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The 10 Best Books With Non-Binary Characters You Should Have Read Already By Now!

The 10 Best Books With Non-Binary Characters You Should Have Read Already By Now!

We’ve covered many topics and subject matters surrounding transgender characters, novels, and real-life legends in other articles, but what about the rest of our world’s gender-rule-bending legends? It would be a crime to leave out some of the bravest queer individuals of all by short-sightedness, after all. Thus we are curating this list of the best books with non-binary characters…

We’re more than sure that most of our readers are at least somewhat familiar with what it means to be non-binary, but there’s never any harm in rehashing.

A non-binary person is someone who does not feel that they belong to either being a ‘man’ or being a ‘woman’ and may either feel that they fall somewhere between the two (and consequently identify with masculinity or femininity separate from the actual gender) or that they are completely removed from that spectrum altogether and simply unable to relate to either.

This set of binary gender categories is the root of quite a lot of the issues that transgender, non-binary, and otherwise gender non-conforming individuals face – or, to be more exact, the lines drawn around them. But if a concept is harmful and only serves to limit and dictate people’s lives to them, why does it exist?

Gender Identity Books - Best Gender Identity Books - Best Books About Gender Identity - Books on Gender Identity

Unfortunately, the entire concept of ‘gender rules’ and the backbone of enforcement behind it depends heavily on anti-intellectualism and an unwillingness to learn, and as such, one could very truthfully say that reading and increasing your knowledge is one of the best things to do as an ally or a non-binary person yourself.

Knowledge always wins over ignorance, without bringing up the extremely therapeutic effects of reading something you can get inspiration from and relate to.

Non-binary individuals may not fit into the society-defined boxes of ‘male’ and ‘female’ as well as those unsympathetic may like them to, but these books have certainly made the jump from being ‘just a novel’ to shining examples of non-binary representation in the literary world.

So grab out your reading glasses, find a comfortable perch and perhaps a nice drink – it’s time to read about some non-binary characters and their worlds and have a lot of fun along the way while we’re at it.

Soldiers are the true patriots of this great land
You will find them standing proud, but not as a Republican,
For our freedom they made their life’s final stand
And unlike golf, they can’t be given a mulligan.
At gays and transgenders a president and his political party laughed,
A man who has offered no military service voluntary or through the draft.

A soldier is a person who stands and fights for our soil
They give us that freedom that we all breathe,
They fought and died for our freedom and sadly for oil
No matters what’s under their pants, or what’s on their sleeve.
Now we have a president who wants all transgenders out,
A president who for the freedom of all, has never fought a bout.

Transgender Soldiers by Randy McClave
Queer Literature

Don't have time to read them all? Why not try listening to them? Audible is a great platform for listening to audiobooks because it offers a wide selection of books, including bestsellers and exclusive content. With Audible, you can listen to your favorite books on-the-go, whether you're commuting, working out, or doing household chores.

The Audible app also has features like adjustable narration speed, a sleep timer, and the ability to create bookmarks, making it easy to customize your listening experience. Additionally, Audible offers a membership program that gives members access to a certain number of audiobooks per month, making it a cost-effective option for avid listeners. 

A great resource for people who want to maximize their time and make the most out of their daily activities. Try a free 30-day trial from Audible today, and you'll get access to a selection of Audible Originals and audiobooks, along with a credit to purchase any title in their premium selection, regardless of price (including many of the books on this list!) 

For ebook lovers, we also recommend Scribd, basically the Netflix for Books and the best and most convenient subscription for online reading. While they have a catalog comprising over half a million books including from many bestselling authors, for some of the books on this list, you'll still have to purchase individually - either as a paperback or eBook to load on your Kindle - due to publishing house restrictions. 

Gender Identity Books - Best Gender Identity Books - Best Books About Gender Identity - Books on Gender Identity

Ana on the Edge by A.J. Sass

Professional sports are never easy at the best of times, and this is even more true when it comes to the youth league. Ana-Marie Jin – a twelve-year-old non-binary Chinese-American figure skating pro – knows this more than anything else thanks to their years fighting against all kinds of challenges and obstacles, but they’re determined to make things work. Figure skating is their greatest passion, and they aren’t going to give up any time soon.

