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Carroll O'Connor (1924-2001) as 'Archie Bunker' in ‘All in the Family’, circa 1975. Photo: Silver Screen Collection / Getty Images

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Holiday Gift List: Nostalgia

10 books about cultural history for the pop-culture connoisseur / BY Nathalie Atkinson / December 2nd, 2021

For that friend who’s a walking think piece, full of high- and low-brow commentary, these 10 books offer a savvy backward glance at some cultural touchstones.

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1All in the Family: The Show That Changed Televisionby Jim Colucci, Norman Lear, et al.

Jimmy Kimmel writes the foreword to this inside look at the sitcom that – as Zoomer has written—upended prime time TV when it premiered in 1971 by directly addressing social topics of race and class. It features interviews with cast and crew, as well as 99-year-old Lear’s memories of certain episodes.

2All of the Marvels: A Journey to the Ends of the Biggest Story Ever Toldby Douglas Wolk

Wolk reads 27,000 Marvel comics – which began 60 years ago with the Fantastic Four – to put the ongoing epic (and billion-dollar industry) into social and cultural context. “The big Marvel story is a funhouse mirror history of the past sixty years of American life,” is how he puts it, “from the atomic night-terrors of the Cold War to the technocracy and pluralism of the present day.”

3Black Designers in American Fashionedited by Elizabeth Way

As the world mourns the unexpected loss of visionary creative director Virgil Abloh, who died of cancer last month at 41, this well-researched anthology looks at the cultural impact of those who came before him. Unsung designer Jay Jaxon, for example, was a direct precursor – as the head of Jean-Louis Scherrer – and the first African-American couturier to lead a Paris house. Profiles of enslaved makers and their descendants, like Virginia-born New York society dressmaker Frannie Criss, lead up to more recent pioneers such as Stephen Burrows, Scott Barrie, Willi Smith and Patrick Kelly.

4Color Scheme: An Irreverent History of Art and Pop Culture in Color Palettesby Edith Young

This is a clever guided tour of visual culture that’s decoded by hue and colour concepts, like Prince’s stage costumes, the evolution of trend shades in Le Creuset cookware and the meaning of red caps in Renaissance portraits. It’s art history, current events and pop culture recounted and analyzed in entertaining swatches.

5Come Fly the World: The Jet-Age Story of the Women of Pan Amby Julia Cooke

A travel writer shares stories of the restless, ambitious and adventurous female Pan-Am flight attendants between the 1950 to the 1970s, although the book is structured around interviews with five women, so it focuses mainly on their 60s heyday. An entertaining look at the bygone, glamorous (and, with rescues during the fall of Saigon, often gritty) world of air travel.

6Girly Drinks: A World History of Women and Alcoholby Mallory O’Meara

This in-depth feminist history surveys the role women have played over centuries in shaping the industry and drinking culture, not only as consumers, but through their creativity in product innovation as well as on the business side of distilling, brewing, bottling and selling. As one critic said, it’s the Moneyball of women and booze.

7Polaroid Nowby Steve Crist

Everything old is new again, including the first instant-gratification imaging camera system that was recently revived by popular demand. As this history and analysis of the Polaroid’s impact explains, contemporary global artists working in the medium now join avid practitioners like Andy Warhol and Chuck Close.

8Profusely Illustratedby Edward Sorel

Legendary artist Sorel, 92, pens a wonderful self-portrait of growing up in the Depression-era Bronx, learning to draw and working with the likes of Seymour Chwast and Milton Glaser. His life’s work includes umpteen Vanity Fair and New Yorker covers, political satire in The Nation and the Esquire cover for Gay Talese’s now-classic 1966 article “Frank Sinatra Has a Cold,” the caricature that kick-started his career.

9Set the Night on Fire by Robby Krieger with Jeff Alulis

The Doors guitarist weighs in for the first time in this tell-all that covers the band’s rise, creative process, fame and the fallout from front man Jim Morrison’s mysterious death in Paris. It has candid, conversational takes on events like their notorious Ed Sullivan Show appearance and the concert when Morrison was arrested on stage. 

