It’s finally gotten really, really hot on the East Coast, which means beach days or air conditioning; both preferably with a good book.
After the jump check out 25 books you might want to check out this summer and why we’re picking them.
The four novels collected in this first volume re-invented the American crime novel and cemented Leonard’s reputation. All are set in his hometown Detroit, a hard-working “shot and a beer” kind of place whose lawless underside becomes a stage for an unforgettable cast of rogues, con artists, and psychopaths. Fifty-Two Pickup (1974), fast and sharply written, is an insidiously brutal book about an adulterous businessman who runs afoul of a crew of murderous blackmailers. Swag (1976) finds Leonard moving for the first time into the more comic mode that would become his signature, as he charts the small-time criminal careers of an amiable ex-con and an ambitious car salesman who share a bachelor pad and pursue their hedonistic dream of the good life through a string of armed robberies. Unknown Man No. 89 (1977) spins a complex web of crisscrossing rip-offs and con games, with process server Jack Ryan, a typically laid-back Leonard protagonist, caught in the middle. In The Switch (1978), one of Leonard’s funniest books, Mickey Dawson, a discontented housewife held for ransom, manages to turn the tables on her kidnappers while exacting overdue revenge on her scheming husband. (The Switch is now a major motion picture, Life of Crime, starring Jennifer Aniston, Mos Def, Isla Fisher, Will Forte, John Hawkes, and Tim Robbins.)
This volume also contains a newly researched chronology of Elmore Leonard’s life, drawing on materials in his personal archive, and detailed annotations, which include as a special bonus a scene from the typescript for Swag that did not appear in the published book. (Available 9/1)
Why It’s On The List: Elmore Leonard is a master of dialogue and his characters are among the most entertaining and realized. He’s an American legend and these beautiful collections from the Library of America are a must have for both readers and writers.
As If!: The Oral History of Clueless as told by Amy Heckerling and the Cast and Crew by Jen Chaney
Acclaimed pop culture journalist Jen Chaney shares an oral history of the cult classic film Clueless in the ultimate written resource about one of the most influential, revered, and enduring movies of the 1990s—in celebration of its twentieth anniversary.
Will we ever get tired of watching Cher navigate Beverly Hills high school and discover true love in the movie Clueless? As if! Written by Amy Heckerling and starring Alicia Silverstone, Clueless is an enduring comedy classic that remains one of the most streamed movies on Netflix, Amazon, and iTunes even twenty years after its release. Inspired by Jane Austen’s Emma, Clueless is an everlasting pop culture staple.
In the first book of its kind, Jen Chaney has compiled an oral history of the making of this iconic film using recollections and insights collected from key cast and crew members involved in the making of this endlessly quotable, ahead-of-its-time production. Get a behind-the-scenes look at how Emma influenced Heckerling to write the script, how the stars were cast into each of their roles, what was involved in creating the costumes, sets, and soundtrack, and much more.
This wonderful twentieth anniversary commemoration includes never-before-seen photos, original call sheets, casting notes, and production diary extracts. With supplemental critical insights by the author and other notable movie experts about why Clueless continues to impact pop culture, As If! will leave fans new and old totally buggin’ as they understand why this beloved film is timeless. (Available now)
Why It’s On The List: Oral histories in general are extremely entertaining. Add to the fact that this one covers one of the quintessential films of the Nineties and launched the careers of several well known actors and actresses, As If! is the closest thing you’ll get to attending a Bronson Alcott High School Class of 1995 reunion.
Father of the Blob: The Making Of A Monster Smash & Other Hollywood Tales by Jack H. Harris
Jack H. Harris started out as a child performer in vaudeville and has done everything related to the movies including projectionist, usher, theatre manager, actor, distributor and producer. His life encompasses the history of the movies and so do the anecdotes he so eloquently shares. There’s plenty of celebrity “dish,” but in a nice way.
Whether talking about Burns and Allen, Mary Pickford, Laurel and Hardy, Howard Hughes, Jack Nicholson, Jackie Kennedy, Natalie Wood or Barbra Streisand and Jon Peters, he’s got the stories. Some of those he helped to start in the business include Steve McQueen, Patty Duke, Ivan Reitman, John Carpenter, John Landis and so many more.
You can literally finish this book and know how to make, distribute and exploit a film. The Blob was his first movie, and surprisingly has turned out to be his forever movie. He’s made 30 others including Dinosaurus, 4D Man, Equinox, Eyes of Laura Mars, and one of Hugh Hefner’s favorites, Paradisio. He’s working on a deal for a feature remake of The Blob as well as developing a musical stage version. Jack has lived out the axiom, “The only thing positive is the negative,” as he owns most of his films.
