In this season of giving, why not gift the joy of a new read?
The first Friday of the month, Chris Hall of McNally Robinson Booksellers pops by the Classic 107 studio with his picks in the "What to Read" feature. And this month, Chris has prepared a gift guide for the people on his list and, perhaps, on your list as well!
Playing the Long Game: A Memoir by Christine Sinclair
For the first time in depth and in public, Olympic soccer gold-medalist Christine Sinclair, the top international goal scorer of all time and one of Canada's greatest athletes, reflects on both her exhilarating successes and her heartbreaking failures. Playing the Long Game is a book of earned wisdom on the value of determination and team spirit, and on leadership that changed the landscape of women's sport.
Christine Sinclair is one of the world's most respected and admired athletes. Not only is she the player who has scored the most goals on the international soccer stage, male or female, but more than two decades into her career, she is the heart of any team she plays on, the captain of both Canada's national team and the top-ranked Portland Thorns FC in the National Women's Soccer League.
Working with the brilliant and bestselling sportswriter Stephen Brunt, who has followed her career for decades, the intensely private Sinclair will share her reflections on the significant moments and turning points in her life and career, the big wins and losses survived, not only on the pitch. Her extraordinary journey, combined with her candour, commitment and decency, will inspire and empower her fans and admirers, and girls and women everywhere.
Dr. No by Percival Everett
A sly, madcap novel about supervillains and nothing, really, from an American novelist whose star keeps rising
The protagonist of Percival Everett’s puckish new novel is a brilliant professor of mathematics who goes by Wala Kitu. (Wala, he explains, means “nothing” in Tagalog, and Kitu is Swahili for “nothing.”) He is an expert on nothing. That is to say, he is an expert, and his area of study is nothing, and he does nothing about it. This makes him the perfect partner for the aspiring villain John Sill, who wants to break into Fort Knox to steal, well, not gold bars but a shoebox containing nothing. Once he controls nothing he’ll proceed with a dastardly plan to turn a Massachusetts town into nothing. Or so he thinks.
With the help of the brainy and brainwashed astrophysicist-turned-henchwoman Eigen Vector, our professor tries to foil the villain while remaining in his employ. In the process, Wala Kitu learns that Sill’s desire to become a literal Bond villain originated in some real all-American villainy related to the murder of Martin Luther King Jr. As Sill says, “Professor, think of it this way. This country has never given anything to us and it never will. We have given everything to it. I think it’s time we gave nothing back.”
Dr. No is a caper with teeth, a wildly mischievous novel from one of our most inventive, provocative, and productive writers. That it is about nothing isn’t to say that it’s not about anything. In fact, it’s about villains. Bond villains. And that’s not nothing.
Art Is Life: Icons and Iconoclasts, Visionaries and Vigilantes, and Flashes of Hope in the Night by Jerry Saltz
From the Pulitzer Prize winner and bestselling author of How to Be an Artist: a deliciously readable survey of the art world in turbulent times
Jerry Saltz is one of our most-watched writers about art and artists, and a passionate champion of the importance of art in our shared cultural life. Since the 1990s he has been an indispensable cultural voice: witty and provocative, he has attracted contemporary readers to fine art as few critics have. An early champion of forgotten and overlooked women artists, he has also celebrated the pioneering work of African American, LGBTQ+, and other long-marginalized creators. Sotheby's Institute of Art has called him, simply, "the art critic."
Now, in Art Is Life, Jerry Saltz draws on two decades of work to offer a real-time survey of contemporary art as a barometer of our times. Chronicling a period punctuated by dramatic turning points--from the cultural reset of 9/11 to the rolling social crises of today--Saltz traces how visionary artists have both documented and challenged the culture. Art Is Life offers Saltz's eye-opening appraisals of trailblazers like Kara Walker, David Wojnarowicz, Hilma af Klint, and Jasper Johns; provocateurs like Jeff Koons, Richard Prince, and Marina Abramovi?; and visionaries like Jackson Pollock, Bill Traylor, and Willem de Kooning. Saltz celebrates landmarks like the Obama portraits by Kehinde Wiley and Amy Sherald, writes searchingly about disturbing moments such as the Ankara gallery assassination, and offers surprising takes on figures from Thomas Kinkade to Kim Kardashian. And he shares stories of his own haunted childhood, his time as a "failed artist," and his epiphanies upon beholding work by Botticelli, Delacroix, and the cave painters of Niaux.
With his signature blend of candor and conviction, Jerry Saltz argues in Art Is Life for the importance of the fearless artist--reminding us that art is a kind of channeled voice of human experience, a necessary window onto our times. The result is an openhearted and irresistibly readable appraisal by one of our most important cultural observers.
The Philosophy of Modern Song by Bob Dylan
The Philosophy of Modern Song is Bob Dylan's first book of new writing since 2004's Chronicles: Volume One--and since winning the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2016.
Dylan, who began working on the book in 2010, offers his extraordinary insight into the nature of popular music. He writes over sixty essays focusing on songs by other artists, spanning from Stephen Foster to Elvis Costello, and in between ranging from Hank Williams to Nina Simone. He analyzes what he calls the trap of easy rhymes, breaks down how the addition of a single syllable can diminish a song, and even explains how bluegrass relates to heavy metal. These essays are written in Dylan's unique prose. They are mysterious and mercurial, poignant and profound, and often laugh-out-loud funny. And while they are ostensibly about music, they are really meditations and reflections on the human condition. Running throughout the book are nearly 150 carefully curated photos as well as a series of dream-like riffs that, taken together, resemble an epic poem and add to the work's transcendence.
In 2020, with the release of his outstanding album Rough and Rowdy Ways, Dylan became the first artist to have an album hit the Billboard Top 40 in each decade since the 1960s. The Philosophy of Modern Song contains much of what he has learned about his craft in all those years, and like everything that Dylan does, it is a momentous artistic achievement.
A Book of Days by Patti Smith
A deeply moving and brilliantly idiosyncratic visual book of days by the National Book Award-winning author of Just Kids and M Train, featuring more than 365 images and reflections that chart Smith's singular aesthetic--inspired by her wildly popular Instagram.
In 2018, without any plan or agenda for what might happen next, Patti Smith posted her first Instagram photo: her hand with the simple message "Hello Everybody!" Known for shooting with her beloved Land camera 250, Smith started posting images from her phone including portraits of her kids, her radiator, her boots, and her Abyssinian cat, Cairo. Followers felt an immediate affinity with these miniature windows into Smith's world, photographs of her daily coffee, the books she's reading, the graves of beloved heroes--William Blake, Dylan Thomas, Sylvia Plath, Simone Weil, Albert Camus. Over time, a coherent story of a life devoted to art took shape, and more than a million followers responded to Smith's unique aesthetic in images that chart her passions, devotions, obsessions, and whims. Original to this book are vintage photographs: anniversary pearls, a mother's keychain, and a husband's Mosrite guitar. Here, too, are never-before-seen photos of life on and off the road, train stations, obscure cafés, a notebook always nearby. In wide-ranging yet intimate daily notations, Smith shares dispatches from her travels around the world.
With over 365 photographs taking you through a single year, A Book of Days is a new way to experience the expansive mind of the visionary poet, writer, and performer. Hopeful, elegiac, playful--and complete with an introduction by Smith that explores her documentary process--A Book of Days is a timeless offering for deeply uncertain times, an inspirational map of an artist's life.