Monday, June 29, 2020

Weekly Kanopy Picks

Grab the popcorn! WPL has movie night covered. It might be hard to pick a movie to watch when there are so many options out there. Also, many of those options aren`t free. With your WPL card, you can stream 4 movies per month through Kanopy using your "play credits."

How play credits work

To use a play credit, you must press play on a video and have the video play for at least 5 seconds. Once a play credit is logged, you will have a full 3 days (72 hours) to watch the video as many times as you would like without using another play credit, even if a new month starts and your credits reset. Your Viewing History will show any video that is still available to view in your 3 day window. After the 3 day window has expired, another play credit will be used if you press play on the video again.

If you do not have a Kanopy account, you can create one. Click here for instructions.

Nas: Time is Illmatic
Running time: 75 minutes
Rating: R

Rapper Nas recalls his youth in New York, his parents' influence and the recording of his 1994 debut album, Illmatic.

Teen Spirit
Running time: 94 minutes
Rating: PG-13

A shy teenager dreams of escaping her small town and pursuing her passion to sing. With the help of an unlikely mentor, she enters a local singing competition that will test her integrity, talent and ambition.

Running time: 149 minutes
Rating: R
Language: Spanish

Uxbal, a career criminal, practices his trade in Barcelona's underground sweatshops and back alleys. Unlike his associates, he has some respect for the poor workers under his thumb and is a devoted father. Told that he is ill and has just a few months to live, Uxbal tries to get his affairs in order before the spirits, with whom he communes, come to claim him.

I am the Queen
Running time: 77 minutes
Rating: Not Rated

In Chicago's Humboldt Park neighborhood, the Vida/Sida Cacica Pageant brings together members of the Puerto Rican community to celebrate its transgender participants.

House on Haunted Hill
Running time: 75 minutes
Rating: PG-13

This spooky, campy tale tells the story of five strangers who are each offered $10,000 by an eccentric millionaire to spend the night in a haunted house. As the night develops, it becomes clear that these strangers' selection was no accident.

Looking for a way to interact with your community from home? Try our new film club!

Join fellow movie buffs as we discuss a diverse selection of critically-acclaimed films. All films are available on Kanopy.

Meetings are held through Zoom from 12-1 pm. Adults ages 18 & up welcome.

Register here

Weekly Reads, Episode Twelve with Librarians Devon and Joy

Join Librarians Devon and Joy for another episode of Weekly Reads. This week's suggestions include literary fiction set in Hawaii, a history of multi-cultural America, a modern take on fairy tales, an account of an archaeologist who trekked the Amazon, and of course a coming soon title! Tune in next week for another round of Weekly Reads.

Featured Titles for Episode Twelve:
The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon by David Grann
Blue Ticket by Sophie Mackintosh (title coming soon)
A Different Mirror: A History of Multicultural America by Ronald T. Takaki
The Witch: And Other Tales Re-Told by Jean Thompson
Sharks in the Time of Saviors by Kawai Strong Washburn

Friday, June 26, 2020

Featured Summer Releases

Did one of the book covers on our homepage catch your eye? They are newly released titles for summer 2020, and all are well-reviewed and anticipated. Read below for a description of each, and click the linked title if you'd like to request a copy or get your name on the wait list. And don't forget to watch for more featured releases next month, too!

Featured Fiction for July:

Devolution by Max Brooks
As the ash and chaos from Mount Rainier's eruption swirled and finally settled, the story of the Greenloop massacre has passed unnoticed, unexamined, until now. But the journals of resident Kate Holland, recovered from the town's bloody wreckage, capture a tale too harrowing and too earth-shattering in its implications, to be forgotten. Because if what Kate Holland saw in those days is real, then we must accept the impossible. We must accept that the creature known as Bigfoot walks among us, and that it is a beast of terrible strength and ferocity.

What's Left of Me is Yours by Stephanie Scott
In Japan, an industry has grown up around the "wakaresaseya" (literally "breaker-upper"), a person hired by one spouse to seduce the other to gain the advantage in divorce proceedings. When Sato hires Kaitaro, a wakaresaseya agent, to have an affair with his wife, Rina, he assumes it will be easy. But Sato has never truly understood Rina, and Kaitaro's job is to do exactly that--until he does it too well. While Rina remains ignorant of what brought them together, she and Kaitaro fall in a desperate, singular love, setting in motion a series of violent acts that will haunt her daughter's life.

