What We're Reading: Decoded by Jay-Z

Jay-Z's new memoir is a must-read -- and a gorgeous addition to your coffee table, to boot.

decoded book cover
(Image credit: Random House)

Not gonna lie, guys — I'm having a little trouble connecting this week's book to the generally-acknowledged interests of typical ladymag readers. But here's the thing: There's no disputing that Jay-Z is a fascinating, iconic figure in American music and culture. I mean, for gosh sakes, the guy was a teenage crack dealer who rose to become a 10-time Grammy Award winning artist, gajillionaire, and hubby to one Beyonce Knowles. And, come on, you guys are anything but typical. Kind of like Jay-Z, right?


Author: Shawn Carter, better known as Jay-Z, a multiplatinum musician, entrepreneur, and all around exceptional dude.

Genre: Part memoir, part lyrics analysis, part peek into an oft-ignored sector of American history

What Happens: In a stunningly-designed volume complete with gorgeous portraits, album cover images, and photos of the Marcy Projects (site of the rapper's humble and dangerous upbringing), Jay-Z uses his song lyrics to explore his life story, the poetry of his music, and the history of hip hop.

Why Read It: You'll get a glimpse into one of the most brilliant minds in American music — and finally understand what "99 Problems" was talking about.

Details: Spiegel & Grau, $35.00, November 16

Anna Maltby

Anna Maltby is an award-winning journalist and editor and was most recently the executive editor of Elemental, Medium’s in-house health and wellness publication. She was previously the deputy editor at Real Simple magazine and a deputy editor at Refinery29, and also held staff positions at Men’s Health, Marie Claire, SELF, Fit Pregnancy, Natural Health and Condé Nast Traveler. Her writing has appeared in such outlets as The Wall Street Journal, Cosmopolitan, Glamour, O, Family Circle, Fitness, Redbook, Vogue.com, TeenVogue.com, MensJournal.com, CondeNastTraveler.com, FastCompany.com_ _and Brides.com. She received her BSJ and MSJ from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University. Anna is also an American Council on Exercise–certified personal trainer and functional training specialist, a certified prenatal and postnatal exercise specialist, and a certified mat Pilates teacher. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband, two children, and two tuxedo cats.