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Literature

Literature

The daily lowdown on books, publishing, and the occasional author behaving badly.

Movie lovers have Netflix, music lovers have Spotify — and book lovers (whether they read literary fiction or best-selling potboilers) now have Scribd. The document sharing website has been around since 2007, but this week it launched a subscription service for e-book lending.

Young adult literature is big business right now; bookstores and movie theaters are full of titles like The Hunger Games, Divergent and The Fault in Our Stars.

On this week’s Shelf Discovery, Kristin goes on a deadly expedition in the jungle with Hollow Bones by C. J. Lyons.

Title: Hollow Bones

Author: C. J. Lyons

Pages: 294

Publisher: St. Martin’s Paperbacks        

ISBN: 978-1250015372

And read Kristin's full review on NightsAndWeekends.com.

Harlem's Savoy Ballroom, early 1942. The Jay McShann Orchestra from Kansas City, Mo., has the stage, and Charlie "Bird" Parker picks up his alto saxophone:

"The rhythm section had him by the tail, but there was no holding or cornering Bird. Disappearing acts were his specialty. Just when you thought you had him, he'd move, coming up with another idea, one that was as bold as red paint on a white sheet."

On this week’s Shelf Discovery, Kristin investigates crime in the Cotswolds with M. C. Beaton’s Hiss and Hers.

Title: Hiss and Hers

Author: M. C. Beaton

Pages: 294

Publisher: St. Martin’s Paperbacks        

ISBN: 978-1250021618

And read Kristin's full review on NightsAndWeekends.com.

Earlier this month, Jhumpa Lahiri rejected the idea of immigrant fiction. "I don't know what to make of the term," she told The New York Times. "All American fiction could be classified as immigrant fiction."

While NPR's Melissa Block is in Brazil, we'll be showcasing the work of several Brazilian writers. On Tuesday we heard Tatiana Salem Levy's love letter to Rio. Now we turn to 20-year-old Yasmin Thayná, who discovered her love for writing as a teenager when she participated in a local program aimed at cultivating artistic talent in low-income communities.

The daily lowdown on books, publishing, and the occasional author behaving badly.

A few years ago, Brown University commissioned a study of its own historical connection to the Atlantic slave trade. The report found that the Brown family — the wealthy Rhode Island merchants for whom the university was named — were "not major slave traders, but they were not strangers to the business either."

The daily lowdown on books, publishing, and the occasional author behaving badly.

On this week’s Shelf Discovery, Kristin rehashes an old relationship with the audio version of Beth Harbison’s Chose the Wrong Guy, Gave Him the Wrong Finger.

Title: Chose the Wrong Guy, Gave Him the Wrong Finger

Author: Beth Harbison      

CDs: 7 (9 hours)

Publisher: Macmillan Audio        

ISBN: 978-1427230843

You may be hearing a lot about the National Book Awards this week — at least that's what the National Book Foundation hopes. That's because they've made some changes to the awards that they hope will get more people talking about them. Over four days starting Monday, they will roll out their nominees in four different categories — beginning with Young People's Literature and ending Thursday with Fiction.

The writer Jesmyn Ward lost her brother in a car accident, and she was never the same — but her grief would broaden and her losses compound. First one friend died, then another and another — all young black men, and all of them dead before the age of 30.

In her wrenching new memoir, Men We Reaped, Ward takes us to her hometown of DeLisle, on Mississippi's Gulf Coast. It's a place ravaged by poverty, drugs and routine violence. But even so, the place — and the memory of those she has lost — keeps pulling Ward back.

There are a lot of fascinating details hiding below the surface in the world of color. For instance, scientists once thought the average color of the entire universe was turquoise — until they recalculated and realized it was beige.

In Japan, you wait at a stoplight until it turns from red to blue, even though it's the same green color as American stoplights.

And in World War II, the British painted a whole flotilla of warships pinkish-purple so they'd blend in with the sky at dusk and confuse the Germans. That's right — pink warships.

Economist Tyler Cowen has some advice for what to do about America's income inequality: Get used to it. In his latest book, Average Is Over, Cowen lays out his prediction for where the U.S. economy is heading, like it or not:

"I think we'll see a thinning out of the middle class," he tells NPR's Steve Inskeep. "We'll see a lot of individuals rising up to much greater wealth. And we'll also see more individuals clustering in a kind of lower-middle class existence."

