Cover Image: The Book of Non-Binary Joy

The Book of Non-Binary Joy

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Member Reviews

The Book of Non-Binsry is Joy is a quick and enjoyable read, even though it also covers some of the harder topics of life in a gender-binary world. I was interested to read this book as a gender-questioning person. I don't identify strongly as woman, but would not say that I identify as non-binary.
The book  covers a lot of different topics and gives practical tips that are summarized after each chapter. I found that really helpful. Pechey themselves writes that the book is also an important read for cis allies and I would agree. However, as someone who is not really sure about things, it was a bit tricky. I would say it is more aimed at someone who already knows who they are. 
I'm still glad that I read it, thank you to NetGalley and Jessica Kingsley Publishers for the ARC!
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I received an eARC copy of The Book of Non-Binary Joy by Ben Pechey from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. 
Overall I found this book to be very good for exploring my identity. The art that is found within the book is amazing and helps break up a few of the drier sections. That said, there were some parts of the book that seemed a little repetitive and harder to get through. Overall I would recommend this book for anyone who wishes to learn more about being Non-binary, especially if you are just starting on your journey.
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This review is written by a nonbinary person! A big thank you to Netgalley for granting me an advanced copy of "The Book of Non-Binary Joy" by Ben Pechey in exchange for an honest review!

I needed this book when I was a teenager. I am a non-binary adult that needed the guidance and reassurance that Pechey presents in their new release "The Book of Non-Binary Joy," and I love that current youth (or anyone) can utilize this book to begin thinking about what words fit their identity and how their identity fits into the larger world. I think I would have been thrilled and validated to know and see other nonbinary representation in media, and I'm overall enthused that a book centering the nonbinary experience has even made its way to the publishing house. However, I think "The Book of Non-Binary Joy" may have missed the mark for me, and here's why:

I consider this a text most appropriate for a younger audience, one that is just beginning to understand their place in the world. Also a strong fit for anyone whose love language is words of affirmation. This is an identity-building starting place—written conversationally, Pechey provides referential lists of places to look for further resources, including lists of nonbinary social media influencers, nonbinary celebrities, and places to shop for androgynous clothing. In between the common proverbs and pop culture references, Pechey grazes over topics in intersectional activism without delving particularly far into any one thing, which is again why I consider this well-tailored to a younger reader that is just beginning to understand their world. 

Ultimately, there isn't enough substance for this to be a work with long-lasting gravity; in a few years, the references and voice are going to be outdated, brands and websites are going to close, phone numbers are going to be changed. Influencers may retire, and celebrities' career paths may change—and then the book will only be its word searches.
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While this book is very well written with compassion and heart ; it's a bit repetitive at points. The repetition is my only complaint though. I enjoyed the artwork and metaphors the most. I recommend this for everyone who has been curious about gender identities for a while.
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I think this is a great book for people new to the idea they may be trans or nonbinary, as well as a helpful book for allies though it isn’t written for them. 

Micro-aggressions section had two examples that were the same one about racism and one about homophobia, I feel like it would be more beneficial to have two different examples. 

“The body positive movement and it’s messages, which were created by powerful black and poc women” this sentence doesn’t make sense “created by black and people of colour women” is what is said here. I would say “black women and women of colour” avoid shortening to the acronym as people may not know what WOC is. 
I think it would be beneficial to add some historic context to this as well as many people don’t know where or how it bagan and who for/by.  
https://www.refinery29.com/amp/en-gb/2021/03/10389843/body-positivity-neutrality-movement-history
“Initially dubbed the Fat Acceptance Movement, the campaign for the normalisation of bigger bodies in society began in New York City in the late 1960s. Body positivity went on to be a product of the fat liberation movement of the 1960s. It was created by fat queer Black women and femmes — a space by and for marginalized bodies, for anyone who felt cast aside compared to the strict beauty standards of the time period.”

“I really appreciate that you may have never met anyone who uses they/them pronouns before and this may feel new or alien to you. I use they/them pronouns and I deserve you to respect this” the last sentence is super confusing, doesn’t read well. 
“I deserve your respect on this/I deserve to be respected on this” is way clearer

“Soul food in itself” is erring on using things not ours to use. You can just use “food for the soul”

The fashion, make up and style section feels way more catered to femme presenting people than masc or fluid. There’s minimal to no advice for masc presentation. And the recommended brands are expensive and again only looking from a femme pov. I agree with other reviews I’ve seen where this book would have benefitted from more voices being more actively involved than the random chunks of quotes. Not one mention of second hand shopping. 

“Kids this is toxic behaviour” ages the book. I feel like the writing and language choices are confusing for who this is meant for. There are words used I don’t know the meaning of and I’m 27 and then the author refers to the readers as “kids” 
The idea of ‘mutually beneficial relationships’ makes them sound like a transaction rather than actual friendship. 

Self diagnosis is widely accepted among disabled activist due to many factors that make official diagnosis out of reach for many. I recommend removing that bullet point in the mental health section and doing some more research. People aren’t just taking quizzes to diagnose themselves. They are doing plenty of their own research. 

