Nerdy Girl Reads: Fosse

Fosse by Sam Wasson

Title: Fosse

Author: Sam Wasson (Fifth Avenue, 5 A.M.)

Genre: Nonfiction (Biography)

Page Count: 723

The Basics: Fosse gives readers an in-depth look at the thousands of pieces that made up both Bob Fosse the musical-theater legend and Bob Fosse the man: the dance style that has often been imitated but will never be duplicated; the pills and the cigarettes; the innumerable women; the hunger for the spotlight; the manic-depressive drive and perfectionism; the narcissism and self-loathing; and his complicated love affair with showbiz that influenced every career choice he ever made. Wasson’s comprehensive portrait of Fosse is also a comprehensive portrait of the American musical—from its roots in vaudeville, to its many revolutions on both stage and screen, through its dark days in the 1980s (when years went by without a Tony Award given for Best Choreography). Opening with Fosse’s memorial, Wasson then flashes back to his subject’s earliest years, using each chapter to bring us closer and closer to his death. This technique gives the biography the feel of a well-crafted novel, and the book’s masterful weaving of style and substance would have made its subject—the ultimate dance style icon—proud.

Strengths: Sam Wasson is my current favorite nonfiction writer because of his ability to take one subject and seamlessly show how it’s reflective of a cultural movement much larger than itself. In Fifth Avenue, Five A.M. Wasson showed how Breakfast at Tiffany’s was much more than just a film; it was a major touchstone for the feminist movement in America. And in Fosse, Wasson linked the life of Bob Fosse to the collective life of American musical theater, creating not just a definitive look at Fosse’s life and career but a definitive look at an entire medium of American art. To see the way Fosse’s beginnings in vaudeville, his rise to fame in the early days of Broadway, his growing cynicism, and his death paralleled the rise, success, and fall of the American musical through the 1980s was nothing short of revelatory. I picked up this book expecting to learn about my favorite choreographer and the director of one of my favorite films (Cabaret), and I ended up learning incredible amounts of information about a genre that has always been close to my heart. It was a pleasant surprise of the highest order, to say the least.

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Nerdy Girl Reads: Deadly Heat

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Title: Deadly Heat

Author: Richard Castle (Heat Wave, Naked Heat, Frozen Heat)

Genre: Mystery/Crime/Thriller

Page Count: 291

The Basics: After discovering the espionage conspiracy behind the murder of her mother, NYPD homicide detective Nikki Heat continues to hunt for the people responsible. Her quest for answers places her in the middle of complicated relationships with federal agents, international spies, and her partner (both professionally and romantically)—Jameson Rook. It also leads her to the uncovering of an imminent bioterrorism plot targeting New York City. While trying to stop the massive terrorist event, Nikki also has to deal with a more personal threat—a serial killer who is obsessed with her, to the point of making her his next target.

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Nerdy Girl Reads: The Revolution Was Televised

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Title: The Revolution Was Televised

Author: Alan Sepinwall

Genre: Nonfiction

Page Count: 388

The Basics: In The Revolution Was Televised, popular television critic Alan Sepinwall turns an analytical eye towards the transformation that began over a decade ago and is still going on in the world of television dramas. From the characters they focus on (often complex antiheroes) to the channels we watch them on (often cable networks), television dramas have changed remarkably in a short period of time, and Sepinwall argues that these changes have produced some of the most compelling shows in the history of the medium. Each chapter focuses on one game-changing drama and its impact on television and pop culture as a whole. The birth of cable as a major player, the importance of audience participation through the Internet, and the impact of 9/11 on the stories we want to watch are all discussed with words from the creators, writers, and network executives who helped give life to this television revolution.

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Nerdy Girl Reads: Frozen Heat

Title: Frozen Heat

Author: Richard Castle (Heat Wave, Naked Heat, Heat Rises)

Genre: Mystery/crime

Page Count: 313

The Basics: New York City homicide detective Nikki Heat has been haunted for years by the one case she could never solve—her mother’s murder. When an old friend of her mother is found stabbed in the same brutal way, Detective Heat finds herself in the middle of an intricate web of secrets, betrayals, and international espionage. Along with investigative journalist Jameson Rook (her professional and romantic partner), she travels from the bright lights of Paris to the dark alleys of New York City, seeking the answers that have eluded her for over 10 years.

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Nerdy Girl Reads: Every Day

Title: Every Day

Author: David Levithan (Boy Meets Boy, How They Met and Other Stories, The Lover’s Dictionary)

Genre: Young adult/romance

Page Count: 322

The Basics: Every Day is told from the point of view of A, a 16-year-old who wakes up in the body of a different 16-year-old every day. Some days, A is a girl; some days A is a boy. Some days A lives a happy life; some days A inhabits a body that is depressed, addicted to drugs, or suicidal. A has learned to live with this existence, trying to refrain from interfering with any aspect of the lives he inhabits, until the day he wakes up in the body of a boy named Justin and falls in love with Justin’s girlfriend, Rhiannon. From that day on, A is determined to find Rhiannon again, with far-reaching consequences. And once A does find her again, can she truly love a person whose appearance, whose life, changes every day?

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