Author, professor and profound feminist Gloria Jean Watkins, better known by her pen name bell hooks, dies at 69 today (Dec. 15).
She adopted the pen name bell hooks to pay homage to her great-grandmother, Bell Blair Hooks. “It’s primarily about an idea of distance,” she told Tricycle in 1992. “The name ‘bell hooks’ was a way for me to distance myself from the identity that I most cling to, which is Gloria Watkins, and to create this other-self.”
In hooks’ writing, she chose to examine the intersectionality of race, capitalism, gender, and how they contribute to oppression and class. The notable author has more than 30 books and several published articles, which have paved the way for a new generation of socially conscious authors who explore similar narratives.
Hooks first book, Ain’t I a Woman, is named after American abolitionist and women’s rights activist Sojourner Truth’s famous speech. It is amongst many must-read lists, like Oprah’s popular book list, for readers hoping to gain a better understanding about sexism, racism and the impact of feminism on Black womanhood.
Most hooks fans will point you in the direction of her book All About Love, which was published in 2000. It explores the aspects of love in modern society where hooks combined personal anecdotes, as well as, psychological and philosophical ideas to develop and strengthen her argument.
Many readers speak of how bell hooks changed their lives for the better. If today is the first time you are discovering hooks’ impressive collection, these are the books you should begin with:
1. All About Love
2. Ain’t I A Woman
3. Killing Rage: Ending Racism
4. Bone Black: Memories of Girlhood
5. The Will to Change
7. Where We Stand
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