Shaker: A novel by Scott Frank
Jennifer: "A riveting ride from start to finish! I'm still shaking...don't blame me if you reach for the comfort food after reading Scott Frank's first novel, Shaker. A brilliant screenwriter AND a great novelist..."
Hit man Roy Cooper flies from New York to Los Angeles to kill someone five days after L.A. suffers a major earthquake. The hit goes smoothly, but as Roy is searching for his rental car in North Hollywood, he sees three street kids, “none older than fourteen, fifteen tops,” taunting an old man in an alley. Roy intervenes, but he can’t prevent a kid armed with a .25 from shooting the man dead. The murder is caught on video, and the identity of the victim—a mayoral candidate viewed as a legitimate force for reform—gives Roy, who was wounded in the encounter, a higher profile than he’d like. Frank integrates Roy’s story, complete with flashbacks, with that of Science, one of the young thugs, and of Kelly Maguire, an LAPD officer with a reputation for racism, along the way revealing their inner lives in impressive
M Train by Patti Smith
Jennifer: "O, Patti Smith how do I love thee? Let me count the ways...
Relishing every moment with this book. "Without noticing, I slip into a light yet lingering malaise. Not a depression, more like a fascination for melancholia, which I turn in my hand as if it were a small planet, streaked in shadow, impossibly blue." Exquisite. M Train. Get on board.."
An unforgettable odyssey of a legendary artist, told through the prism of the cafés and haunts she has worked in around the world. It is a book Patti Smith has described as “a roadmap to my life.”
The Family of Man by Edward Steichen and Carl Sandburg
Jennifer: "I first saw this book when I was a little girl. It creates the cycle of humanity starting with birth, chronicles the good and the great and the not-so-great, the difficult and universal elements of what it is to be human."
This book, the permanent embodiment of Edward Steichen's monumental exhibition, reproduces all of the 503 images that Steichen described as "a mirror of the essential oneness of mankind throughout the world. Photographs made in all parts of the world, of the gamut of life from birth to death."
Coincidences by Sarah Moon
Jennifer: "She started as a fashion photographer, and the images are really dreamlike. There's a sensation that something just happened and is about to happen, and you're in that transitional gap. The technique is astounding."
A fashion and commercial photographer since 1968, and also a filmmaker, Sarah Moon is known for her dreamlike images and her representation of femininity as free from time and context, as living in a fairy world. Mystery and sensuality are at the core of Moon's work, whether she's photographing haute couture, still life, or portraiture. In this book, Moon's first major retrospective, viewers will be treated to a visual tour-de-force, showing all the genres she has explored in her rich and diverse career.
Looking at Photographs: 100 Pictures from the Collection of the Museum of Modern Art by John Szarkowski
Jennifer: "I encountered it in college. The pictures in this book made me more aware of how we exist within our environment."
Originally published in 1973, this survey of The Museum of Modern Art's photography collection explores the evolution of the photographic medium using specific examples to illustrate its development.
Teenage by Joseph Szabo
Jennifer: "This is a great book. It's this amazing document of what it is to be in high school at that time, for almost anybody. Even though it's from the '70s to the late '80s, you recognize people you went to high school with."
Photographer Joseph Szabo's subject is adolescence; his rare gift is capturing the spirit of his students at Malverne High School, caught between puberty and the precipice of adulthood. Taken in the 70s and 80s, the photographs in Teenage represent a remarkable evocation of that period, and yet there is something timeless and endlessly compelling about Szabo's portrait of almost-adulthood.
Henri Cartier-Bresson, the Early Work by Peter Galassi
Jennifer admires Mr. Cartier-Bresson's "ability to hold two opposites with the same photograph, of struggle and joy and alienation and belonging. "It jibes with me now as an actor, in terms of being interested in paying attention to life"
Galassi isolates and analyzes the photographer's 1932-34 work, which was surrealistic rather than photojournalistic, a distinction overlooked in earlier publications. In a lengthy essay that makes the book important to art libraries, Galassi examines Cartier-Bresson's work in the cultural and intellectual context of 1930s Europe, and considers such topics as the influence on the medium of technological developments.
Men/Women before 10 A.M by Veronique Vial
Women before 10 A.M is an intimate group portrait of the most alluring up-and-coming women in the public eye early in the morning.
