Tag Archives: harpercollins

Hunger by Roxane Gay

hungerLike much of the literary world, I am obsessed with Roxane Gay and I LOVED her collection of essays that blended memoir, popular culture, and commentary on society, Bad FeministHunger: A Memoir of (My) Body dives more deeply into some of the pieces of Gay’s story that she alluded to within Bad Feminist.

The composition of this collection was different than a memoir I’ve read before: the chapters vary in length, some only a page long, as if they’re all of the thoughts Gay had while conceiving this book, some jotted in the notes app on her phone so as not to forget and then left in their brief form. Other short pieces signify emotions that simply have too much underneath them to be explored further.

This book is heavy and you should take your time with reading it and give yourself the space to unpack the things that have happened and persisted in Gay’s life. Her story will likely make you reflect upon your own life stories and you should give yourself the time to do so. Within Hunger, Gay details her trauma associated with a gang rape, which had been lightly brushed upon in Bad Feminist, how fat bodies often have trauma and stories underneath that people dismiss or assume the bodies are just in poor health out of choice, her challenges with romantic and sexual relationships post-trauma, with her body, and with her geographic location, and the ways that people assume large bodies are always indicative of poor health.

Hunger forced me to challenge some assumptions I didn’t even know I had about how people move through the world and some of the things people who are large are forced to consider that I simply take for granted (i.e., will the chairs at this restaurant be compatible and provide necessary support to my body?). While Hunger definitely made me aware of things I had previously been oblivious to, it’s also important to remember that the book is an account of one person’s experiences with a large, fat body and it shouldn’t be taken as how everyone with these bodies feels or what they want, an important point that Gay emphasizes throughout her work.

Speaking of her work, I haven’t read any of Gay’s fiction pieces yet, but maybe I should add Difficult Women to my 2018 reading list? Hunger makes me want to be a Roxane Gay completionist, something that I feel like is rarer and rarer for me to even consider pursuing while staring at my ever mounting To Read pile, but Gay’s writing encourages me to do so. If you haven’t read one of her works yet, pick up Hunger or Bad Feminist the next time you see them at a store or your local library!

As an aside, this anecdote is tangentially related to the book Hunger, but I’m going to share anyway. Last year, I was inspired by the podcast The Cooler to start a “long-distance book club” with a bestie. The idea revolves around you reading a book on your own, underlining your favorite bits that resonate with you, and then passing along the book to a friend who can reflect on your bits, add their own bits, and give you specific things to talk about when you catch up on the phone since sometimes long distance besties can get in the rut of not really talking about their lives. While I do this with my faraway friends, I also do it with two of my nearby friends wherein we read the book back-to-back and then have a coffee/beer date where we talk about the book, like a two person book club where you only have to buy one copy of the book. There’s something so intimate in seeing what lines specifically connect with a friend and it can be very revealing, especially with a book like Hunger. My friend and I shared Hunger and it ended up being a nice way to talk about very sensitive and personal topics without having to put all of the cards on the table. I do this with a lot of books, but the experience of sharing Hunger will always be a poignant memory for me. 

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Mini Review: The Bad Seed written by Jory John and illustrated by Pete Oswald

badseedMy boyfriend and I were stumbling around a bookstore when this cover stopped us dead in our tracks. What could The Bad Seed, depicting a very sullen yet adorable seedette on the cover, possibly be about? Well… if the title didn’t give it away, it’s about being a baaaaaaaaaad seed. We flipped through a couple of pages and couldn’t stop laughing and one of us has called the other a baaaaaaad seed at least once a week since we found this title a month ago.

When my two year old niece’s birthday snuck up on me, I was at a loss for what book to get her (I always get her a book… I mean c’mon, I’m the aunt with a book blog after all) and I decided to purchase The Bad Seed for her to laugh at when our family members stretch out the baaaaad seed phrase when reading it to her. She’s definitely a little young for this book (it’s probably best for 3 – 6 year olds), but I think the stretched out words will still manage to bring her joy. My niece struggles slightly with manners currently and I think this book gently introduces how some behaviors can be seen as rude and illustrates how rude actions can affect how other people interact with you after you’ve been… wait for it… a baaaaaad seed. At the end, the bad seed decides to reform some of his actions and habits, and while he still isn’t perfect, he’s still mostly successful at choosing to be a nicer person to his peers and reaps some rewards for that. I think this would be a good book to show to children who are struggling with being nice to others and highlight ways that their actions might come back around and ultimately negatively impact them. This is definitely the most fun, new children’s picture book I’ve read in a bit. 

stardust by neil gaiman

stardustVery rarely do I enjoy when authors narrate the audiobooks of their own novels (see my cringe worthy review of Lord of the Flies by William Golding), but Neil Gaiman must be a multi-talented superstar! I found myself borrowing the audiobook of Stardust from my local library upon realizing that I had never read any of Gaiman’s works despite seeing that lots of people I follow on twitter mention him often. This is no doubt aided by his own very active Twitter presence  because it truly appears that Gaiman is a Renaissance man and can don many hats. I selected Stardust as my first Gaiman read because I remembered that the film version is one of my best friend’s favorite movies (… yet I somehow still haven’t seen the film… sorry Sam!).

Gaiman is an incredibly animated narrator and is able to tell the story in a similar vein to people who are trained to be the best audiobook narrators. Thus, I didn’t have any of the normal issues that I experience when I listen to books narrated by their authors when I listened to Stardust. Despite Gaiman’s enthusiasm, I did find the book a bit boring in the beginning and likely would have put it aside after the first few pages if I had been reading the book instead of listening to it. That said, I became much more engaged after the “world building” was complete and the action started filling my ears.

Stardust is a fairytale for grown ups, according to Gaiman in a bonus interview that is included at the end of the audiobook. The “grown up” part mainly means that the novel includes some sex scenes and that the overall tale, in the way it’s presented (even if the sex scenes hadn’t been included), wouldn’t be that entertaining to a child. This is because pieces of the book draw upon experiences and feelings that you have as you become older, but that you likely don’t have a familiarity with if you’re under the age of twelve. Stardust follows the story of Tristan Thorn, a young man, who decides to leave his home on a quest to win the hand of a lady that he would like to marry. He ventures to another land to complete a quest that he conjured himself and encounters many hijinks and twists and turns (fit for a fairytale!) along the way. I didn’t really get into the book until the introduction of Yvaine, which luckily happens fairly early into the story, as I found her to be the most interesting character in the book and thoroughly enjoyed all of the scenes which included her. While I was able to guess some plot pieces of the book along the way, parts of the ending surprised me and left me in awe of how Gaiman constructed his truly great fairytale for grown ups.

Should I check out a different one of Neil Gaiman’s works? What’s your favorite thing that he’s published?

Publication Date: 1 February 1999 by HarperCollins. Format: Digital Audiobook from Harper Audio.

Author/Narrator: Neil Gaiman web/@twitter