Woodrow Wilson, America's 28th president, left the White House in 1921 after serving two terms. But today he remains a divisive figure.

He's associated with a progressive income tax and the creation of the Federal Reserve. During his re-election bid, he campaigned on his efforts to keep us out of World War I, but in his second term, he led the country into that war, saying the U.S. had to make the world safe for democracy. The move ended America's isolationism and ushered in a new era of American military and foreign policy.

On Aug. 30, 2005, a doctor climbed the stairs through a New Orleans hospital to the helipad, which was rarely used, and so old and rusted it wasn't even painted with the hospital's current name.

From that helipad over Memorial Medical Center, the doctor looked out over New Orleans, now flooding after Hurricane Katrina. He considered the more than 2,000 people in the hospital below — 244 of them patients.

On this week’s Shelf Discovery, Kristin breaks into Germany’s finest homes with The Good Thief’s Guide to Berlin.

Title: The Good Thief’s Guide to Berlin

Author: Chris Ewan           

Pages: 326

Publisher: Minotaur Books          

ISBN: 978-1250002976

And read Kristin's full review on NightsAndWeekends.com.

Book News: Why Batwoman Can't Get Married

Sep 9, 2013

The daily lowdown on books, publishing, and the occasional author behaving badly.

Cats have come a long way from being animals charged with catching mice to treasured, adorable creatures that snuggle with us in our beds. But this relatively new arrangement is creating issues for cats and the people who live with them.

John Bradshaw has studied the history of domesticated cats and how the relationship between people and cats has changed. He's the author of the new book Cat Sense: How the New Feline Science Can Make You a Better Friend to Your Pet, which is a follow-up to his book Dog Sense.

The daily lowdown on books, publishing, and the occasional author behaving badly.

On this week’s Shelf Discovery, Kristin tours a scary movie set with A Midsummer Night’s Scream.

Title: A Midsummer Night’s Scream

Author: R. L. Stine

CDs: 4 (5 hours)

Publisher: Macmillan Audio        

ISBN: 978-1427231642

And read Kristin's full review on NightsAndWeekends.com.

If you want to know what prompted Seth Goldman and Barry Nalebuff to cofound Honest Tea, here's the simple answer they give on their website: They were thirsty. Goldman had taken Nalebuff's class at the Yale School of Management, and they were both tired of the super sweet iced teas available in stores. So in the late 1990s, they started their own company based on the hunch that other people out there felt the same way.

Fiona Maazel's latest novel is Woke Up Lonely.

The way my mom likes to tell it, I wasn't much of a reader growing up. My chief complaint of every book she dumped in my lap was that nothing happens. Ten pages in and no one had died.

A thousand years ago, a Persian poet named Abolqasem Ferdowsi of Tous obtained a royal commission to put the ancient legends and myths of Iran into a book of verse.

He called this epic Shahnameh, or "Epic of the Persian Kings." It took him more than three decades and comprises 60,000 couplets — twice the length of The Iliad and The Odyssey combined.

Author Azar Nafisi, who wrote the memoir Reading Lolita in Tehran, says the importance of this foundational myth epic to Iranians can't really be overstated.

On this week’s Shelf Discovery, Kristin waits out the end of the world with Countdown City.

Title: Countdown City

Author: Ben H. Winters     

Pages: 316

Publisher: Quirk Books     

ISBN: 978-1594746260s

And read Kristin's full review on NightsAndWeekends.com.

The daily lowdown on books, publishing, and the occasional author behaving badly.

N.B. — Book News is going on vacation next week. Your faithful correspondent will be in California sans laptop and praying that Jonathan Franzen doesn't choose that week to reignite any feuds with daytime talk show hosts. In the meantime, as always, leave your hot tips, scurrilous attacks and existential questions in the comments section or direct them to @annalisa_quinn on Twitter.

The daily lowdown on books, publishing, and the occasional author behaving badly.

The writer Elmore Leonard has died. He was 87 years old and had recently suffered a stroke.

For decades, Leonard — working at the very top of his profession as a crime writer — had been widely acclaimed, and universally read. He published 46 novels, which resulted in countless movie and TV adaptations, including the movies Out of Sight and Get Shorty and the TV series Justified.

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