An arts book recommendation: Dolce Vita Confidential: Fellini, Loren, Pucci, Paparazzi, and the Swinging High Life of 1950s Rome by Shawn Levy

A critic review (source Guardian) can be read at: http://bit.ly/2iIK8RU.
Levy captures much of the excitement of that time and place in a prose style that is teeming with satisfying gossipy details…
Book description from Google Books:
From the ashes of World War II, Rome was reborn as the epicenter of film, fashion, creative energy, tabloid media, and bold-faced libertinism that made “Italian” a global synonym for taste, style, and flair. A confluence of cultural contributions created a bright, burning moment in history: it was the heyday of fashion icons such as Pucci, whose use of color, line, and superb craftsmanship set the standard for women’s clothing for decades, and Brioni, whose confident and classy creations for men inspired the contemporary American suit. Rome’s huge movie studio, Cinecitta, also known as “Hollywood-on-the Tiber,” attracted a dizzying array of stars from Charleton Heston, Gregory Peck, Audrey Hepburn, Ava Gardner, and Frank Sinatra to that stunning and combustible couple, Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, who began their extramarital affair during the making of Cleopatra. And behind these stars trailed street photographers–Tazio Secchiarioli, Pierluigi Praturlon, and Marcello Gepetti–who searched, waited, and pounced on their subjects in pursuit of the most unflattering and dramatic portraits of fame.Fashionistas, exiles, moguls, and martyrs flocked to Rome hoping for a chance to experience and indulge in the glow of old money, new stars, fast cars, wanton libidos, and brazen news photographers. The scene was captured nowhere better than in Federico Fellini’s masterpiece, La Dolce Vita, starring Marcello Mastroianni and the Swedish bombshell Anita Ekberg. It was condemned for its licentiousness, when in fact Fellini was condemning the very excess, narcissism, and debauchery of Rome’s bohemian scene.Gossipy, colorful, and richly informed, Dolce Vita Confidential re-creates Rome’s stunning ascent with vivid and compelling tales of its glitterati and artists, down to every last outrageous detail of the city’s magnificent transformation.
The book is rated 3.89/5 at goodreads.com, from 62 ratings. See 17 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2zwtLQf.
Buy it or see reader reviews on amazon.com at: http://amzn.to/2zyNsHs.

An arts book recommendation: Real Friends by Shannon Hale

A critic review (source NY Times) can be read at: http://nyti.ms/2iGpm5h.
These detailed memories of elementary school will ring hilariously true to adult readers who grew up with lace Madonna gloves, Michael Jackson, phones with cords, and dreams of being either Wonder Woman or a Dallas Cowboys cheerleader.
Book description from Google Books:
“Fresh and funny.” —New York Times Book ReviewNewbery Honor author Shannon Hale and New York Times bestselling illustrator LeUyen Pham join forces in this graphic memoir about how hard it is to find your real friends—and why it’s worth the journey.When best friends are not forever . . . Shannon and Adrienne have been best friends ever since they were little. But one day, Adrienne starts hanging out with Jen, the most popular girl in class and the leader of a circle of friends called The Group. Everyone in The Group wants to be Jen’s #1, and some girls would do anything to stay on top . . . even if it means bullying others.Now every day is like a roller coaster for Shannon. Will she and Adrienne stay friends? Can she stand up for herself? And is she in The Group—or out?Parents Magazine Best Graphic Novel of 2017
The book is rated 4.10/5 at goodreads.com, from 4933 ratings. See 913 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2hebY8j.
Buy it or see reader reviews on amazon.com at: http://amzn.to/2hcYd9K.

