Where to Start with bell hooks

By Emily Pullen, Manager, Reader Services and Engagement
December 15, 2021
Black and white photo of 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.