Category: Non-Fiction

Jussie Smollett

Jussie Smollett’s Publisher Will Proceed With Family Cookbook

In the wake of his scandal and arrest, Jussie Smollett may have only one supporter left: his publisher.

On January 29th, Jussie Smollett filed a police report, claiming to be the victim of violent assault. The details were graphic: while in Chicago, two men hurled racist and homophobic slurs at the Empire actor. The unknown men struck Smollett, poured a mysterious chemical substance onto his head, and wrapped a rope around his neck. When they shouted, “MAGA country,” their motivations could not have been more blatant: this was a hate crime.

Nearly a month later, the investigation appears to have revealed that this was not, in fact, the case.

 

Jussie Smollett close-up

Image Via Rappler

 

The police investigation swiftly changed direction when law enforcement discovered that Smollett knew the attackers personally. Police questioned Smollett’s redacted phone records and determined that Smollett had been in contact with both men before the incident. It wasn’t long before the story appeared to unravel: Smollett allegedly paid the two $3,500 to stage the attack over dissatisfaction with his $1 million salary, which amounts to $65,000 per episode. In the United States, the median household income is around $61,000.

On February 21st, the Empire actor was arrested for filing a false police report. These supposedly fraudulent allegations are especially troubling when considering their impact on real allegations—and real victims.

 

Mandatory Credit: Photo by TANNEN MAURY/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock (10114674e) 'Empire' TV series actor Jussie Smollett (C) emerges from the Cook County Court complex after posting 10 percent of a 100,000 USD bond in Chicago, Illinois, USA, 21 February 2019. Smollett was charged with felony disorderly conduct for allegedly filing a false police report claiming he was attacked with bleach and a rope was placed around his neck in an incident that has drawn national attention. If convicted Smollett faces up to three years in prison. Jussie Smollett charged with felony disorderly conduct, Chicago, USA - 21 Feb 2019

Image Via People

 

Fox Entertainment has avoided any direct comments on Smollett’s situation, “placing [its] trust in the legal system as the process plays out.” Nevertheless, the “disturbing” allegations’ impact on cast and crew members has led Fox to cut Smollett’s role from this season’s final episodes. Smollett’s career may also be on trial, but he’s got one more gig: his upcoming family cookbook, completed with siblings Jazz, Jurnee, and Jake.

The Family Table: Recipes and Moments From a Nomadic Life was initially released in April 2018. According to the publisher, the book will remain in print.

The cookbook is described on Amazon as follows:

Before actors and Food Network stars Jazz, Jake, Jurnee, and Jussie Smollett conquered Hollywood, they spent their childhood crisscrossing the United States. Moving coast to coast thirteen times, they car-tripped to small towns and big cities across America.

But no matter where they lived, two things remained constant: their incredible family feasts and the long, wooden kitchen table where they shared food and lived their lives. Each time they arrived in a new home, their mother would transform planks of hard wood into a smooth, varnished butcher block table in a beloved ritual that took three days. That hand-crafted table would become the heart of the Smollett clan, where the most important and cherished events and accomplishments, no matter how large or small, were honored, and where holidays were celebrated: Christmas, Easter, Passover, Chanukah, birthdays, milestones. With a mother from New Orleans and a Jewish father from New York who met and married in California, the Smollett kids were exposed to diverse culinary heritages and grew up open to all the deliciousness the world had to offer.

In this warm and personal book, the Smolletts invite us all to take a seat at their table and enjoy the good times and good food that help families thrive. The Family Table includes more than 130 delicious, comforting recipes that pay tribute to their past and present. These favorite recipes from the Smolletts are suitable for intimate dinners and fabulous feasts alike, but more than that, The Family Table is a remarkable portrait of a loving, all-American family, rich with traditions that they continue to build to this day.

 

 

Featured Image Via Variety

Comic Explores Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s Life Story

US Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is a modern icon, a judge who has had untold positive impact on the United States’ justice system. Towards the end of last year, a biopic On the Basis of Sex was released, starring Felicity Jones and Armie Hammer, and now Bader Ginsberg’s life story is becoming a graphic novel!

 

Image result for ruth bader ginsburg

Image via TMZ.

 

The novel is written by Debbie Levy, the New York Times bestselling author of the RBG picture book I Dissent: Ruth Bader Ginsburg Makes Her Markand illustrated by Whitney Gardner.

 

Image result for debbie levy

Debbie Levy (writer) | Image via Debie Levy Books

 

Image result for whitney gardner

Whitney Gardner. | Image via Pop! Goes the Reader.