Caught in the act of sleeping, snuggling, primping, canoodling, dressing, eating, smoking, bathing,parenting, or waking.
Theresults are humorous, , touching, elegant, sexy, and above all very feminine.
Men before 10 A.M Too is the fruit of Veronique Vial's second foray into the ungaurded territory of the mostly private moments in the lives of established and up-and-coming hunks, heartthrobs, and musky mates, early in the day when ones hair is still mussed, coffees not yet made, and lovers are still sleeping.
The superb results are funny, funky, smart, sexy, and above all masculine.
Jennifer appears on Women Before 10 AM and she also introduces Men Before 10 AM. Click here to read it
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
The exemplary novel of the Jazz Age, F. Scott Fitzgeralds' third book, The Great Gatsby (1925), stands as the supreme achievement of his career. T. S. Eliot read it three times and saw it as the "first step" American fiction had taken since Henry James; H. L. Mencken praised "the charm and beauty of the writing," as well as Fitzgerald's sharp social sense; and Thomas Wolfe hailed it as Fitzgerald's "best work" thus far. The story of the fabulously wealthy Jay Gatsby and his love for the beautiful Daisy Buchanan, of lavish parties on Long Island at a time when, The New York Times remarked, "gin was the national drink and sex the national obsession," it is an exquisitely crafted tale of America in the 1920s that resonates with the power of myth. A novel of lyrical beauty yet brutal realism, of magic, romance, and mysticism, The Great Gatsby is one of the great classics of twentieth-century literature.
Man's Search for Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl
Jennifer: "A friend had recommended this book so I went out and bought it and it was really interesting. I keep re-reading parts of it, it’s a very engaging book"
Psychiatrist Viktor Frankl's memoir has riveted generations of readers with its descriptions of life in Nazi death camps and its lessons for spiritual survival. Between 1942 and 1945 Frankl labored in four different camps, including Auschwitz, while his parents, brother, and pregnant wife perished. Based on his own experience and the experiences of others he treated later in his practice, Frankl argues that we cannot avoid suffering but we can choose how to cope with it, find meaning in it, and move forward with renewed purpose.
Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman
Jennifer: "One of my favorite authors is Walt Whitman, for sure. I’ve read Leaves of Grass over and over and over again"One of the great innovative figures in American letters, Walt Whitman created a daringly new kind of poetry that became a major force in world literature. Here is the definitive collection of his work, from his solemn masterpiece "When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom'd" to the joyous freedom of "Song of Myself".
The Bell Jar by Sylvia PlathPlath was an excellent poet but is known to many for this largely autobiographical novel. The Bell Jar tells the story of a gifted young woman's mental breakdown beginning during a summer internship as a junior editor at a magazine in New York City in the early 1950s. The real Plath committed suicide in 1963 and left behind this scathingly sad, honest and perfectly-written book, which remains one of the best-told tales of a woman's descent into insanity.
Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman
Jennifer: "A friend gave me a copy of the book Im Down by Mishna Wolff. I laughed out loud from the first page on . . . A keenly perceptive, hilarious exploration of identity."
Humorist and former model Wolff details her childhood growing up in an all-black Seattle neighborhood with a white father who wanted to be black in this amusing memoir. Wolff never quite fit in with the neighborhood kids, despite her father's urgings that she make friends with the sisters on the block. Her father was raised in a similar neighborhood and—after a brief stint as a hippie in Vermont—returned to Seattle and settled into life as a self-proclaimed black man. Wolff and her younger, more outgoing sister, Anora, are taught to embrace all things black, just like their father and his string of black girlfriends. Just as Wolff finds her footing in the local elementary school (after having mastered the art of capping: think yo mama jokes), her mother, recently divorced from her father and living as a Buddhist, decides to enroll Wolff in the Individual Progress Program, a school for gifted children. Once again, Wolff finds herself the outcast among the wealthy white kids who own horses and take lavish vacations. While Wolff is adept at balancing humorous memories with more poignant moments of a daughter trying to earn her father's admiration, the result is more a series of vignettes than a cohesive memoir.
