An arts book recommendation: A Woman Looking at Men Looking at Women by Siri Hustvedt

A critic review (source National Post arts) can be read at: http://bit.ly/2DpaeTZ.
A Woman Looking at Men Looking at Women is an important book. Sometimes that’s a nice way of saying it is also a slog. Here and there that has some truth, but standout chapters parsed manageably and written in clean, charming prose make the book rewarding in its whole.
Book description from Google Books:
A compelling, radical, “richly explored” (The New York Times Book Review), and “insightful” (Vanity Fair) collection of essays on art, feminism, neuroscience, psychology, and philosophy from prize-winning novelist Siri Hustvedt, the acclaimed author of The Blazing World and What I Loved.In a trilogy of works brought together in a single volume, Siri Hustvedt demonstrates the striking range and depth of her knowledge in both the humanities and the sciences. Armed with passionate curiosity, a sense of humor, and insights from many disciplines she repeatedly upends received ideas and cultural truisms. “A Woman Looking at Men Looking at Women” (which provided the title of this book) examines particular artworks but also human perception itself, including the biases that influence how we judge art, literature, and the world. Picasso, de Kooning, Louise Bourgeois, Anselm Kiefer, Susan Sontag, Robert Mapplethorpe, and Karl Ove Knausgaard all come under Hustvedt’s intense scrutiny. “The Delusions of Certainty” exposes how the age-old, unresolved mind-body problem has shaped and often distorted and confused contemporary thought in neuroscience, psychiatry, genetics, artificial intelligence, and evolutionary psychology. “What Are We? Lectures on the Human Condition” includes a powerful reading of Kierkegaard, a trenchant analysis of suicide, and penetrating reflections on the mysteries of hysteria, synesthesia, memory and space, and the philosophical dilemmas of fiction. A Woman Looking at Men Looking at Women is an “erudite” (Booklist), “wide-ranging, irreverent, and absorbing meditation on thinking, knowing, and being” (Kirkus Reviews, starred review).
The book is rated 3.76/5 at goodreads.com, from 347 ratings. See 67 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2CVIV2A.
Buy it or see reader reviews on amazon.com at: http://amzn.to/2CUMFBf.
Google Books preview available in full post.

An arts book recommendation: Gainsborough: A Portrait by James Hamilton

A critic review (source Guardian) can be read at: http://bit.ly/2CCQpbt.
Hamilton has too much integrity to upend this argument simply to make a splash. But what he does suggest in this astute yet generous book is that there is a third element to the painter’s life that explains why he continued with a branch of art that he maintained bored him.
Book description from Google Books:
** BBC Radio 4 Book of the Week ** ‘Compulsively readable – the pages seem to turn themselves’ John Carey, Sunday Times ‘Brings one of the very greatest [artists] vividly to life’ Literary Review Thomas Gainsborough lived as if electricity shot through his sinews and crackled at his finger ends. He was a gentle and empathetic family man, but had a volatility that could lead him to slash his paintings, and a loose libidinous way of speaking, writing and behaving that shocked many deeply. He would be dynamite in polite society today.In this exhilarating new biography – the first in decades – James Hamilton reveals Gainsborough in his many contexts: the easy-going Suffolk lad, transported to the heights of fashion by a natural talent; the rake-on-the-make in London, learning his art in the shadow of Hogarth; falling on his feet when he married a duke’s daughter with a handsome private income; the top society-portrait painter in Bath and London who earned huge sums by bringing the right people into his studio; the charming and amusing friend of George III and Queen Charlotte who nevertheless kept clear of the aristocratic embrace.There has been much art history written about this chameleon of art, but with fresh insights into original sources, Gainsborough: A Portrait transforms our understanding of this fascinating man, and enlightens the century that bore him.
The book is rated 3.50/5 at goodreads.com, from 8 ratings. See 1 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2CdckVL.
Buy it or see reader reviews on amazon.com at: http://amzn.to/2CCQzzB.

An arts book recommendation: High Noon: The Hollywood Blacklist and the Making of an American Classic by Glenn Frankel

