Where to start when reading books by bell hooks?

We lost a revolutionary writer this week, as pioneering American feminist and activist bell hooks passed away aged 69 on Wednesday. Publishing more than 30 books ranging in topics from black men, patriarchy, and masculinity to self-help; engaged pedagogy to personal memoirs; and sexuality, she wrote on a range of subjects that touched the landscape. So where do we start when it comes to reading her books? Here are a selection of her works, that have been lauded as a “guiding light” for so many by Reni Eddo-Lodge in the Guardian.

📚 Ain’t I a Woman: Black Women and Feminism (1981) – hooks examines the effect of racism and sexism on Black women, the civil rights movement, and feminist movements from suffrage to the 1970s.

📚 Where We Stand: Class Matters (2000) – Drawing on both her roots in Kentucky and her adventures with Manhattan Coop boards, Where We Stand is a successful black woman’s reflection–personal, straight forward, and rigorously honest–on how our dilemmas of class and race are intertwined, and how we can find ways to think beyond them.

📚 Killing Rage: Ending Racism (1995) – hooks has always maintained that eradicating racism and eradicating sexism must go hand in hand.

📚 Communion: The Female Search for Love (2002) – This book is part of a trilogy, which challenges every woman to courageously claim the search for love. In her trademark commanding and lucid language, hooks explores the ways ideas about women and love were changed by the feminist movement, by women’s full participation in the workforce, and by the culture of self-help.

📚 The Will to Change: Men, Masculinity, and Love (2004) – Everyone needs to love and be loved — even men. In this ground-breaking book, hooks gets to the heart of the matter and shows men how to express the emotions that are a fundamental part of who they are — whatever their age, ethnicity, or cultural persuasion.

📚 Remembered Rapture: Writer at Work (1999) – Remembered Rapture celebrates literacy, the joys of reading and writing, and the lasting power of the book. These essays once again reveal hooks’s wide-ranging intellectual scope; if W. E. B. DuBois elegantly dissected the double consciousness of African-Americans, bell hooks, with similar insight and vision, untangles the complex personae of women writers, especially those whose work goes against the grain.

📚 Bone Black: Memories of Girlhood (1996) – This memoir details her childhood experiences as a poor, African-American girl growing up against a background of racial segregation.

📚 Feminism Is for Everybody: Passionate Politics (2000) – In this short, accessible primer, hooks explores the nature of feminism and its positive promise to eliminate sexism, sexist exploitation, and oppression. With her characteristic clarity and directness, hooks encourages readers to see how feminism can touch and change their lives—to see that feminism is for everybody.

The professor will be deeply missed. Rest in power.

Published by suswatibasu

Suswati Basu is a writer, journalist, producer and feminist activist residing in London. She has written for the Guardian, Huffington Post and the F-Word blogs, and has worked for various media outlets such as the BBC, Channel 4 and for ITV News/ITN. She currently works as a senior intelligence expert.

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