Lovely inspiration for creatives—and indeed anyone seeking to make sense out of life.

MISFITS

A PERSONAL MANIFESTO

The noted British actor, writer, and producer offers a searching, encouraging guide to finding one’s voice and vision.

At the 2021 Emmy Awards, where she was honored for I May Destroy You, Coel memorably said, “Write the tale that scares you, that makes you feel uncertain, that isn’t comfortable. I dare you.” It wasn’t her first such exhortation. This short book encapsulates her 2018 MacTaggart Lecture before an industry audience at the Edinburgh TV Festival. The author places her success in British TV against a background of “rape, malpractice and poverty” along with a constant undercurrent of racism and sexism. Another theme is the necessity of shaping one’s own life through hard effort. Growing up in a poor immigrant household in the literal shadow of a leading London bank, she enrolled in a neighborhood theater program for low-income children—“for free. Free was cheaper than childcare, and at eight years old I was part of Bridewell Youth Theatre. The only Black person.” She took the work seriously, attending drama school and, though suffering the usual disappointments (taking the lead in Lysistrata, for instance, but in the London equivalent of an off-off Broadway theater that no agent would bother visiting), she blossomed. Finally offered a TV show, Coel met no end of small insults, but she overcame each obstacle. She accepted being one of the industry’s historically excluded “misfits” (another theme). Lately, she writes, “channels, production companies and online streaming services have found themselves scrabbling for misfits…aware they might be very profitable.” The author counsels all storytellers and creatives to be bravely transparent about their worst experiences and bitterest realities, ground from which art can grow, and to remember a sage bit of advice she once read: “There are as many perspectives as there are people.”

Lovely inspiration for creatives—and indeed anyone seeking to make sense out of life.

Pub Date: Sept. 7, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-84344-9

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2021

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A refreshingly candid, fearless look into a model’s body of work and its impact on her identity and politics.

MY BODY

The international model embarks on a nuanced investigation of her body and identity.

Ratajkowski’s exploration of fame, self-identity, and what it means to be a “beautiful” woman is surprisingly engaging. Originally thrust into the spotlight in 2013 due to her scantily clad appearance in the music video for Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines,” the author eventually became known for her stances about beauty and sexuality and how they are commodified. Now that she is a wife and mother, she writes, “I feel a tenderness toward my younger self. My defensiveness and defiance are palpable to me now. What I wrote and preached then reflected what I believed at the time, but it missed a much more complicated picture. In many ways, I have been undeniably rewarded by capitalizing on my sexuality….But in other, less overt ways, I’ve felt objectified and limited by my position in the world as a so-called sex symbol.” This short book includes the juicy tidbits that avid celebrity-memoir readers seek, and the author shares how she really felt about the video shoot and how the aftermath affected her. Beyond that, the book is a reflective coming-of-age-in-the-industry tale, a story that is never maudlin but contains a few thick, murky sections. Ratajkowski attempts to break down the construction of her identity and sexuality in relation to the ever present male gaze as well as her relationships with the women in her life. The charm of this book lies in the author’s largely relatable writing, which shows the complex emotions and confusion of a young woman experiencing her sexual development and maturation into a capable adult. Admitting that the “purpose of the book is not to arrive at answers, but honestly to explore ideas I can’t help but return to,” Ratajkowski grapples directly with a host of thorny issues.

A refreshingly candid, fearless look into a model’s body of work and its impact on her identity and politics.

Pub Date: Nov. 9, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-81786-0

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Metropolitan/Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Sept. 15, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2021

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A handful of pearls amid a pile of empty oyster shells.

THE COMFORT BOOK

Bestselling author Haig offers a book’s worth of apothegms to serve as guides to issues ranging from disquietude to self-acceptance.

Like many collections of this sort—terse snippets of advice, from the everyday to the cosmic—some parts will hit home with surprising insight, some will feel like old hat, and others will come across as disposable or incomprehensible. Years ago, Haig experienced an extended period of suicidal depression, so he comes at many of these topics—pain, hope, self-worth, contentment—from a hard-won perspective. This makes some of the material worthy of a second look, even when it feels runic or contrary to experience. The author’s words are instigations, hopeful first steps toward illumination. Most chapters are only a few sentences long, the longest running for three pages. Much is left unsaid and left up to readers to dissect. On being lost, Haig recounts an episode with his father when they got turned around in a forest in France. His father said to him, “If we keep going in a straight line we’ll get out of here.” He was correct, a bit of wisdom Haig turned to during his depression when he focused on moving forward: “It is important to remember the bottom of the valley never has the clearest view. And that sometimes all you need to do in order to rise up again is to keep moving forward.” Many aphorisms sound right, if hardly groundbreaking—e.g., a quick route to happiness is making someone else happy; “No is a good word. It keeps you sane. In an age of overload, no is really yes. It is yes to having space you need to live”; “External events are neutral. They only gain positive or negative value the moment they enter our mind.” Haig’s fans may enjoy this one, but others should take a pass.

A handful of pearls amid a pile of empty oyster shells.

Pub Date: July 6, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-14-313666-8

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Penguin Life

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2021

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