The Distant Dead by Heather Young
A body burns in the high desert hills. A boy walks into a fire station, pale with the shock of a grisly discovery. A middle school teacher worries when her colleague is late for work. By day's end, when the body is identified as local math teacher Adam Merkel, a small Nevada town will be rocked to its core by a brutal and calculated murder.

Featured Nonfiction for July:

Begin Again: James Baldwin's America and Its Urgent Lessons for Our Own by Eddie S. Glaude Jr.
"James Baldwin grew disillusioned by the failure of the civil rights movement to force America to confront its lies about race. In our own moment, when that confrontation feels more urgently needed than ever, what can we learn from his struggle? In the midst of Trump's presidency and a Baldwin revival, Eddie Glaude has plunged to the profound depths and sublime heights of Baldwin’s prophetic challenge to our present-day crisis." - Cornel West

The Book of Rosy: A Mother's Story of Separation at the Border by Rosayra Pablo Cruz
From a mother whose children were taken from her at the U.S. border by the American government in 2018 and another mother who helped reunite the family, a crucial, searing story about the immigration odyssey, family separation and reunification, and the power of individuals to band together to overcome even the most cruel and unjust circumstances.

Your Blue is Not My Blue: A Missing Person Memoir by Aspen Matis
Aspen’s and Justin’s paths aligned on the Pacific Crest Trail when were walking, separately and alone—both using thru-hiking in hopes of escaping their pasts. By the time they made it to the trail’s end, they were in love. They built a world together, with three years of happy marriage. Until a November morning, when, after kissing Aspen goodbye, Justin left to attend the funeral of a friend. He never came back. As days became weeks, his inexplicable absence left Aspen unmoored. Shock, grief, fear, and anger battled for control—but nothing prepared her for the disarming truth.

Thursday, June 25, 2020

Film Discussion: Race: The Power of an Illusion with Moderator Stephanie Williams

Upcoming Film Discussion:

Join us on Friday, July 17, from 11:30-12:30 for a film discussion on the award-winning documentary, Race: The Power of an Illusion, moderated by Stephanie Williams, Cultural Humility Practitioner. Attendees are encouraged to watch all three parts of the series and may submit questions prior to the discussion upon registration. Attendees will be able to ask questions of the moderator through the Q&A feature. WPL strives to provide a safe and respectful place for the community to have a dialog on race through this event.  

Ms. Stephanie Williams is a native of Worcester, MA. She previously served as Director of Multicultural Affairs at Anna Maria College and Multicultural Affairs Liaison at Becker College for several years, where she provided visual leadership and strategic direction around disrupting “business as usual” to achieve social change, developing new approaches to education and engagement around diversity and inclusion, multiculturalism, and social justice. She currently works in state government where she has spent the last five (5) years utilizing her MBA, working with marginalized populations in areas such as financial stability, economic self-sufficiency and personal growth.

Register for our program here

About the Film:

Race: The Power of an Illusion is one of the most widely taught documentaries in the United States. A three-part series that was released in 2003, this documentary asks the question: What is race? What is discovered is that many of our assumptions about race are wrong, yet the costs of racism are detrimental to our society. Millions of people have used the series to examine their beliefs about the idea of race, and explore how our social divisions are created. 

Access this documentary through Kanopy, a streaming service available to patrons with a valid library card. If you do not have a Kanopy account, you can create one. Click here for instructions. 

For further exploration of this film, visit for a discussion guide, articles, and videos.

Additional Resources:


White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack

What Is White Privilege, Really?

Dismantle Collective: White Allyship 101, Resources to Get to Work

Surviving & Resisting Hate: A Toolkit For People of Color

Just Jasmine: Self-Care for People of Color after Psychological Trauma 

Teaching Tolerance: Affirming Black Lives Without Inducing Trauma



We Are Mitú: Can Latinos benefit from White Privilege? 

Race Forward



How to Be an Antiracist and Other Books

#BlackLivesMatter: Background, Context, & Resources

An Anti-Racist Reading List

31 Children's books to support conversations on race, racism and resistance

Recursos en español sobre el anti-racismo


Code Switch 

Joy Revolution

In the Thick

The Mother Jones Podcast 

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Introducing Guess That Character!

