Tag Archives: essays

Book Club: Hunger by Roxane Gay Pt. 3

As a preteen, Roxane Gay experienced horrific sexual trauma perpetrated by a group of neighborhood boys. Hunger is a memoir about how her body was used and exploited and what has happened to her body since. Her writing is candid and open about the reasons she’s gained weight as a result of her trauma. She also shares what it’s like to navigate a world that cares little for folks they deem overweight. 

This book has so much to say about sexual assault, trauma, how society treats larger bodies, and believing women’s stories. Here is some expanded material on these themes…

Be Bigger, Fight Harder: Roxane Gay on a Lifetime of Hunger

Roxane Gay’s Hunger Complicates Narratives About Being Fat

Smile Sweetly, Don’t Shout

14 Women Open Up About Size Prejudice

Believing Women Means Believing Their Pain

The Sickening Consequence of Doubting and Dismissing Women and Girls

Finally, one of my favorite things about Roxane Gay is that she’s a prolific reader! So, if you want even MORE extended reading after Hunger, there’s no better person to turn to than the woman herself…

HERE she breaks down her 2018 in Reading and Writing. So there’s a TON of material to pore through to find your next great read. Enjoy!

Stay tuned for Part 4! 

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Book Club: Hunger by Roxane Gay Pt. 1

Hello, fellow bookworms! Today I’m unveiling Book #7 in the Finding Delight Book Club. If you’re new to this series, I’m reading 12 books and sharing about them with you here. I plan to post 4 times for each book. The current pick is Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body by Roxane Gay.

For the full book list CLICK HERE. I’d love to have you along for the ride!

“This body is resilient. It can endure all kinds of things. My body offers me the power of presence. My body is powerful.”

Synopsis

In this intimate and searing memoir, the New York Times bestselling author Roxane Gay addresses the experience of living in a body that she calls ‘wildly undisciplined’. She casts an insightful and critical eye on her childhood, teens and twenties – including the devastating act of violence that was a turning point in her young life – and brings readers into the present and the realities, pains and joys of her daily life.

With the bracing candour, vulnerability and authority that have made her one of the most admired voices of her generation, Roxane explores what it means to be overweight in a time when the bigger you are, the less you are seen.

“Living in my body has expanded my empathy for other people and the truths of their bodies. Certainly, it has shown me the importance of inclusivity and acceptance
(not merely tolerance) for diverse body types.”

Initial Thoughts

Hunger is a gut-wrenching, vulnerable memoir that, at times, was super difficult to read. Yet, Gay’s wit and intelligence, coupled with short chapters, make it quite the page turner, nonetheless. You could easily devour this book in a day or take your time, letting the stories wash over you more slowly.

Gay recognizes all the ways in which our culture associates larger bodies with feelings of shame. She also shares all the ways in which her own body, and her relationship with food, have shaped her life and how she exists in this world. She shares stories of her life that speak to these themes, from her early childhood all the way to now as a bestselling author and sought-after speaker. While many of these experiences are painful and highlight all the ways our society could DO BETTER, they are never shared as an admonishment. Just stories, truth, as if Gay knows her audience are trusted friends.

I think anyone would benefit from reading this memoir. The writing is compelling. It’s a tough read, but the takeaways are so, so important. I saw one review online say Gay succeeds at “tough reporting from the inside out” and I couldn’t agree more.

“In our culture, we talk a lot about change and growing up, but man, we don’t talk nearly enough about how difficult it is. It is difficult.”

Read this if you’re interested in: body politics, women’s stories, feminism, society & culture

Read this if you loved: Priestdaddy by Patricia Lockwood, The Rules Do Not Apply by Ariel Levy, Sex Object by Jessica Valenti

Other books by Roxane Gay: Difficult Women, An Untamed State, Bad Feminist, Ayiti

Keep a lookout for Part 2! I’ll be posting it soon.

And don’t forget — if you want the full reading list CLICK HERE. You’ll basically become a card-carrying member of the Finding Delight Book Club! ❤

Book Club: I Have Chosen to Stay and Fight Pt. 1

Hello, fellow bookworms! Today I’m unveiling Book #6 in the Finding Delight Book Club. I’ve been a reading machine in 2019 (wow, I like the sound of those rhymes), but I figured it was about time I posted another book club selection. If you’re new to this series, I’m reading 12 books and sharing about them with you here. I plan to post 4 times for each book. The current pick is I Have Chosen to Stay and Fight by Margaret Cho.

For the full book list CLICK HERE. I’d love to have you along for the ride!

“Haven’t we heard enough from these ancient white guys?”

