25 by 25

24 is just around the corner, so this is the perfect time to curate a list of 25 books to read by 25. i’ve selected a mix of classics, contemporaries and non-fiction, and the hope is that i can average reading two a month to complete them just ahead of my birthday.

classics

  • anna karenin by leo tolstoy – after war and peace i need to consume everything tolstoy has ever written.
  • bleak house by charles dickens – i love big sad books.
  • the grapes of wrath by john steinbeck – there’s just something so captivating about steinbeck’s writing. i’m wary of reading the edition i have as it’s held together by luck at this point, so i need to get a new copy if i’m going to see this through.
  • les miserables by victor hugo – i had this on my 10 classics i want to read in 2020 list, but i just didn’t. i’m currently halfway through though so a 2021 finish seems very likely.
  • looking backward 2000 – 1887 by edward bellamy – i’ve considered reading this like once a month since i got it, but i’ve just never made time for it.
  • the master and the margarita by mikhail bulgakov – whilst i’m on the russian hype train i’ve got to visit this classic.
  • sylvia’s lovers by elizabeth gaskell – after falling head over heels for mrs gaskell last year, i need to continue on.
  • villette by charlotte bronte – adventure and romance? i’m in!

contemporaries

  • a beautifully foolish endeavor by hank green – i LOVED an absolutely remarkable thing and if this isn’t half as good as that, i’ll scream.
  • christine by stephen king – i haven’t read a stephen king novel in like three months, am i okay?
  • the decagon house murders by yukito ayatsuji – i accidentally started this right after finishing and then there were none so i had to put it on hold. enough time has elapsed so i’m ready to go!
  • exciting times by naoise dolan – this was an impulse purchase from sainsburys of all place. i know absolutely nothing about it, but the cover is excellent and the title is in lower case, so it’s got to be the book for me, right?
  • the girl with the louding voice by abi dare – i’ve heard nothing but praise for this, and i’m so ready to love it!!
  • heartstopper vol. 5 by alice oseman – i’m not sure if this will actually be released in time, but i’ll be keeping up with the weekly uploads so 🤞 i get to see it through to the end!
  • the people in the trees by hanya yanagihara – i started this in january but had to put it down as i wasn’t quite ready for the emotional toll. now though, i think i’m there.
  • the travelling cat chronicles by hiro arikawa – this is a charity shop find from earlier this month. the cover is absolutely enchanting and i’m sure the story will be too.
  • the underground railway by colson whitehead – i read the nickel boys earlier this year and was in awe of the prose.
  • the vanishing half by brit bennett – i so want to love this, but i’m just not sure if i will.
  • 1q84 by haruki murakami – i can’t not have a murakami on the list.

non-fiction

  • burn it down ed. by breanne fahs – i will not be that person with a million unread verso books.
  • hood feminism by mikki kendall – i’m so stoked to read this!! i’ve heard it discusses intersections not usually covered in feminist texts, so i’m hoping it’ll offer fresh perspectives
  • a life in letters by anton chekhov – i have fallen down a chekhov rabbit hole.
  • natives: race and class in the ruins of empire by akala – i was introduced to akala in high school through a friend playing me his videos in IT, but i’ve not kept up with him over the years. it’s high time, i caught up.
  • no modernism without lesbians by diana souhami – i picked this up on a whim earlier this year. i kinda hated studying modernism at university as we only really looked at texts written by men and they bored me to tears, so i’m curious to learn the origins. who knows, maybe i’ll end up loving modernism.
  • women, race & class by angela davis – this was a christmas gift, and is definitely overdue a read.
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have you got a list like this? if so, what’s on it?

march + april wrap up

hey, it’s the world’s most inconsistent blogger! march and april have been super hectic months and in between landing a new job, reading everything i can get my hands on and breaking my tailbone i’ve not really had a whole lot of time or energy for blogging. that said, i have come up with a thousand posts that i want to work on, so i’m hoping to get my groove back.

