1. Men Explain Things to Me by Rebecca Solnit
2. Fat Angie by e.E. Charlton-Trujillo
3. The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl by Issa Rae
If there's one thing I love about Roxane Gay, it's her ability to be proud of herself and who she is. This excellent essay collection exudes that same confidence, as Issa Rae dives into what it means to be "awkward" and black. Funny, insightful, and unapologetic in the best of ways.
4. You Don't Have to Like Me: Essays on Growing Up, Speaking Out, and Finding Feminism by Alida Nugent
In this superb collection of essays, Alida Nugent adds her unique and captivating voice to the feminist canon. Mixing personal experience with deep thought, Nugent tackles issues from birth control to being multiracial, examining society with a critical, albeit hopeful, eye. And according to Nugent, feminism is definitely something to be proud of. (A sentiment, I'm sure Gay would agree with.)
5. The Empathy Exams by Leslie Jamison
This essay collection from Leslie Jamison is a phenomenal look into society. This book draws on a variety of personal experiences, such as her job as a medical actor (in which she was paid to act out symptoms for medical students to diagnose). Asking questions about our basic understanding of others, Jamison gets to the heart of what makes us human. In her 5-star review on Goodreads, Gay herself says, "I particularly appreciated how each of the essays took up empathy in different ways and articulated the challenges of being human while recognizing the humanity in those around us."
6. BITCHfest: Ten Years of Cultural Criticism from the Pages of Bitch Magazine edited by Lisa Jarvis
Bitch was launched in the mid-90s as a Xerox-and-staple magazine, and since has published thousands of knock-out pieces on feminism, pop culture, society and everything in-between. Filled with sharp, thoughtful essays, this collection delivers a cool look at how the feminist lens has progressed over time.
7. In Praise of Messy Lives: Essays by Kate Roiphe
A collection of sharp essays that combine pop culture and feminism to examine our daily lives....sound familiar? Though this book came out in 2012, before Bad Feminist, it will definitely hit you in that same sweet spot. Roiphe explores everything, from internet comments to Mad Men to David Foster Wallace.
8. The Beauty Myth by Naomi Wolf
This feminist classic dives into a subject very similar to that of Hunger: how the idea of beauty is used against women. According to Wolf, our society's obsession with physical perfection is restricting even the modern woman, as she's trapped into trying to be flawlessly beautiful. An interesting point-of-view, one that will get your wheels turning for Hunger.
9. Unbearable Weight: Feminism, Western Culture, and the Body by Susan Bordo
Gay says Hunger seeks to tell just her personal experience, but this well-known feminist text does the opposite by analyzing our society's body ideals in relation to culture. I'd be curious to hear what Gay has to say in comparison to this book — or even if she has some thoughts about it.
Images: Eva Blue/Flickr