Gab & Jam Episode 3: What's on Our Bookshelf?
We began our session with a little bass of Stanley Clarke’s songs “Silly Putty” and “Lopsy Lu.”
As you can see, we have thousands of books, so our challenge was to limit it to just a few to show you want is on our bookshelf. Some are old favorites, some are new, some of actual books, and others are digital. Some we have read and a few we are planning to read.
What we’ve noticed is that many of the books that Bruce likes to read are biographies. We like biographies, because they share the whole person with us; not just the strong and brave face that gives them their reputation, but also their struggles and how they get through the other side and lead the way to success.
1. Death of a King: The Real Story of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s Final Year by Tavis Smiley and David Ritz
The book goes a long way to demystify the man that we think Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is; a symbol of non-violent racial peace. This book shows how Dr. King was challenging us, as a society, to not simply choose a side, but to think about issues related to the Vietnam war, etc. He was not just the “get along guy” that we perceive him to be today. It also talks about Dr. King’s struggle to connect alongside of the up and coming, more militant civil rights’ leaders, like Stokely Carmichael, etc.
2. My Life with Earth, Wind & Fire by Maurice White and Herb Powell
Bruce just started this book. Of course, Maurice White passed away last year, but he was an essential member of the great band Earth, Wind, and Fire. –If you have never heard the band’s music, you need to go listen/watch now. Their music from the 70s combined Afro-Cuban rhythms with R&B and other genres, including rock. Maurice White was the lead singer, songwriter, and an excellent drummer. He and his band-mate brother, Verdine White, were musical icons of the 70s and, as a young musician, I looked up to them.
3. Herbie Hancock: Possibilities by Herbie Hancock and Lisa Dickey
This book, like the last, is an auto-biography. This is a great book that talks about Herbie Hancock’s time with Miles Davis. Hancock was another musician/songwriter with a wide range, who went through different transformations as an artist. Hancock’s career spanned several decades and migrated through several genres, including acoustic jazz in the 60s to funk in the 70s on through to the R&B of the 80s. Hancock drops all kinds of funny nuggets of information about the musicians he’s worked with over the years, as well as his candidness about his drug problem, which makes this an interesting read.
Bird by Bird by Anne Lamonte
4. Bird By Bird by Anne Lamonte
I have loved this book since I first discovered it. I bought it quite a while back, read it, and then a few years later, I bought it again—not realizing that I had already read it. Of course, once I began reading it, I remember thinking that this all sounded sooooo familiar. Went to the bookshelf and found it. –Yes, I’d bought it twice. –I realized then that it was a text that would resonate with me each time I read it and it became my all-time favorite book. What I like most is that it is not just about the art of writing, but it’s about the life of a writer (and what that physically and psychologically and culturally entails and implies). Lamonte’s style is funny, but explores some heavy issues in a realistic way all at the same time, which makes it moving to read. Bruce calls this my “Writer’s Bible,” and I guess he’s right, because I return to it to gain wisdom and perspective on creative “predicament.” #ChristianButStillCrazy
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5. I Would Die 4 U: Why Prince Became an Icon by Toure
We believe this book was written while Prince was still alive and provides more a philosophical view of the artist. I (Bruce) am more critical of Toure’s book, because I feel like I lived through the Prince era. (After all, Prince was the soundtrack of my high school life.) I probably have a more subjective view of Prince, based on my personal recollections, and tend to more critical of folks, who, at more of a distance, see him differently. This book is probably best for someone who needs to understand Prince’s impact on music and culture, because it does a good job of positioning him. Therefore, I recommend this book.
6. Traction: How Any Startup Can Achieve Explosive Customer Growth by Gabriel Weinberg and Justin Mares
I (Victoria) discovered this book through a Detroit Institute of Music Education (D.I.M.E.) course (put name of course and a shout out to Stephanie Belcher of Green Bell Marketing). –The rub of it is that the book that she recommended was Traction, written by Gino Wickman, which is NOT this book. But to my defense, both books have the same fricking name and they both are about a method called “Bullseye Marketing.” --Anyway, this is the one I downloaded and have been listening to for weeks now. We have finally realized that we have to be more business-minded if we want our hustle to grow into an empire, so this book offers help on growing a business through marketing. This book helped me understand that marketing is not yucky, but necessary, since it is letting folks who might be the most interested know about what you are doing. That was an aha idea for me, which has helped me get over this hurdle of sharing what we do with the world. The idea that an artist has to market is not new, it’s just that at one time, the artist only needed to attract one or two well-paying patrons to support their creativity, whereas now, we have to tap on the shoulder of the world to get that same kind of support. I am happy to say that with the help of this book, business coaches, and life kicking us around a bit, we are ready to learn how to do it for ourselves. #HelpYourHustleGrow #OneMansTrash
7. The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It for Life by Twyla Tharp and Mark Reiter
We are actually the proud owners of a traditional hardbound copy of this book, which I happened upon on a trip to Dollar Tree. The author is a choreography, whose philosophy is that if you practice constantly, your muse will meet you more often. It is almost as if she believes that discipline causes your muse to want to step in and make that magic. And that the very nature of continually cranking out creative ideas encourages you to be more creative in your thinking and will help you have more to circulate, which also triggers even more creative flow.
