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  • Ross Johnson 2:00 pm on 2018/04/02 Permalink
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    The Best Biographies & Memoirs of April 2018 

    The Best Cook in the World: Tales from My Momma’s Table, by Rick Bragg
    Pulitzer Prize-winner Rick Bragg combines a love of cooking with the history of his family and of a region for this memoir/cookbook. Focusing on his mother’s recipes, never before recorded, he tells the stories behind each dish and of the family traditions that accompanied meals passed down in his family since before the Civil War. Alabama and family history aside, the book contains recipes for southern classics like corn pudding, redeye gravy, pinto beans and hambone, stewed cabbage, short ribs, and more.

    My American Dream: A Life of Love, Family, and Food, by Lidia Matticchio Bastianich
    Celebrity chef, restauranteur, and cookbook author Bastianich grew up in Pula under Tito’s regime in Yugoslavia. Lidia’s family ultimately was forced to flee to a refugee camp in Italy before being granted visas to to the United States.  The beloved TV star tells the story of her life, from learning Italian cooking at her grandmother’s knee, to the family’s the flight to America, to her teenage years spent working in restaurants, and the great success that she’s achieved in the years since.

    The Neuroscientist Who Lost Her Mind: My Tale of Madness and Recovery, by Barbara K. Lipska and Elaine McArdle
    Barbara Lipska found herself at the beginning of a harrowing, but remarkable journey in early 2015: the renowned expert on the neuroscience of mental illness was herself diagnosed with melanoma that had spread to her brain. Short months later, she developed symptoms of dementia and schizophrenia that resulted from the shutdown of parts of her frontal lobe. She found herself descending into madness—but fortunately, a course of immunotherapy worked, and restored her physical and mental health. Not only that, but the neuroscientist remembers every detail of her ordeal. Her memoir of the experience provides extraordinary insight into the working of the human brain, told as it is by an expert who came back from the brink.

    Eunice: The Kennedy Who Changed the World, by Eileen McNamara
    While the Kennedy boys were being groomed for political power, Joe Kennedy’s daughter Eunice was pursuing a Stanford education as a preliminary to a lifetime of work with the disabled. For this thoroughly researched biography, Pulitzer Prize-winner Eileen McNamara gained access to never-before-seen private documents from the life of the formidable, cigar-smoking founder of what became the Special Olympics. She makes a very convincing case that it’s wasn’t just the Kennedy men who changed America.

    The Geraldo Show: A Memoir, by Geraldo Rivera
    Whatever your feelings about this news personality and talk show host, there’s no question his long career in the public eye has been quite the wild trip, from his early days as a lawyer and promising young reporter, to the guy who opened Al Capone’s vault, to talk show host and Fox News commentator. He’s been on the scene for some of the biggest news moments of the past five decades and has met many of modern history’s heavy hitters. He’s got plenty of stories to tell in his first memoir since 1992.

    Every Day I’m Hustling, by Vivica A. Fox
    During her 30 years in showbiz, Fox has learned plenty, and she’s ready to share. According to the actress, you never wait for the call. You go out and make life happen. Including stories and anecdotes from her own life and career in movies like Kill Bill and shows like Empire, Fox ‘s memoir offers success strategies for business and love, and even tips about looking good after 50.

    True Stories from an Unreliable Eyewitness: A Feminist Coming of Age, by Christine Lahti
    She’s won almost every major showbiz award over the course of her decades in the business, and has been an activist and blogger. This collection of personal essays focus on three periods in her life: her childhood, her early days as an actress, and the realities of life as a middle-aged woman in Hollywood today. The stories range from funny and self-deprecating to personally painful, but she’s always honest about her achievements and tragedies.

    The Girl Who Smiled Beads: A Story of War and What Comes After, by Clemantine Wamariya and Elizabeth Weil
    At the age of 15, Clementine and her sister fled the Rwandan massacre. Over the next six years, they moved through seven different countries before gaining refugee status in the United States. The two sisters came to live very different lives as their paths diverged in Chicago: one a struggling single mother, the other taken in by a generous and loving family who supported her through Yale. Still, both carried the scars of years of inhumanity. Clementine Wamariya tells a story that’s heartbreaking but, ultimately, one of hope and of the power to transcend even the most horrific events.

