Category Archives: Books

Bob Dylan’s lover (well, one of them) pens a book about their lives and love on the road

Britta Lee Shain was a friend of Bob Dylan until he asked her to join him on the road in the mid-’80s . . . at which point she became more than a friend. In an intimate and elliptical memoir of their time together, at home in Los Angeles and on tour with Tom Petty and the Grateful Dead, she offers a unique portrait of the romantic, earthbound and poetic soul trapped in the role of Being Bob Dylan.

As she coos: “I’ve never seen a Bob Dylan smile, except in photos or on the stage. Not the real thing.”https-%2f%2fcdn-evbuc-com%2fimages%2f21528364%2f166417865266%2f1%2foriginal

Entire libraries of books have been written about Dylan, but few—if any—offer any lasting insight into the man behind the shades. Until now. Written with the elegance of a poet and storytelling snap of a novelist, Seeing The Real You At Last: Life and Love on the Road With Bob Dylan (Jawbone Press, $19.95), is a poignant and tender romance that reveals Dylan’s playfulness, his dark wit, his fears and struggles, his complex relationships with the men and women in his life and, ultimately, his genius.

Adam Kirsch’s “The People and the Books: 18 Classics of Jewish Literature” is a winner

Jews have long embraced their identity as “the people of the book.” But outside of the Bible, much of the Jewish literary tradition remains little known to nonspecialist readers. The People and the Books: 18 Classics of Jewish Literature (W. W. Norton & Company, $28.95) shows how central questions and themes of our history and culture are reflected in the Jewish literary canon: The nature of God, the right way to understand the Bible, the relationship of the Jews to their Promised Land, and the challenges of living as a minority in Diaspora.
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Author Adam Kirsch explores 18 classic texts, including the biblical books of Deuteronomy and Esther, the philosophy of Maimonides, the autobiography of the medieval businesswoman Glückel of Hameln, and the Zionist manifestos of Theodor Herzl. From the Jews of Roman Egypt to the mystical devotees of Hasidism in Eastern Europe, The People and the Books brings the treasures of Jewish literature to life and offers new ways to think about their enduring power and influence.

This luminous new work is an essential exploration of a rich literary tradition from the Bible to modern times. Can I hear an amen?

Esther Schor speaks volumes about Esperanto, the language that never was

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Honoring Ludwig Lazarus Zamenhof on a 1987 stamp

When Esther Schor stumbles, she falls into the most fascinating subjects. Seven years ago, the author stumbled into the language and the world of Esperanto, with little sense of how it would change her life or how she would be gripped by the story of its creator, Ludwig Lazarus Zamenhof.

A Polish Jew, Zamenhof had the idea in 1887 of putting an end to tribalism by creating a universal tongue, designed to be a second language to the entire world, one that would compel its users to transcend nationalism. Basing his invention on rational grammatical principles that would be easy to learn, politically neutral and would allow all to speak to all, Zamenhof launched a utopian scheme full of the brilliance and grandiosity that characterize all such messianic visions.

In Bridge of Words: Esperanto and the Dream of a Universal Language (Metropolitan Books, $32), the first full history of a constructed language, Schor traces the life of Esperanto from its creation, through its turn-of-the-century golden age as the great hope of embattled cosmopolites, to its suppression by nationalist leaders and its resurgence as a bridge across the Cold War. She follows Esperanto’s fortunes in the present, where it lives vibrantly on the Internet and is seen by its users as an essential human counterpart to twenty-first century globalization. And she recounts the impact of this language—which changes the very way one sees others—on her own experience, leading her to upend her life in pursuit of fulfillment.
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Rich and subtle, Bridge of Words is at once a biography of an idea, an original history of the twentieth century, and a spirited exploration of the only language charged with saving the world from itself. It is also a story of personal transformation, as Schor travels the globe in pursuit of Esperantists and discovers not only a language but a better way of being.

A great book, and we offer the opinion of it by another noted author, Jonathan Rosen: “Esther Schor has crossed continents, tunneled under the Tower of Babel, brooded over the Twentieth Century’s darkest traumas and brightest dreams, and spoken endless Esperanto in an effort to understand how a language freighted with human tragedy still lives like a kiss on the lips of its speakers. This is a beautiful, mysteriously moving book by a fearless writer who set out to find the soul of a language, knowing full well that it was her own soul she was after all along.”

Making dinner making you go to pot? Andrea Chesman serves up food for thought . . . in one dish!