8. The Collaborative Habit: Life Lessons for Working Together by Twyla Tharp and Jesse Kornbluth
This, too, is a book by Twyla Tharpe. I (Victoria) will admit that when I first bought this book, I was not in the headspace to be able to appreciate her ideas on the beauty of collaboration for the sake of creativity. Even though Bruce have been creating for over 30 years now, we often have spent quite a bit of time in our own individual creative bubbles. In the past few years, I have come to realize how valuable his partnership has been to think through real-world and, now, creative problems. This book speaks to the idea that it takes other people working with you to realize your own creative magic in newer, more profound ways. Further, she speaks to the viewer as a passive collaborator, as well. Needless to say, I recommend both books. #FindYourTribe
9. Making Michael: Inside the Career of Michael Jackson by Mike Smallcombe
This is another good biography from Bruce's collection that is among quite a few out there on Michael Jackson, who takes me back to that golden era of music. There’s nothing about this one that stands out tremendously, but it is not bad either. I am sure there is some truth in it, as well as some things that are made up (which is Michael Jackson’s legacy anyway). Having said that, if you are interested in learning more than you already know about him, pick this one up.
10. Life is a Verb by Patti Digh
This is a book that I found on one of my daughter’s thrifting trips. Since I don’t often make the time to sit and read as I should, I decided a while back that I would use the time that I am waiting in thrift shops as my daughter scours endlessly. I have been loving the excuse of “waiting” and have discovered quite a few books that I have added to newly-constructed bookcases. Because this book is about practicing mindfulness, I am really digging it. There are activities for all kinds of things, like being spontaneous, being kind, and nurturing the inner kid. Anything that reminds me that each day is a gift is my jam, so this book did it for me.
11. Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson
We’ve finally hit on a biography that is not about a dead musician from the 1970s, right?! This is a great book that takes us into the world and the mind of Steve Jobs. It is a long read, but it is better than any of the movies we’ve seen on Steve Jobs; therefore, I (Bruce) highly recommend this book.
12. The Forward Book of Poetry (2003)
This is yet another book that I (Victoria) found while thrifting. It is the from a publishing house in the UK, Forward Press. It has a variety of British and Irish poems. It was inspiring and so I bought it. Though it was published in 2003, when I first pulled it off the shelf, it looked brand new, like it had never been opened before.
13. 642 Things to Write About by The San Francisco Writers’ Grotto
I (Victoria) had originally thought this was a thrifting find, but I realize that I got this from clearance rack at Urban Outfitters. Since we are always looking for creative ways to express the ideas rattling around inside me, I loved the idea of each page having a new activity designed to lure that creativity out of my head and onto the page. I am so anal and write so big that I am completing assignments on paper—outside of the book—so that I can preserve these pristine pages. Anyway, I just love it, and when I am stuck—which happens sometimes—I will pick it up and start working on a prompt.
14. 1 Page at a Time by Adam J. Kurtz
This book operates on the same premise as the previous one, with daily activities designed to have you think more creatively. This one is a little more zany and technology-inspired than the former, but follows the same guideline; pick a page and complete it to get to your next great creative joy. Oddly enough, I have actually begun writing in this one, so I have broken my own “rules” already….
15. 1001 Ideas to Create Retail Excitement by Edgar A. Falk
This is another one of those thrifting books (that was still brand new, by the way). When I first saw it, I thought that it probably wouldn’t be of much value to us (since we don’t run a store). However, once I flipped through it, I realized that gives concrete ways to market what you already have (like using holidays and giveaways). It is actually this book, that I found this summer, that inspired the spirit of our regular giveaways that you readers (and viewers) enjoy now. This book planted the seed that if someone is kind enough to check out what you are doing that you need to provide a unique experience that they cannot find anywhere else. It is the ultimate way to take advantage of the ephemeral—and virtual—15 minutes you have been graced with.
16. Bonus: A book that I (Bruce) wants to read to expand his musician chops is called Evolving Bassist (by Rufus Reid). It is my plan to invigorate my creative process with adding a layer of music theory to my arsenal.
Did we miss anything?
Are there great books that you think we might like to read?
Either biographies, auto-biographies, creative exploration, or simply good stories?
If so, let us know by dropping it in the comments section below.
Also, is there a topic that you would like to see us cover in our next Gab & Jam?
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