The kicker is, he’s 90, and as vital of a movie man as ever. The personal story woven throughout includes the immigration of his parents from Romania, WWII heroism and his romances. It’s the true grit of a man who says, “Everything good that has happened in his life, he made happen.” He’s an eternal optimist and it shows. He gives us all hope. (Available now)
Why It’s On The List: Like Samuel Z. Arkoff, William Castle and Roger Corman, Jack H. Harris is a legend in the world of low budget genre cinema. And although the business has changed, this man knows more about how to make and sell a movie more than a half dozen film schools combined. A must have for cinegeeks.
The Eternal World by Christopher Farnsworth
If you could live forever, what would you die for?
Five hundred years ago, a group of Spanish conquistadors searching for gold, led by a young and brilliant commander named Simon De Oliveras, land in the New World. What they find in the sunny and humid swamps of this uncharted land is a treasure far more valuable: the Fountain of Youth. The Spaniards slaughter the Uzita, the Native American tribe who guard the precious waters that will keep the conquistadors young for centuries. But one escapes: Shako, the chief’s fierce and beautiful daughter, who swears to avenge her people—a blood oath that spans more than five centuries. . .
When the source of the fountain is destroyed in our own time, the loss threatens Simon and his men, and the powerful, shadowy empire of wealth and influence they have built. For help, they turn to David Robinton, a scientific prodigy who believes he is on the verge of the greatest medical breakthrough of all time. But as the centuries-old war between Shako and Simon reaches its final stages, David makes a horrifying discovery about his employers and the mysterious and exotic woman he loves. Now, the scientist must decide: is he a pawn in a game of immortals. . . or will he be its only winner? (Available 8/4)
Why It’s On The List: Farnsworth’s Cade books (about a vampire serving the President of the United States) is one of the most consistently fun series. Now, the author tackles eternity in a whole new way with a book about the legendary fountain of youth.
The Hirschfeld Century: Portrait of an Artist and His Age by Al Hirschfeld and David Leopold
I am down to a pencil, a pen, and a bottle of ink. I hope one day to eliminate the pencil.
Al Hirschfeld redefined caricature and exemplified Broadway and Hollywood, enchanting generations with his mastery of line. His art appeared in every major publication during nine decades of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, as well as on numerous book, record, and program covers; film posters and publicity art; and on fifteen U.S. postage stamps.
Now, The Hirschfeld Century brings together for the first time the artist’s extraordinary eighty-two-year career, revealed in more than 360 of his iconic black-and-white and color drawings, illustrations, and photographs—his influences, his techniques, his evolution from his earliest works to his last drawings, and with a biographical text by David Leopold, Hirschfeld authority, who, as archivist to the artist, worked side by side with him and has spent more than twenty years documenting the artist’s extraordinary output.
Here is Hirschfeld at age seventeen, working in the publicity department at Goldwyn Pictures (1920–1921), rising from errand boy to artist; his year at Universal (1921); and, beginning at age eighteen, art director at Selznick Pictures, headed by Louis Selznick (father of David O.) in New York. We see Hirschfeld, at age twenty-one, being influenced by the stylized drawings of Miguel Covarrubias, newly arrived from Mexico (they shared a studio on West Forty-Second Street), whose caricatures appeared in many of the most influential magazines, among them Vanity Fair. We see, as well, how Hirschfeld’s friendship with John Held Jr. (Held’s drawings literally created the look of the Jazz Age) was just as central as Covarrubias to the young artist’s development, how Held’s thin line affected Hirschfeld’s early caricatures.
Here is the Hirschfeld century, from his early doodles on the backs of theater programs in 1926 that led to his work for the drama editors of the New York Herald Tribune (an association that lasted twenty years) to his receiving a telegram from The New York Times, in 1928, asking for a two-column drawing of Sir Harry Lauder, a Scottish vaudeville singing sensation making one of his (many) farewell tours, an assignment that began a collaboration with the Times that lasted seventy-five years, to Hirschfeld’s theater caricatures, by age twenty-five, a drawing appearing every week in one of four different New York newspapers.
Here, through Hirschfeld’s pen, are Ethel Merman, Benny Goodman, Judy Garland, Mickey Rooney, Katharine Hepburn, the Marx Brothers, Barbra Streisand, Elia Kazan, Mick Jagger, Ella Fitzgerald, Laurence Olivier, Martha Graham, et al. . . . Among the productions featured: Fiddler on the Roof, West Side Story, Rent, Guys and Dolls, The Wizard of Oz (Hirschfeld drew five posters for the original release), Gone with the Wind, The Sopranos, and more.
