Tag Archives: Hunger

Book Club Reflection: Hunger by Roxane Gay

21 Mar

My book club met to discuss Roxane Gay’s Hunger last week. It was a very emotional book and it made very a very emotional discussion!

I wasn’t the only person who listened to the audiobook. There were a range of opinions about the narration. Gay spoke slowly and some readers listened at a faster speed. She read it in a very monotone voice and some felt it didn’t give the subject matter the right amount of gravitas that a professional reader may have given it.

Many felt the book itself was a bit long and repetitive. By the end, some described it as whiny. Interestingly, there were not many professional reviews that had anything negative to say about the book. I guess it’s hard to criticize someone’s raw pain. No matter how many times she repeated it, though, someone who’s never been her size will never understand what it’s like for her. I can’t get it, even after reading this book. The subject matter was very personal and it felt like the reader was almost too involved in her life to the point of being obtrusive.

Roxane has the conflicting desires to be larger and unattractive to men but to receive the rewards that she sees as coming with weight loss and being small. She’s scared to be small because she thinks that if she is, she could be raped again. This contradiction carries through the book.

One thing that stood out to us was her not being able to tell her family about the rape until years later. We think they would have been more than understanding and helped her get the justice and guidance she needed. For a family that was so accepting of her bisexuality, surely they could accept something that she suffered so terribly.

Reading this book opened many of our eyes to how someone who is overweight feels about being looked at. Our society is very critical of someone who overindulges in food rather than something less visible such as alcohol, drugs, or sex. It’s because it’s something we can so readily see. Saying someone is obese is an accusation of something that is wrong with a person. It’s something medical personnel want to treat and which they get paid to correct. Gay’s problem was compounded by her gender. We all felt it was easier for a man to be overweight than a woman. They’re less likely to be stared at in the same manner.

We wondered if writing this book helped her cope with anything. We felt she firmly cemented that she is always going to be big and that she’s OK with it. We speculated that if Gay did lose the weight, people would comment on it and those comments would likely upset her because she wouldn’t lose weight to gain anyone’s approval. If she ever did it, it would be for herself.

I’ve only just started our next book, Dodgers by Bill Beverly. I’m hoping that one won’t be so emotional, we need a break!

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

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WWW Wednesday, 20-February-2019

20 Feb

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!IMG_1384-0

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Note: For users of Blogspot blogs, I’m unable to comment on your posts as a WordPress blogger unless you’ve enabled Name/URL comments. This is a known WordPress/Blogspot issue. Please consider enabling this to participate more fully in the community. 


Currently reading: I’m getting really close to finishing The Valley of Amazement by Amy Tan. I think it will be off this list next week and I’m so excited! This one feels like it’s been dragging a bit and I’m excited to start something new.
I keep making steady progress on Origin by Dan Brown. Right now, they’re in Barcelona and it’s bringing up memories of my trip there this summer and it’s helping draw me in more!
I keep moving forward with Minutes Before Sunset by Shannon A. Thompson but I’m feeling more and more that this isn’t a book for me. I might be YA-ed out after reading Green and Levithan. Maybe I should have taken a break before starting this one.
I began listening to You Are an Ironman by Jacques Steinberg and it’s been wonderful while running and biking. I think I’ll get through it pretty fast. The narrator isn’t my favorite (I’ve listened to him before) but the story is great.

Recently finished: I was able to finish Hunger by Roxane Gay and post my review on Monday. I liked the book a lot and I think it will make for a great discussion at my club’s next meeting. It made me a little uncomfortable and I think that was the intention. It’s hard to have your privilege called out and that’s what Gay did. It was eye-opening and I hope I can retain the lessons she taught. I was also excited to learn that she’d studied at Michigan Technological University in my home state. I talk more about this school in my review but if you’re interested and have five minutes, Google it. It’s very different (because of its location) than most schools I know about.

Reading Next: I’m ready for another audiobook in my car (finally) and have decided that it’s going to be Books for Living by Will Schwalbe. I read Schwalbe’s first book, The End of Your Life Book Club, for my book club (ha) and I got to meet him at the Midwest Literary Walk last year where I bought this book. I know it’s going to add to my TBR. I’m bracing myself.


