An intimate, entertaining, and engrossing read for hip-hop fans.

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  • Rolling Stone & Kirkus' Best Music Books of 2020

THE BADDEST BITCH IN THE ROOM

A MEMOIR

A blend of music industry 101, hip-hop history, and memoir from the Wu-Tang Clan’s muse.

For decades as a manager, marketer, and A&R rep, Chang helped talented men tell their stories through hip-hop and R&B. Now it’s her turn to tell her story: How did a “Korean Canadian French lit major” end up working with a who’s who of heavy hitters in the music industry—and getting relationship advice from Method Man? From a chance meeting with Joey Ramone as a college student in the late 1980s to working with the Wu-Tang Clan, one of the greatest rap groups of all time, Chang has a storied history in the industry. Her love for hip-hop—the music and the artists—comes through loud and clear in this deeply personal memoir. Now in her 50s, she reflects on her experiences, including her stint as head of a marketing department at Atlantic Records just two years out of college and working with artists like A Tribe Called Quest, KRS-One, Too Short, and Raphael Saadiq. It’s clear why Chang gained a reputation for being hard and no-nonsense, and that comes across in the narrative. But she also shows her more vulnerable side: enduring the highs and lows of love and loss, reclaiming her sexual confidence after the end of a 12-year relationship, and learning to embrace her Asian heritage. The author writes wisely about erasure and fighting to be seen professionally as a woman of color. Unfortunately, aside from a vague mention of a Black woman friend calling her out on her privilege, she doesn’t address being embraced and respected as a non-Black woman within a music culture that often objectifies and denigrates Black women. This is a disappointing omission in an otherwise thoughtful and revealing story. One of Kirkus and Rolling Stone’s Best Music Books of 2020.

An intimate, entertaining, and engrossing read for hip-hop fans.

Pub Date: Sept. 8, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-64622-009-0

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Catapult

Review Posted Online: May 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2020

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Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

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UNTAMED

More life reflections from the bestselling author on themes of societal captivity and the catharsis of personal freedom.

In her third book, Doyle (Love Warrior, 2016, etc.) begins with a life-changing event. “Four years ago,” she writes, “married to the father of my three children, I fell in love with a woman.” That woman, Abby Wambach, would become her wife. Emblematically arranged into three sections—“Caged,” “Keys,” “Freedom”—the narrative offers, among other elements, vignettes about the soulful author’s girlhood, when she was bulimic and felt like a zoo animal, a “caged girl made for wide-open skies.” She followed the path that seemed right and appropriate based on her Catholic upbringing and adolescent conditioning. After a downward spiral into “drinking, drugging, and purging,” Doyle found sobriety and the authentic self she’d been suppressing. Still, there was trouble: Straining an already troubled marriage was her husband’s infidelity, which eventually led to life-altering choices and the discovery of a love she’d never experienced before. Throughout the book, Doyle remains open and candid, whether she’s admitting to rigging a high school homecoming court election or denouncing the doting perfectionism of “cream cheese parenting,” which is about “giving your children the best of everything.” The author’s fears and concerns are often mirrored by real-world issues: gender roles and bias, white privilege, racism, and religion-fueled homophobia and hypocrisy. Some stories merely skim the surface of larger issues, but Doyle revisits them in later sections and digs deeper, using friends and familial references to personify their impact on her life, both past and present. Shorter pieces, some only a page in length, manage to effectively translate an emotional gut punch, as when Doyle’s therapist called her blooming extramarital lesbian love a “dangerous distraction.” Ultimately, the narrative is an in-depth look at a courageous woman eager to share the wealth of her experiences by embracing vulnerability and reclaiming her inner strength and resiliency.

Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

Pub Date: March 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-0125-8

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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

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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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