Tag Archives: Butterfly In The Sky

Reading Rainbow

This link will appear various times throughout this post so I hope you click it at least once.

The world we live in can be overwhelmingly disheartening. In our country, we are subjected to a broken political system where it seems like nothing can get accomplished and things continually get worse. We are a people so unwilling to do the littlest thing for our neighbor because it’s an inconvenience.

And then there are things like Reading Rainbow and its Kickstarter campaign.

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Just a quick bit of background, Reading Rainbow was a show on PBS that premiered in 1983. It was hosted by LeVar Burton (guy in the picture) and encouraged its viewers (aimed at kids in elementary school) to read. Each episode covered a topic found in a children’s book (the rain forest, optical illusions, lions, music, etc.), and explored it through several segments, while recommending several other books on the topic for viewers to seek out and read.

That video was my childhood. Reading Rainbow was in the lineup of PBS shows I watched religiously as a kid. I guarantee that this next statement is included in every piece written by a mid-’20s to mid-’30s writer about Reading Rainbow or this Kickstarter campaign, but I feel obligated to include it:

Reading Rainbow had an incalculable effect on my love of reading and learning. (If it’s any indication, I named my book review blog series I started at the beginning of the year “Butterfly In The Sky.”)

One might assume that because I am a career librarian, I have some entitled love of the show that transcends the “average” viewer’s love of the show. First of all, librarianship is not a field of book reading. Books are only a part of the field, and I could write a long post about this but others have done it far more eloquently than I could. I encourage you to go read some librarian-written blogs. They’re awesome.

Secondly, of course I’m grateful to the show for instilling a love of reading in me. But far more importantly than that, the show encouraged a love of learning. Learning was its cornerstone. It just happened to explore the joy of learning through the lens of literature, which I think I was predisposed to love due to my educational upbringing (shout out to homeschooling moms with el. ed. degrees) and the ironic fact that my staunchly conservative parents were overwhelmingly supportive of our family’s utilization of any and all resources at that most liberal of government institutions, the public library.

Here’s that link again.

But I’m digressing. Let’s fast-forward 30 years to 2013. By last year, Reading Rainbow had been off the air since 2006 (23 seasons, not too shabby for a publicly funded television program) but had regained some serious patronage numbers through the release of their iPad app in the summer of 2012. The app allows for unlimited reading of children’s literature and video field trips with LeVar. Within 36 hours of its release, it became the #1 most-downloaded educational app in the iTunes App Store. Well done, Reading Rainbow team.

Fast-forward one more year, to just about three weeks ago. Reading Rainbow launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds to make their app available on the grand-daddy of all digital platforms, the web, along with 1500 free classroom subscriptions to lower income schools. The initial fundraising goal was $1 million.

And this is really where the heartwarming stuff comes in. The campaign hit its fundraising goal of $1 million in 11 hours.

ELEVEN hours. That’s insane. That means enough people cared about this project getting off the ground to contribute a 7 figure sum of money. That many people cared about getting literature in front of kids, to promote literacy, learning, and the pure imagination that comes from reading. It makes me emotional.
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After they hit that goal in almost no time flat, the team behind the campaign decided to raise the goal to $5 million. With this goal increase, the team will be able to offer the app through multiple digital platforms (Android, gaming consoles, OTT boxes, etc.) and offer free classroom subscriptions to 7500 classes.

This is huge. The amount of kids who will have access to this app has exploded with their goal increase. Right now, the campaign has raised $3.8 million, and approximately 82,500 backers. There are 12 days left in the campaign, and while they raised the second million within the next 24 hours, the funding has slowed considerably since then.

Here’s where you can help. Go to this link, and pledge some money. You can pledge as little as $1 and as much as you want above that. Plus, you get gifts based on how much you pledge. Honestly, there is not a downside.

It’s weird how strong of a visceral, emotional reaction to this campaign I had when I heard of it. It was an amalgam of nostalgia and pride and hope, mainly due to my month-old baby daughter. My hope is that she grows up in a world where learning is easily accessible for her. Where she is empowered by information, by the facts, by truth, rather than frightened by them. A world that puts value into her character and personality and mind rather than into the preconceived roles it thinks she needs to play.

I want Millie to have every opportunity she can to experience what a painfully beautiful world this can be. I truly believe the best way she can do that is through learning and the belief that her imagination and creativity and curiosity will take her wherever she wants to go. I think Reading Rainbow believes the same thing, and that’s what they want to bring to kids all over the country. I strongly support their mission, and I hope you do too. The campaign ends on July 2nd, so go pledge!

