Wednesday, April 27, 2011

New Books



A wryly funny and surprisingly moving account of an extraordinary life lived almost entirely in the public eye

A teen idol at fifteen, an international icon and founder of the Brat Pack at twenty, and one of Hollywood's top stars to this day, Rob Lowe chronicles his experiences as a painfully misunderstood child actor in Ohio uprooted to the wild counterculture of mid-seventies Malibu, where he embarked on his unrelenting pursuit of a career in Hollywood.

The Outsiders placed Lowe at the birth of the modern youth movement in the entertainment industry. During his time on The West Wing, he witnessed the surreal nexus of show business and politics both on the set and in the actual White House. And in between are deft and humorous stories of the wild excesses that marked the eighties, leading to his quest for family and sobriety.

Never mean-spirited or salacious, Lowe delivers unexpected glimpses into his successes, disappointments, relationships, and one-of-a-kind encounters with people who shaped our world over the last twenty-five years. These stories are as entertaining as they are unforgettable.



The fan-favorite Eisner Award-winning story, originally seri­alized in The New York Times Magazine, now collected and with forty pages of new material.

Meet Marshall. Sitting alone in the local coffee place. He’s been set up by his friend Tim on a blind date with someone named Natalie, and now he’s just feeling set up. She’s nine minutes late and counting. Who was he kidding anyway? Divorced, middle-aged, newly unem­ployed, with next to no prospects, Marshall isn’t ex­actly what you’d call a catch. Twenty minutes pass.

A half hour. Marshall orders a scotch. (He wasn’t going to drink!) Forty minutes.

Then, after nearly an hour, when he’s long since given up hope, Natalie appears—breathless, apologiz­ing profusely that she went to the wrong place. She takes a seat, to Marshall’s utter amazement.

She’s too good to be true: attractive, young, intel­ligent, and she seems to be seriously engaged with what Marshall has to say. There has to be a catch.

And, of course, there is.

During the extremely long night that follows, Marshall and Natalie are emotionally tested in ways that two people who just met really should not be. Not, at least, if they want the prospect of a second date.

A captivating, bittersweet, and hilarious look at the potential for human connection in an increasingly hopeless world, Mister Wonderful more than lives up to its name.



Legendary beer expert Charlie Bamforth presents the most compelling social history of beer ever written: where it’s come from, and where it’s headed. From centuries-old cultural values to radical new approaches, craft brewing to globalization, it’s an amazing story. Bamforth tells it all–with humor, behind-the-scenes insight, and sheer joy!



With its emphasis on social reform and simplicity in design—-bold lines, honest use of materials, and redeeming qualities of handmade goods—-the Arts and Crafts movement offered an antidote to the perceived ills of a rapidly changing world and the ornate and artificial Victorian aesthetic of the late 19th century. In the first years of the 20th century, the movement was popularized in the United States through the efforts of Gustav Stickley (1858 – 1942), a businessman who promoted a progressive American style and the ideal of the simple life through the efforts of his furniture factory and publication, The Craftsman.

Gustav Stickley and the American Arts & Crafts Movement accompanies the first nationally touring exhibition of Stickley’s work and explores his dual roles as a visionary business leader and enthusiastic proselytizer of design reform. The full range of Stickley’s workshops is illuminated, including more than 100 objects of furniture, metalwork, and textiles, as well as architectural drawings and related designs, many of which are previously unpublished. Essays by distinguished contributors provide diverse viewpoints on the Arts and Crafts movement and Stickley's evolving role as tastemaker, and the often contradictory messages conveyed through the construction and promotion of his designers’ works.

This handsome volume provides fascinating new insight into the dramatic transformation of a factory owner into one of the leading figures of the American Arts and Crafts movement.



From the best-selling author of The Working Poor, an impassioned, incisive look at the violations of civil liberties in the United States that have accelerated over the past decade—and their direct impact on our lives.

How have our rights to privacy and justice been undermined? What exactly have we lost? Pulitzer Prize–winner David K. Shipler searches for the answers to these questions by examining the historical expansion and contraction of our fundamental rights and, most pointedly, the real-life stories of individual men and women who have suffered. This is the account of what has been taken—and of how much we stand to regain by protesting the departures from the Bill of Rights.

With keen insight and telling detail, Shipler describes how the Supreme Court’s constitutional rulings play out on the streets as Washington, D.C., police officers search for guns in poor African American neighborhoods, how a fruitless search warrant turns the house of a Homeland Security employee upside down, and how the secret surveillance and jailing of an innocent lawyer result from an FBI lab mistake. Each instance—often as shocking as it is compelling—is a clear illustration of the risks posed to individual liberties in our modern society. And, in Shipler’s hands, each serves as a powerful incitement for a retrieval of these precious rights.

A brilliant, immeasurably important book for our time.



I feel like this next book is in some way a corollary of the previous book.

In Cairo in the 1940s, Leila Ahmed was raised by a generation of women who never dressed in the veils and headscarves their mothers and grandmothers had worn. To them, these coverings seemed irrelevant to both modern life and Islamic piety. Today, however, the majority of Muslim women throughout the Islamic world again wear the veil. Why, Ahmed asks, did this change take root so swiftly, and what does this shift mean for women, Islam, and the West?

When she began her study, Ahmed assumed that the veil's return indicated a backward step for Muslim women worldwide. What she discovered, however, in the stories of British colonial officials, young Muslim feminists, Arab nationalists, pious Islamic daughters, American Muslim immigrants, violent jihadists, and peaceful Islamic activists, confounded her expectations. Ahmed observed that Islamism, with its commitments to activism in the service of the poor and in pursuit of social justice, is the strain of Islam most easily and naturally merging with western democracies' own tradition of activism in the cause of justice and social change. It is often Islamists, even more than secular Muslims, who are at the forefront of such contemporary activist struggles as civil rights and women's rights. Ahmed's surprising conclusions represent a near reversal of her thinking on this topic.

Richly insightful, intricately drawn, and passionately argued, this absorbing story of the veil's resurgence, from Egypt through Saudi Arabia and into the West, suggests a dramatically new portrait of contemporary Islam.

2 comments:

SteveA said...

Rob Lowe's memoire's sounds good - of course anything 80's grabs my attention!

And also that last book on Women in Islam, and the wearing of tradional Islamic wear like the hijab is always something that interests me!

Writer said...

SteveA, yes it does. I wish I had the time to read them all. I read about a 1/4 of Mister Wonderful when we first got it in and it was quite good. :)