a fan of writing reviews, maybe because reviews imply the need to be critical about a work in some way. I hate being critical. (Dirty secret: I even often hate beta reading because I know my views might be completely missing the point, and vice versa. We're all such different creators.) But I love to fan gush about the things I'm reading that make me happy, deepen my views of reality or open up new ones, and strengthen my hope in my own part to play in this world. So, I thought I'd start a series of gushing about books I'm currently reading and what they mean to me and why I love them. And why you might love them, too. Loosely updated when I feel the whim to gush!

The last few months, I've been reading a lot of trans and gender theory books. Some memoirs, some anthologies of essays, some educational books and graphic guides. Anything and everything! The most wonderful thing is, in the last year there have been so many books published around trans and non-binary issues and voices with information that just wasn't available except in scattered places around the internet--until now. I've been coming home with stacks of brand new books from the library (well, before everything got locked down, but hey, my library renews five times!) and alternately squeeing and getting super happy emotional about seeing things I've needed to see in print. So needed to see. Like Eris Young's amazing They/Them/Their, which is a comprehensive guide for and about non-binary people. By a non-binary person. Which wins everything.

Another I've been enjoying immensely is Trans Love: An Anthology of Transgender and Non-binary Voices edited by Freiya Benson. This book is filled with essays and poetry by trans and non-binary authors on love in all its forms: romantic, friends and family, self-love, spiritual. Essays are so often transparent, moving, and life-affirming. Sometimes heart-breaking. And such a beautiful array of voices from different cultures and viewpoints around the world. 

Another favorite I'm (studiously!) tearing through is Gender: A Graphic Guide by Meg-John Barker, illustrated by Jules Scheele. This book is hands-down amazing. Like, in a life-changing way. It deconstructs gender in all its connotations--what it actually is, what it means, how we got to our current understandings of gender, and what lies beyond them. The illustrations might make this seem deceptively breezy--nope, I have only been able to take a few pages at a time because it's blowing my mind and changing my paradigms on what gender means. They've got me thinking of gender in terms I've never come across before, and I've been knee-deep in the gender revolution as a non-binary person for years. For anyone who wants to understand society at its deepest level, and help understand and embrace people who run counter to societal gender norms, this book is a must. If I could, I'd buy about a hundred of them and hand them out to everyone I know. Plus, the book is structured around a trip in a TARDIS! I mean, yes. 

I read a lot of comics and one I just adored recently is Mooncakes by Wendy Xu and Suzanne Walker. It's a YA story about a queer witch who lives with her grandmothers and her non-binary werewolf friend/becoming more than friend. Such a sweet, beautiful story, gorgeous art, and a non-binary romance! Yay!

I've been reading Cory Doctorow's novel Walkaway and I'm The story's centered around a near-future in which the mega-rich control everything (surprise!), jobs are hard to come by for everyone else, and more and more people get fed up with society as it is and just...walk away. Into this intensely-realized, functional gift economy with people who are intent on living their fullest lives. This one's hitting so many philosophical buttons for me--I'm pretty passionate about finding different modes of living and creating than what's presented to us as normal and acceptable in society. And I've never before seen this carried out in such a plausible way in fiction. The philosophy here is deep, the tech is amazing, and the writing gorgeous. This is a book my soul needed right now.

There are so many good books! I love finding new treasures. I hope these might spark some treasures for you to check out, too!

Novae Caelum

Novae Caelum writes about things strange, beautiful, and queer. New works posted monthly.