A critic review (source Washington Times) can be read at: http://bit.ly/2CsFtwd.
Some books are interesting but not entertaining, while other books are just the opposite. But every once in a while a book comes along that it is both entertaining and interesting. Glenn Frankel’s “High Noon” is such a book.
Book description from Google Books:
From the New York Times-bestselling author of The Searchers, the revelatory story behind the classic movie High Noon and the toxic political climate in which it was created. It’s one of the most revered movies of Hollywood’s golden era. Starring screen legend Gary Cooper and Grace Kelly in her first significant film role, High Noon was shot on a lean budget over just thirty-two days but achieved instant box-office and critical success. It won four Academy Awards in 1953, including a best actor win for Cooper. And it became a cultural touchstone, often cited by politicians as a favorite film, celebrating moral fortitude.Yet what has been often overlooked is that High Noon was made during the height of the Hollywood blacklist, a time of political inquisition and personal betrayal. In the middle of the film shoot, screenwriter Carl Foreman was forced to testify before the House Committee on Un-American Activities about his former membership in the Communist Party. Refusing to name names, he was eventually blacklisted and fled the United States. (His co-authored screenplay for another classic, The Bridge on the River Kwai, went uncredited in 1957.) Examined in light of Foreman’s testimony, High Noon’s emphasis on courage and loyalty takes on deeper meaning and importance.In this book, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Glenn Frankel tells the story of the making of a great American Western, exploring how Carl Foreman’s concept of High Noon evolved from idea to first draft to final script, taking on allegorical weight. Both the classic film and its turbulent political times emerge newly illuminated.
The book is rated 4.14/5 at goodreads.com, from 365 ratings. See 80 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2CXNiuU.
Buy it or see reader reviews on amazon.com at: http://amzn.to/2CsFu3f.

An arts book recommendation: High Noon: The Hollywood Blacklist and the Making of an American Classic by Glenn Frankel

A critic review (source Washington Times) can be read at: http://bit.ly/2CsFtwd.
Some books are interesting but not entertaining, while other books are just the opposite. But every once in a while a book comes along that it is both entertaining and interesting. Glenn Frankel’s “High Noon” is such a book.
Book description from Google Books:
From the New York Times-bestselling author of The Searchers, the revelatory story behind the classic movie High Noon and the toxic political climate in which it was created. It’s one of the most revered movies of Hollywood’s golden era. Starring screen legend Gary Cooper and Grace Kelly in her first significant film role, High Noon was shot on a lean budget over just thirty-two days but achieved instant box-office and critical success. It won four Academy Awards in 1953, including a best actor win for Cooper. And it became a cultural touchstone, often cited by politicians as a favorite film, celebrating moral fortitude.Yet what has been often overlooked is that High Noon was made during the height of the Hollywood blacklist, a time of political inquisition and personal betrayal. In the middle of the film shoot, screenwriter Carl Foreman was forced to testify before the House Committee on Un-American Activities about his former membership in the Communist Party. Refusing to name names, he was eventually blacklisted and fled the United States. (His co-authored screenplay for another classic, The Bridge on the River Kwai, went uncredited in 1957.) Examined in light of Foreman’s testimony, High Noon’s emphasis on courage and loyalty takes on deeper meaning and importance.In this book, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Glenn Frankel tells the story of the making of a great American Western, exploring how Carl Foreman’s concept of High Noon evolved from idea to first draft to final script, taking on allegorical weight. Both the classic film and its turbulent political times emerge newly illuminated.
The book is rated 4.14/5 at goodreads.com, from 365 ratings. See 80 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2CXNiuU.
Buy it or see reader reviews on amazon.com at: http://amzn.to/2CsFu3f.

An arts book recommendation: So Much Things to Say: The Oral History of Bob Marley by Roger Steffens

A critic review (source NY Times) can be read at: http://nyti.ms/2CHBJHP.
The book digresses at times into trivia for the superfans — we learn that Marley’s favorite meal was Irish moss, a form of seaweed — but there’s a lot that’s illuminating.
Book description from Google Books:
Roger Steffens is one of the world’s leading Bob Marley experts. He toured with the Wailers in the 1970s and was closely acquainted with Bunny Wailer, Peter Tosh and the rest of the band members. Over several decades he has interviewed more than seventy-five friends, business managers, relatives and confidants–many speaking publicly for the first time. Forty years in the making, So Much Things to Say weaves this rich testimony into a definitive telling of the life of the reggae king–the full, inside account of how a boy from the slums of Kingston, Jamaica, became a cultural icon and inspiration to millions around the world.The intimacy of the voices and the frankness of their revelations will astonish even longtime Marley fans. Readers see the intense bonds of teenage friendship among Peter, Bunny and Bob, the vibrant early sessions with the original Wailers (as witnessed by members Junior Braithwaite, Beverley Kelso and Cherry Green) and the tumultuous relationships with Rita Marley and Cindy Breakspeare.With unprecedented candor, these interviews tell dramatic, little-known stories, from the writing of some of Marley’s most beloved songs to the Wailers’ violent confrontation involving producer Lee “Scratch” Perry, Bob’s intensive musical training with star singer Johnny Nash and the harrowing assassination attempt at 56 Hope Road in Kingston, which led to Marley’s defiant performance two nights later with a bullet lodged in his arm.Readers witness Marley’s rise to international fame in London, his triumphant visit to Zimbabwe to sing for freedom fighters inspired by his anthems and the devastating moment of his collapse while jogging in New York’s Central Park. Steffens masterfully conducts the story of Marley’s last months, as Marley poignantly sings “Another One Bites the Dust” during the sound check before his final concert in Pittsburgh, followed by his tragic death at the age of thirty-six.So Much Things to Say explores major controversies, examining who actually ordered the shooting attack on Hope Road, scrutinizing claims of CIA involvement and investigating why Marley’s fatal cancer wasn’t diagnosed sooner. Featuring Steffens’s own candid photographs of Marley and his circle, this magisterial work preserves an invaluable, transformative slice of music history: the life of the legendary performer who brought reggae to the international stage.
The book is rated 3.94/5 at goodreads.com, from 70 ratings. See 15 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2CHC5y9.
Buy it or see reader reviews on amazon.com at: http://amzn.to/2CHt4p4.