One is the loneliest number that you’ll ever do . . .

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Photo and recipe from book, permission of Storey Publishing

Three Dog Night got it all wrong . . . at least when it comes to the kitchen. In 101 One-Dish Dinners: Hearty Recipes for the Dutch Oven, Skillet & Casserole Pan (Storey Publishing, $16.95), best-selling cookbook author Andrea Chesman has arrived to save those cooks who are ready go to pot. She comes to the rescue with no-fuss recipes that solve the dinner dilemma deliciously and nutritiously by using just one dish. One, as in a more appropriate lyric: One singular sensation . . . 4fdc6c68be46242ce3fa33a185d04941-600x0-c-default

In 101 One-Dish Dinners, Chesman shows off the versatility of Dutch ovens, skillets and casserole pans. Classic baked dishes like ham and potato gratin, chicken pot pie and vegetable lasagne go head-to-head with diverse stovetop suppers like jambalaya, seafood paella and pad Thai. For those looking for something a little lighter but still filling, there are plenty of meal-in-a-bowl salads and timeless soups. A recipe for success: The ability to serve up a nourishing meal with little fuss and fewer dishes!

Seconds anyone?

A Thanksgiving treat: Stuff yourself on the new take of “Anne of Green Gables”

Too many TV stations air too many turkeys on Thanksgiving. Never PBS. After your day of thanks, give your local public television thanks for airing L.M. Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables.

This is the classic Lucy Maud Montgomery story that tells the tale of Anne Shirley, a precocious young girl taken from an orphanage and placed in the care of the uptight Marilla Cuthbert and her brother, Matthew. The conservative Marilla has a profound effect on the adventurous Anne and creates a journey of learning and personal engagement that has resonated with generations since L.M. Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables was first published in 1908. The book remains an iconic work of Canadian literature and has sold more than 50 million copies worldwide and been translated into 20 languages.

Directed by John Kent Harrison and based on the original script by Susan Coyne, this adaptation, filmed in Canada, stars critically acclaimed Martin Sheen, who portrays Matthew Cuthbert, one half of the brother-sister couple who care for Anne Shirley.

Some people Anne, and not Annie, is the most famous in the world. Whatever. Ella Ballentine stars as Anne in the two-hour, made-for-TV movie. “My mom read Anne of Green Gables to me when I was younger,” Ella recalls. “And every now and then the cartoon came on TV, so I saw little bits of that. Then I did an episode of Reign on the CW, and Megan Follows is on that. I didn’t have a scene with her, but my mom was telling me, ‘Oh, you know, she played Anne of Green Gables before.’ And I thought, ‘How cool is it to be Anne of Green Gables?’ So then when there was the audition for this, I got really excited.1297803878688_original

Is there anything specific in today’s world that she would miss if she could go back in time to the late 1800s, when Anne of Green Gables is set?

Without an eye on an iPhone: “Modern hospitals,” she says.

Maybe she knows that we will remind you the PBS film is just that the doctor ordered? Can’t wait? PBS Distribution offers it on DVD on November 8.

 

In a feline funk? AC the Cat is back and in a purr-fect picture book

Sometimes it pays to be in a funk. We let the cat out of the bag: While working at a local Milwaukee paper store, Kate Funk decided to make a birthday card for her friend featuring her sourpuss-face rescue cat, AC, wearing a tiny party hat next to a paper birthday cake and simple backdrop made of construction paper.  Remarkably, AC didn’t mind wearing his party hat; in fact, he seemed to enjoy it.51ebme3gtql

The birthday card turned into a series of cards, a calendar and Funk’s hilarious book of photos, The Best Cat Book Ever: Super Amazing, 100% Awesome.  Now, AC returns in The Best Cat Book Ever: Part II (St. Martin’s Griffin, $12.99) crammed with scores of more funny, costumed cat photos that feline fans everywhere will love. Think of the feline feat as a purr-fect rip-off of Wegman and his wondrous Weimaraners.8111khw6ll

Funk has come up with some even more hilarious, increasingly ridiculous costumes for him to model, from the “Yes We Can!” lady to Max from Where the Wild Things Are to Back to the Future’s Marty McFly.  Kate also goes much deeper into hipsterdom and dresses AC as a whole host of Wes Anderson characters, as well as all twelve zodiac symbols.  Each photograph in the book has been carefully constructed by Kate, including the backdrops, props and costumes.  Unlike most cats, AC loves posing for the camera, especially if treats are involved.