Leave a comment with your link and comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Book Review: Hunger by Roxane Gay (4/5)

18 Feb

Of course, I’d heard of Roxane Gay. She’s very vocal about woman’s rights and each of her books has been well received. But I hadn’t read anything of her’s yet. Maybe a memoir isn’t the best place to start, but it was still a great pick. I’m very far ahead of my book club reads now so it was a delight to dive into this one with time to spare. I also knew my training has given me a lot of listening time on the bike trainer so I’d get through it faster than planned. I finished it in four days.

Cover image via Goodreads

Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body by Roxane Gay

Summary from Goodreads:

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. As a woman who describes her own body as “wildly undisciplined,” Roxane understands the tension between desire and denial, between self-comfort and self-care. In Hunger, she explores her own past—including the devastating act of violence that acted as a turning point in her young life—and brings readers along on her journey to understand and ultimately save herself.

With the bracing candor, vulnerability, and power that have made her one of the most admired writers of her generation, 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.

More than anything, this book made me think. As an athlete, I tend to have a smaller body. I’m not model-thin in size 00 pants, but the last time someone else called me fat was middle school. As Gay described some of the ways people reacted to her body, I realized I was guilty of reacting in that way from time to time. The embarrassment that others have subjected Gay to because of her size is unacceptable. Seeing her side of it and how small things, unintentionally cruel comments, could be so hurtful made me really conscious of how I spoke to everyone this past week. I hope I continue to be like that going forward. More than food, Gay hungered for love and that’s a universal hunger. She dealt with a terrible trauma when she was young and her way of coping with it and finding a way to continue in the world may not have been the best choice, but it’s helped her be an incredible writer and a very successful person. Who’s to say it’s wrong?

Gay portrayed herself in a very realistic way. She was very open about her past and the hardships she’s had to endure in her life. She doesn’t talk a lot about others because they’re not the focus of her book. We hear a little about her family and some of her past partners, but it’s mostly about her and her challenges. I appreciated her honesty because I can’t imagine it’s easy to bare so much of your past pain to the world and to let them judge you. I don’t think I’m that strong.

Gay’s struggles to recognize love were relatable to me. I had a high school boyfriend whose ideas of ‘love’ were spending as much time together as possible and not talking to other males. Where he got this idea (movies, his parents, friends, etc.) I’m not sure but it began to influence my understanding of love as well. You learn to see love through the eyes of someone you think you love. For a while after that, even into dating my now-husband, I thought this was love. When we weren’t together, I felt alone, abandoned, and unloved. It took time for me to see love expressed in other ways and recognize that blowing off friends and family to be with someone wasn’t love, it was an unhealthy obsession. Gay had to have her view of love recalibrated in a very different way, but I understood why she struggled with this and how she went through a long process to change her perception.

Roxane Gay
Image via St. Louis American

Maybe this is a bias, but it felt like Gay started to find her own voice and strength during her PhD program at Michigan Technological University (aka Michigan Tech). I’m going to assume most of you have never been to Houghton, MI and for good reasons. It’s very isolated from any major city because of its geographic location. From where I live in Detroit, it’s 10+ hours away, mostly through fields and hills with moose crossing signs on the side of the road. We drove through when we were on vacation a few years back just to see the town with one of the best engineering programs in the state and the Midwest was located. It’s very isolating and I was able to imagine it well from her description. Picturing her there, at one of the northernmost points in the continental US, I could see how she would find her strength.

I love to travel. It made it hard for me to hear about Gay’s struggles to travel because of her size. She has problems with airplanes and when going to unknown places. It made me really think about how the world is built for the majority and how those outside that box may have problems. The extremely large, tall, and small are going to view the world in a different way than someone who’s of a standard stature. I would never have thought about how difficult getting through life and getting around can be for someone like Roxane. That was very eye-opening.

Gay narrated the audiobook herself. She has a slight lisp but I was able to get over it really fast and it didn’t detract from the book in any way. It was great to have her read it, though I have to think it would have been a very emotional experience. She talks about things that upset her and times she was abused and degraded. Reliving that and writing about it would be hard, but reading those words again would be even harder. I applaud her performance. I hope she narrates her future books as well.

The way Gay punctuates her title places emphasis on her point. Many people feel like they have some kind of ownership or opinion on her body because of her size. Doctors think they can ‘cure’ her and strangers feel entitled to give an opinion or offer advice or say a snide comment. People wouldn’t do the same thing to others who stand out for other reasons, but her size seems to make people feel like they have that right. And we honestly don’t. I have no idea what has happened in a stranger’s past to turn them into the person they are. And I shouldn’t make assumptions about how they feel about themselves; ever.

