Hunger

Hunger

A Memoir of (my) Body

Book - 2017
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In her phenomenally popular essays and long-running Tumblr blog, Roxane Gay has written with intimacy and sensitivity about food and body, using her own emotional and psychological struggles as a means of exploring our shared anxieties over pleasure, consumption, appearance, and health. Roxane explores what it means to learn to take care of yourself: how to feed your hungers for delicious and satisfying food, a smaller and safer body, and a body that can love and be loved - in a time when the bigger you are, the smaller your world becomes.
Publisher: New York, New York :, Harper, an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers,, [2017]
Copyright Date: ©2017
ISBN: 9780062362599
Characteristics: 306 pages ;,22 cm.

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List - Summer Reads ☼
mhplandrea Jun 19, 2017

Non-Fiction | Memoir | A searingly honest memoir of food, weight, self-image, and learning how to feed your hunger while taking care of yourself.


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t
taylorwoods
Sep 23, 2017

Holy Hell. Do you ever read something so close to your own experience and it just brings you to tears because finally someone writes exactly how you feel? Roxane Gay is an impeccable writer with a beautiful talent for the written word and she brought, I imagine, thousands of people's experiences with their bodies to the page. When you read Hunger, it is as if she is right here whispering these laments and cries right into you. This book, she points out very quick, is not a “oh woe is me” type of book, it is a series of ‘vignettes’- little moments and comments on her body and it’s experiences. From the moments of her sexual trauma in her early years, all the way to her life as an adult in her 40s and dealing with what it is like to live in a morbidly obese body in our world.

"I was a body, one requiring repair, and there are many of us in this world, living such utterly human bodies.”

Her words are the type that just seethe and burn into you that you just want to underline, highlight, or copy down some of her passages. I will say it takes a lot to make me cry or tear up when I read books, and this one did it. Before I explain, I will admit that my experiences as a plus-size individual is nowhere near as difficult or problematic as the experiences Roxane describes in her memoir. I am very lucky that I don’t have to worry about: sitting in a booth or table at a restaurant, whether or not I’ll break the legs of chairs, break a sweat or pass out from standing too long, the list goes on. MY experience is a privileged one to the one expressed here in this book.

"I’ve been that girl, too big for the clothes in the store, just trying to find something, anything, that fits, while also dealing with the commentary of someone else who means well but can’t help but make pointed, insensitive comments. To be that girl in a clothing store is to be the loneliest girl in the world."

The one ‘chapter’ or passage that stopped me dead was a time where Roxane describes being in a clothing store in the dressing room. She witnesses a young girl being scolded and humiliated by her thin mother. By no means have I ever had to experience my own mother making me feel guilty for the body I already had guilt for making big. But there is nothing like the experience that is a young individual just trying to so hard to fit in; then being faced with the predicament of squeezing into the biggest size of jeans in that section, praying they fit, and not having the words to tell your anticipative mother standing outside the dressing room that… they don’t fit.

This memoir will stick with me for sure, and I would gladly place it in the hands of those who want to read this type of subject, but also those who (in my opinion) need to be educated on the experience of sexual abuse victims (Roxane insists on victim- not survivor) and the potential outcomes of those people. I also would place this book in the hands of someone who thinks they know the ‘fat experience’ when they really only know the surface. I consider myself one of these individuals- I thought I knew everything just from my own perspective as a plus size girl- but in reality there is so much more.

d
donpowe
Sep 17, 2017

Revealing, honest, courageous. The level of her candor was uncomfortable. As I read I was constantly challenged about my feelings, reactions, and fears. She evoked wide thought about relationships of all kinds, introspection about my place among the people I affect, pity and some anger. I could not help comparing her issues with those created by addiction and trauma generally. Mostly, I was left with how culture, particularly ours (and particularly as it relates to our being sexual creatures) distorts, bends, contorts and confuses. This is a very valuable work. Our city library selected it for the book everyone should read. It is a good selection. I would love to sit and talk with this author, question her, listen, learn and think, but I would be afraid of her and offending her. An odd contradiction of feelings and that is what this book evoked.

s
singidunum_25
Sep 16, 2017

Horrific experience and wonderful writing despite everything....Not easy read whatsoever.

strangegazelle Sep 13, 2017

Roxane Gay's "Hunger" deals with a sort of psychological horror I think. In the process of eating more and more to become larger, safer, and less desirable to predatory men and women, she has to face this new difficulty of dealing with the physical heaviness of her body. Here, I really appreciated her observations about the challenges she faces with going to events, flying, seeing a movie. She gives a strong indictment of a society that has a long way to go in prioritizing the needs of all of its people. I very much like Ms. Gay’s openness mixed with her sense of humor. This book is not always easy to read (as any summary of “Hunger” would show) but her directness and skill as a writer gives and lifts the gravity of the material as needed. Recommended.

l
ladyparasol
Aug 30, 2017

I had to put this book down several times in reading it. It is so raw I felt like I was invading the author's privacy - except that it all happened to the author. But I just had to look away. While I thought of not finishing the book, in the end I read it all. You learn right away (if you didn't already know) that she was gang raped at a young age. At the end I wondered if the boy that led her to the cabin to be gang raped knows about the book, knows that he is described (though not named) as an adult in the present time. I hope he does and is waiting for the "the other shoe to drop" as I can't believe this is the end of the story. And there is always the question - did they rape more than one little girl? While the book was hard to read by the end I wanted more - I want him and the other boys to pay for their crime.

b
bobgrant
Aug 28, 2017

I couldn't finish this. It's beautifully written; it's intimate and raw and honest. I felt like I was sinking while I was reading it though. I also felt, horribly, that I had read this all before, in smaller bits, in more oblique ways. It was terribly familiar. So I wondered why I was reading it again... :(

i
Indoorcamping
Aug 27, 2017

This is like a wrecking ball to your brain. Gets right in there and messes everything up. Even if you think you're open-minded and willing to be generous to people who have it worse than you, your prejudice and generalizations will out. Everybody has them, even people full of eating disorders like me. We just try to make the best of it.