BA DA BAH!

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B.I.T.S: “On The Road” – Jack Kerouac

kerouacI added On The Road to my reading list this year under the Classics section; books I felt had some cultural or literary significance that are often required in high school curricula but that I had missed during my own teen years. The book has landed on Time’s 100 Best English-Language Novels and lists like this, along with generally being considered the quintessential novel of the Beat Generation, so I felt like it would be worthwhile to have it under the belt.

I’ve started On The Road multiple times in the last few years, never getting Sal much farther than Des Moines in the beginning chapters. For some reason, the book never grabbed me then, and it certainly didn’t grab me now. It took me several weeks to finish this, usually because I’d get bored after a chapter or two.

Quick overview: the book is about Sal Paradise and Dean Moriarty; their friendship and adventures as they travel across America several times and a trip down to Mexico in the late ’40s.

So why did I find myself slogging through this book? I’d attribute it mainly to writing style and characters. First off, this was written in the ’50s, before authors were forced by public demand to write books that kept them turning pages. So this is less a slight towards Kerouac’s style, and more just a recognition that it wasn’t for me. Even the more ethereal stuff, the jazz club scenes or the bordello scene at the end, it’s just felt too foggy for me to really grab on to. Maybe it was a good description of drug use and the general feelings of short-lived euphoria that accompany the lifestyle of the protagonists but I found myself struggling to live in this world.

Aside from that, I just didn’t like Sal, much less Dean. Sal was fine until he betrays himself to be a spineless-ish man who is constantly overpowered by the presence and person of Dean Moriarty. And Dean himself. I haven’t been this annoyed by a character since Holden Caulfield. Dean is reckless, unfaithful, selfish, bordering on ADHD. He’s exactly the kind of person I would not want to be friends with in real life. He floats along the whole book, never taking responsibility for any of his actions, never concerned about the welfare of those around him or the consequences of any of his decisions, nor the repercussions of those decisions on those close to him. He’s the textbook hedonist, always looking for it, for the thing that will make him happy or feel alive.

I have a strong hunch that my negative reaction to this book is by and large contextual. It truly could be the perfect picture of post-WWII disillusionment for 20-somethings. The problem is that I couldn’t make myself care about that as I was reading. From my perspective, these characters were bums, deadbeats. Couldn’t commit, couldn’t stay in one place, couldn’t choose a less glamorous life path even if it meant some semblance of security and safety.

Am I the grumpy middle-aged father in every teen-based story? Am I Red Foreman, or the dancing-hating dad from Footloose? I feel like my thoughts on this book were very white-collar, all-work-and-no-play, dreams-get-you-nowhere, Korean War-vet type of thoughts. I honestly couldn’t help it as I read.

This is the same thing I ran into a few months back when I read Catcher In The Rye. For me, it was contextual. Had I read it in high school, I’m sure I would’ve deeply identified with Holden Caulfield (or Sal and Dean, had I read On The Road in my angsty college years). Reading Holden now is like having to listen to an insufferable teenager whine about why his life is unfair and everybody’s out to get him. Subsequently, reading Dean now is watching people of my current age eschewing smart decisions for a live-fast-die-young sort of lifestyle. Dean’s choices aren’t sustainable, and if they are, they lead to a pretty miserable life, which is where he ended up, multiple wives, kids from all over, no prospects and no future.

Am I just completely off base here? If you’ve read On The Road and it was life-altering for you, tell me why. I feel like I missed something. Or maybe I didn’t and the whole point is that life is sad and the quest for happiness is futile. Either way, not my favorite book.

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B.I.T.S: “Gone Girl” – Gillian Flynn

gone-girlVery well-written,

leaves you feeling unresolved,

tough to recommend.

There’s a quick summary of what I’ve got to say about Gone Girl, just in case anybody finds book reviews boring.

I heard a lot of buzz around this book shortly after it was released, but it quickly fell off my radar until the last few months when I saw David Fincher was directing the film adaptation. As Fincher has quite a prolific track record of incredibly dark yet thought-provoking films (Fight ClubSe7en, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, just to name a few), my interest in the book perked up enough to add it to my list this year.

Very briefly (and without giving anything away), this is the story of the disappearance of Amy, who has been experiencing recent marital struggles with her husband Nick. Explaining more of the plot would be giving away too much.

