Design devotees, rejoice! Design*Sponge at Home (Artisan, $35) is here. The much anticipated book from Design*Sponge blog creator Grace Bonney takes the best elements from the blog—home tours, DIY projects, flower arranging—and presents them in a clear, practical, and beautiful way. Bonney’s tone is energetic and friendly throughout, and the gorgeous full-color photographs are complemented by design-darling Julia Rothman’s charming illustrations. For the decorating novice or the expert, Design *Sponge at Home is an essential part of any design toolkit.
Last year, Stephen Sondheim’s Finishing The Hat collected his lyrics through 1981 (along with lots of behind-stage stories, photos, and asides). As soon as it arrived—to raves and appearances on best-of lists—fans clamored for the rest of the story. Look, I Made A Hat: Collected Lyrics (1981-2011) with Attendant Comments, Amplifications, Dogmas, Harangues, Wafflings, Diversions and Anecdotes (Knopf, $45) brings us up to date. It has definitive analyses of Sunday in the Park with George, Into the Woods, Assassins, Passion, and the many incarnations of Road Show (previously titled Wise Guys and Bounce). Sondheim also writes about his work on films and television, and drops in some “orphan songs” written for special occasions. The book’s deluxe format is the same as that of the first volume: glossy pages, clean layouts, and plenty of photos. It’s quite the hat!
Both volumes are now also available in a handsome slip-cased edition, appropriately titled HAT BOX: The Collected Lyrics of Stephen Sondheim (Knopf, $90).
When John Lithgow gives an interview, I am never sure whether to laugh uproariously or write down what he says to mull over later. Regardless, Lithgow’s passion is evident and finely honed in whatever he does, and his memoir, Drama: An Actor’s Education (HarperCollins, $26.99), is no exception. In his youth a hybrid of the drop-out and the genius, Lithgow joined the family business and became an actor; he was by turns confused and horrified by outshining his father in their shared trade. Best known for his comedic turn in Third Rock from the Sun and for his bone-chilling role as a serial killer on Dexter, Lithgow has won several Emmys, Golden Globes, Tonys, and much acclaim from critics in and out of the industry. But what drives the book is not Lithgow’s quiet, steady success, but the decades of romance, self-doubt, and education that lie behind his performances. Lithgow reminds us why acting is an art form, why humor is so deeply important, and why family is irresistible. Enjoy Drama for its honesty and its ingenuity, its ability to make you care—and because Lithgow is a hoot.