Every weekday we feature a different review on Booklist Online. These reviews are notable for different reasons—they may be starred, or high-demand, or especially relevant to the current issue’s spotlight. We’ve collected the reviews from November 2–6 below, so you can revisit the best of the week.
Monday, November 2
It’s All Your Fault, by Paul Rudnick
Rudnick (Gorgeous, 2013) takes on celebrity culture by pitting a Lindsay Lohan/Miley Cyrus–type teen star (aptly named Heller) against her upstanding, kneesock-wearing cousin Caitlin, who is a bundle of anxiety and compulsion issues. The weekend before the premiere of Heller’s Hunger Games-esque movie, Angel Wars, Caitlin is recruited to keep Heller clean and sober. The problem is, the 17-year-old cousins get along like oil and water.
Tuesday, November 3
Baking with Mary Berry, by Mary Berry
The Great British Bake Off (in the U.S., it’s called The Great British Baking Show) is the number-one TV program in the UK, making octogenarian baking doyenne Mary Berry a star. Berry, the author of many British cookbooks, here sticks to the show’s subject, baking, offering a compendium of cakes, pies, puddings, and some distinctly British offerings (fairy cakes, anyone?). Berry, whose rather steely personality is on full display in the show, doesn’t reveal much of herself here.
Wednesday, November 4
Gotta Go Gotta Flow: Life, Love, and Lust on Chicago’s South Side from the Seventies, by Michael Abramson and Patricia Smith
Abramson’s black-and-white photographs of South Side Chicago nightclub life during the 1970s are printed with luscious sharpness in this handsome volume, and what intimate portraits and tableaux he captured. From New Jersey, Abramson was white and a rare sight in these African American neighborhood joints, but his eloquently composed photographs are clearly the fruits of mutual warmth and trust.
Thursday, November 5
My Story, My Dance: Robert Battle’s Journey to Alvin Ailey, by Lesa Cline-Ransome
Robert Battle’s journey to become artistic director of the renowned African American dance company Alvin Ailey is an inspiring story, filled with lessons on following one’s passion. Born in Florida, Robert was raised by his aunt Anna, uncle Willie, and their daughter, whom Robert called “Mama Dessie.” His was a loving home filled with music and poetry. Despite wearing painful braces on his legs until he was six, Robert longed to dance and perform.
Friday, November 6
Sinatra: The Chairman, by James Kaplan
It would be easy to label Kaplan’s massive two-volume biography of Frank Sinatra—this second volume checks in at 992 pages, following the 786-page first installment, Frank: The Voice (2010)—as an example of massive overkill, but such an assessment would miss the mark entirely. This is not one of those documentary-style biographies in which the fawning author records what his subject had for breakfast every day of his or her life; rather, it is a remarkably insightful, gracefully, often eloquently written history of popular music and celebrity culture in twentieth-century America—all viewed through the lens of an iconic singer and undervalued actor whose wildly contradictory personality and tempestuous personal life built the legend but detracted from the man’s genius as an artist.