We end with a quote from AC: “Dogs drool, cats rule”!

 

Springsteen’s autobiography is a bestselling boss . . . it’s sent people racing in the streets

I’ve never been a Bruce Springsteen fan. It hasn’t to do with him, it has to do with my lack of interested in rock music. Give me show tunes, film soundtracks, easy listening, vintage pop and, of course, anything by the world’s greatest entertainer, the Boss Bassey.

Since Springsteen has written his autobiography,  he seems hotter than ever. His publisher, Simon & Schuster, didn’t even have to issue an official press release . . . when word got out, his fans simple pre-ordered or bought tickets to his selected appearances in which he appeared and attendees received a pre-signed book. (We hope this means he really did sign them. We’ve know Shore Fire, his PR firm, too long to think otherwise.)  Born to Run was released internationally on September 27.

We understand he draws large crowds, very much the way Dame Shirley or Babs draws them. Someone counted that fans (2,000) packing the Barnes & Noble near Highway 9 in Freehold, N.J., on the book’s release day. He greeted more than 1,000 fans at N.Y.’s Union Square Barnes & Noble. Tickets for Springsteen’s meet-and-greet at the Philadelphia Free Library sold out in nine minutes. In Los Angeles, fans began lining up outside The Grove shopping center three days early. Ticket demand for his appearance at Powell’s Books in Portland, Oregon, crashed the store’s website. Such mass appeal is to end: Springsteen wraps his U.S. series of appearances with a stop at The Harvard Coop in Boston on Monday, October 10.

The book is so hot it saddles the top spot on various bestselling lists and various editions (hardcover, ebook and audio editions) have been unleashed in the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and India; rights have already been sold to publishers in nine countries.  Our fave review is from the Irish Times, who coos that the book is “darkness on the edge of genius … Bruce Springsteen is one of the great short story writers. At his wildest he’s Damon Runyon. At his best he’s Raymond Carver.”

According to Bruce, he has been privately writing the autobiography over the past seven years. He began work in 2009, after performing with the E Street Band at the Super Bowl’s halftime show.

In Born To Run, Mr. Springsteen describes growing up in Freehold, New Jersey amid the “poetry, danger, and darkness” that fueled his imagination. He vividly recounts his relentless drive to become a musician, his early days as a bar band king in Asbury Park, and the rise of the E Street Band. With disarming candor, he also tells for the first time the story of the personal struggles that inspired his best work, and shows us why the song “Born to Run” reveals more than we previously realized.btr_331_500_s

“Writing about yourself is a funny business,” Springsteen notes in his book. “But in a project like this, the writer has made one promise, to show the reader his mind. In these pages, I’ve tried to do this.”

“This is the book we’ve been hoping for,” adds Jonathan Karp, publisher of Simon & Schuster, who paid BS oodles of six-figure cash. “Readers will see their own lives in Bruce Springsteen’s extraordinary story, just as we recognize ourselves in his songs.”

Over the past seven years, Bruce Springsteen has privately devoted himself to writing the story of his life, bringing to these pages the same honesty, humor and originality found in his songs.

He describes growing up Catholic in Freehold, New Jersey, amid the poetry, danger and darkness that fueled his imagination, leading up to the moment he refers to as “The Big Bang”: Seeing Elvis’s debut on The Ed Sullivan Show. He vividly recounts his relentless drive to become a musician, his early days as a bar band king in Asbury Park, and the rise of the E Street Band. With disarming candor, he also tells for the first time the story of the personal struggles that inspired his best work and shows us why the song “Born to Run” reveals more than we previously realized.

But the book is much more than a legendary rock star’s memoir. This is a book for workers and dreamers, parents and children, lovers and loners, artists, freaks, or anyone who has ever wanted to be baptized in the holy river of rock and roll.

Rarely has a performer told his own story with such force and sweep. Like many of his songs, Springsteen’s autobiography is written with the lyricism of a singular songwriter and the wisdom of a man who has thought deeply about his experiences.

We have one question: Why no mention of Dame Shirley?

Ann Patchett returns after five years . . . and what a doozy “Commonwelath” is

It’s taken five years, but the wait was worth it. Commonwealth (Harper, $27.99), the first novel in 1825 days from New York Times bestselling author Ann Patchett, is a wallop of a book. It tells the emotionally intricate, enveloping story of two families torn apart by divorce and reassembled into one imperfect union by remarriage.

