Topping the Charts: The 15 Best Music Books to Read Now

Music

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When I was ten years old, I picked up my first musical instrument – the clarinet. And (excuse me while I boast) I was really, really good. From there, I learned to play all variations of woodwind, from the saxophone (alto, tenor, and bari) to bass clarinet and the oboe. I’ll never forget what it felt like to play for the very first time, or the epiphanous moment when I realized I can read notes on a page and translate them into a song. I played in marching band, jazz band, classical band, pits for musicals – you name it, I’ve done it. (I was the epitome of a band geek growing up.) And when I stopped hiding behind a music stand and started to sing, it was the most freeing thing in the entire world.

If you’ve performed before, you know that there’s nothing quite like being in front of an audience. But even those that don’t play can do something powerful: listen. Listen and appreciate the magical melodies and harmonies, and let them mean something to you. Interpretation is what music is all about.

Music is a universal language, and one that is simultaneously beautiful and extraordinary. It transcends boundaries, breaks down walls, and stops time in its tracks, if only for a few minutes. It may not solve problems, but it certainly helps bring people together. The list of books below are a mix of fiction and nonfiction, showcasing musicians and their experiences around the world, the instruments that make it possible, and the emotion that binds it all together.

The cover of the book Swing Time

Swing Time

Zadie Smith

New York Times bestseller, this compelling story captures the essence of a faded childhood friendship between two girls, Tracey and Aimee, who dream of being dancers. Tracey has real talent while Aimee has ideas, and as a result, the two friends diverge on their paths as they enter adulthood. Tracey makes it to the chorus line but struggles with adult life. Aimee travels the world as an assistant to a famous singer, eventually moving to Africa with charitable aspirations. Zadie Smith’s Swing Time takes readers on an unforgettable journey from London to West Africa, where inequality and injustice soar high, and music is a saving grace to all.

The cover of the book Good Vibrations

Good Vibrations

Mike Love with James S. Hirsch

Ever wonder what it was like to be a Beach Boy? In this memoir, Mike Love – founder of The Beach Boys, and the group’s lead singer and lyricist – shares it all. Known as one of the most popular bands in American history, The Beach Boys have a story that needs to be told. From their California roots to their international fame in the 1960s, the band has defied time and continues to be well-known throughout the world by many generations. Love shares his experiences with his readers, holding nothing back as he divulges both the diabolical and the divine aspects of being a Beach Boy.

The cover of the book Not Dead Yet

Not Dead Yet

Phil Collins

Phil Collins, known for being the drummer and frontman of Genesis prior to a thriving solo career, has sold millions of records over the course of decades, making him a huge icon in the music industry. In this memoir, he documents the highs and lows of his musical journey, from the songs and shows, the hits and the misses, his dynamic love life, reaching the top of the charts, and retiring in 2007. Not Dead Yet is an inside look at Phil Collins – the man many know and love, and also the man not many know at all.

The cover of the book What Is It All but Luminous

What Is It All but Luminous

Art Garfunkel

Art Garfunkel, one half of the extremely famous Simon and Garfunkel, writes about his life before, during, and after topping the pop charts. In What Is It All But Luminous, we travel through his life with him as he recalls his early childhood, meeting Paul Simon in school, beginning the band, and traveling on the road for countless tours. He treks through the highs and lows of his career, and touches on personal life events that aren’t known to most of the public. Garfunkel paints a very real portrait of his lifelong friendship with Simon, shedding new light on the relationship that became one of the most successful music groups of all time.

The cover of the book Otis Redding

Otis Redding

Jonathan Gould

Jonathan Gould’s biography maps out Otis Redding’s life and explores his unparalleled musicianship through groundbreaking research, as never seen before. The portrait of the singer’s background, his upbringing, and his professional career are outlined in this beautiful book with the help of the Redding family. Otis Redding continues to have a strong influence on music today, despite his life being tragically cut short. This book is great for all music lovers out there who want to understand what The King of Soul was really like.

The cover of the book Gone

Gone

Min Kym

In her moving memoir, Gone, Min Kym explores each stage of her life with great speculation and transparency. We trek through Min’s life with her as she relives the highs and lows in her story of love, loss, and, of course, music. As a child prodigy, Min’s adolescent experiences strayed far from the norm, and in her writing, she speaks truthfully about what it was like to grow up feeling isolated, with crushing expectations. As an adult, Min found her soulmate: a 1696 Stradivarius. She felt that every painful experience from her past was worth it because she had found her life’s meaning in the sound and feel of this beautiful instrument – and then it was taken from her, and everything changed.

