As many of you know, I took on a big challenge this year: read books about fat women who are happy, but not made happy by losing weight or getting a date — and they couldn’t be simply fetishized. I’ll read sexy books, but not fetish books. I thought these books would exist. I thought I just hadn’t looked for them. I was wrong. I went through a lot of Goodreads lists, websites, and talked to authors to find the books that I included on my list. I added a couple of books to the this that I had read in the past, too. It’s not a big list.
Overall, the project hurts. Usually, I’d be reading along happily and then WHAM!
What was described as positive is a woman obsessing over when her husband will leave her because she’s so fat. Or how fat bodies are a huge drag to the owner. Or how it’s better to get cancer and thin up than be fat.
But. I’m going to keep doing it. I will then confidently be able to recommend books to other fat readers with confidence.
I did read some great books in 2017 and want to share my 10 favorites with you:
#10 Wrestling the Muse by Melba Joyce Boyd. A black woman writes the story of Dudley Randall and the Broadside Press, one of the most important publishers of black poetry during the Black Arts Movement. Nonfiction — biography/history.
#9 Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier. I read this book in 2016, but after watching the Hitchcock movie obsessively and loving the book, I ended up reading it to my husband a little each night. Now we both say, “I’m so glad” with a deeper, darker meaning. Fiction — literary.
#8 Coming of Age in Mississippi by Anne Moody. This book by a young black women gave me perspective on southern activists during the Civil Rights Movement. Moody was famously photographed at a sit-in that turned violent. Autobiography.
#7 Big Mushy Happy Lump by Sarah Andersen. The cartoonist’s second book of life with anxiety, mushy feelings, and a desire to be happy. Often hilarious, Andersen’s work resonates with many readers. Comics — single page. Winner of 2017 Goodreads best Graphic Novels & Comics.
#6 Sugar Queen by Sarah Addison Allen. An adult romance that still has those warm fuzzy feelings. There’s a good dose of well-placed magical realism. Fiction — romance.
#5 Watchfires by Hilary Plum. Part memoir, part observation, this is a book that examines the Boston Marathon Bombing from several angles, including the way cancer and terrorism function similarly. Nonfiction — memoir.
#4 Dolly Dingle, Lesbian Landlady by Monica Nolan. When her acting gigs run dry because poor Dolly is getting too “old” to be the leading lady, she falls into the role of house mother/landlady at a boarding house for young women — mostly lesbians. Fiction — pulp.
#3 Behind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough. A thriller about perfection, bodies, owning the ones you love, and some paranormal travel. Vicious, calculating, the characters are hard to forget. Fiction — thriller.
#2 Mules and Men by Zora Neale Hurston. While it’s not a perfect book, the wit and humor within give this book plenty of reason to have a top spot on the list. From the time she tried to stab her stepmother to tales of how the snake got his rattle, Hurston’s first look at Florida swamp tales is amazing. Nonfiction — folktales and hoodoo.
#1 Dietland by Sarai Walker. The best, most positive fat fiction I read all year. It made my heart swell, changed my thinking, and gave me reason to keep looking for the best fat female characters out there. It’s got spying and the diet industry, there some terrorism and a bit of Fight Club. Wonderful women fill this book. Fiction — fat women.