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Thick: And Other Essays

4.49  ·  Rating details ·  437 ratings  ·  113 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, 224 pages
Published January 8th 2019 by New Press
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4.49  · 
Rating details
 ·  437 ratings  ·  113 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
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!
Jan 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
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
Jan 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: arc, non-fiction
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
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 write
Anna (never_withouta_book)
Dec 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is one you will want to read. Highly recommended you do.
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
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
Dec 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: essays
THICK is going to be one of the first best essay collections of 2019. Dr. Tressie McMillan Cottom is an academic, sociology and prominent writer. I learned a lot from these essays, ranging from her experience as a Black woman academic, personal essays, opinion writing & gatekeepers, views on "beauty", R. Kelly and the need for more black women writers at prestigious publications.

These essays are wide-ranging and often made me wish I was reading them in a class or book club discussion - espe
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.
"In The Name of Beauty" is the second essay in Tressie McMillan Cottom's book Thick, and it is a tour de force. The piece lays bare the white supremacist roots of the very idea of beauty and who can qualify as beautiful, and strips away the artifice from a thousand bloggers who would insist everyone is beautiful (at least on the inside). It's moving and challenging and discomfiting (for me at least) and I'll be thinking about it for a long time. The story of Dr. McMillan Cottom delivering a daug ...more
Jan 07, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: arc, ebook-owned
I really love the content of this personal essay collection, and would definitely recommend it as a book to check for those who love ELOQUENT RAGE by Brittney Cooper or THIS WILL BE MY UNDOING by Morgan Jenkins. That said, something about the authorial voice didn't quite turn all the way over for me. I'm not sure if it was my mood or just my tastes generally, as the writing is objectively quite nice. I just didn't fully connect with it the way I have with writers like Cooper or Roxane Gay.

Feb 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Tressie McMillan Cottom’s writing is addictive. She pulls you in with her wit, candor, and intelligence. Her insights on whiteness, beauty, and black feminism are brilliant. This is a must read for all.
Jan 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
I’m a former student of Dr. Cottom, and she is unsurprisingly just as striking and powerful of an author as she is a professor. Some of the essays (”Dying to be Competent,” “Black Girlhood Interrupted”) I really had to sit with — they took me some time to properly process due to how heavy they were. Take your time with this one, if you can. ‘Thick’ is an essential read for this year and beyond. Go get it!
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
Dec 14, 2018 rated it liked it
I received a copy of this book in exchange for a review from the publisher, via NetGalley. All views are my own.

I have a thing for memoirs and essay collections written by black women. And while this was metaphorically one of the thickest (or most dense) memoirs I've read, I adored it. A lot of things went over my head or didn't have as much of an impact because 1) I'm not a black woman, so I have never experienced what Cottom writes about; 2) Her voice, to me, was sometimes complicated.

But non
Jan 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2019
I'm a graduate student at the university where Tressie McMillan Cottom teaches and I'm forever sad that I couldn't squeeze in a class with her. This book is a treasure. It's written in an amazing voice that captures the depth and pain of her experiences with honesty and an incredible amount of wit. That wit makes it funny without the nagging sense that the author is trying to be funny. I highlighted too many amazing passages (both for their insight and humor), but died in giggles over this one i ...more
Susie Dumond
Jan 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This short essay collection gives you a lot to chew on. Dr. McMillan Cottom approaches familiar topics from an incredibly unique and astute perspective. I love the way she sets up each topic and argument. Silly think pieces, Miley Cyrus, and dismissive doctors become so much more under McMillan Cottom's gaze. What a remarkable voice! This collection is not to be missed.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the ARC in exchange for my honest review.
Jan 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I LOVED THIS. Tressie is my new favorite.
Feb 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is so good, so expertly crafted, the thinking so clear and deep, with so many layers of insight and implication, that I’m not sure I fully understood all of it in a first read. I cannot stress strongly enough the importance of Cottom’s collection, her brain is like a heat seeking missile, tracking all the unearned privileges , distortions, and violence of “whiteness” while targeting the capitalist ruse of “blackness.” Expert level.
Feb 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
So good! I don't know where to begin. It made me think and question what I thought I already knew. For instance, the author talks about how black bodies are not valued in society (this is something I already knew) and what black people do to maneuver this unfortunate reality. What we do is simple, we find someone if not ourselves to be a representative for us, someone who knows how to "speak Caucasian". Now that I think about it, I'm that person in my family. Just like the authors' mother, I too ...more
Laura Gadzik
Jan 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I received a free e-copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review- all opinions are my own. The first thing I can say about this is that partway through reading I went online and purchased a hard copy of this book for my shelf. This is a collection of essays that start from Tressie McMillan Cottom’s specific experiences as a black female individual navigating the systemic and impossible constraints put on black women in our country, and also zooms way out to talk about th ...more
I cannot overstate how much it means to encounter such a smart, recognizable voice. At the core of each of these essays is a familiar insight (familiar to me as a black, highly-educated immigrant woman who has lived in the U.S. for over 10 years), but with the added benefit of rigorous analysis and thinking. Tressie snatches up the threads of her insights and carefully entwines them with well-considered thoughts on race, class, gender, and sexism, and in the process, illuminates a wider, more nu ...more
Feb 01, 2019 rated it liked it
I was a Goodreads Giveaway winner for this book. While I did enjoy reading 3 of the 8 essays, the majority of this book just was not for me. I like to go outside my comfort zone sometimes when it comes to reading, which is why I opted to enter the giveaway. This isn't something I would normally read and by that I mean essay format, non-fiction, compilation-style, etc. I think the author is a good writer and I can tell she is good at what she does. I just had to force myself to read most of it, u ...more
Monica L Edwards
Jan 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-in-2019
This book of essays was great! I got it as a goodreads giveaway, happily, and I know that I will have to read this collection again—likely also teach with them. I was surprised she’s a sociologist and that the work is rich with sociological theory; I didn’t expect this, but since I’m a sociologist, it was a pleasant surprise. My favorite essay was Dying to be Competent; they all really made me twist my brain around thinking.
Feb 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2019
Finished: 15.02.2019
Genre: personal essays
Rating: A++++++++

Carefully observed...
Prose that moves like a cheetah...
Wise illuminating thoughts...
Excellent book by Tressie McMillian Cottom
...that everyone should read!
pg 103: "To know our whites is to survive without
letting bitterness rot your soul."
Jan 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
I have been working my way slowly through this essay collection. I knew it would be rough. So much necessary information in it. I’m glad I read it. Will definitely need to re-read to make sure I got it all.
Feb 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
Such smart essays, really glad I own this one because there's definitely way too much smartness in here for me to imbibe in one go. I'm especially going to be coming back to the essay on beauty for a long time to come.
Feb 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: january-2019
This book actually needed more of my time, but it was due back at the library with other people waiting so... Though it's highly readable it is also very sophisticated and definitely made me feel my own deficits! I will probably come back to this one to make sure I understood everything.
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Tressie McMillan Cottom is an assistant professor of sociology at Virginia Commonwealth University. She is a faculty associate at the Berkman Center for Internet & Society. She earned her Ph.D. in Sociology from Emory University in Atlanta, GA with a case study of the political economy of for-profit colleges in the era of financialized U.S. higher education.

Tressie’s current research examines