Temple University Press’s Annual Holiday Give and Get

This week in North Philly Notes, the staff at Temple University Press suggests the Temple University Press books they would give along with some non-Temple University Press titles they hope to receive and read this holiday season. 

We wish everyone a happy and healthy holiday season!

Mary Rose Muccie, Director

Give: This year I’d give friends and family a subscription to the Press journal Kalfou, which publishes articles on racial and ethnic studies and social justice that are especially relevant these days. For example, recent articles addressed racialized juvenile incarceration, the role of murals as “monument[s] to blackness,” the ethnic and social makeup of “essential” workers during the pandemic, and the global racial and gender health inequalities exacerbated by COVID-19. 

Get:  At this point my bookshelves and devices are full of books I haven’t gotten to yet, which is what’s held me back from buying the 800+-page The Love Songs of W.E.B. Du Bois, by Honoree Fanonne Jeffers. But if someone were to give it to me, it would go at the top of my long to-be-read list.

Karen Baker, Associate Director and Financial Manager

Give: I would give Real Philly History, Real Fast, by Jim Murphy, because my son-in-law is very interested in exploring Philadelphia and this book would be a great guide for him.

Get: I would like to receive Will, by Will Smith, because he is a Philly guy and I think his story would be very interesting.

Ann-Marie Anderson, Marketing Director

Give: Richard Delgado and Jean Stefancic’s edited collection Critical Race Theory, our doorstopper reader on the subject. There is so much fear and misunderstanding associated with teaching critical race theory (CRT) in our schools that it has become the flashpoint in the culture. This massive volume with over 800 pages and a large array of voices and topics provides much understanding of what CRT is and what it is not.  

Get: I hope to get Bryant Terry’s Black Food: Stories, Art, and Recipes from Across the African Diaspora. It’s my kind of cookbook with not only recipes and beautiful art, but history, poetry, and a musical playlist curated by the author!! 

Aaron Javsicas, Editor-in-Chief

Give: We have a bounty of attractive and engrossing trade titles this year, but I’m going with Barksdale Maynard’s Artists of Wyeth Country. This project has personal resonance for me in part because I spent a lot of time in the Brandywine Valley as a kid, and I have very fond memories of it—visiting our close family friends who live there, and taking many long walks through what I now know is Wyeth country. Maynard’s book embraces this locale just as the Wyeth family and their local artistic kin have for generations. It’s a unique project, part family biography and part tour guide, and I know so many people who have a special affinity for these artists, their work, and this place. It’s a pretty perfect gift. 

Get: The Dawn of Everything: A New History of Humanity. This book promises to upend core understandings about the past, who we are, and how we arrived at this civilizational point. I’ll read it in hopes it can also upend some of our darker conventional wisdom about the apparently rather dismal present and future. Fingers crossed. Rest in peace, David Graeber.

Ryan Mulligan, Editor

Give: The Evolution of a Cricket Fan, by Samir Chopra. I don’t know much about cricket, but this isn’t just a book about the game—it’s about tracing your growth and change and sense of belonging through your relationship with sports fandom. 

Get: Intimacies: A Novel, by Katie Kitamura. Maybe it’s just professional interest, but I’ve been intrigued lately by books that break conventional storytelling structures and grammars. Hopefully, it will leave me more open-minded and helpful when my authors need help delivering their message in unconventional ways.

Shaun Vigil, Editor

Give: Rachel Schreiber’s Elaine Black Yoneda offers a deeply researched and narratively engaging view into Elaine Black Yoneda’s singular life. On a personal note, it was the first title I signed since joining the Press, which makes it all the more special to see in print!

Get: After another long year, what I’m asking after is a book that can allow me the space to pop in and out of it any time I need a good laugh. While I’ve ready many of its entries over the years, John Hodgman’s The Areas of My Expertise: An Almanac of Complete World Knowledge Compiled with Instructive Annotation and Arranged in Useful Order hasn’t ever found its way to my bookshelf. I’m hoping that this holiday season changes that.

Will Forrest, Editorial Assistant and Rights and Contracts Manager
Give: The Italian Legacy in Philadelphia, edited by Andrea Canepari and Judith Goode. I may be biased as an Italian living in the Philadelphia area, but this is a beautiful and fascinating book on an important part of the city’s cultural heritage.

