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September 30, 2008

Reading Shouldn't Be A Numbers Game

by Regina Powers, Los Angeles Times

Although I am elated that many famlies are visiting my public library more frequently because schools send them, I am distubed at how infrequently parents and teachers are allowing young readers to choose what to read.

The Crying Hill

by Yusef Komunyakaa, Slate

Respect For Religion Now Makes Censorship The Norm

by Jo Glanville, The Guardian

When publishers are too intimidated to print even novels that may offend, it shows how far we've lost our way on free speech.

Storied Lives

by Bob Thompson, Washington Post

There are hard ways and easy ways to get ideas for books, and both were on display Saturday at the National Book Festival on the Mall.

September 29, 2008

The Idiot President

by Daniel Alarcon, New Yorker


by Anne Carson, New Yorker


by Rosanna Warren, New Yorker

The Cab Ride I'll Never Forget

by Kent Nerburn, Zen Moments

We're conditioned to think that our lives revolve around great moments. But great moments often catch us unaware - beautifully wrapped in what others may consider a small one.

I Remember Adlestrop

by David McKie, The Guardian

Reference books may seem austere, but they can brim with charm and personality.

September 28, 2008

Why Did The Moron Write Jokes?

by Gene Weingarten, Washington Post

A: Because he had this column to fill.

More Than Just A Beautiful Face

by Stephanie Zacharek, Salon

Gorgeous, sure, but it was Paul Newman's sly spark that made us love him — and he never stopped reinventing himself.

What My Copy Editor Taught Me

by Dorothy Gallagher, New York Times

I mention Helene's death because she was not only my first editor, but the editor of my life.

God's Words

by Jessa Crispin, The Smart Set

The (unnecessary) rise of the spiritual memoir.

September 26, 2008

A Writer Alone At Last

by Joyce Wadler, New York Times

The latest boook by Susan Cheever, novelist, biographer and daughter of the late John Cheever, is a cautionary tome that chronicles her addiction to sex.

Luxury Apartments As The New Aphrodisiac

by Janet Maslin, New York Times

In her fifth book about ambitious, covetous, pampered New Yorkers, Candace Bushnell laments the decline of art, the bitchiness of gossip and the crass commercialization of publishing.

When Books Could Change Your Life

by Tim Kreider, Baltimore City Paper

Why what we pore over at 12 maybe the most important reading we ever do.

September 25, 2008

L.A. Fusoin Restaurants Create Easy Blends Without Borders

by C Thi Nguyen, Los Angeles Times

There are two kinds of fusion cooking. The first kind is self-conscious about its fusion; it exists in order to cross boundaries. But in Southern California, there's another kind of fusion cooking.

The Virgin King

by John Ashbery, New Yorker


by Andrea Lee, New Yorker

One And Done

by Joanna Weiss, Slate

How not to be the first contestant kicked off a reality show.

September 24, 2008

Atomic Prose

by Chris Wilson, Slate

Why can't science journalists just tell it like it is when it comes to particle physics?

Is E-Literature Just One Big Anti-Climax?

by Andrew Gallix, The Guardian

Technology - the very stuff e-lit is made of - has turned out to be its Achilles heel.

The Big Rewind

by Jan Swafford, Slate

How The Rest is Noise changes our understanding of 20th-century music.

September 23, 2008

Though Your Sins Be Scarlet

by David Biespiel, Slate

September 22, 2008

Fear Of Fairy Tales

by Joanna Weiss, Boston Globe

"Fairy tale" may be our shorthand for castles and happy endings, but these classic stories have villians, too - nefarious witches, bloodthirsty wolves, stepmothers up to no good. And scholars have come to see the stories' dark elements as the source of their power, not to mention their persistence over the centuries.

September 21, 2008

Salons Are Cultivating Another Kind Of Creative Class

by Tyrone Beason, Seattle Times

Cosmetologists and esthetists, like those being trained at Seattle's Greenwood Academy of Hair, rank somewhere between parents and lovers among the world's most dedicated validators and confidants.

