Mini Reviews: Transathon Wrap-Up

All of July was Transathon, hosted by Ocean over on Twitter. This event was about reading and enjoying books by transgender and non-binary authors. I do this year-round, but it was the perfect opportunity to focus solely on my huge list of books by not-cis authors I've been meaning to get to. I ended up reading a total of 9 books for Transathon! I've already posted about Homesick by Nino Cipri (review here) and Gender Queer by Maia Kobabe (review here), but here are mini reviews for the 7 other titles I read during this event: Something That May Shock and Discredit You by Daniel Lavery A memoir rooted in faith, literary classics, pop culture, and the author's experiences being…

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Gender Queer by Maia Kobabe

Gender Queer is a graphic memoir that follows the author as e questions eir gender and sexual identities (nonbinary and asexual). It's important to remember this is one individual's story, but its greatest strength is how Kobabe differentiates between cis people who resist gender expectations and how a person comes to understand they are nonbinary. There were a couple spots that I recognized as normal parts of this journey, but I wish these moments were fleshed out a bit more. My fear is that cis readers who don't have the knowledge to fill in the blanks might miss the overall point and be tempted to medicalize gender identity. Kobabe is very open about the many questions e had along the…

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Native: Identity, Belonging, and Rediscovering God by Kaitlin Curtice

In Native: Identity, Belonging, and Rediscovering God, Kaitlin Curtice shares how she learned she couldn't get to know God while denying her Potawatomi identity. She takes us through her process of grappling with what it means to be a Potawatomi woman who belongs to a colonizing religion that all too often upholds and perpetuates white supremacy. She makes a clear, passionate, loving argument for why decolonization must be a top priority for the church, and how decolonization is a gift for everyone, not just the oppressed. "I grew up in a church culture that rewarded people pleasing, that punished those who ask too many questions, that pushed out those who seemed too angry or grieved too long." I love how she…

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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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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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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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Fiction/Nonfiction Book Pairing

  Nonfiction November Week 2: (Nov. 4 to 8) – Book Pairing (hosted by Sarah of Sarah’s Book Shelves): This week, pair up a nonfiction book with a fiction title. It can be a “If you loved this book, read this!” or just two titles that you think would go well together.  My book pairing for this week's prompt is Friday Black, a collection of speculative fiction short stories by Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah with Citizen: An American Lyric, nonfiction essays, images, and poetry by Claudia Rankine. If you found one of these books powerful, I think you'll find the other equally compelling. (If you haven't read either, run to the bookstore.) They both creatively tackle the exhaustion that comes with…

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Nonfiction November TBR

I'm starting off Nonfiction November with One Coin Found: How God's Love Stretches to the Margins by Rev. Emmy Kegler, but I gathered up all the nonfiction in the house that I've been wanting to read but haven't gotten around to. So this is my TBR stack of possibilities (because I'm a total mood reader). Storm in a Teacup: The Physics of Everyday Life by Helen Czerski Life from Scratch: A Memoir of Food, Family, and Forgiveness by Sasha Martin The Survivors: A Story of War, Inheritance, and Healing by Adam P. Frankel The Unspeakable Mind: Stories of Trauma and Healing from the Frontlines of PTSD Science by Shaili Jain Marx at the Arcade: Consoles, Controllers, and Class Struggle by…

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