Rebecca Denton

The year Kathy Dobie turned 14, she had one thing on her mind: boys. Teenagers, grown men, it didn't matter. She wanted them all, and she sent the message loud and clear with halter tops and swaying hips.

They took the bait and came running.

In her first book, a memoir called The Only Girl in the Car, Dobie describes the pivotal period in her life when the world of sex opened before her, and she plunged in with abandon. It was a heady time full of experiences far beyond the scope of her proper Catholic family, who didn't suspect a thing.

Dobie's upbringing was typical for the 1970s: a suburban Connecticut home, five brothers and sisters, a father who worked while her mother stayed home. Tired of being a dutiful daughter and big sister, Dobie rebelled against the wholesome image. She longed for danger and recklessness, spending her evenings at the smoky teen center, watching the guys play pool and imagining her body pressed up against them. Before long, she wasn't just imagining.

“As far as I was concerned, I was doing exactly what the boys were doing, which meant I was as alive, as bold, as free, as they were,” she writes.

On an unforgettable March night, riding in a car full of those teen center boys, she got more than she bargained for. The experience resonated far beyond that bitterly cold evening, changing the course of her life forever.

With fresh, lively prose and a thoughtful delivery, Dobie manages to capture the eagerness and childlike trust that led her into danger, and the mental toughness and fortitude that helped her recover. What's striking about the book is that Dobie, who has written for Harper's, The Village Voice, Salon and other magazines, delves so honestly and fearlessly into a young girl's sexual experiences and attitudes. She doesn't shy away from the image she presents of herself as a reckless, eager teen with no regard for reputation or restraint.

Instead, by telling her story candidly, Dobie captures the complicated reality of a girl who's impulsive and dreamy, honest and true to a fault. Her memoir ultimately is more than a coming-of-age story. Eloquent and sharp, The Only Girl in the Car is a lyrically rendered, candid book about teenage sexuality, and one girl with enough courage to strike out on her own and keep going. Rebecca Denton is a newspaper reporter who lives in Nashville.

The year Kathy Dobie turned 14, she had one thing on her mind: boys. Teenagers, grown men, it didn't matter. She wanted them all, and she sent the message loud and clear with halter tops and swaying hips. They took the bait and came running. In her first book, a memoir called The Only Girl […]

In the 1980s, journalist Adrian Nicole LeBlanc embarked on an ambitious personal assignment to candidly explore and characterize a culture that's often overlooked. She immersed herself in the chaotic world of the Bronx to get the story, sleeping on slum floors, visiting jail inmates and hanging out on the steps of projects. The 11-year journey culminated in her book, Random Family: Love, Drugs, Trouble and Coming of Age in the Bronx, the fascinating true story of two inner-city Puerto Rican girls growing up fast during the heyday of Wall Street and crack cocaine. The tale begins with Jessica a voluptuous, hazel-eyed beauty who gets swept up in a volatile romance with Boy George, a young heroin dealer who showers her with fur coats, jewelry and exotic trips abroad. Coco, a sweet-natured 14-year-old, falls hard for Jessica's younger brother, Cesar, an aspiring criminal who fathers two of her children. The early days are full of joy rides, nightclubs and passionate couplings, but the good times don't last. Boy George and Jessica are investigated by the FBI and DEA, and Cesar goes on the lam following a botched robbery. Coco is left to survive as best she can through a fluid network of kinship relationships. The two women are products of an environment rampant with casual sex, drugs and violence, and they fall into a seemingly inevitable cycle of poverty and abuse. By the time she's 20, Coco has four children by three different men. She tries to provide for her kids while maintaining a long-distance and dysfunctional relationship with Cesar. Jessica and Coco are taught “to be sexy, to respect family, that all men were dogs but that without them women were nothing,” LeBlanc writes, and the contradictory messages reinforce a sense of despair. But the women are resilient and scrappy, forging family ties where they can find them. Too soon, they are the young, single parents of teenagers heading down the same rocky paths with little chance of escape. Steering clear of judgment and sentimentality, LeBlanc matter-of-factly presents the complex cycle of intergenerational urban poverty. What could be an unlovely portrait of a broken-down world becomes, in her hands, a bittersweet tale that sheds some much-needed light on the plight of poor, inner-city families. Written with candor, sensitivity and respect, Random Family is ultimately more than a hard-luck saga; it's a universal story of survival and hope. Journalist Rebecca Denton writes from Nashville.

In the 1980s, journalist Adrian Nicole LeBlanc embarked on an ambitious personal assignment to candidly explore and characterize a culture that's often overlooked. She immersed herself in the chaotic world of the Bronx to get the story, sleeping on slum floors, visiting jail inmates and hanging out on the steps of projects. The 11-year journey […]

When British journalist Victoria Finlay began her research into the history of color, she didn't expect to unearth stories of corruption, poisoning, killing and politics. But that's precisely what she found.

It turns out that colors ochre, black, brown, white, red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet, hues used on everything from canvas to cloth are not as easy to come by as they might seem. The glossy shades that modern-day artists casually squeeze from tubes have been a source of heartache and controversy, even death, for centuries.