Our first "Guess that Character!" image
featured Gretta as Snow White.
On Sunday, June 21st, you might've noticed the Facebook post that announced it was "time to play Guess That Character!" Guess That Character ties in with our Summer Reading theme, "Imagine Your Story," which deals with fantasy adventure stories, fairy tales, and mythology. Expect more "Guess That Character" Facebook posts each Sunday at 2 pm until the end of Summer Reading. Each photo will feature a library staff person (or their pet) dressed as a fantastical, fairy tale, or mythological character.

If you enjoy "Guess That Character," feel free to join in! We'd love to see new and old photos of you, your friends and family (or pets!) dressed up as fantastical characters, too. Just put whatever you'd like to share in the comments below the latest Guess That Character post.

Be sure to check our Facebook page Sunday at 2 PM to play along with "Guess That Character!"

Our second post was of Katherine's dog, Fern, dressed
as the storybook character Pippi Longstocking.

Our third post was of Tara dressed as Maleficent,
the wicked fairy godmother from Sleeping Beauty.

Our fourth post was of Melody dressed
as the Greek goddess Athena.

Our fifth post was of Joel dressed as
Captain Jack Sparrow from the
Pirates of the Caribbean movies.
Our sixth post was of Jess dressed
as Little Red Riding Hood.

Our seventh post was of a mystery staff person
dressed as Rocky the Flying Squirrel from The
Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle show.

William Shakespeare's Globe Theater

On June 29th, 1613, the Globe Theater in London, England, burned down. In that time of wood construction and few building safety standards, fires and loss of life due to those fires were common. But the Globe fire was notable; it took away a landmark and a culturally significant edifice.

William Shakespeare
It was built in 1599 as a playhouse for the Lord Chamberlain's Men, a troupe of actors led by none other than William Shakespeare, known to us today as The Bard.

In Elizabethan times, theater was a diversion enjoyed by all segments of society; the "cheap seats" – actually standing room – cost only a penny. For two pennies, a theater-lover could sit on a bench in the lower of several galleries, and for three pennies, that bench was softened by a cushion. For comparison, a loaf of bread cost Shakespeare's contemporaries a penny too, so even servants and apprentices could afford to see the latest plays.

As attendees entered the theaters they put their entry fees into a box. Today we refer to the "box office" as the place to buy tickets.

The Globe was designed as a multi-level, almost-circular theater, its central stage open to the sky. Other theaters were "indoor theaters". They were more expensive, with tickets starting at 6 pence (in 1600 there were 240 pennies to the pound). While the outdoor theaters had room for thousands of attendees, the indoor theaters had room for about 500.

At Broadway theaters and local repertory playhouses today, theater-goers are allowed to buy food and drink at the intermission, but the actors of Shakespeare's time had to put up with hawkers selling oranges, ale, and nuts during the performance. They also had to compete with other theaters, each with its own wealthy patron, and with other forms of "entertainment", such as bear-baiting and cock-fighting. Queen Elizabeth I enjoyed bear-baiting, and so banned theatricals performances on Thursdays because they would have conflicted with "Her Majesty's pleasure".

Actors of Elizabeth's time had other challenges too. When twenty-first century people go to see a performance today, we applaud at the end of each act, sometimes with a standing ovation. But in Shakespeare's time, the people shouted out their support for the heroes and the condemnation of the villains. The penny-payers were neither silent nor respectful, sometimes destroying the furniture or throwing apples at the actors. Pickpockets were attracted to these venues too. Magistrates were often called in to remove those exhibiting bad behavior. However, it was a golden time for playwrights, Shakespeare among them. From 1560 to 1640 (a period that ranged from a few years before The Bard's birth to 30 years after his passing in 1614), 3,000 new plays were written.

In 2020 we worry about Covid-19 but in 1564 plague hit the infant Shakespeare's hometown of Stratford. We are lucky he survived the outbreak and we are able to enjoy his literary legacy, but 20 percent of the population of Stratford died, about 200 people. Growing up, William's education included the memorization of classic stories, a skill he no doubt used as an actor and playwright. Thirty years later plague struck England again and the death toll is estimated to be around 10,000 people. By this time Shakespeare was living in London, a rapidly growing metropolis, center of commerce and royalty.