But the usual problems aren’t alone this next season. They have a new, more concerning addition to their numbers that seem to be aimed at Ana-Marie and Ana-Marie alone. The theme of the next season will be princess-themed, and failing to adhere to this theme will undoubtedly result in a major point deduction. She has to decide on what she will do, and fast.

Despite the way that it looks, however, it turns out that they aren’t alone either, and it isn’t long before the spotlight of gender issues in the sport shoots over to Hayden – a transgender boy who’s new to the rink but not new to controversy over his gender.

At first, Ana-Marie feels uncomfortable when the two meet and Hayden assumes that they are a boy, but then they start to take solace in that newfound identity and the friendship with Hayden that it provides. Together they face the troubles and fight to preserve their identities and their deep passion for the sport.

Ana on the Edge by A.J. Sass - Best Books With Non-Binary Characters

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Lakelore by Anna-Marie McLemore

Lakelore is a very recent release, and the first entry on this list of best books with non-binary characters is also fantasy, but the very real themes that it embraces and courteously explores are just as important to readers as they are to the characters and their lives within its story. The book is a must-read for buffs of the genre and is certainly one of the brightest stars out of all those on this list.

Bastián Silvano and Lore Garcia are both non-binary, transgender, queer, and neurodivergent Mexican teens with a taste for the mystical and the beautiful, but they are just about to get a lot more than they wished for. When Bastián and Lore first met, they were only nine, but now – seven years later – they see each other again under the circumstances just as mystical as the first time. 

They’ve heard the stories about the lake and the mystical world that hides deep under the waters of its surface, but they are the only two people who can confirm that the stories – or most of them, at least – are true.

There is a world down there: a world full of secrets, both belonging to the supernatural world and to the lives of Bastián and Lore. Now, as the border between the world that only they are familiar with and the usual one gets thinner than ever before, it’s up to them to stop that barrier from breaking altogether while juggling their own lives and individual journeys.

Lakelore by Anna-Marie McLemore - Best Books With Non-Binary Characters

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The Heartbreak Bakery by A.R. Capetta

The Heartbreak Bakery is this list’s second dip into fantasy – at least somewhat, in this case – but while the book is wonderful, there’s nothing wonderful about the effects that brownies from the actual Heartbreak Bakery itself have. 

Syd is a non-binary baker with a big heart and a massive passion for what they do. Making cakes and other oven goodies has been their passion for as long as they can remember, and it always will be. Sadly, however, that heart is fresh out of being broken, and it will take a while before they’re enjoying life as much as they once did.

When they start working at the Proud Muffin – an integral queer community space in their hometown of Austin, Texas – however, it doesn’t take long before they start to notice that their bad luck in relationships isn’t just contained to themselves anymore.

Everyone who eats what Syd bakes ends up breaking up, and there’s nothing they can do about it. One after the other, customers separate in various messy, angry ways, and they’re left with no one to tell about the magic that seems to be taking hold. 

No one, that is, except the delivery person Harley. But, when they learn about what’s going on, Harley doesn’t believe that Syd’s baking is destined to do ill forever. They know that wrongs can be righted and the future made brighter. It’s time for both of them to start baking their way to happiness, one brownie at a time.

The Heartbreak Bakery by A.R. Capetta - Best Books With Non-Binary Characters

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Gender Queer: A Memoir by Maia Kobabe

The first and only memoir-style work on this list of best books with non-binary characters, which makes it more or less the only non-fiction book as well, Gender Queer earns its spot with the sheer strength of emotion and scope, providing not just a glimpse into the world of a non-binary writer, but also a guide to how to better your own life and survive the most confronting of challenges.

Maia Kobabe is non-binary, queer, and trans with e/em/eir pronouns, and Gender Queer is a detailed exploration of the fundamental events in eir life, ranging from the formative confusion and shifting identity of adolescence to coming into the adult world while refusing to allow it to break you into the image that it wants you to represent.

