Oversized suit jackets, cable-knit crewnecks, long fur coats, diamond chains, colorful glasses, Air Jordans and Chuck Taylors – these are the ingredients of basketball style. Mitchell S. Jackson’s Fly carves out six visual eras of the sport’s history and ties each one to the politics and culture of the time. This is no mere photo book, though. If you aren't a basketball fan, pickup Fly and look for yourself – Jackson’s captions might just do the trick. Among my favorites are: “Michael Jordan, 1985 Slam Dunk Contest. Was it the shoes?” (p. 100); “All knit, no problem,” (p. 170); “The texture on that suit is straight sophisticated,” (p. 189); “Baby, I’m a star.” (p. 217).
Andrew Leland is going blind. More than twenty years ago, he was diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa and has been experiencing a slow decline in his vision ever since. The Country of the Blind documents the physicality of this loss – how it alters Leland's ability to move through the world – and addresses a number of societal questions around the culture and politics of blindness and disability. His memoir is both a deeply personal account of the way his life is changing and a witty, poignant exploration of the beauty inherent in the history and culture of blindness.
In the late 1990s, Hua Hsu experienced a tragedy when his close friend, Ken, was killed in a violent carjacking. The two had forged a friendship while attending UC Berkeley, one that Hua defines through their differences: Ken liked Dave Matthews, Hua couldn’t stand mainstream music; Ken wore Abercrombie & Fitch, Hua spent hours thrifting; Ken was Japanese American and had family in the US, Hua is the son of Taiwanese immigrants who spent time abroad. Over the last twenty years, Hua has been processing his friendship with Ken, the parallels between their lives, and what it means to come of age in the shadow of tragedy. His memoir, Stay True, is that story.
Storytelling is a form of power. Struggling author June Hayward knows that. She’s seen her college classmate, Athena Liu, rise to literary fame after they both published debut novels in the same year. But after a freak accident causes Athena’s death, June finds her unpublished novel sitting on the desk. Could June take Athena’s work, put her name on the front, and get away with calling it her own? She is certainly going to try. With funny and chilling first-person narration, Yellowface confronts issues of racism, cultural appropriation, and the erasure of Asian-American voices in the publishing industry and beyond.
Jenny Odell’s thinking has infected my brain. After I read her book How to Do Nothing – a critique of productivity and our relationship to technology – I looked at my phone slightly differently. Now with this book, Odell is asking me to change how I see my watch. Saving Time is both a historical look at how society organized itself around time and an exploration into new ways of experiencing time, in part through our understanding of the natural world. The beauty of her work is in the title; it’s not a call to save time, exactly, but to save the notion of time – from capitalism, from planetary destruction, from ourselves. ~Zac