The Globe Theater was built in 1597. Shakespeare was part-owner (with a 10 percent stake), along with Richard Burbage, the leading actor of his time. It was built on the south bank of the River Thames, a location outside the City of London, and preferred by the authorities for this rowdy and disruptive form of entertainment. Two other theaters were already in that rough neighborhood, the Rose and the Swan. The vicinity also hosted taverns and brothels. Shakespeare and his partners were short on money so they used cheap materials for the new theater. The building had 20 sides.
The Original Globe Theater

Scholars think the first play staged at the Globe was Shakespeare's Julius Caesar. It was followed by other Shakespearean plays, for example, As You Like It, Othello, King Lear, Measure for Measure, Macbeth, and Antony and Cleopatra. But William wasn't the only playwright to have his work performed at the Globe. His rival, Ben Jonson, and several others had their works come to life there too. The Globe was a success, bringing some degree of wealth to its investors.

Colored flags flying outside the Globe informed the populace what kind of play was being staged. A white flag signified a comedy, a red flag meant a history, and a black flag advertised a tragedy.

But at the end of June, 1613, Shakespeare's play Henry III was being performed. It included special effects. To suggest cannon-fire the stage master ignited some gunpowder. Unfortunately, the thatched roof caught fire and the whole building burned down within two hours. No one was hurt.

Shakespeare, et al, rebuilt in the same location; this time around they were able to afford better quality materials, including a tile roof instead of a flammable thatched one.
The Rebuilt Globe 

However, Puritan pressure forced the closing of all the theaters in 1644 and the Globe was dismantled.

Three hundred and thirty years went by and in 1970 American actor Sam Wanamaker set up an organization called Shakespeare's Globe Trust, whose mandate was to reconstruct the Globe. It took over two decades to find the land and get the appropriate building permits, but in 1993, and close to the original location of Shakespeare's Globe, construction began on the "3rd Globe", which opened for business in 1997. Unfortunately, Wanamaker didn't live long enough to see his dream come true.

You can visit the Globe today; although it meets modern safety standards, the builders used hand-tools and green oak, just like in the original building. It is not a museum, but an active playhouse.

The 3rd and Present Globe

Adult Summer Reading Patron Reviews: Imagine Your Story

We're back WooReaders! Our Summer Reading Challenge is in full swing, so if you haven't signed up already now is the time to do it. Click here to get started. Our theme this year is "Imagine Your Story", which focuses on fantasy, fairy tales, and mythology. Our adult patron reviews for this week feature fantasy titles that had readers capitivated from the very beginning.

The Bear & The Nightengale by Katherine Arden

An amazing retelling of Russian folklore. If you enjoy fairy tales this is definitely one to check out. ~ Eun Sol L.

Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare

5/5 stars. An emotional roller coaster of a read as always. One of my favorite books.
~Yucheng Z.

The Tethered Mage by Melissa Caruso

High fantasy fiction led by two powerful female characters. Highly recommended. ~ Jen L.

Reticence by Gail Carriger

The 4th and final book in the Spotted Custard series. This was the best one yet. We finally get to delve more into Percy's character, as well as travel to new countries, meet new characters, and find new shapeshifters. What's more, we get to reunite with many favorite characters from several of Carriger's series. ~ Colleen J.

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Language Learning at Home with Mango!

If learning a language or improving your language skills is on your bucket list, you'll want to check out Mango Languages, an app you can access completely free with your WPL library card. Create an account at to learn more than 70 world languages! From a variety of Arabic dialects to romantic Spanish phrases, there's something for everyone. Mango works on a computer, phone or tablet, and has some great features that make it a step above free apps like Duolingo. It uses similar techniques of repetition to help you learn, but also has more explanations of grammar, color-coding to highlight differences in sentence structure, and focuses on real-world conversational topics.

Want a demonstration of Mango in action? Take a look at our tutorial above. If Mango isn't enough, our language specialist librarian also recommends checking out Drops, Duolingo, and even Kanopy for content for a variety of languages and levels. Happy language learning!

Monday, June 22, 2020

Weekly Kanopy Picks

Grab the popcorn! WPL has movie night covered. It might be hard to pick a movie to watch when there are so many options out there. Also, many of those options aren`t free. With your WPL card, you can stream 4 movies per month for free through Kanopy using your "play credits."

How play credits work

To use a play credit, you must press play on a video and have the video play for at least 5 seconds. Once a play credit is logged, you will have a full 3 days (72 hours) to watch the video as many times as you would like without using another play credit, even if a new month starts and your credits reset. Your Viewing History will show any video that is still available to view in your 3 day window. After the 3 day window has expired, another play credit will be used if you press play on the video again.

