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by Leah Price, New York Times
What happens when convicted felons are sentenced to a book club instead of prison?
by Dennis Overbye, New York Times
This novel’s unlikely hero is a Japanese mathematician whose memory lasts for only 80 minutes.
by Jane Margolies, New York Times
College students, you’ve got company. The grassy quads and ivy-covered buildings that attract prospective applicants also make schools of higher education enticing for those with no interest in matriculating. Visitors can partake of world-class art collections and film screenings, not to mention more unusual offerings like the burial sites of Robert E. Lee and his horse, Traveller, on the campus of Washington and Lee University, in Lexington, Va. All this, without the pressure of studying for exams, or anteing up tuition.
by Aaron Hicklin, Out.com
A new collection of greatest hits finds Annie Lennox in a reflective mood, looking back at her long night's journey into day.
by Allison Arieff, New York Times
Like a photo album, diary or record collection, these books constitute a sort of life history.
by Andrew O'Hehir, Salon
In an era of wealth and excess, 19th century French anarchists introduced terrorism as we know it. Can a fascinating new history help us understand our own violent times?
by Roger Cohen, New York Times
Perhaps the Age of Excess had to end before we could all turn inward just enough to rediscover the gold standard of the perfectly formed phrase, and make connections again.
by Kevin Nance, Obit
The shock value of what might be called death humor can be heightened by a number of factors, including the public profile of the jokester.
by Abigail Zuger, New York Times
For all our public exploration of everyone else’s bodies, our own personal specimens remain quite private. So when it comes to the onset of menstruation, it is the rare girl who will launch an enthusiastic dialogue with family or friends on the subject.
by Alex Witchel, New York Times
What is it with people and coat checks?
by Jennifer Steinhauer, New York Times
The food at Kogi Korean BBQ-To-Go, the taco vendor that has overtaken Los Angeles, does not fit into any known culinary category. One man overheard on his cellphone as he waited in line on a recent night said it best: “It’s like this Korean Mexican fusion thing of crazy deliciousness.”
by Mark Holliday, Slate
by Anastacia Marx de Salcedo, Salon
The pizza restaurant is the last bastion of American small business. Eat a slice today to jump-start our economy. It's your civic duty!
by Laura Miller, Salon
Female authors hold their own on the bestseller lists, but Elaine Showalter's provocative new history wonders why they get so little respect.
by Jack Gilbert, The New Yorker
by Leonard Cohen, The New Yorker
by Michael Shermer, Search
With stocks tumbling, it's time to think about how our brains shape the economy.
by Sebastian Smee, Boston Globe
Horace "Woody" Brock believes he has cracked the secret of beautiful design. He even has equations and graphs to prove it.
by Deborah Sosin, Boston Globe
I went shopping with the idea that I had to make room for Mr. Right, even if I hadn't met him yet.
by The Economist
The evolutionary role of cookery.
by Geoff Nicholson, New York Times
Unless you’re a genius or a fool, you realize that everything you write, however “successful,” is always a sort of failure. And so you try again.
by Lance Contrucci, Reader's Digest
Heroically persnickety typo crusaders set the United States straight.
by Jane Sigal, New York Times
In this economy, soup bones are a deal.
by Mary Beard, The Times
Ancient writers disagree about the exact cause of the mirth, but they agree that Greek laughter was the final straw in driving the Romans to war.
by Lauren B, Nerve
My abortion was no big deal — except to the men in my life.
by Denis Dutton, New Statesman
Art theory assumes that our aesthetic tastes are conditioned by the culture in which we live. But does genetic programming have more to do with it than we think?
by Michelle Slatalla, New York Times
Our new family eats Gummi bears by the bagful. She wears flip-flops to school even in winter. She stays up as late as she wants, sleeps as late as she likes and does not need a fever to prove she’s too sick for school.
