Extended Audio Sample

Download Losing My Cool: How a Father’s Love and 15,000 Books Beat Hip-hop Culture Audiobook

Extended Audio Sample Losing My Cool: How a Father’s Love and 15,000 Books Beat Hip-hop Culture, by Thomas Chatterton Williams Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (306 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Thomas Chatterton Williams Narrator: Thomas Chatterton Williams Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
Regular Price: $15.00 Download
— or —
FlexPass™ Price: $14.95$5.95$5.95 for new members!
Download learn more )

A pitch-perfect account of how hip-hop culture drew in the author and how his father drew him out again-with love, perseverance, and fifteen thousand books.

Into Williams’s childhood home—a one-story ranch house—his father crammed more books than the local library could hold. “Pappy” used some of these volumes to run an academic prep service; the rest he used in his unending pursuit of wisdom. His son’s pursuits were quite different—“money, hoes, and clothes.” The teenage Williams wore Medusa-faced Versace sunglasses and a hefty gold medallion, dumbed down and thugged up his speech, and did whatever else he could to fit into the intoxicating hip-hop culture that surrounded him. Like all his friends, he knew exactly where he was the day Biggie Smalls died, he could recite the lyrics to any Nas or Tupac song, and he kept his woman in line, with force if necessary.

But Pappy, who grew up in the segregated South and hid in closets so he could read Aesop and Plato, had a different destiny in mind for his son. For years, Williams managed to juggle two disparate lifestyles—“keeping it real” in his friends’ eyes and studying for the SATs under his father’s strict tutelage. As college approached and the stakes of the thug lifestyle escalated, the revolving door between Williams’ street life and home life threatened to spin out of control. Ultimately, Williams would have to decide between hip-hop and his future. Would he choose “street dreams” or a radically different dream—the one Martin Luther King spoke of or the one Pappy held out to him now?

Williams is the first of his generation to measure the seductive power of hip-hop against its restrictive worldview, which ultimately leaves those who live it powerless. Losing My Cool portrays the allure and the danger of hip-hop culture like no book has before. Even more remarkably, Williams evokes the subtle salvation that literature offers and recounts with breathtaking clarity a burgeoning bond between father and son.  Download and start listening now!


Quotes & Awards

  • “A provocative, intellectual memoir.” 

    USA Today

  • “Williams blends Dostoevsky and Jay-Z in a compelling memoir and analysis of urban youth culture.” 

    Booklist (starred review)

  • A 2010 San Francisco Chronicle Best Book for Nonfiction

Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Sue | 1/26/2014

    " I zoomed through this in a day. I was reallyinterested in how the author changed his mindset from one of immersion in hip-hop culture to one focused on philosophy at the collegiate level. I would like some of my teaching colleagues to read it and see if there are any overall ideas that can come from the author's journey, or if it's just one person's (interesting) story of their personal paradigm shift. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Jan | 1/25/2014

    " I could hardly put it down - so revealing about a culture of which I know almost nothing. While I was fascinated by Thomas's courage to break from the very limiting hip hop culture and the courage to speak up in a big way about that- I also was fascinated by what his journey to a broader world can say to all of us but especially to all young people. But what do I know, read Trey's review from Sept 2011, as a young black man he can say what is good about the book. I love how he says it challenges him to read more, live more intentionally. As an old white woman, the book challenged me too - I am going to read Brothers Karamozov that has been unread in my iBook library for too long. What I keep thinking of is Thomas's almost grief at remembering the young, innocent, no make-up, shorts and tank top Stacey ( his high school girl) and how she was unable to escape her small fish bowl and at 20 had two children, no degree, no husband, no future. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by Rik Albani | 1/25/2014

    " On finding a deeper, more universal meaning of culture beyond hip hop through his father's library and influential teachers and friends. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 by Jay | 1/14/2014

    " Mildly heartwarming as a father/son coming-of-age story, but lacking sufficient perspective or nuance in its portrayal of hip-hop culture. Far too many reductive, sweeping judgments of hip-hop's influence based on tenuous interpretations of scant anecdotal evidence. I'd highly recommend the The Beautiful Struggle by Ta-Nehisi Coates, for a much sharper take on similar subject matter. "

  • > Show All
Write a Review
What is FlexPass?
  • Your first audiobook is just $5.95
  • Over 90% are at or below $12.95
  • "LOVE IT" guarantee
  • No time limits or expirations