The cover of the book Testimony

Testimony

Robbie Robertson

This New York Times bestseller tells the story of The Band, a group that changed music history with songs like “The Weight,” “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down,” and “Up on Cripple Creek.” Robbie Robertson, the guitarist and principal songwriter in The Band, recalls the journey that led him to becoming a rock legend. Robertson writes about being a musician during the the 1960s and early ’70s, a pivotal time for the music world, when rock and roll was on the rise and talent was around every corner, set against the backdrop of a national celebration of love and freedom.

The cover of the book The Great Jazz and Pop Vocal Albums

The Great Jazz and Pop Vocal Albums

Will Friedwald

Will Friedwald, author of A Biographical Guide to the Great Jazz and Pop Singers, takes a look at the finest albums in jazz and pop history in this timeless book. The album was the primary format of music from the 1940s until the very recent decline of the CD, and because of that, albums will always be a treasured part of music history. Renowned musicians like Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra, Peggy Lee, Judy Garland, along with many others, are captured forever on vinyl, as a piece of musical history frozen in time for everyone to appreciate.

The cover of the book Sticky Fingers

Sticky Fingers

Joe Hagan

Sticky Fingers is the first and only biography of Jann Wenner, the founder of the popular Rolling Stone magazine. Wenner’s story is one of love, devotion, and a passion for rock and roll music that led him to create an iconic magazine that became a powerful influence in the music industry. Through documents, letters, and interviews, Joe Hagan successfully captures the complex life of Jann from the late twentieth century to the digital age, and demonstrates how he reinvented youth culture with Rolling Stone.

The cover of the book Maestros and Their Music

Maestros and Their Music

John Mauceri

A band is nothing without fluidity and togetherness, so how exactly does a group of musicians go about finding cohesion in spite of so many moving parts? In the case of classical music, with a conductor. In Maestros and Their Music, John Mauceri – a celebrated conductor with a longstanding international career – provides a beautifully illustrated look inside the art and craft of conducting. Mauceri explains that conducting is a composition of interpretation and intent, and is a vital part of communicating the emotions of a piece of music to the audience.

The cover of the book Play It Loud

Play It Loud

Brad Tolinski and Alan di Perna; Foreword by Carlos Santana

Not many people think about a time before electric guitars, given how crucial they are to music today. But they weren’t always around, and the history of the electric guitar is a story worth telling. In Play It Loud, music journalists Brad Tolinski and Alan di Perna bring the history of this iconic instrument to life by using twelve guitars as milestones to illustrate the conflict and passion the instruments have inspired. Tolinkski and Perna feature Leo Fender, the man who transformed the guitar into what it is today, along with other key players and builders that made the musical revolution possible with the electric guitar.

The cover of the book Schubert's Winter Journey

Schubert’s Winter Journey

Ian Bostridge

Completed in the last months of young Schubert’s life, Winterreise (Winter Journey) has come to be considered the single greatest piece of music in the history of Lieder (traditional German songs for voice and piano). Schubert’s Winter Journey is composed of twenty-four short songs that tell an emotional story unparalleled by any composition of its kind. Ian Bostridge explores the world’s most famous and challenging song cycle by a looking at the main themes – literary, historical, psychological – that weave through the twenty-four songs that make up this legendary masterpiece.

The cover of the book Absolutely on Music

Absolutely on Music

Haruki Murakami with Seiji Ozawa

International bestselling writer Haruki Murakami joins forces with Seiji Ozawa, revered former conductor of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, for a series of conversations on their shared passion: music. Murakami and Ozawa discuss everything about music, and examine some of their favorite performances while Murakami questions Ozawa about his career conducting orchestras around the world. This book is a thoughtful reflection on the nature of both music and writing, and how they connect to create the most wonderful, moving works of art.

The cover of the book The Music Shop

The Music Shop

Rachel Joyce

It’s 1988. In a run-down suburb stands a music shop that is jam-packed with records of every kind. Frank, the shop’s owner, has been known to always give his customers exactly the piece of music they need. One day, Ilse Brauchmann walks into the music shop and asks Frank to teach her everything he knows. Frank, used to a life of seclusion, is thrown off by this request and wants to say no – but reluctantly agrees. As the two spend more and more time together, old wounds threaten to reopen as the past resurfaces. This novel showcases two people that must tune in to their inner selves to let go of their emotional baggage, and find healing in music and love.