If you do not have a Kanopy account, you can create one. Click here for instructions.

I Am the Blues
Running time: 107 minutes
Rating: Not Rated

This music documentary visits blues musicians rooted in the genre's heyday, many in their 80s, still living in the American Deep South.

The Lighthouse
Running time: 110 minutes
Rating: R

Two lighthouse keepers fight each other for survival and sanity on a remote New England island in the 1890s.

Running time: 89 minutes
Rating: PG-13
Language: Japanese

Four people give different accounts of a man's murder and the rape of his wife. This eloquent masterwork and international sensation revolutionized film language and introduced Japanese cinema to the Western world.

Grace Jones: Bloodlight & Bami
Running time: 116 minutes
Rating: Not Rated

This electrifying journey through the public and private worlds of pop culture mega-icon Grace Jones contrasts musical sequences with intimate personal footage, all the while brimming with Jones's bold aesthetic.

Streit's: Matzo & the American Dream
Running time: 84 minutes
Rating: Not Rated

This documentary explores the history of the Streit's Matzo Factory on New York's Lower East Side. Opened in 1925, it sat at the heart of the nation's largest Jewish immigrant community. Today it remains the last family- owned matzo factory in America.

Looking for a way to interact with your community from home? Try our new film club!

Join fellow movie buffs as we discuss a diverse selection of critically-acclaimed films. All films are available on Kanopy.

Meetings are held through Zoom from 12-1 pm. Adults ages 18 & up welcome.

Register here

Saturday, June 20, 2020

Weekly Reads, Episode Eleven with Librarians Devon and Joy

Join Librarians Devon and Joy for another episode of Weekly Reads. This week's suggestions include historical fiction, an Erik Larson book, a fantasy mixed with Regency romance, the history of the luxury ship the Andrea Doria, and of course a coming soon title! Tune in next week for another round of Weekly Reads.

Featured Titles for Episode Eleven:
The Operator by Gretchen Berg
The Last Flight by Julie Clark (title coming soon!)
Sorcerer to the Crown: Sorcerer Royal Series, Book 1 by Zen Cho
The Last Voyage of the Andrea Doria: The Sinking of the World's Most Glamorous Ship by Greg King and Penny Wilson
The Splendid and the Vile: A Saga of Churchill, Family, and Defiance During the Blitz by Erik Larson

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Jaws 45th Anniversary

"You're gonna need a bigger boat."- Martin Brody
 (#35 on AFI's 100 Greatest Movie Quotes of All Time)

On June 20, 1975, movie goers filled theaters to watch what many consider to be the first summer blockbuster-Jaws. With Jaws we witness a massive great white shark terrorize the quaint island of Amity. It is a story that is just as much about the shark as it is the islanders' reaction to the threat of their lifestyle. Some argue that Jaws isn’t a horror movie, some are insistent that it is. That’s for you to decide.

Jaws takes place on the fictional Amity Island, where if you weren’t born on the island you’re not considered an islander. When Martin Brody (Roy Scheider), the island’s new police chief, warns Mayor Larry Vaughn (Murray Hamilton) about the very first attack, he is resistant to closing the beach. Shark attacks kill summer dollars, and Mayor Vaughn says as much. Even after the second attack, Vaughn states the beach is only closed for twenty-four hours (to which one resident cries “that’s like three weeks!”).

Shortly after, Mayor Vaughn claims the shark has been caught, effectively keeping the summer tourism machine running. When marine biologist Matt Hooper (Richard Dreyfuss) insists they didn’t catch the right shark, Vaughn thinks Hooper is using his study of the attacks for his own gain. It is only when Mayor Vaughn’s son is threatened that he finally takes action. In comes local fisherman and WWII veteran, Quint (Robert Shaw), who offers to kill the shark (or bird, as he calls it). Now the islanders must rely on Quint (a deviation from the easy-going islander archetype) and two outsiders to save their livelihoods.

So what is it about Jaws that scares people? Steven Spielberg’s expert directing, the haunting two note score, and the mechanical shark (named Bruce) all provide thrills. But there’s something about the scene where Matt Hooper & Chief Brody are sitting at the dinner table-Chief Brody a little drunk, Hooper eager to autopsy a tiger shark - that also brings to light the frustration that results from their warnings going unheeded. Maybe that’s one of the things that makes Jaws great; if the right thing was done after the first attack, Jaws wouldn’t be the classic it is today. Human error and one terrifying shark propel it forward.