Get: A few years ago a new edition of Life? Or Theatre?, a gorgeous and incredibly powerful artwork/memoir/proto-graphic novel was published. Charlotte Solomon was a brilliant German Jewish artist who lived a fascinating life, witnessed firsthand the rise of the Nazis, and was ultimately killed in the Holocaust. It’s one of the most incredible literary works I’ve ever read and I’d love to have this new edition with newly discovered paintings and new essays.

Kate Nichols, Art Manager

Gave: I already gave Ray Didinger’s Finished Business to a family member at Thanksgiving. He is a forever Philadelphia sports fan—the range of essays are perfect for him.

Get: I am hoping to get Cloud Cuckoo Land by Anthony Doerr. All the Light We Cannot See is one of my all-time favorite books.

Ashley Petrucci, Senior Production Editor

Give: Stephen Feldman’s Pack the Court! because it’s very relevant to our current political climate and provides information as to why court packing might or might not happen.

Get: I have several books borrowed from the public library through Libby that I plan to read, including For Whom the Bell TollsAmericanah, and 1Q84 that I hope to get time to read!

Annie Johnson, Assistant Director for Open Publishing Initiatives and Scholarly Communications

Give: The Battles of Germantown, by David. W. Young. Although Young’s focus is on one particular neighborhood in Philadelphia, the lessons he has drawn from his own experience are applicable to public historians everywhere.

Get: The Filing Cabinet: A Vertical History of Information by Craig Robinson, which argues that filing is a distinct mode of information labor that emerged at the turn of the twentieth century and became critical to the development of corporate capitalism.

Gary Kramer, Publicity Manager

Give: Walking in Cities, edited by Evrick Brown and Timothy Shortell, may be a good book to inspire readers to see the urban world around them anew.

Get: I’m keen to read Solid Ivory, filmmaker James Ivory’s memoir, edited by Peter Cameron.

Cricket Tragic: How the game “seeps into an author’s life”

This week in North Philly Notes, Samir Chopra, author of The Evolution of a Cricket Fan: My Shapeshifting Journey, writes about how the game of cricket informed his life.

A memoir can be a score-settler against real and imagined foes, a confessional from a therapeutic couch, a made-up story to reconcile oneself to the present, to seek exculpation for the many sins we commit in our lives. I suspect my book The Evolution of a Cricket Fan: My Shapeshifting Journey is all these things. Unapologetically.

In my book, through the act of writing a memoir of a fan of the game of cricket, I wanted to clarify the internal world of a dedicated sports fan, but with a difference: I had not had a stable identity through my ‘sports career,’ and so as the game of cricket changed—as it had to, in response to a changing world of politics, culture, technology—so did I, a paired dance of shifting identities that made for some interesting interactions between the two. I wanted to contribute, in my own way, to cricketing literature, a great corpus of writing, dominated by the works of professional writers and its players but not so much by its fans. I sought to do so mostly as an act of personal discovery and understanding but also as clarification and illumination of that entity whose commitment to the game supply its attendant dreams and wellsprings of motivation and passion. Players of the game, we must remember, begin their lives as fans of it first.  

‘Fan,’ it is said, is short for ‘fanatic.’ I do not think of myself as one, but my following of cricket has been described in similar terms: “obsessive” and “cricket tragic.” I suspect this term means, as my book shows, that my following of the sport is a loaded business, that I see much more than just sportsmen on a field, more than just bat making contact with ball, when I see players playing. It means that the game seeps into my life; that I derive lessons from the game for my life; that the changing events in my life influence the interpretations I place on sporting events; that I take the game to illustrate important truths relevant to the ways we live our lives; that the game influences how I view the world and its peoples, and of course, how I view myself.  

A ‘fan’ then, is someone who will laugh in your face if you say something like, “Relax, it’s just a game.” You would not say to an avid reader that a book is “just words on a page,” or “just ink marks on wood pulp,” would you? Once you see that, you see that the sports fan is not watching a game; he is reading and writing a text. He is reading the game, and he is writing himself into its playing and meaning. In doing so, he is changing the game itself because the products of his imagination inform the way the game is understood by others.  

Our lives are a long process of self-construction and self-discovery; cricket has aided me in both these endeavors; It was how I learned geography, history, politics, literature, and indeed, how to write. I am an immigrant, and so I have either multiple homes or none; this displacement always meant that my understanding of a “mere game” would be informed by this absence of a stable political identity, one riven by all too many conflicting imperatives and influences. Cricket was the mirror that let me observe myself as I morphed and transformed; this book is an attempt to reduce that resultant blur just a bit.

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