Queen of Bebop – The Musical Lives of Sarah Vaughan
Queen of Bebop is reportedly the second of only two biographies of singer Sarah Vaughan. I’ve not read the first, but this one is well-researched, drawing from interviews with Vaughan and her contemporaries, as well as magazines, newspapers, and TV and radio reports. Hayes’ theme “Musical Lives” provides a page-turning framework, taking the reader on a tour with Vaughan, from her church singing roots to local venues and her gradual vocal self-discovery as she embraces bebop. The bebop style—epitomized by Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker—was a perfect fit for Vaughan’s formidable range and disciplined genius for interpretation.
- Bruce Collier
Alfred A. Knopf
Lab Girl is a memoir of a female paleobiologist, and despite the science-y subject matter, it’s a real page-turner. The book is separated into three parts that represent three different periods of the author’s life. Every other chapter, the author describes a scientific process in nature using beautiful, poetic descriptions, with the following chapter subtly relating these biological changes to changes that are going on in her life at that point. I was enthralled with the storyline and blown away with the quality of writing. I wouldn’t typically expect someone in the fields of math and science to write so elegantly, but other examples do come to mind— Dr. E.O. Wilson, Isaac Asimov, Stephen Hawking. Jahren’s writing is magnificent, and her story is important. Highly recommended.
- Marilu Morgan