LJ Best Books 2016

A jury of our peers discussed, debated, disagreed, and finally declared LJ’s annual Top Ten Best Books of the year, selected by our editors, as well as Top Five lists for genre fiction, nonfiction, poetry, graphic novels, and SELF-e titles. VISIT THE WEBSITE

Frank Gehry, Poet Limón, the Lanterne Rouge, & More | Arts & Humanities Reviews, June 1, 2015

redstarFrank Gehry. Prestel. 2015. 256p. ed. by Aurélien Lemonier & Frédéric Migayrou. illus. bibliog. ISBN 9783791354422. $65. ARCH

frankgehry6915Published in conjunction with the exhibition Frank Gehry, held last year at the ­Pompidou Center in Paris, and ahead of the show later this year at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, this handsomely produced catalog, edited by Migayrou (head, architecture dept. Ctr. Pompidou) and Lemonier (curator, Ctr. Pompidou), presents the comprehensive and ambitious range of the visionary architect’s evolution. By pioneering aeronautical computer-­assisted design, Gehry’s firm was able to construct his masterful Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain, which had a transformative effect on the city’s economy and inspired other metropolises to appreciate the avant-garde architecture’s ability to attract tourism. This book recognizes Gehry’s important role in contemporary architecture, as it chronologically and thematically traces his career from his earliest projects to residential homes that were never built. Major designs are illustrated with drawings and photographs as well as brief, albeit insightful narratives. VERDICT Lavishly illustrated, with a comprehensive bibliography and scholarly essays by the editors as well as a fascinating interview with Gehry (b. 1929), in which he discusses the origins and inspirations for his work, this is an essential addition to any architecture collection. Students and admirers of Gehry will want to add this to their own collections as well.—Herbert E. Shapiro, Lifelong Learning Soc., Florida Atlantic Univ., Boca Raton

redstarLeonard, Max. Lanterne Rouge: The Last Man in the Tour de France. Pegasus. Jun. 2015. 288p. illus. index. ISBN 9781605987866. $26.95; ebk. ISBN 9781605987873. SPORTS

lanternerouge6915With all of the emphasis in competitive sporting events to finish first, this work comes as a pleasant surprise. Leonard (City Cycling), a journalist and avid amateur cyclist, writes a fascinating account that focuses on the many stories, both real and mythical, associated with what is termed Lanterne Rouge, or the cyclist who finishes in last place at the famed Tour de France bike race. Leonard diligently details the adventures and mishaps of riders in a race so physically demanding that it can be compared to running a marathon every day for three weeks. Few riders would relish placing last, but Leonard proves there is more to the story, as such riders can achieve a vastly different prestige or acclaim, and one not necessarily of negative connotation. Readers will especially enjoy the chapter about Algerian rider Abdel-Kader Zaaf, in which the author presents differing accounts of what actually took place during the 1950 and 1951 Tour de France and allows readers to render their own judgements. ­VERDICT Leonard’s captivating, thoroughly researched, and well-written book is replete with a meticulous index of terms and names. For all libraries.—John N. Jax, Univ. of Wisconsin Lib., La Crosse

redstarLimón, Ada. Bright Dead Things. Milkweed. Sept. 2015. 100p. ISBN 9781571314710. pap. $16; ebk. ISBN 9781571319258. POETRY

brightdeadthings6915In her newest volume of poems, Limón (Sharks in the Rivers) delves into the divided self—self separated by geography, by loss, by change, by circumstance. In “Torn,” she says “something/ that loves itself so much it moves across/ the boundaries of death to touch itself/ once more, to praise both divided sides/ equally….” Limón’s landscape is Brooklyn, California, and the horsey and blue-grassy hills of Kentucky, and her writing is intensely intimate and wild, softly sensual and bold. In the mostly lyric narratives, with an occasional prose poem included, loss and redemption are apparent, and love—whether tough love or easy love—is resilient. “How good it is to love/ live things, even when what they’ve done/ is terrible, how much we each want to be…turned loose/ into our own wide open without a single/ harness of sin to stop us.” VERDICT Generous of heart, intricate and accessible, the poems in this book are wondrous and deeply moving.—Karla Huston, Appleton, WI

