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The Book Nook

Le Coin Lecture

Curl up and grab one of these books to help you navigate the work that's ahead.

This list is meant to help, challenge, and encourage discussions around DEI, Anti-Racism and Emerging Leadership practices. 

May 2024

Gender Queer by Maia Kobabe.png

Credit: NBC News

Gender Queer by Maia Kobabe

By: Markey Battle

What's this about?

Gender Queer is an autobiographical graphic novel about Maia Kobabe (e, eir pronouns)’s life, from beginning to present, and eir journey with gender, sexuality, One Direction, and more. Throughout the colorful pages, Kobabe walks eir readers through eir discovery of sexuality, the constant wrestling and redefining moments e had, and where e currently stands with eir identity. 


Although the graphic novel presents itself as calming and slightly childlike through its comic medium, the book reaches through the pages, grabs its readers’ hearts, and guides them through the journey Kobabe went on alone. 

 Kobabe does a wonderful job of depicting eir inner struggles, monologues, doubts, imposter syndrome, and victories through the pages of Gender Queer. At no point does Kobabe belittle the audience or assume something is common knowledge. Eir writings and drawings are often accompanied by definitions and, at one point, citations of those Kobabe emself studied.

About The Author

Maia Kobabe is a nonbinary queer author and cartoonist from California. Gender Queer is eir first full-length book. Kobabe wrote the book as a way of coming out as nonbinary to eir friends, family, and community. The book begins with an illustration of Kobabe covering the first copy of Gender Queer, unsure if e was ready to share eir journey with the world.


Sexuality, gender, family acceptance, sex, self-discovery, LGBTQIA+, coming-of-age, autobiography, and acceptance.

What We Liked

The graphic novel medium was the perfect choice for this book. While some people might have preferred Kobabe to go into more detail, or potentially gain a more fact-based understanding, I believe Kobabe’s storytelling superpowers created the perfect conduit for storytelling.


What we remember: Kobabe’s beautiful renderings of eir childhood, inner thoughts, and interactions plopped the readers directly into the scene. Kobabe is also able to express complex and difficult topics using two mediums instead of one.

What this book is : A vibrant and comprehensive autobiography of Maia Kobabe’s journey with self-identity, gender, sexuality, and life itself.


What this book isn't :  A lighthearted comic. Kobabe used eir passion and art to share a raw and honest journey in eir life.

Why Read This Book

If you want to understand everything about gender, sexuality, and pronouns, the bad news is, you won’t. Everyone’s journey is different and many people’s identities are different. But if you want to pull back the curtain and take time to understand a person’s unique and personal journey, this is the perfect book for you. 

If you’ve read this far into the review and you don’t understand why Kobabe uses e, em, eir pronouns, or if you’re still struggling to understand why people change pronouns in the first place, this is the perfect book for you.


The bright colors and light-hearted package this novel presents itself in is the perfect way to understand such a vast and vague concept, such as gender identity. Kobabe is a mastermind of an artist and a storyteller, and I would suggest everyone read this book.

Quick Quote

“I don’t want to be a girl. I don’t want to be a boy either. I just want to be myself.” (p. 72, a note written in 2004)


“The clearest metaphor I had for my own gender identity in college was the image of a scale. A huge weight had been placed on one side, without my permission [assigned female at birth]. I was constantly trying to weigh down the other side [short hair, baggy boy clothes, name, pronouns, hormones, and top surgery]. But the end goal wasn’t masculinity -- the goal was balance.” (p. 121)


“I remember when I first realized I never had to have children. It was like walking out of a narrow alley into a wide-open field. ‘I never have to get married.’ ‘I never have to date anyone.’ ‘I don't even have to care about sex.’ These realizations were like gifts that I gave to myself.” (p. 179)


“As I pondered a pronoun change, I began to think of gender less as a scale and more as a landscape. Some people are born in the mountains, while others are born by the sea. Some people are happy to live in the place they were born, while others must make a journey to reach the climate in which they can flourish and grow. Between the ocean and the mountain is a wild forest. That is where I want to make my home.” (p. 192)

Get the Gist

Read the full summary in the Los Angeles Times review.

How does it fare?

“Maia Kobabe tells eir story with such skill, beauty, and feeling that you won’t be able to put it down or resist its magnetic emotional pull. Perhaps one of the greatest lessons of the book is that identity can be a cruel thing–for all of us. Whether or not you know much about what it means to be genderqueer, you know what it means to feel out of place–and to feel that it’s your fault, rather than the fault of our habits, that you feel uncomfortable.”

Danielle McManus, San Francisco Book Review

“Gender Queer serves multiple purposes. More than simply a memoir, the book is designed to explain the very concept of being non-binary, beginning with the author’s first memories of gender and ending with the discovery of Spivak pronouns (e, em, eir) and eir first steps towards getting the people around em to accept and understand said pronouns. While these ideas can seem imposing or strange in isolation and outside of context, biographical details are the best way to illustrate concepts that could otherwise seem extraordinarily dry.”

– Tegan O’Neil The Comics Journal

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