let’s take a whirwind tour of march and april…

– books i read –

  • smashed – ⭐⭐⭐⭐ – classic Ito, what more can be said?
  • anne at green gables – ⭐⭐⭐⭐ – this was sweet, but i don’t think i’m going to continue on with the series.
  • the death of vivek oji – ⭐⭐⭐⭐ – the writing style is immense, but some parts of the storyline just didn’t sit right with me. incest storylines make me want to vomit.
  • the strange tale of panorama island – ⭐⭐⭐⭐ – the art style here was incredible (!!!) and i could pore over it for hours. i think if i were more familiar with the original story, i’d have enjoyed it more so I hope to revisit it after doing so.
  • shooting an elephant – ⭐⭐⭐⭐ – an interesting collection of essays, with the titular essay being a little more literal than expected.
  • notting hill carnival – ⭐⭐ – this was a fast read, but not particularly compelling. there’s no life to the carnival and not even a wisp of chemistry between sapphire and apollo.
  • paul cezanne: painting people – ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ – a speedy exploration of his portraiture work, cannot recommend enough!
  • later – ⭐⭐⭐ – ehhh. pretty middle of the road for king. i was expecting more as the other hard case titles have been excellent.
  • notes on camp – ⭐⭐⭐ – interesting enough, but these kind of essays hurt my head as they’re just so damn dated.
  • they do it with mirrors – ⭐⭐⭐ – a satisfying read, but just that.
  • bestiary – ⭐⭐⭐⭐ – bestiary’s are so funny and for what?
  • poems – ⭐⭐⭐⭐ – a lovely collection of poetry.
  • a suspension of mercy – ⭐⭐⭐ – this is my second foray into highsmith outside of the ripley series. i didn’t care much for the characters but it was a fun ride.
  • fascism and democracy – ⭐⭐⭐⭐ – i was clearly having a moment with orwell. he’s a class essayist.
  • lost dog and other stories – ⭐⭐⭐ – it was okay, not particularly memorable.
  • swimming in the dark – ⭐⭐⭐ – i think i’d overhyped this and so was immensely underwhelmed. the writing was also weak as hell.
  • lambeth palace library – ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐- love, love, loved! this was insightful, well structured and just a good time.
  • her body and other parties – ⭐⭐⭐⭐ – i’m not sure why i didn’t give this five starts tbh. i feel like this is a collection of essays that i’ll revisit time and time again.
  • titian – ⭐⭐⭐⭐ – titian is so cool, but the font size in this gave me a headache.
  • cheer up: love and pompoms – ⭐⭐⭐⭐ – super sweet, but a little rushed. i hope there’s another volume to add some extra depth.
  • three types of solitude – ⭐⭐⭐ – i guess kubrick got more out of this than me.
  • the story of a fierce bad rabbit – ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  • 2bro2b – ⭐⭐⭐ – pretty mediocre.
  • the tale of mr. jeremy fisher – ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
  • the tale of two bad mice – ⭐⭐⭐
  • the tale of jemima puddle duck – ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  • the tale of the flopsy bunnies – ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  • the tale of squirrel nutkin – ⭐⭐⭐
  • cecily parsley’s nursery rhymes – ⭐⭐⭐
  • the tale of samuel whiskers or the roly poly pudding – ⭐⭐⭐
  • the tailor of gloucester – ⭐⭐⭐
  • the tale of benjamin button – ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  • the tale of peter rabbit – ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  • the tale of tom kitten – ⭐⭐⭐
  • robin hood and his merry men – ⭐⭐⭐ – i wish i cared more for robin hood.
  • a journey to the end of the russian empire – ⭐⭐⭐⭐ – chekhov is actually hilarious. cannot wait to read the full collection of his leeters.
  • she’s my knight vol. 1 – ⭐⭐⭐- a pretty average start but i’m intrigued to see where this goes and what other tropes they explore/flip.
  • the sprite and the gardener – ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ – i want a copy of my own immediately!!!! this is such a gorgeous piece, and everyone should read it!
  • the sentinel – ⭐⭐ – reacher is merely a caricature of himself, maybe it’s time to leave the series behind.
  • the anti-slavery alphabet – ⭐⭐⭐ – an interesting piece in its historical context.
  • the absurd abc – ⭐⭐⭐ – idk why but i cannot stop reading these abc’s whenever i see them.
  • the tale of mrs tiggy-winkle – ⭐⭐⭐
  • those snow white notes vol. 1 – ⭐⭐⭐ – average. i’ll leave the series here.
  • antigone, oedipus the king and electra – ⭐⭐⭐⭐ – another old, dead funny man.
  • oedipus at colonus – ⭐⭐⭐⭐ – absolutely rate this too.
