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COSPLAY

A HISTORY: THE BUILDERS, FANS, AND MAKERS WHO BRING YOUR FAVORITE STORIES TO LIFE

A wonderfully fun book showing that the art of having a good time has not been lost.

An entertaining look at a vibrant, “interactive, interpretive, and immersive” pop-culture community.

There was a time when cosplay—dressing up in costumes based on characters from movies, TV shows, comic books, or video games—was seen as a marginal, geeky pastime. In the past couple decades, however, it has gone mainstream, turning into an avenue for enjoyment and escape for vast numbers of people. Liptak, a journalist and proud cosplayer, walks through the history, noting that Jules Verne once held a party where the guests could dress as a character from one of his novels. Modern cosplay began with the first Star Wars movie. Liptak was enthralled with the uniforms of the stormtroopers; when he wanted to make his own, he found out that many other people did, too. This was the beginning of the 501st Legion, the largest Star Wars cosplay group, with more than 15,000 members. The association conducts charity fundraisers and performs other good works, but most of the members like to compare tips to bring their costumes ever closer to the source material. Of course, the internet has allowed cosplay to flourish, and there is a remarkable number of conventions and gatherings around the world, celebrating everything from Star Trek to sexual role play. Liptak notes that the nature of cosplay events has changed in the past few years, with a higher turnover of characters and more anime heroes. The technology for making costumes has also changed, with 3-D printers adding a new dimension. The moviemaking studios were initially wary of cosplaying, pointing to the potential for copyright infringement, but they came to accept and embrace it (as long as it doesn’t affect their merchandise profits). Some cosplayers have turned their hobby into a business, but most just want to enjoy the ride. Liptak renders all of these community-building adventures with aplomb.

A wonderfully fun book showing that the art of having a good time has not been lost.

Pub Date: June 28, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-5344-5582-5

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Jan. 23, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2022

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  • New York Times Bestseller

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UNCOMFORTABLE CONVERSATIONS WITH A JEW

An important dialogue at a fraught time, emphasizing mutual candor, curiosity, and respect.

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  • New York Times Bestseller

Two bestselling authors engage in an enlightening back-and-forth about Jewishness and antisemitism.

Acho, author of Uncomfortable Conversations With a Black Man, and Tishby, author of Israel: A Simple Guide to the Most Misunderstood Country on Earth, discuss many of the searing issues for Jews today, delving into whether Jewishness is a religion, culture, ethnicity, or community—or all of the above. As Tishby points out, unlike in Christianity, one can be comfortably atheist and still be considered a Jew. She defines Judaism as a “big tent” religion with four main elements: religion, peoplehood, nationhood, and the idea of tikkun olam (“repairing the world through our actions”). She addresses candidly the hurtful stereotypes about Jews (that they are rich and powerful) that Acho grew up with in Dallas and how Jews internalize these antisemitic judgments. Moreover, Tishby notes, “it is literally impossible to be Jewish and not have any connection with Israel, and I’m not talking about borders or a dot on the map. Judaism…is an indigenous religion.” Acho wonders if one can legitimately criticize “Jewish people and their ideologies” without being antisemitic, and Tishby offers ways to check whether one’s criticism of Jews or Zionism is antisemitic or factually straightforward. The authors also touch on the deteriorating relationship between Black and Jewish Americans, despite their historically close alliance during the civil rights era. “As long as Jewish people get to benefit from appearing white while Black people have to suffer for being Black, there will always be resentment,” notes Acho. “Because the same thing that grants you all access—your skin color—is what grants us pain and punishment in perpetuity.” Finally, the authors underscore the importance of being mutual allies, and they conclude with helpful indexes on vernacular terms and customs.

An important dialogue at a fraught time, emphasizing mutual candor, curiosity, and respect.

Pub Date: April 30, 2024

ISBN: 9781668057858

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Simon Element

Review Posted Online: March 13, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2024

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BEYOND THE GENDER BINARY

From the Pocket Change Collective series

A fierce, penetrating, and empowering call for change.

Artist and activist Vaid-Menon demonstrates how the normativity of the gender binary represses creativity and inflicts physical and emotional violence.

The author, whose parents emigrated from India, writes about how enforcement of the gender binary begins before birth and affects people in all stages of life, with people of color being especially vulnerable due to Western conceptions of gender as binary. Gender assignments create a narrative for how a person should behave, what they are allowed to like or wear, and how they express themself. Punishment of nonconformity leads to an inseparable link between gender and shame. Vaid-Menon challenges familiar arguments against gender nonconformity, breaking them down into four categories—dismissal, inconvenience, biology, and the slippery slope (fear of the consequences of acceptance). Headers in bold font create an accessible navigation experience from one analysis to the next. The prose maintains a conversational tone that feels as intimate and vulnerable as talking with a best friend. At the same time, the author's turns of phrase in moments of deep insight ring with precision and poetry. In one reflection, they write, “the most lethal part of the human body is not the fist; it is the eye. What people see and how people see it has everything to do with power.” While this short essay speaks honestly of pain and injustice, it concludes with encouragement and an invitation into a future that celebrates transformation.

A fierce, penetrating, and empowering call for change. (writing prompt) (Nonfiction. 14-adult)

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-09465-5

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: March 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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