September 20, 2008

Burn Her!

by Tim Harford, Slate

Why it's dangerous to be a witch in a recession.

Laughter In The Dark

by Jack Handey, New York Times

In general, the easiest way to locate the Humor section in any bookstore is to go through the front entrance of the bookstore and to the farthest point from the entrance. That's where the Humor section will be.

'American Lightning' By Howard Blum

by Richard Rayner, Los Angeles Times

How the dynamiting of the Los Angeles Times in 1910 shaped the city for the next 100 years.

Empire Of Ice

by Jeanne Marie Laskas, GQ

On a $500 million man-made island in the frozen Arctic Ocean, just off the coast of a vast, uninhabitable tundra known as Alaska's North Slope, a pipeline begins. In temperatures that hover around forty-five degrees below zero, in perpetual darkness, a tight-knit band of roughnecks spends twelve hours a day, seven days a week, drilling down, down into the earth and pulling up precious crude. If you want to know how badly we need oil, here is your answer.

September 19, 2008

Read Me A Story, Brad Pitt

by Nate DiMeo, Slate

When audiobook casting goes terribly wrong.

Democracy On The Wane

by Joshua Kurlantzick, Boston Globe

In country after country, democratic reforms are in retreat. The surprising culprit: the middle class.

September 18, 2008

Realism Is Not Something To Grow Out Of

by Stephanie Cross, The Guardian

Experimental fiction can be terrific, of course, but it's not superior to conventional storytelling.

Country For Old Men

by Peter D. Kramer, Slate

David Lodge's touch wavers when the topic is aging.

September 17, 2008

Superfood Or Monster From The Deep?

by Julia Moskin, New York Times

Orange juice laced with anchovies is one example of the latest way major food companies are competing for health-conscious consumers: plugging one food into another and claiming the health benefits of both.

Instead Of Eating To Diet, They're Eating To Enjoy

by Tara Parker-Pope, New York Times

After decades of obsessing about fat, calories and carbs, many dieters have made the unorthodox decision to simply enjoy food again.

The Strange History Of Final Games In Stadiums Slated For Demolition

by Neil deMause, Village Voice

Loot, loot, loot for the home team.

Talking Amongst Your Shelves

by David Barnett, The Guardian

A novel way to organise your boks is to use different titles to spell out new phrases.

Royal Harp

by Maura Stanton, The Atlantic

Is Pornography Adultery?

by Ross Douthat, The Atlantic

It may be closer than you think.

The Art Cheats Who Betrayed My Father

by Rachel Cooke, The Guardian

Kate Rothko Prizel remembers the long and bitter court case, his brutal suicide and how she still mourns the loss of her father.

September 16, 2008

Gut Instinct's Surprising Role In Math

by Natalie Angier, New York Times

A host of new stuides suggests that the two number systems, the bestial and celestial, may be profoundly related, an insight with potentially broad implications for math education.

Publishing's Back-Room Alchemists

by Alex Clarke, Telegraph

Internet or not, writers will always be grateful for an astute editor.

The Home Team

by Peter Hessler, New Yorker

How the Chinese experienced the Olympics.

Fast Lane To The Future

by Don Belt, photography by Ed Kashi, National Geographic Magazine

A new superhighway linking its four major cities is bringing old and new India into jarring proximity.

6 Food Mistakes Parents Make

by Tara Parker-Pope, New York Times

A series of simple meal-time strategies can help even the pickiest eater learn to like a more varied diet.

September 15, 2008

Trying To Understand A Father's Suicide

by Chuck Leddy, Boston Globe

Novelist and Cambridge resident Joan Wickersham's deeply moving memoir seeks to comprehend the incomprehensible.

The Nobel Truths Of Suffering

by Aleksandar Hemon, New Yorker


by Bob Dylan, New Yorker


by Bob Dylan, New Yorker


by Marilyn Hacker, New Yorker

Remember Movies Before The Cellphone?

by Zachary Pincus-Roth, Los Angeles Times

For screenwriters, the sheer ubiquitousness of the cellphone can be a nagging detail to account for — or a handy device on which to hang a plot point.

