Most people watch The Simpsons to laugh. And, perhaps, feel a little superior to the animated family who are Springfield's best known, if often most dysfunctional citizens.

But Simon Singh, the Cambridge-trained physicist and best-selling author, watches the show not just for laughs, but also for the ... math? In his new book, The Simpsons and Their Mathematical Secrets, he argues that the writers and producers have woven a lot of math into The Simpsons — and into a highly honored show from the same team, Futurama.

*Some of the language in the summaries above has been provided by publishers.

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Rebecca Walker Hurries Love In 'Adé'

Oct 30, 2013

Rarely as the rush of romance felt so, well, rushed as it does in Rebecca Walker's maiden novel Adé: A Love Story. It's a wild ride along with an unnamed (more on that later) biracial college student who's traveling through Africa with her white best friend. Our unnamed narrator falls in love with a Swahili man she meets on an island just off the Kenyan coast, grows apart from her friend and closer to her lover's family, and must struggle with the brutal realities of life under brutal Kenyan leader Daniel arap Moi — all in 112 short pages.

The drawings are MS Paint-style doodles, and the stories are about everyday things like cake, poor spelling and dopey dogs. And yet each month, millions of people visit Hyperbole and a Half, the hybrid Web comic and blog created by 28-year-old Allie Brosh, who says she "tries very hard to be funny." Hyperbole has just come out in book form with a mix of old and new material featuring Brosh's absurdist take on the world and her author avatar, a stick figure with a pink dress and what might be a blond ponytail — or might not.

When it comes to book publishing, all we ever seem to hear about is online sales, the growth of e-books and the latest version of a digital book reader. But the fact is, only 20 percent of the book market is e-books; it's still dominated by print. And a recent standoff in the book business shows how good old-fashioned, brick-and-mortar bookstores are still trying to wield their influence in the industry. You might even call it brick-and-mortar booksellers' revenge.

In early 1968, country singer Johnny Cash gave one of the defining performances of his career when he played for inmates at California's Folsom State Prison. Robert Hilburn, a music critic early in his career at the Los Angeles Times, was the only reporter to cover that legendary concert.

On this week’s Shelf Discovery, Kristin searches for the reality in Heather Thurmeier’s reality TV romance, Falling for You

Title: Falling for You

Author: Heather Thurmeier

Pages: 200

Publisher: Crimson Romance     

ISBN: 978-1440552045

And read Kristin's full review on

At Night We Walk in Circles is set in an unnamed, war-scarred Latin American country. The book follows young actor and aspiring playwright Nelson as he traverses his nation, performing in a provocative play called The Idiot President.

It's Daniel Alarcon's second novel — his first was Lost City Radio, published in 2007. The Peruvian author says there are some parallels between him and his protagonist, dreaming of a life as an artist.

Cover image for Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Hard Luck
Abrams Books for Young Readers/Amulet Books

What makes Jeff Kinney look down and close his eyes because he can't bear what he's done? Check out his answer in our interview ahead of the November 5 publication of the 8th book in the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series, Hard Luck.

On this week’s Shelf Discovery, Kristin travels back in time to the Roaring Twenties with Mary Miley’s The Impersonator.

Title: The Imperstonator

Author: Mary Miley

Pages: 354

Publisher: Minotaur Books          

ISBN: 978-1250028167

And read Kristin's full review on

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

On this week’s Shelf Discovery, Kristin looks through Jane Green’s Family Pictures.

Title: Family Pictures

Author: Jane Green

CDs: 8 (10 hours)

Publisher: Macmillan Audio        

ISBN: 978-1427229069

And read Kristin's full review on

This post was updated at 9:30 a.m.

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

Image of Louise Borden
Ohioana Book Awards

  Ohio author Louise Borden will receive the 2013 Ohio Book Award for Juvenile Literature for her book His Name Was Raoul Wallenberg. Listen above as she describes the story that inspired the book and her belief that one person can make a difference.

On this week’s Shelf Discovery, Kristin returns to the Mississippi Delta with Rick Gavin’s Beluga.

Title: Beluga

Author: Rick Gavin

Pages: 298

Publisher: Minotaur Books          

ISBN: 978-1250028761

And read Kristin's full review on

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

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."