Not That Bad edited by Roxane Gay – ARC Review

Title: Not That Bad

Author: Edited by Roxane Gay

Genre: Non-Fiction, Essay Collection

Publisher: Atlantic Books, Allen & Unwin



Summary: from Amazon

In this valuable and timely anthology, cultural critic and bestselling author Roxane Gay collects original and previously published pieces that address what it means to live in a world where women have to measure the harassment, violence and aggression they face, and where sexual-abuse survivors are ‘routinely second-guessed, blown off, discredited, denigrated, besmirched, belittled, patronized, mocked, shamed, gaslit, insulted, bullied’ for speaking out.

Highlighting the stories of well-known actors, writers and experts, as well as new voices being published for the first time, Not That Bad covers a wide range of topics and experiences, from an exploration of the rape epidemic embedded in the refugee crisis to first-person accounts of child molestation and street harrassment.

Often deeply personal and always unflinchingly honest, this provocative collection both reflects the world we live in and offers a call to arms insisting that ‘not that bad’ must no longer be good enough.


I am a big fan of Roxane Gay’s writing and think she’s one of the most insightful authors working today so I was really eager to read this group of essays that Gay has collated. By just reading Gay’s introduction I immediately felt like this collection made total sense and is very much needed. The essays in Not That Bad cover a broad spectrum of issues like consent and how definitions of sexual assault have changed and are interpreted differently from one person to the next. This book begins a conversation that needs to be had.

Honestly I was completely invested in the stories in Not That Bad pretty much instantly. Some sentences in the first essay alone rang so true that I couldn’t believe I hadn’t considered some of these issues before. These essays from a wide range of women and some men are definitely not an easy or pleasant read but they are an essential read. They should make you feel many things from empathy through to anger and that is, I feel, the point – to provoke a reaction and a discussion about the culture we have created as a society. There is no one size fits all here, every story is different but they are all of equal importance as examples of how people have been made to feel. The title of this book makes so much sense because it is something that is said so often as though it is possible to qualify the trauma or devastation a person is allowed to feel whether is is due to a sexist comment or an actual assault. It is not up to anyone else to decide how much pain you are allowed to feel in correlation to what has been done to you.

I really believe books like Not That Bad should almost be required reading for everyone because it genuinely is that important. In the wake of things like the #metoo movement it is important to remember that this problem is far away from being completely solved and probably won’t ever be but these stories need to be told in spite of that. Then, hopefully, there can be at the very least some real progress.


I received an e-arc of this book from Netgalley. My review is my own honest opinion. 

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