Pharrell Williams, Grammy-award winning songwriter/producer, performer, artist and fashionisto, recently released his first book Places and Spaces I’ve Been. Like many of the offerings from the hip hop community (from Jay-Z’s Decoded to Common’s One Day It’ll All Make Sense), Pharrell’s book is unconventional. He brings his art to life in the pages of this book and it heads this week’s Hit List. Joining Pharrell’s book on the list are offerings from Olympic gold medal gymnast Gabrielle Douglas, the latest Sookie Stackhouse novel, and a compelling novel about race, color and family turmoil in The Darkest Child.
Best known for her success with the Sookie Stackhouse series on which, the HBO series True Blood is loosely based, is Charlaine Harris back with her 12th edition to the series. For the fans of the television series, the books will take you places you aren’t quite expecting. Charlaine Harris has been writing prolifically for more than 30 years. In addition to the Sookie Stackhouse (Southern Vampire Series), she has the Aurora Teagarden Series, the Lily Bard (Shakespeare Series), and the Harper Connelly Series. With this type of resume, it’s easy to see why Harris has made the list of Hollywood’s 25 Most Powerful Writers, landing at No. 14 with more than 20 million books sold.
In her young life and with her small frame (standing at 4’11), Douglas has broken major ground. She is the first black woman in Olympic history to win an individual gold medal in gymnastics. She also won a gold in the all-around team competition. Thrust into the spotlight and forced to deal with media scrutiny about her hair and allegedly racial slurs hurled at her by teammates, Douglas handled it all with the same grace she showed on the uneven bars or floor competition. This book serves as a reminder of what anyone, especially young, black females, can achieve despite the odds stacked against her.
Canadian-born Yann Martel is certainly well traveled, having grown up in Costa Rica, Mexico and France. He also lived in India for more than a year where he studied religious texts. And he has incorporated many of his experiences from these places, from the beauty to the smells to the texture of his nomadic youth into this bestselling novel. The Life Of Pi, winner of the Man Booker Prize (awarded every two years for excellence in an original work of fiction with a cash prize of 50,000 euros), was recently adapted to the big screen where all of the magistry that Martel captures in the book comes to life. If you have seen the movie and enjoyed it, you will be happy to know that Yann is the author of several other works including the critically acclaimed We Ate The Children Last and Beatrice and Virgil.
David Jeremiah is the senior pastor of Shadow Mountain Community Church in El Cajun California. Where he took over for pastor Tim Lahaye, best known for his bestselling Left Behind Series (65 million copies sold). In God Loves You, Jeremiah explains that believers are so focused on trying to get it right and being burdened when they don’t, that they never learn the important dimensions of the love that God has for them. As a result, we never receive all that He has to offer in the life of a believer.
Before there was the CBS hit show, Survivor to serve as a microcosm of society, there was Lord Of The Flies written by Sir William Golding in 1954. The book examines humanity and argues individual preservation versus the common good. When a group of well-educated young men are marooned on a deserted island and forced to govern themselves, all hell breaks loose and it is not long before the most primitive of human instincts come into play. While Lord Of The Flies is Golding’s most successful work, he has also written the award-winning novel Rites Of Passagethe first book of the trilogy To The Ends Of The Earth
In Delores Phillips’s debut novel The Darkest Childthrusts the reader into the world of Rozelle Quinn, a mother of 10 children by 10 different men. Living in the backwoods of rural Georgia in the 1950s, Rozelle has one child that is intellectually heads and shoulders above her siblings. But unlike her mother and nine other siblings, this child cannot pass for white. Tangy, not only has to deal with the ignorance and cruelty against blacks that plagued the south during this Jim Crow era, she also has to deal with worse in her own home. Delores Phillips delivers this story with grace. It is a page turner.
From The Neptunes, to N.E.R.D, to fashion, Pharrell Williams has redefined cool. And he doesn’t disappoint in his first literary offering. Williams, through dynamic images and words, brings all of his “dopeness” to light as he shares how he became the man he is today. “I didn’t want to do a book that celebrated me; I wanted to do a book that celebrated my moments of enlightenment.” In addition to sharing his insights, he also invited others to share theirs. Jay-Z, Vogue maven Anna Wintour, and interior designer Masamichi Katayama are among contributors to Places and Spaces I’ve Been. If you’re in Miami, Florida on Saturday (Dec. 8), you can catch Pharrell at a book signing at Bal Harbour Shops (from 6-8 p.m. at 9700 Collins Avenue). And if you miss that signing, here’s footage from a recent signing in Los Angeles.