Entertainment & Sports Book Reviews

EVERY SONG EVER by Ben Ratliff
ENTERTAINMENT & SPORTS
Released: Feb. 9, 2016

"A collection of essays that makes unlikely connections that will encourage music fans to listen beyond categorical distinctions and comfort zones—though reading the book feels a little incomplete without the listening that should accompany the experience."
A veteran New York Times critic, Ratliff here goes beyond the focus on jazz in his previous books (The Jazz Ear: Conversations Over Music, 2008) to explore the consumption of music in its widest variety and availability. Read full book review >
MY FATHER, THE PORNOGRAPHER by Chris Offutt
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: Feb. 9, 2016

"Though his relationship with his father was distant, melancholic, and precarious, Offutt quite movingly weaves his personal history into a fascinating tapestry of a compulsive writer with a knack for the naughty."
A fond memoir of life with a prolific writer of science fiction and pornography. Read full book review >

WEST OF EDEN by Jean Stein
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: Feb. 9, 2016

"Slips occasionally into hearsay and grievance but rivets readers with 'a kind of fascinated horror.'"
Through interviews with remnants of a long-gone Hollywood, a vivid sense of some of the great formative families emerges. Read full book review >
SWEET DREAMS ARE MADE OF THIS by Dave Stewart
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: Feb. 9, 2016

"Amid the glut of music veteran memoirs, this holds more interest than most, though Stewart admits that he isn't very reflective and he too rarely goes deeper than surface anecdote."
A rock star who realizes that he's a very lucky man shares how he made his own luck. Read full book review >
BETTER LIVING THROUGH CRITICISM by A.O. Scott
ENTERTAINMENT & SPORTS
Released: Feb. 9, 2016

"A zealous and well-considered work of advocacy for an art too often unappreciated and misunderstood."
An exploration of criticism, which "is not an enemy from which art must be defended, but rather another name—the proper name—for the defense of art itself." Read full book review >

THE SECRET LIFE OF THE AMERICAN MUSICAL by Jack Viertel
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS
Released: Feb. 2, 2016

"An enlightening trip for lovers of musicals."
From overture to final curtain, a close look at how musicals work. Read full book review >
ENTERTAINMENT & SPORTS
Released: Feb. 2, 2016

"An academic yet concise, fresh, and deeply informed look at how we read."
How does the study of disability help us to understand stories? Read full book review >
ON MY OWN by Diane Rehm
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: Feb. 2, 2016

"The prose reads like journal entries or letters to readers, punctuated by sometimes-trite remarks: 'Death is the ultimate finality,' she writes. 'There is no turning back.' Nevertheless, her perspectives on old age are brave and uplifting."
NPR host Rehm (Life with Maxie, 2010, etc.) reflects on loneliness, loss, and aging.Read full book review >
GRACE & STYLE by Grace Helbig
ENTERTAINMENT & SPORTS
Released: Feb. 2, 2016

"A witty and entertaining jab at what's in vogue in makeup, clothing, and fashion accessories."
A comedian and actress gives her slant on the world of fashion. Read full book review >
SING TO ME by L.A. Reid
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: Feb. 2, 2016

"An entertaining, thoughtful account of the music business, one that would-be machers will want to study closely."
"I always know in a few seconds." Music mogul Reid reveals the secrets of the producer's trade. Read full book review >
SOUL SERENADE by Rashod Ollison
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: Jan. 26, 2016

"Honest and painful. Readers inclined to lament their own circumstances may brighten up when considering the odds Ollison has overcome."
An elegiac look at a childhood marked by violence, dysfunction, poverty, sorrow—and plenty of good music. Read full book review >
JAZZ DIASPORAS by Rashida K. Braggs
ENTERTAINMENT & SPORTS
Released: Jan. 26, 2016

"A fascinating look into an important chapter in cultural history. Braggs should return to the subject in more depth."
A study of a key epoch in the transition of jazz from a distinctively American music to an international art form. Read full book review >
Kirkus Interview
Michael Eric Dyson
February 2, 2016

In Michael Eric Dyson’s rich and nuanced book new book, The Black Presidency: Barack Obama and the Politics of Race in America, Dyson writes with passion and understanding about Barack Obama’s “sad and disappointing” performance regarding race and black concerns in his two terms in office. While race has defined his tenure, Obama has been “reluctant to take charge” and speak out candidly about the nation’s racial woes, determined to remain “not a black leader but a leader who is black.” Dyson cogently examines Obama’s speeches and statements on race, from his first presidential campaign through recent events—e.g., the Ferguson riots and the eulogy for the Rev. Clementa Pinckney in Charleston—noting that the president is careful not to raise the ire of whites and often chastises blacks for their moral failings. At his best, he spoke with “special urgency for black Americans” during the Ferguson crisis and was “at his blackest,” breaking free of constraints, in his “Amazing Grace” Charleston eulogy. Dyson writes here as a realistic, sometimes-angry supporter of the president. View video >