And for that reason, the book hooked me right off. I was finished with it in two days, and that is a tribute to how perfectly-constructed the story is. Flynn paints this beautiful and truly depressing picture of a disintegrating marriage, a marriage involving two people at odds with each other. Both are out to “win,” or at least not be defeated by the other. This is a marriage based on competition.

The reader is presented with two narrative arcs, from the perspective of Nick (during and after Amy’s disappearance) and of Amy (diary entries from years leading up to her disappearance). The interplay between the two conflicting views sheds so much light on this broken relationship, and it’s pretty grim. Your allegiance is tossed back and forth between both parties; first you’re on Nick’s side, then you can’t believe he shut Amy out in this way, then you think she should’ve handled that conflict differently, etc. Both characters have real issues and you can relate to both. Flynn creates a palpable tension into which, as the reader, you can’t help but find yourself quickly mired.

And then you hit the halfway mark, and everything gets thrown out the window. Again, saying more would be to give away too much. And I dislike writing that, because I don’t want to sell this book to you by pitching “Twists! Turns! You’ll never see the end coming!” Rather than it having a Sixth Sense ending, Flynn forces the reader to drastically change their perspective during the story. It’s a pretty great story device and again, makes for a compelling read.

And yet, I don’t know if I’d recommend this to anybody. Compelling, yes, but overall the book left me feeling sullen. There wasn’t much redeeming about the story and I think that’s why I don’t totally feel confident putting my stamp of “You’ll love it!” on Gone Girl. But Flynn’s writing has a beautiful voice, and she deftly illustrates how two people can interact and communicate (or not communicate, depending on your perspective) in a way that will ruin a marriage. I greatly enjoyed reading it despite my lingering feelings of discontent upon the book’s end. You might, too.

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B.I.T.S: “John Adams” – David McCullough

john-adams-cover-2John Adams is the Pulitzer Prize-winning biography of Adams written by historian David McCullough. It is a pretty magnificent book, meticulously researched and sourced through many primary sources, but primarily the letters written by John Adams and those in his social network throughout his life. While I am no historian, and it goes without saying that no historical account is without some bias, this book is an unvarnished look at the life of Adams and his numerous accomplishments that helped the United States survive and flourish as a new nation in the world.

McCullough writes in a very accessible way, and while the book is a hefty read, there wasn’t anything that left me confused or intimidated. By drawing so much from the primary sources of Adams’ own writing and the writing of those around him, both friends and enemies, he is able to paint an accurate picture of one of the chief Founding Fathers that illustrates exactly how integral Adams was in the birth of the United States.

I learned a great deal from this book, but there are a few key events or aspects of Adams’ life that I found particularly fascinating:

1776

Man oh man was this book a learning experience. I had no idea how huge a role Adams played in the birth of the United States. I think that since George Washington was the first man voted into the presidency, I always associated him with the role of securing liberty from Great Britain, when in reality it was Adams who carried much of this struggle on his back, if not militarily (though Adams did originally nominated Washington for role of Commander-in-chief of the colonial army in 1775), then ideologically. There were few Americans who believed in independence from Great Britain so firmly and thoroughly as Adams did.

This is especially evident in McCullough’s narrative of the four days leading up to the signing of the Declaration of Independence. As calls for the American Colonies’ independence from Great Britain had increased exponentially in the prior months, there were still many Colonists that were loyal to the British Crown, or at least thought that fighting a war to gain independence was futile. On July 1st, 1776, the last such argument was made to the Continental Congress by John Dickinson, who vocally recognized that his standing up against a war on Britain would be the final blow to his already diminished career but thought it necessary, as declaring independence would be “to brave the storm in a skiff made of paper.”*

Adams was the man who countered this argument. While no transcription of the speech was made, it was a powerful and moving speech, and McCullough counts it as the most important speech Adams would give in his lifetime. Even Thomas Jefferson, who would find himself at political odds with Adams multiple times throughout their lives, wrote that Adams was “not graceful nor elegant, nor remarkably fluent,” but spoke “with a power of thought and expression that moved us from our seats.”**

The congress voted and just narrowly missed unanimously voting to declare independence. After another day of deliberation (and some under-the-table negotiations and deals), on July 2nd, 12 of the 13 colonies voted for independence, and with no representatives from the 13th colony (New York) to cast a nay vote, the deed was done, and in no small part thanks to the leadership of John Adams.

