Holiday Reading List: Books for 2013

A host of new titles to get and give.

Talk About a Dream
edited by: Christopher Phillips and Louis P. Masur
Bloomsbury Press
Hard to recall now that his face, voice and causes have ascended to Mount Rushmore-like heights, but Bruce Springsteen once stuttered his way through interviews. His ascent to iconhood is traced in this compilation of increasingly self-assured conversations with journalists and others. The interviews, from a 1973 sit-down with The Asbury Park Evening Press to his 2013 talk with grammy.com, show us, mostly in his own words, how a guy who once called himself “a screwup in a small town” found his voice, on stage and in the media.—Sophia Ahn

A History of Inventing in New Jersey: From Thomas Edison to the Ice Cream Cone

by: Linda J. Barth
The History Press
It’s easy to imagine that every memorable thing ever invented in New Jersey was invented by Thomas Edison, America’s and therefore New Jersey’s most famous inventor. In fact, Garden Staters can be credited with innovations ranging from Band-Aids and canned soup to solar panels and many other modern marvels. Learn more about these inventions and the clever, determined people behind them in Barth’s intriguing book.—Christina Colizza

American Dictators: Frank Hague, Nucky Johnson, and the Perfection of the Urban Political Machine
by: Steven Hart
Rivergate Books
Hart perceptively analyzes the careers and legacies of two of Jersey’s most formidable string-pullers—Jersey City Mayor Frank Hague and Atlantic City kingpin Enoch “Nucky” Johnson. Compared to Johnson’s indulgence in women, parties and booze (depicted in Boardwalk Empire), Hague ran a tight ship. What the two shared was an ability to manipulate the citizenry, amass substantial personal wealth and ruthlessly eliminate anyone in their way.—CC

Gawky: Tales of an Extra Long Awkward Phase
by: Margot Leitman
Seal Press
People assume that being tall is a blessing, but standing out bedeviled Leitman’s adolescence. In her hilarious memoir, the Jersey native winningly recounts the tribulations of her awkward teenage years. Whether describing the time she was kicked out of school for wearing a disco-like unitard or the time she called the New Kids on the Block hotline, Leitman earns our empathy, respect and laughter.—CC

The Fifty-First State
by: Lisa Borders
Engine Books
In her second novel, Borders immediately immerses readers in tragedy—the sudden death of parents. Estranged siblings Josh and Hallie Corson are forced to reconcile as Hallie returns to South Jersey to sell the family farm and help Josh through his last year of high school. The drama unfolds in Floyd, a fictional town on the Delaware Bay inspired by the author’s hometown of Millville. Expanding on the title’s implications, Borders depicts South Jersey as a world apart.—Joanna Buffum

Madeline and the Old House in Paris

by: John Bemelmans Marciano
Viking, Penguin Group Inc.
Brave and clever Madeline saves the day for the oldest resident of her Paris boarding school. Up in the school’s attic resides the ghost of Felix de Lamorte—quite the amateur astrologist in his day. Unfortunately, someone has purloined his dusty, albeit beloved, telescope. The thief is none other than the dastardly headmaster, Lord Cucuface. Poor Felix cannot rest until the instrument is returned to him, giving him a second chance to observe the comet he died while attempting to see.—Amanda Staab

Bruce Springsteen: In Focus 1980–2012
by: Debra L. Rothenberg
Turn the Page
Debra L. Rothenberg remembers disliking Bruce Springsteen’s music during her 1978 summer school printing class. Little did she know that class would be instrumental in inspiring her to become a photographer. Nor could she have guessed that Springsteen would become one of her favorite and most enduring subjects. In Focus 1980-2012 pays tribute in photos that range from the Boss’s legendary early performances at the Stone Pony in Asbury Park (where many of her photos decorate the walls) to his epic international tours. The book documents not only Springsteen’s development as a performer and personality, but Rothenberg’s as an artist with a camera. —CC

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