Here as well are his brilliant portraits of writers, politicians, and the like, among them Ernest Hemingway (a pal from 1920s Paris), Tom Wolfe, Charles de Gaulle, Nelson Mandela, Joseph Stalin, Winston Churchill, and every president from Franklin D. Roosevelt to Bill Clinton.
Sumptuous and ambitious, a book that gives us, through images and text, a Hirschfeld portrait of an artist and his age. (Available now)
Why It’s On The List: Not just a fixture on the Broadway scene and within the pages of the New York Times, Al Hirschfeld captured everyone of any importance with a deceptively simple number of lines. Besides being a wonderful book, and a lovely focus on a beloved artist, The Hirschfeld Century provides hours and hours of additional entertainment as you search for the “Ninas”.
The War Against the Assholes by Sam Munson
Contemporary fantasy meets true crime when schools of ancient sorcery go up against the art of the long con in this stunningly entertaining debut fantasy novel.
Mike Wood is satisfied just being a guy with broad shoulders at a decidedly unprestigious Catholic school in Manhattan. But on the dirty streets of New York City he’s an everyman with a moral code who is unafraid of violence. And when Mike is unwittingly recruited into a secret cell of magicians by a fellow student, Mike’s role as a steadfast soldier begins. These magicians don’t use ritualized rote to work their magic, they use willpower in their clandestine war with the establishment: The Assholes. (Available now)
Why It’s On The List: As someone with an aversion to fantasy, Munson’s book captures a far more interesting genre, that of con artists while doing a pretty good job on selling me, setting it in the present day and making it actually funny and clever.
The Fall by R. J. Pineiro
In R. J. Pineiro’s The Fall, a sci-fi thriller, a man jumps from the upper-most reaches of the atmosphere and vanishes, ending up on an alternate Earth where he died five years earlier.
Jack Taylor has always been an adrenaline junkie. As a federal contractor, he does dangerous jobs for the government that fall out of the realm of the SEALS and the Marines. And this next job is right up his alley. Jack has been assigned to test an orbital jump and if it works, the United States government will have a new strategy against enemy countries.
Despite Jack’s soaring career, his personal life is in shambles. He and his wife Angela are both workaholics and are on the verge of getting a divorce. But the night before his jump, Jack and Angela begin to rekindle their romance and their relationship holds promise for repair. Then comes the day of Jack’s big jump. He doesn’t burn up like some predicted–instead, he hits the speed of sound and disappears.
Jack wakes up in an alternate universe. One where he died during a mission five years earlier and where Angela is still madly in love with him. But in this world, his boss, Pete, has turned to the dark side, is working against him, and the government is now on his tail. Jack must return to his own world but the only way for him to do that is to perform another orbital jump. This time is more difficult though–no one wants to see him go.
Jack’s adrenaline is contagious–The Fall will keep readers on the edges of their seats, waiting to find out what crazy stunt Jack will perform next and to learn the fate of this charming, daredevil hero. (Available 7/28)
Why It’s On The List: It’s a high concept, big budget summer movie like we used to have. Avoid watching a remake or a sequel and kick back for a few hours and read this exciting book well before it’s turned into every other high concept, big budget summer movie.
A, B, C: Three Short Novels by Samuel R. Delany
A, B, C: Three Short Novels contains the first three novels of Samuel R. Delany’s long and illustrious career.
The Jewels of Aptor is a science-fantasy story about a seafaring quest that sets out to find powerful magic jewels on a mystical, forbidden island where unimaginable danger lies.
The Ballad of Beta-2 is about a future academic searching for the true story behind an interstellar voyage, a journey over multiple generations that ended in tragedy.
They Fly at Çiron is a fantasy about the clash between a marauding army and a peaceful village at the foot of a mountain from which a race of winged people oversees both sides.
Presenting these three novels in this omnibus volume for the first time, along with a new foreword and afterword by the author, A, B, C showcases Delany’s masterful storytelling ability and deep devotion to his craft. (Available now)
Why It’s On The List: Classic science-fiction doesn’t get much better than this. Now available in a new edition, this collection is a fantastic introduction of Delany, or a must have for longtime fans.
Keepers: The Greatest Films–and Personal Favorites–of a Moviegoing Lifetime by Richard Schickel
From a legendary film critic and movie fan extraordinaire, the highlights reel of a life spent at the movies
Richard Schickel has seen, by his own estimate, more than twenty thousand films. He has been a reviewer since 1965 (long for Time magazine), has written almost forty books on the subject, and has produced and directed thirty documentaries. He has counted as personal friends many of the leading filmmakers of the twentieth century. Call it “obsession,” “lunacy,” or a “grand passion” (Schickel grants all three), but there’s simply no one who knows film better. Now Schickel gives us the ultimate summing up: a history of film as he’s seen—and lived—it, a tour of his favorites, a master class in what makes a film soar or flop.