Interestingly enough, Adams wrote to his wife that July 2nd would forever be commemorated through grand celebrations by Americans. He was only two days off.

Abigail Adams

As I said before, one of the reasons this book elicits such a clear picture of Adams is that it draws heavily from the archived letters between himself and his wife, Abigail. Mrs. Adams was an outstanding woman, and in an era where women couldn’t vote or own land and were generally relegated to child-bearing roles, Abigail held her own with the men of her time. She was very opinionated and wasn’t shy about her views, whether personal or political. And she was an amazing partner for John Adams. Adams was constantly nourished by the presence of his wife and treasured her as his closest confidant and friend throughout their entire marriage. He looked to her for support and advice during the many trying times he would see in his political career and she provided it. The book draws directly from their personal correspondence, and it illustrates why Adams was the man he was.

Past/current political atmosphere:

One thing that was a huge surprise to me was the amount of savage political attacks so early on in this country’s history. As a general rule, I am appalled by the current state of political discourse in this country. However, I always assumed it was a recent development; that only in the last few decades have we become so immature and entrenched in our political beliefs.

Rather than it being a recent trend, I think I just wasn’t aware of it as a kid. In reality, as long as the United States has existed, so has the current level of political discourse. While Washington started his first presidential term with the great majority of the nation’s support, that was quickly lost, as the Republican Party (then, it was ideologically more like our current Democratic Party) started to attack Washington for having monarchical sympathies. This attack was thrown even more strongly at Adams during the two elections in which he ran.

Aside from the insults and attacks from the opposing political party (which were to be expected), Adams dealt with opposition in his own party as well. While the Republicans accused him of being too Federalist, men like Alexander Hamilton were of the unwavering opinion that Adams wasn’t Federalist enough. Hamilton was so anti-Adams that during the election race of 1800, Adams was only narrowly defeated for a second term by Thomas Jefferson, and this defeat was attributed mainly to a scathing attack of Adams by Hamilton in the form of a 54-page letter that was leaked to the public. Hamilton wanted to go to war with France, while Adams was strategically making decisions as president to avoid such an outcome, and so Hamilton attacked, and Adams subsequently lost reelection.

It was disheartening to read about the opposition Adams faced his entire political career, from both his political enemies and colleagues. His unwavering goal was independence for the United States and establishing this nation as a strong, fiscally responsible and enduring member of the global community of nations. Yet he was consistently attacked by those close and far from him. It saddens me that the current state of modern, mud-slingin’ political discourse is not a new phenomenon.

Slavery

You know that thing where the Founding Fathers signed a document declaring that all men were created equal and deserved freedom to pursue life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, yet a lot of those men were slaveowners? John Adams (and his wife) thought slavery was an abhorrent practice, and not only never owned slaves themselves, he never even hired slave labor from his neighbors to work his land (a common practice among men of the Revolutionary Era who didn’t own slaves. Like renting a workforce). He spent his life truly committed to the freedom of all men and women, regardless of ethnic background. It’s sad that he was the exception and not the rule, but it makes me respect him more for standing firm for these principles, even when it meant standing against the status quo of the society in which he lived.

There is so much more I could touch upon here, including Adams’ presidency, his personal family struggles, his many years as foreign ambassador to France, England, and Holland. Instead, I highly recommend this book. McCullough puts together an extensive and intriguing history lesson that really illustrates who Adams was as a man and as an American.

*pg.126 of the book

**pg. 127 of the book

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B.I.T.S: “Paddle Your Own Canoe: One Man’s Fundamentals For Delicious Living” – Nick Offerman

paddle-your-own-canoePaddle Your Own Canoe: One Man’s Fundamentals For Delicious Living is the memoir of Nick Offerman, best known for his role as Ron Swanson in the NBC sitcom Parks And Recreation. It is essentially his autobiography with some meditations on various subjects, such as organized religion, weed, woodworking, romantic love, making it in show business, etc.

And as Offerman is a generally funny dude, it is a generally funny book. But for some reason, I wasn’t in love with it. Weirdly, it reads almost more Ron-Swansony than Ron Swanson’s own autobiography would read. Let me explain.

Ron Swanson is, without a doubt, one of my favorite TV characters of all time. He prides himself on individual freedom, his skill in woodworking and his love of fine whiskey. As head of Pawnee Parks and Recreation, he strives to make his department as inefficient as possible, keeping the taxpayers money from funding “pointless” government projects.