The book is a milestone of self-acceptance and teaches kind and intuitive ways for one to love themselves and the people around them without allowing hate and intolerance to get in return.

The written extent of Kobabe’s experiences includes everything from first crushes, coming out to friends and family, and the particulars of what it means to make your way through the world as both gender-queer and socially queer.

Eir writing style is addictive to read, and the book as a whole is bound to make even the idlest readers ‘uhm’ and ‘oh’ with its relatable, humorous turns of speech. Gender Queer is a star recommendation from this list of best books with non-binary characters, even though it is not fiction, and giving it a read is a must.

Gender Queer A Memoir by Maia Kobabe - Best Books With Non-Binary Characters

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Love & Other Disasters by Anita Kelly

Love & Other Disasters is a tale about romance in the most unlikely circumstances, pushing for success and happiness and any cost and seizing the reins of one’s future. Set amidst the chaos and developing plot of a top-shelf cooking competition show, the book follows the journey of recent divorcee Dahlia Woodson and the recently self-outed non-binary chef London Parker as they try their best to cook, live, and embrace their identities under the pressure of countless eyes.

Dahlia’s entrance onto the show was nothing short of catastrophic. After making a huge mess in front of everyone and giving herself a reputation for being insufferable and clumsy, she has a lot of ground to make up if she wants to have any hope of coming out anywhere near the top.

London, however, is too focused on their own goals to notice. It’s about time that they showed all the haters exactly what they can do, proving to the transphobes and themselves that they have what it takes, after all.

Even though the two are competitors and – in the setting of the show, at least – supposed to be against one another, it isn’t long before Dahlia and London start to bond over their troubles and their similarities to one another, making sparks fly both on and off camera. But the challenges aren’t over yet. The show is beginning to come to a point, and the two still have to cook their way to the top.

Love & Other Disasters by Anita Kelly - Best Books With Non-Binary Characters

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The Ghosts We Keep by Mason Deaver

Touching upon themes of loss, grief, and moving on with a sensitive yet witty attitude, The Ghosts We Keep is a perfect read for those interested in exploring mental health or themes of queerness and gender identity.

Deaver writes about non-binary teen Liam and their journey through dealing with the death of their brother, who they were extremely close with. The Ghosts We Keep is not a romance novel, nor does it attempt to pressure too many storylines into one novel – it is solely about the process of self-development and learning to live without something you are used to depending on.

Ethan had been Liam’s rock for as long as they could remember. He had helped Liam come out, had helped him process his feelings, and had helped him through the toughest patches of school and family life. But now all of that is gone. He feels entirely alone in the world, and no one else is stepping up to save him from all the troubles Ethan kept away.

While the book is very much a slice-of-life style work and keeps its scope relatively small regarding characters and the world it is set in, that does not mean that the emotions and the scale of its inner meaning are small, much to the opposite. Deaver’s writing is evocative and deep-diving, feeling very much as though it was taken from the heart of someone expressing their loss and finding a new way to survive.

The Ghosts We Keep by Mason Deaver - Best Books With Non-Binary Characters

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Man O’ War by Cory McCarthy

A book rarely receives such a smiling reception as Man O’ War, but one can certainly attribute a large part of that to the skill and tact of McCarthy’s writing. The book was released in 2022 to great success and continues to impress as a new, lively angle on what it means to live life as a non-binary individual and the journey it takes to get there. 

River McIntyre is a passionate swimmer – which isn’t much of a surprise, given that their house is just down the road from Sea Planet. But, just like Sea Planet, River has had better days.

After a school field trip leads them to have a random encounter with a queer person that – shock horror – wasn’t as miserable as River imagined queer people to have been, they realize that it’s about time to rethink their identity and how they feel about themselves.

They know that something is not right. They’ve never been able to sit right with the labels of gender that their small town pushes down upon them, and a change is long due.

