2019 Agate Round-Up: News, Reviews, and More

Ron Stallworth, the New York Times bestselling author of Black Klansman, recommends Marra Gad’s The Color of Lovefor a good life-affirming read,” calling Marra B. Gad’s memoir about her experience as a mixed-race Jewish woman “a timely and touching memoir.” Jew School, a progressive Jewish news and opinion website, writes that “those presently in control of our community and institutions have much to learn from reading The Color of Love and similar books.”

Publishers Weekly praises the “trio of finely drawn characters” that populate Leonard Pitts Jr.’s The Last Thing You Surrender, a “polished, affecting novel” about racial conflict in the aftermath of World War II. Booklist includes the novel in their Top 10 Historical Fiction: 2019 list, noting Pitts’ ability to “seamlessly integrate impressive research into a compelling tale of America at war overseas, at home and within […] Pitts poignantly illustrates ongoing racial class tensions and offers hope that Americans can overcome hatred by refusing to sacrifice dignity.”

This December, Mary Schmich spoke with Jon Williams on WGN Radio, an independent radio station serving Chicago, about her award-winning columns for the Chicago Tribune, newly anthologized in Even the Terrible Things Seem Beautiful to Me Now: On Hope, Loss, and Wearing Sunscreen.

Liza Kozak, co-author of The Second City: The Essentially Accurate History, appeared on WGN9 News, an independent Chicago TV station, to discuss the re-release of her book in anticipation of the historic theatre’s 60th anniversary.

Kerry Reid, reviewing Ensemble: An Oral History of Chicago Theatre, writes in the Chicago Tribune: “Larson’s approach is exhaustive, but never exhausting, and the book is organized in such a way that one can easily skip around to areas in the timeline that hold most interest.” She praises Larson’s “sturdy, thoughtful, and at times poignant collection.” Playbill Online, a website for theatre industry news, includes Larson’s book in its list of 45 Books From 2019 for Theatrelovers and 11 Must-Read Theatre Books to Bring to the Beach This Summer.

Melissa Isaacson appeared on the TODAY Show to discuss State: A Team, a Triumph, a Transformation. The book was excerpted in popular sports magazines such as Sports Illustrated and ESPNw, and featured in the New York Times Book Review 2019 holiday gift guide, as an “exciting and swift” read and “a reminder of how far girls and women have come in sports.”

The New Yorker published a laudatory review of Iliana Regan’s Burn The Place after the National Book Foundation announced the memoir was included on the 2019 National Book Awards Longlist for Nonfiction. According to food correspondent Helen Rosner, Burn The Place “belongs on a shelf with the great memoirs of addiction, of gender ambivalence and queer coming-of-age, of the grand disillusionment that comes from revisiting, as a clear-eyed adult, the deceptive perfection of childhood.”

Burn The Place was also celebrated in O, The Oprah Magazine, Plate, and The Washington Post. In a New York Times feature, Kim Severson described the book as “perhaps the definit
ive Midwest drunken-lesbian food memoir”

Lush: A Season-by-Season Celebration of Craft Beer and Produce was well received by a host of beer aficionados. Washington Beer Blog declared that author Jacquelyn Dodd “has some serious chops when it comes to recipes that feature beer,” and MyBeerBuzz called the cookbook, “a perfect companion for a beer-loving baker or just a beer-loving person interested in cooking… or better yet, just about anyone who loves good food.”

Booklist applauded author Leslie Lennox’s “pesto-centric point of view” in Pesto: The Modern Mother Sauce, as well as her ability to transform old and new dishes. “In short,” the review concludes, “pesto anywhere, any time (except dessert).”

Reviewers on Goodreads were passionate about Taylor Swift: In Her Own Words. One reader insisted, “To anyone who loves Taylor Swift or just wants to read about an empowering woman, this is a must read.”

Jack Ma: In His Own Words inspired enthusiastic reviews on Goodreads from readers around the world. “Amazing book,” describes one reviewer. “It can motivate the least passionate person.”

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