This makes for an absolutely hilarious television character. A television character. If I met a real Ron Swanson, almost guaranteed I’d be annoyed by him. And Offerman writes like Ron Swanson Version 100.0. A 22 minute episode of Parks & Rec is a perfect amount of Ron, but a whole book is just too much for me.

Here is one sentence from the book:

That color purple was ruined for me-I was later a big fan of Prince, but his greatest album unfortunately gave me visions less redolent of Apollonia’s beauty and more suited to the abattoir.

I had to look up both “redolent” and “abattoir” in the dictionary. I’m certainly not complaining about uncommon vocabulary, but really it’s the manner in which Offerman writes. I can’t honestly believe this dude talks like this all day. The book is filled with metaphors and similes galore and flowery language. Remember when you were in grade school and to punch up your paper, you’d grab the thesaurus and find some cool synonyms to use? Offerman writes like he is doing that in every paragraph, but he’s grabbing synonyms that I’ve never even heard of. The dude either has an incredibly extensive vocabulary or the largest thesaurus ever.

And he’s also got a fairly big chip on his shoulder towards modern American Christianity. He does his best to disguise it as not a chip by saying things like he’s fine certain concepts behind organized religious Christianity (like gathering together in a community once a week, Jesus’ teachings that basically say “don’t be an asshole,” etc. Offerman’s words, not mine.) but all the parts that serve to demonize and condemn anyone who holds a different view than our own are awful and terrible and should be utterly done away with.

Now if we’re honest, of course that’s a great sentiment. It is terrible when Christians condemn women walking into Planned Parenthood clinics, or lambast a liberal president for essentially anything he does, or actively work to keep homosexuals from serving their country, or denounce the teaching of sex education in our high schools. But our society has this cyclical thing going on, where one group shouts for what they believe and denounce the rest, and then people not in that group shout against the first group, and each group just keeps shouting to get themselves heard. It makes for discourse that is just too loud to be functional.

And Offerman’s sentiments about Christianity seem a little heavy-handed. If he had kept his denouncement to maybe one chapter, I probably wouldn’t have given it a second thought. I found myself annoyed I was giving it a second thought after basically agreeing with the majority of his views the first time around.

So that’s all the stuff I didn’t like. There was a lot of great stuff too.

From what I can tell through interviews and his book and the general sense they are trying to portray in their media appearances, Offerman and his wife Megan Mullaly (Karen from Will And Grace, Tammy 2 from Parks & Rec) seem to have a wonderfully loving and functional relationship. Offerman could not speak higher of her in his writing, from the mutual love and support they offer each other in their lives and careers and families. They have a rule to turn down any acting job that requires them to be apart for more than 2 weeks at a time. Sure, that’s not the only mark of a perfect marriage, but in Hollywood, it’s impressive to see a couple so seemingly prepared to keep their marriage intact, even through the many hardships life can through at you.

I like Offerman’s general philosophy on life. Work hard, work 100%, so that you can enjoy your non-work time 100% as well. And in your non-work time, don’t fill it with fluffy, superfluous activities. Spend less time looking at screens. Be fulfilled by all the wonders that nature has to offer. Cultivate relationships with those around you by learning about them and engaging in activities together. Go to your local theater and support the artistic community. Make something with your hands. Don’t be awful to your neighbor. Understand the principles that make you who you are and stand up for them. Be good to others. Etc.

All good sentiments. His book reads like a progressive Midwestern farm boy who happened to find success in acting. If you don’t think you’d be put off by listening to Ron Swanson talk for three straight hours or denouncing modern-day American Christianity, you’ll probably enjoy this book. I didn’t enjoy it as much as I was hoping, but it’s alright. I think I’ll just go watch “Practice Date” and all ill feelings will be put to rest.

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B.I.T.S: “Ready Player One” – Ernest Cline

ReadyPlayerOne RD 1 finals 2I’ve shortened this blog series to B.I.T.S. (Butterfly In The Sky). Just so you know.

Ready Player One is the ultimate geek fiction. It’s set in the near future, with Earth facing a major energy crisis and a MMORPG having replaced actual reality for much of the human race. Imagine Second Life, but infinitely more expansive and fun to play, and accessible to nearly every human.