    Hang Time: My Life in Basketball, by Elgin Baylor and Alan Eisenstock
    Baylor’s long career spans years of incredible change for the NBA and America itself. In 1958 he became one of the very first black superstars of the game, and receives credit for saving the (then) Minneapolis Lakers from extinction while simultaneously serving as an Army Reservist. Fourteen exceptional years later, he retired from playing and went onto a decades-long career as a coach and executive. Throughout, he was a witness to and agent of change, fighting to break down color barriers as a player and manager.

    American Princess: The Love Story of Meghan Markle and Prince Harry, by Leslie Carroll
    Carroll has an extensive bibliography when it comes to works of historical non-fiction (and fiction, as well) centered around the loves, marriages, and affairs of European royals. With the story of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, and a relationship that would have been scandalous not so long ago, she’s taking on a rather more contemporary courtship. Grounding the story in the history of royal marriages that broke rules, Carroll dives into the story of the couple, as well as into the impressive background of Markle herself.

    Whose story intrigues and inspires you?

    The post The Best Biographies & Memoirs of April 2018 appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

     
  • Ross Johnson 2:00 pm on 2018/03/20 Permalink
    Tags: beginner's guide, blankets, , i kill giants, , ,   

    12 Graphic Novels for Beginners 

    So you want to get into graphic novels. There is no question the comics medium isn’t ubiquitous in pop culture, but that doesn’t make it any less intimidating for the newbie. That cultural saturation also has its downsides: the stream of superhero movies (many of them great) tends to reinforce the notion that comics are all about flights and tights. There are brilliant books about superheroes, yes. But there are also funny and poignant autobiographical comics, moving takes on history, as well as works of science fiction, epic fantasy, horror, and adventure. Here are just a few suggestions of comics and graphic novels to get almost anyone started on a new reading obsession.

    Saga, by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples
    Saga has become one of the most successful and buzz-worthy comics ever, and one that’s commonly used as an example of everything modern comics can be. It’s a sci-fi love story, a war story, and a refugee tale that takes place in the middle of a bitter, bloody conflict between the winged citizens of Landfall and the horned, magic-wielding citizens of its moon, Wreath. A prison guard, Alana, falls in love with her charge, a warrior named Marko. The two escape, and the book begins with the birth of their daughter Hazel, a creature both sides of the conflict would like to exploit, or destroy. The two struggle to keep their family together in the face of hatred and pursuit by a variety of colorful creatures. It’s a brilliant marriage of art and story, with artist Staples capturing genuine emotion alongside stunning vistas and truly weird creatures.

    March, by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell
    Congressman and revered icon John Lewis is among the last people you’d expect to write a graphic novel, especially one as confident and successful as this three-part memoir of the civil rights movement. Inspired by a 1958 comic book that inspired him, “Martin Luther King and the Montgomery Story,” March tells of the movement from Lewis’ perspective, centered around the events of the 1965 Selma to Montgomery march. By talking personally rather than broadly about his life and those years, Lewis and co-author Andrew Aydin go well beyond the standard history lesson. The story is inspiring, the black-and-white art (by Nate Powell) is gorgeous. March establishes one of our unlikeliest graphic novel writers among the very best.

    Bone, by Jeff Smith
    The three main characters are cutesy, whimsical blobs named Phoney, Smiley, and Fone…but that’s a trick. Writer/artist Jeff Smith lures you in with the promise of a lighthearted story of the three Bone brothers trying to find their way back to Boneville, but just as you’re thinking that the all-ages tale is charming, but little else, the cousins are drawn into the dark story of Thorn and her secretive grandmother. Their rural valley is threatened by an ominous presence, the Lord of the Locusts, and the Bones reluctantly undertake a legitimate heroes’ journey to save the valley. It’s full of adventure and heartbreak, and with a resonance that only increases over the expansive page-count.

    All-Star Superman, by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely
    Doomed planet. Desperate scientists. Last hope. Kindly couple. That’s how writer Morrison and artist Quitely sum up Superman’s origin in the book’s opening, and it sets the stage for a tale that gets right to the heart of the superhero myth. Superman is given a death sentence and, rather than struggle to save himself, he undertakes a series of adventures (Herculean labors, really) that will ensure that he leaves the world better than he found it. The tasks are alternately action-packed, colorful, fun, and bizarre; the book refuses to shy away from the big and bold, and the glorious ending makes the title literal. It’s a distillation of everything great about Superman, and caped heroes in general.

