"Outside a dog a book is man's best friend, inside a dog it is too dark to read!" -Groucho Marx========="The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid." -Jane Austen========="I don’t believe in the kind of magic in my books. But I do believe something very magical can happen when you read a good book."-JK Rowling========"I spend a lot of time reading." -Bill Gates=========“Ahhh. Bed, book, kitten, sandwich. All one needed in life, really.” -Jacqueline Kelly=========

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Janis Joplin: Rise Up Singing by Ann Angel

Forty years after her death, Janis Joplin still fascinates. During a remarkable music career spanning hardly more than three years, she soared to the heights of rock-and-roll fame with a blues-inflected voice and an electric stage presence that could set a stadium on its feet.  Then suddenly, at age twenty-seven, she was gone. Her tragic death by drug overdose has become an iconic example of the price of fame, yet, as author Ann Angel shows, it was more complicated than that. -from the book jacket
I've always had a sort of voyeuristic fascination with celebrities who died young, especially those who died from drug overdoses.  So when I saw that this book, about the life and death of Janis Joplin, won the YALSA Award for Excellence in Non-fiction  for Young Adults last week I knew I had to get it for my library and I knew that I had to read it. The book arrived today and I read it the same day. “From the cover art and the interior design to the compelling personal narrative, this is a pearl of a book,” said YALSA Nonfiction Award Chair Don Latham. I agree.

Sometimes when I read nonfiction I really want to dig deep into a subject and to learn as much as I can, other times I just want to get a bit of information and to be entertained at the same time.  This book falls into the second category.  I didn't want to know every minute detail of Janis Joplin's short life, I just wanted to learn a little bit.  What kind of person was she is high school?  What kind of training did she receive to be able to sing with that unique blues voice that so captivated her audiences? Why did she use drugs and why was she so insecure?  The book answered all my questions and entertained me with photos and artwork related to her life and career. It was perfect for my level of interest.

I confess that I came home from work today to see if I had any Janis Joplin on my iTunes. Nope.  So I went to the iTunes music store and listened to four or five snippets of her most popular songs.  Yup, that gal could sing. What a pity that she died so young.  But on the other hand, perhaps we still like her because she did.  Who knows?  If you have even the tiniest bit of interest in the life of Janis Joplin, I recommend this book. It is worth the hour or two it will take to read it.


  1. Great I have to read this!! I am a huge Janis Joplin aficionada and have read almost everything written about her.

    So: Thank you for this review!

    Talking about your "voyeuristic fascination": Me, too! ;")

  2. I love memoirs. This is one I would definitely read! Great review!

  3. Sounds like an interesting biography. I like dabbling in memoirs & these types of life stories. FYI, I have 2 of her songs on iTunes, both classics: "Ball & Chain" (live) & "Piece of my Heart." Amazing songs!


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