Tag Archives: sneakers

Double knot those laces!

IMG_1533I’m getting really excited for the publication of my nonfiction book SNEAKER CENTURY: A HISTORY OF ATHLETIC SHOES (Twenty-First Century Books, January 2015). It was fun book to write and it will be fun to see it in the hands of readers. The book earned a nice review from Kirkus and another from Booklist. Here’s one from School Library Journal that leaves me grinning ear to ear. I’m glad to be able to share it with you.

Trainers. Tennies. Kicks. No matter what they’re called, athletic shoes have played an important role in American culture and the global economy during the past century, and this insightful look at the history of sneakers traces the shoes, from their humble origins in the Industrial Revolution to their current status as part of a multibillion dollar industry. While the text acknowledges the crucial role shoes play in athletic performance—a fact of which most readers are likely well aware—it does not dwell upon it. Instead, Keyser peppers the narrative with lesser-known human interest stories, such as the sibling rivalry between shoe manufacturers Adi and Rudolf Dassler that spawned Adidas and Puma. Equally fascinating is Keyser’s examination of the role youth culture has played in the athletic shoe industry (and vice versa) as well as her look at the seamier side of shoe manufacturing, including the extreme disparity between foreign labor costs and the price of the final product. While not comprehensive, the text provides readers with a solid understanding of sneaker culture. The graphics complement the text without overshadowing it, though there’s a lot of white space on some pages. Readers of all stripes will appreciate the role sneakers play in our lives. A fun and informative addition.

–Audrey Sumser

Olympic endorsements, rap music, Air Jordans, jogging in the 70s — Discuss!

?????As the release date for my newest nonfiction title SNEAKER CENTURY approaches, reviews are starting to come in.

Nerve-wracking? Yes.
Exhilarating? Also Yes.

It’s exciting to know that real live humans will be reading my book soon. I had a ton of fun writing this one. It’s nice to know that Kirkus thought it was good (other than the personal trauma of the 1970s jogging boom, which I totally understand). If you are a blogger, reviewer, teacher, librarian, or bookseller, I can send you a pre-approved link to the digital ARC on NetGalley. Just drop me a quick note.

Anyway… here’s what Kirkus had to say!

A comprehensive look at the rise of sneakers in American culture. Exploring a narrow field that nevertheless yields plenty of interest, the author shines a light on several aspects of sneaker culture. Topics range from the footwear’s early development in the early 19th century to its rise in popularity that coincides with the rise of the American teenager. The book’s layout augments the text with colorful infographics and various small sidebars that, while not necessary to the historical narrative, are well worth highlighting on their own. Discussions of the shoe’s rise to fame in the 1950s and resurgence in the 1980s (both thanks to popular figures like James Dean, Steve McQueen, Run-D.M.C. and Michael Jordan) are the best bits. A portion regarding Olympic runners and shady endorsement dealings makes for another amusing section. A discussion of the global economics of shoe manufacturing arrives a bit too late in the book to capture readers’ interest, and it doesn’t help that this section is much less elaborate than all those that came before it. Another lesser moment is a look back at the 1970s fad of “jogging,” something no one wants to be reminded of. An illuminating and amusing look at a subject with much more history than one might expect. (Nonfiction. 12-16)

Writerly dreams

This business is very weird.

I’ve been writing hard for years, dreaming up projects, deciding how to frame them, finding the right words.  I’ve struggled to find the right agent (not just AN agent but the exact-right-perfect-for-me-one).  I’ve considered dropping out more than once.  There were times when it seemed like nothing would ever sell.

And then…

… all the atoms in the universe line up.

A few weeks ago, I announced the sale of my upcoming anthology THE V-WORD, and last week Publisher’s Marketplace had this:


Amber Keyser’s SNEAKER CENTURY, an illustrated social history of the ubiquitous shoe, to Domenica Di Piazza at Twenty-First Century Books, for publication in Spring 2015, by Fiona Kenshole at Transatlantic Literary Agency (World).

I think I just might be floating a few inches off the ground, or maybe it’s my sneakers!


I’m just like Paula Abdul back in the day.