Thursday, November 22, 2018

F, M or Other - Quarrels with the Gender Binary by Various Authors

This has been a delightful queer anthology of short stories, poetry, comics, essays, with an academic paper or two tossed in for good measure. The contributors come from all over the world, some from North and South America, then across the pond from UK, Europe and parts of Asia.

I absolutely adored the comic, "Hazmat Romance" that graced the first few pages of this book. It was dark yet hilarious, and was strangely evocative.

The next piece, "Necessary Monsters" by Robert Stirrups was a blast to read. It narrated the events from the point of view of a young student who's repeatedly harassed by a fellow classmate who often drew a penis on his books and papers. The ending was unexpected and surprising, a fitting end to a lovely recount that would encourage every youth who's ever faced bullying.

I liked how the collection dealt with issues of eating disorders, rape, drag, and more. It's like nothing I've ever read and I'm so glad that there is a publisher brave enough to tackle all these taboo topics all in one book.

"The Boy Is..." by Nic Lachance is a case in point. Devoid of capitalisation, this mini memoir, affixed with a trigger warning, is a stream-of-consciousness gem of writing that talks frankly about masturbation, mild BDSM, trauma, and abuse among other things.

There were several pieces that shouted "girl power" and I was pleased with the fact that they featured female-identified persons taking control of situations that might have otherwise beaten them down.

I also loved how almost every letter of the LGBTQIA+ family is represented in this collection as genderqueer, non-binary and agender characters are not often found in many English language publications.

There is literally something here for everyone.

Math nerds would adore the poem, "Equations to integrate along a gender curve" by Jonathan Bay as he uses mathematical metaphors to discuss his trans identity with very interesting imagery.

If I had but one complaint about this otherwise brilliant anthology, it would be the incongruous nature of the academic papers, placed in the middle of the book, that really disrupted the otherwise perfect flow I had reading this volume. However, I do acknowledge that the publisher probably wanted to provide a good range of various sorts of writing, so I reluctantly accept their presence as they would likely appeal to certain readers. For all its worth, they were pretty educational to boot, although too dry and lengthy for my liking.

Finally, I must absolutely mention the sci-fi short stories that were found near the end of this volume. I was blown away by Julya Oui's "Last of the Bona Fide Brothels" that was set in a Southeast-Asian country - Malaysia, that kept me on the edge of my seat. 

"The Archivist" by Eris Young was also amazing. I liked the main character's tenacity and I was glad that they finally forged a future for themselves at the end of the story.

All in all, I would say that this is a masterpiece that everyone ought to read. Grab your copy here today!

Disclaimer: I was given an electronic copy of this book by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. 

Rachel’s Now Reading is also a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to

Friday, November 2, 2018

Talking Across The Divide by Justin Lee

The world has never been as polarised as it is today.

LGBTQ+ activists versus Christians.

Liberals versus Conservatives.

Left versus Right.

This is where Justin Lee’s latest book, “Talking Across the Divide” has proven to be a game-changer.

In this book, he gives us the tools we need to dialogue with those we disagree with. No, he doesn’t teach us how to argue effectively, but to dialogue.

“Strategic Dialogue” is a term he coined to refer to a particular way of communicating with people you dialogue with. It’s a technique designed to reduce tension, change attitudes, and remove obstacles to the truth.

In this book, he outlines 3 basic steps of strategic dialogue he has used for the past 20 years to great success.

A: Preparation
Step 1: Prepare yourself
Step 2: Prepare your audience
Step 3: Prepare the space

B: Dialogue
Step 4: Use Strategic Listening
Step 5: Use Strategic Storytelling
Step 6: Repeat to break down barriers

C: Next steps
Step 7: Make an ask
Step 8: Debrief and evaluate
Step 9: Repeat process

To find out more about each step, do buy the book and read the chapters which are chock-full of useful information.

This is a book filled not only with theory, but is also full of practical advice on how to engage someone in strategic dialogue.

I liked the case studies he presented where he used the exact steps outlined in this book to dialogue with people he disagreed with and will definitely be using many of the methods listed in this book to talk with friends and family whose opinions I disagree with.

I’d recommend this book to everyone who has someone they don’t see eye to eye with, yet want to maintain a harmonious relationship. This is a very useful tool in the polarised world we live in today. So wait no more, grab your copy today!

Check out my YouTube video of this book review here:

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this ebook from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Rachel’s Now Reading is also a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to