    Blankets, by Craig Thompson
    At a time when comics were still struggling to attract a wider audience, Thompson’s autobiographical work drew notice outside of the usual circles. It wasn’t the first graphic novel to tackle childhood drama and mature themes, or even the thousandth, but the critics’ acclaim wasn’t misplaced. With art that’s sometimes realistic, sometimes dreamy and surreal, Thompson tells a story about growing up in a devoutly religious midwestern family and dealing with abuse, bullying, first love, and first loss. It’s a great book about the weird, confusing march through adolescense, both the good and the bad.

    Lumberjanes, by Noelle Stevenson, Grace Ellis, Shannon Watters, and Brooke A. Allen
    If you’re looking for a girl-centric adventure for young and old alike, Lumberjanes is an excellent place to start. “Friendship to the max!” …is the motto of five pals at Miss Quinzella Thiskwin Penniquiqul Thistle Crumpet’s Camp for Hardcore Lady Types, where mystery, excitement, and monsters are the norm, and a diverse group of campers is more than ready to take on a variety of supernatural threats. The Lumberjanes are a little punk rock, very funny, and extremely tough, and the book is a delightful story of friendship and bravery from an creative team made up entirely of incredibly talented women.

    I Kill Giants, by Joe Kelly and J.M. Ken Nimura
    Kelly and Nimura’s I Kill Giants introduces us to Barbara Thorson, who battles giant monsters. Except that she doesn’t, not really. Her fantasy world is a coping mechanism she uses to deal with depression and feelings of powerlessness in the real one. The magical land that she inhabits ultimately becomes a trap: she’s lashing out and isolating herself, retreating further and further into her own mind and avoiding reality entirely. It’s a poignant story about growing up and learning to face the world and ask for help. It’s also a powerful example of the ways comics can tell fantastical stories with real-world relevance.

    The Vision, by Tom King, Garbiel Walta, Michael Walsh, Mike Del Mundo, and Jordie Bellaire
    There are brilliant superhero books that do all the things that super-comics should do, and then there are others that take those tropes and go off in wildly different directions. Synthezoid Avenger the Vision builds himself a wife and twin teenage children before moving to the suburbs to live out an entirely ordinary life. Of course, it’s not nearly that easy, and the family’s shared obsession with “normality” leads each of them deeper into the darkness. It’s creepy, poignant, and a big departure from typical superhero action.

    My Favorite Thing Is Monsters, by Emil Ferris
    Visually imaginative and emotionally powerful, My Favorite Thing Is Monsters is told in the form of a diary of a 10-year-old growing up in Chicago in the late ‘60s. Through a prism of B-horror movies and pulp magazines of the era, Karen Reyes recounts the murder of her upstairs neighbor, Anka, a survivor of the holocaust. In exploring Anka’s life in Nazi Germany and beyond, Karen draws connections with her own life, despite Anka’s seeming, at first, so incredibly different. The story is gripping, and the unusual art style is a perfect complement.

    This One Summer, by Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki
    Rose Wallace has been spending summers at fictional Awago Beach for as long as she can remember, but the comfortable sameness of the place is slowly giving way to the restlessness of young adulthood. This coming-of-age drama of bickering parents and life-threatening secrets is the first graphic novel to ever have won the coveted Caldecott Medal for children’s books, but it’s really about the transition into young adulthood. Mariko Tamaki’s story is charming and real, while the pencil illustration from her cousin Jillian Tamaki is gorgeous.

    Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood, by Marjane Satrapi
    Persepolis is a funny, poignant, and deeply personal autobiographical tale by graphic novelist Marjane Satrapi. As a child living in Iran during the 1970s and ’80s, Satrapi witnessed firsthand the tumult of the Islamic revolution and the war with Iraq that followed. No dry history lesson, this is the story of a young girl’s day-to-day life under an oppressive, misogynistic regime. It’s sometimes horrific, but ultimately a masterful and deeply felt tale of a woman’s resilience.

