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Thick: And Other Essays

4.47  ·  Rating details ·  7,529 ratings  ·  1,074 reviews
Smart, humorous, and strikingly original thoughts on race, beauty, money, and more—by one of today's most intrepid public intellectuals

Tressie McMillan Cottom, the writer, professor, and acclaimed author of Lower Ed, now brilliantly shifts gears from running regression analyses on college data to unleashing another identity: a purveyor of wit, wisdom—and of course Black Tw
Hardcover, 248 pages
Published May 1st 2019 by New Press (first published January 8th 2019)
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Average rating 4.47  · 
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 ·  7,529 ratings  ·  1,074 reviews

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Sep 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Tressie McMillan Cottom’s essay collection Thick: And Other Essays, is thick in every sense of the word. This book is thick with wit and depth and intelligence as McMillan Cottom tackles black womanhood, contextualizing whiteness, beauty in a capitalist society, class mobility and much more. She engages, in fascinating ways, with the forces that bear down upon her from her subject position in prose that effortlessly blends the personal with the theoretical. She articulates a black woman’s work a ...more
Jan 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Without a doubt the best book I have read in 2019 thus far, Thick: And Other Essays is thick with wit, intelligence, and an assured self-awareness. Tressie McMillan Cottom addresses many topics within the realm of black womanhood, including beauty standards and whiteness, ethnic differences within the black community, socioeconomic class and assimilating into capitalism, and more. I loved how she always took her analysis one step further, like in her essay about beauty, how she refutes the neoli ...more
Nenia ⚔️ Queen of Villainy ⚔️ Campbell

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This is a really excellent collection of essays written by a black woman on issues that matter for both women and people of color. Better yet, she gives the why behind why she feels that these issues matter, and better still; I liked her whys. Intersectionality is so important, and it was only a few years ago that I realized how many feminist books and books about women's issues omit the issues that plague women of color. Even within ma
Nov 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Jenna by: Kathleen
Gritty, smart, original, Thick is a powerful collection of essays on race and womanhood, especially Black womanhood and the many injustices heaped upon Black women.   Tressie McMillan Cottom shares intimate details of her own life and covers a broad spectrum about her thoughts on racism and white superiority and what is wrong with America today.  It is a collection I both enjoyed and found enlightening.  The voices of Black women are the least heard in America and, as Ms. Cottom illlustrates, th ...more
I liked Thick very much and in fact there were essays here that spoke to me, for me, within me. The writing was quite affecting. Cottom is brash and intense and funny and full of facts. That's what was great about the book. Her commentary was searing and endlessly supported by facts. In this book Cottom talks of what it feels like to be an educated black woman in this America and I gotta tell ya, she knocked it out of the park on most of these essays. Breakdown here:(view spoiler) ...more
chantel nouseforaname
Yooooooo Tressie! Tressie! Tressie! SIS!!! SISSSSS!

This whole book rocked my entire world and like just got all up in my feelings and my mind and honestly, it just hit me like a ton of bricks. There's so much important stuff here.
I'm going to buy a copy for my sister-in-law; because I think she should read it. My highlights are all up on this post. So many highlighted segments of just straight, pure truths.

Highlights include: Know Your Whites: no matter how much I love The Obamas, and I LOVE
Valerity (Val)
DNF at 26% I tried repeatedly to get into this book, but its just not my usual kind of book, although a good one, not for me. I have a sleep disorder that knocks me right out if I don't find something gripping, and even on some that I do, so I have to save my reading time for books that I find compelling. Thanks for understanding!
Stacie C
Dec 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing

Thick. If that isn’t an apt title for this collection than I don’t know what is, because this is a thick book. Not thick in the amount of pages, but absolutely full of relevant and necessary information. It isn’t curing cancer or solving climate change. But it is giving a voice and analytical eye to the way we treat, judge, measure, love, hate and depict Black women.

