The 10 Books You Should Be Reading This March

From a behind-the-scenes look at comedy to the lives of towering artists

March 4, 2024 6:58 am
March 2024 Books
We have some book recommendations for you for March 2024.
Penguin Random House/Harper/Trouser Press

Is there an ideal kind of book to be reading in the month of March? Maybe one that balances a fascinating subject with in-depth research — whether the subject is the way that athletes ready themselves for their chosen sport or the complex life of a Warhol-era icon. Our recommended reading this month has a lot of books that fall into that category — including an inside look at two legendary SNL alumni and a journey into jazz mythology. Read on for what might be your next great read.

"The Blues Brothers"
Daniel de Visé, “The Blues Brothers”
Atlantic Monthly Press

Daniel de Visé, The Blues Brothers: An Epic Friendship, the Rise of Improv, and the Making of an American Film Classic (Mar. 19)

Not many comedy bits have had the staying power of the Blues Brothers, the characters created by John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd who were at the center of a film, recorded multiple albums and opened for the Grateful Dead. In this new book, Pulitzer Prize winner Daniel de Visé (also the author of a biography of B.B. King) explores the complex history of two fictional bluesmen.

"Mind Game"
Julie Kliegman, “Mind Game”
Rowman & Littlefield Publishers

Julie Kliegman, Mind Game: An Inside Look at the Mental Health Playbook of Elite Athletes (Mar. 5)

One of the most welcome additions to the sporting landscape in recent years has been a greater openness about the role that mental health plays on and off the field. In her new book, Mind Game, Julie Kliegman (who recently wrote about Marc Summers for InsideHook) shows how elite athletes like Kevin Love and  Chloe Kim have reckoned with their own mental health — and what they’ve learned from the experience.

"The Future of Songwriting"
Kristen Hersh, “The Future of Songwriting”
Melville House

Kristen Hersh, The Future of Songwriting (Mar. 12)

There was a moment in a recent New York Times Magazine profile of Michael Stipe in which Stipe chats with a young music fan and discovers the fan taken aback by the idea that he might like full songs. As an admirer of good songwriting, the implications of anecdotes like that and the rise of AI can be head-spinning. The arrival on the scene of Kristen Hersh’s new book should bring some clarity to the matter, as Hersh is both an excellent songwriter in her own right and is especially skilled at summarizing the artistic and technological issues facing artists today. 

"I Finally Bought Some Jordans"
Michael Arceneaux, “I Finally Bought Some Jordans”

Michael Arceneaux, I Finally Bought Some Jordans (Mar. 12)

In his previous books, Michael Arceneaux has established himself as an acclaimed and candid essayist, reckoning with questions both personal and societal along the way. His new collection finds Arceneaux addressing the events of recent years and his own personal evolution. And let’s not forget — it has a fantastic title.

"Zip It Up!"
Ira A. Robbins, editor, “Zip It Up!”
Trouser Press

Ira A. Robbins, editor, Zip It Up!: The Best Of Trouser Press Magazine 1974 – 1984 (Mar. 12)

In 1974, a fanzine that came to be known as Trouser Press made its debut. In the words of The New Yorker’s Nick Paumgarten, it was “a scrappy yet integral vehicle for the incursion on these shores of Brit genres, like prog and New Wave, that the critics and radio programmers initially snubbed.” And now, a new anthology revisits some highlights from the zine’s 10-year run.

Brad Gooch, “Radiant”

Brad Gooch, Radiant: The Life and Line of Keith Haring (Mar. 5)

Keith Haring died in 1990, but his artistic legacy and aesthetic maintains a steady presence in American popular culture. (Sometimes in surreal ways.) Now, Haring is the subject of a comprehensive new biography. The author here is Brad Gooch, who’s no stranger to the complicated lives of artists — with previous writings addressing the likes of Flannery O’Connor and Ray Johnson.

"A Chance Meeting"
Rachel Cohen, “A Chance Meeting: American Encounters”
Back Bay Books

Rachel Cohen, A Chance Meeting: American Encounters (Mar. 19)

Upon its initial release 20 years ago, John Banville dubbed Rachel Cohen’s A Chance Meeting “a sly yet ringing affirmation of the existence of an autonomous American cultural tradition, especially in literature and related arts.” This new edition of Cohen’s book should bolster the reputation of a cult classic, and includes a new introduction by Pulitzer Prize winner Vijay Seshradi.

Veteran Critic John Yau on the Changes He’s Witnessed in the Art World
His thoughtful new book offers a new lens on contemporary art
"Candy Darling"
Cynthia Carr,  “Candy Darling: Dreamer, Icon, Superstar”
Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Cynthia Carr,  Candy Darling: Dreamer, Icon, Superstar (Mar. 19)

If I was to assemble a list of favorite biographies, Cynthia Carr’s Fire in the Belly: The Life and Times of David Wojnarowicz would be at or near the top of it. It’s a comprehensive, empathic and insightful look at its subject. That Carr’s new book focuses on Andy Warhol superstar Candy Darling seems like another ideal blend of author and subject — and should be a thoroughly immersive read.

"My Friend Van Gogh"
Émile Bernard, “My Friend Van Gogh”
David Zwirner Books

Émile Bernard, My Friend Van Gogh (Mar. 12)

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, poet Émile Bernard cultivated friendships with some of the great artists of the time — including, as the title of this book suggests, Vincent van Gogh. This new edition of Bernard’s book comes with an introduction by art critic and historian Martin Bailey, whose recurring The Art Newspaper feature Adventures With Van Gogh is essential reading.

"3 Shades of Blue"
James Kaplan, “3 Shades of Blue”
Penguin Press

James Kaplan, 3 Shades of Blue: Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Bill Evans, and the Lost Empire of Cool (Mar. 5)

Sometimes, the story of a single creative work can tell the story of something much more. That’s the approach that James Kaplan has taken with his new book 3 Shades of Blue, which explores the creation of the album Kind of Blue through three of the towering figures associated with it. As his two-volume Frank Sinatra biography shows, Kaplan has a great eye for detail and for telling moments. It’s a promising blend of writer and subject.

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