Videocracy: How YouTube Is Changing the World -- With Double Rainbows... by Kevin AlloccaWhat it's about: Remember "double rainbow"? "Charlie bit my finger"? Friday? Combining a history of YouTube with an exploration of the site's influence on pop culture around the world, Videocracy is an entertaining tour of all that the video-sharing platform offers.
Did you know? YouTube was created in part to help developers meet women; the first video posted was of a trip to the San Diego zoo; the company has a Culture and Trends department, and the author of this book heads it.
Should the Tent Be Burning Like That? A Professional Amateur’s Guide to the Outdoors by Bill HeaveyWhat it is: a collection of essays on life outdoors, with hunting and fishing at the forefront. Most, but not all, of the essays have previously been published in Field & Stream, where author Bill Heavey is an editor.
Is it for you? While fellow hunters and fishermen are a clear likely audience, Heavey's humor and thoughtful demeanor touches on family and friendship; you needn't hunt to enjoy this collection.
Parental Discretion Is Advised: The Rise of N.W.A and the Dawn of Gangsta Rap by Gerrick D. KennedyWhat it's about: the influence of the groundbreaking rap group N.W.A. and its members on hip-hop, black identity, and pop culture.
Why you might like it: Detailed and authoritative, this chronicle of the meteoric rise, fall, and legacy of N.W.A. captures the personalities, tensions, and connections of the various members, as well as their rivals and fellow rappers. It also provides context for readers unfamiliar with the history of rap music.
Feel Free: Essays by Zadie SmithWhat it is: a collection of essays from novelist Zadie Smith, on topics from social media and British politics to pop culture and American race relations. She also writes about books, paintings, and people (like singer Billie Holliday, comedy duo Key and Peele, and author J.G. Ballard).
Why you might like it: Conversational and perceptive, Smith reveals the creative processes behind her well-received novels.
You might also like: the analytical essays of fellow novelist Roxane Gay's Bad Feminist.
Improv Nation: How We Made a Great American Art by Sam WassonWhat it is: a sweeping behind-the-scenes history of American improvisational comedy, which was born during the McCarthy era and counts Saturday Night Live and Second City as success stories.
Why you might like it: Funny and fast-moving, this entertaining read will delight as it informs.
Reviewers say: “A remarkable story, magnificently told” (Booklist).
Life in Motion: An Unlikely Ballerina by Misty CopelandWhat it is: the memoir of ballet dancer Misty Copeland, who became the first African-American principal ballerina in the history of the American Ballet Theatre.
What's inside: candid tales of Copeland's difficult upbringing, her first experience with ballet at age 13, and her rise to stardom.
You might also like: Jenifer Ringer's Dancing Through It; David Hallberg's A Body of Work.
Master of Ceremonies: A Memoir by Joel GreyWhat it's about: Best known for portraying the master of ceremonies in Cabaret (on stage and screen alike), Broadway star Joel Grey shares his life story, from his Jewish-American upbringing in 1930s Cleveland to his sexual identity, 24-year marriage, and seven-decade career.
Why you might like it: it's a moving, engaging story of a life well lived. Theater fans especially will appreciate Grey's tales of Cleveland's theaters -- and Broadway's.
Reviewers say: "honest, eloquent, memorable" (Kirkus Reviews).
Hamilton: The Revolution by Lin-Manuel MirandaWhat it is: The Hamilton libretto, complete with annotations, photos, and commentary from Lin-Manuel Miranda, the Tony Award-winning composer-lyricist-star behind the beloved musical based on founding father Alexander Hamilton.
Who it's for: Anyone who wants to get behind the scenes of the hip-hop musical with the diverse cast -- whether or not you've been lucky enough to see it.
Fair warning: Reading this book might make you all the more desperate to score tickets to be in the room where it happens.
Bolshoi Confidential: Secrets of the Russian Ballet from the Rule of the Tsars to Today by Simon MorrisonWhat it's about: the world-famous Bolshoi Ballet. From inescapably elegant performances to the influence of the Soviet government, this history of Moscow's ballet (founded in 1776) is "charming and astonishingly detailed" (Booklist).
What's inside: scandals, fires, corruption; choreographers, dancers, composers; tsars, Soviets, and Stalin.
The Secret Life of the American Musical: How Broadway Shows Are Built by Jack ViertelWhat it is: a behind-the-scenes exploration of what makes a great Broadway show so memorable, using a range of examples (from Gypsy, My Fair Lady, The Book of Mormon, and others) as illustrations.
From overture to curtain call: If you want to know more about the structure and patterns of Broadway shows, this is the book for you. Plus, there's a list of the best cast recordings to listen to post-reading.
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