The cover of the book Good Things Happen Slowly

Good Things Happen Slowly

Fred Hersch

Fred Hersch worked for many years as a prodigious pianist for musical icons in the twentieth century, including Art Farmer and Joe Henderson, and in the 1980s he broke tradition with his transformative compositions that defied boundaries, combining classical, pop, and folk music to create a completely new type of jazz. Good Things Happen Slowly is Fred’s story of being a groundbreaking pianist and being the first openly gay, HIV-positive jazz player. Fred takes us through every step of his journey, and tells readers about his two-month-long coma in 2007 that led to the most compelling music of his career.

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9 Famous Independent Bookstore Coffee Shop Combinations

Coffee and books

Photo by Aga Putra on Unsplash

Books and coffee make the perfect match. There’s nothing quite like sitting down, sipping on a cup of joe, and reading an immersive book, all while breathing in the intoxicating aromas of crisp pages and freshly ground beans.

This perfect pairing has been realized by many others over the years – bookstore-coffee shop combinations have popped up all over the country, and are extremely popular destinations. Bookstore cafes exist in cities from coast to coast, so everyone has a chance to experience their profound magic. So, what are some of the most popular bookstore coffee shops?

Well, there’s Seattle’s Elliot Bay Book Co. and Little Oddfellows Cafe, which was Seattle’s first bookstore cafe. There’s also Powell’s Books and World Cup Coffee and Tea in Portland, Oregon – the largest independent new and used bookstore. And for fellow New Yorkers, there’s the renowned Housing Works Bookstore Cafe, which was featured in the HBO series, “Girls.”

Want to know more? Watch the video below to learn about nine famous independent bookstore coffee shops, and treat yourself to a latte and a new book in one closest to you.

 

 

The 10 Best Books to Understand Modern War and Technology

War

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Where do you see the world in ten years? Twenty? Fifty?

With change around every corner, it’s hard to gauge what will happen. The everlasting development of new technology has altered the nature of the way we live. Our advancements in military technology have made it possible to wipe out entire groups of people with one hasty decision, and our obsession with the internet only continues to grow. With nuclear weapons, crazed leaders, corporate control, and an undying hunger for power, who knows where we’ll land in the coming decades? The future is laced with fear, and everything could dwindle away in dust and ashes if we move in the wrong direction.

With the world around us constantly evolving, we need to be educated and prepared for what comes next. The best way to brace yourself for where we’re to go is to know where we are, and the list of books below can help you do just that. Spanning all topics, from artificial intelligence to nuclear bombs and cyberculture, you’ll be sure to walk away from these reads with more knowledge and understanding than you ever thought possible.

The cover of the book Shooting Ghosts

Shooting Ghosts

Thomas J. Brennan & Finbarr O’Reilly

War takes an emotional toll on those who fight it, and soldiers suffer injuries that go well beyond physical afflictions. This joint memoir, written by a U.S. Marine and a conflict photographer, demonstrates that psychological wounds run deep and can’t be ignored. Readers of Shooting Ghosts will witness an important relationship develop between these two men as they help each other to make peace with their haunting pasts. This book makes known the reverberations that last long after combatants and civilians have returned home, a particularly poignant point as we approach the fifteenth year of continuous battle in the Middle East.

The cover of the book Future War

Future War

Robert H. Latiff

Robert H. Latiff devoted his life to researching and developing new combat technologies, making him a leading expert on the place of technology in war and intelligence. He has also calculated the cost of our innovation, weighing the benefits against the consequences. In Future War, Latiff explains the ways in which war has changed, and discusses the new weapons we will use to fight and how the skills of a soldier will continue to adapt. What are the new rules of war? Latiff addresses exactly that.

The cover of the book Almighty

Almighty

Dan Zak

In his book Almighty, Washington Post reporter Dan Zak examines America’s complex relationship with the nuclear bomb. He takes a look at the arms race and World War II, when we dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima. Zak’s book is of particular importance now, as our current world sees nations like Iran and North Korea experimenting with deadly missiles. Zak’s reporting showcases a diverse set of beliefs on the issue of nuclear bombs, featuring points of view from the biophysicist who first exposed atomic energy to the world, the prophet who predicted the creation of Oak Ridge, generations of activists, and Washington bureaucrats and diplomats.