    Wytches, by Scott Snyder, Jock, and Matt Hollingsworth
    There are many great horror comics to recommend, but for a creepy standalone, this atmospheric tale of family history that won’t stay buried is in a league of its own. The story finds the Rook family (Sailor and her parents) in a small, isolated town, having moved to escape scrutiny following the suspicious disappearance of Sailor’s bully. Naturally, that’s not the end of it: there are creatures in the woods with a deep interest in the family (non-spoiler-hint: they’re witches). It’s dark, psychological, and disturbing with lurking horror, damaged families, and teenagers called upon to be strong in the face of disbelief and hostility from the grown-ups.

    So you’re a beginner—what’s going to be your first graphic novel?

    The post 12 Graphic Novels for Beginners appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

     
  • Ross Johnson 5:00 pm on 2018/03/01 Permalink
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    The Best Biographies & Memoirs of March 2018 

    The Sun Does Shine: How I Found Life and Freedom on Death Row, by Anthony Ray Hinton, Bryan Stevenson, and Lara Love Hardin
    “I don’t care whether you did it or not. You will be convicted.” That’s what a Birmingham detective told Anthony Ray Hinton after he was arrested for robbery and murder in 1985. Hinton had an alibi, and no evidence linked him to the crime, but testimony suggesting that a gun owned by his mother might have been the same type as was used in the shootings was enough to send the black man to death row. Outside ballistics experts proved conclusively, in 1995, that the bullets weren’t a match for his mother’s gun, but the state refused to reexamine the evidence. Hinton spent almost 30 years were in prison before the state released him in 2015, rather than hold a new trial. The story is tragic and compelling, but also one of hope—of a man who never succumbed to bitterness.

    I’ll Never Change My Name: An Immigrant’s American Dream from Ukraine to the USA to Dancing with the Stars, by Valentin Chmerkovskiy
    Chmerkovskiy grew up in Odessa before his Jewish family immigrated to the United States. Outsiders in their often anti-semitic homeland, Valentin felt like a stranger in the United States, even while honoring the opportunities that America has provided him. His memoir talks about his life, family, and rise to fame as a ballroom dancer on Dancing with the Stars alongside his brother Maks. Additionally, the book includes 16 pages of photographs from on and off the dance floor.

    Gator: My Life in Pinstripes, by Ron Guidry, and Andrew Beaton
    During the so-called “Bronx Zoo” era, the New York Yankees of the late ’70s and ’80s were one of the most celebrated teams in baseball history, and a legendary crew of big personalities. Under manager Billy Martin and owner George Steinbrenner, the team included names like Thurman Munson and Reggie Jackson. Ace pitcher Guidry was there for it all, making and being witness to sports history for over a decade, and shares his (and the team’s) fascinating journey here.

    Jackie’s Girl: My Life with the Kennedy Family, by Kathy McKeon
    The Kennedy family continues to fascinate, perhaps none more than the glamorous, mysterious first lady turned book editor. Even given her later reclusiveness, we still feel as though we’re on a first-name basis with Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. Kathy McKeon grew up on a remote farm in Ireland with neither running water nor electricity, but was hired by the recent widow when McKeon moved to America in 1964. For 13 years, she was Jackie’s personal assistant and sometimes nanny to the children. Now in paperback, McKeon’s memoir provides a behind-the-scenes look at life with one of the most famous Americans of the 20th century, while also telling the story of a young immigrant who grew up under Jackie’s mentorship.

    A Tokyo Romance: A Memoir, by Ian Buruma
    Writer and historian Buruma travelled to Tokyo in 1975, inspired by the rawness of Japanese theatre performances he’d experienced in his native Netherlands. What he found was a city in the middle of an economic and cultural boom, all neon and J-pop, where hints of life before the war survived as scattered fragments amidst a vivid new backdrop. Buruma’s memoir is the story of his time in Tokyo as an outsider in a city in the midst of radical transformation.

    Would You Rather?: A Memoir of Growing Up and Coming Out, by Katie Heaney
    Novelist and memoirist Heaney’s warm and poignant collections of essays about growing up and searching for Mr. Right have been well-received, but her life’s changed since the release of her last: for one thing, she realized at the age of 28 that she’s gay, so Mr. Right became Ms. Right. Here, she chronicles the journey of self-discovery and self-acceptance that led her to where she is now, and shares stories of her coming out to friends, family, and acquaintances, and her new adventures in dating in New York City.