Unfolding through shifts in time and point-of-view, the masterful narrative bears the hallmarks that have graced the best work of this gifted storyteller, winner of the PEN/Faulkner Award and Orange Prize: brilliantly-drawn, flawed character we feel we know; a surprising plot that nonetheless resonates with the familiarity of our own lives; and an intrinsic feel for the humor that sustains us through the inevitable disappointments and heartbreak we encounter.

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Ann and a novel idea: Spend time in Nashville’s in Parnassus bookstore

It is chance that brings the Cousins and the Keatings together, and chance that will tear them apart. Looking for a way to spend a Sunday afternoon and escape the tedious demands of a household full of preschool-aged kids, deputy DA Bert Cousins crashes the christening party for the new baby daughter of Fix Keating, a cop he barely knows. Bert comes bearing a large bottle of gin, which lubricates the previously-dry party, and leads to the fateful moment where he kisses Keating’s beautiful wife, Beverly. That brief encounter sets the dissolution of both marriages in motion.

We promise (and our dear readers know we hold true to our promises) not disclose too much . . . just enough to snatch up a copy of the tome that the Chicago Sun-Times describes as “Patchett is a virtuoso storyteller,with an ability to create characters we can innately understand.”

Bert and Beverly, with her two daughters, Caroline and Franny, move to Virginia, while Bert’s four children—Cal, Holly, Jeanette and Albie—stay in California with their mother. But every summer, the four Cousins kids fly to the East Coast to become temporarily part of a blended family. The six siblings forge bonds, not so much out of any real affection, but for their shared antagonism toward their parents. An act of daring, performed without Bert and Beverly’s knowledge, seals the children’s connection. When one of them dies under tragic circumstances, the others unite in their sworn secrecy about what has really occurred.

Years later, with the now-grown children living disparate lives, another event closes the distance they have placed between themselves and the past. Franny has told her lover, a renowned novelist, about the family story, and he has used it as the basis for a runaway bestseller. The unintentional result of Franny’s revelation forces the Cousins and the Keatings to close long-abandoned ranks and come to terms with the full measure of their shared story.commonwealth

And, with adept scrutiny, but a light touch, Patchett brings every character in Commonwealth to luminous life. As they struggle to overcome their own mistakes, and all that has been imposed on them by the mistakes of others, each seeks a mooring in a world that offers little stability. This tour de force novel captures what family means as it explores the ways we survive being part of one.

“Hip Hop Raised Me” is the soundtrack chronicling 40 years of music culture

It might be a bit too corny to announce the event with a “Hip Hop Hooray”. Then again, ears of corn may be ringing with “Hip Hop Hooray,” a song by the hip hop group Naughty By Nature. Mark your calendars: Coming November 15 from Thames & Hudson is Hip Hop Raised Me, the definitive book on 40 years of the music culture,  its the essence, experience and energy, that revolutionized the world.  FYI:  The word “hip hop” is, like most music genres, not capitalized nor hyphenated.hip-hop-raised-me-611x784

Written by DJ Semtex, host of the UK’s top hip hop show on BBC Radio 1Xtra, this unique volume traces the characteristics and influence of hip hop, from its origins in the early ’70s, through its breakthrough into the mainstream and the advent of gangsta rap in the late ’80s, to the impact of contemporary artists and the global industry that is hip hop today. Semtex’s encyclopedic knowledge of the genre and his personal relationships with many of the most significant names in hip hop lends the book authority and the ultimate insider’s perspective.

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Grandmaster Flash

From its origins in the block parties of da Bronx in the ’70s to its status today as a global multi-billion dollar industry, from the voice of disaffected urban America to a President-electing powerbase, from Grandmaster Flash to Jay-Z, hip hop is nothing less than a phenomenon. Not just the most important musical genre of the past four decades, hip hop has transcended its origins to impact on every aspect of 21st century culture: Today Dr. Dre is at the vanguard of the music industry’s digital revolution, Kanye West is courted by the fashion industry and makes front page news, while Kendrick Lamar maintains hip hop’s legacy as a voice for the voiceless (today for the Ferguson riots generation) in the seething socio-political commentary contained within his lyrics.