10Woody Guthrie: Song and Art, Words and Wisdomby Nora Guthrie and Robert Santelli

The life and philosophy of folk icon Woody Guthrie (1912-1967) is illuminated with this volume of handwritten notes and draft song lyrics, ephemera and photographs assembled with his daughter Nora, the third-generation family archivist (after his mother and his widow) who now safeguards his work. Rosanne Cash, actor Jeff Daniels and historian David Brinkley also contribute their insight.


Canadian Author Details Anne Frank Cold-Case Investigation That Named Surprise Suspect in Her Family’s Betrayal in New BookAhead of the 75th anniversary of the publication of Frank's 'The Diary of a Young Girl' in June, a team that included a retired FBI agent and around 20 historians, criminologists and data specialists identified a relatively unknown figure as a leading suspect in revealing her family's hideout.

Man Who Tricked Authors Into Handing Over Unpublished Manuscripts Arrested by FBI in New YorkFilippo Bernardini, an employee of a well known publication house, has been arrested for stealing hundreds of unpublished manuscripts.

Hollywood Legend Betty White Has a Last Laugh in New Biographic Comic BookThe creators of the biographical comic book have released similar books about Hollywood legends like Carrie Fisher, Lucille Ball, David Bowie and Elizabeth Taylor.

Barack Obama Reveals His List of Books That Left “A Lasting Impression” in 2021Obama's favourite 2021 reads include two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning author Colson Whitehead's 'Harlem Shuffle' and 'Klara and the Sun,' by Nobel Prize-winning author Kazuo Ishiguro

“Interview With the Vampire” Author Anne Rice Dies at 80 — Tributes Pour in From Stuart Townsend and OthersThe author, who was best known for her work in gothic fiction, died on Saturday evening as a result of complications from a stroke.

Norma Dunning wins $25,000 Governor General’s English fiction prize for ‘Tainna’The Edmonton-based Inuk writer explores themes of displacement, loneliness and spirituality in six short stories

Omar El Akkad wins $100,000 Giller prize for “What Strange Paradise”The former Globe and Mail reporter, who published "American War" to acclaim in 2017, tackles the global migrant refugee crisis in his second novel

South African Author Damon Galgut Wins the Booker Prize For ‘The Promise’Galgut received nominations for his 2003 and 2010 works before finally taking home the prize this year. 

Hollywood Legend Paul Newman Discusses Life, Acting and Aging Gracefully in Newly Discovered MemoirPublishers of the newly discovered memoir say the Hollywood legend wrote the book in the 1980s in response to the relentless media attention he received during that time.

Here’s What You Need to Know About the Toronto International Festival of AuthorsDirector Roland Gulliver lands in Toronto to open his second, much-expanded virtual festival with more than 200 events

Tanzanian Novelist Gurnah Wins 2021 Nobel Prize in Literature for Depicting the Impact of Colonialism and Refugee StoriesGurnah, 72, is only the second writer from sub-Saharan Africa to win one of the world's most prestigious literary awards

Miriam Toews Garners Third Giller Prize Nomination for “Fight Night” after Shortlist AnnouncedSophomore efforts from novelists Omar El Akkad and Jordan Tannahill join debut books from Cheluchi Onyemelukwe-Onuobia and Angélique Lalonde

Tina Brown’s New Book, ‘The Palace Papers’, Covers the Royal Family’s Reinvention After Diana’s Tragic DeathTina Brown's sequel to her 2007 release 'The Diana Chronicles' is set to hit shelves April 12, 2022. 

Audible.ca Releases Andrew Pyper’s Exclusive Audiobook “Oracle” For New Plus Catalogue LaunchThe thriller about a psychic FBI detective is one of 12,000 titles now available for free to members

Barack Obama and Bruce Springsteen to Release Book Based On Their “Renegades” PodcastThe new book will feature a collection of candid, intimate and entertaining conversations

Prince Harry Will Publish a Memoir in Late 2022Harry says he's writing the book "not as the prince I was born but as the man I have become."


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