Chess match

Eade, James & Al Lawrence. The Chess Player’s Bible: Illustrated Strategies for Staying Ahead of the Game. 2d ed. Barron’s. 2015. 288p. illus. index. ISBN 9780764167591. $19.99. SPORTS

chessplayersbible6915For those new to chess, or for those who want to improve their game, it is often hard to find a starting point. Yet chess expert Eade’s (Chess for Dummies; The Chess Player’s Bible) latest is a solid choice. Starting from the beginning (setting up, rules of the game, piece valuation), the book moves on to a survey of some standard openings, common checkmates, tactics, strategy, and basic endgames. It concludes with analysis of some famous classic games. Instead of the flat schematic diagrams used in older volumes, here the board positions are shown as three-dimensional projections seen from the white side of the board. While this may be off-putting for the experienced reader of chess literature, it is a view commonly used in many programs. Thus, it may be comfortable for new players today, who learn and practice playing against computers. The illustrations, which form the heart of the text, are eye-catching but can be somewhat busy looking—cluttered with arrows, side-boxes, and text tucked in around the sides and bottom of the page. VERDICT Overall, this is an excellent first book for the novice player or as a text for a school or library chess club.—Harold D. Shane, mathematics emeritus, Baruch Coll. Lib., CUNY

Fine, Gary Alan. Players and Pawns: How Chess Builds Community and Culture. Univ. of Chicago. Sept. 2015. 288p. notes. ISBN 9780226264981. $26. SPORTS

Don’t be fooled; this is not a book about chess. It is, however, a scholarly text that examines the world of serious chess players from the viewpoint of a sociologist. The society that Fine (sociology, Northwestern Univ.; Symbols, Selves, and Social Reality) describes is open to all who share the fascination (or obsession) with the game and is tolerant of their various idiosyncrasies. He outlines the norms of behavior within the game along with its cultural heritage. Written in a classic pedagogical style, each chapter opens with a statement of its main theme and closes with a summary and a description of what comes next. The author, a professional observer of the game, captures the ambience at club and tournament events and the camaraderie among serious competitors. Of great interest is the portrayal of the personality types that will be easily recognizable to anyone who is a dedicated player or who is closely acquainted with one. VERDICT Students of sociology as well as chess players and game players in general will embrace this well-written book.— Harold D. Shane, mathematics emeritus, Baruch Coll. Lib., CUNY

Parks and recreation

Barringer, Tim & Oliver Fairclough. Pastures Green & Dark Satanic Mills: The British Passion for Landscape. American Federation of Arts. 2015. 248p. illus. maps. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781907804342. $59.95. FINE ARTS

This large-format exhibition catalog was curated by Barringer (history of art, Yale Univ.) and Fairclough, keeper of art at Amgueddfa Cymru-National Museum of Wales. The 88 works are all from the museum’s collection. The exhibition commenced at West Palm Beach, FL, and is touring Pittsburgh, PA; Salt Lake City, UT; and Princeton, NJ, during 2015 and 2016. Included are works by ­Thomas Gainsborough, John Constable, J.M.W. Turner, Claude Monet, and many other artists, mainly from the UK. Most of the paintings were produced in traditional media, but the curators have included some photography and land art documentation. ­Barringer and Fairclough each contribute an introductory essay, while museum staff cover the catalog entries. Barrington sees the historical spread of industry across the UK as having generated a new awareness of the natural world that remained. According to ­Fairclough, Wales has played a key role in British landscape art. Several of the featured artists are Welsh, and the nation is frequently depicted in scenes showing pastures, mills, and mountain wilderness. Although landscapes are the subject of this work, six thematic sections highlight art movements that flourished over the past three centuries. The all-color reproductions are of fine quality, though some are quite small. ­VERDICT This beautiful and informative book will appeal to art students, art lovers, and readers curious about British cultural history.— David R. Conn, formerly with Surrey Libs., BC