Organized thematically, Hip Hop Raised Me features the many extensive interviews DJ Semtex has conducted from the ’90s to today, conveying the authentic voices of a huge roster of artists including Eminem, the Wu-Tang Clan,Jay-Z, Public Enemy, Kanye West, Nas, 50 Cent, Nicky Minaj, Pharrell, Odd Future, Drake and many, many more. Numerous infographic treatments track the four pillars of hip hop–MCing, Turntableism, B-boying, Graffiti–as well as the genre’s many fashion trends. These sit alongside specially commissioned photography of hip hop ephemera and vinyl, as well as contact sheets, outtakes and glory shots from key photographers in the movement. The depth and breadth of the book is visually matched by the rich and plentiful illustrations to make this the complete hip hop survey.

EDITORIAL USE ONLY / NO MERCHANDISING Mandatory Credit: Photo by Brian J Ritchie/Hotsauce/REX/Shutterstock (4453302ce) Kanye West 'The Jonathan Ross Show' TV Programme, London, Britain. - 28 Feb 2015
Kanye West

The publication of Hip Hop Raised Me coincides with multiple key dates in hip hop history–40 years since Grandmaster Flash broke out of da Bronx; 30 years since the release of the Beastie Boys “Licensed to Ill”; and 20 years since the release of Jay-Z’s “Reasonable Doubt.” To mark these occasions and celebrate the publication of this landmark volume, DJ Semtex will host an incredible concert in London this October with a multi-generational line up of hip hop artists appearing on the same UK bill for the first time. Featuring some of the biggest names in the Hip Hop game, this will be a once-in-a-lifetime event.

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DJ Semtex

October also sees the release of “Hip Hop Raised Me,” the soundtrack. Released by Sony Music and selected by DJ Semtex, this multi-artist album will reflect the breadth and scope of the book and feature only the most ground-breaking, epoch-making tracks of the genre.

Ahead of the book’s publication, DJ Semtex has launched the Hip Hop Raised Me podcast, a weekly series of conversations with some of the most creative people in hip hop culture. Download and subscribe to future episodes of the podcast @ itunes.apple.com/gb/podcast/hip-hop-raised-me/

Yes, we can say “Hip Hop Hooray”!

 

 

Kids starting a new chapter with reading? Here are four top books

We are always encouraging people to start new chapters in their lives. Especially when it comes to reading  . . . and we mean reading real books, those hold-them-in-your-hands treasures, not “reading” on those annoying electronic devices that should be banned to some unreachable nook somewhere. Kids must be taught the importance of reading real books at an early age. We discovered tk books that belong in every wee one’s library. The ages? Just mere guidelines, dear readers, since we believe they are for the young and young-at-heart.

From the team behind the best-selling Atlas of Adventures comes a new, nifty tome. Head off on a journey of discovery with Atlas of Animal Adventures (Wide Eyed Editions, $30), a book that collects nature’s most unmissable events from between the two poles, including epic migrations, extraordinary behaviors and Herculean habits. 9781847807922Find hundreds of things to spot and learn new facts about every animal. Perfect for ages 6 to 9.

Your imagination will be your guide as you discover 12 clever cardboard craft projects for the entire family. DIY Box Creations (Walter Foster Jr., $9.95) includes a variety of out-of-the-box cardboard creations for families to build together, transforming leftover boxes into an assortment of step-by-step projects.diy-box-creations-e1472732384636 From planes, trains, forts, lemonade stands, and puppet theaters, have fun building memories and creativity with each step. Perfect for ages 8 to 12.
Raffi is a shy boy who doesn’t like noisy games and is often teased at school. When he gets the idea of making a scarf for his dad’s birthday, he is full of enthusiasm even though the other children think it’s girly to knit. Then the day draws near for the school pageant, and there is one big problem; there’s no costume for the prince. raffi-knitting
And that’s when Raffi has his most brilliant idea of all: to make a prince’s cape. On the day of the pageant, Raffi’s cape is the star of the show. The education and entertainment is found in Made by Raffi (Frances Lincoln Children’s Books, $9.99). Perfect for ages 6 to 9.

Fun with Stitchables (Walter Foster Jr. , $14.95) introduces young crafters to the fun of simple embroidery. Quick and easy cross stitch sewing cards are included with punched holes for easy stitching, as well as a 16-page project book with instructions for designing your own unique stitching patterns and color combinations.51csxkqamxl-_sx373_bo1204203200_
A project gallery shows examples of what the hand-stitched cards can become once they are complete: everything from ornaments to greeting cards. The simple stitching patterns taught in this book promote growth and development, hand-eye coordination, as well as creativity and imagination. Fun with Stitchables will entertain and delight crafters of all ages and inspire a lifelong love of embroidery.