An arts book recommendation: American Noir: The Pocket Essential Guide to US Crime Fiction, Film & TV (Pocket Essential series) by Barry Forshaw

A critic review (source Guardian) can be read at: http://bit.ly/2ixktvs.
Some entries are no more than a paragraph, too short to say much. But Forshaw is immensely knowledgeable about the field and is always worth reading. A hugely entertaining guide that demonstrates the breadth and vitality of the genre in the US.
Book description from Google Books:
The word “Noir” is used here in its loosest sense: every major living American writer is considered (including the giants Harlan Coben, Patricia Cornwell, James Lee Burke, James Ellroy and Sara Paretsky, as well as non-crime writers such as Stephen King who stray into the genre), often through a concentration on one or two key books. Many exciting new talents are highlighted, and Barry Forshaw’s knowledge of–and personal acquaintance with–many of the writers grants valuable insights into this massively popular field. But the crime genre is as much about films and TV as it is about books, and this book is a celebration of the former as well as the latter. American television crime drama in particular is enjoying a new golden age, and all of the important current series are covered here, as well as key important recent films.
The book is rated 4.50/5 at goodreads.com, from 2 ratings.
Buy it or see reader reviews on amazon.com at: http://amzn.to/2h7eqNK.

An arts book recommendation: This Is Just My Face: Try Not to Stare by Gabourey Sidibe

A critic review (source NY Journal of Books) can be read at: http://bit.ly/2ixpunU.
As a writer her informal, chatty style engenders a kinship with both her struggles and triumphs. She speaks directly to the reader and welcomes them in to her private thoughts and dreams.
Book description from Google Books:
The Oscar-nominated Precious star and Empire actress delivers a much-awaited memoir–wise, complex, smart, funny–a version of the American experience different from anything we’ve read Gabourey Sidibe–“Gabby” to her legion of fans–skyrocketed to international fame in 2009 when she played the leading role in Lee Daniels’s acclaimed movie Precious. In This Is Just My Face, she shares a one-of-a-kind life story in a voice as fresh and challenging as many of the unique characters she’s played onscreen. With full-throttle honesty, Sidibe paints her Bed-Stuy/Harlem family life with a polygamous father and a gifted mother who supports her two children by singing in the subway. Sidibe tells the engrossing, inspiring story of her first job as a phone sex “talker.” And she shares her unconventional (of course!) rise to fame as a movie star, alongside “a superstar cast of rich people who lived in mansions and had their own private islands and amazing careers while I lived in my mom’s apartment.”    Sidibe’s memoir hits hard with self-knowing dispatches on friendship, depression, celebrity, haters, fashion, race, and weight (“If I could just get the world to see me the way I see myself,” she writes, “would my body still be a thing you walked away thinking about?”). Irreverent, hilarious, and untraditional, This Is Just My Face will resonate with anyone who has ever felt different, and with anyone who has ever felt inspired to make a dream come true. 
The book is rated 4.02/5 at goodreads.com, from 2480 ratings. See 441 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2izvnAC.
Buy it or see reader reviews on amazon.com at: http://amzn.to/2h77znH.

An arts book recommendation: The Mayor of Casterbridge (Penguin Classics) by Thomas Hardy

