Review: Not That Bad by Roxane Gay

Title: Not That Bad: Dispatches from Rape Culture
Author: Roxane Gay
Rating: ★★★★
Summary: Edited and with an introduction by Roxane Gay, this anthology of first-person essays tackles rape, assault, and harassment head-on to address what it means to live in a world where individuals have to measure the violence and aggression they face. Covering a wide range of topics and experiences, this collection is heartbreaking and searingly candid, reflecting the world we live in while offering a call to arms to insist that “not that bad” must no longer be good enough.


The essays in Not That Bad were difficult to read—mainly because I could do nothing but listen and stew and sigh in recognition—and I often found myself waiting days before picking back up. (Reading the book while also watching season one of 13 Reasons Why made that week… rough.) Twenty-nine writers are featured, and their stories feel both overwhelming and not enough. The pain and anger and sadness and shame and guilt and frustration contained is suffocating and endless… and then mere routine, just another example of why this book is needed in the first place. Almost everyone who contributed to the collection believes that whatever happened could have been worse, that their experience wasn’t that bad comparatively.

Because catcalling is not that bad when it could have been harassment.

Because harassment is not that bad when it could have been assault.

Because assault is not that bad when it could have been rape.

Because rape is not that bad when it could have been death.

But the onus of stopping this swift glide from words to action shouldn’t rest on those who experience the trauma that Not That Bad contains. If we—as both readers and potentially witnesses to such behavior—don’t allow victims to acknowledge that what happened to them was the worst that could, will we have to have this same conversation over and over again?

Maybe it’s good that I was forced to only listen, because it made me feel strongly that something can be that bad. There is no guide against which to measure; all grief is justified, all anger appropriate. I think it’s the very (very) least I can offer.

Round-Up: My Spring 2018 TBR

The Top Ten Tuesday topic for March 20th was “books on my spring TBR,” and I pledged to read the following:

So, what did I actually read?

On the list…

Not on the list…

What I missed…

All in all, I didn’t do a terrible job – I read eight books out of a planned ten, but I only read 50% of those I actually wanted to read. (Isn’t that life??) Did any of you have a spring TBR? Did you stick to it? Let me know!

Top Ten: Books on My Spring TBR

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted at That Artsy Reader Girl. This week’s theme was my top ten books currently* on my spring TBR. [*I say currently ’cause you know this is bound to change.]

Emergency Contact by Mary H.K. Choi // Giant Days, Vol. 6 by John Allison // The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas // Herding Cats by Sarah Andersen // The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin

Inferno by Dan Brown // Lumberjanes, Vol. 8: Stone Cold by Shannon Watters // Not That Bad: Dispatches from Rape Culture by Roxane Gay // What Should Be Wild by Julia Fine // A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle

Most Anticipated New Releases for the First Half of 2018

¡Hola, leer amigos! I took a very long break from blogging last year, but I am feeling really ~inspired this month. To celebrate the end of the dumpster fire that was 2017, here are my most anticipated reads for the first half of 2018:

Jan. 9: Nice Try, Jane Sinner by Lianne Oelke: After being expelled from high school, seventeen-year-old Jane signs up for a student-run reality show while attending a local community college. As the show grows from a low-budget web series to a local TV show with fans and shoddy T-shirts, Jane finally has the chance to let her cynical, competitive nature thrive. She’ll use her growing fan base, and whatever Intro to Psychology can teach her, to prove to the world that she has what it takes to win.

Jan. 16 Red Clocks by Leni Zumas: Five women – including a high school teacher, a biographer, a frustrated mom, a pregnant adopted teen, and a forest-dwelling homeopath – struggle with changes in a near-future America where abortion and assisted fertility have been outlawed and the homeopath is targeted by a modern-day witch hunt.

Jan. 30 This Will Be My Undoing: Living at the Intersection of Black, Female, and Feminist in (White) America by Morgan Jenkins: An influential literary critic presents a highly anticipated collection of linked essays interweaving incisive commentaries on subjects ranging from pop culture and feminism to black history, misogyny, and racism to confront the challenges of being a black woman in today’s world.

Feb. 20: Eloquent Rage: A Black Feminist Discovers Her Superpower by Brittney Cooper: A leading young black feminist illuminates how organized anger, friendship, and faith can be powerful sources of positive feminist change, explaining how targeted rage has shaped the careers of such African-American notables as Serena Williams, Beyoncé, and Michelle Obama.

Feb. 28: Forget You, Ethan by Whitney G.: Rachel and Ethan grew up as next-door neighbors-turned-enemies but have to reexamine their animosity when Rachel needs a place to stay during their senior year of college.

May 1: Not That Bad: Dispatches from Rape Culture by Roxane Gay: Cultural critic and bestselling author Roxane Gay collects original and previously published pieces that address what it means to live in a world where women have to measure the harassment, violence, and aggression they face, and where they are punished for speaking out. Covering a wide range of topics and experiences, this collection is often deeply personal and is always unflinchingly honest.

May 8: What Should be Wild by Julia Fine: A highly unusual young woman must venture into the woods at the edge of her home to remove a curse that has plagued the women in her family for centuries.

Jun. 7: Motherhood by Sheila Heti: In her late thirties – at an age when most of her friends are asking themselves when they will become mothers – a woman considers, with the same urgency, the question of whether she will do so at all.