Paul Simon: The Life by Robert HilburnWhat it is: an energetic and thoroughly researched portrait of the singer-songwriter's life and prolific seven-decade career.
Why it's significant: Music journalist Robert Hilburn was granted rare access to Simon, becoming the first biographer to interview him -- which he did for more than 100 hours over the course of a year.
Don't miss: gossipy tidbits about Simon's partnership and eventual rift with Art Garfunkel, from which the two never fully recovered.
Caddyshack: The Making of a Hollywood Cinderella Story by Chris NashawatyWhat it's about: the chaotic, drug-fueled production of the 1980 sports comedy Caddyshack and its enduring status as a cult classic.
Is it for you? Fans of the film will appreciate this humorous and unexpectedly moving behind-the-scenes account.
Try this next: Violet Ramis Stiel's heartfelt memoir Ghostbuster's Daughter chronicles her relationship with her father, Caddyshack director (and comedy legend) Harold Ramis, including anecdotes about his career.
Well, That Escalated Quickly: Memoirs and Mistakes of an Accidental Activist by Franchesca RamseyWhat it is: a sharp and timely essay collection chronicling the author's complicated journey toward activism after her YouTube video "Sh*t White Girls Say...to Black Girls" went viral in 2012, sparking conversations about race and gender -- and attracting the ire of vicious internet trolls.
Chapters include: "Eulogies for Cringeworthy Comments;" "Activism Is Like Long Division -- You Have to Show Your Work;" and "Franchesca's Simple Explanations of Not-So-Simple Concepts."
So Close to Being the Sh*t, Y'all Don't Even Know by RettaWhat it's about: In this engaging essay collection, comedian and Parks and Recreation actress Retta humorously ruminates on everything from her Liberian immigrant parents and abandoned med school aspirations to her addictive personality and eclectic hobbies.
Want a taste? "I know that meeting a black woman with a love for hockey is a bit like stumbling upon a unicorn in the woods."
Media buzz: Retta's NBC television series Good Girls premiered earlier this year and was recently renewed for a second season.
The Soul of Basketball: The Epic Showdown Between LeBron, Kobe, Doc, and Dirk... by Ian ThomsenWhat it's about: The 2010-2011 NBA season marked a turning point for the sport, beginning with LeBron James's controversial decision to leave the Cleveland Cavaliers for the Miami Heat and bolstered by the league's rising popularity and financial success.
About the author: Ian Thomsen is a writer at Sports Illustrated and an NBA.com contributor.
Reviewers say: "A fine work of sports journalism and a must for every bookish roundball fan" (Kirkus Reviews).
27 Club: Musicians Who Died at 27
On the Road with Janis Joplin by John Byrne CookeWhat it is: a poignant memoir tracing the final three years of Janis Joplin's life, written with insight and empathy by her former road manager.
Why you might like it: John Byrne Cooke's unique perspective of Joplin provides a fully rounded portrait of her artistry and personality, portraying her not as a music legend but as a vulnerable human being.
Did you know? In the final years of her life, Joplin recorded nearly 200 songs.
Here We Are Now: The Lasting Impact of Kurt Cobain by Charles R. CrossWhat it is: a concise and fast-paced analysis of the Nirvana frontman's influence on American culture -- from rock and hip-hop music to high-end fashion and addiction studies -- written to coincide with the 20th anniversary of his death in 2014.
Further reading: Music journalist Charles R. Cross utilizes Cobain's own diary entries in the revealing biography Heavier Than Heaven.
Starting at Zero: His Own Story by Jimi HendrixWhat it is: a heartwrenching posthumous memoir by musician Jimi Hendrix, constructed from letters, lyrics, interviews, and diaries.
Topics include: Hendrix's rebellious Seattle childhood and brief stint in the military, his self-taught music skills and early career clashes with Little Richard, for whom he served as a band sideman.
Reviewers say: "An essential primary source for any devoted Hendrix fan, but will also appeal to those with a more casual interest" (Publishers Weekly).
Brian Jones: The Making of the Rolling Stones by Paul TrynkaWhat it's about: Brian Jones founded the Rolling Stones in 1962; by the time of his mysterious death in 1969, he had been kicked out of the band just as it was reaching a pivotal artistic peak.
Why you might like it: Paul Trynka's lively, atmospheric writing transports readers to London's Swinging Sixties.
What sets it apart: Trynka foregrounds the enigmatic musician as a heretofore unsung -- and essential -- contributor to the Rolling Stones' success, revealing the full extent of the band's history.
Loving Amy: A Mother's Story by Janis WinehouseWhat it is: a moving and candid portrait of the troubled Grammy Award-winning singer, chronicling her rapid ascent to stardom and the addictions that followed.
Want a taste? "She left no answers, only questions, and in the years since her death I've found myself trying to make sense of the frayed ends of her extraordinary existence."
What's inside: illuminating never-before-seen photographs of a young Amy and her childhood mementos.
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