In Color: A Natural History of the Palette, Finlay explores the physical makeup of colors, as well as the social and political meanings that different hues have come to represent. For her research, Finlay spent years traveling through mountains, deserts, caves and villages in countries such as Afghanistan, Indonesia, China and Australia to piece together a thorough history of each color's origins and development. The result is quite an accomplishment: a 448-page volume about color that reads like an adventure novel. Inspired by the human quest for color, this is a book full of stories and anecdotes, histories and escapades mostly in art, but also in fashion and interior design, music, porcelain and even, in one example, pillar boxes. Many revelations in Finlay's “paintbox journeys” are fascinating. Take, for example, the fact that carmine one of the reddest dyes the natural world has produced is made from the blood of cochineal beetles harvested on plantations in Chile. The additive is used today in cosmetics, soft drinks, paint and many other products. Finlay also tells how steaming piles of manure were used by the Dutch to make lead for white paint during Rembrandt's time, and how Egyptian corpses were a key ingredient in a brown pigment called mommia, or “mummy.” (One 19th-century artist is said to have given his tubes of brown paint a proper burial when he found out.) Written with a sense of humor and wonder, Finlay's first book is a captivating journey that entertains as much as it teaches. Rebecca Denton is a freelance writer and reporter in Nashville.

When British journalist Victoria Finlay began her research into the history of color, she didn't expect to unearth stories of corruption, poisoning, killing and politics. But that's precisely what she found. It turns out that colors ochre, black, brown, white, red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet, hues used on everything from canvas to […]

Let's be honest. For many women, the holiday season isn't entirely joyful. They spend untold hours shopping, baking, cleaning and traveling like madwomen, and they deserve a little reward. We've selected an array of books designed to give your mother, wife, sister or best friend a respite from the hectic holidays. Covering everything from beauty advice to the miracle of birth, these gift selections aim to refresh mind, body and spirit and not a moment too soon.

When was the last time you really savored a cup of coffee, or paused to listen to a songbird? For most women, it's been awhile, and Sarah Ban Breathnach is out to change that. During the 1980s, Ban Breathnach lost her senses literally. A ceiling panel fell on her head in a restaurant, leaving her extremely sensitive to touch and sound, and unable to taste or smell for months. Bedridden and disoriented, she was struck by a profound yearning for simple pleasures, such as the taste of a ripe peach or the smell of freshly washed clothes. After she recovered, Ban Breathnach compiled her thoughts in her best-selling Simple Abundance: A Daybook of Comfort and Joy, and Something More, among others. In the same vein comes her new release, Romancing the Ordinary, a guide to rediscovering the mystery and surprise in everyday life. This inspirational litany of recipes, rituals, decorating hints, fashion and gardening tips is intended to reinvigorate body and soul. With chapters designed to be read in increments throughout the year, Ban Breathnach invites female readers to join her on a journey to renew their sense of wonder and bask in ordinary delights.

Beauty knows no bounds, including age. That's the theme of makeup guru Bobbi Brown's new book, Bobbi Brown Beauty Evolution: A Guide to a Lifetime of Beauty. Written with Sally Wadyka, Brown's guide takes a practical look at the changing face of beauty. Each chapter focuses on a different stage of life and outlines the shifts women should make in their beauty routines through the years. This down-to-earth reference encourages women to celebrate their looks at any age and gives them the know-how to get started from choosing the right makeup brushes to selecting a flattering hair color. Brown's book also includes a section on beauty and health tips for pregnant women, for those going through chemotherapy, and for those considering plastic surgery. It presents interviews with women about self-image and a section on makeovers. A chapter full of grooming tips for men rounds out the mix. With a warm, inclusive tone and more than 300 glossy, color photographs, Beauty Evolution redefines beauty and celebrates it across the generations.

Supermodel Christy Turlington may be rich and gorgeous, but she's also a thoughtful, spiritual woman dedicated to living a balanced existence. In Living Yoga: Creating a Life Practice, the cover girl and serious yoga student presents the basics of the practice, interspersed with reflections and anecdotes about her ongoing journey toward personal discovery. In straightforward prose, Turlington tells how her dedication to the ancient art has helped her weather difficult times, including her father's death from lung cancer. She describes the benefits of meditation, clears up some common misunderstandings about yoga and explains the philosophy behind different poses. Complete with a history of yoga, an overview of different styles, an extensive glossary of terms and a resource directory, this elegantly illustrated book is ideal for beginners or advanced practitioners looking for some inner equilibrium.

If you're searching for the perfect gift to bestow on expectant mothers, look no further than From Conception to Birth: A Life Unfoldsby Alexander Tsiaras, with text by Barry Werth. This lavishly designed book combines stunning visual art with medical science to present a child's development in the womb as never seen before. Scientific visualization software, designed and patented by Tsiaras, presents the developing baby from new angles and in luminous images "painted" by Tsiaras on the computer. The accompanying text explains how a child's life begins, starting with the basics. It also includes information about heredity, DNA, infertility and more all written in an engaging, light style. Absorbing from a scientific as well as an artistic perspective, From Conception to Birth is the kind of book that parents-to-be will consult in wonderment throughout the pregnancy and beyond.