I knew after the very first essay in this collection that I was willing to analyze and absorb everything that Cottom had to writ
Sep 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019-read, usa
Now a Finalist for the National Book Award for Nonfiction 2019
This was dense and super interesting: Tressie McMillan Cottom, a professor of sociology and public intellectual, writes about the black female experience in postmodern America, and she offers a sharp analysis of various complex phenomena that affect her and many other black women. In eight essays, she tackles topics such as the capitalist logic of beauty, the election of Trump, the vulnerability of black girls and women, the concept o
My primary interest in requesting and reading this book was that I felt it might improve my understanding of the black female experience in the U.S., as I am always on the look for the type of works that combine personal narrative and scholarly insight, where the writer will always try to “to refine my analytical concepts without sacrificing my prose.” Not because the data and research added would reinforce and legitimize the personal story, but because it brings into the light a new, different ...more
Jessica Woodbury
I have only one critique of THICK: I would like more of it.

I wanted to read this book as soon as it was announced and could have read an advance copy but once I found out there was an audiobook I waited. I love authors reading their own work and after following Cottom on Twitter for a few years I knew she would deliver. She has.

I do not read many essay collections even though they are having a burst of popularity. Usually when I do they are comedic or a little on the lighter side. It is not that
Traci at The Stacks
Apr 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Holy smart person. Tressie McMillan Cottom is an incredible writer and more importantly thinker. She is connecting dots I’ve not ever seen connected. She is amazing at writing “the turn” in these essays. Also she is narrow in focus in each essay which allows for depth and real interrogation. Also she’s funny, smart funny. That’s important too. I also struggled with reading these essays, the language was so deliberate I had to reread because I would get confused. Not a dig at the author, more an ...more
Apr 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poc-author, favorites
Yeah, this was just as fantastic as everyone says it is.
Jan 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, arc
Thick is a non-fiction book that straddles the line between academic writing and memoir - something I personally really happen to enjoy. Here McMillan Cottom writes on a variety of topics, often with anecdotal evidence centered into her more academic musings.

This book both suffers and improves for me because McMillan Cottom comes from a similar academic tradition as I do. On the one hand it means that I am bound to agree with a lot of her analyses, on the other hand some of her arguments do lose
Jul 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: essays, audiobook
Listening to these riveting essays narrated by the author was an enjoyable treat even though she had me thinking hard. Cottom opened the door and invited me to do some thought shifting about the injustices in our world - especially the injustices against black women. I needed this book and am ready for her next one...
Robert Sheard
Feb 29, 2020 rated it it was ok
Nope. When you open a collection with the claim that you're writing classical arguments with the goal of persuading people, and then immediately dismiss any potential reader who doesn't think exactly the way you do, you're not persuading; you're giving a sermon. I don't have any illusions that I'm the smartest one in the room, but I did teach rhetoric and argumentation for more than two decades, and coached a crew of national champion debaters, so I'm pretty good at spotting logical flaws in arg ...more
What can I possibly add to this conversation of how important this book? Dr. Tressie McMillan Cottom's Thick: And Other Essays should be required reading for everyone. This is such important work that dives into life for Black people, especially black womanhood. After finishing each essay I thought "Tressie GETS. IT." This collection is nuanced, poignant and gripping. Each essay is THICK, DEEP and RAW- they deserve to be chewed on, not gobbled up.

While I loved every single essay, I particular
Jun 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
Cottom’s essays provide a thoughtful perspective on the pervasive racism and misogyny that black women must deal with. For instance, how does a black woman ‘prove’ that she has bruises left by an abuser, when her skin is so dark that it doesn’t show bruises. And yet, our criminal justice system relies on such photographic evidence!

Where are the voices of black women on the opinion pages of major newspapers? Why don’t black women journalists have more followers on social media? Cottom writes elo
Jun 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have racked what little there is of my brain to come up with a worthy review for this collection of essays but I honestly can't come up with anything to do it justice. Roxane Gay's review captures everything that needs to be known about this work. Read it if you haven't please. ...more
Jaclyn (sixminutesforme)
Jan 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
“No one can speak to a singular black experience, not even me. Especially not me. Rejecting that belief does not free me, but it goes a long way toward being authentic.”

