Spotlight On: Spring Beach Reads
In need of a good book while you’re idling in the sun? Here, some of the seasons’ great reads.
Surf Site Tin Type by Joni Sternbach
With its oversized dimensions, Surf Site Tin Type is probably better suited for a place of pride on your coffee table versus a day on the sand, but this book is a must for any and all beach lovers. It’s a beautiful ode to the surf life from photographer Joni Sternbach, who spent the past decade capturing portraits of contemporary surfers around the world. What makes this such a stunner is Sternbach’s use of tintypes — a 19th-century wet-plate, on-site form of photography — whose resulting patina adds a romance and artistry to her images; it’s a refreshing and welcome move in today’s digital quick-snapshot terrain.
A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara
Hanya Yanagihara, an editor-at-large for Condé Nast Traveler, is a powerful storyteller. Her debut novel The People in the Trees garnered serious praise — The New York Times noted her “rich, masterly prose” and called Yanagihara “a writer to marvel at” — and this sophomore outing has only upped the ante. A Little Life centers on four college friends who make the move to New York City to carve out a life and career in their respective fields: law, architecture, art and film. Yanagihara brilliantly crafts this very real, and unbelievably rich, world for the reader, as their stories unfold over the next few decades. But be warned: This one tugs on — no, ravages — heavily the emotions… and you’ll love it.
The Battle of Versailles by Robin Givhan
Pulitzer Prize-winning fashion critic Robin Givhan highlights a major — and oft-forgotten — moment in fashion history: the Battle of Versailles in 1973, when five French couturiers squared off against five American designers. Picture it: Yves Saint Laurent, Christian Dior, Hubert de Givenchy, Emanuel Ungaro and Pierre Cardin on one side, and Anne Klein, Stephen Burrows, Bill Blass, Oscar de la Renta and Halston on the other. It was a groundbreaking face-off — and for American fashion, the moment it stole the world stage — with no shortage of drama and stars, from Josephine Baker and Liza Minnelli to the top models of the era. Givhan’s journalistic eye brings you back, to the front row and behind the scenes.
I Left It on the Mountain by Kevin Sessums
Kevin Sessums has the sort of career that’s worthy of the big-screen treatment. He starts out as an actor trying to make it in the New York scene, then comes a career as a celebrity journalist at Interview and Vanity Fair, during the Andy Warhol and Tina Brown years, respectively. While the book is filled with bold-faced names — Jessica Lange, Hugh Jackman, Madonna and Daniel Radcliffe, to name a few — what’s compelling is Sessums’ own tale and how he finds his way out of a wild, self-destructive lifestyle. There are highs, lows — shocking, terrifying lows — and the spiritual paths back. Sessums doesn’t mince words and is brutally honest and graphic about the affairs in his life, but that’s what makes this memoir so raw.
Paris Street Style: Shoes by Isabelle Thomas and Frédérique Veysset
Fans of Isabelle Thomas and Frédérique Veysset’s Paris Street Style: A Guide to Effortless Chic will be happy to know the duo have a follow-up that narrows the focus to that much-beloved accoutrement: shoes, shoes, shoes. As with their last book, this one comes filled with a treasure’s worth of style tips, from footwear care (“shoe cream, not polish”) to the serious stuff, like “The 10 Commandments for Walking Well in Heels.” The interviews with designers and street-style stars are great, too, with plenty of advice and memorable quips. For instance, this little gem from W magazine’s Contributing Fashion Editor Giovanna Battaglia: “The lower I feel, the higher the heel.”
Going into the City by Robert Christgau
Memoirs are having a moment of late — just check out this list — and music critic Robert Christgau’s does not disappoint. Of course, this New York native is more than just your regular guy who writes about music for a living; he’s a rock-star critic, dubbed the Dean of American Rock Critics, who’s covered the industry for five decades, with, by his estimate, 14,000 record reviews under his belt. He saw Janis Joplin at the Fillmore, the Rolling Stones at the Garden, went to Woodstock — and got there in a limo with Pete Townshend. But Going into the City is as much about these stories as his own and it’s a treat for any music lover to peel back the curtain on the writer, his life and the art of music criticism.
Motorcycles I’ve Loved by Lily Brooks-Dalton
Motorcycles, world travels, Vermont and Australia — all those things come together in Lily Brooks-Dalton’s upcoming memoir, which details a nearly four-year journey around the world, on one motorcycle after another. Even if you’re not a gearhead, and can’t tell your cruisers from your scooters, the book’s appeal lies in Brooks-Dalton adventures in rediscovering herself, one road trip at a time.
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
This book is an American classic, and a Pulitzer Prize-winning one at that, so there’s no need for us to dive into its plot arc or what makes it such a wonderful read; you already know it all. The reason why this makes Tory Daily’s read-it-now round-up? Fifty-five years after its debut, Lee is finally releasing a sequel, Go Set a Watchman, which picks up two decades after the events in To Kill a Mockingbird. So catch up on the story of Scout Finch before Lee continues the tale — you’ve got four months before Go Set a Watchman is released on July 14th.