Writer’s Takeaway: One of the biggest stylistic choices in this book is the extremely short chapter lengths. Some people like this but I don’t. I felt the book switched focuses too quickly and it kept me from engaging too much with any of Gay’s points. I wish she’d grouped the book together a bit more and connected her points.

I liked this book though it was a challenging read. I’m glad I read it and I think we’ll have a great discussion next month.

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Related Posts:
“Hunger: A Memoir of My Body” by Roxane Gay | The Book Hole
REVIEW: ‘Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body’ by Roxane Gay | mayowa_reads
A Review of Roxane Gay’s Book, Hunger | Women’s Center

WWW Wednesday, 13-February-2019

13 Feb

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!IMG_1384-0

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Note: For users of Blogspot blogs, I’m unable to comment on your posts as a WordPress blogger unless you’ve enabled Name/URL comments. This is a known WordPress/Blogspot issue. Please consider enabling this to participate more fully in the community. 


Currently reading: I finally feel like I’m getting close to finishing The Valley of Amazement by Amy Tan. There was just a huge change in narration and I’m not sure where it’s going but I’m optimistic that it will wrap up soon!
I got through a bit of Origin by Dan Brown and I’m returning to it as often as I can. I’m enjoying this one a lot and it’s a good one to have on my phone. I might have to stick to thrillers here.
I started Minutes Before Sunset by Shannon A. Thompson over the weekend. I’m not sure how I’m feeling about it yet. I never was a fan of the paranormal romance genre and I’m a bit put off by it already. We’ll see if it gets better.
I started listening to Hunger by Roxane Gay on Sunday and I’m already halfway done with it! I’ll probably have this finished up next week which means I’m way ahead for my book club instead of scraping by. I’ll get to pick something I want to listen to next! I’m way more excited than I should be for this.

Recently finished: I wrapped up Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan at the beginning of a stressful weekend. It was a fun read and while the ending was a bit much, I enjoyed it. It was a very successful Spanish read as well and I’m really glad I read it. I posted a review for it on Monday so please go take a look!
I was able to finish Kiss Carlo by Adriana Trigiani over the weekend as well. I finished the review hours before my book club meeting on it and I was able to put some original thoughts down before my book club influenced me. Whew! The club discussion should be up tomorrow. My review was posted yesterday.

Reading Next: Oh boy, freedom to choose an audiobook! Next on my TBR is a very appropriate title, You Are an Ironman by Jacques Steinberg. I think this will be particularly motivating as I’m sweating through long runs or bike sessions. I’m really looking forward to this one and seeing how it makes me feel about my own 70.3 in July.


Leave a comment with your link and comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

WWW Wednesday, 6-February-2019

6 Feb

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!IMG_1384-0

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Note: For users of Blogspot blogs, I’m unable to comment on your posts as a WordPress blogger unless you’ve enabled Name/URL comments. This is a known WordPress/Blogspot issue. Please consider enabling this to participate more fully in the community. 


Currently readingThe Valley of Amazement by Amy Tan is still plodding along. I’m not a huge fan of this one, honestly. I’m kind of waiting for it to be over. It’s nothing like The Joy Luck Club like I hoped. I’ll keep pushing through.
I barely read any of Origin by Dan Brown last week. Maybe I’ll have more time this week? Lunch at work should be a bit slower so I hope to grab a few minutes to make some headway with this one.
I should finish Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan today or tomorrow, which I’m delighted to share! It’s been a while since my annual Spanish read finished up this quickly.
I didn’t realize how long I’d waited to start Kiss Carlo by Adriana Trigiani. I must have it finished by Monday! I’m listening as much as I can during the day, hoping to knock out another seven hours before the end of the weekend. Wish me luck!

Recently finished: Nothing new this week. I hope there are two here next week, though!

Reading Next: I still hope to grab Minutes Before Sunset by Shannon A. Thompson as my next physical read. I should be able to finish Grayson soon and pick this up quickly.
My next book club selection will start as soon as I finish Carlo. Next is Hunger by Roxane Gay which I will listen to. I can’t tell yet from the listing if Gay narrates, but I hope so. I love when memoirs are narrated by the author.


Leave a comment with your link and comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!