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.
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.
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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