I personally LOVE this prompt. I think it’s going to cause a lot of people to stretch out of their comfort zone and read from a perspective that they never would have otherwise. I love that they are pulling diversity in and helping the reading community grow.
I’ve said it in another post but I have found that I enjoy “walking” into a book blind. I’ll figure out via tags on Goodreads that it fulfills a requirement for one of the multiple reading challenges that I’m participating but I won’t look into anything else. I won’t read any synopsis or look into the author. I don’t want to start the book with any preconceived notions. I want the book to speak for itself.
Going into this prompt and digging into the backstory of authors, I realized that I had already read a handful of books that would fit this prompt. Once I saw this was a prompt though, I immediately decided on a memoir written by a person who I’m a HUGE fan of. I like that he is authentically himself and because of that, his book was already on my TBR for this year… Jonathan Van Ness and his book, Over the Top: A Raw Journey to Self-Love, published Sept 2019 by Harper Audio. It fits the prompt because JVN has come out publicly as being Nonbinary, gender nonconforming. He is all about breaking down stereotypes and finding ways to give people the strength and space to express themselves as their true selves. I think this very much comes through on his show Queer Eye. JVN is in charge of the skin, hair, face “makeovers” and he’s taken a different approach than most. He doesn’t want the people he works with to be anything but themselves. He doesn’t want to drastically change them, he guides them to be a healthier and more put together version of themselves.
I listened to the Audible version of the book and he actually talks about his decision to do this. It’s fantastic! To often these makeover shows push people to snap to what society thinks beauty should look like. Queer Eye doesn’t do that and I think that is part of the reason for its success. The guys and JVN especially teach people how to be comfortable in their own skins and teach them skills to help keep that going.
It’s been a few months since I listened to his book so I went back and looked at my review of it on Goodreads… I gave it 5 out of 5 stars and here is a portion of it:
There is a strength in JVN that I don’t think is always recognized. He has been through a ton and in his book he describes the challenges and hardships he has faced that have shaped who he is today. The reason that I loved his book and him in general is he is all about being proud of who you are and what you look like. He doesn’t want people to change to be able to fit into society’s expectations of us. Part of the reason he is on Queer Eye and part of the message that he sends out into the world is we are all beautiful just the way that we are. He wants to accentuate our beauty in ways that are comfortable for us, he does not want to change people just so that they fit in. His message is beautiful and powerful and something we all need to remember. It’s one that I struggle with especially
Another nonbinary author whose book I thoroughly enjoyed was Red, White & Royal Blue, published May 2019 by St. Martin’s Griffin. It was so cute and gave me all the good feels. It isn’t for everyone because it is a beautiful love story between two young men, specifically the Prince of England and the First Son of the female President of the United States. I gave it 4 stars.
Both Red, White, & Royal Blue and Over the Top were Goodreads Best Books of 2019 winners. Red, White, & Royal Blue for Romance and Debut and Over the Top for Memoir & Autobiography.
Another book that I gave 5 stars that fits this category is The Map of Salt and Stars by Zeyn Joukhadar, published May 2018 by Atria Books. Zeyn Joukhadar, originally Jennifer, is transgender and now identifies by he/him pronouns. His story follows two girls in two vastly different times (800 yrs apart) in Syria. One is present day and you get insight into what it is like being a Syrian refugee seeking safety. The other is a medieval adventurer apprenticed to a legendary mapmaker. It’s a beautiful, beautiful story and I highly recommend it. One of my favorite books of 2019.
Google has a handful of lists that provide additional suggestions but the best is on Goodreads and was created by the Popsugar Goodreads group and is available here.