A critic review (source Guardian) can be read at: http://bit.ly/2ivRvMi.
Hardy’s reworking of Oedipus Rex, set in the author’s native Wessex in the 1840s. Michael Henchard, a drunken journeyman labourer…The novel is Hardy’s most powerful study of will and character and the irresistibility of fate.
Book description from Google Books:
A haunting study of guilt and lost love in Penguin Classics, Thomas Hardy’s The Mayor of Casterbridge is edited with an introduction and notes by Keith Wilson. In a fit of drunken anger, Michael Henchard sells his wife and baby daughter for five guineas at a country fair. Over the course of the following years, he manages to establish himself as a respected and prosperous pillar of the community of Casterbridge, but behind his success there always lurk the shameful secret of his past and a personality prone to self-destructive pride and temper. Subtitled ‘A Story of a Man of Character’, Hardy’s powerful and sympathetic study of the heroic but deeply flawed Henchard is also an intensely dramatic work, tragically played out against the vivid backdrop of a close-knit Dorsetshire town. This edition includes an introduction, chronology of Hardy’s life and works, the illustrations for the original serial issue, place names, maps, glossary, full explanatory notes as well as Hardy’s prefaces to the 1895 and 1912 editions. Thomas Hardy (1840-1928), born Higher Brockhampton, near Dorchester, originally trained as an architect before earning his living as a writer. Though he saw himself primarily as a poet, Hardy was the author of some of the late eighteenth century’s major novels: The Mayor of Casterbridge (1886), Tess of the D’Urbervilles (1891), Far from the Madding Crowd (1874), and Jude the Obscure (1895). Amidst the controversy caused by Jude the Obscure, he turned to the poetry he had been writing all his life. In the next thirty years he published over nine hundred poems and his epic drama in verse, The Dynasts. If you enjoyed The Mayor of Casterbridge, you might like George Eliot’s Silas Marner, also available in Penguin Classics. ‘The greatest tragic writer among the English novelists’ Virginia Woolf ‘Visceral, passionate, anti-hypocrisy, anti-repression … Hardy reaches into our wildest recesses’ Evening Standard
The book is rated 3.80/5 at goodreads.com, from 45091 ratings. See 1700 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2h7KsZT.
Buy it or see reader reviews on amazon.com at: http://amzn.to/2h5h9r1.

An arts book recommendation: Pantheon: The True Story of the Egyptian Deities by Hamish Steele

A critic review (source Guardian) can be read at: http://bit.ly/2h6PHJl.
Steele’s gods sometimes look like Simpsons characters, but he also captures real grandeur, as a boat packed with animal-headed gods sweeps through the cosmos. This take on ancient Egypt is educational as well as hilarious.
Book description from Google Books:
The most important myth in Ancient Egypt is faithfully retold in glorious color! Horus, son of Isis, vows bloody revenge on his Uncle Set for the murder and usurpation of his Pharaoh father. Based on elements from various versions of the famous Osiris myth, Hamish Steele has resurrected this fantastic story in all its symbolic and humorous glory. Pantheon contains: incest, decapitation, suspicious salad, fighting hippos, flying cows, a boat race, resurrections, lots of scorpions and a golden willy. Hamish Steele is a freelance animation director and illustrator from London. He graduated from Kingston University with First Class Honors in 2013 and since then has worked for the BBC, Frederator Studios, Blink!Ink, BOOM! Studios, Random House and Nickelodeon and Big Finish.Pantheon is his first graphic novel.
The book is rated 4.30/5 at goodreads.com, from 186 ratings. See 61 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2h78rsj.
Buy it or see reader reviews on amazon.com at: http://amzn.to/2ixfE5r.

An arts book recommendation: American Noir: The Pocket Essential Guide to US Crime Fiction, Film & TV (Pocket Essential series) by Barry Forshaw

A critic review (source Guardian) can be read at: http://bit.ly/2ixktvs.
Some entries are no more than a paragraph, too short to say much. But Forshaw is immensely knowledgeable about the field and is always worth reading. A hugely entertaining guide that demonstrates the breadth and vitality of the genre in the US.
Book description from Google Books:
The word “Noir” is used here in its loosest sense: every major living American writer is considered (including the giants Harlan Coben, Patricia Cornwell, James Lee Burke, James Ellroy and Sara Paretsky, as well as non-crime writers such as Stephen King who stray into the genre), often through a concentration on one or two key books. Many exciting new talents are highlighted, and Barry Forshaw’s knowledge of–and personal acquaintance with–many of the writers grants valuable insights into this massively popular field. But the crime genre is as much about films and TV as it is about books, and this book is a celebration of the former as well as the latter. American television crime drama in particular is enjoying a new golden age, and all of the important current series are covered here, as well as key important recent films.
The book is rated 4.50/5 at goodreads.com, from 2 ratings.
Buy it or see reader reviews on amazon.com at: http://amzn.to/2h7eqNK.