    Unsuccessful Thug: One Comedian’s Journey from Naptown to Tinseltown, by Mike Epps
    Growing up in a rough part of Indianapolis, Mike Epps seemed destined for a life of crime, until he realized he had neither the sensibilities nor the aptitude for the thug life. So it was off to New York, where he made a splash in stand up, and then to Hollywood, where he parlayed a role in the later Friday movies into a solid film career. From growing up black, to Hollywood racism, to capturing stand-up success, Epps discusses his life and career.

    My Days: Happy and Otherwise, by Marion Ross
    With a career spanning more than six decades, Marion Ross has plenty of stories to tell. After growing up in rural Minnesota, she went to Hollywaood where, by the late ’50s, she had already worked with entertainment luminaries like Ginger Rogers, Humphrey Bogart, and Noel Coward. In the ’70s, she became a television star, and for 11 seasons of Happy Days, she was one of America’s favorite moms. In addition to her own life story on- and off-screen, this memoir includes candid interviews with most of the cast of that enduring sit-com.

    It’s Not Yet Dark, by Simon Fitzmaurice
    A doctor gave filmmaker Fitzmaurice four years to live following an ALS diagnosis in 2008. By 2010, he was at death’s door, and given little reason to hope. Nevertheless, he chose to take extraordinary measures to stay alive. In the years since, he’s fathered twins and continued to work as a documentarian. Now in paperback, and released alongside his wife’s own memoir, Fitzmaurice talks candidly about his daily struggles, but also about the family that sustains him in a life that’s radically different from the one he’d planned for.

    I Found My Tribe: A Memoir, by Ruth Fitzmaurice
    The “Tragic Wives’ Swimming Club” is what Ruth Fitzmaurice calls her tribe of friends, who have banded together in the face of life’s challenges, and regularly make a pilgrimage to a lake together to throw themselves into the frigid waters—a symbol of their resiliency and camaraderie in the face of hardship. Ruth is the wife of Simon, a filmmaker with ALS (whose own memoir is out in paperback this month; see above); caring for a husband who can now only communicate with his eyes taught her love and live as hard as she can. Her story is heartbreaking, but ultimately inspiring.

    Whose story inspires you?

    The post The Best Biographies & Memoirs of March 2018 appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

     
  • Ross Johnson 5:00 pm on 2018/02/09 Permalink
    Tags: feats of strength, olympics,   

    12 True Stories of Triumph and Tragedy at the Olympics 

    The Winter Olympics are upon us, this time from Pyeongchang, jewel of South Korea, as big-name and soon-to-be-big-name athletes share the spotlight with the global news. Even as they reflect the realities of our world, the Games also point to our highest aspirations for cooperation and peace amid inspiring competition. As they have in the preceding century, the 2018 Winter Games will doubtless provide stories of disappointment, but also of triumph. Plus some really cool uniforms.

    If you’ve got Olympic fever, here are some great books filled with deeply human stories of the athletes, events, and teams that have shaped and been shaped by the history of the Games.

    Greece, Circa 776 BC

    The Naked Olympics: The True Story of the Ancient Games, by Tony Perrottet, Lesley Thelander, and Lesley Thelander
    Writer Perrottet goes to great lengths, using a variety of ancient sources, to not only describe the original Olympics, but recreate the experience of the wildly influential athletic festival. It’s a lively, raucous, and gritty look at sporting events that share a surprising number of similarities with the modern Games…and some differences as well. (I doubt our modern athletes will be performing in the nude anytime soon.)

    Amsterdam, Summer 1928

    Fire on the Track: Betty Robinson and the Triumph of the Early Olympic Women, by Roseanne Montillo
    At the age of 16, Betty Robinson was the first woman to claim an Olympic gold medal for track, becoming, for a time, the fastest woman in the world. She came back and won another gold medal in 1936, but in the intervening years was involved in a plane crash in which she was first presumed dead, and then was in a coma for seven months. It took her over two years to regain the ability to walk normally. During that time, other women built on her reputation to show the world what women can do.