  • the recognition of sakuntala – ⭐⭐⭐⭐ – i had no idea what this was going in, and i was blown away. it was hilarious, like, the kind of funny where you have to read it aloud to someone else just to affirm it.
  • the complete poems of thomas hardy – ⭐⭐⭐- 15 months on, and i’ve now read every poem that good old mr hardy published. my favourite is still neutral tones, and i think this man should cap every poem at 16 lines.
  • take a hint, dani brown – ⭐⭐ – i didn’t enjoy get a life, chloe brown, and yet i was compelled to finish it. i didn’t enjoy this either, but again, i felt compelled to finish it. i’ll probably give the act your age, eve brown a whirl just to try and figure out why i can’t stop reading these books.
  • don quixote – ⭐⭐⭐ – this was a s l o g but i finished it after like 7 weeks but hey, now i can understand every text that references it!
  • hot stew – ⭐⭐ – ugh don’t you just love shitty white ‘feminist’ analyses of sex work and gentrification. let’s just forget that intersectionality is a thing and make sex workers seem like idiots that aren’t even smart enough to work at tesco. great job fiona! 🙃
  • the last thing to burn – ⭐⭐⭐ – an interesting concept that was poorly executed.
  • my policeman – ⭐⭐- what a waste of my time. harry styles had better make this film worth my while.
  • boys run the riot vol. 1 – ⭐⭐⭐⭐ – i need the next vol immediately!!!!
  • concrete rose – ⭐⭐⭐⭐ – i liked being back in the gardens, but this felt a little rushed and left me with unanswered questions.
  • the gaybcs – ⭐⭐⭐ – for something that’s supposed to be wholesome and inclusive, the mark was missed quite a few times.
  • frankenstein – ⭐⭐⭐⭐ – a pretty cool interpretation of frankenstein but i wish it had been a longer exploration of the story as it was less than half the volume and so much more could have been done with it.
  • junji ito’s dissolving classroom – ⭐⭐⭐⭐ – a classic display of ito’s style of repetition excelling.
  • frgaments of horror – ⭐⭐⭐ – really could’ve done without the transphobia in magami nanakuse.
  • remina – ⭐⭐⭐ – a little cosmic horror. obviously the art was amazing but the characters and story sucked.
  • the hill we climb: an inaugural poem – ⭐⭐⭐ – on paper this just felt lacklustre.
  • electra and other plays – ⭐⭐⭐⭐ – might just make being a sophocles stannie my new identity ❤️
  • the tales of ise – ⭐⭐⭐⭐- i wish the tales and poems had been better integrated, the flipping got real annoying real quick. the tales themselves though were fantastic and i loved that i could just dip in and out of this.
  • blood on the tracks vol. 1 – ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ – i literally gasped out loud, i need the rest of the series immediately.
  • plays and fragments – ⭐⭐ – the translation of this was so colloquial and trying to be #cool.
  • one punch man vol. 1 – ⭐⭐⭐⭐ – a very solid 4 star series.
  • vintage murakami – ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ – this is a murakami reader, so i only read the short stories which were new to me and they were excellent!!! can’t wait to pick up the new collection he just put out!!
  • discourse on the origin of inequality – ⭐⭐⭐- this felt like it was 1000 pages long, but for the most part i agree.
  • one punch man vol. 2 – ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  • one punch man vol. 3 – ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  • one punch man vol. 4 – ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  • one punch man vol. 5 – ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  • one punch man vol. 6 – ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  • venus in the blind spot – ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ – the human chair 🤩 edogawa ranpo’s story with ito’s visuals is an event!! what a cracking time
  • classic poetry: an illustrated collection – ⭐⭐⭐⭐ – very wholesome.
  • sweet sweet revenge ltd. – ⭐⭐⭐ – after loving the charm of the hundred-year old man, this just missed the mark for me as i absolutely loathed the characters.
  • drinking – ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ – an excellent collection of short stories, ‘the swimmer’ remains my firm favourite though and you should definitely read it immediately.
  • dragman – ⭐⭐⭐⭐ – i picked this graphic novel up on a whim from dave’s comics in brighton, mostly being sold on the title alone. it’s well worth a read, and the art is amazing!!
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– stats –

