HOT PICKS: Start your new year off with some hot reads! AlwaysAList.com has six books you should definitely read and add to your collection. If you’re looking for some good literature to give as a holiday gift, these six books are best bets for hot holiday stocking stuffers.
Aretha Franklin: “The Queen Next Door: Aretha Franklin, An Intimate Portrait” – The late Aretha Franklin was a very private woman. She was uber-particular about controlling her narrative and wasn’t the type of artist that let people in. But in 1983 she met a photojournalist and newspaper columnist named Linda Solomon whom she gave unprecedented access too. Solomon captured many of Franklin’s milestone career moments, private events, celebrity soirees, her annual Christmas and birthday parties, and even her iconic pink Cadillac. Fans of Franklin and lovers of her music will enjoy seeing the “Queen of Soul” like you’ve never seen her before. This book also has a foreword by legendary songwriter Burt Bacharach and an afterword by Franklin’s niece Sabrina Vonne’ Owens. (Wayne State University Press/$34.99)
Eddie Jackson: “Game-Day Eats: 100 Recipes for Homegating Like a Pro” – Eddie Jackson is a former NFL player who went on to win the 11th season of “Food Network Star.” Now the former cornerback for the Miami Dolphins and New England Patriots has established a bonafide presence in the culinary world and made his cookbook debut with “Game-Day Eats,” a book that showcases his masterful cooking skills in homage to his former life as an athlete. With a combination of simply and complex recipes, “Game-Day Eats” offers unique twists on fried chicken, Mac and cheese, corn dogs and deviled eggs. The book also shows you four different options for meatballs, helps you whip up the perfect dip, and has some healthier options like shrimp salad made with chopped tomatoes, serrano pepper, onion, cilantro and dressed with a ponzu sauce. (Harper Design/$29.99)
Whoopi Goldberg: “The Unqualified Hostess: I Do It My Way So You Can Too!” – She’s one of the most famous women in the world and it took EGOT winner Whoopi Goldberg almost 30 years to host her first dinner party. Now, “The View’s” moderator wants to teach you how to be the host with the most in her new book, “The Unqualified Hostess: I Do It My Way So You Can Too!” In the tome, Goldberg offers practical and fun ways to entertain your guests, whether serving a multicourse meal or a simple night of pizza and wine. From adding photos of loved ones on the table during holiday meals to featuring her favorite collection of trolls; Goldberg believes that making entertaining personal and offers great advice and good photos to help you get started. (Rizzoli/$35.00)
Elton John: “Me” – He’s the feisty and flamboyant music legend who has always played by his own rules and never minced words. Now, the iconic Elton John is telling his own story in a candid memoir timed perfectly with his acclaimed bio-film, “Rocketman.” This book takes a look back at John’s melodramatic life in a page-turning memoir. He revisits his rise from playing piano in pubs to becoming one of the biggest singer-songwriters of the 1970’s with hits like “Rocketman” and “Bennie and the Jets.” One of music’s first openly gay stars, John lived a rollicking life full of celebrity feuds, drug use, temper tantrums and family dysfunction. I’d say this was a book that movies are made of, but is literally already made into a movie. This book will exceed all expectations! (Holt, Henry & Company, Inc./$30)
Liris Crosse: “Make the World Your Runway: Top Model Secrets for Everyday Confidence and Success “ – Liris Crosse the fiercely fabulous runway model who shifted her career into another gear as the first plus-sized model to win the model part of the competition on season 16 of “Project Runway.” It’s no wonder that “Project Runway” alumni Tim Gunn writes the foreword in this book, where Crosse shares how to apply modeling tips and secrets towards having everyday confidence and success in your own respective careers. Crosse inspires and motivates, almost like an evangelist, as she challenges readers to strive toward living their best life, mastering presence and positivity, effectively networking and making partnerships, and staying persistent at every turn in life. Great book to help build self esteem in young girls and teens in the age of social media. Go to www.LirisC.com. (Liris Crosse Publishing/$14.99)
BETTER LATE THAN NEVER: These titles were featured on our previous gift guides but are still worthy of picking up!