An arts book recommendation: Gainsborough: A Portrait by James Hamilton

A critic review (source Guardian) can be read at: http://bit.ly/2CCQpbt.
Hamilton has too much integrity to upend this argument simply to make a splash. But what he does suggest in this astute yet generous book is that there is a third element to the painter’s life that explains why he continued with a branch of art that he maintained bored him.
Book description from Google Books:
** BBC Radio 4 Book of the Week ** ‘Compulsively readable – the pages seem to turn themselves’ John Carey, Sunday Times ‘Brings one of the very greatest [artists] vividly to life’ Literary Review Thomas Gainsborough lived as if electricity shot through his sinews and crackled at his finger ends. He was a gentle and empathetic family man, but had a volatility that could lead him to slash his paintings, and a loose libidinous way of speaking, writing and behaving that shocked many deeply. He would be dynamite in polite society today.In this exhilarating new biography – the first in decades – James Hamilton reveals Gainsborough in his many contexts: the easy-going Suffolk lad, transported to the heights of fashion by a natural talent; the rake-on-the-make in London, learning his art in the shadow of Hogarth; falling on his feet when he married a duke’s daughter with a handsome private income; the top society-portrait painter in Bath and London who earned huge sums by bringing the right people into his studio; the charming and amusing friend of George III and Queen Charlotte who nevertheless kept clear of the aristocratic embrace.There has been much art history written about this chameleon of art, but with fresh insights into original sources, Gainsborough: A Portrait transforms our understanding of this fascinating man, and enlightens the century that bore him.
The book is rated 3.50/5 at goodreads.com, from 8 ratings. See 1 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2CdckVL.
Buy it or see reader reviews on amazon.com at: http://amzn.to/2CCQzzB.

An arts book recommendation: Illuminating Women in the Medieval World by Christine Sciacca

A critic review (source Dear Author) can be read at: http://bit.ly/2C4MsvG.
This is a beautiful book packed with gorgeously reproduced images that shows a bit more about how women truly lived, worked and were viewed in their own time. Men might have dominated most aspects of life but here are women, taking their place in society and proving their worth and importance.
Book description from Google Books:
When one thinks of women in the Middle Ages, the images that often come to mind are those of damsels in distress, mystics in convents, female laborers in the field, and even women of ill repute. In reality, however, medieval conceptions of womanhood were multifaceted, and women’s roles were varied and nuanced. Female stereotypes existed in the medieval world, but so too did women of power and influence. The pages of illuminated manuscripts reveal to us the many facets of medieval womanhood and slices of medieval life—from preoccupations with biblical heroines and saints to courtship, childbirth, and motherhood. While men dominated artistic production, this volume demonstrates the ways in which female artists, authors, and patrons were instrumental in the creation of illuminated manuscripts.Featuring over one hundred illuminations depicting medieval women from England to Ethiopia, this book provides a lively and accessible introduction to the lives of women in the medieval world.
The book is rated 4.04/5 at goodreads.com, from 54 ratings. See 43 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2DdMu3H.
Buy it or see reader reviews on amazon.com at: http://amzn.to/2DeiwwK.
Google Books preview available in full post.

An arts book recommendation: Meet Me in the Bathroom: Rebirth and Rock and Roll in New York City 2001-2011 by Lizzy Goodman

