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Life Isn't Binary: On Being Both, Beyond, and In-Between

4.18  ·  Rating details ·  270 ratings  ·  48 reviews
Challenging society's rigid and binary ways of thinking, this original work shows the limitations that binary thinking has regarding our relationships, wellbeing, sense of identity, and more. Explaining how we can think and act in a less rigid manner, this fascinating book shows how life isn't binary. ...more
Paperback, 237 pages
Published May 21st 2019 by Jessica Kingsley Publishers
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Average rating 4.18  · 
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Start your review of Life Isn't Binary: On Being Both, Beyond, and In-Between
Cast aside flat black and white binaries.
See textured landscapes of many colours.
Be kind.

(Source of background.)

Labels (seem to) make life easier, and binary ones even more so.
We fall into using them, unthinkingly and often unquestioningly.
But there are way more grey areas than black and white ones.
Binaries constrain. Even two-dimensional spectrums do.
And they rarely reflect the world as it is.

This book starts with the obvious topics of sexualities (beyond gay/straight) and genders (beyond fema
Aug 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: glbt
I predict this book will be a landmark in LGBT studies, in particular in bisexuality and transgender studies. When I finished this book, I felt much as I did 27 years ago, when I discovered and read Bi Any Other Name: Bisexuals Speak Out—I felt seen, and more than that I knew there were other people like me, communities I could belong to, and a multilayered identity that I shared with many others. It was life-changing. In the same way, Life Isn't Binary has the potential to change lives. It will ...more
Aug 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Occasionally you read a book that's a life-changer and Meg-John Barker and Alex Iantaffi's latest book Life Isn't Binary: On Being Both, Beyond and In-Between was just that for me. It's a brilliant look at how binary thinking (i.e. there's only two options and usually one is seen as being better than the other) is unhelpful in lots of areas of life.

The non-binary authors focus chapters on how thinking about gender and sexuality in less binary ways can open up new possibilities, and their clear w
Dec 26, 2019 rated it liked it
It started out as a really nice book that provides very loving advice on how to deal with things as a queer person in a non-queer society, but then it turns into a major advertisement for 'mindfulness' and whitewashed Buddhism. There really is some solid advice in there, the sections on how enforced binaries (not just limited in daily life) are present in daily life are very helpful. But then they make the switch to mindfulness and it just... Well, I wouldn't recommend their exercises if you're ...more
Mar 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: queer
This book is both a life changer and a page turner!
Having read "How to understand your gender" by the same authors, I was familiar with both the style and structure of the work, but I don't really think these two volumes should be put together. "How to understand your gender" focuses much more on... Well, gender,while this book here is much more comprehensive. It does analyzes sexuality and gender in the first two sections, but then it shifts to different aspects of life and existence,such as em
Jul 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: phd
Really introspective book on a number of topics, not just non-binary ways of thinking gender and sexuality, but thinking in general: success/failure binaries, good/bad binaries, etc. It gave a lot of food for thought and was written in a way that wasn't too academically overwhelming and was accessible. Being non-binary myself, and bisexual, this was a great read, and has left me thinking a lot about the way I think about the world as a whole, and myself, not just in relation to gender, sexuality ...more
Mar 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing
THIS! I want to recommend this to everyone - anyone who would like to familiarise themselves with or read a concise discussion of issues, questions, and facts around gender, sex, and sexuality, but also to anyone who would like to explore more of our binary thinking and the areas of life in which is occurs and causes problems. After reading this I feel validated and I feel more educated. This is definitely worth a read.
Oct 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
An amazing book -- I checked it out from the library and bought my own copy because I knew I'd want to refer to it again and again. It's a life-changer, that's for sure. ...more
Emily Zurcher
Apr 20, 2021 rated it really liked it
I liked this book. It took me a couple of chapters to feel more comfortable, as someone who still certainly feels the stigma around sex and sexual health I felt that the content was a bit too daunting at first. I think the authors were very mindful of their content and audience, and I really appreciated the Slow Down pages, thought experiments, etc. even though I rarely did them in full. I think my favorite part was the multiple perspectives at the end of each chapter, putting the words and idea ...more
Tim Shannon
Sep 03, 2020 rated it really liked it
I definitely learned alot.
Fred Langridge
Sep 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, queer, trans
An interesting exploration of binaries and why they're not really binaries (broadly divided into sexualities, gender, relationships, bodies, emotions and thinking), with lots of encouragement towards reflecting on one's own experience. ...more
Overall, a really thought provoking book. Some of the beginning was familiar, but I really enjoyed the extension beyond sexuality and gender. Sometimes it got a bit cerebral, but very fascinating. I found the bit at the end about political "debates" and how binaries contribute to the toxic mess we have today very insightful and relevant.