To place a hold on Jaws by Peter Benchley or the 1975 film, click here

African-American Music Appreciation Month

June is a month with a lot of observances, and one of those observances is African-American Music Appreciation. Below is a small sampling of books, both electronic and in print, about African-American musicians from our library. If you read the descriptions below,  you'll notice that many musicians were and are activists fighting for equality, respect, and recognition for the importance of African-American music and culture. Browse the titles below to see if there's any you'd like to read, and don't forget that we also have CDs and DVDs by many of the artists below, too.

Chamber Music: Wu-Tang and America [In 36 Pieces] by Will Ashon
Will Ashon tells, in 36 interlinked "chambers", the story of Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) and how it changed the world. As unexpected and complex as the album itself, Chamber Music ranges from provocative essays to semi-comic skits, from deep scholarly analysis to satirical celebration, seeking to contextualize, reveal and honor this singular work of art.

My Song: A Memoir by Harry Belafonte
Harry Belafonte grew up in Harlem and Jamaica. His mother was a complex woman, caring but withdrawn, and his father was physically abusive. It was not an easy life, but it instilled in Harry toughness and resiliency. He joined the U.S. Navy during WW II, and afterwards returned to Harlem, where he drifted between jobs until he saw his first stage play. Theater opened up a new world, one that was artistic, political, and made him realize that he had a lot to say. He was never content to simply be an entertainer and could not shy away from activism. At first it was about personal dignity: breaking down racial barriers that had never been broken before. Then his activism broadened to a lifelong involvement at the heart of the civil rights movement.

Let Love Have the Last Word: A Memoir by Common
Common believes that the phrase “let love have the last word” is not just a declaration; it is a statement of purpose. Touching on God, self-love, partners, children, family, and community, Common explores the core tenets of love to help others understand what it means to receive and, most important, to give love. He moves from the personal—writing about his daughter, to whom he wants to be a better father—to the universal, where he observes that our society has become fractured under issues of race and politics. He knows there's no quick remedy for all of the hurt in the world, but love—for yourself and for others—is where the healing begins.

Blues Legacies and Black Feminism: Gertrude "Ma" Rainey, Bessie Smith, and Billie Holiday by Angela Y. Davis
From one of the country's most important intellectuals comes an analysis of the blues tradition that examines the careers of three black women blues singers through a feminist lens. Davis provides the historical, social, and political contexts with which to reinterpret the performances and lyrics of Gertrude "Ma" Rainey, Bessie Smith, and Billie Holiday as powerful articulations of an alternative consciousness at odds with mainstream America. The works of Rainey, Smith, and Holiday have been misunderstood by critics. Through transcriptions of all the extant lyrics of Rainey and Smith—published here in their entirety for the first time—Davis demonstrates how the roots of the blues extend beyond a musical tradition to serve as a consciousness-raising vehicle for American social memory.

Jay-Z: Made in America by Michael Eric Dyson
This book is the result of Dyson's teaching the work of one of the greatest poets of this nation, as gifted as Walt Whitman, Robert Frost and Rita Dove. But as a rapper, he's sometimes not given the credit he deserves for how great an artist he's been for so long. This book wrestles with the themes of Jay-Z's career, and it recognizes the way that he's weaved politics into his music, making important statements about race, criminal justice, black wealth and social injustice. As he enters his fifties, and to mark his thirty years as a recording artist, this is the perfect time to take a look at Jay-Z's career and his role in making the nation what it is today.

More Myself: A Journey by Alicia Keys
As one of the celebrated musicians of our time, Alicia Keys has enraptured the nation with her lyrics, vocal range, and piano compositions. Yet away from the spotlight, she has grappled with private heartache. Since her rise to fame, her public persona has belied a deep personal truth: she has spent years not recognizing her own worth. After withholding parts of herself for so long, she is now exploring the questions: Who am I, really? And once I discover that truth, how can I embrace it? Alicia's journey is revealed not only through her own candid recounting, but also through vivid recollections from those who have walked alongside her. The result is a 360-degree perspective on Alicia's path—from her girlhood in Hell's Kitchen and Harlem, to the process of self-discovery she's still navigating.

