Where to Start with bell hooks
"bell hooks" by Kevin Andre Elliott is licensed under
For nearly 50 years, bell hooks was an influential thinker, theorist, and cultural critic. Her first major work, Ain't I A Woman? Black Women and Feminism, was written while she was still an undergraduate student at Stanford University. Her work addresses diverse issues: race, class, gender, and the intersections thereof; systemic oppression and subjugation and the ways in which education can both perpetuate and defy them. It is both impassioned and scholarly. hooks embraces a colloquial style of writing which draws from various oral traditions. She prefered that her name be in all lowercase letters because what is most important is the "substance of books, not who I am” (The Sandspur paper, Rollins College).
Her work has embodied intersectionality for much longer than it has been a buzzword, and in fact, her works have helped folks understand what it means.
Here are a few books that offer a snapshot of hooks as a lover, a writer, a teacher, a thinker, a gender theorist, and a critic.
All About Love
Presenting radical new ways to think about love, the acclaimed cultural critic, feminist, and author examines the role of love in our personal and professional lives and how it can be used to end struggles between individuals, communities, and societies.
A favorite personal moment was when I was reading this book in an airport, and I looked across the aisle at the gate, only to see someone else reading the same red copy of the book. This one has hit the mainstream, without a doubt.
Wounds of Passion
An intelligent, emotional glimpse into the author's transition into womanhood describes leaving Kentucky to pursue her dreams at Stanford and becoming a successful writer, and details her involvement with feminism, the publication of her first book, and other personal events.
Teaching to Transgress: Education as the Practice of Freedom
This book shaped a new generation of educators. Hooks teaches students to "transgress" against racial, sexual, and class boundaries in order to achieve the gift of freedom, which is, for hooks, the teacher's most important goal. She speaks to the heart of education today: how can we rethink teaching practices in the age of multiculturalism? What do we do about teachers who do not want to teach, and students who do not want to learn? How should we deal with racism and sexism in the classroom? Full of passion and politics, Teaching to Transgress combines a practical knowledge of the classroom with a deeply felt connection to the world of emotions and feelings.
Feminism Is For Everybody
A short, accessible primer. What is feminism? 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.
Sisters of the Yam: Black Women and Self-Recovery
In this book, bell hooks reflects on the ways in which the emotional health of black women has been and continues to be impacted by sexism and racism. Desiring to create a context where black females could both work on their individual efforts for self-actualization while remaining connected to a larger world of collective struggle, hooks articulates the link between self-recovery and political resistance. Both an expression of the joy of self-healing and the need to be ever vigilant in the struggle for equality, Sisters of the Yam continues to speak to the experience of black womanhood.
The Will To Change: Men, Masculinity, and Love
In a thought-provoking social and cultural analysis, hooks explores the world of masculinity and maleness to address some of men's most common concerns, including a fear of intimacy and the loss of their patriarchal place in society. She argues that an emotionally rewarding inner life holds the key to successful intimate relationships.
Art on My Mind: Visual Politics
In this book, hooks responds to the ongoing dialogues about producing, exhibiting, and criticizing art and aesthetics in an art world increasingly concerned with identity politics. Always concerned with the liberatory black struggle, hooks positions her writings on visual politics within the ever-present question of how art can be an empowering and revolutionary force within the black community.