A few little nit picky things:

-I found the pauses annoying and made it harder to get into a flow of reading where I could get into the text based on my reading s
Jul 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book explores the concept of Binary and the way certain things are seen as good or bad, right or wrong and how this affects and influences many areas of our lives. Broken down into 6 sections; Sexualities, Genders, Relationships, Bodies, Emotions, Thinking, some of the ideas are more familiar to anyone who has read around gender or sexuality or relationship diversity. Examine binary patterns in the way we consider Bodies, Emotions, Thinking are perhaps slightly newer explorations.
The ideas
Scott Neigh
A look at the ways in which, in Western societies, binaries organize our thinking and our lives, and at ways we can navigate and perhaps at moments move beyond them. Clever and very accessible, though not without its limitations.

I've read two books by one of the authors (Barker) before, one focused on relationships and the other on sexuality, both of which I liked very much. Their general approach seems to be to take ideas which are usually found in inaccessible and often quite academic and theo
Holly Way
Aug 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Really enjoyed this. The authors seem more interested in *getting* you to think than telling you *what* to think which I personally appreciate.
Anita Cassidy
May 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Engaging, insightful and warm, this wonderful book by Meg John Barker and Alex Iantaffi encourages us all to think and feel beyond the binaries of good and bad and to really learn to embrace nuance, complexity and the multiplicity of all individuals and experiences. Highly recommend!
Jun 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Affirming, empowering, kind and enabling. Also great fun and knowledge in abundance.
Jun 18, 2019 marked it as blog-recs
Included in a blog post and resource list at ...more
Adriana Farias
Jan 27, 2021 rated it liked it
I have mixed feelings about this book. Overall, I think they had some really good insights. Every chapter had at least one or two worthwhile ideas that caused me to reflect and question how and why I use binaries in different aspects of my life, and what benefits it could give me to change that. There were several chapters and sections that I really enjoyed. I especially liked the quotes used at the ends of the chapters. Although I didn't use the "slow down" check-ins, I appreciate that they wer ...more
Ian Shaw
Oct 20, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Writing from the point of view of a pyschotherapist who loves working with people across the gender, sexuality and relationship diversity spectrum.

I should also declare that I'm a big admirer of Alex and M-J's work. Their voices have helped me in both my work and personal life. So, in many ways, this was an opportunity to spend time with two thinkers with whom I already feel a degree of congruence. If you're looking for a balanced, inclusive, and above all warm exploration of gender, sexuality a
Jan 16, 2021 added it
I find it hard to rate non fiction like this because I usually rate based on my enjoyment level, where as in non fiction I want to learn something new, and that might not necessarily be enjoyable.
One because I realize how small my thinking it and it makes me re- evaluate my life.
And two because I realize how behind we as people and a country are.
But that’s exactly why I enjoyed this book.

Non binary is about so much more than just sexuality and gender. It encompasses our thinking, bodies, emot
Jan 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: feminism, philosophy
Life Isn't Binary has, without a doubt, been one of the greatest books on gender, sexuality, race, ability, creed, etc. that I have ever read; which means you should read it too! This book is a quick and easy read and will serve as a great entry for anyone who is looking for a better way to understand not only gender and sexuality but all other identities from a non-binary point of view or for anyone who just wants an easy book to help them understand their own identity better. I thought that th ...more
Brandon Clarke
May 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Mind...expanded. This was super fucking interesting, and definitely made me question so much things in my own life. There's so much to unpack, but oof! it is exhausting thinking so much. There's so much to life than what we are used to. I am slowly starting to understand my own non-binaryness, and those of others, and the world, and it makes so much fucking sense. Like, yeah.

Ahhhh! this book just raised my consciousness by x100000000

Aug 23, 2020 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Dec 09, 2020 rated it liked it
Don’t make the same mistake I did- despite being written by two NB authors, and having a promising title, this is not a book about being non-binary. Instead, it’s a book about the different binaries in our lives. The book for me was kind of meh, once I realized it wasn’t what I thought it was, I decided to keep going in case it got back to it- no such luck. It also was a bit too SJW for me at times.
Michael Magro
Mar 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I highly recommend this book! The authors' do a great job of discussing life beyond the binary, whether it be gender and orientation, or thought and emotion. They use their personal experiences to ground the material; give many thought exercises to walk through; and, supply example after example of other folx's experiences. ...more
Jun 27, 2020 rated it really liked it
A good analysis of the types of binary thinking common in society and the strategies we can use to release ourselves from that type of either-or thinking.

The focus in the first few chapters on non-binary gender and sexuality made this a great book to read during Pride Month to gain a better understanding of those topics.
Rhiannon Grant
A lightly philosophical reflection on non-binary options and thinking in a range of situations. It could serve as an introduction to non-binary possibilities in sexuality and gender, the core examples used, but also tries to draw wider conclusions with a mix of references to academic theory and workbook-style exercises.
Jan 07, 2021 rated it liked it
This book was recommended to me by a coworker. It's definitely a book that makes you think and goes far beyond the world of binaries related to gender/sexuality. It's pretty dense, and there were parts that I had to push through to finish reading, but it was overall a very interesting, informative read. ...more
Andrei Contan
undress your inhibition, take a deep breath, open your eyes and start reading. It’s a book that pushes our beliefs and boundaries a little further. Definitely gave me a different perspective of seeing things, showed me why binary decisions is an oversimplification and how much we can learn by looking beyond the mental constructs of yes/no good/bad straight/gay
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