This essay collection was electric, engaging, and incredibly compelling! The balance of anecdotes and personal perspectives coupled with broader social theory and commentary was a perfect combination and made for a highly readable and thought-provoking read.

The essays cover a range of topics that impact the construction and depic
Never Without a Book
Dec 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is one you will want to read. Highly recommended you do.
Apr 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
One of the best essay collections I've read in a LONG time. I absolutely loved it. I loved, especially, her essay on beauty standards as a function of the market. Each essay was just so carefully written, dense, complex, and well-thought out, but also very personal and vulnerable.
Nov 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Reading "Thick" made me uncomfortable. It made me squirmingly, hopelessly uncomfortable.
You see, I am a (white) woman who wants to understand. I want to understand how things work, how people work, how our universe works, and I like to think if I study, read and engage others in dialog, someday I might.
But Tressie McMillan Cotton wrote a book that patiently, intelligently explains that it doesn't work that way. No one can ever understand what it means to be what they themselves are not.
She do
4.75 Stars - Written with unexpected poetry for such an academic, visceral & clearly well cogitated piece of writing. Reminded me wry much for some reason of last years Axiomatic, one of my favourite reads of all time!

These essays are not for the faint of heart, the emotive narrative & deliberately confronting stylings and raw content force you to face issues of race & subliminal marginalisation in your own reflection, something I’m grateful for and that grabbed me & pulled me around by the scru
Jun 30, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
2.75+ stars
Thick, indeed.

I ended up skimming one essay and skipping another. There is something about the style or density of McMillan Cottom's writing that was impenetrable.

These are the types of essays that make my eyes glaze over because I am too frivolous to sit still and pay attention long enough to read and digest. Thick is a blend of social commentary and academic writing, and I struggled to make sense of what I was reading. For instance:
"Like whiteness itself, Obama was because Trump i
|| Thoughts on race, beauty, money and more
|| From the perspective of being thick
|| Feminist collection

Absolutely loved this! I really don't want to say much because I don't identify in-depth with the culture or ethnicity of the women being talked about but as a feminist, this was definitely an inspiring and a pleasure to read this collection of essays. Majority of the thoughts and pieces challenge the usual societal norms and made me think which not many books, especially memoirs, d
New release! Out today!

Thank you to New Press for an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.

This is such a great essay collection to start off the new year. I'm a longtime fan of Tressie McMillan Cottom's work, particularly on higher education, and this collection does not disappoint. There is a very timely essay in here about R. Kelly, uncannily timed for the release of the three-day documentary about R. Kelly's survivors on Lifetime TV. Her remarks about the violence perpetrated on Bl
Mar 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
So, so good. The rumor that she and Roxane Gay are developing a podcast helps me fall asleep with a smile on my face every night.

I know I'll be thinking about the essays for a long time, and one of the most resonant threads throughout is the commodification of *everything*. I hope to revisit this book again in several months, as there were many layers and I don't know if I've properly wrapped my head around all of it.
Nov 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This collection of essays is quite simply unadulterated brilliance, but I have come to expect no less from Tressie McMillan Cottom! While reading these, I managed to both laugh and cry as this Black woman academic delved into experiences that bore similarities to my own as a woman of colour in Canada. I look forward to engaging with more of this author's writing in the future.
Sep 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
Dr. Cottom writes in an intellectual, but accessible manner. Some (very wrong) folks thought this would hinder her, but I wholeheartedly disagree. It’s what makes this provocative collection so effective.
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Tressie McMillan Cottom has been called "a master of metaphor" (Soraya McDonald), one of "America's most bracing thinkers on race, gender, and capitalism of our time" (Rebecca Traister) and "one of the finest public intellectuals writing today" (Roxane Gay). McMillan Cottom centers black women in uncommonly incisive analysis of social problems. She lives in Richmond, Virginia where she is an assoc ...more

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“Beauty is not good capital. I compounds the oppression of gender. It constrains those who identify as women against their will. It costs money and demands money. It colonizes. It hurts. It is painful. It can never be fully satisfied. It is not useful for human flourishing. Beauty is, like all capital, merely valuable.” 7 likes
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