"The fashion industry, in many ways, is a study in how deeply we long to stand out in order to fit in."
~ from Amy Odell's Tales from the Back Row
Devoured: From Chicken Wings to Kale Smoothies -- How What We Eat Defines... by Sophie EganYou are what you eat, right? So are you made of home-cooked, from-scratch meals? Or are you chicken nuggets and a supersized soda? Either way, what does that mean for you, or for food culture in general? From the explosion of options for eating (fast food, fast-casual, brunch, pre-made frozen meals, gluten-free) to the many delicious food-centric events (the Super Bowl) and other excuses to keep eating and drinking (Wine tastings! Beer flights!), this engaging history of American food culture captures the good and the bad. If you've enjoyed Michael Pollan's books or the many excellent food-oriented documentaries available, you'll want to pick up Devoured, too.
For the Glory: Eric Liddell's Journey from Olympic Champion to Modern Martyr by Duncan HamiltonIn the 1924 Olympics, devout Scottish sprinter Eric Liddell refused to run in his race -- the 100 meter -- because it fell on a Sunday. Instead, he spent the months leading up to the Olympics training for the 400, which no one expected him to win. But win he did, and his victory was later immortalized in the 1981 film Chariots of Fire. But this was only the beginning of his sacrifices and his principled stance -- at the peak of his career, Liddell went on to dedicate his life to missionary work in China, where he ultimately died in a Japanese work camp. In For the Glory, author Duncan Hamilton provides a poignant biography of an inspiring man.
Your Favorite Band Is Killing Me: What Pop Music Rivalries Reveal About the... by Steven HydenDiving deep into 19 different music rivalries, this is a "wide-ranging, hilarious, and smart look at both expected and surprising matches" (Library Journal). From Tupac vs. Biggie to the Stones vs. the Beatles, author Steven Hyden incorporates personal anecdotes along with his cultural criticism in a variety of genres (and eras, though most can be traced to within the last 25 years). If you love arguing the finer points of challenges real or theoretical (Prince or MJ? Hendrix or Clapton?), Your Favorite Band Is Killing Me is a must-read.
The Dog Merchants: Inside the Big Business of Breeders, Pet Stores, and Rescuers by Kim KavinBetween breeders, auctions, shelters, rescues, and pet stores, getting dogs into homes is an $11 billion-a-year business. In this "devastatingly clear-cut exposé" (Booklist), author Kim Kavin shows exactly what trends in breed preferences result in -- more breeding, and an abundance of discarded dogs ending up in shelters. Though revolted by the idea of beloved pets treated as products, Kavin argues that those who want to advocate for dogs (ending, for example, the practice of puppy mills and wholesale dog distributors) should join in using their power as consumers to benefit dogs everywhere. Responsible dog lovers -- whether of purebreds or mutts -- will appreciate this well-researched book.
Porcelain: A Memoir by MobyBefore Moby became a world-famous musician, he was a teetotaling vegan bible-study leader squatting in a Connecticut factory. Moderate success as a DJ in New York led to cramped apartments and a hedonistic party scene, which eventually led to a hard-partying life of excess on Moby's part. Chronicling both the gritty New York scene in the 1990s as well as his own career trajectory, Moby is by turns reflective and funny, and always passionate about his music and honest about his own failings. Fans will not want to miss it.
Clothing, Fashion, and Style
Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion by Elizabeth L. ClineEach year, the average American buys 64 pieces of clothing -- most of them from places like Target, TJ Maxx, H&M, and other purveyors of cheap clothes. Many get worn for only a short time before one trend ends and another begins -- and the item is replaced with another cheap, trendy piece. To find out the actual costs and the effects of all this low-price, poor-quality clothing flooding the U.S. market, journalist Elizabeth Cline visited clothes makers in the U.S., garment factories overseas, and the charity shops and textile recyclers everywhere that end up with the cast-offs. If you're interested in ethical shopping, Cline also includes some tips for a sustainable closet.
I'll Drink to That: A Life in Style, With a Twist by Betty Halbreich with Rebecca PaleyWhen Betty Halbreich published this book in 2014, she was 86 years old and still working as a personal shopper for luxury department store Bergdorf Goodman, where she'd amassed a loyal following over her 40 years there. Though as much a personal accounting of her life (privileged childhood, early marriage, and a divorce that forced her into the working world) as it is about her influential role in the lives of her clients -- celebrities or otherwise -- fashionable readers will enjoy her tales of couture gossip and her trademark style.
The Truth about Style by Stacy LondonIn a more personal take on her long-running (though sadly now defunct) TLC show What Not to Wear (co-hosted with Clinton Kelly), style expert Stacy London weaves her own story with that of nine women undergoing their own style transformations. Examining the emotional obstacles that prevent women from achieving their goals, she shares her own battles (a scarring skin disorder and complex relationship with food) as she helps the nine find styles that are both confidence-boosting and personal.
Tales from the Back Row: An Outsider's View from Inside the Fashion Industry by Amy OdellDividing the fashion world into eight distinct groups (from designers and models to "you and me"), fashion editor Amy Odell shares an array of pointed, humorous, and candid commentary on the haute couture community from an insider's perspective. From terrifying initial encounters with Karl Lagerfeld to a nerve-jangling job interview with Anna Wintour to the packed house at the Victoria's Secret Fashion Show, Odell is an insightful and entertaining guide to a colorful and surprisingly self-conscious world.
The Lost Art of Dress: The Women Who Once Made America Stylish by Linda PrzybyszewskiIn the first half of the 20th century, there was a group of American women known as the Dress Doctors. Well-respected in their fields (often in college Home Economics departments), they counseled young white women in how to dress appropriately yet flatteringly -- and economically. Prizing an ability to sew as well as adherence to five principles of dress (including both proportion and emphasis), they lost their influence as the 1960s rolled into view. In The Lost Art of Dress, author Linda Przybyszewski tells their story and provides context for other lost arts, such as dressing for dinner.
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