An arts book recommendation: The Good Bohemian: The Letters of Ida John by Michael Holroyd

A critic review (source Guardian) can be read at: http://bit.ly/2yE4rcB.
She may have forfeited her chance to paint, but her letters, salvaged by her granddaughter Rebecca, after a century during which the renegade Ida was not mentioned in the family, make belated amends. Between baby-minding chores, she proved to be a witty, wickedly outspoken writer…
Book description from Google Books:
When Ida Nettleship married Augustus John in 1901 it was against the wishes of her parents. But Ida was in love with this flamboyant and charismatic man who would become one of the most famous artists of his time. A naturally gifted writer, it is with a candour and social intelligence extraordinary for a woman of her period that Ida opens up her world, revealing her anguish when Augustus falls in love with another woman and her courage in deciding to live in a ménage á trois.
The book is rated 4.67/5 at goodreads.com, from 3 ratings.
Buy it or see reader reviews on amazon.com at: .

An arts book recommendation: Letterman: The Last Giant of Late Night by Jason Zinoman

A critic review (source NY Times) can be read at: http://nyti.ms/2yrQZYU.
…a book that does impressive triple duty as an acute portrait of stardom, an insightful chronicle of three rambunctious decades of pop-culture evolution, and a very brainy fan’s notes.
Book description from Google Books:
New York Times comedy critic Jason Zinoman delivers the definitive story of the life and artistic legacy of David Letterman, the greatest television talk show host of all time and the signature comedic voice of a generation.In a career spanning more than thirty years, David Letterman redefined the modern talk show with an ironic comic style that transcended traditional television. While he remains one of the most famous stars in America, he is a remote, even reclusive, figure whose career is widely misunderstood. In Letterman, Jason Zinoman, the first comedy critic in the history of the New York Times, mixes groundbreaking reporting with unprecedented access and probing critical analysis to explain the unique entertainer’s titanic legacy. Moving from his early days in Indiana to his retirement, Zinoman goes behind the scenes of Letterman’s television career to illuminate the origins of his revolutionary comedy, its overlooked influences, and how his work intersects with and reveals his famously eccentric personality. Zinoman argues that Letterman had three great artistic periods, each distinct and part of his evolution. As he examines key broadcasting moments—”Stupid Pet Tricks” and other captivating segments that defined Late Night with David Letterman—he illuminates Letterman’s relationship to his writers, and in particular, the show’s co-creator, Merrill Markoe, with whom Letterman shared a long professional and personal connection.To understand popular culture today, it’s necessary to understand David Letterman. With this revealing biography, Zinoman offers a perceptive analysis of the man and the artist whose ironic voice and caustic meta-humor was critical to an entire generation of comedians and viewers—and whose singular style ushered in new tropes that have become clichés in comedy today.
The book is rated 3.71/5 at goodreads.com, from 1103 ratings. See 172 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2xJujzS.
Buy it or see reader reviews on amazon.com at: http://amzn.to/2yvQLQJ.
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An arts book recommendation: The Good Bohemian: The Letters of Ida John by Michael Holroyd

A critic review (source Guardian) can be read at: http://bit.ly/2yE4rcB.
She may have forfeited her chance to paint, but her letters, salvaged by her granddaughter Rebecca, after a century during which the renegade Ida was not mentioned in the family, make belated amends. Between baby-minding chores, she proved to be a witty, wickedly outspoken writer…
Book description from Google Books:
When Ida Nettleship married Augustus John in 1901 it was against the wishes of her parents. But Ida was in love with this flamboyant and charismatic man who would become one of the most famous artists of his time. A naturally gifted writer, it is with a candour and social intelligence extraordinary for a woman of her period that Ida opens up her world, revealing her anguish when Augustus falls in love with another woman and her courage in deciding to live in a ménage á trois.
The book is rated 4.67/5 at goodreads.com, from 3 ratings.
Buy it or see reader reviews on amazon.com at: .