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have you read any of these? what were your thoughts?

february wrap up

February started out with a slump. I think I was exhausted after powering through 36 books in January. Things slowly got better though as I figured out how to balance working full-time with reading again, and in the last week of Feb I steamed through 6 books leading to a nice total of 12.

– books i read –

  • Chavs – ⭐⭐⭐⭐ – A little too repetitive and slightly outdated but ultimately a good read. I’d be quite interested in seeing how his writing has developed in his more recent works.
  • I Want to Be Where the Normal People Are – ⭐⭐⭐ – I so wanted to love this with all my heart because Crazy Ex Girlfriend is one of my favourite shows, but it just felt like Bloom had so little to say and was looking to save the real details for a second book. That said, the book absolutely shone with the interactive element where you could head to Bloom’s website and listen to one of the chapters be performed.
  • The Vinland Sagas – ⭐⭐⭐ – This was an intriguing collection contains two variants of the same saga on the norse discovery of america. The translations were accessible but fairly dry.
  • Earthlings – ⭐⭐⭐⭐ – Sayaka Murata is unbelievably gifted and despite the brevity of her works, she’s able to so deftly explore and address dark themes and horrific experiences. This book is uncomfortable and upsetting, and could easily fall into the horror genre. I definitely wouldn’t recommend this lightly, and if you are just getting started with Murata, I’d advise starting with Convenience Store Woman. tw: murder, cannibalism, rape (of a minor), sexual assault, incest, child abuse, trauma.
  • A Massacre in Mexico – ⭐⭐⭐ – Hernandez has produced a comprehensive, if dense, piece on the mass disappearance of 43 Ayotzinapa students. This book peels back the layers of corruption in Mexico and reconstructs the run up to, the night of, and the events following the incident. Whilst the case cannot be considered ‘solved’, it is evident who enabled and contributed to this horror.
  • Cleanness – ⭐⭐⭐⭐ – Cleanness explores a series of relationships from the friendly to the romantic to the purely sexual. It’s poetic and potentially provocative, but not radical. I’d like to read more from Greenwell, but I hope that in the future he better utilises his setting as Bulgaria was only a shadow of itself here.
  • The Life of Josiah Henson – ⭐⭐⭐⭐ – After dnf’ing Uncle Tom’s Cabin I came across a review which explained that it had been based on the narrative of Josiah Henson. This text is an insightful and delightfully succinct work, and I would recommend it. You can find a free copy on Gutenberg.
  • Patsy – ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ – What. A. Book. Dennis-Benn is a phenomenal writer. tw: depression, self-harm, suicide.
  • The Sanatorium – ⭐ – The less said, the better.
  • Bring Me Back – ⭐⭐ – I was desperate for a good thriller, and after having read another of Paris’ books (Behind Closed Doors) last year, I was hopeful that this would fill the void. I was betrayed though as this was abysmal. 200 pages could have easily been cut out and nothing would have been missed. This book lacked any form of hook and Layla was a laughable villain, all of her POV’s made me cringe.
  • Trans – ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ – I loved that this was a memoir that wasn’t just about being trans and sensationalising all the details and personal trauma. It feels like we’re slowly moving towards trans people being able to just write for themselves rather than for the voyeurs. Sitting down with this book felt like I hanging out with a friend and just chatting away. There’s theory, culture, and representation, there’s book, movie, and music references, and it’s set mostly across Manchester, Brighton and London, all of which are in some way home to me.
  • A Wrinkle in Time – ⭐ – Having recently watched the film I thought I would see how the book differed. I wish I hadn’t. It’s pretty didactic, anti-communist and the characters were flat. I don’t see myself completing the series.