What follows this chance meeting and the mental transformation that came after can only be described as a self-reflective adventure – taking River through the ins and outs of their mind and the streets of their small town. Not everything is as they expected in either place or is all well and wonderful, but it’s a work in progress, and they’re ready to get to it.

Man O' War by Cory McCarthy - Best Books With Non-Binary Characters

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Mask of Shadows by Linsey Miller

Some people steal and rob for fun and profit, and others do so out of sheer necessity. Sallot Leon is one of the latter – without a doubt. They’re used to being trodden down. The nobles that rule the cities have made their life a living hell for as long as they can remember, and every year it seems to be harder to get along than the one before.

If they had the chance, they’d rob them for every cent they have, but such grand heists are easier fantasized about than carried off. For now, they’re stuck out on the roads as a petty robber, just as they have been for years.

But, just for a fleeting moment, it seems like not all hope is lost. Sal spies advertisements about auditions to become the newest member of the Queen’s assassins, who together are known as The Left Hand. This is the perfect lead-in, and they know it, so they jump on the opportunity the second it presents itself.

Yet, when Sal applies and finds himself surrounded by the city’s very best – or its very worst, depending on how one looks at the matter – they discover themselves very much out of their depths. These are true professionals – artists of the shadows who have no concept of fear, obstacles, or, most importantly, right and wrong. It’s up to Sal and their skills to fight and survive this battle to the death, for new life and revenge. 

Mask of Shadows by Linsey Miller - Best Books With Non-Binary Characters

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Phoenix Extravagant by Yoon Ha Lee

If you’re looking for a colorful, bold, and dauntless fantasy and steampunk mix or just trying to try something new, Phoenix Extravagant is the perfect mix for you. Following over the shoulder of the talented artist Gyen Jebi, who has little attention for things outside of doing and appreciating art, Lee’s talented writing unravels a world unlike any other, ruled over by an aristocratic class with an enforcing mass of robotic soldiers to do their will.

Things haven’t been going well financially for Jebi for a long time, and thus they’re not exactly in a position to refuse when the government hires them to work on painting the magical symbols that keep the merciless automatons moving and fighting.

At first, this seems like it’s set to be their big break, but then Jebi’s exposure to the Razanei government’s actions and policies gets the better of them. They can’t handle the knowledge that their actions are leading to the deaths and the persecution of innocent people, and they know that they have to do something. 

But how? The Rananei government has been in power for about as long as they can remember, and there’s no way that they alone can make a difference. They don’t even know how to fight, let alone how to organize a resistance. 

As it turns out, however, they have a chance yet. And that chance is named Arazi – one of the ministry’s most important automatons and their ticket to freedom and starting the change to good.

Phoenix Extravagant by Yoon Ha Lee - Best Books With Non-Binary Characters

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A Psalm for the Wild-Built by Becky Chambers

A Psalm for the Wild-Build is a story about Utopia – a place where people left behind their reliance on machines and industry in the ‘Factory Age’ in favor of living in harmony with nature, one another, and the concept of life as a greater whole.

Half of the planet is covered in a mass of jungle and trees which people are not allowed to use, interfere with, or otherwise harm, and all buildings are made out of natural and easily replaceable materials. 

Sounds perfect, right? Well – if you’re a human, maybe.

A long, long time ago, back when the world was still in the Factory Age, the robots created by humans developed sentience and left civilization to make their own life out in the wilderness. While this act of simultaneous abandonment and solidarity provided a crucible of change for humanity, its consequences upon both kinds of life forms were hard to estimate in full.

In the present, a non-binary tea monk named Dex and a robot named Splendid Speckled Mosscap meet and form a connection over debating all things life and existence, contemplating the futility and importance of their respective existences. 

While A Psalm for the Wild-Built’s tale may not rely on conflict or disaster to work, that doesn’t mean that the book is boring or unengaging. The insight it offers is nothing short of amazing, as is the adorable and whimsical nature of its setting and cast of characters.

A Psalm for the Wild-Built by Becky Chambers - Best Books With Non-Binary Characters

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