 

Becoming RBG follows Bader Ginsburg’s life from her childhood in Brooklyn to her days as a student, and later, a Columbia Law School professor, as a lawyer and on to her tenure on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. The book then details Bader Ginsberg’s appointment to highest court in the land and work as a Supreme Court Justice.

 

Image via Amazon.

 

Check out this Bustle article for a first look at the graphic novel!

 

The writing is rather simple (it is a children’s book after all), and the art is super endearing! Great for kids, or anyone interested in history who doesn’t have the time for a full-length feature film or reading a lengthy book.

 

 

Featured Image via Red Pill Pundit.

Ex-Maid Joins Michelle Obama on NYT Bestsellers List

My daughter learned to walk in a homeless shelter.”

The first line of a book sets the tone, opens the door, lights the fuse. From “My suffering left me sad and gloomy” to “Call me Ishmael” opening lines are a treasured and powerful thing in the literary community. The opening line of Stephanie Land’s new memoir, Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay, and a Mother’s Will to Survive is no different regarding momentous beginnings; her book epitomizes the ever-adrenalizing idea of #thegrind.

 

sxsw 2016 hard work GIF by SXSW

Image Via Giphy.com

Half a decade ago, Stephanie Land was a struggling college student. On top of being broke and ambitious, she was a single mom, with another baby on the way. With very little support from her family, she cleaned houses for nine dollars an hour to provide for her children. In a gutsy, courageous turn of events, Stephanie Land decided to defy logic: she quit the maid life and went all in on her dream of becoming a writer. Her focus turned to her studies at the University of Montana, accumulating debt as a quasi-investment in herself. Two weeks ago, Maid became #3 on the New York Times’s Nonfiction Best Seller List, right behind Educated by Tara Westover and Becoming by Michelle Obama. In an article by CNN, Land describes the moment she found this out, on a plane:

As soon as I landed, I got a huge amount of texts, “she said. What followed was the type of tearful flood of emotion that so often follows moments of triumph. Against all odds, Stephanie Land had pulled off her own rags to riches narrative.

Image Via Amazon.com

The book’s narrative begins in Land’s late twenties, at a point in life where she was living in a homeless shelter with her infant daughter. At this time, cleaning houses was the only job she could find in Seattle. The memoir depicts poverty in a realistic and grounded way. Land’s situation was not caused by a lack of work ethic or moral compass. She wasn’t some lazy lay-about, undeserving of a solid paycheck. On the contrary, she probably deserved it more than some of the people she cleaned for. Being a maid isn’t glamorous, it’s not the type of job anyone would like to imagine themselves doing. But it is a job. The kind of job people take when their lives have become more about survival and love than dignity.

Before her book, Land’s life as a maid influenced an essay she wrote for Vox about the excessive number of painkillers she found in mansions she cleaned and the ways in which the people she cleaned for treated her, granting her a viral amount of attention. After college Land became a writing fellow with the Washington, DC-based Center for Community Change (which has now arranged a panel on poverty on which Land will appear).

 

Image Via Channel3000.com

Stephanie Land is currently touring her memoir, reading sections of her book, defying poverty stereotypes, and inspiring people. Her book outlines the difficulties for those relying on government assistance programs while balancing a family and college life. Maid is being noticed by everyone from Amazon to Neil Gaiman.

Land’s story adds even more legitimacy to the following statement: Moms rock. I’m talking The Beatles on The Ed Sullivan Show, Michael Jackson mooning walking at Motown 25, Mick Jagger still moving with the best of them at seventy-five years young kind of rock. Mothers are motivated by an indestructible and resolute love for her children; their needs, aspirations, and happiness. Every minute of every day is brick used to build the house that is her family. #metaphors They slave over suppers and sometimes starve so that their offspring can eat.

michael jackson GIF

Image Via Giphy.com

I, myself, have been fortunate enough to witness a magnificent number of maternal miracles in my lifetime; My mother has also dabbled in the maid life to support her family, hence my particular interest in Land’s story. Mothers like these show us that the limits placed on human beings by secular articulation are a vernacular that doesn’t mean shit. They are driven by love, using it as the needle in their compasses. Women like this can find their way home through an indefinite desert of ambiguity and still have enough gumption to lay a blanket over a freezing child. That’s the only type of work ethic and ambition that matter. While Land was able to come full circle and achieve the seemingly impossible, most unsung heroes—maids, janitors, bus drivers, service industry workers, moms…are not so lucky. Land’s story resonates with the worker, dreamer, and survivor in all of us.

 

the rock clapping GIF

Image Via Giphy.com

 

 

Featured Image Via Stepville.com

New NASA Book Explores Beauty of Planet Earth

There is a lot of beauty in the world, and NASA has found a way to make it easier to see.