September 13, 2008

The Sound Of Light

by Patricia E. Dempsey, Washington Post

Throughout her childhood, she could hear the foghorn of the lighthouse through her bedroom window. Now she had a chance to finally see it.

Attack Of The Megalisters

by Mick Sussman, New York Times

The state of the art in used-book selling these days seems to be less about connoisseurship than about database management.

Macau Hits The Jackpot

by David Devoss, Smithsonian Magazine

In just four years, this 11-square-mile outpost on the coast of China eclipsed Las Vegas as gambling's world capital.

Fall Down, Go Boom

by Morgan Clendaniel, Good

Playgrounds became safer and less inspired at a time when kids needed them most—when competition for children's attention from video games and television meant that they provided the only outdoor playing time a child might get.

September 11, 2008

Rumors About Me

by Yasutaka Tsutsui, translated by Andrew Driver, Zoetrope

Five Stories

by Barbara Henning, Jacket

September 10, 2008

The Senior-Citizen Cookbook

by Sara Dickerman, Slate

How your food needs will change as you get older.

For Better, For Worse, For Richer, For Pasta

by Kim Severson, New York Times

Marcella Hazan's husband, Victor, who has written every word of English in her cookbooks, has created the ultimate translation: her memoir, written by him in her voice.

Concerns Beyond Just Where The Wild Things Are

by Patricia Cohen, New York Times

Maurice Sendak on the death of his longtime partner, his recent triple-bypass, and the celebration of his 80th birthday at the 92nd Street Y.

Why Real Estate Won't Go Bust, And Other Book-Title Bloopers

by Louise Radnofsky, Wall Street Journal

A financial crisis, a historic presidential campaign and a series of political scandals have scrambled how people understand the world in the past few years.

For some authors, that presents a ticklish problem.

The Glass Stampede

by Justin Davidson, New York Magazine

As this last great building boom winds down, our architecture critic asks: Does the new see-through city look better or worse than the one it replaced?

Origin Of The Specious

by AC Grayling, New Humanist

Decreaing religious hegemony and rapidly increasing scientific and technological knowledge have gone pari passu during the last four centuries, in mutually reinforcing tandem: the less religion, the more science; the more science, the less religion. And this is a universal phenomenon.

September 9, 2008

Winter Accident

by Laura Polley, Slate

Why So Serious?

by Alex Ross, New Yorker

How the classical concert took shape.

Burn Lake 2

by Carrie Fountain, Swink

The Creation Simulation

by Margaret Robertson, Seed

Why does a blockbuster video game that embraces biological evolutin resemble intelligent design?

Friendly Invaders

by Carl Zimmer, New York Times

Exotic species reciee lots of attention and create lots of worry. But some researchers argue that attitudes about exotic species are too simplisitc. While some invasions are indeed devastating, they often do not set off extinctions. They can even spur the evolution of new diversity.

How Has The Joy Of Sex Changed Since 1972?

by Stuart Jeffries, The Guardian

The New Joy of Sex offers a woman's perspective for the first time.

The Culture Of Prosperity

by Wolfgang Kasper, Policy

This book asks big questions: Why are some societies rich and others poor? Why did the Industrial Revolution occur in the seventeenth century, in England? Why do some societies—in Africa, for example—find sustained growth so elusive?

September 8, 2008

The Traffic Guru

by Tom Vanderbilt, Wilson Quarterly

The idea that made Hans Monderman most famous is that traditional traffic safety infrastructure—warning signs, traffic lights, metal railings, curbs, painted lines, speed bumps, and so on—is not only often unnecessary, but can endanger those it is meant to protect.

How One's 'Number Sense' Helps With Mathematics

by Rob Stein, Washington Post

Scientists have for the first time established a link between a primitive, intuitive sense of numbers and performance in math classes, a finding that could lead to new ways to help children struggling in school.

Paul Theroux: 'No One's Naked Anymore'

by Thuku Varadarajan, Wall Street Journal

"The ones that amuse me are the ones that make a drama — an ordeal — out of something pretty banal."

