Spotlight on shining lights
These three books offer peeks behind the scenes of our favorite on-screen entertainment, making them the perfect gifts for the TV aficionados and cinephiles among us.
Much like RuPaul himself, GuRu defies easy categorization. There are 80 beautiful photos of the author in his many drag guises, plus life advice on everything from conquering childhood pain to style. These highlights of RuPaul’s journey from hardworking unknown to influential and successful multihyphenate are at once fascinating, funny and inspiring. RuPaul urges readers to “stop trying to fit in when you were born to stand out” and offers insight into how drag has allowed him to express himself and feel truly seen. With multiple records, books, Emmys for his show “RuPaul’s Drag Race” and more under his flatteringly waist-cinching belt, he’s no stranger to sharing his message. This scrapbook of his life so far is another example of the power of authenticity, no matter what it looks like.
WE WERE ON A BREAK
Readers who had “the Rachel” haircut, can sing all the words to “Smelly Cat” and have celebrated “Friendsgiving” are the natural audience for journalist Kelsey Miller’s I’ll Be There for You: The One About Friends. However, even those who didn’t immerse themselves in the 1990s television phenomenon “Friends” will appreciate her perspective on how it influenced pop culture. Miller was 10 when “Friends” debuted, and “its enormous impact was baked into my DNA like radiation.” When she recently found herself timing her workouts to “Friends” reruns on her gym’s TV, Miller decided to explore why the show still resonates so strongly (16 million Americans watch reruns every week, she notes). The book is a delightfully mixed bag: Miller shares the players’ origin stories and gives insight into how TV shows are made. She also considers the show’s impact on everything from advertising to fashion to coffee culture and thoughtfully examines the show’s fatphobia, lack of diversity and depictions of gay characters. It’s an entertaining read for fans of all ages.
Adam Nayman’s The Coen Brothers: This Book Really Ties the Films Together is a colorful, comprehensive tribute to the movie-making duo. The author, a Toronto- based film critic, is intrigued by the interconnectedness of the Coens’ work, which spans some four decades. He asserts that, while their films may seem to be wildly different, “nothing in the brothers’ vise-tight, magisterially engineered movies could be happening by accident.” And so, from 1987’s Raising Arizona to 1996’s Fargo to 2013’s Inside Llewyn Davis, et al., Nayman sets out to identify “some Grand Unified Theory of Coen-ness.” Readers can follow along on this quest, or they can flip around and dive into specific movies, read interviews with Coen collaborators or page through the photos and illustrations. Even if there’s no singular answer to what makes a Coen film a Coen film, this detailed compendium is a cinephile’s delight.
This article was originally published in the December 2018 issue of BookPage. Download the entire issue for the Kindle or Nook.