“The formula for success is simple: practice and concentration, then more practice and concentration.”
~ Babe Didrikson Zaharias (1911-1956), American athlete
New and Recently Released!
Let's Go Crazy: Prince and the Making of Purple Rain by Alan LightWe defy you not to get That Song stuck in your head while reading this bestselling history of the making of both the film and the album called Purple Rain. Released late last year, just in time to coincide with the 30th anniversary of the movie's release, Let's Go Crazy is part oral history from the musicians, filmmakers, and others involved in Purple Rain; part biography of Prince himself, though the artist was not directly involved in this project; and part analysis of the changing cultural era. For more on the latter, try Touré's I Would Die 4 U.
Silver Screen Fiend: Learning about Life from an Addiction to Film by Patton OswaltThere was a time in comedian Patton Oswalt's life that he wanted to be a director, and so he devoured film after film in order to apply what he learned towards that goal, as well as the acting, writing, and stand-up comedy that paid his bills. For four years, Oswalt compulsively watched new releases, classic films, and unknown movies -- more than 250 of them, to be exact, all in theaters (watching them on TV, which he also did, didn't "count."). His analysis here, of film, culture, and his own journey ("either the most interesting or the most boring addiction memoir you've ever read") is sure to appeal to film junkies.
Becoming Richard Pryor by Scott SaulDrawing extensively on comedian Richard Pryor's inner circle (as well as unpublished journals, screenplay drafts, and court records), this richly detailed biography traces Pryor's evolution as a comedian as well as his troubled relationships and struggles with addiction. Essential reading for fans of the comedian's work, Becoming Richard Pryor also discusses the social and political forces of the 1960s and '70s that shaped Pryor's career and helped him make "an enduring mark on American comedy" (Booklist).
The B-Side: The Death of Tin Pan Alley and the Rebirth of the Great American Song by Ben YagodaAccording to cultural historian Ben Yagoda, America's songwriting peaked decades ago -- from about 1925 through the end of World War II. But The B-Side doesn't wage war on current crooners; rather, it unearths the elements that have changed the American musical landscape, from copyright law to Hollywood and Broadway to rock 'n' roll itself. If you're interested in the Golden Age of Songwriting, simply love music in all its varieties, or are an armchair musicologist, The B-Side is "consistently engaging" (Kirkus Reviews).
Focus on: Women in Sports
Swimming to Antarctica: Tales of a Long-Distance Swimmer by Lynne CoxWhat do you do next when you're a long-distance swimmer who broke the record for crossing the English Channel at 15? If you're Lynne Cox, you swim the Nile (and get dysentery from the toxic conditions), the Cape of Good Hope (sharks), and Alaska's Glacier Bay. Then, you swim to the Soviet Union (this was 1987) from Alaska, and in Antarctic waters. Cox, who loves cold-water swimming, also wanted to bring people together through her achievements. Swimming to Antarctica displays both her determination and her love for the sport; you can read more in her second book, Grayson, which details a memorable encounter with a lost baby whale.
Grace, Gold & Glory: My Leap of Faith: The Gabrielle Douglas Story by Gabrielle Douglas with Michelle BurfordYoung as she is, it is clear in her memoir that Olympic gymnast Gabrielle Douglas is hardworking, dedicated, and supported by both her family and her faith. As she shares the story of her life and the drive to reach her dreams, she covers the sacrifices she had to make as well as the triumphs she achieved. Perhaps because of her youth, this book is best for younger readers (or those who don't mind LOLspeak slipping in); those looking for a more critical account of competitive gymnastics prefer Jennifer Sey's Chalked Up.
A Pearl in the Storm: How I Found My Heart in the Middle of the Ocean by Tori Murden McClureIn this "epic tale of adversity and triumph" (Booklist), Tori Murden McClure describes her efforts to become the first woman to row solo across the Atlantic...in a 23-foot rowboat that she made herself, out of plywood. Hampered by a loss of communication and challenged by the worst hurricane season on record, she eventually requests to be rescued. Though her return home feels like a failure, it's not the end of her story. Buoyed by a love affair, her own humanity, and powerful words from Muhammad Ali, she eventually sets out again. As much about McClure's personal struggles as it is her physical feat, this is an inspiring story for anyone who has fought feelings of powerlessness.
Sum It Up: 1,098 Victories, a Couple of Irrelevant Losses, and a Life in Perspective by Pat Summitt with Sally JenkinsPublished in 2013, this candid memoir by Basketball Hall of Fame NCAA coach Pat Summitt describes how her upbringing helped her to develop the balanced coaching style that contributed to the Tennessee Vols record-breaking wins. Known for her strategic mind, Summitt also recounts her battle against early-onset Alzheimer's disease. Though Sum It Up is a must-read for basketball fans, it is much more personal than Summitt's sports memoir, Raise the Roof.
Wonder Girl: The Magnificent Sporting Life of Babe Didrikson Zaharias by Don Van Natta, Jr. Only months after seeing a javelin for the first time, star basketball player Babe Didrikson set a world record for the javelin throw. Not long after, she won medals for several track and field events in the 1932 Olympics. But it was a bet between sportswriters that brought her to golf, where she became the first woman to play against men in a PGA tournament, eventually winning a total of 82 golf tournaments, including two LPGA competitions, before she died, at age 45, of cancer. This engaging biography enumerates all her many accomplishments, but it also provides an inspiring story of a sports figure who consistently remade society's expectations for women athletes.
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