Schickel’s no-holds-barred, often raucously irreverent opinions can range from panning classics, to spotlighting forgotten treasures, to defending the art of “popular” genres such as horror, westerns, screwball comedy, and noir. Beyond his picks and pans, Schickel offers a wealth of behind-the-scenes anecdotes (a love note from Marlene Dietrich, Frank Capra’s unlikely path to success, Annie Hall’s original title), career studies of our greatest performers and auteurs, and candidly intimate glimpses of his own life in pictures (an evening with Greta Garbo, John Ford’s advice on directing, a “dust-up” in defense of Monty Python).
Above all, Schickel gives us a collection of the true gems, the immortal moments that have stuck with him over a lifetime of movie watching—the transcendent scenes, characters, lines, shots, scores, even lighting cues that offer, each in their way, pure “movie magic.” Buster Keaton, His Girl Friday, Ingrid Bergman, Taxi Driver, Star Wars, Stanley Kubrick, Pulp Fiction—Schickel reveals all the films and the forces behind them that have kept him coming back for more.
An essential addition to any cinephile’s library, Keepers is the curation of a brilliant connoisseur and critic, but more than that, it’s a love letter to film from one of its most dedicated devotees. (Available now)
Why It’s On The List: Pure bliss for cinegeeks, Richard Schickel is not just a reviewer, but a movie lover and this book is like discussing amazing films with a fellow film nerd.
Trollhunters by Guillermo del Toro and Daniel Kraus
“You are food. Those muscles you flex to walk, lift, and talk? They’re patties of meat topped with chewy tendon. That skin you’ve paid so much attention to in mirrors? It’s delicious to the right tongues, a casserole of succulent tissue. And those bones that give you the strength to make your way in the world? They rattle between teeth as the marrow is sucked down slobbering throats. These facts are unpleasant but useful. There are things out there, you see, that don’t cower in holes to be captured by us and cooked over our fires. These things have their own ways of trapping their kills, their own fires, their own appetites.”
Jim Sturges is your typical teen in suburban San Bernardino-one with an embarrassingly overprotective dad, a best friend named “Tubby” who shares his hatred of all things torturous (like gym class), and a crush on a girl who doesn’t know he exists. But everything changes for Jim when a 45-year old mystery resurfaces, threatening the lives of everyone in his seemingly sleepy town. Soon Jim has to team up with a band of unlikely (and some un-human) heroes to battle the monsters he never knew existed.
From the minds of Guillermo del Toro and Daniel Kraus comes a new illustrated novel about the fears that move in unseen places. (Available now)
Why It’s On The List: Come on, a del Toro book called Trollhunters and you’re asking why it’s on a list? The more appropriate question is how long until the next one.
We Don’t Need Roads: The Making of the Back to the Future Trilogy by Caseen Gaines
Long before Marty McFly and Doc Brown traveled through time in a flying DeLorean, director Robert Zemeckis, and his friend and writing partner Bob Gale, worked tirelessly to break into the industry with a hit. During their journey to realize their dream, they encountered unprecedented challenges and regularly took the difficult way out.
For the first time ever, the story of how these two young filmmakers struck lightning is being told by those who witnessed it. We Don’t Need Roads includes original interviews with Zemeckis, Gale, Christopher Lloyd, Lea Thompson, Huey Lewis, and over fifty others who contributed to one of the most popular and profitable film trilogies of all time.
With a focus not only on the movies, but also the lasting impact of the franchise and its fandom, We Don’t Need Roads is the ultimate read for anyone who has ever wanted to ride a Hoverboard, hang from the top of a clock tower, travel through the space-time continuum, or find out what really happened to Eric Stoltz after the first six weeks of filming. So, why don’t you make like a tree and get outta here – and start reading! We Don’t Need Roads is your density. (Available now)
Why It’s On The List: Here we are thirty years later and this retrospective/history of the franchise covers it from inception to it’s ongoing place in pop culture. A wonderful place to start celebrating the legacy of Doc Brown and Marty McFly.
The Raven’s Child by Thomas E. Sniegoski with art by Tom Brown
Thomas E. Sniegoski has entranced audiences with his exploration of the Batman universe, thrilled fans with his Buffy the Vampire Slayer comics, and uncovered the paranormal with his Hellboy spin-off series, B.R.P.D. Now, he introduces readers to a mesmerizing dark world filled with monsters, where humanity’s only hope lies in the bravery of one woman…
When the Throng came, the human race never stood a chance. The monsters were simply too strong, too numerous. It only took a few months for them to take over and leave the few poor souls who survived cowering in terror for years to come.