    Berlin, Summer 1936

    Triumph: The Untold Story of Jesse Owens and Hitler’s Olympics, by Jeremy Schaap
    There are a number of great books about the 1936 Olympics in Berlin, one of the most momentous in modern history. Hitler had been in power for just over three years, and, though there had been calls for boycotts of the Games, the full extent of Nazi barbarity wasn’t widely understood. Track and field athlete Jesse Owens, black American child of sharecroppers, won four  gold medals, putting ideas of Aryan superiority to lie.

    The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics, by Daniel James Brown
    Meanwhile at the 1936 Olympics, a less well known, but also inspiring story was playing out on the water. Centered around orphaned Depression-era farm boy Joe Rantz, the book tells of the University of Washington crew team. Comprised of rowers from farms, towns, and villages all over the state, the team had to compete with wealthier and better-equipped teams from elite east coast schools before battling for Olympic glory.

    London, Summer 1948

    The Three-Year Swim Club: The Untold Story of Maui’s Sugar Ditch Kids and Their Quest for Olympic Glory, by Julie Checkoway
    It’s a remarkable, almost unbelievable story: a group of Japanese-American in Maui, poor and malnourished, were challenged by their science teacher, a man with no swimming ability of his own, to become Olympians. They didn’t even have a pool to swim in. Still, within just a couple of years the kids were breaking records and making international headlines. World War II and the cancellation of the 1940 and 1944 Games meant that their dreams would have to wait, but wasn’t the end of the story for any of them.

    Rome, Summer 1960

    Rome 1960: The Summer Olympics That Stirred the World, by David Maraniss
    The social and political turmoil of the 1960s, argues David Maraniss, was anticipated in the Games that began the decade. The US and the Soviet Union were locked into competing narratives and each fought hard for propaganda victories. Doping was already becoming an issue, and illicit endorsement deals and Soviet subsidies blurred the lines dividing amateur from professional athletes. Perhaps most significantly, black athletes like Cassius Clay, Wilma Rudolph, Abebe Bikila were grabbing the spotlight while the IOC was desperate to avoid any complications over race issues. The Olympics always reflect their times, Rome perhaps even more so.

    Lake Placid, Winter 1980

    The Boys of Winter: The Untold Story of a Coach, a Dream, and the 1980 U.S. Olympic Hockey Team, by Wayne Coffey with Jim Craig
    It’s 1980, 20 years after Rome, and the through line of the Games remains the cold conflict between the United States and the USSR. The Soviets had dominated five of the six previous Games, and the hockey team was heavily favored to win again at Lake Placid. The American team, on the other hand, was comprised of young amateurs. They didn’t have a chance—until they did, making their “Miracle on Ice” one of the most iconic moments in sports of the 20th century.

    Barcelona, Summer 1992

    Dream Team: How Michael, Magic, Larry, Charles, and the Greatest Team of All Time Conquered the World and Changed the Game of Basketball Forever, by Jack McCallum
    Prior to 1992, only amateurs were allowed to play. Soviet skirting of the rules, however, lead to a controversial decision to open up the Olympic basketball team to pros. What came of that decision was the most impressive collection of basketball talent ever assembled. Names like Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Scottie Pippen, and Charles Barkley were brought together to create an unbeatable super-team. McCallum describes not only the athletics, but also goes behind the scenes to talk about what happened when some of the greatest sports talents of all time hang out together.

    Nagano, Winter 1998

    Edge of Glory: The Inside Story of the Quest for Figure Skatings Olympic Gold Medals, by Christine Brennan
    Brennan takes us into the tumultuous year leading up to the Olympics for a US figure skater. Beginning with the national championships in Nashville in 1997, in which Michelle Kwan’s literal fall provided an opportunity for Tara Lipinski to steal the show, Brennan provides perspective on the lives of women and men who dream of Olympic glory, but also on the coaches, agents, judges, and veterans who all have roles to play.

    Sydney, Summer 2000

    Gold in the Water: The True Story of Ordinary Men and Their Extraordinary Dream of Olympic Glory, by P. H. Mullen Jr.
    Focusing on two swimmers, Tom Wilkens and Kurt Grote, and their coach Dick Jochums, Mullen shines a light on the grueling training that leads up to an Olympic contest. A swimmer himself, Mullen provides insight into not only the physical preparation required, but also the emotional and psychological turmoil created by the rigorous regimen and ups and downs of a life lived under that kind of pressure.

