Monday, July 25, 2011

July NextReads: Popular Culture

My Lucky Life In and Out of Show Business: A Memoir by Dick Van Dyke

You might know him from Mary Poppins, the movie that made him a global star, or from the much-loved Dick Van Dyke Show, or even from Diagnosis: Murder, but Dick Van Dyke's career in show business actually started off in local radio. From there, his amiable, likeable mien served him well, despite his struggles with alcoholism. Tales from years of success--and times of frustration--form the backbone of this memoir, and celebrity-watchers will enjoy Van Dyke's stories of working with Mary Tyler Moore, Carl Reiner, and others. Fans should absolutely not miss his delightful stories.

Dirty South: Outkast, Lil Wayne, Soulja Boy, and the Southern Rappers Who Reinvented Hip-Hop by Ben Westhoff

Reviewed in places as varied as Forbes magazine (which calls it a "must-read") and Rolling Stone ("packed with lively reporting and colorful social history"), Dirty South should not be missed by anyone interested in Southern hip-hop and how it overtook East Coast and West Coast rap styles. Whether you know nothing or are familiar with the sound, this is a fun, informative book that covers both better-known artists like Ludacris and Lil Wayne and lesser-known ones like DJ Drama and DJ Smurf. And as an added bonus, you'll no doubt also find mentions of new (or classic) tracks to hunt down and listen to.

He Crashed Me So I Crashed Him Back: The True and Glorious Story of the Year the King, Jaws, Earnhardt, and the Rest of NASCAR's Feudin', Fightin', Good ol' Boys Put Stock Car Racing on the Map by Mark Bechtel

If you've already read Joe Menzer's history of NASCAR, The Wildest Ride, and still can't get enough NASCAR history, try this high-energy chronicle of the 1979 season, written by Sports Illustrated editor Mark Bechtel. It documents the fairly sudden elevation of stock-car racing to a major sport--thanks in part to a major snowstorm that blanketed much of the country and a dramatic finish to the televised Daytona 500--and the larger-than-life personalities that populated the sport's upper echelon. As colorful as the people and history he writes about, Bechtel's book is "an illuminating, informative, and entertaining read" (Publishers Weekly).

My Reading Life by Pat Conroy; illustrated by Wendell Minor

Bestselling author Pat Conroy has given readers hours of pleasure with such hefty works as The Great Santini, The Prince of Tides, and Lords of Discipline, but he's as avid a reader as he is writer: as a high school student he was challenged to read 200 pages a day, and that's a goal he still sets for himself (and frequently surpasses). In My Reading Life, he acknowledges both the books and the people that have shaped his life for good or bad--such as War and Peace and Gone with the Wind, and his mother and fellow writers. For other authors' takes on how reading shaped their lives, try Anna Quindlen's How Reading Changed My Life or Michael Chabon's Maps and Legends.

[Michael Chabon's Maps and Legends is amazing! - Writer]

Listen to This by Alex Ross

Most of the essays collected here are adapted from author Alex Ross' work for the New Yorker, and it's an assortment that covers everything from classical music and popular hits to Bjork and music education in public schools (or the lack thereof). Music fans will appreciate Ross' critical eye for music of all types, while those looking to expand their musical horizons will enjoy the listening suggestions and articulate explorations of various musicians, eras, and genres. New Yorker subscribers who haven't already read Ross' bestselling, award-winning The Rest Is Noise could try Nick Hornby's Songbook for essays on popular music or Best Music Writing 2011, publishing this September and edited by Ross.

[Happily, Alex Ross is openly gay, and you can follow him on his blog The Rest is Noise]

Fifth Avenue, 5 A.M.: Audrey Hepburn, Breakfast at Tiffany's, and the Dawn of the Modern Woman by Sam Wasson

Readers who enjoy learning how social and cultural mores evolve will appreciate this book just as much as will fans of film history and the iconic film Breakfast at Tiffany's and its gamine star, Audrey Hepburn. Many aspects of movie-making and social history are covered in this fascinating book, which also traces the separate strands (an "unadaptable" and provocative novel, a new actress, an arrogant male lead, a trend-setting composer) that came together to create an enduring film that changed not only the way movies were scored but also the options available to women in the 1950s. Fifth Avenue, 5 A.M. draws extensively on interviews with many of the principals and is "a page-turning delight" (Kirkus Reviews).

[TIMBER!!]

2 comments:

David Allen Waters said...

love love love dick van dyke <3

Writer said...

Awwww, you gonna make me wanna watch Mary Poppins! :)