But even the monsters fear something: the dark goddess known as the Raven’s Child. Legend says that she alone is destined to destroy the Throng and free those under their cruel power.
And whoever wields her name and image could become the bane of the Throng and an inspiration to humankind—even if she were only a young woman, like Carissa Devin, who has vowed to reclaim the world for the human race, no matter what the cost… (Available 8/4)
Why It’s On The List: Sniegowski is a consummate storyteller and this latest graphic novel plays to all of his strengths; good vs. evil, monsters, and heroes.
Stuff Brits Like: A Guide to What’s Great About Great Britain by Fraser McAlpine
If you’re looking for the best biscuit to dunk in your tea, the ideal temperature at which to serve real ale or the perfect pasty for your trip to the seaside, you either
A) Have been desperately seeking a book exactly like this one or,
B) Have secretly become British without realizing it.
If you chose A, congratulations, you are an Anglophile! And, if you chose B, don’t panic. With the help of Stuff Brits Like, you will soon discover the joy of these and many more delightful British peculiarities and can develop an upper lip as stiff as any you’ve seen on Downton Abbey.
British native Fraser McAlpine set out to do for his countrymen what Stuff Parisians Like did for their neighbors across the channel—offering a guide to their particular tastes and eccentricities with all the cheeky wit you might expect from the people who gave you Noël Coward and Eddie Izzard.
You may know to say football instead of soccer and crisps instead of chips. You may even know why taking the piss is more fun and less unsanitary than it sounds. But with Stuff Brits Like, you’ll be ready for the next pub quiz in no time. (Available now)
Why It’s On The List: A wonderful crash course into all things British. If your working knowledge is limited to Fish & Chips, Doctor Who and Monty Python, this book might be a necessary addition to your home library. Tally ho!
The Writing Dead: Talking Terror with TV’S Top Horror Writers by Thomas Fahy
The Writing Dead features thought-provoking, never-before-published interviews with these top writers and gives the creators an opportunity to delve more deeply into the subject of television horror than anything found online. In addition to revealing behind-the-scene glimpses, these writers discuss favorite characters and storylines and talk about what they find most frightening. They offer insights into the writing process reflecting on the scary works that influenced their careers. And they reveal their own personal fascinations with the genre.
The thirteen interviews in The Writing Dead also mirror the changing landscape of horror on TV–from the shows produced by major networks and cable channels to shows made exclusively for online streaming services such as Netflix and Amazon Studios. The Writing Dead will appeal to numerous fans of these shows, to horror fans, to aspiring writers and filmmakers, and to anyone who wants to learn more about why we like being scared. (Available now)
Why It’s On The List: A wonderful collection of interviews by some of the smartest and most frightening writers in the entertainment industry. A must have for genre fans, and storytellers in particular.
How to Be a Superhero by Mark Edlitz
How to Be a Superhero: The untold stories behind the great movie & television superheroes from the people who played them
How to Be a Superhero takes the reader behind the scenes of the most popular superhero movies and television shows of the past seventy years. The book includes 35 penetrating interviews with actors and actresses who have played the world’s greatest superheroes, supervillains, antiheroes and sidekicks, as well as 70 photographs. A must-read for any superhero fan! (Available now)
Why It’s On The List: A Super-entertaining and nostalgic look at media’s greatest heroes and villains , How to Be a Superhero features engaging interviews with such icons as Adam West, Jackson Bostwick, Nicholas Hammond, John Wesley Shipp, Kevin Conroy, Dean Cain, Tim Daly, James Marsden, Yvonne Craig, Helen Slater, Laura Vandervoot, Malin Akerman, Lou Ferrigno, Alan Cumming, Noel Neill, Jack Larson, Marc McClure, Stacy Haiduk, Julie Newmar, Michael Rosenbaum, Tom Hiddleston, Leonard Nimoy, George Lazenby, Roger Moore, Clark Gregg, Stan Lee, Kenneth Johnson, Tom Mankiewicz, Jon Favreau and more.
Tin Men by Christopher Golden
After political upheaval, economic collapse, and environmental disaster, the world has become a hotspot, boiling over into chaos of near apocalyptic proportions. In this perpetual state of emergency, all that separates order from anarchy is the military might of a United States determined to keep peace among nations waging a free-for-all battle for survival and supremacy.
But a conflict unlike any before demands an equally unprecedented fighting force on its front lines. Enter the Remote Infantry Corps: robot soldiers deployed in war zones around the world, controlled by human operators thousands of miles from the action. PFC Danny Kelso is one of these “Tin Men,” stationed with his fellow platoon members at a subterranean base in Germany, steering their cybernetic avatars through combat in the civil-war-ravaged streets of Syria. Immune to injury and death, this brave new breed of American warrior has a battlefield edge that’s all but unstoppable—until a flesh-and-blood enemy targets the Tin Men’s high-tech advantage in a dangerously game-changing counter strike.