Frederick Law Olmsted: Plans and Views of Public Parks. Johns Hopkins. 2015. 448p. (Papers of Frederick Law Olmsted). ed. by Charles E. Beveridge & others. illus. maps. notes. index. ISBN 9781421410869. $74.95. ARCH

frederickolmsted6915One of two illustrated volumes in the 12-volume series begun in 1972 documenting the writings of Frederick Law ­Olmsted (1822–1903), the father of American landscape architecture, this volume focuses on his public parks. Series editor and Olmsted scholar ­Beveridge has arranged, mostly in chronological order, large-scale reproductions of plans, sketches, prints, transcriptions of planting lists, and historic photographs before, during, and after construction of more than 70 parks. The reproductions are accompanied by short descriptions placing the park in the context of Olmsted’s career; these include quotes about the project from his writings. Just as the series is significant for bringing together much of Olmsted’s writing, this volume is meaningful for gathering most of the historical visual record of the parks. As a result, it would make a solid companion to any collection of works on Olmsted, not just holdings that have books in the series. However, this isn’t a stand-alone volume, and those looking for a history of the artist’s output or specific parks should also seek out the many offerings on these subjects. ­VERDICT A welcome addition to Olmsted scholarship and an excellent companion to the series documenting his extensive papers.—Amy Trendler, Ball State Univ. Libs., Muncie, IN

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The following titles are reviewed in this month's print issue.
Visit Book Verdict for the full reviews.

Fine Arts

Bussard, Katherine A. & others. The City Lost & Found: Capturing New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles, 1960–1980. Yale Univ. 2015. 256p. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780300207859. $50. FINE ARTS

Day, Susan. Carpets of the Art Deco Era. Thames & Hudson. 2015. 224p. photos. notes. bibliog. ISBN 9780500517956. $50. DEC ARTS

Hughes, T. John. Apparitions: Architecture That Has Disappeared from Our Cities. Images. Jun. 2015. 156p. illus. ISBN 9781864705959. $60. ARCH

Locker, Jesse M. Artemisia Gentileschi: The Language of Painting. Yale Univ. 2015. 248p. illus. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780300185119. $65. FINE ARTS

Verzuh, Valerie K. Indian Country: The Art of David Bradley. Museum of New Mexico. 2015. 144p. illus. bibliog. ISBN 9780890136010. $34.95. FINE ARTS

Literature

Cameron, Ardis. Unbuttoning America: A Biography of “Peyton Place.” Cornell Univ. 2015. 240p. photos. notes. index. ISBN 9780801453649. $24.95; ebk. ISBN 9780801456091. LIT

Douglas-Fairhurst, Robert. The Story of Alice: Lewis Carroll and the Secret History of Wonderland. Belknap: Harvard Univ. 2015. 496p. photos. notes. index. ISBN 9780674967793. $29.95. LIT

Eby, Margaret. South Toward Home: Travels in Southern Literature. Norton. Sept. 2015. 224p. maps. notes. ISBN 9780393241112. $25.95; ebk. ISBN 9780393248265. LIT

I Greet You at the Beginning of a Great Career: The Selected Correspondence of Lawrence Ferlinghetti and Allen Ginsberg, 1955–1997. City Lights. Jun. 2015. 305p. ed. by Bill Morgan. photos. notes. index. ISBN 9780872866867. $26.95; pap. ISBN 9780872866782. $17.95. LIT

Meanwhile There Are Letters: The Correspondence of Eudora Welty and Ross Macdonald. Arcade: Skyhorse. Jul. 2015. 568p. ed. by Suzanne Marrs & Tom Nolan. photos. notes. index. ISBN 9781628725278. $35; ebk. ISBN 9781628725483. LIT

