I know Van Lathan from his Ringer podcasts, Higher Learning and Ringer-Verse. When I saw that he published a book earlier this year about his relationship with his body I thought, yes – let’s read that. What I got was a cultural critique of the unspoken things that keep us from maintaining good health in America right now. So much of the way in which the systems around us fail us forms the bedrock of this book, but its Lathan’s way of exploring the larger ideas through scenes about his own health journey as a Black man which was fundamental to why I wanted to read a book by this author. This is a personal story that lets the reader in, but it takes someone used to sharing their stories to create that space in crisp, easy to read chapters. Oh, and Lathan’s signature humor is on full display, right next to his candid discussions of his mental health journey (cw: suicidal ideation).
Like many of us in 2020 Lathan found himself suddenly he was surrounded by carbs galore, binging everything, feeling non‑stop exhaustion, and crippling waves of anxiety and depression. Fat, Crazy, and Tired explores the reasons behind our unending physical and mental health battles, identifies the causes of it (family, neighborhood, cultural history, family pressure, food availability, etc.) and the way that poverty and social inequality in turn influences how we deal with weight via family, influence, wealth and our own access to healthcare. Lathan grounds it all in his personal journey, taking his readers back to his southern upbringing in Baton Rouge, his time at TMZ and how it overshadowed his identity, and how he manages now.
At the end of the day Lathan is concerned with sharing what he learned along the way – that its better to be happier and healthier at whatever level you are able to achieve without being mean to yourself to get there.
3.5 rounding up
Bingo Square: Bodies (this book is all about our bodies, but most specifically Lathan’s relationship with his own).