– stats –

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What was your favourite read in February?

catch up [2]

ugh, it’s been a hot minute!

january seemed to last forever, and i mostly split my time between reading and wandering. i somehow managed to read 36 books and for a second i had aspirations of reading a book a day for the rest of the year.

as i’m finally wrapping my head around having some form of structure in my life for the first time in four months, i’m hoping to get back to blogging regularly. i’ve got a ton of arc reviews lined up, but i’d also like to put together some stats for 2020 and set the tone for 2021.

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let me know what you’ve been up to in the comments below!

colourful fun embroidery : an e-arc review

Disclaimer: I was provided with a free e-copy of this text in exchange for an honest review courtesy of Pen & Sword – White Owl via NetGalley.

Colourful Fun Embroidery by Clare Albans is a bright embroidery guide that contains 24 inspiring patterns.

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Colourful Fun Embroidery showcases that being creative is energising, and that crafted is ultimately about taking the time to enjoy the process rather than focusing on the end result.

The patterns are split into three categories: ‘crafternoons’, ‘medium makes’, and ‘pick me up projects’, and each pattern suggests a length of time to set aside for completion. I really enjoyed this set up as it’s so easy to underestimate how long something will take and become frustrated with the process.

In terms of the designs offered, the first few are mostly just stitched words, and whilst they were cute they can easily be found on Pinterest. Following that, the designs do become a little more complex, and they’re quite twee. If you enjoy bright and clashing colours or visually busy pieces, you’ll enjoy the designs. If you like more muted designs, you might want to look into other books by this publisher such as Floral Embroidery.

The instructions provided alongside each pattern are high quality and, as with Floral Embroidery, there’s plenty of photos to follow along with if you get stuck as the photos are numbered to match up with specific steps.

What surprised me about this collection is how useful the tips were. Usually, you just receive a generic selection, but this contained a few that I’d never even considered and will definitely be giving a go.

My biggest criticisms for this book is that a sewing machine is required for some of the pieces (this isn’t mentioned on the blurb and may lead to disappointment upon purchasing), and that the materials and stitch guides are at the back. I always find this nonsensical as it’s the most important information.

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Colourful Fun Embroidery was published on August 30th 2020. I’d recommend reaching out to your local bookstore to order a copy.

slug in love : an e-arc review

Disclaimer: I was provided with a free e-copy of this text in exchange for an honest review courtesy of Simon & Schuster Children’s UK via NetGalley.

Slug in Love by Rachel Bright (author) & Nadia Shireen (illustrator) is a short illustrated children’s book following Doug’s rhyme-based quest to receive a hug.

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Doug’s story is a heartwarming tale all about finding your perfect partner. It might not be an easy journey, but once you’ve found the one, there’s nothing better than getting cosy and having a cuddle.

Rachel Bright’s written voice is fun and engaging, and Nadia Shireen has done an excellent job of illustrating this one! Each critter was simple but displayed an enormous amount of character. Gail’s glasses are absolutely iconic!

Slug in Love is simple, sweet, and very easy to follow. It’s the perfect combination of adorable and weird!

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Slug in Love will be published on January 1st 2021 in the UK. I’d recommend reaching out to your local bookstore to order a copy.

catch up [1]

short walks? not an option.

an emotional menagerie : an e-arc review

Disclaimer: I was provided with a free e-copy of this text in exchange for an honest review courtesy of Duckworth Books via NetGalley. If you make a purchase through my Bookshop affiliate link, I may earn a commission through Bookshop.org whose sales support independent bookshops.

An Emotional Menagerie: Feelings from A to Z by The School of Life is an illustrated children’s book on understanding emotions. It reminded me of old Victorian glossaries in the best way!

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An Emotional Menagerie is brilliant for both learning and understanding emotions, and generally expanding your vocabulary. It’s the kind of book which children can grow into.