Unfortunately this book frustrated me more the further I read, and I was reading this with audience in mind. I know I am not the audience, but I feel like there is a lot lacking in intersectionality and context.
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2.5 stars.
This book was a bit different than I expected and I wish I had enjoyed it more, but it just didn't hit me in the right way I guess.

This book could definitely still benefit other people though, because it has some good quotes and advice in it. Note the use of the word some there... 

Because there was a section in this book that rubbed me the wrong way which was the section about avoiding (online) self diagnosis. As a disabled person myself, I very much advocate for self diagnosis. I self diagnosed myself with autism about a year before I actually managed to get access to getting a diagnosis. Self diagnosis can literally save people's lives. So yeah, safe to say that I really didn't like that particular section.

Anyway, the book was still quite informational and it definitely helped me figure some stuff out, but again it just didn't hit me in the right way.
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Not quite the audience for it, thought to inform myself since my child is non-binary. This book is more aimed to young people who may contemplate if they might be non-binary.
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This book is truly a joy to read. Pechey keeps a very personal connection with the reader. Perfect for people at a younger age looking for steps and helpful tips to exploring one's gender. Enjoyable interactive parts, the ability to read the chapters in any order is wonderful to those knowing what they need advice on. I cannot wait to be able to bring this into the library.
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Thank you to NetGalley and Jessica Kingsley Publishers for an eARC of this title.

I don’t often read non-fiction or self-help type books, but this one really caught my eye. Written by a non-binary person about how to live an authentic and happy life as someone who doesn’t fit the gender binary is a really great book and concept. I think this book is great for a number of people. First, for people who are non-binary, gender-nonconforming, or questioning their gender identity. Second, for people who want to know more about the experience of non-binary people, what they experience, and what the kinds of questions they have.

The book starts with some definitions, explanations, and experiences about gender, sex, the discrimination faced by non-binary people, and experiences from people and their lives. I think these explanations and definitions are really great to give a brief overview of terms and experiences that some may not understand or have even realized exist. Though, I think they are too brief for anyone who already knows a bit about gender and LGBTQ+ identities, terms, etc.

Overall, I think this a great read for anyone questioning their identity, who is non-binary, or who is interested in learning more about gender identity. It’s got some great self-care activities, tips and ideas, and some really great anecdotes.

Rating: 4/5 Stars
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This book is such a little gem! Packed with friendly and fundamental advice, it contains all the important basic tips to navigate being non-binary, on a personal as well as social level . From taking your time to explore your gender identity (and enjoying the journey), to being aware of the duplicitous role of social media and learning how to create healthy boundaries, Pechey is a funny and enthusiastic cheerleader for self-expression and acceptance.
Perfect for rainy Sunday afternoons, this book is a much needed source of encouragement and validation.
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I loved this inspirational, positive book about the experiences of being a non-binary person.  It is humorous, hopeful, and enlightening.  I highly recommend it for people of all genders!
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Hmm, I want to give this book 5 stars but a few things rubbed me the wrong way. I couldn’t connect to the voice as much as I wish I had. And I didn’t really learn anything new. HOWEVER, it gets 4 stars because it’s be a great resource to those who need it.
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If you know nothing about gender then this is the book for you. Ally ship is really important and this book gives you some support with this, the book is more like an open letter from the author and wasn’t what I expected (don’t know what I was expecting to be fair) this could resonate with so many young people or anyone who is not cis gender
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Thank you NetGalley for my ARC!

I will 100% be putting a copy of this book in my classroom for students. This was a great intro guide to what being non-binary means and common questions/ situations arise for non-binary folks and how those topics can be approached. 

My 2 big dislikes of this book/ 2 big things I would have liked: 1) the author skims a lot of HEAVY topics at an extremely surface level. While I think that’s a great way to start conversations with non-binary newbies, I wanted way more depth on the super important topics. The author does provide resources at the end, but idk. I wanted more direct input. 2) I wanted more personal experience from the author and contributing writers about their experience on whatever topic was being presented. I think the book would have benefited from that kind of structure and so would readers.
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I think this book wasn't for me.
There is a need for self-help books, when it comes down to marginalized identities. And many nonbinary people do struggle with their identity a lot. But hearing someone telling me what to do to have a chance at happiness actually doesn't help—especially not if I feel like my hand is being held by someone who's treating me like a child. The use of “darling” and other sentences that makes it look like an older, more experienced person is talking to you about your identity simply doesn't work for me. I want to see people who are on my same page, people who simply want to share themselves. Equals, you know?
What was lacking in this book, at least in my opinion, were more insights on lived experiences that go deeper than a how-to books that's telling you all the right things without actually giving you expanded real life examples. The few comments from other nonbinary people sharing their opinions and experiences were the best part of the book, but really it wasn't enough for me. 

I'd recommend this book to anyone who's just starting out in their nonbinary journey and still isn't sure about the terminology, the community, and how to actually crack the egg to express themselves. It can definitely be a guide, in that sense.
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[Review by a non-binary reader]

So....

I was really excited to read what sounded like a self-help book made for me, but it went south as soon as I started reading. As many have mentioned, the author's tone is unbearable. Calling us readers darling repeatedly and saying things like "how was it?" after you finish chapter one was distracting and annoying. I felt like I was listening to a meditation or other self-guided app when that's not what I was prepared for. A lot of the narrative voice grated and came across as so patronizing that I couldn't focus on what was being said. 