This was all created by a social introvert and genius computer programmer by the name of James Halliday, who, after his death, revealed his last will to be a gigantic virtual treasure hunt for all players of OASIS (the virtual reality game system). Whoever cracks the codes the Halliday left and finds the Easter Egg first wins ownership of the benevolent company he founded and his entire fortune, some 17 billion dollars or something like that.

Our hero is Wade Watts, a kid from a poverty-stricken upbringing who spends nearly all his time in OASIS (people can go to school in OASIS, work, etc.). And the story opens as he stumbles across the first of three keys necessary to find the Easter Egg. This is a huge deal because years have past since the hunt for the Easter Egg was announced and nobody has been able to crack the first code Halliday left.

From there, Wade is launched into an all-out race for his life to find the Easter Egg with the help of a few other players, before the evil corporation IOI get their hands on the Easter Egg and Halliday’s company and fortune.

If this sounds geeky, it’s because it’s incredibly geeky. But it was a fun read. If you’ve got even the slightest knowledge of pop culture from the ’80s and ’90s, you will get 80% of the references in the book. Since the created of the Easter Egg hunt was a huge nerd/geek/social outcast, he found solace in pop culture, and so the whole Easter Egg hunt is based around references to pop culture and video games.

This was a fun read, but it almost backfired and made me wish I was playing the story instead, like Wade on the Easter Egg hunt. As cool as the story is, reading about it was almost a bummer, like it’d be so much more fun to strap in to a virtual reality kit like in First Kid* and play through the story. Or maybe that’s not a backfire, but the whole point of the book and a killer way to tell a story. If you’re looking for an easy read and you’re into nostalgic pop culture references, I’d give this one a go. It was a fun read. Props to my pal Kyle for the recommendation.

*one of the best (or worst, you decide) references I’ve ever made here.

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Butterfly In The Sky: “Soul Train: The Music, Dance, And Style Of A Generation” – Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson

soultrainQuestlove is as close to a modern renaissance man as I think my generation will get. The dude has jobs into the triple digits, and does them all with the coolness and composure of a cucumber. He’s a drummer, a producer, a bandleader, a musical puppet master, a talk show music man, a restauranteur, a traveler, a critic, a designer, a college professor, and a writer. He has now written two books, both of which I’d highly recommend, and one of which I just finished reading.

It’s called Soul Train, and it is an in-depth look at the television show that was as foundational to an entire generation of kids as Sesame Street. Questlove has basically written the most interesting and educational coffee table book I’ll ever read, and for me, a guy that previously knew nothing about the TV show Soul Train, it was a history, music, and culture lesson all rolled into one.

Soul Train was the foundational TV show that Questlove grew up watching. His parents were very strict when it came to popular music, but they approved of Soul Train. It became his window into what was hip in the ’70s and ’80s. In his book, he explores the music, the fashion, the artists, the dancers, and the overall cultural movement that this show helped foster.

I have a proclivity towards most anything Questlove is involved in, so I really enjoyed this book. The face that it was a coffee table book didn’t actually sink in until I unwrapped it (Christmas present) and it was twice as big as I thought it was going to be. It’s also chock full of pictures. I was expecting a book along the lines of his memoirs, Mo’ Meta Blues, which is far more conventional (white pages, all text, regular size, etc.) but instead opened this behemoth.

No matter. While this fits inside the coffee table book category, it is still a fascinating read. You get immersed in the culture of the ’70s and ’80s through the pictures. They tell as much of a story about the show and what it meant culturally as Questlove can communicate through his words. It’s as important to see the photos of Don Cornelius interviewing the biggest names in soul music as it is to read Questlove’s descriptions of seeing him on the show, ever staying composed in the spotlight. You get a dual sense of who this man was and what he stood for, what he was trying to represent through his television creation that was unlike anything else of its time.

And Questlove’s got stories. For as many candid and behind the scenes photos as grace the pages of this book, Questlove tells so many show stories and makes the reader feel as though they’re there, seeing the cameras zoom around the dancers and seeing Don interact with the musical guests.

This show was Questlove’s musical childhood, and that comes through in his writing. Questlove lived and breathed Soul Train and the reader gets a sense of what it was like to grow up with Soul Train being your cultural connection to kids in your neighborhood but also kids across the country. He communicates so well what this show meant to his generation and why it deserves its place in America’s history as a pop culture institution.

This was a really fun read, and if you have any connection to Soul Train in your childhood, I’d recommend this book. It’ll be a fantastic walk through the past.

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