When anarchists unleash a massive electromagnetic pulse, short-circuiting the world’s technology, Kelso and his comrades-in-arms find themselves trapped—their minds tethered within their robot bodies and, for the first time, their lives at risk.
Now, with rocket-wielding “Bot Killers” gunning for them, and desperate members of the unit threatening to go rogue, it’s the worst possible time for the Tin Men to face their most crucial mission. But an economic summit is under terrorist attack, the U.S. president is running for his life, and the men and women of the 1st Remote Infantry Division must take the fight to the next level—if they want to be the last combatants standing, not the first of their kind to fall forever. (Available now)
Why It’s On The List: With an output rivaling many pulp writers, Golden puts out a variety of work on a regular basis that all share a common thread; they’re all not to be missed. Tin Men is sharp and exciting and a great introduction to the author’s body of work.
Do Not Sell At Any Price: The Wild, Obsessive Hunt for the World’s Rarest 78rpm Records by Amanda Petrusich
Do Not Sell at Any Price is a fascinating, complex story of preservation, loss, obsession, and art.
Before MP3s, CDs, and cassette tapes, even before LPs or 45s, the world listened to music on fragile, 10-inch shellac discs that spun at 78 revolutions per minute. While vinyl has enjoyed a renaissance in recent years, rare and noteworthy 78rpm records are exponentially harder to come by. The most sought-after sides now command tens of thousands of dollars, when they’re found at all.
Do Not Sell at Any Price is the untold story of a fixated coterie of record collectors working to ensure those songs aren’t lost forever. Music critic and author Amanda Petrusich considers the particular world of the 78—from its heyday to its near extinction—and examines how a cabal of competitive, quirky individuals have been frantically lining their shelves with some of the rarest records in the world. Besides the mania of collecting, Petrusich also explores the history of the lost backwoods blues artists from the 1920s and 30s whose work has barely survived and introduces the oddball fraternity of men—including Joe Bussard, Chris King, John Tefteller, and others—who are helping to save and digitize the blues, country, jazz, and gospel records that ultimately gave seed to the rock, pop, and hip-hop we hear today.
From Thomas Edison to Jack White, Do Not Sell at Any Price is an untold, intriguing story of the evolution of the recording formats that have changed the ways we listen to (and create) music. (Available now)
Why It’s On The List: For most geeks and nerds, obsession fuels their life in one way or another. Do Not Sell at Any Price‘s story might pertain to 78 records, but the story is universal.
Pinocchio: The Making of the Disney Epic by J.B. Kaufman
In 1940, Walt Disney released his second feature film: Pinocchio, based on Carlo Collodi’s 1883 Italian children’s novel. The film was groundbreaking: it pioneered the latest animation and sound technology of the era, and established a blueprint for Disney filmmaking that remains intact today. It became the first animated feature to win a competitive Academy Award® (in fact, it won two), and earned a place on the roster of the National Film Registry. Pinocchio’s crucial role has endured decades, given its rare 100% rating on the film website Rotten Tomatoes and the lively discourse that continues to surround the film today.
To celebrate the film’s 75th anniversary this year, author J.B. Kaufman presents a complete history of the making of Pinocchio, from source material to rerelease. Pinocchio, published in partnership with the Walt Disney Family Foundation and the Walt Disney Family Museum, is an in-depth exploration of the making of the film.
Academy Award-winning animator and film historian John Canemaker says of Pinocchio: “In great detail, J. B. Kaufman reveals the struggles, triumphs and disappointments encountered by Disney and his staff during the creation of this sacred monster of a film. Woven here is a once-upon-a-time story sure to fascinate and inform readers, an exciting adventure into the inner workings of a one-of-a kind studio and team at its creative peak.”
Go behind to the scenes with stories of the inner workings of the Golden Age of Animation, the animators’ personalities and story changes like why Jiminy Cricket’s character almost got left on the cutting room floor. Over 300 photographs, illustrations and concept sketches – many of which are available for the very first time – accompany the story behind the story.
Become a part of the wild, legendary ride that was the making of Pinocchio. (Available now)
Why It’s On The List: This visually stunning and impeccably researched history of Disney’s Pinocchio is both a revelation and a fascinating look at the development and production of what has become one of the greatest animated features of all time.
Thank You, Goodnight: A Novel by Andy Abramowitz
In Thank You, Goodnight, hailed by Billboard as “High Fidelity and About a Boy with a dose of Music & Lyrics thrown in,” the lead singer of a one-hit wonder 90s band tries for one more swing at the fence.
