A Little Devil in America: Notes in Praise of Black Performance by Hanif AbdurraqibWhat it is: Poet and critic Hanif Abdurraqib's collection of lyrical essays exploring the impact of Black art and performance in American culture.
Read it for: an intimate and wide-ranging blend of memoir and analysis that centers Black visibility in music, comedy, sports, magic, and more.
Don't miss: "I Would Like to Give Merry Clayton Her Roses," which celebrates the overlooked accomplishments of gospel singer and "Gimme Shelter" background vocalist Merry Clayton.
Own the Arena: Getting Ahead, Making a Difference, and Succeeding as the Only One by Katrina M. AdamsWhat it's about: retired professional tennis player and former President and CEO of the United States Tennis Association (USTA) Katrina M. Adams' inspiring career both on and off the court.
What's inside: a detailed insider's account of what it takes to host the U.S. Open: "We put on the Super Bowl every day for fourteen days."
Did you know? Adams was the first Black woman, the first former player, and the youngest person to serve as the USTA President and CEO.
When Women Invented Television: The Untold Story of the Female Powerhouses Who... by Jennifer Keishin ArmstrongWhat it is: a fast-paced and engaging history of television's early days and four women who pioneered the medium.
Starring: Hazel Scott, the first African American to host a primetime show; Gertrude Berg, who created The Goldbergs, TV's first depiction of a Jewish American family; Irna Phillips, creator of Guiding Light and other soap operas; and Betty White, who developed her own talk show.
Try this next: J.E. Smyth's Nobody's Girl Friday: The Women Who Ran Hollywood.
Shooting Midnight Cowboy: Art, Sex, Loneliness, Liberation, and the Making of... by Glenn FrankelWhat it's about: the making of controversial classic Midnight Cowboy, the first (and only) X-rated film to win the Academy Award for Best Picture.
Why you might like it: Featuring interviews with the film's stars and portraits of the creatives who helmed the production, this immersive and richly detailed account explores how Midnight Cowboy reflected the social turmoil and shifting mores of late-1960s America.
The Marathon Don't Stop: The Life and Times of Nipsey Hussle by Rob KennerWhat it is: the first biography of rapper, activist, and entrepreneur Nipsey Hussle, who was tragically murdered in 2019 at age 33.
Why you should read it: This "rousing and powerful" (Library Journal) chronicle offers a nuanced portrait of an influential artist who left a lasting legacy in the music industry and the South Los Angeles community he helped rebuild.
About the author: Hip-hop journalist and Vibe magazine founding editor Rob Kenner followed Hussle's career for more than a decade.
Mixed Plate: Chronicles of an All-American Combo by Jo KoyWhat it's about: Filipino American comedian Jo Koy's hard-won battle for success in the entertainment industry.
Topics include: how Koy's mixed-race and impoverished upbringing informed his comedy; his career influences and joke-writing process.
Featuring: recipes for Koy's favorite Filipino dishes, including chicken adobo and lumpia; never-before-seen photographs.
The World Only Spins Forward: The Ascent of Angels in America by Isaac Butler and Dan KoisWhat it is: a moving oral history of Angels in America, published to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Tony and Pulitzer Prize-winning play's Broadway premiere.
Read it for: humorous anecdotes about the play's inauspicious early days of production; insights from actors like Meryl Streep, who remarks that Angels in America was "the Hamilton of its time."
Book buzz: The World Only Spins Forward was an NPR Best Book of 2018.
Failing Up: How to Take Risks, Aim Higher, and Never Stop Learning by Leslie Odom, Jr. What it is: a witty blend of memoir and self-help written by Tony and Grammy Award-winning Hamilton star Leslie Odom, Jr.
Who it's for: Though it was written for teen audiences, anyone looking for inspiration to follow their dreams will be encouraged by Odom's candid advice.
Want a taste? "The path to moments of greatness in your life will be paved, in part, with your spectacular failures."
Something Wonderful: Rodgers and Hammerstein's Broadway Revolution by Todd S. PurdumWhat it's about: the fruitful creative partnership between composer Richard Rodgers and lyricist Oscar Hammerstein II, whose collaborations ushered in the Golden Age of musical theater in the mid-20th century.
Why you might like it: This evocative, occasionally gossipy chronicle captures the pair's creative process, tracking career highs (Pulitzer Prize wins for Oklahoma! and South Pacific), lows (flops like 1947's Allegro), and frequent personality clashes.
Reviewers say: "An exuberant celebration of musical genius" (Kirkus).
Lady Romeo: The Radical and Revolutionary Life of Charlotte Cushman, America's First... by Tana WojczukStarring: charismatic American stage actress Charlotte Cushman, who eschewed rigid 19th-century gender norms to become beloved by audiences worldwide.
Read it for: a lively tribute to an unabashedly queer woman who forged a radical path both on and off stage.
Did you know? The character of Miss Cameron in Louisa May Alcott's novel Jo's Boys is based on Cushman.
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