Pavlic, Ed. Who Can Afford To Improvise? James Baldwin and Black Music, the Lyric and the Listeners. Fordham Univ. Sept. 2015. 320p. illus. notes. bibliog. ISBN 9780823268481. $29.95. LIT

Santamaria, Abigail. Joy: Poet, Seeker, and the Woman Who Captivated C.S. Lewis. Houghton Harcourt. Aug. 2015. 432p. photos. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780151013715. $28; ebk. ISBN 9780547843704. LIT

Performing Arts

Anderson, Zoe. The Ballet Lover’s Companion. Yale Univ. 2015. 384p. notes. index. ISBN 9780300154283. $40. DANCE

Jones, J.R. The Lives of Robert Ryan. Wesleyan Univ. 2015. 368p. photos. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780819573728. $30; ebk. ISBN 9780819573735. FILM

Morgan, Michelle. The Mammoth Book of Madonna. Running Pr. 2015. 512p. photos. ISBN 9780762456215. pap. $22; ebk. ISBN 9781472119438. MUSIC

Phillips, Stevie. Judy & Liza & Robert & Freddie & David & Sue & Me… St. Martin’s. Jun. 2015. 288p. ISBN 9781250065773. $25.99; ebk. ISBN 9781466872776. Performing Arts

Szwed, John. Billie Holiday: The Musician and the Myth. Viking. 2015. 240p. notes. index. ISBN 9780670014729. $28.95; ebk. ISBN 9781101614709. MUSIC

Wosk, Julie. My Fair Ladies: Female Robots, Androids, and Other Artificial Eves. Rutgers Univ. Jul. 2015. 240p. illus. notes. index. ISBN 9780813563381. $90; pap. ISBN 9780813563374. $29.95; ebk. ISBN 9780813563398. FILM

Philosophy

Massumi, Brian. Ontopower: War, Powers, and the State of Perception. Duke Univ. Aug. 2015. 304p. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780822359524. $89.95; pap. ISBN 9780822359951. $24.95; ebk. ISBN 9780822375197. PHIL

Noë, Alva. Strange Tools: Art and Human Nature. Hill & Wang: Farrar. Sept. 2015. 320p. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780809089178. $28; ebk. ISBN 9781429945257. PHIL

Poetry

Goldbarth, Albert. Selfish. Graywolf. 2015. 184p. ISBN 9781555977085. pap. $18. POETRY

Jackson, Major. Roll Deep. Norton. Aug. 2015. 80p. ISBN 9780393246896. pap. $26.95; ebk. ISBN 9780393246902. POETRY

Spirituality & Religion

Palau, Kevin. Unlikely: Setting Aside Our Differences To Live Out the Gospel. Howard. Jun. 2015. 224p. notes. ISBN 9781476789446. $22.99; ebk. ISBN 9781476789453. REL

Moslener, Sara. Virgin Nation: Sexual Purity and American Adolescence. Oxford Univ. Jul. 2015. 240p. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780199987764. $29.95; ebk. ISBN 9780199987788. REL

Petro, Anthony M. After the Wrath of God: AIDS, Sexuality, and American Religion. Oxford Univ. Jul. 2015. 320p. illus. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780199391288. $29.95; ebk. ISBN 9780199391301. REL

Sports & Recreation

Bryan, Daniel with Craig Tello. Yes! My Improbable Journey to the Main Event of WrestleMania. St. Martin’s. Jul. 2015. 320p. photos. ISBN 9781250067883. $25.99; ebk. ISBN 9781466876620. SPORTS

Posnanski, Joe. The Secret of Golf: The Story of Tom Watson and Jack Nicklaus. S. & S. Jun. 2015. 256p. bibliog. ISBN 9781476766430. $27; ebk. ISBN 9781476766454. SPORTS

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