This book goes so deep. The story starts with what being raped at 13 causes to her body and the blame and shame she's attached to it, but deeper reading shows a lot of family perfectionism and strict religiosity, other causes for her extreme protective behavior. That's the meat of the book; the deeper consequences of a loving family with high expectations that make it impossible to find a soft place to land.

So before the rape, the soft place to land is a bad boy who causes the fat reaction. But after the rape is the desperation for a soft place to land, even more. Family on the outside looks so perfect and successful; inside is impossible. She acts like someone who will never get the love she needs because of all the judgment, and this is the story of many other people with extreme eating disorders. It's our private way of saying "I've got this" to at least one thing in our lives. One thing we can control, whether we're in control or not.

After reading this, I became a different person. I am not going to let anyone live inside my head, influencing my life in any way like these boys who raped her (specifically the "boyfriend") seem to do with the author. All you do when you are tormented by others is let them win. They aren't affected at all. And you are devastated to the point where, in the author's case, you gain several hundred pounds of protective flesh.

As a strong woman, it kills me she has let another person live inside her head and control her life like this. This is one of the best authors I have ever read, on any topic, and to feel the pain on the pages is heartbreaking. I don't want to do this to myself. I won't, after reading this.

s
stephaniedchase
Aug 12, 2017

You have to be ready when you sit down to read this truly amazing book: ready for the honesty, ready for the sadness, ready to feel incredible heartache and admirable courage for Gay and everything she has been through. What a beautiful writer, what a beautiful and brave and honest person Gay is as she strips herself bare for us, and forces us to look at a society that can't and won't accept difference. I was so incredibly moved.

KateHillier Jul 13, 2017

This is the most personal book I've read this year and her discomfort screams from every sentence. Roxane Gay is large woman. She is a tall woman. She is a black woman. She is a queer woman. How she moves through life, and how other people see her presence in theirs, is very different.

I'm not going to go through this painfully personal memoir and nitpick it. She's shared it with us, I hope I have learned something from the reading of it that I can put into practice out in the world, and I strongly encourage you to read it too. Yes, even you.

d
dani_lacey
Jul 10, 2017

"I am weary of all our sad stories — not hearing them, but that we have these stories to tell, that there are so many."

This quote from Roxane Gay's Hunger best sums up my feelings to her story. In her new book, Gay allows herself to become uncomfortably vulnerable through the pages of this book. (I use the word "uncomfortable" because I'm not good at dealing with others emotions. I'm not the one people go to when they need comforting.) We learn about the trauma that drove her to literally build a barrier around herself. We learn about how, again because of this trauma, she allowed others to misuse and abuse her. We learn about the smaller, still painful moments that define the life of a fat person.

She states early on that this is not a book about life at 30, 40 or even 50 pounds overweight. Hers is a story about living while hundreds of pounds of overweight, and navigating through a physical world that is not designed for "unruly bodies." Some challenges I was already aware of. I was a pretty heavy kid, and am still a chubby adult. I know what it's like trying to shop for clothes. When making healthy changes, I'm also worried "that I am getting ahead of myself." Some challenges were pretty eye-opening. They all prompted me to be more aware of other bodies and the challenges they face.

This book feels less like a memoir and more like a collection of tiny essays. Chapters — sometimes only a page long — are organized into larger parts that are focused on central themes: for example, her background, her day-to-day obstacles, her relationships. Timelines can sometimes be messy, but it worked for me. I could see myself in the future going back to specific mini-essays as are relevant to my own life.

Overall, a definite recommend. Now I need to go back and finish An Untamed State. Dear, Lord, help me. Between that and finishing up Beloved, I'm having one depressing summer.

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t
taylorwoods
Sep 23, 2017

"I’ve been that girl, too big for the clothes in the store, just trying to find something, anything, that fits, while also dealing with the commentary of someone else who means well but can’t help but make pointed, insensitive comments. To be that girl in a clothing store is to be the loneliest girl in the world."

t
taylorwoods
Sep 23, 2017

"I was a body, one requiring repair, and there are many of us in this world, living such utterly human bodies.”

s
stephaniedchase
Aug 12, 2017

It is startling to realize that even Oprah, a woman in her early sixties, a billionaire and one of the most famous women in the world, isn't happy with herself, her body. That is how pervasive damaging cultural messages about unruly bodies are -- that even as we age, no matter what material successes we achieve, we cannot be satisfied or happy unless we are also thin.

s
stephaniedchase
Aug 12, 2017

This is what girls are taught -- that we should be slender and small. We should not take up space. We should be seen and not heard, and if we are seen, we should be pleasing to men, acceptable to society. And most women know this, that we are supposed to disappear, but it's something that needs to be said, loudly, over and over again, so that we can resist surrendering to what is expected of us.

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taylorwoods
Sep 23, 2017

taylorwoods thinks this title is suitable for 17 years and over

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dani_lacey
Jul 10, 2017

dani_lacey thinks this title is suitable for 16 years and over

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