Tag Archives: History

National Hip Hop History Month

For many people, hip hop is more than just music: it’s a lifestyle. November is National Hip Hop History month and we wanted to take a moment to appreciate some great books that document the history of the musical genre and the artists that made it great.

The concise guide to hip-hop music: a fresh look at the art of hip-hop, from old-school beats to freestyle rap by Paul Edwards— Although concise, this book is by no means basic. Edwards explores the full history of rap, including old school, new school, and the most influential artists in the business. Myths and misconceptions are dispelled surrounding artists and their music. Whether you’re new to the genre or an old school b-boy, this book has something new for everyone.

The gospel of hip hop : first instrument  presented by KRS-One for the Temple of Hip Hop—In this bible-style manifesto, philosophy and practical knowledge are combined to provide instruction for hip hop as a lifestyle. The past of the genre is explored as well as ways to preserve it in the future through “Health, Love, Awareness, and Wealth.” Having drawn praise and criticism from a multitude of readers, this inspiring book will undoubtedly immerse you in the Hip Hop culture.

The hip hop wars: what we talk about when we talk about hip hop–and why it matters by Tricia Rose—Hip hop is changing. Rose is concerned that hip hop is becoming increasingly saturated with caricatures of black culture, such as “gangsters, thugs, pimps, and ‘hos.” Hip hop has become a venue in which society can talk about race; but, the overabundance of stereotypes greatly inhibits that conversation. Rose examines whether these stereotypes are a reflection of hip hop culture or if it undermines it.

Hip hop matters: politics, pop culture, and the struggle for the soul of a movement by S. Craig Watkins—Hip hop is more than its own culture; it has been integrated into politics, American pop culture, and education. Unsurprisingly, this culture has its greatest influence on young people. Watkins argues that the corporate takeover of the industry greatly influences young people’s perceptions of the world around them. Ultimately, Watkins argues for the positive influences of hip hop culture on the younger generation.

Hip hop: bring the noise: the stories behind the biggest songs by Neil Kulkarni—As in every great genre, hip hop is more than just the songs, but the stories behind them.  Rap is highly political by nature, and its complex lyrics are rich with backstories. Kulkarni’s book is filled with pictures and stories about popular songs from NWA to Eminem. These accounts help reveal the artistry of hip hop music.

Dirty South : Outkast, Lil Wayne, Soulja Boy, and the Southern rappers who reinvented hip-hop by Ben Westhoff–  East Coast and West Coast rap have dominated the hip hop scene since the beginning. In recent years, a new style of rap has emerged: Southern rap. Although it is looked down upon by the coastal artists, rappers like Outcast and Lil Wayne continue to be successful among listeners.  Westhoff takes readers deep into the South to explore these popular artists and the neighborhoods that inspire their music. While interviewing rappers, producers, and dance-craze originators, readers are exposed to the rich and complicated culture of Southern hip hop.

Book of rhymes: the poetics of hip hop by Adam Bradley—Poetry’s greatest influence might not be coming from who you might think.  Many of today’s poetic innovators are rappers, such as Jay-Z and Eminem. Although lyrics are sometimes controversial, they follow the many of the rhythms of traditional poetry.  Bradley argues that if we do not view rap as poetry, we are missing out on revolutionary works by contemporary masters of the craft.

How to rap: the art and science of the hip-hop MC by Paul Edwards—Do you aspire to be the next great rapper? Do you love the music but don’t know where to start in writing your own lyrics? Edwards provides a comprehensive guide to help new rappers in the craft as well as provide helpful tips for experienced lyricists. Filled with research and interviews from 100 of the greatest rappers today, aspects of the craft are explored in their complexity. Breathing control, literary tools, constructing beats, and free-styling are just some of the many insights covered in this extensive manual.


Our ‘Big Ten’ of Football Books

There’s a coolness in the air (some days, anyway) and the football season is finally upon us. To celebrate, we compiled a list of ten great books about football from all different aspects of the sport. Whether you like to watch high school, college, or professional football, we have great suggestions for all football fans.

Season of Saturdays: a history of college football in 14 games by Michael Weinreb—Part memoir, part reporting of some of the most influential games of college history, Weinreb examines the coaches and teams that made the games great. From the first college game in 1869 to the debate over amateur athletes, Weinreb tackles the controversy and the changes that formed the way we know the sport today.

Breaking the line: the season in Black college football that transformed the sport and changed the course of civil rights by Samuel G. Freedman—In 1967, during the Civil Rights Movement,  the coaches from two black colleges, Louisiana’s Grambling College and Florida A&M, teamed up to bring integration to the sport at both the college and professional level. Together they redefined the game.

The Southern tailgating cookbook: a game-day guide for lovers of food, football, & the South by Taylor Mathis—Spice up your tailgate or game day at home with these great southern recipes. With over 100 recipes and tons of mouth-watering pictures, you’ll be sure to find a new simple or extravagant recipe to add to your playbook.

Gridiron gauntlet: the story of the men who integrated pro football, in their own words by Andy Piascik—In 1947, four black players joined the Cleveland Browns and the Los Angeles Rams to become the first African-American professional football players.  These and eight other African American men tell their stories of discrimination and success in the world of professional football.

League of denial: the NFL, concussions, and the battle for truth by Mark Fainaru-Wada and Steve Fainaru—In 2005, the National Football League concluded, “Professional football players do not sustain frequent repetitive blows to the brain on a regular basis.” Even the casual football fan can see that professional football can be a dangerous sport. This fast-paced story follows players from the field to the lab to uncover the health concerns and pressures professional football players face.