    Beijing, Summer 2008

    Running for My Life: One Lost Boy’s Journey from the Killing Fields of Sudan to the Olympic Games, by Lopez Lomong and Mark Tabb
    One of Sudan’s “Lost Boys” orphaned during that country’s second civil war, Lomong came to the US in 2001 and qualified for the Olympic team in 2008, shortly after gaining citizenship. His immigrant story is one of harrowing hardship and hopelessness to inspiring triumph.

    The Games: A Global History of the Olympics, by David Goldblatt
    Finally, having absorbed the detailed, individual stories of triumph and tragedy that have made up the history of the modern Olympics, you might be ready for a broader view. Sportswriter Goldblatt’s book covers the entirety of the modern Games, from 1896 on, telling the stories of the people, places, and sports that have made the summer, winter, and para- Olympics so engaging for well over a century. From Tommie Smith and John Carlos’ Black Power salute in 1968 to the tragedy in Munich, to the Miracle on Ice in Lake Placid, Goldblatt pulls back to look at the continuing story of the Games.

    What’s on your reading list for the 2018 Olympics Games?

    The post 12 True Stories of Triumph and Tragedy at the Olympics appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

     
  • Ross Johnson 3:30 pm on 2018/01/10 Permalink
    Tags: , , , ,   

    16 Books Coming to the Big Screen in 2018 

    People sometimes say that they’ll wait for the movie version. That’s not us—we look forward to the movie precisely because we loved the book so much. On that score, there’s a lot to look forward to in 2018. Here are 16 books coming to the screen this year.

    12 Strong, based on Horse Soldiers, by Doug Stanton (January 19)
    Led by Chris Hemsworth, this film follows Stanton’s non-fiction account of a small band of Special Forces who, vastly outnumbered, captured Mazar-i-Sharif in Afghanistan before finding themselves besieged. Michael Shannon and Michael Peña also star.

    Maze Runner: The Death Cure, based on the novel by James Dashner (January 26)
    The Maze Runner trilogy is set to conclude with this adaption of the final book (if you don’t count the ongoing prequel series). The truth behind WCKD and the tests will be revealed, but not before the Gladers run one more maze in the legendary Last City.

    Fifty Shades Freed, based on the novel by E. L. James (February 9)
    You know the score by now: Christian and Ana’s R-rated naughtiness is going to get complicated. Classed as an erotic psychological romantic thriller, the big finish sees the two happily married until Ana’s old boss begins stalking and threatening her, and Christian’s former dom and lover (played by Kim Basinger) pops back into town.

    The War with Grandpa, based on the novel by Robert Kimmel Smith (February 23)
    The multiple award-winning children’s novel is getting a film adaption with an all-star cast, including Robert DeNiro, Christopher Walken, and Uma Thurman. The novel is the story of Peter and the grandfather he adores—until grandpa comes to live with the family and takes over Peter’s room. From there, it’s war. With DeNiro in good form, it sounds like the movie will be fun.

    Every Day, based on the novel by David Levithan (February 23)
    Levithan’s young adult novel follows Rhiannon, a 16-year-old who develops a relationship with a traveling spirit named A. Every day, A wakes up in a different body and thus lives a variety of human experiences. Rhiannon encounters the traveller when A wakes up in the body of Justin, her troubled boyfriend. If the filmmakers can translate Levithan’s humanistic and empathetic style to the screen, it should do well.

    Annihilation, based on the novel by Jeff VanderMeer (February 23)
    Multi-talented director/novelist/screenwriter Alex Garland is helming the adaption of VanderMeer’s first Southern Reach novel. The series is all about the mystery of Area X, a region of the southern U.S. that’s been cut off for decades by a strange barrier. Each expedition into Area X has produced wildly different results and observations, with the most recent trip leaving only one grievously injured survivor, husband to a biologist played in the movie by Natalie Portman. She volunteers for a new expedition into the zone in order to figure out what exactly happened. There’s been some behind-the-scenes scuffling about the finished film being overly cerebral (and diverging greatly from the source material), but that doesn’t necessarily make for a bad film.