The cover of the book Life 3.0

Life 3.0

Max Tegmark

Artificial Intelligence has the potential to change everything about life as we know it, more so than any other technology. The rise of AI can affect crime, war, justice, jobs, society and, perhaps most importantly, our sense of humanity. Many books and movies have been centered on the development of AI gone wrong, making the topic all the more frightening. Max Tegmark – an MIT professor who’s helped mainstream research on how to keep AI beneficial – takes an unbiased approach in his book by exposing a variety of viewpoints on the matter, and examines the meaning of life as it is now, and how it’ll change in the future.

The cover of the book The Hacking of the American Mind

The Hacking of the American Mind

Robert H. Lustig, MD, MSL

It turns out the American mind isn’t such a happy place. Robert Lustig believes that our culture has been ravaged by addiction and depression, suffering irreparable damage. Neuromarketing has enabled corporate America to brainwash consumers (all of us consumers), creating an endless cycle of desire and consumption. In The Hacking of the American Mind, Lustig reveals why we enter this state of consciousness, and calls to the conversation the big-name corporations that helped create this mess and the members of government who allowed it to happen. But don’t worry too much – Lustig also offers solutions we can all use in our daily lives to pursue happiness.

The cover of the book World Without Mind

World Without Mind

Franklin Foer

World Without Mind traces the history of computer science and exposes the corporate ambitions of Google, Facebook, Apple, and Amazon. In the book, author Franklin Foer argues that these four companies are a huge threat to our identities and decision-making abilities, with a great impact on intellectual property and privacy. To effectively save our individuality and change the course of the future, we must reclaim our private authority and alter the way that we engage with the corporate world.

The cover of the book The Friendly Orange Glow

The Friendly Orange Glow

Brian Dear

The Friendly Orange Glow documents the astounding, untold story of PLATO: the 1960s computer program that marked the beginning of cyberculture. PLATO engineers made notable hardware breakthroughs with plasma displays and touch screens, and are responsible for countless software innovations including chat rooms, instant messaging, message boards, screen savers, multiplayer games, online newspapers, interactive fiction, and emoticons – all things that we couldn’t imagine living without today.

The cover of the book The Four

The Four

Scott Galloway

Surely you’ll recognize the logos hiding on this book cover. They represent the four largest and most powerful corporations in the world today: Facebook, Google, Amazon, and Apple. Almost all of us use services provided by “the Four” on a regular basis, and will continue to do so without question. But have you ever stopped to ask yourself: How did they infiltrate our lives so completely that they’re almost impossible to avoid? How many smaller companies have they crushed to get where they are today? And what will the future bring? Galloway, one of the world’s most celebrated business professors, analyzes the strategies of the Four, and demonstrates how they manipulate us every single day.

The cover of the book Soonish

Soonish

Kelly and Zach Weinersmith

Renowned cartoonist Zach Weinersmith and well-known researcher Dr. Kelly Weinersmith join forces in Soonish to give readers a comic glimpse of the future, and the technologies that’ll likely transform our lives – robot swarms, space elevators, and nuclear fusion powered-toasters, to name a few. The Weinersmiths combined their own research with that of the scientists to investigate why these cool technologies are needed, how they would work, and how we can achieve them in the nearish future.

The cover of the book Wired for War

Wired for War

P. W. Singer

Military expert P.W. Singer reveals how science fiction is becoming reality on the battlefield, quickly and constantly modifying how wars are being fought. He looks at the way politics, economics, law, and ethics have changed in conjunction with technological advancements, and combines historical evidence with first-person accounts to prove that when technologies multiply, life on the front lines and at home are altered. We are continuously replacing men with machines, and though taking humans off the battlefield makes wars easier to start, it leads to more complications than ever before.

Passport to the Future: 11 Education Quotes to Inspire Endless Learning

Education

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Who doesn’t love a good quote? For more like this, check out our quotations archive.

You think you’re having a rough time processing this year’s events? Think about all the teachers out there who’ve been called back into duty this fall, tasked with keeping our nation’s youth on track amid all this craziness.

How does one even begin to broach subjects like history or social studies in a world that’s currently at war over which version of history will prevail? Now’s the time to reach out to the educators you know — including the ones who taught you, once upon a time — and find out what kind of support they might need in the months to come. (If nothing else, send wine!)

In the meantime, here are a few education quotes to remind us what constitutes proper learning, in hopes that even those civilians among us will recognize opportunities to keep growing and evolving, and help others do the same.

Muriel Spark, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, 1961
“The word “education” comes from the root e from ex, out, and duco, I lead. It means a leading out. To me education is a leading out of what is already there in the pupil’s soul.”