I beat the odds: from homelessness, to the blind side, and beyond by Michael Oher—You may have seen The Blind Side, but you can also read about Michael Oher’s transformation from homelessness to success on the football field in his own words. Oher separates fact from movie fiction in an attempt to inspire the many children who find themselves in a similar circumstance.

Friday night lights: a town, a team, and a dream by H.G. Bissinger—In the small, west Texas town of Odessa, things are falling apart. The Permian High School Panthers and their winning record bring hope and pride to their community. Bissinger examines the town, the team, and the coaches in a snapshot of pure Americana.

Bloody Sundays: inside the dazzling, rough-and-tumble world of the NFL by Mike Freeman—Dig deeper into the world of football with this great book. Freeman breaks down and studies the game into three main components—coaching, offense, and defense—and uses these sections to profile football’s most iconic players and coaches. He also delves into the “secret society” of gay players; as well as, the physical and mental problems players face.

Carry the rock: race, football, and the soul of an American city by Jay Jennings—In 1957, the Little Rock Nine became famous for their bravery as they integrated into a predominantly white school in the fight for education equality. On the fiftieth anniversary of this event, Jennings returned to his hometown of Little Rock to revisit the fight for integration and equality. What he found was the compelling story of the school’s unified and diverse football team.

Tales from Michigan Stadium  by Jim Brandstatter—Relive some of the greatest moments in University of Michigan football history. From the first touchdown at Michigan Stadium to Lloyd Carr’s legendary coaching career, this book is full of stories from the Wolverine’s rich history.

The Deen bros. get fired up : grilling, tailgating, picnicking, and more by Jamie and Bobby Deen—Whether you’re grilling at home or at the stadium, here are some more great recipes for game day. With a variety of sides and entrees, there are a ton of easy recipes to choose from.

The Pro Football Hall of Fame 50th anniversary book: where greatness lives  edited by Joe Horrigan and John Thorn—The Professional Football Hall of Fame opened on September 7, 1963. In commemoration of the hall of fame’s 50th anniversary, essays from famous football journalists, newscasters, and players were compiled to celebrate the sport’s rich history. This book contains sidebars, pictures, and artifacts to honor some of the greatest players in the sport.

Collision low crossers: a year inside the turbulent world of NFL football by Nicholas Dawidoff—Dawidoff spent a year behind the scenes with the New York Jets. Equal parts Moneyball, The Office, and Friday Night Lights, Dawidoff gets to the heart of the team and brings their season to life.

Fantasy football: 7 valuable lessons that will make you a better fantasy football player by Ken Kocon—Are you looking to improve your chances of winning your fantasy football league this year? This insightful book has tips and tricks to help improve your season.

Okay, just like the real Big Ten, maybe we got a little carried away. Either way, grab one of these great books to read while you wait for the next game to start.

Veterans Day reading list


We observe Veterans Day on November 11, the anniversary of the armistice that ended the hostilities of World War I. As we thank our veterans for their service to the United States, it is also a good time to reflect upon and learn more about what they did for us. Here is a list of a few books to read, keeping in mind the sacrifices our veterans made!

Band of Brothers by Stephen E. Ambrose  tells of the men in Easy Company, 506th Airborne Division, US Army. Men who fought, went hungry, froze & died, a company that took 150% casualties & considered the Purple Heart a badge of office.

Flags of Our Fathers by James D. Bradley is the story of the men who were immortalized on the Marine Corps War Memorial. It is a powerful account of six very different young men who came together in a moment that will live forever.

Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand tells the story of Louis Zamperini, an Olympic athlete and US Airman, and the journey that led to his doomed flight, a tiny raft, and a drift into the unknown.

The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien is a profound study of men at war that illuminates the capacity, and the limits, of the human heart and soul. For additional reading on the Vietnam War try these titles: A Rumor Of War by Philip Caputo –and– We Were Soldiers Once… and Young by Harold G. Moore, Joseph L. Galloway

Generation Kill by Evan Wright is the funny, frightening, and profane firsthand account of the USMC First Recon Battalion, of the personal toll of victory, and of the randomness, brutality, and camaraderie of a new American war.

Memorial Day 2013

poppies veterans

Memorial Day is coming up on May 24th and while it is the unofficial kick off for summer for many of us, it’s also a day to honor the men and women who have given their lives for their country.

 Try picking up one of these books to get a sense of what those heroes  go through.  Some of them may be echoes from your high school English classes, but I think they are worth another read.

Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane tells the tale of a young boy fighting in the Civil War.

War and Remembrance by Herman Wouk is the first of a trilogy, following the Henry family as they fight in World War II.

Ernest Hemingway’s novels, A Farewell To Arms covers the life of a soldier in World War I, while For Whom The Bell Tolls explores the Spanish Civil War in the 1930’s.

And If I Perish by Evelyn Mohahan is the true story of World War II army nurses and the dangers they faced.

Alexander Jefferson’s autobiography, Red Tail Captured, Red Tail Free, relates the story of one of the Tuskegee airmen.

Band of Brothers by Stephen Ambrose follows one regiment of soldiers, starting with the invasion of Normandy on D-Day.

Miracle at St. Anna by James McBride is a novel detailing the experiences of a group of Buffalo Soldiers fighting in Italy in World War II

Jarhead by Anthony Swofford tells a Marine’s perspective on the Gulf War.

The novel Yellow Birds by Kevin Power brings light to a soldier’s life in the Iraq War.

Catch 22 by Joseph Heller is a satirical look at the insanity of war.

Slaughterhouse 5, a novel by Kurt Vonnegut is based on the author’s own experiences in World War II. 

There are so many other titles for you to choose from – stop at the Fiction Desk and we’ll help you find one.

As always, Happy Reading and Happy Summer!