Eclipse, The Twilight Saga by Stephenie MeyersIsabella Swan's move to Forks, a small, perpetually rainy town in Washington, could have been the most boring move she ever made. But once she meets the mysterious and alluring Edward Cullen, Isabella's life takes a thrilling and terrifying turn. Up until now, Edward has managed to keep his vampire identity a secret in the small community he lives in, but now nobody is safe, especially Isabella, the person Edward holds most dear. The lovers find themselves balanced precariously on the point of a knife, between desire and danger. Deeply sensuous and extraordinarily suspenseful, Twilight captures the struggle between defying our instincts and satisfying our desires. This is a love story with bite.
The Adventures of Huckleberry Fynn by Mark TwainA masterpiece of American literature and one of the most enduring tales of freedom. It comments on racism and prejudice prevalent in society through the story of a boy and his friendship with a runaway slave. Twain delves into the psyche of his characters to offer an in-depth and true portrayal of life. The use of local dialect and vibrant descriptions make this novel unforgettable.
The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey by Walter MosleyAt ninety-one years old, Ptolemy Grey is one of the world’s forgotten: by his family, by his friends, by even himself. Marooned in a cluttered Los Angeles apartment overflowing with mementos from his past, Ptolemy sinks deeper into lonely dementia and into a past that’s best left buried. He’s determined to pass the rest of his days with only his memories for company. Until, at his grandnephew’s funeral, he meets Robyn and experiences a seismic shift, in his head, his heart, and his life.
Seventeen and without a family of her own, Robyn is unlike anyone Ptolemy has ever known. She and Ptolemy form an unexpected bond that reinvigorates his world. Robyn will not tolerate the way he has allowed himself to live, skulking in and out of awareness barely long enough to cash his small pension checks, living in fear of his neighbors and the memories that threaten to swallow him. With Robyn’s help, Ptolemy moves from isolation back into the brightness of friendship and desire. But Robyn’s challenges also push Ptolemy to make a life-changing decision that will affect both of them: to recapture the clarity and vigor of his fading mind and unlock the secrets he has carried for decades.
Pathologies of Power by Paul FarmerIn Pathologies of Power: Health, Human Rights, and the New War on the Poor, Paul Farmer combines his experiences as a physician and anthropologist in the Third World to bring forth evidence and analysis of poverty. While primarily focused on health, and profiling the effects of Tuberculosis, AIDS and other diseases on particular locales, his experience in treating patients beaten by members of military dictatorships and those who experience malnourishment point to deeply social health problems. As he quickly demonstrates, military attacks on civilians and AIDS are equally socially determined problems..
All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony DoerrJennifer: "Open your eyes and see what you can with them before they close forever. I don't want this book to end. Riveting. Deeply humanistic"
Novel about a blind French girl and a German boy whose paths collide in occupied France as both try to survive the devastation of World War II.
Marie Laure lives with her father in Paris within walking distance of the Museum of Natural History where he works as the master of the locks. When she is six, she goes blind, and her father builds her a model of their neighborhood, every house, every manhole, so she can memorize it with her fingers and navigate the real streets with her feet and cane. When the Germans occupy Paris in June of 1940, father and daughter flee to Saint-Malo on the Brittany coast, where Marie-Laure’s agoraphobic great uncle lives in a tall, narrow house by the sea wall.
In another world in Germany, an orphan boy, Werner, grows up with his younger sister, Jutta, both enchanted by a crude radio Werner finds. He becomes a master at building and fixing radios, a talent that wins him a place at an elite and brutal military academy and, ultimately, makes him a highly specialized tracker of the Resistance. Werner travels through the heart of Hitler Youth to the far-flung outskirts of Russia, and finally into Saint-Malo, where his path converges with Marie-Laure’s.
A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini
Jennifer: “I had spent a little bit of time in Ethiopia and on the way home was reading ‘Thousand Splendid Suns’ and though it’s a work of fiction… it was truly educational for me. It just really opened my eyes up to the restrictions that are in place around the world for women that are so abhorrent, and to say it enraged me would be a gross understatement.”
Mariam is only fifteen when she is sent to Kabul to marry Rasheed. Nearly two decades later, a friendship grows between Mariam and a local teenager, Laila, as strong as the ties between mother and daughter. When the Taliban take over, life becomes a desperate struggle against starvation, brutality and fear. Yet love can move a person to act in unexpected ways, and lead them to overcome the most daunting obstacles with a startling heroism.