Arts & Culture


To have your book, CD, app, or other work considered for Output, please send a copy to Arts Editor, Yale Alumni Magazine, PO Box 1905, New Haven CT 06509; or e-mail a copy or link to

Plan to Be Spontaneous 
Steve Shapiro ’85
(Solidtone Recordings, $6.93)
This is a jazz album led by a skilled, precise vibraphonist. And these are some rocking jams—loud, fast, riff-based workouts with prominent electric guitar, sax, and drums. Shapiro is an accomplished producer and programmer who knows how to build a track so it soars. When musicians are melding with such wild abandon and sonic savvy, words like “jazz fusion” just don’t cut it. You marvel at his expertise and eclecticism. Then you just have to get up and dance.

Life Worth Living: A Guide to What Matters Most
Miroslav Volf, the Henry B. Wright Professor of Theology; Matthew Croasmun ’01, ’14PhD; and Ryan McAnnally-Linz
(The Open Field/Penguin Random House, $29)
At critical junctures in each of their lives, Siddhartha Gautama, aka the Buddha; a fisherman named Simon, who became a founder of the Christian Church; and Ida B. Wells, a Black journalist who spoke truth to southern lynch mobs, had to confront The Question: what matters most in a good life that, say the authors, “is worthy of our humanity.” Volf, Croasmun, and McAnnally-Linz offer readers a path away from evil and triviality and toward the deepest kind of fulfillment. “This book might wreck your life,” they warn. Let it.

Laid and Confused: Why We Tolerate Bad Sex and How to Stop
Maria Yagoda ’12
(St. Martin’s Press, $27)
 Millennials and Gen Z’ers may have become infamous for having less sex than their earlier counterparts, but journalist Yagoda says the “sex recession” is not “another depressing facet of our generation.” Rather, “The actual depressing thing is . . . how much bad sex we’re having.” After interviewing young people, scientists, and clinicians, from psychologists to BDSM practitioners—along with an honest exploration of her own sexual history—Yagoda provides ways to solve the “Bad Sex Problem” and “open our bodies up to pleasure”: an opening that is, Yagoda asserts, “a fundamental human right.”

The Most Likely Club: A Novel
Elyssa Friedland ’03

(Penguin/Random House, $17)
When the yearbook superlatives rolled off the presses at tony Bellport Academy in 1997, best friends Priya, Melissa, Suki, and Tara were named most likely to cure cancer, win the White House, join the Forbes 400, and open a Michelin-starred restaurant, respectively. As they get ready to celebrate their 25th high school reunion, we not only discover how their lives played out—not, of course, as any of them planned—but also, in this fine, beach-read tale of the power of friendship, how they, members of the middle-aged club “most likely to put out fires,” came back together to make their mature dreams a reality.

We Should Not Be Friends: The Story of a Friendship
Will Schwalbe ’84
(Alfred A. Knopf, $29
When the author said a reluctant yes to spending two dinners a week in an unnamed secret society—clearly not Bones—he was told that sharing his senior year with, by design, “the fifteen most different kids” that could be found on campus “is going to change your life.” Over mandatory meals and self-revealing “audits” in which group members presented their most detailed biographies, Schwalbe, an out gay nerd who would become a noted writer, found himself drawn to his polar opposite: Chris Maxey ’84, a wrestler who would become a Navy SEAL. This moving memoir is the story of a remarkable, enduring, and utterly unlikely friendship.

Who Is the City For? Architecture, Equity, and the Public Realm in Chicago  Blair Kamin ’84MEnvD and Lee Bey, photographer
(University of Chicago Press, $29)
“The city,” declares Kamin, who recently retired after almost three decades as the architecture critic of the Chicago Tribune, is “one of humankind’s great achievements.” But in this series of sharpened and updated newspaper columns from 2011 to 2021 that center around the issue of equity, Kamin shows how Chicago’s built and building environment “gives us the best and the worst of American urban life.”

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