Going Hungry: Writers on Desire, Self-Denial, and Overcoming Anorexia
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Going Hungry: Writers on Desire, Self-Denial, and Overcoming Anorexia

3.68 of 5 stars 3.68  ·  rating details  ·  391 ratings  ·  32 reviews
Here, collected for the first time, 19 writers describe their eating disorders from the distance of recovery, exposing as never before the anorexic's self-enclosed world. Taking up issues including depression, genetics, sexuality, sports, religion, fashion and family, these essays examine the role anorexia plays in a young person's search for direction. Powerful and immens...more
Paperback, 352 pages
Published September 9th 2008 by Anchor (first published January 1st 2008)
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Saranne
Apr 22, 2011 Saranne added it
Shelves: good
The first essay by Maura Kelly end with the following paragraphs that says it best:
"Since I stopped depending on my father for the basics, I haven't truly depended on anyone else for anything - not financially, emotionally, or psychologically. There's still part of me that refuses to get close to anyone I might end up loving and losing. I haven't overcome the idea that the best way to protect myself is by remaining a self-contained unit. I can't stay with anyone for much more than three months....more
Alexa
Someone handed me this book and said "it might be good for teens" and instead of sitcking it in some pile to sit on my desk forever, I actually read it. The essays were well-written, not sob stories of eating disorders but discussions of how it felt or how it feels to have those disorders and to pull through it. The strength of the collection lay in the diverse group of authors.
Jimmy
We can always learn by reading about the stories of others. A few seemed to not totally fit the topic, but they all told me something about the person. The two most common words throughout the book: control and perfection.
Liralen
I've read a criticism of this book that argues that it sends mixed messages -- that, yes, the contributors talk about all the negative effects eating disorders have had on their lives, but that they are also all successful people, acclaimed writers, many with degrees from Ivy League or otherwise prestigious institutions. (I wish I could remember where I read that -- what book? What article?) Where are the average people? the criticism asks. Where are the people whose eating disorders had devasta...more
Christina
Ah, I would feel guilty critiquing any of the essays. Some are more well-written than others, but even for a brilliant author, it must be hard to write on such a personal and sensitive topic, and therefore it may not be the most shining example of their skill and talent. I don't think the effects of eating disorders on your mind don't ever completely leave, no matter how "cured" you are in your behaviors, although they might dim and lessen over time. It is evident that these people are still str...more
Liana
One of the better, more comprehensive anthologies on eating disorders that I've ever read. The editor took the effort to include a diverse range of writers--old, young, male, female, black, latin, recovered, "maintaining." There are all kinds of eating disorders represented here, and all kinds of idea of what "overcoming anorexia" and "desire" mean. The kind of book I wish we could latch onto instead of "Wasted" and "Wintergirls," perpetuating the mythos of the tortured teen-aged middle-class wh...more
Krystal
A book of stories by a number of individuals who have suffered from anorexia. I liked that it showed numerous ways that anorexia can be manifest. What I did not like is that many of the authors used numbers, particularly low weights, which I think many people would find triggering. It made me sad to hear the underlying tone in many of the stories thoughts of, "It wasn't that bad for me because I was never that skinny." or "I wasn't skinny for very long, so it wasn't a big deal." I think this cou...more
Liz
This is a book perfect for anyone who struggles with an eating disorder and understands that this illness is not a flash in the pan, teenage disturbance. It is a life-struggle, one you have to actively fight against. This book looks at the entire spectrum, including stories from males with anorexia, women of color, and women well, well past their teenage years. I recommend this book for not only survivors of this illness, but for those who are struggling, like myself. Furthermore, if you know so...more
Clara
As with many essay collections, there were plenty of forgettable ones and a few standouts. Kate Taylor's introduction provided a good mix of autobiographical anecdotes and social and cultural history of anorexia. "Hungry Men," by John Nolan, was a well-researched and well-documented exploration of the similarities and differences between the experiences of male and female sufferers of eating disorders. Latria Graham's "Black-and-White Thinking" discussed how racial issues play into eating disord...more
Jess
I still haven't formulated my review for this one. If you are eating disordered - stay away. mentions habits, numbers, and rituals in often great detail. Many of the essays romanticise the disease. Some essays take a "then one day i decided not to be eating disordered and I wasn't" approach.
Competitive - perpetuating notions if you weren't hospitalised you weren't really sick. lacks insight and often lacks reflection. Some essays are near on unreadable (I actually skipped one by a poet because.....more
Meg Bee
This is by far the best book I've read so far relating to eating disorders. It was honest and did not sugar-coat anything. As some have mentioned, it can make things seem fairly bleak: I did find quite a few of the essays to be triggering and somewhat despair-inducing (as in, it almost seems that complete recovery is impossible, so one could perhaps not even bother trying), but I personally appreciate this candor.
Kay
Many of these were wonderfully written, heartbreaking stories of individual experiences with eating disorders. These stories are familiar to those of us who have gone through it ourselves, or to those who have read other books on the topic. Many of these authors had wonderful insight, and a handful had a great deal of ambivalence about their disorder. There was one particular chapter that didn't seem to have any relation to the rest, though I don't remember which. I can't say it was enjoyable, b...more
Elizabeth
I hated every second of the first half of this book and I refuse to go any further. every person that wrote an essay in here is condescending in my opinion. I've had these struggles and I feel like they're being minimized. because the internet wasn't around when all these writers went through their struggles, they make themselves out to be heroic, having created their disease themselves without an outside influence telling them to, going it alone. well just because people are more connected now...more
Deb
*Starving for life *