Each poem takes up one page, and the illustration occupies the opposing leaf which reflects the emotion discussed so that the child can have a visual reference. I think that this will be a great tool for emotional literacy especially as negative emotions are validated and there is a pathway to a brighter feeling.

Every few pages I found a new favourite illustration as they’re all incredibly imaginative and evocative, but overall, I think that the cow which goes alongside tranquillity is my favourite. I did also wonder which emotion X would be, and it’s a fun little cheat!

It took me a while to realise that synonyms were underlined with dots. As they’re often misaligned, I thought that they were to symbolise that this was an arc copy, so my only criticism is that these should have been better defined.

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An Emotional Menagerie: Feelings from A to Z will be published on April 6th 2021. You can pre-order this graphic novel through my Bookshop affiliate link if you’re in the UK. If you live elsewhere you can reach out to your local bookshop to see if they can order a copy in for you!

delicates : an e-arc review

Disclaimer: I was provided with a free e-copy of this text in exchange for an honest review courtesy of Oni Press via NetGalley. If you make a purchase through my Bookshop affiliate link, I may earn a commission through Bookshop.org whose sales support independent bookshops.

Delicates by Brenna Thummler is a superbly crafted graphic novel on grief, anxiety, and bullying.

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Let’s get straight to the point, this was brilliant, I feel like I’ve not shut up about it since I finished it!

The colour palette Thummler opted to use was absolutely stunning, and the use of matte colours with a focus on blue, pink and purple hues creates such a warm and safe atmosphere which perfectly balances out the story. On a somewhat unrelated note, can I say that I want to own every outfit featured? Because I do.

I’ll be honest though, going into this I didn’t expect it to be so emotionally charged, and I certainly didn’t expect to cry whilst reading it, but it’s an emotional ride that you quickly become invested in. The book deals with bullying in a nuanced way and it explores how the most pain can come from the bystanders surrounding bullies, which is something that is rarely found in literature.

I would have liked to have seen more of an exploration of Marjorie’s father and his depression/coping mechanisms, but perhaps that will be explored in the next instalment.

I’d wholeheartedly recommend this if you’re able to handle the topics that it covers. TW for: suicidal thoughts, bullying, and grief.

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Delicates will be published on March 16th 2021. You can pre-order this graphic novel through my Bookshop affiliate link if you’re in the UK. If you live elsewhere you can reach out to your local bookshop to see if they can order a copy in for you!

being a super trans ally : an e-arc review

I was provided with a free e-copy of this text in exchange for an honest review courtesy of Jessica Kingsley Publishers via NetGalley.

Being a Super Trans Ally! by Phoenix Schneider and Sherry Paris is an interactive workbook on trans, nonbinary and gender non-conforming identities.

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This workbook is targeted towards those in primary school and beyond and encourages you to read or talk through the book with a friend of loved one. However, it’s poorly structured for the audience and presents itself in a very juvenile manner (one example being that key concepts were framed as ‘bubble gum’ ideas so that you can ‘chew’ on them), yet the text itself leans more towards a young adult audience with prior knowledge of trans identities. If you were to bring this to a friend or loved one, there is no reference section for them so that they can support a discussion.

Another display of poor choices is in the chosen acronym which is LGBTQIAPNBGD+. This is quite clunky and a little overwhelming when it’s just stated as the acronym to be used and not explained. A few problematic terms such as ‘sapiosexual’ were also discussed. An acrostic explaining what each letter stands for would have made a great focal point, and then LGBT+ or LGBTQIA+ could have been used throughout. This not only helps to streamline the reading experience but also makes it easier to discuss the term to normalise its use. Whilst definitions were eventually a part of the book, many were borderline transphobic which is outrageous given the aims of the workbook. For example, there’s the implication that nonbinary people cannot identify as lesbian or gay, and the definition of bisexuality was straight up transphobic indicating an attraction to the two binary genders. Bisexuality is the attraction to two or more genders, or even regardless of gender.

Whilst I believe that this book is well-intentioned, it only further plays into negative stereotypes and could put many young people at risk.

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Being a Super Trans Ally! was published on May 21st 2020.