Now more than ever, it’s important to shop locally and support the businesses that have been making Boston unique for years. While their stores may have closed to prevent the spread of COVID-19, these local booksellers are still doing business online. If you’re missing the arts during this time, we’ve recommended books that are inspired by projects in our very own community. Grab one of these titles to support your local bookstore, or browse their online platforms for endless possibilities!
Goodwin’s Break Beat Play series has been electrifying audiences at Company One Theatre over the years, most recently with their acclaimed production of Hype Man. At a remounted performance this past November, Goodwin gave the crowd a taste of his poetry after the show with excerpts from Can I Kick It and wowed with his ability to remix pop culture and personal experiences into a lyrical love letter to hip-hop and BreakBeat Poetry.
If you’re excited for Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill at New Rep this fall, what better way to pass the time than with the singer’s autobiography! In this unforgettable memoir, Holiday journeys from her Baltimore childhood, to breaking out in Harlem’s music scene, and onward into her stardom. Her accounts of her experiences with racism, addiction, and tragedy are told with her trademark tart humor as she lets readers into the full picture of her career.
David Byrne and the ensemble of American Utopia burned down the house (figuratively) at the Emerson Colonial Theatre this past fall. The theatrical concert was a poignant exploration of Byrne’s career and relationship to music and creativity. In How Music Works, he expands on his understanding of how creating music shapes the human experience. Less a memoir and more a personalized art history lesson, this book is jam-packed with revelations about music of all kinds.
Don Quixote by Miguel De Cervantes
Okay, admittedly, not everyone has the bandwidth to dive into an over 1,000-page classic novel. Still, if you’re one of many who loved Octavio Solis’ Quixote Nuevo at the Huntington Theatre Company in January, we say now is the time! Don Quixote is one of those epic tales that can get left on the shelf, but once read, it’s impossible to ignore how this adventurous treasure has impacted modern culture and writers like Solis. You can also support Trident by ordering from their cafe on UberEats!
The Notebooks by Jean-Michel Basquiat, edited by Larry Warsh
Like many of you, we’re hopeful and excited about the potential to experience the work of Jean-Michel Basquiat in Writing the Future at the Museum of Fine Arts this summer. For now, previews of this gallery are available online, and an even more intimate portrait of the artist’s life is available in The Notebooks. This collection of excerpts from eight of Basquiat’s working journals is a glimpse into the mind and creative process of one of the most influential American artists.
Like the revolutionary activist, More Than Words also has a mission of social change. More than just a bookstore, this organization empowers youth who are in the foster care system, court system, homeless, or out of school by taking charge of a business. While they’re temporarily closed, you can still order their discounted books online, starting with this excellent biography that captures the life of Malcolm X. As we saw in ArtsEmerson’s Detroit Red, the life of one of the most influential social justice leaders should not be forgotten.
Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray
If you’re looking to get lost in a world of romance, adventure, and class politics, Vanity Fair is worth a read. Recently illuminated in Kate Hamill’s brilliant theatrical adaptation at Central Square Theater, this novel is a chronicle of two heroines struggling for success in Victorian England. Having aged well for a book of its time, this portrayal of femininity is deftly woven by Thackeray, who is engaging as he uses the page to break the fourth wall and challenge readers to reflect on their own choices.
Elena Morris (she/her/hers) is ArtsBoston’s Patron Services Manager. She is a dramaturg and arts administrator passionate about forward-thinking in the arts. Elena holds a BFA in Theatre Arts from Boston University, focusing her studies on dramatic literature and movement.