Carla Hall: “Carla Hall’s Soul Food: Everyday and Celebration” – Carla Hall was described by the Washington Post as “the most visible black person in food” because of her years co-hosting ABC’s hit series “The Chew,” becoming a standout star on “Top Chef” and her various appearances on the Food Network. But in her latest cookbook, “Carla Hall’s Soul Food: Everyday and Celebration” the Nashville-bred, D.C.-based culinary queen aims to reshape the view of the comfort food that derives from African American culture. Hall elevates soul food in her book named after the food genre and doesn’t just share decadent, reimagined recipes of signature dishes, but explains their origins and shares moments from her journey through the south and the people she encountered while rediscovering this food. The photos will have your mouth watering and you thumb through this book exploring what to try. As for me, I’m starting with Oxtail Stew with Brown Sauce. (Harper Wave/$29.99)
Russell Westbrook: “Style Drivers” – Russell Westbrook is an iconoclast of the NBA and continues to show his fashion enterprising prowess with his debut book, “Style Drivers.” As a style innovator, who has designed collections for True Religion and has his own brand in Barneys New York, this book is the perfect brand extension for Oklahoma Thunder MVP, who now plays for the Houston Rockets. The coffee table book is a celebration of Russell’s unique personal style and homage to the creative people who the star athlete admires and works with. This book was created with three different covers designed by Raymond Pettibon. It featured photographs documenting Russell’s headline-grabbing clothes worn during the playoffs; in addition to original quotes, interviews with other athletes, designers and creative types. Whether you’re a cool kid, a sports fan or someone obsessed with fashion, this book is for you. (Price $55.00)
April Ryan: “Under Fire: Reporting from the Front Lines of the Trump White House” – The Must Read: Veteran White House reporter April Ryan was at one point just another face in the Oval Office press pool, but after facing the ire of Donald Trump and his communications team during White House press briefings for asking the questions Americans often want the answer to, the Baltimore native has now become a household name. A news reporter for American Urban Radio Networks and a political analyst for CNN, Ryan captures in “Under Fire” a story of chaos, betrayal, death threats and self-doubt in a book that reads like a juicy fiction novel, but sadly is all too true. From battles with the revolving cast of characters working as press secretaries, to the demise of her longtime friendship with Omarosa Manigault, you go on the frontlines and face the ‘fire’ with Ryan, while learning how she came through the refining process like pure gold. (Rowan & Littlefield/$24.99)
Quad Webb: “Cooking With Miss Quad” by -Daytime talk show host and reality TV star Quad Webb has released her debut cookbook “Cooking With Miss Quad.” A lifelong dream of the co-host of Tegna’s syndicated talk show “Sister Circle,” Miss Quad regularly shared stories of preparing lavish meals and often showed photos of her culinary offerings during the show’s hot topics segments. Now, many of those same items and others from her collection of recipes can be found in this well-executed cookbook. From succulent salads and southern staples; Caribbean fair and holiday feasts; Miss Quad shows she’s the real deal in the kitchen and the photos showcased make you wish this cookbook was scratch-and-sniff. In addition to meals that appear finger-licking good, the “Married To Medicine” star also offers motivation, mood-setting tips and the ideal way to create the perfect ambience for entertaining. Add this book to your cookbook library. (Countryman Press/$29.95)
Joan Rivers: “Joan Rivers Confidential: The Unseen Scrapbooks, Joke Cards, Personal Files, and Photos of a Very Funny Woman Who Kept Everything” – Hollywood icon Joan Rivers died in September 2014 after a long, accomplished career. A comic legend, Rivers was no typical 81-year-old when she passed. She still worked regularly and with her affinity for plastic surgery, she had the face of at least a 55-year-old. Her only child, Melissa Rivers has assembled a book of her late mom’s mementos and personal artifacts from her 50-years in show business. You’ll find scripts and monologues, letters from famous friends, exchanges with fans, rare photographs, as well as classic and never-before-heard jokes—many simply scribbled on everything from hotel stationery to airplane boarding passes—all in this amazing book. (Harry N. Abrams/$40)