On the surface, anorexia is a tragic disease of self-starvation. Underneath, however, lies an individual with a voracious hunger for life, meaning, purpose, connection, and validation. _Going Hungry_ is an illuminating collection of essays from 19 writers whose personal experiences shed light on this highly misunderstood disease, and offer a deeper look into the mindset of this body-destructive disorder. Informative, fascinating, poignant, touching, and eye-opening, _Going H...more
Alexis
Good concept with good potential. But that doesn't always equal a good book. Some of the essays, "Education of the Poet," for example, are stellar. But that essay was never written to be primarily about anorexia or starvation.
While the essays may have relayed the truth of what it is to have anorexia, the actual writing of the majority of the essays lacked quality. "This happened, then this happened, then this happened." Not a good narrative voice.
Holly
don't worry I have no future plans of becoming anorexic...I just enjoy reading up on eating disorders, because it is interesting to learn about why one would deny themselves one of our basic necessities of life.

This book was composed into short stories of authors (yes, writers with eating disorders) who have or have gone through an eating disorder. Most of the stories were interesting and I have learned a few new things about the disease.
Peggy
Writers explore deep places that most of us avoid. Much wisdom here about self-starvation and about addictive behavior. Control, concentration, attention, and privilege come with weightlessness. Several of the writers entered elite Ivy League universities after their high school bouts with anorexia. Of course, they stopped menstruating too. The ideal self is an idol to worship, often mistaken as spiritual growth
Meg
This is a great collection of essays on (from the cover) "desire, self-denial, and overcoming anorexia." I've read other collections on these same topics that aren't as well done as "Going Hungry." I liked how the essays "told it like it is" and didn't feel the need to force a happily-ever-after on the readers. A good book to read to understand someone you love or to simply understand yourself.
Tracie
If you've been there, then you know, yet this book shows several sides of how anorexia and eating disorders can morph you life and are forever with you. It shows how there truly is no "cure", it changes you and how you look at food, your body and your life. I recommend that everyone who has ever had any issue with food, weight, their body or being in or out of control read these stories.
Lacy
Sweet. Painful. Digging. Bewildering. Real. This collection of short stories has little to do with the actual "overcoming" part of the disease, and more to do with the lives of these unique individuals. The stories are short enough that you do not tire or get exasperated, but long enough that you get a glimpse into the darkness of this affliction. The reality.
Leilani
In the intro the editor mentions that it is a myth that most people with anorexia are women, middle class and above, white, etc. She should have backed that up with having a more diverse anthology, because most of the stories in here just blended together.
Sidenote: I am studying heavily about anorexia right now, and all it does is make me want to eat a lot.
Kathy
This book has 19 stories that women with either anorexia or bulimia had written. some of the stories were very interesting (a little gut-wrenching)and some of the stories were boring (too scientific for my taste). Over all it was a great reminder that little things said, can make a very big impact on a young person's life.
Jessica
This is a fascinating read, and helped me to better understand what it's like to be anorexic and why one might become so in the first place. My high school friend Kate edited this anthology and wrote the introduction, so please buy and read the book!
Kate Givan
I did not think that the book gave a full picture of the recovery from Anorexia. It was very one sided and did not show a diversity of recovery paths and experiences.
Maureen
Outstanding. Might be triggering for some people, but varied look at the experience of going through an eating disorder from a variety of writers.
Jana
I really enjoyed this book! It let me know that all different kinds of people struggle from eating disorders. It was just really good.
stephanie
Sep 14, 2008 stephanie marked it as to-read
Recommends it for: annice.
Recommended to stephanie by: Leslie
oooh, ooh. must read! writers!

(note to annice: francine du plessy grey is a barnard alum, who was the keynote speaker in '06.)
Ashley Harrington
These really vary as far as quality goes, but the collection as a whole paints an over-privileged perspective on eating disorders.
Rachel
Great mini memoirs on Anorexia, some good theory and insights, especially in the intro, but I find the intro triggering.
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