I have become, in other words, the mother I wanted when I was a child.
by Rahul K. Parikh, Salon
Science has failed to convince many people that vaccines do not cause autism. Will last week's court ruling finally change their minds?
by Thomas L. Friedman, New York Times
There are nine bodies -- all of them young men -- that have been lying in a Mumbai hospital morgue since Nov. 29. They may be stranded there for a while because no local Muslim charity is willing to bury them in its cemetery. This is good news.
by Mark Bittman, New York Times
There are many reasons to rethink breakfast.
by Paul Starr, The New Republic
Why American politics and society are about to be changed for the worse.
by WIlling Davidson, Slate
How Hollywood ruins novels.
by Charles Harper Webb, Slate
by Ian McEwan, The Australian
Many years later the older Updike, now giving up on alcohol, coffee and salt, put into the mouth of that God the words of Frederick the Great excoriating his battle-shy soldiers -- "Dogs, would you live forever?" But all the life-enhancing substances were set aside, and writing became Updike's "sole remaining vice. It is an addiction, an illusory release, a presumptuous taming of reality." In the mornings, he could write "breezily" of what he could not contemplate in the dark without "turning in panic to God". The plain facts of life were "unbearably heavy, weighted as they are with our personal death. Writing, in making the world light -- in codifying, distorting, prettifying, verbalising it -- approaches blasphemy."
by Meghan O'Rourke, Slate
The other morning I looked at my BlackBerry and saw an e-mail from my mother. At last! I've missed her so much. Then I caught myself. The e-mail couldn't be from my mother. My mother died a month ago.
by Frank Bidart, The New Yorker
by Kevin Young, The New Yorker
by Laura Miller, Salon
You only die once. Why not take tips from great philosophers on how to do it well?
by Aviya Kushner, The Wilson Quarterly
Americans have developed an admirable fondness for books, food, and music that preprocess other cultures. But for all our enthusiasm, have we lost our taste for the truly foreign?
by Gene Weingarten, Washington Post
I suppose it is possible that this packaging dysfunction is just about me, but I doubt it. In the breadth of modern history, can it be that anyone has ever been able to use a tube of Super Glue more than once?
by John Schwartz, New York Times
This might be how we greet the digital television future: without television.
by Holland Cotter, New York Times
The contemporary art market, with its abiding reputation for foggy deals and puffy values, is a vulnerable organism, traditionally hit early and hard by economic malaise. That’s what’s happening now. Sales are vaporizing. Careers are leaking air. Chelsea rents are due. The boom that was is no more.
by David Segal, New York Times
To be “philosophical” about something, in common parlance, is to face it calmly, without irrational anxiety. And the paradigm of a thing to be philosophical about is death.
by E. J. Levy, New York Times
You may be grossed out, but insects and mold in our food are not new. The F.D.A. actually condones a certain percentage of “natural contaminants” in our food supply -- meaning, among other things, bugs, mold, rodent hairs and maggots.
by Lev Grossman, Time
It's one of the enduring paradoxes of the Grand Theft Auto games--or maybe the paradox lies in the culture around them?--that people who don't play them think of them as the epitome of mindless virtual violence, whereas in fact they are, with each installment, more and more radical and sophisticated experiments in storytelling.
by James Parker, The Atlantic
What does Guitar Hero's popularity mean for the future of rock and roll?
by Melissa Clark, New York Times
On the rare night I’m cooking just for one, though, some of my old inclinations return. But they’re tempered with my newer, more organized habits. In other words, the wackier combinations persist, but I plan them.