    Red Sparrow, based on the novel by Jason Matthews (March 2)
    Matthews’ novel goes deep into the intertwined worlds of Russian and American espionage to tell the story of Dominika Egorova, an operative trained from an early age in the arts of infiltration and seduction, and whose synesthesia allows her to see the world in unique ways. She might sound a bit like Marvel’s Black Widow, but there are no superheroics in Matthews world. Jennifer Lawrence stars.

    A Wrinkle in Time, based on the novel by Madeleine L’Engle (March 9)
    It’s not the first adaption of L’Engle’s beloved, influential, and controversial 1962 science fantasy novel, but this one should make a much bigger splash than the earlier television production. For starters, multiple-award winner Ava DuVernay is directing an all-star cast, led by Oprah Winfrey. Newcomer Storm Reid stars as Meg Murray, who fights to save her father from captivity on a distant planet.

    Love, Simon, based on Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, by Becky Albertalli (March 16)
    Greg Berlanti, best known these days for his work writing and producing the various DC shows on the CW, is directing the adaption of Albertalli’s coming-of-age story about a closeted high schooler coming to terms with his sexuality. Simon has an online relationship with a boy he knows as “Blue,” but the correspondence is uncovered by one of his classmates who blackmails Simon into setting him up with a girl named Abby.

    Ready Player One, based on the novel by Ernest Cline (March 30)
    Just a few months after the release of historical drama The Post, Steven Spielberg’s much-anticipated adaption of the Cline novel is coming to the big screen.  It’s the story of a dystopian future world in which there’s not much to do but hang out in a virtual space called the OASIS. The creator dies and promises ownership of the realm to anyone who can find his hidden easter egg. Like the book, the movie promises a plethora of 80s pop-culture references.

    Guernsey, based on The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows (April 20)
    Note to the producers: the original novel’s title is better, if tough to squeeze onto a marquee. Shaffer and Barrows popular novel introduces Juliet Ashton, a London writer looking for a new book subject following the Blitz. Unexpected correspondence draws her into the funny, eccentric, charming, and weird world of occupied Guernsey.

    Where’d You Go, Bernadette, based on the novel by Maria Semple (May 11)
    A new Richard Linklater film is always an event for true movie buffs. The Before Midnight/School of Rock/Boyhood director is taking on Semple’s funny, quirky novel about an agoraphobic mom who goes missing. Her daughter Bee, who had been preparing for a family trip to Antarctica, searches through documents and correspondence in order to figure out exactly what happened.

    Crazy Rich Asians, based on the novel by Kevin Kwan (August 17)
    Kwan intended his 2013 novel, based partly on his childhood in Singapore, to provide a contemporary view of Asian culture for Americans. Probably not a bad idea. It’s the story of a marriage between the incredibly rich Colin Khoo and his fashion icon fiancée. The original book has been followed by two sequels thus far, so a successful film could potentially kick off a franchise.

    Boy Erased, based on Boy Erased: A Memoir, by Garrard Conley (September 28)
    Conley’s 2016 memoir, describing his experiences in gay conversion therapy, serves as a testimonial to the dangers of such programs, as well as a nod toward the belief systems that encourage them. Conley was the son of a Baptist minister in a small town who was outed during college and pressured into conversion therapy. It didn’t go well. Lucas Hedges stars, with Russell Crowe and Nicole Kidman as his parents.

    The Girl in the Spider’s Web, based on the novel by David Lagercrantz (October 5)
    Bear with me now: this is the fifth film adaption of Stieg Larsson’s Millennium series, about world-class hacker Lisbeth Salander and investigative journalist Mikael Blomkvist. It’s based on the fourth book in the series, the first not to have been written by Larsson, but it’s also reboot of the David Fincher’s series of American adaptations, which only ever got around to adapting the first book. In short, it’s a whole new start, so don’t worry about it! The Crown’s Claire Foy takes over as Lisbeth, with Don’t Breathe director Fede Alvarez directing.

    First Man, based on First Man: The Life of Neil A. Armstrong, by James R. Hansen (October 12)
    Hansen’s 2005 biography focuses largely on Armstrong’s life before and after the moon landing, charting his upbringing and involvement in the space program, as well as life as one of the most famous people in the world. Ryan Gosling and Claire Foy star.

    What’s on your book-to-movie calendar for 2018?

    The post 16 Books Coming to the Big Screen in 2018 appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

     
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