Beyond the Binary at JMRL

y648At the Crozet Library, our focus for LGBT+* Pride Month 2017 is gender. We’re featuring fiction and nonfiction books about people who identify somewhere outside the cisgender man/woman binary system and inviting patrons to contribute their identity to our community board. Check out the display in our teen area for information, pronoun stickers, book selections, or to add to the board.

Looking for some great books to read for Pride, or want to educate yourself about gender identity? Check out these fiction, nonfiction, and memoir picks! Links will take you to the JMRL catalog, where you can place these books on reserve.



Symptoms of Being Human by Jeff Garvin – A genderfluid teen creates a blog to share thoughts and experiences about gender. When it goes viral, the responsibility and risk of exposure may prove to be too much.

Beast by Brie Spangler – A Beauty and the Beast retelling featureing fifteen-year-old Dylan (hairy, burly, outcast) and Jamie (witty, gorgeous, transgender) who meet when Dylan is assigned to a therapy group for self-harmers after an accident.

Gracefully Grayson by Ami Polonsky – A novel about twelve-year-old Grayson, who feels trapped under the weight of a life-long secret: “he” has always been a girl on the inside. A sweet and thoughtful story about friendship and support.

George by Alex Gino – George wants to play Charlotte in the annual school rendition of Charlotte’s Web, but she’s not allowed to audition because everyone sees her as a boy. With the support of her best friend, though, George comes up with a plan to embrace her true self and make her dream come true.

Beautiful Music for Ugly Children by Kirstin Cronn-Mills – Public access radio star Gabe is dealing with a lot: romance, parents, friendships, coming out as transgender, and an awesome opportunity to audition for a radio station in Minneapolis. The difficulty ramps even higher when several violent students discover that Gabe the popular DJ is also Elizabeth from school.


The ABCs of LGBT+ by Ashley Mardell – This one isn’t strictly about gender, as it encompasses the entire scope of gender, sexual, and romantic identity, but it’s a must-read for anyone feeling out of their depth in the ever-more-complex world of identity. YouTuber Ashley Mardell presents what could be an overwhelming amount of information in a straightforward and easy-to-digest way, with complete definitions, personal anecdotes, and infographics.

Some Assembly Required by Arin Andrews / Being Normal by Katie Rain Hill – Two halves of the same story, told by two transgender teens who were dating during their respective transitions from male to female and female to male.

Being Jazz: My Life as a (Transgender) Teen by Jazz Jennings – Young transgender activist (and now reality TV star) Jazz Jennings recounts her experiences growing up as a transgender child and her work to educate the world about gender issues.

Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out edited by Susan Kuklin – Author/photographer Susan Kuklin interviews six transgender or non-binary young adults as they work to understand themselves and their gender identities. Filled with beautiful photos and candid anecdotes.

Becoming Nicole: The Transformation of an American Family by Amy Ellis Nutt – A family who adopted identical twin boys reexamined their deeply held views about gender identity when one of the twins turns out to be transgender.

Want more? Ask a librarian at any JMRL branch, chat with us via our website, or use our What Do I Read Next? tool. Happy reading!

* – Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and more

Local Stories


The 2017 Nelson County Historical Society Homes and Properties Tour will be focused on Faber and Schuyler this Saturday, which brings to mind Nelson’s favorite son Earl Hamner Jr.  JMRL has a collection of his novels and memoirs, as well as the dvd collection of the television hit based on his life, “The Waltons.”  Here are some other nice collections of local stories which you might enjoy:

Backroads series  by Lynn COFFEY

When Coffey moved to Love, VA in 1980, she settled right in and embraced the culture and the people of this tiny mountain town which calls itself the “Crest of the Blue Ridge.”  Inspired by the way of life of the hard-working folks around her, she began to gather their stories and publish them in a monthly newspaper she called “Backroads.”   For 25 years, her neighbors shared their tales, taught their skills, and even posed for pictures, and Coffey preserved it all.  In 2009, she published a collection of these tales in Backroads: Plain Folk and Simple Livin’ which was followed in the next few years by two more volumes.

A Legacy of Rural Virginia  by Donald W. PAYNE

In two volumes, Payne’s collection is subtitled “Simpler Times Laced with Hardships and Happiness” which just about says it all.  Having grown up in Fluvanna County, Payne was always interested in the lives of the elders and happy to listen to them tell their stories. His work covers the 1800’s and 1900’s and includes many old photographs.

Best Little Stories from Virginia  by C. Brian KELLY

Journalist Kelly takes the history of our Commonwealth even further back, to the 16th century.  With extensive footnotes, bibliography, and timelines, Virginia’s history is again told through a series of stories.  It also contains a section entitled “The Women Who Counted.”  This volume is one is a series of “Best Little Stories” books that Kelly has written.

Greetings from Charlottesville, Virginia and Albemarle County  by Samuel MENEFEE

Menefee has collected over 300 postcards from the area, dating back to the early 1900’s, with some expected sights and some which might surprise you.  Menefee describes postcards as “Windows to the Past.”  Be sure to note the cards of the “Post Office, Charlottesville” on page 47 – it’s now the Central Library!

small books


The warm weather is calling us outdoors!  Whether we’re gardening or jogging or strolling the Downtown Mall, we’re happy to enjoy the onset of Spring.  So this weekend, I’ll offer a few small books, books you might read over the weekend and still have time to play outside.

Grief is the Thing with Feathers by Max Porter

A father and his two sons are grieving the sudden loss of their wife and mother.  Who shows up to help them?  Crow – trickster, instigator, babysitter and therapist –  who “finds humans dull except in grief” and threatens to stay until they no longer need him.  This unusual story is told from the three voices – Dad, the Boys, and Crow – as months go by and this little family moves through its sadness and begins to recover.  With poetry woven throughout, this is quite an extraordinary little book!

The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett

One of my favorites and not just because it involves a bookmobile!   Following her corgis from the garden, Queen Elizabeth is led to the bookmobile parked by the palace kitchen doors.  Always polite, she steps aboard to apologize for the dogs’ behavior and, for the first time in her life, is offered the opportunity to read something for pleasure.  This act changes all her relationships: with her staff, other heads of state, the British people, and herself.   This small book will cause you to reflect, laugh, and examine the power of the written word.

Bachelor Brothers’ Bed & Breakfast by Bill Richardson

A sweet little book, this one is for lovers of literature everywhere.   Bachelor twins Hector and Virgil consider their B&B a refuge for gentle, bookish people like themselves.   Guests may bring their own books or peruse the brothers’ considerable library.  So whether one is looking for some quiet time to finally make it through War and Peace or happily re-reading Beatrix Potter yet again, all are welcomed by these delightful brothers.

BookShots series by James Patterson

James Patterson has a theory that some folks today aren’t willing, or able, to commit to reading an entire novel.  To address this issue, last year he started publishing “BookShots” – small paperback novels, complete at 150 pages or less, that sell for $4.95.  Some of these stories include his regular characters (e.g. Michael Bennett and Alex Cross) and some introduce new protagonists.  I’m not sure whether they’re such a success because of their size or because of Patterson’s popularity, but they have been a hit.  JMRL has quite a few in our catalogue which are searchable under “keyword: book shots.”  Check them out!