And this is how I came to invent what’s been affectionately called my cheesy cauliflower chutney mess.
by Laurel Maury, Los Angeles Times
A challenging web of stories-within-stories leaves a reader fulfilled.
by Roger Scruton, City Journal
What makes the West strong.
by Hart Seely, Slate
What happens when there are too many ways to say "I love you."
by Dean Starkman, Mother Jones
In looking back on how we got here, the business press assumes a tone of rueful omniscience, as in this late-2007 New York Times piece on regulatory laxity under Alan Greenspan: "Had officials bothered to look, frightening clues of the coming crisis were available." Of course, the clues the Times cites in the very next sentence--the ceaseless research of the North Carolina-based Center for Responsible Lending--were available had anyone bothered to look. So, a reader might well ask, why didn't the media?
by Richard Dawkins, The Times
Why we really do need to know the amazing truth about evolution, and the equally amazing intellectual dishonesty of its enemies.
by Sutart Evers, The Guardian
The reasons, I suppose, are ones of personal taste and individual prejudice. The fact is, I prefer American English: I like the way it sounds; its rhythms and its cadences. Give me a diner over a café, a sidewalk over a pavement, a bar over a pub and definitely a gas station over a petrol forecourt.
by Christopher F. Chabris, Wall Street Journal
Scientific orthodoxy says that human evolution stopped a long time ago. Did it?
by Timothy Noah, Slate
Was the play that ended Lincoln's life any good?
by Michael Brooks, New Scientist
That's not to say that the human brain has a "god module" in the same way that it has a language module that evolved specifically for acquiring language. Rather, some of the unique cognitive capacities that have made us so successful as a species also work together to create a tendency for supernatural thinking.
by Amy Scattergood, Los Angeles Times
Nutella isn't just junk food with a European pedigree. It can be an obsession, a habit, even a cult. If you think this is foodie hperbole, you're just not among the initiated.
by Laura M. Holson, New York Times
It used to be a common sight from Sparks to Spago — the boisterous scrum as diners wielding corporate cards dove for the lunch bill, crying “I’ll get it!” But since the economic downturn, the delicate social rituals of the bull market era, when executives tried to outdo one another in expense-account one-upmanship, have been upended.
by Jon Meacham and Evan Thomas, Newsweek
In many ways our economy already resembles a European one. As boomers age and spending grows, we will become even more French.
by James Surowiecki, The New Yorker
If the threat of moral hazard is going to encourage inaction in a crisis, we should be sure that threat is real. And there certainly are situations where moral hazard does seem to have an effect on people’s choices. In other circumstances, though, moral hazard seems to have a much smaller impact. And, in the case of public-sector intervention during financial crises, evidence for its dangers is surprisingly flimsy.
by Mary Eberstadt, Policy Review
A curious reversal in moralizing.
by Christian Wiman, Slate
by Carl Safina, New York Times
Equating evolution with Charles Darwin ignores 150 years of discoveries, including most of what scientists understand about evolution.
by Heather Havrilesky, Salon
An ode to loud, stinky, filthy canines and the pathologically needy people who love them.
by David France, New York Magazine
The huge legacy of a small bookshop.
by The Economist
Charles Darwin's ideas have spread widely, but his revolution is not yet complete.
by James R. Fleming, The Wilson Quarterly
Despite the large, unanswered questions about the implications of playing God with the elements, climate engineering is now being widely discussed in the scientific community and is taken seriously within the U.S. government.
by Paul A. Cantor, Claremont Review Of Books
In the era of literary deconstruction, it can be refreshing to turn to television books and see critics who are still interested in reconstructing the meaning of the works they discuss. The readers of the new books on television will accept no less, since their reason for turning to these books is to help them better understand their favorite programs. At a time when literary critics often seem to be talking only to each other, the lively market for television books tells us something.
by David Segal, New York Times
We have the new Plan B, which can be summarized this way: the best you can make of a worst-case scenario, the deal you cut with a fate you might be unable to avoid.
by Linda Keenan, Boston Globe
I'm perfectly qualified for a job -- just don't look me up online.
by Jeana Lee Tahnk, Boston Globe
THe CEO of the household -- that's me. But could I let my husband take over in a pinch?
by Sam Esquith, Washington Post
by Breena Clarke, Washington Post
by Ann Hood, Washington Post
by Ellen Gilchrist, Washington Post
by Tony Earley, Washington Post
by Robert Lanham, Salon
Why the latest annoying Facebook trend might be one of the most inspiring Web crazes in years.
