In 2021 I published free books on Plurality, Trauma, and Consent – the main themes which I’d been blogging about during the pandemic. The new free books go back further in time to cover the themes I’ve been writing about since I began blogging, particularly gender, sex, relationships, and mental health.
As with my latest zine (which I made five years on from making the first Plural Selves zine) these free books mark an imporant anniversary for me. It’s a decade on from 2012: the year when I published the first edition of Rewriting the Rules (my first self-help style book) and started blogging.
It feels helpful, somehow, to bring all the material from this vital period of my life together, and – perhaps – to draw a line there, marking a turning point towards what I might create in the future. Whatever that is will be deeply shaped by this time of external and internal emergency/transformation/paradigm shift, and my learnings from that experience, and from others who are writing on such themes.
I begin each of the new free books with a caveat that some of the earlier pieces may not represent (all of) my current thoughts and feelings on these topics. I’ve learned so much more from my own experiences, and from engaging with other people’s work, in the last ten years.
I hope – as with my older published books – that people will read these free books mindful of the time and context in which some of the content was written, and with compassion for the places where the language or ideas are limited and/or have now been replaced with something more inclusive, nuanced, or helpful.
Here’s a list of the new free books, and what you can expect to find in them:
This book contains all my writing on love and relationships. It goes back furthest because these topics were the focus of most of my first blog posts after Rewriting the Rules was published. It also includes some of my most recent writing on slow relating and break-ups.
The book is divided into sections on love (mostly the impact of cultural love norms or amatonormativity), crushes and new relationship energy, slow relating, monogamy and non-monogamy, conflict and communication, and break-ups.
This book is hopefully a good companion to my published books Rewriting the Rules, The Secrets of Enduring Love (with Jaqui Gabb), and How To Understand Your Relationships (which Alex and I will hopefully be writing next year).
This book contains all my writing about sex. It’s divided into sections on sex ed, sex advice, sex in relationships (particularly sexual incompatibility), sexual desires, sexual practices, and BDSM/kink (the theme of by far my most popular blog posts for some reason!)
This book, and the relationships and feelings ones, contain versions of several of my summary posts from The Meg-John & Justin podcast, (with links to where you can listen to the audio episodes) as well as posts from this website and elsewhere.
This book starts with a general section which covers figuring out your sexuality, coming out, and the diversity and fluidity of sexuality. Then we have sections on heteronormativity and heterosexuality, bisexuality and pansexuality, queer issues (like nature/nurture and same-sex relationship recognition), further sexualities (like kink and sapiosexuality), and porn.
Like sexuality, this book starts with a general section which deals with gender diversity and fluidity, my vision for gender affirmative and inclusive therapy, and the future of gender. Then we have sections on trans (including pieces on the trans moral panic, trans time and space, and trans sex) and on non-binary genders (including my post coming out as non-binary in 2015!) The book ends with a couple of older pieces about understanding masculinities and femininities.
This book is hopefully a good companion to my graphic guide to Gender (with Jules Scheele) as well as to Alex and my How to Understand Your Gender, Life Isn’t Binary, and the edited collection Non-Binary Lives.
This book includes most of my writing about madness and mental health which isn’t specific to trauma (which has its own full book).
The mental health book starts with a number of general articles covering my thoughts on mental health, mostly focused on why we need to understand it at a sociocultural and sociopolitical level, as well as at the level of individual experience, and why we need to challenge mad/sane and ill/well binaries. After this, the book includes sections on mental health and relationships, self-help, mindfulness, and depression.
I also included a section on new year resolutions towards the end of this book because I’ve written so many pieces about this over the years, and because I wasn’t sure where else to put them! My critiques of new year resolutions are quite similar to my critiques of self-help and self-improvement more broadly. This book ends with a short piece on therapy, and a couple of pieces that touch on plurality and madness – another topic that has its own free books.
These books, and the next one, are hopefully good companions to Alex and my book Hell Yeah Self-Care!, my book on Mindfulness, and Jules and my forthcoming graphic guide on trauma and mental health (hopefully arriving 2024).
Linked to the mental health book, the free book on feelings covers emotional struggles and emotional experiences more broadly. It starts with a couple of earlier pieces about being with feelings, which eventually lead to my Staying With Feelings and Welcome Monster Feelings zines. Then there are a number of posts about happiness and why we might be suspicious of approaches that encourage us to strive for happiness.
After this there’s a section about other feelings include anger, failure, gratitude and more. Several of these posts are more personal reflections on my own experiences, as are the three ‘memorial’ posts on themes of loss and grief that follow. This book ends with another short piece about therapy, including ideas and practices from some of the main therapy approaches.
The shortest free book is on writing – something that I plan to write plenty more about. But I was able to find 50 pages which seemed enough for a brief book (the others are mostly around 100 pages long).
This book starts with my essay about queer writing and writing queerly (for anyone, not just for queers!) and includes a few other pieces about how I write and my advice for people who want to start writing. In this book I’ve also included some material about journalling and zining, as well as a piece I wrote about purpose and integrity.
You can find links to all of the free books here.