With pictures taken from various NASA satellites, the government agency has released 168 pages of photographs covering various remote landscapes and compiled them into a new book titled Earth.

The main version of this book is interactive and can be found here. There are four sections: atmosphere, water, land, and ice/snow. Clicking on each section will open up a slideshow of photos along with stories about how these locations came to be.

The book is also available in a hardcover version for $53 for those who want to take a physical version home as well as a PDF version for download.

Here is a preview of some of the photos you will see on the site.

 

A Trio of Plumes in the South Sandwich Islands

Cocos (Keeling) Islands

Bowknot Bend

Iceberg off Mertz Glacier Tongue

Images Via NASA.gov

 

 

Featured Image Via Geek.com

 

The L.A. Times Book Prize Logo

L.A. Times Book Prize Finalists Include Michelle Obama, Tara Westover

The Los Angeles Times Festival of Books is the largest literary gathering in the country, attracting over 150,000 people to a massive celebration of culture. Categories include First Fiction, Current Interest, Biography, Fiction, Poetry, Graphic Novel, Thriller, History, Science & Technology, and Young Adult Literature. This year, the nominations are as exciting as they are nerve-wracking—not all of them can win! Here’s the conundrum: they all deserve the prize. Don’t believe it? Let’s take a look at some of our most distinguished nominees.

 

Michelle Obama with book 'Becoming'

Image Via The Chicago Tribune

 

Michelle Obama’s Becoming has already become a staggering success. Penguin Random House paid over $65 million for the rights to Michelle and Barack’s autobiographies, making it one of the most expensive book deals of all time. This figure is also unprecedented among other presidential figures: Bill Clinton earned an advance of $15 million for his own autobiography, which, as you might have noticed, is less than half of that sixty-five. Critics have called Barack Obama “that rare politician who can actually write,” and The New York Times reviewed Dreams From My Father as a literary masterpiece rather than another ghostwritten memoir. But Michelle isn’t doing so bad—Becoming sold a record-breaking two million copies in only fifteen days, and it went on to become the best-selling book of 2018. (And yes, Barack put his wife’s book on his famous reading list.)

Other titles in the category include Michael Lewis’ incisive The Fifth Risk, which critically examines the Trump administration. Given increased visibility regarding issues of immigration, human rights, and the possible border wall, Francisco Cantú’s The Line Becomes a River is also a timely inclusion.

 

Michael Lewis' 'The Fifth Risk'

Image Via The International Anthony Burgess Foundation

 

Though Becoming is a memoir, judges have classified it within the Current Interest category—which means, fortunately, that it isn’t competing against Tara Westover’s Educated, a memoir of triumph, persistence, fanaticism, and violence that earned the world’s attention in 2018. USA Today called it the best memoir in years, and with good reason: it’s been a finalist for just about everything. (Of course, it was also on Barack Obama’s reading list.) The memoir chronicles Tara Westover’s journey from beneath Buck’s Peak, the mountain that looms in her childhood as enormous as the influence of her father’s survivalist views. By the age of seventeen, Westover had never seen a doctor nor set foot in a classroom—in fact, until her teenage years, there was no record of her birth at all. Westover has since received a PhD from Cambridge. While there are other books in this category, this is certainly a contender.

 

Tara Westover with memoir, 'Educated'

Image Via Bustle

 

Other titles in the running for various L.A. Times prizes carry serious weight—Elizabeth Acevedo’s YA novel The Poet X is up for a prize after having won the National Book Award. Acevedo’s diverse novel explores poetry as means for personal freedom in an immigrant community with traditional (read: sexist) values. Particularly interesting nominations in other categories include Science & Technology’s Dopesick: Dealers, Doctors, and the Drug Company that Addicted America by Beth Macy, a notable book in the wake of the opioid epidemic.

 

Elizabeth Acevedo with novel, 'The Poet X'

Image Via Medium

 

Tayari Jones’ An American Marriage: A Novel, a nomination for the Fiction category, was among Oprah’s 2018 book club picks and also featured on Barack Obama’s 2018 reading list. Of course, it has some fierce competition: Rebecca Makkai’s The Great Believers, an evocative depiction of the AIDS crisis, is also in the running. Renowned comedian Amy Poehler is currently optioning the novel for a TV adaptation—if that’s not good enough, it’s also one of the NYT‘s top ten books for 2018.

 

'An American Marriage' by Tayari Jones and 'The Great Believers' by Rebecca Makkai

Image Via Entertainment Weekly

 

There are too many excellent titles to list: with ten categories and five nominees in each, you could finish reading one by the time we described them all. Take a look at the 2019 finalists, and decide which one would be a winner on your bookshelf.

 

Featured Image Via The L.A. Times