by Mark Bowden, The Atlantic
For millions of football fans watching at home every Sunday, it seems as though NFL games make a seamless transition from the gridiron to the television screen. But spend a weekend with a network production crew, and you’ll discover what it really takes to turn the on-field action into televised entertainment--intense preparation, frantic effort, brilliant improvisation, and an artistic genius named “Fish.”
by Elissa Bassit, The Rumpus
First of all, I didn’t even want to write this because who am I to write this?
by Isaac Chotiner, The New Republic
Gladwell's overarching thesis in Outliers is so obviously correct that it hardly merits discussion. "The people we surround ourselves with have a profound effect on who we are." Also, tomorrow is the beginning of the rest of your life. Gladwell writes as if he is the only person in the world in possession of this platitudinous wisdom.
by Tm Carman, Washington City Paper
How diners are surviving the recession.
by J. Hoberman, The Village Voice
Brother, can you spare $12?
by Rebecca Traister, Salon
Female writers are getting more graphic than ever about the messy realities of their bodies. Is it too much information, or enlightened honesty?
by Carlin Flora, Psychology Today
Has the happiness frenzy of the past few years left you sad and anxious? Herein we report the surest ways to find well-being.
by Joan Nathan, New York Times
It was the best party I had ever hosted. And then I almost died from choking on too big a piece of chicken.
by Witold Rybczynski, Slate
Why are architects so obsessed with schools and rules?
by Russ Parsons, Los Angeles Times
Every once in a while, it's good to take stock of the fridge, if only to discover what's in all those little jars.
by Mary MacVean, Los Angeles Times
On Broadway downtown — amid a jumble of shops selling gold necklaces and sports socks and electric guitars, amid exhaust and noise and has-been theaters, amid hipsters, the down and out and the just plain out of it — an authentic piece of history goes about the business it began during the Great Depression, feeding everyone who walks through the glass doors.
by Frank Bruni, New York Times
Has a restaurant hugged you lately?
by Claudia Kaib, Newsweek
Each year thousands of families experience stillbirth. As science seeks causes, parents use photography to honor their babies and cope with their grief.
by Jack Shafer, Slate
The case against foundation ownership of the New York Times.
by Cliff Kuang, Good
It's a charming, big-hearted story whose major features—time travel and redemption—scream for interpretation. Science, religion, and economics have each provided one.
by Sally Satel, The American
Our nation's current organ donation system relies on altruism alone. A regime of donor compensation would be better.
by Edward Friedman, Dissent
In order to dal with a superpower--anti-democratic China--democracies feel compelled to become less democratic.
by Emma Jones, Slate
by Barry Gewen, New York Times
It's hard to resist a book that tells you that most people have more than the average number of feet. Or that researchers have found that Republicans enjoy sex more than Democrts do. Michael Blastland and Andrew Dilnot delight in bringing such facts to our attention — and then explaining them away.
by David Lodge, Wall Street Journal
His parents were deaf. He was not. A memoir.
by Jessica Greebaum, The New Yorker
by Seamus Heaney, The New Yorker
by Jerome Groopman, The New Yorker
The mystery of tinnitus.
by David Segal, New York Times
In other words, shopping was part of the problem and now it's part of the cure. And once we're cured, economists report, we really need to learn how to save, which suggests that we will need to quit shopping again.
by Glenn Collins, New York Times
The elevator at the store, on Broadway at West 74th Street in Manhattan, is ponderously slow. It is famously cramped.
by James Delingpole, Telegraph
It is impossible - and unnecessary - to grapple with every 'must read' of the literary canon.
by Charles McGrath, New York Times
There was something endearingly quaint about these little inky imprints -- a legacy perhaps of a Depression boyhood and a lifetime habit of efficiency -- but they also reflected his enduring fascination with the magic of print.