September 6, 2008

I Now Pronounce You Totally Confused

by Dahlia Lithwick, New York Times

It's a testament to our national confusion about the purpose of marriage that the courts can toggle this way between four or five rationales for such a union in a single judicial opinion, with little regard for any one coherent principle.

New Literary Art Form Discovered!

by Ron Rosenbaum, Slate

IN praise of the praise of poetry.

What Goes In The Black Hole Stays In The Black Hole. OK?

by James Trefil, Washington Post

The Black Hole Wars is as good an introduction as you're going to find to the strange world of black hole astrophysics. Add that to the chance to ride along as real scientists resolve a fundamental issue and you have the makings of a great read.

September 5, 2008

They Still Haven't Cracked The eBook

by Alison Flood, The Guardian

Sony has just released its Reader. It's slim, tan and a commuter magnet, but I want more.

A Lesson In Verse

by Mark Lawson, The Guardian

Carol Ann Duffy's work on violence is ideal for classroom discussion. It's a poem, not a memo.

September 4, 2008

Television's Foreign Affair

by Thomas Rogers, Salon

Adaptations of foreign TV shows are not a new concept, by any means. But the sheer number of this year's imports suggests that the television industry is undergoing, if not a convulsive transformation, a major change in the way it finds its material.

September 3, 2008

As Belt Tighten, Lobsters Shrink And Bar Menus Grow

by Frank Bruni, New York Times

As the New York restaurant world enters a characteristically busy fall season, what's most striking aren't the flasy openings but the strategic adjustments being made by restaurants that aren't taking their success, or for that matter their survival, for granted.

Daydream Achiever

by Jonah Lehrer, Boston Globe

A wandering mind can do important work, scientists are learning - and may even be essential.

Walking In Fog

by Barry Goldensohn, Slate

Capturing A City's Pulse In Pictures

by Seetha Narayan, Boston Globe

To take a photograph can be a passionate journey. If you've never felt that way about your impulse clicks of camera and cellphone, talk to Boston Globe veteran Bill Brett.

September 2, 2008

Can Poetry In Translation Ever Be As Poetic In Its New Language?

by Roger Pulvers, Japan Times

Perhaps the answer — and the key to capturing a poem's messages and signals in translation — lies in the word "voice." This would be my answer to my friend's question: that a poem has to speak to readers in the translated language with the same voice it does to readers of the original.

About Death, Just Like Us Or Pretty Much Unaware?

by Natalie Angier, New York Times

Do animals grieve like we do?

Gamign Evolution

by Carl Zimmer, New York Times

By day, Thomas Near studies the evolution of fish, wading through streams in Kentucky and Mississippi in search of new species. By night, Dr. Near, an assistant professor at Yale, is a heavy-duty gamer, sterring tanks or playing football on his computer. This afternoon his two lives have come together.

September 1, 2008

Why Me?

by Ian Parker, New Yorker

Alec Baldwin's disappointment, undimmed by successs.

The Clay Army

by Yusef Komunyakaa, New Yorker


by Alice Munro, New Yorker

I am convinced that my father looked at me, really saw me, only once. After that, he knew what was there.

Beast Brutality

by Mary Jo Bang, New Yorker

The Henry Ford Of Literature

by Rolf Potts, The Believer

How one nearly forgotten 1920s publisher's "Little Blue Books" created an inexpensive mail-order information superhighway that paved the way for the sexual revolution, influenced the feminist and civil rights movements, and foreshadowed the age of information.

Staycation Nation

by Billy Frolick, Salon

This summer's buzzword implies that sitting on your couch can be an adventure. But even the smarmiest euphemism can't turn Paris Hilton into Paris, France.

A Taste Of The Future?

by Christine Muhlke, New York Times

On Friday I was wondering whether Slow Food Nation, the four-day San Francisco event that aims to encourage Americans to come to the table, would turn out to be the Woodstock or the Lollapalooza of food. Today, I'm convinced that it's the Davos (minus Bono).

By Heng-Cheong Leong