A critic review (source Guardian) can be read at: http://bit.ly/2ClEj6p.
MMITB emerges as a book primarily built on passion, love and homage – a drawled rock’n’roll sonnet to the music, the bands, the city, the scene, the triumphs, the screw-ups, and, of course, “the moment”.
Book description from Google Books:
Joining the ranks of the classics Please Kill Me, Our Band Could Be Your Life, and Can’t Stop Won’t Stop, an intriguing oral history of the post-9/11 decline of the old-guard music industry and rebirth of the New York rock scene, led by a group of iconoclastic rock bands.In the second half of the twentieth-century New York was the source of new sounds, including the Greenwich Village folk scene, punk and new wave, and hip-hop. But as the end of the millennium neared, cutting-edge bands began emerging from Seattle, Austin, and London, pushing New York further from the epicenter. The behemoth music industry, too, found itself in free fall, under siege from technology. Then 9/11/2001 plunged the country into a state of uncertainty and war—and a dozen New York City bands that had been honing their sound and style in relative obscurity suddenly became symbols of glamour for a young, web-savvy, forward-looking generation in need of an anthem.Meet Me in the Bathroom charts the transformation of the New York music scene in the first decade of the 2000s, the bands behind it—including The Strokes, The Yeah Yeah Yeahs, LCD Soundsystem, Interpol, and Vampire Weekend—and the cultural forces that shaped it, from the Internet to a booming real estate market that forced artists out of the Lower East Side to Williamsburg. Drawing on 200 original interviews with James Murphy, Julian Casablancas, Karen O, Ezra Koenig, and many others musicians, artists, journalists, bloggers, photographers, managers, music executives, groupies, models, movie stars, and DJs who lived through this explosive time, journalist Lizzy Goodman offers a fascinating portrait of a time and a place that gave birth to a new era in modern rock-and-roll.
The book is rated 4.19/5 at goodreads.com, from 1494 ratings. See 202 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2Cjn4m2.
Buy it or see reader reviews on amazon.com at: http://amzn.to/2CmEpe4.

An arts book recommendation: Meet Me in the Bathroom: Rebirth and Rock and Roll in New York City 2001-2011 by Lizzy Goodman

A critic review (source Guardian) can be read at: http://bit.ly/2ClEj6p.
MMITB emerges as a book primarily built on passion, love and homage – a drawled rock’n’roll sonnet to the music, the bands, the city, the scene, the triumphs, the screw-ups, and, of course, “the moment”.
Book description from Google Books:
Joining the ranks of the classics Please Kill Me, Our Band Could Be Your Life, and Can’t Stop Won’t Stop, an intriguing oral history of the post-9/11 decline of the old-guard music industry and rebirth of the New York rock scene, led by a group of iconoclastic rock bands.In the second half of the twentieth-century New York was the source of new sounds, including the Greenwich Village folk scene, punk and new wave, and hip-hop. But as the end of the millennium neared, cutting-edge bands began emerging from Seattle, Austin, and London, pushing New York further from the epicenter. The behemoth music industry, too, found itself in free fall, under siege from technology. Then 9/11/2001 plunged the country into a state of uncertainty and war—and a dozen New York City bands that had been honing their sound and style in relative obscurity suddenly became symbols of glamour for a young, web-savvy, forward-looking generation in need of an anthem.Meet Me in the Bathroom charts the transformation of the New York music scene in the first decade of the 2000s, the bands behind it—including The Strokes, The Yeah Yeah Yeahs, LCD Soundsystem, Interpol, and Vampire Weekend—and the cultural forces that shaped it, from the Internet to a booming real estate market that forced artists out of the Lower East Side to Williamsburg. Drawing on 200 original interviews with James Murphy, Julian Casablancas, Karen O, Ezra Koenig, and many others musicians, artists, journalists, bloggers, photographers, managers, music executives, groupies, models, movie stars, and DJs who lived through this explosive time, journalist Lizzy Goodman offers a fascinating portrait of a time and a place that gave birth to a new era in modern rock-and-roll.
The book is rated 4.19/5 at goodreads.com, from 1493 ratings. See 202 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2Cjn4m2.
Buy it or see reader reviews on amazon.com at: http://amzn.to/2CmEpe4.

An arts book recommendation: American Interests in the Holy Land Revealed in Early Photographs by Lenny Ben-David

A critic review (source Washington Times) can be read at: http://bit.ly/2C71HUQ.
Lenny Ben-David, the author who has assembled this remarkable photographic collection is superbly qualified for the task.
Book description from Google Books:
Although Jewish life in the Holy Land reawakened during the 19th century, photographs of Jews in Palestine and the life they lived there are scarce. Collecting photographs from the archives of the the Library of Congress, the Ottoman Imperial Archives, the New York Public Library, libraries in universities and churches around the world, and in families’ albums, Lenny Ben-David provides a unique and visual history of the American fascination and dedication to a Jewish national home in the Holy Land. Photo essays include fascinating stories such as why Lincoln wanted to visit Jerusalem, how the U.S. Navy saved the Jews of Palestine in 1915, why the Chief Rabbi of Palestine visited the White House in 1924, why there was a Ferris wheel on the Holy Mount Zion, where did Mark Twain stay in Jerusalem, and much more.
The book is rated 4.00/5 at goodreads.com, from 3 ratings. See 1 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2DeqPZ8.
Buy it or see reader reviews on amazon.com at: http://amzn.to/2DebIiK.