Synopsis

With all her notorious, righteous comic rage, Margaret Cho lays out in no uncertain terms what’s wrong, what’s right, and what’s definitely worth fighting for.

From gay rights to racial equality to the right to choose, nothing is off limits for the comedian. She encourages her readers and army of loyal fans to stand up and speak out against those who want to keep free thinking liberals from ruining their “picture perfect” world.

Brutal, honest, and funny, I Have Chosen To Stay And Fight is everything you’d expect from one of the most woke comics of all time.

“My attitude toward peace does not depend on which war we are discussing. I think that words should do the work of bombs.”

Initial Thoughts

Ok, I’ll be honest. This is a book I slapped into this reading list without doing any research whatsoever. I was listening to old episodes of Jonathan Van Ness’s podcast and came across one with Margaret Cho. She just seemed so smart and witty and like someone who’d been fighting the good fight forever but had no plans of backing down any time soon. I knew I had to read something she’d written.

I hopped on Google, found this book, and typed it into my phone notes where I was storing a list of books to blog about. Next thing I knew this book was next up and I grabbed it off the shelves of the library. I flipped through it on the walk home —

I had no idea it came out in 2005. In fact, in bold on the inside of the jacket cover it says, “A survival guide to making it through to 2008 and a hilarious, kick-ass call-to-arms.” Wow, I thought, that’s a throw back.

But weirdly, it feels so familiar for our current political landscape. I hate to call it deja vu or a regression. Even though many of the themes Cho speaks out against in the book still linger. Instead, I found her words comforting. “I have chosen to stay and fight.” And keep fighting…

I also had no idea the book was arranged as a collection of essays. Which was a fun surprise. Most of the time they read more like slam poetry than article…which seems oddly appropriate for 2005 (at least that’s what I was into in 2005, lol). But while the writing is crass and honest and in-your-face, I wouldn’t necessarily call it “funny.” Not a disappointment, just unexpected. A choice for this particular book given the subject matter?

Maybe we’ll get to the bottom of that in our next post, when we discuss the author!

“In the darkest reaches of my imagination, it occurs to me that we are the heirs to the aftermath. We are the scavenger minority, picking at the carcass of civil rights, trying to get our measly share, so very far removed from the idea of fair …”

Read this is if you’re interested in: politics, comedians, things that haven’t changed since the early double aughts (😂).

Read this if you loved: I’m the One That I Want by Margaret Cho, I Am Not Your Final Girl by Claire C. Holland, Tragedy Queens edited by Leza Cantoral.

Keep a lookout for Part 2! I’ll be posting it soon.

And don’t forget — if you want the full reading list CLICK HERE. You’ll basically become a card-carrying member of the Finding Delight Book Club! ❤

Strawberry Walks into Bar.

girlwalksintobar1

I just finished this book, girl walks into a bar. by Strawberry Saroyan, that I scored last year at the Friends of the Library book sale for a buck. While at times the memoir feels a bit banal, it does paint a clear picture of life in the magazine (and pseudo-famous) world of the angst-riddled 90’s. The memoir is split into chapters which read more like individual essays as opposed to supporting an over-arching story, yet thematically they all work in the context of the title–Saroyan seems to have “come of age” so to speak in the various bars she frequented.

strawberry

Here she discusses her ritual of going to bars every Thursday night with a group of friends she made after moving cross country in her mid-20’s:

We weren’t just people who hung out at a bar one evening a week together, trying to valet our screwed-up cars as discreetly as possible before dashing in in our fancy duds. We were friends. For even though they’d all seemed so glittering to me, the truth was we were all, to varying degrees, alone: Rich or poor, ascending or not, we were almost all professionally freelance, and personally single.

We were all edging toward thirty, too, without the family and kids that some of us had been taught to expect by this time, but even more than that, without the sense of being adults that had been implicitly promised us. None of us felt like adults. And it’s something that I’ve still rarely heard acknowledged, but that I find to be almost frighteningly true: No one ever tells you that you’re never going to feel grown-up.

Proto Lena Dunham Lena Dunham-y, amirite? Basically, if you find hipster-y lifestyle blogs and Girls entertaining and painfully relatable I think you’ll dig this book. (And the last essay reads a bit like Frances Ha.) Just don’t go into it expecting a narrative because all you’re gonna get are some general quarter-life crises musings.

girlwalksintobar2

I enjoyed this book best while munching on self-made trail mix and drinking a berry smoothie. My favorite of the essays was the bounty boys.

P.S. Check out this piece Strawberry wrote for The New York Times in 2004 after Gwyneth Paltrow named her daughter Apple. Those fruit-named gals have to stick together, I suppose.