It was nice to have material gathered in one place specifically for those who do or may in future identify as non-binary, but I'm not sure there was anything new here that I couldn't find in a twitter thread amongst my very-queer timeline, to be honest. There was a section explaining gaslighting, coming out to your family, etc., and it was just nothing new for me, though I can see the value it'd have for a young reader. 

I did think it was neat that the book was structured so that the different chapters could be read out of order. The part about fashion was good, too - non-binary people don't owe you androgyny or overalls every day. 

This book tried for a cute, kind of softened self-help approach, probably really approachable for youths or people less comfortable with this aspect of themselves. Unfortunately I'm a little too pragmatic for such coddling. The tone and delivery was just ... not it for me. Maybe they can edit a bit more before this releases in May.
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This is a really good, basic, book on a lot of aspects that come with the non-binary experiences. It covers a broad array of subjects from understanding what non-binary is, to wardrobe and make, to mental health online. If you’re someone just getting into the subject and think you’d benefit from some starter information, this is where to turn to.

I have a few cons with the book too. My first being that almost none of the subjects get super in depth in the ways I feel like would’ve been helpful. Each talking point is short and sweet, ranging from a paragraph to a page, and while this helps cover a lot of info, I feel like more explanation could’ve been put in. My second con is that the author’s own biased experience can come through a lot. For example, when talking about make up, it still feels like the author only talks about it in a way that makes someone fem-presenting, even with the disclaimer. There weren’t any mentions of how make up can be used to create a more masculine look, and to someone reading this book for the simple info, little details like that are important to mention. There’s also a disclaimer against self-diagnosing, which I don’t think is relevant to the book nor the place to speak on in it.

If you’re looking for a soft, easy, self-help feeling book that validates your experience, this is a good book. But if you find yourself in non-binary social circles and already have a general knowledge, keep your expectations mild.
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*Special thanks to NetGallery and Jessica Kingsley Publishers for the eARC of this book*

TW: Mentions of transphobia, homophobia, gender dysphoria

(Note: This review is from a queer, disabled, non-binary person)

This book was a little delight to open, read, and experience. I loved the author's very clear voice and style that felt very conversational, which is great for avoiding the stale ted-talk like styles these books can often end up having. The illustrations were amazing. I loved them, all the differing presenting people. The style is cool and fresh and unique.

I do have one VERY big critique, but as important and necessary this critique is, I don't want it to seem like the rest of the book wasn't amazing.  

As mentioned before I myself and disabled, and so when the author goes into the section "Avoid self-diagnosis online my fur got rubbed the wrong way. This section is incredibly tone-deaf to the classism and ableism that act as gatekeepers to the neurodivergent community (gatekeeping being something the author even brings up earlier in the book).

Often neurodivergent people cannot afford to be formally diagnosed, or have family who keep them from being able to reach out to the proper doctors or channels to find out this information about themselves. Many in the neurodivergent community support and encourage self-diagnosis (never self-medication) as a great stepping point in a person understanding themselves and learning to love themselves and find support and structures to help them function until they can get a formal diagnosis. 

Then there is the problem that so many trained professionals know little to nothing of CURRENT care and research on neurodivergence, and many often have incredibly outdated schools of thought that haven't been updated since many attended school 20-odd years before. Example of myself: I self-diagnosed myself as autistc ADHD, went to a general psychiatrist, who dismissed me, told me I was only being "emotional", wanted to prescribe me the wrong medication, and emotionally abused me. When I was lucky enough (and $1000.00 dollars richer enough) to go to a DR specializing in current research on ADHD and Autism, he diagnosed me right away as a classic case. Before this 'official' diagnosis however, my life had improved dramatically since I had read up and taught myself strategies to function that I learned online about ADHD and autism from advocates online. Self-diagnosis can be life-saving.

I'm not saying being professionally diagnosed is wrong, but I'm saying it is an incredibly gray area, and this section paints the picture of "Don't think you have X condition, only wait for a professional to diagnose you and they are always correct". I know this is not what the author is intending. They are trying to say "Don't just do a quiz and invest no other effort", but the message comes across ableist, classist, and wrong. Encourage professional diagnosis, yes, but also include they can get second opinions, find DRs who specialize in those areas, and until they can afford to be seen, work with strategies that can help in the area they think they fall into.
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This is a fantastic resource that feels like a warm hug to nonbinary readers and also one that invites readers who may not happen to be nonbinary in. There are sites to visit, recommendations for folks to follow online, etc. A really lovely read.
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What a lovely resource!

I really enjoyed this book, and feel I was able to take something away where I am in my journey of gender exploration. I can only imagine how helpful this would be to someone just starting off or someone insecure in their gender identity.

The author's voice came through very clear and felt like I was reading their passion project, which always feels like an honor to receive. Throughout the book labels, definitions, even a self care word search are provided as you learn to find joy in your gender identity.

While not everything resonated with me due to where I am in my life, I know this book will help many young trans people. That makes this book invaluable.
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