A flashy and knowledgeable foray into boy-band fever.

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  • Rolling Stone & Kirkus' Best Music Books of 2020

LARGER THAN LIFE

A HISTORY OF BOY BANDS FROM NKOTB TO BTS

A music journalist examines the cultural mystique of boy bands.

Since her early 20s, Sherman has been an exuberant fan of One Direction (currently on an indefinite hiatus), and this giddy fandom background and loyalty informs a vivid report on the history, influence, notoriety, and cultural impact of boy bands. In the opening timeline, the author lays out a century’s worth of pop evolution, which complements her discussions of foundational origins, “commandments” (“Apologies for the sacrilege, but if you’re into boy bands, you’ve already converted into the most persuasive spiritual practice there is”), and the archetypes (“heartthrob,” “bad boy”) common among such groups as New Edition, New Kids on the Block, Backstreet Boys, the Jonas Brothers, and *NSYNC. With splashes of color and illustrations befitting her buoyant subject, Sherman profiles these groups and other prominent male ensembles, highlighting their histories, defining moments, and lyrical messages—and, for the most part, objectively evaluating their impact on pop-music culture and society. While not a definitive history, the author does cover lesser stars in the boy-band firmament, such as 98 Degrees and Dream Street. Superfans who grow weary with Sherman’s pop history lesson will find entertaining diversions in numerous sidebars, including the “Style Watch” section, which examines dress codes and fashion trends inspired by the bands. Recurring themes throughout the narrative are the manipulation and exploitation suffered by most of the bands, courtesy of swindling managers and sketchy founders like Lou Pearlman. In a particularly relevant section, the author chronicles the meteoric rise of BTS and the K-Pop explosion, illuminating how these groups both reflect and influence cultural changes in South Korea. Though the book is unabashedly enthusiastic, Sherman takes her subject seriously (even when many members of the bands did not). In the final chapter, the author offers a respectful nod to the future of the genre, spotlighting the notable groups that have sprouted up in the last decade. One of Kirkus and Rolling Stone’s Best Music Books of 2020.

A flashy and knowledgeable foray into boy-band fever.

Pub Date: July 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-7624-6891-1

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Black Dog & Leventhal

Review Posted Online: Oct. 23, 2020

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A conversational, pleasurable look into McConaughey’s life and thought.

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  • New York Times Bestseller

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GREENLIGHTS

All right, all right, all right: The affable, laconic actor delivers a combination of memoir and self-help book.

“This is an approach book,” writes McConaughey, adding that it contains “philosophies that can be objectively understood, and if you choose, subjectively adopted, by either changing your reality, or changing how you see it. This is a playbook, based on adventures in my life.” Some of those philosophies come in the form of apothegms: “When you can design your own weather, blow in the breeze”; “Simplify, focus, conserve to liberate.” Others come in the form of sometimes rambling stories that never take the shortest route from point A to point B, as when he recounts a dream-spurred, challenging visit to the Malian musician Ali Farka Touré, who offered a significant lesson in how disagreement can be expressed politely and without rancor. Fans of McConaughey will enjoy his memories—which line up squarely with other accounts in Melissa Maerz’s recent oral history, Alright, Alright, Alright—of his debut in Richard Linklater’s Dazed and Confused, to which he contributed not just that signature phrase, but also a kind of too-cool-for-school hipness that dissolves a bit upon realizing that he’s an older guy on the prowl for teenage girls. McConaughey’s prep to settle into the role of Wooderson involved inhabiting the mind of a dude who digs cars, rock ’n’ roll, and “chicks,” and he ran with it, reminding readers that the film originally had only three scripted scenes for his character. The lesson: “Do one thing well, then another. Once, then once more.” It’s clear that the author is a thoughtful man, even an intellectual of sorts, though without the earnestness of Ethan Hawke or James Franco. Though some of the sentiments are greeting card–ish, this book is entertaining and full of good lessons.

A conversational, pleasurable look into McConaughey’s life and thought.

Pub Date: Oct. 20, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-13913-4

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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A lively and thoughtful memoir that, one hopes, will inspire readers to pursue activism in every realm of society.

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PERSIST

The Massachusetts senator and financial reformer recounts several of her good fights over the years.

Famous for being chided for “persisting” on the Senate floor, Warren is nearly a byword for the application of an unbending, if usually polite, feminism to the corridors of power. Though she has a schoolmarm-ish air—and indeed taught school for much of her life—she gladly owns up to liking a beer or two and enjoying a good brawl, and she’s a scrapper with a long memory. In 2008, when she shopped a proposal to found a federal agency that “could act as a watchdog to make sure that consumers weren’t getting cheated by financial institutions,” she encountered a congressman who “laughed in my face.” She doesn’t reveal his name, but you can bet he crosses the hall when she’s coming the other way. Warren does name other names, especially Donald Trump, who, with Republicans on the Hill, accomplished only one thing, namely “a $2 trillion tax cut that mostly benefited rich people.” Now that the Democrats are in power, the author reckons that the time is ripe to shake off the Trump debacle and build “a nation that works, not just for the rich and powerful but for everyone.” She identifies numerous areas that need immediate attention, from financial reform to bringing more women into the workplace and mandating equal pay for equal work. Warren premises some of these changes on increased taxes on the rich, happily citing a billionaire well known for insider trading, who complained of her, “This is the fucking American dream she is shitting on.” The author reverts to form: “Oh dear. Did I hit a nerve?” Warren’s common-sensical proposals on housing, infrastructure development, and civil rights merit attention, and her book makes for a sometimes-funny, sometimes–sharp-tongued pleasure.

A lively and thoughtful memoir that, one hopes, will inspire readers to pursue activism in every realm of society.

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-79924-1

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Metropolitan/Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: May 2, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: yesterday

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