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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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BETWEEN THE WORLD AND ME

NOTES ON THE FIRST 150 YEARS IN AMERICA

This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

Awards & Accolades

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  • Kirkus Reviews'
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  • IndieBound Bestseller


  • National Book Award Winner


  • Pulitzer Prize Finalist

The powerful story of a father’s past and a son’s future.

Atlantic senior writer Coates (The Beautiful Struggle: A Father, Two Sons, and an Unlikely Road to Manhood, 2008) offers this eloquent memoir as a letter to his teenage son, bearing witness to his own experiences and conveying passionate hopes for his son’s life. “I am wounded,” he writes. “I am marked by old codes, which shielded me in one world and then chained me in the next.” Coates grew up in the tough neighborhood of West Baltimore, beaten into obedience by his father. “I was a capable boy, intelligent and well-liked,” he remembers, “but powerfully afraid.” His life changed dramatically at Howard University, where his father taught and from which several siblings graduated. Howard, he writes, “had always been one of the most critical gathering posts for black people.” He calls it The Mecca, and its faculty and his fellow students expanded his horizons, helping him to understand “that the black world was its own thing, more than a photo-negative of the people who believe they are white.” Coates refers repeatedly to whites’ insistence on their exclusive racial identity; he realizes now “that nothing so essentialist as race” divides people, but rather “the actual injury done by people intent on naming us, intent on believing that what they have named matters more than anything we could ever actually do.” After he married, the author’s world widened again in New York, and later in Paris, where he finally felt extricated from white America’s exploitative, consumerist dreams. He came to understand that “race” does not fully explain “the breach between the world and me,” yet race exerts a crucial force, and young blacks like his son are vulnerable and endangered by “majoritarian bandits.” Coates desperately wants his son to be able to live “apart from fear—even apart from me.”

This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

Pub Date: July 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8129-9354-7

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Spiegel & Grau

Review Posted Online: May 5, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015

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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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