Teddy Tremble is nearing forty and has settled into a comfortable groove, working at a stuffy law firm and living in a downtown apartment with a woman he thinks he might love. Sure, his days aren’t as exciting as the time he spent as the lead singer of Tremble, the rock band known for its mega-hit “It Feels Like a Lie,” but that life has long since passed its sell-by date.
But when Teddy gets a cryptic call from an old friend, he’s catapulted into contemplating the unthinkable: reuniting Tremble for one last shot at rewriting history. Never mind that the band members haven’t spoken in ten years, that they left the music scene in a blazing cloud of indifference, and that the only fans who seem to miss them reside in an obscure little town in Switzerland.
If Teddy manages to snooker his band mates out of their adult lives, can a once immature, self-involved fallen idol find his way back to the top—and possibly back to the one who got away? Thank You, Goodnight is debut novelist Andy Abramowitz’s hilarious, honest, and heartwarming story about love, lyrics, and finding one’s legacy in the unlikeliest of places. (Available now)
Why It’s On The List: Funny and heartfelt, Thank You, Goodnight captures that all too real moment when one thinks back to their past and the path they took. In this story, that reflection of the road not taken, is taken and that path might have been the intended journey all along.
Werewolf Cop by Andrew Klavan
Zach Adams is one of the best detectives in the country. Nicknamed Cowboy, he’s a soft-spoken homicide detective from Houston known for his integrity and courage under fire. He serves on a federal task force that has a single mission: to hunt down Dominic Abend, a European gangster who has taken over the American underworld.
After a brutal murder gives them a lead, Zach and his tough guy NYPD partner Martin Goulart feel like they’re finally on Abend’s trail. But things get complicated―and very, very weird. Goulart’s on-the-job enemies are accusing him of corruption. And Zach is beginning to suspect that Abend’s evil goes beyond crime―perhaps to the edge of the supernatural. As his investigation continues in Germany, Zach finds himself lured into the impossible. In a centuries-old forest under a full moon, a beast assaults him, cursing him forever. In the aftermath, Zach is transformed into something horrible―something deadly.
Now, the good cop has innocent blood on his hands. He has killed―and he will kill again―in the form of a beast who can’t be controlled or stopped. Before he can free himself, he’s going to have to solve the greatest mystery of all: How can you defeat evil when the evil is inside you? (Available now)
Why It’s On The List: Um…Werewolf Cop set in a real police procedural. Um…YES!
The Coloring Book: A Comedian Solves Race Relations in America by Colin Quinn
Colin Quinn has noticed a trend during his decades on the road-that Americans’ increasing political correctness and sensitivity have forced us to tiptoe around the subjects of race and ethnicity altogether. Colin wants to know: What are we all so afraid of? Every ethnic group has differences, everyone brings something different to the table, and this diversity should be celebrated, not denied. So why has acknowledging these cultural differences become so taboo?
In The Coloring Book, Colin, a native New Yorker, tackles this issue head-on while taking us on a trip through the insane melting pot of 1970s Brooklyn, the many, many dive bars of 1980s Manhattan, the comedy scene of the 1990s, and post-9/11 America. He mixes his incredibly candid and hilarious personal experiences with no-holds-barred observations to definitively decide, at least in his own mind, which stereotypes are funny, which stereotypes are based on truths, which have become totally distorted over time, and which are actually offensive to each group, and why.
As it pokes holes in the tapestry of fear that has overtaken discussions about race, The Coloring Book serves as an antidote to our paralysis when it comes to laughing at ourselves . . . and others. (Available now)
Why It’s On The List: Quinn is one of the funniest and sharpest comedians around and his take on both political correctness and race relations comes at a time where conversation and discussion is needed most.
Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari
At some point, every one of us embarks on a journey to find love. We meet people, date, get into and out of relationships, all with the hope of finding someone with whom we share a deep connection. This seems standard now, but it’s wildly different from what people did even just decades ago. Single people today have more romantic options than at any point in human history. With technology, our abilities to connect with and sort through these options are staggering. So why are so many people frustrated?
Some of our problems are unique to our time. “Why did this guy just text me an emoji of a pizza?” “Should I go out with this girl even though she listed Combos as one of her favorite snack foods? Combos?!” “My girlfriend just got a message from some dude named Nathan. Who’s Nathan? Did he just send her a photo of his penis? Should I check just to be sure?”
But the transformation of our romantic lives can’t be explained by technology alone. In a short period of time, the whole culture of finding love has changed dramatically. A few decades ago, people would find a decent person who lived in their neighborhood. Their families would meet and, after deciding neither party seemed like a murderer, they would get married and soon have a kid, all by the time they were twenty-four. Today, people marry later than ever and spend years of their lives on a quest to find the perfect person, a soul mate.
