You Play the Girl: On Playboy Bunnies, Stepford Wives, Trainwrecks, & ... by Carina ChocanoFrom Pretty Woman to Frozen, Carina Chocano (a staff writer for Salon) digs into portrayals of women in popular culture over the last 50 years. In addition to her insightful analysis of topics such as sexuality, motherhood, and women in the workplace, Chocano offers personal anecdotes from her own childhood, when she was unmoved by the Disney princesses popular among her peers, and her current efforts to raise a confident daughter. It's "entertaining, engaging, [and] enlightening," says Kirkus Reviews; if you want a similar exploration focused on science fiction, try Kameron Hurley's The Geek Feminist Revolution.
The Streak: Lou Gehrig, Cal Ripken Jr., and Baseball's Most Historic Record by John EisenbergFor more than 50 years, Lou Gehrig held the record for playing the most baseball games in a row, with 2,130. In 1995, Cal Ripken Jr. broke that record, ultimately shattering it with 2,632 consecutive games. These two "miracle" efforts, including the lengths to which each man went to keep their streaks going, as well as several other records held by baseball's various iron men, are discussed in enthusiastic and celebratory detail. The drama is surpassed only by the long hard slog such efforts require, and the question: is it worth it?
Queen of Bebop: The Musical Lives of Sarah Vaughan by Elaine M. HayesSarah Vaughan dropped out of school to become a jazz singer; her win at Amateur Night at the Apollo Theater landed her a gig singing with Earl Hines' band, where she performed with Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker, and Billy Eckstine at the dawn of bebop. A champion of civil rights, with a voice like honey and a mouth that earned her the nickname "Sailor," Vaughan was a rare woman in a male-oriented business, a strong and successful performer despite mismanagement by the men in her life. Queen of Bebop provides an insightful look at her life and career -- and the legacy she left behind.
The Arena: Inside the Tailgating, Ticket-Scalping, Mascot-Racing, Dubiously... by Rafi KohanLike Tom Jones' Working at the Ballpark, Rafi Kohan's The Arena is a vivid exploration of what it's like behind the scenes at a modern American sports stadium, from tailgating and ticket scalpers to halftime shows and local traditions. It also includes a look at the role that big-ticket sports plays in both U.S. culture and local economies. Kohan mixes humor, hands-on research, and sociological analysis to create an entertaining and edifying book that provides new perspectives on everything from turf management to turf wars to the financial shenanigans behind the building of new arenas.
Shirley Jackson: A Rather Haunted Life by Ruth FranklinDrawing on new interviews and newly discovered correspondence, this comprehensive biography of the author of the chilling short story "The Lottery" (and the classic ghost story The Haunting of Hill House) sheds light on the rest of Shirley Jackson's life and work. Placing Jackson's literary suspense squarely in line with the American Gothic work of Nathaniel Hawthorne and Edgar Allan Poe, author Ruth Franklin also points to her varied oeuvre as indicative of a time in which women had limited options. Insightful and engaging, this biography has won several awards, including a Bram Stoker Award, an Edgar Allan Poe Award, and a National Book Critics Circle Award.
Scream: Chilling Adventures in the Science of Fear by Margee KerrIntrepid sociologist Margee Kerr makes Fear Factor look tame as she investigates the biological and emotional response to fear as well as what motivates people to seek out fear-inducing activities. Her investigation led her to such hands-on experiences as riding extreme roller coasters, spending time in solitary confinement, and hanging out on the roof of a skyscraper; thrill-seekers will get some great ideas here.
The Lady and Her Monsters: A Tale of Dissections, Real-Life Dr. Frankensteins... by Roseanne MontilloWhen Mary Shelley published Frankenstein in 1818, the idea that the dead could be revived was taken seriously by natural philosophers, but it was thanks to her husband, poet Percy Shelley, that Mary became intrigued by the idea of immortality. Together, they belonged to an artistic and intellectual set that often went beyond the fringes of social acceptability, occasionally mixing scientific innovation with literary creation to explain the unexplainable. The Lady and her Monsters paints a fascinating portrait of Mary Shelley and her writing in this volatile social and scientific context, bringing to life the origins of her immortal novel -- now a classic horror story.
Something in the Blood: The Untold Story of Bram Stoker, the Man Who Wrote Dracula by David J SkalIn Something in the Blood, author David Skal minutely examines all there is to know about Bram Stoker, creator of vampire legend Dracula. Making use of his own extensive research, previously published materials on Stoker, and detailed descriptions of Dracula productions through the years, Skal discusses Victorian beliefs and anxieties about sexuality and disease, as well as Stoker's connections to Oscar Wilde. An "enthralling work of biography" (Kirkus Reviews), enhanced with illustrations, Something in the Blood is sure to appeal to aficionados of Victoriana in addition to Stoker's own enduring fandom.
Shock Value: How a Few Eccentric Outsiders Gave Us Nightmares, Conquered... by Jason ZinomanRosemary's Baby. The Exorcist. The Texas Chain Saw Massacre. Carrie. These are just some of the films made between 1968 and 1976 that redefined the horror movie genre. And thanks to writers and directors like Wes Craven and George Romero, horror movies moved to mainstream theaters and are now a billion-dollar industry. In addition to explaining how (and why) these films were made, theater critic, reporter, and horror-film fan Jason Zinoman explores how they gained popularity and what their creators went on to achieve. He also includes shot-by-shot descriptions of several films, which fans and newcomers alike will surely appreciate.
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