And finally, in a delightfully small package comes a tribute to that most feminine of carrying cases the purse. Who would have thought that so much could be inferred, stated and communicated about the purses, pocketbooks and handbags in which nearly every woman carries her necessities, conveniences and other mysterious paraphernalia? In Handbags: The Power of the Purse author Anna Johnson examines the evolution of the purse, from the era when it brought independence to women (who previously relied on men to carry items for them), to today's functional and fashionable trends.

Purses of all shapes, sizes and materials announce the carrier's character and status from former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher's chunky "trusty companion" to Grace Kelly's elegant Hermes Haute Courroies bag. Most women aren't content to own just one or two purses; there must be choices fit for work and play, fun and function, day and evening. With more than 900 color photographs, Handbags aims to capture every imaginable variety of the purse, from beaded to brocaded, from dainty to downright dorky. This wallet-sized selection would make an ideal stocking stuffer for the fashion-conscious lady on your list.

Let's be honest. For many women, the holiday season isn't entirely joyful. They spend untold hours shopping, baking, cleaning and traveling like madwomen, and they deserve a little reward. We've selected an array of books designed to give your mother, wife, sister or best friend a respite from the hectic holidays. Covering everything from beauty […]

Paul Fussell is back, and he's as feisty as ever. After categorizing the nation's social strata in Class: A Guide Through the American Status System and setting the record straight in The Great War and Modern Memory, the National Book Award winner and former U.S. Army officer turns his biting wit to another social phenomenon.

In Uniforms: Why We Are What We Wear, Fussell describes, discusses, speculates and pontificates about the customs and vanities that drive people of all nationalities to suit up, each in their own fashion. “This is unashamedly a book about appearances,” he writes. “This is also a book about the comfort and vanity of belonging, which everyone has experienced.” The former Ivy League professor of literature sparks his history lesson with colorful opinions and offbeat facts. Ever wonder why a priest's cassock has 33 buttons? Why police uniforms are blue? Why the first Salvation Army workers wore padded headgear? Fussell answers these questions and more. Through research and interviews, he pieces together an overview of uniforms throughout the 20th century, peppered with his own curmudgeonly brand of commentary.

Examining military uniforms in detail, Fussell describes the looks of American, Russian, German and Italian troops. He explains why the U.S. Army changed its dirt-colored uniforms, or “Brown Jobs,” to green, and how the Air Force came up with its own outfits around 1950. He describes the theories behind the uniforms of bus drivers, postal workers, nuns, chefs, cheerleaders and baseball players. Entertaining stories round out the mix, including that of Elmo Zumwalt an admiral who tried to change the U.S. Navy's traditional uniform and Gen. George S. Patton, who believed that a smart-looking uniform commanded respect and boosted bravado.

Full of pugnacious observations and intellectual insights, Uniforms notes that most people attempt a delicate balance when it comes to fashion conforming to the norm while asserting their individuality. Hence the uniforms we all wear, from Birkenstocks and bell-bottoms to khaki pants and Polo shirts. Rebecca Denton is an editor and writer in Nashville.

Paul Fussell is back, and he's as feisty as ever. After categorizing the nation's social strata in Class: A Guide Through the American Status System and setting the record straight in The Great War and Modern Memory, the National Book Award winner and former U.S. Army officer turns his biting wit to another social phenomenon. […]

<B>You've come a long way, baby</B> Single women of America take note life is good. Parents and friends may nag you about getting hitched, but no one questions your right to go to college and have an interesting job, a house, a car even a live-in boyfriend. Most women under 50 take for granted the idea that they can be smart, sexy, successful and respectable without men in their lives. But journalist Betsy Israel's insightful new book, <B>Bachelor Girl: The Secret History of Single Women in the Twentieth Century</B>, takes a revealing look at just how far the single woman has come.

Drawing on private journals, newspaper articles and personal interviews, Israel pieces together a fascinating history of single women in America, from 19th-century spinsters to today's <I>Sex and the City </I>icons. She takes readers into the factories of 1870s New York, where some single working girls took up part-time prostitution to supplement their $2-a-week salary. And she conveys the dismay of 1940s-era women who worked in factories and white-collar professions during World War II only to be sent back home after the war or viewed as job stealers if they stayed on.

Israel packs more than a century's worth of information into a detailed and entertaining overview of the bachelor girl's evolution. She also presents snapshots of women's lives against a backdrop of society's changing attitudes as depicted in the media. While single women have more opportunities than ever before, the pressure to marry and follow traditional paths is still prevalent.

By and large, however, today's society accepts that a single woman can live life on her own terms. For those girls and the country's women in general, Israel's <B>Bachelor Girl</B> serves as a reminder, as well as a yardstick: You may have come a long way, but don't forget the countless hardy souls who made it possible. <I>Rebecca Denton is an editor and writer in Nashville.</I>

<B>You've come a long way, baby</B> Single women of America take note life is good. Parents and friends may nag you about getting hitched, but no one questions your right to go to college and have an interesting job, a house, a car even a live-in boyfriend. Most women under 50 take for granted the […]

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