For years, Aziz Ansari has been aiming his comic insight at modern romance, but for Modern Romance, the book, he decided he needed to take things to another level. He teamed up with NYU sociologist Eric Klinenberg and designed a massive research project, including hundreds of interviews and focus groups conducted everywhere from Tokyo to Buenos Aires to Wichita. They analyzed behavioral data and surveys and created their own online research forum on Reddit, which drew thousands of messages. They enlisted the world’s leading social scientists, including Andrew Cherlin, Eli Finkel, Helen Fisher, Sheena Iyengar, Barry Schwartz, Sherry Turkle, and Robb Willer. The result is unlike any social science or humor book we’ve seen before.
In Modern Romance, Ansari combines his irreverent humor with cutting-edge social science to give us an unforgettable tour of our new romantic world. (Available now)
Why It’s On The List: Ansari’s analysis of modern love and romance is fascinating and offers as many questions as answers. As technology now dictates how we interact, how can we as a people relate on an emotional and romantic level?
Crooked by Austin Grossman
Richard Milhous Nixon lived one of the most improbable lives of the twentieth century. Our thirty-seventh president’s political career spanned the button-down fifties, the Mad Men sixties, and the turbulent seventies. He faced down the Russians, the Chinese, and ultimately his own government. The man went from political mastermind to a national joke, sobbing in the Oval Office, leaving us with one burning question: how could he have lost it all?
Here for the first time is the tale told in his own words: the terrifying supernatural secret he stumbled upon as a young man, the truth behind the Cold War, and the truth behind the Watergate cover-up. What if our nation’s worst president was actually a pivotal figure caught in a desperate struggle between ordinary life and horrors from another reality? What if the man we call our worst president was, in truth, our greatest?
In Crooked, Nixon finally reveals the secret history of modern American politics as only Austin Grossman could reimagine it. Combining Lovecraftian suspense, international intrigue, Russian honey traps, and a presidential marriage whose secrets and battles of attrition were their own heroic saga, Grossman’s novel is a masterwork of alternative history, equal parts mesmerizing character study and nail-biting Faustian thriller. (Available 7/28)
Why It’s On The List: Nixon. Lovecraft. Duh.
How Music Got Free: The End of an Industry, the Turn of the Century, and the Patient Zero of Piracy by Stephen Witt
What happens when an entire generation commits the same crime?
How Music Got Free is a riveting story of obsession, music, crime, and money, featuring visionaries and criminals, moguls and tech-savvy teenagers. It’s about the greatest pirate in history, the most powerful executive in the music business, a revolutionary invention and an illegal website four times the size of the iTunes Music Store.
Journalist Stephen Witt traces the secret history of digital music piracy, from the German audio engineers who invented the mp3, to a North Carolina compact-disc manufacturing plant where factory worker Dell Glover leaked nearly two thousand albums over the course of a decade, to the high-rises of midtown Manhattan where music executive Doug Morris cornered the global market on rap, and, finally, into the darkest recesses of the Internet.
Through these interwoven narratives, Witt has written a thrilling book that depicts the moment in history when ordinary life became forever entwined with the world online — when, suddenly, all the music ever recorded was available for free. In the page-turning tradition of writers like Michael Lewis and Lawrence Wright, Witt’s deeply-reported first book introduces the unforgettable characters—inventors, executives, factory workers, and smugglers—who revolutionized an entire artform, and reveals for the first time the secret underworld of media pirates that transformed our digital lives.
An irresistible never-before-told story of greed, cunning, genius, and deceit, How Music Got Free isn’t just a story of the music industry—it’s a must-read history of the Internet itself. (Available now)
Why It’s On The List: From Napster to Limewire to Bit Torrent, the fascinating and engrossing history of music piracy takes you from the earliest days to the present and how a handful of people changed the music industry forever.
Trident Code by Thomas Waite
Ruthless cyberhackers seize a US nuclear submarine, training its most powerful weapon on a target so unusual, yet so vulnerable, that a successful strike could change the face of the earth for millions of years. With the world held hostage, former NSA operative Lana Elkins must join forces with a mysterious computer mastermind—who might be working with the enemy—to avert this unprecedented Armageddon. Intrigue, power, and blackmail force Lana to fight on all fronts—land, sea, air, and in cyberspace—to prevent the worst catastrophe in human history. (Available now)
Why It’s On The List: It’s a Tom Clancy-esque cyber thriller and delivers like most summer movies wish that they did. It’s the second in the Lana Elkins series. Check this one out and then go back and read the first.