Plano Reads: Americana

Our July booklist, presented during the month of Independence Day, recognizes our national heritage, and the distinctive nature of the American experience. Enjoy these fifteen nonfiction titles which all offer a look at various aspects of life in “these United States.”

America is Immigrants by Sara Nović and Alison Kolesar – Stories of remarkable American immigrants are brought to life in short, lyrical biographies written by Sara Nović, and charming full-color illustrations by artist Alison Kolesar. Some of the names you’ll find here are familiar, and some are not, but all “celebrate the diverse paths and contributions of so many of our friends and neighbors” in this timely and illuminating book. Print

American Comics: A History by Jeremy Asher Dauber – “The sweeping story of cartoons, comic strips, and graphic novels and their century-long hold on the American imagination. Dauber’s story shows not only how comics have changed, but how American politics and history have changed them. Throughout, he describes the origins of beloved comics, champions neglected masterpieces, and argues that we can understand how America sees itself through whose stories comics tell.” Print

American Utopia by David Byrne and Maira Kalman – A joyful collaboration between musician David Byrne and artist Maira Kalman, two old friends, this book includes lyrics from the Broadway show of the same name, and striking paintings which reflect its optimism as “a salvo for kindness, and a call for jubilation.” Print

Americanaland: Where Country & Western Met Rock ‘n Roll by John Milward – An accomplished music journalist, Milward has compiled a fascinating, detailed history of the ever-changing field of Americana music. He defines Americana as a mix of country and western, rock ‘n’ roll, folk, bluegrass, blues, soul, and a touch of pop. Among Americana artists are Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Ray Charles, Emmylou Harris, Nanci Griffith, and Alison Krauss. It can be hard to define, but it fans and listeners recognize it instantly. Print

The Best American Essays 2021 edited by Kathryn Schulz – The best essays of 2020, this collection brilliantly shapes the grief, hardship, “interestingness,” and hope of a singular, remarkable American year. Print

BraveTart: Iconic American Desserts by Stella Parks – BraveTart is a celebration of classic American desserts, and much more. Here, Stella Parks delves into the surprising stories of how our favorite desserts came to be, from chocolate chip cookies that predate the Tollhouse Inn to the prohibition-era origins of ice cream sodas and floats. Classic recipes, and a cookbook sure to become an American classic! Print

Craft: An American History by Glenn Adamson – Historian Glenn Adamson reveals makers’ central role in shaping America’s identity. Adamson shows that craft has long been implicated in debates around equality, education, and class. Artisanship has often been a site of resistance for oppressed people, such as enslaved African-Americans whose skilled labor might confer hard-won agency under bondage, or the Native American makers who adapted traditional arts into statements of modernity. Theirs are among the array of memorable portraits of Americans both celebrated and unfamiliar in this richly peopled book.  Print

The Great American Sports Page:  A Century of Classic Columns from Ring Lardner to Sally Jenkins, edited by John Schulian – “Spanning nearly a century, this compilation presents essential columns from more than three dozen masters of the press-box craft. These unforgettable dispatches from World Series, Super Bowls, and title bouts for the ages were written on deadline with passion, spontaneity, humor, and a gift for the memorable phrase. A look at the human richness, complexity, and competitive spirit of America’s best athletes.” Print

Jubilee: Recipes From Two Centuries of African-American Cooking by Toni Tipton-Martin – Adapted from historical texts and rare African-American cookbooks, the 125 recipes of Jubilee paint a rich, varied picture of the true history of African-American cooking — a cuisine far beyond soul food. Print

New Americana by Holly Kuhn – Interior designer Holly Kuhn is the owner of Old Glory Style, based in Round Top and Denver. Here she joins Austin photographer Ryann Ford to showcase her signature design: spaces that are practical, resourceful, hardworking, sophisticated and beautiful. Print

100 Great American Parks by Stephanie Pearson (on order, coming soon) – America’s beautiful parks represent some of our country’s best national treasures. From National Geographic magazine, this new book offers expert travel information and many practical  tips, as it takes readers to all 63 of America’s national parks, as well as 37 state, recreational, and city parks and green spaces—there is a park featured for each of the fifty states. Print

One Summer: America 1927 by Bill Bryson – The story of one fabulous year in the life of the United States.  Babe Ruth, Charles Lindbergh,  and Al Capone all contributed to a year of exceptional events.  A warm and witty look at an unusual time. Print |eBook |Audiobook |CD/Play

Promised Land: Thirteen Books that Changed America by Jay Parini – “Americans are people of the book–or, rather, books. In this collection of essays, Jay Parini repossesses that vibrant, intellectual heritage by examining the life and times of thirteen books that changed America. Each of the books has been a watershed, gathering intellectual currents already in motion, and marking a turn in American life and thought … altering how we think and act in the world.” Print

The Red Menace: How Lipstick Changed the Face of American History by Ilise S. Carter – “In America, lipstick is the foundation of empires, a multi-billion-dollar industry and one of our most iconic accessories of gender. This engaging and entertaining history of lipstick in America throughout the twentieth century and into the present will give readers a new view of the little tube’s big place in modern America; marching with the Suffragettes, building Fortune 500 businesses, being present at Stonewall, and engineered for space travel. It’s both a witness and a catalyst to history, with its own dose of fabulosity!” Print

1776 by David McCullough – “Based on extensive research in both American and British archives, 1776 is a powerful drama written with extraordinary narrative vitality. It is the story of Americans in the ranks, men of every shape, size, and color, farmers, schoolteachers, shoemakers, no-accounts, and mere boys turned soldiers. And it is the story of the King’s men, the British commander, William Howe, and his highly disciplined redcoats who looked on their rebel foes with contempt and fought with a valor too little known.” Print |eBook

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