What Happened, Miss Simone?: A Biography by Alan Light
From music journalist and former Spin and Vibe editor-in-chief Alan Light comes a biography of soul singer and Black Power icon Nina Simone, one of the most influential and least understood artists of our time. Drawn from a trove of rare footage, audio recordings and interviews (including Simone's private diaries), this examination of Simone's life highlights her musical inventiveness and unwavering quest for equality, while laying bare the personal demons that plagued her from the time of her Jim Crow childhood in North Carolina to her self-imposed exile in Liberia and Paris. Harnessing the voice of Miss Simone herself and incorporating reflections from those who knew her, including her only daughter, Light brings us face to face with a legend.

Kill 'Em and Leave: Searching for James Brown and the American Soul by James McBride
This is more than a book about James Brown. Brown embodied the contradictions of American life: He was an unsettling symbol of the tensions between North and South, black and white, rich and poor. After receiving a tip that promises to uncover the man behind the myth, James McBride goes in search of the "real" James Brown. McBride's travels take him to forgotten corners of Brown's never-before-revealed history, illuminating not only our understanding of the immensely troubled, misunderstood, and complicated Godfather of Soul, but the ways in which our cultural heritage has been shaped by Brown's enduring legacy.

Soul Train: The Music, Dance, and Style of a Generation by Questlove
From Ahmir "Questlove" Thompson of the award-winning hip-hop group the Roots, comes this book commemorating Soul Train—the phenomenon that launched the careers of artists such as Tina Turner, Stevie Wonder, the Jackson 5, Whitney Houston, Lenny Kravitz, LL Cool J, and Aretha Franklin. Questlove reveals the remarkable story of the captivating program, and his text is paired with more than 350 photographs of the show's most memorable episodes and the larger-than-life characters who defined it: the great host Don Cornelius, the extraordinary musicians, and the people who lived the phenomenon from dance floor. Gladys Knight contributed a foreword to this incredible volume. Nick Cannon contributed the preface.

So Much Things to Say: The Oral History of Bob Marley by Roger Steffens
Renowned reggae historian Steffens’s riveting oral history of Bob Marley’s life draws on four decades of intimate interviews with band members, family, lovers, and confidants―many speaking publicly for the first time. Hailed by the New York Times Book Review as a “crucial voice” in the documentation of Marley’s legacy, Steffens spent years traveling with the Wailers and taking iconic photographs. Through eyewitness accounts of vivid scenes―the future star auditioning for Coxson Dodd; the violent confrontation between the Wailers and producer Lee Perry; the attempted assassination (and conspiracy theories that followed); the artist’s tragic death from cancer―So Much Things to Say tells Marley’s story like never before.

Flyboy 2: The Greg Tate Reader by Greg Tate
Since launching his career at the Village Voice in the early 1980s, Greg Tate has been one of the premiere voices on contemporary Black music, art, literature, film, and politics. Flyboy 2 provides a view of the past thirty years of his influential work. Whether interviewing Miles Davis or Ice Cube, reviewing an Azealia Banks mixtape or Suzan-Lori Parks's Topdog/Underdog, discussing visual artist Kara Walker or writer Clarence Major, or analyzing the ties between Afro-futurism, Black feminism, and social movements, Tate's critical insights illustrate how race, gender, and class become manifest in American popular culture. Above all, he demonstrates why visionary Black artists, intellectuals, aesthetics, philosophies, and politics matter to twenty-first-century America.

Becoming Beyonce by J. Randy Taraborrelli
Beyonce Knowles is a woman who began her career at the age of eight performing in pageant shows and talent contests, honing her craft through her teenage years until, at the age of 16, she had her first number one record with Destiny's Child. That hit-making trio launched Beyonce's successful solo career, catapulting her, as of 2014, to #1 on Forbes annual list of most wealthy celebrities--the same year she made the cover of Time. Becoming Beyonce is not only the story of struggle, sacrifice, and what it takes to make it in the cut-throat record industry, it's the story of the great rewards of such success and the devastating toll it often takes on the human spirit.

A Change is Gonna Come: Music, Race, and the Soul of America by Craig Werner
A Change Is Gonna Come is the story of more than four decades of enormously influential black music, from the hopeful, angry refrains of the Freedom movement, to the slick pop of Motown; from the disco inferno to the Million Man March; from Woodstock's "Summer of Love" to the war in Vietnam and the race riots that inspired Marvin Gaye to write "What's Going On."