Audre Lorde, “An Interview: Audre Lorde and Adrienne Rich,” 1981
“The learning process is something you can incite, literally incite, like a riot.”

C.S. Lewis, “Men Without Chests,” 1943
“The task of the modern educator is not to cut down jungles, but to irrigate deserts.”

Virginia Woolf, Monday or Tuesday, 1921
“Once she knows how to read there’s only one thing you can teach her to believe in and that is herself.”

Jim Henson, It’s Not Easy Being Green: And Other Things to Consider, 2005
“[Kids] don’t remember what you try to teach them. They remember what you are.”

Malcolm X, speaking to Organization of Afro-American Unity, 1964
“Education is our passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to the people who prepare for it today.”

Doris Lessing, The Golden Notebook, 1962
“Ideally, what should be said to every child, repeatedly, throughout his or her school life is something like this: ‘You are in the process of being indoctrinated. We have not yet evolved a system of education that is not a system of indoctrination. We are sorry, but it is the best we can do. What you are being taught here is an amalgam of current prejudice and the choices of this particular culture. The slightest look at history will show how impermanent these must be. You are being taught by people who have been able to accommodate themselves to a regime of thought laid down by their predecessors. It is a self-perpetuating system. Those of you who are more robust and individual than others will be encouraged to leave and find ways of educating yourself — educating your own judgements. Those that stay must remember, always, and all the time, that they are being moulded and patterned to fit into the narrow and particular needs of this particular society.”

Neil deGrasse Tyson, 2010 interview
“We spend the first year of a child’s life teaching it to walk and talk and the rest of its life to shut up and sit down. There’s something wrong there.”

James Baldwin, “A Talk to Teachers,” 1963
“One of the paradoxes of education was that precisely at the point when you begin to develop a conscience, you must find yourself at war with your society. It is your responsibility to change society if you think of yourself as an educated person.”

Agatha Christie, An Autobiography, 1977
“I suppose it is because nearly all children go to school nowadays and have things arranged for them that they seem so forlornly unable to produce their own ideas.”

Victor Hugo, Les Misérables, 1862
“Teach the ignorant as much as you can; society is culpable in not providing a free education for all and it must answer for the night which it produces. If the soul is left in darkness sins will be committed. The guilty one is not he who commits the sin, but he who causes the darkness.”

As we all try to adjust from day light savings…

Lights Out, But First: The 10 Best Sleep Books to Read Now

Sleep

Cover detail from The Nocturnal Journal by Lee Crutchley

Sleep: We all do it. Some do it well and knock out as soon as they lay down to rest, while others struggle to fall asleep, spending hours on end trying to get their mind and body to relax. Most of us wonder how we can sleep better and longer, and what our dreams mean. Others ponder how they can control their dreams, what would happen if they couldn’t doze off – or if they didn’t wake up. There’s a certain curiosity about the supernatural side of sleep – an interest in the questions left unanswered.

These books are a mix of fiction and nonfiction, so you’ll be able to explore the world of sleep through science and facts and through imagination, in places beyond your wildest dreams … and nightmares. Pick up one (or several) of these books, climb into bed, and read away. Then turn out the lights and let your unconscious take over as you make your way to the land of dreams.

The cover of the book The Nocturnal Journal

The Nocturnal Journal

Lee Crutchley

Have trouble falling asleep at night? If so, this engaging, creative journal might be the perfect solution for you. The Nocturnal Journal is designed for anyone who finds themselves always awake, and more importantly, it will help them to understand what keeps them up at night. Each entry has a prompt or illustration meant to draw out pressing thoughts, unanswered questions, everyday anxieties, and inventive ideas that aren’t fully formed yet. This journal will surely provide peace of mind before bedtime and hopefully help lead to a more restful night’s sleep.

The cover of the book The Family That Couldn't Sleep

The Family That Couldn’t Sleep

D. T. Max

Have you ever heard of prions? Prions are proteins in the human system that sometimes go haywire, for no known reason, resulting in fatal neurological illnesses. Scared yet? Even more terrifying: Malfunctioning prions are essentially impossible to destroy because they are not alive and have no DNA, and people around the world have been affected by neurological diseases caused by these nasty little buggers. This book centers on the true story of a noble Venetian family who, for two hundred years, was plagued by an inherited disease that struck in middle age, prevented sleep, and ate holes in their brains until they died (only months later).

The cover of the book The Sleep Solution

The Sleep Solution

W. Chris Winter, M.D.

The Sleep Solution is a collection of Dr. Chris Winter’s neurological and sleep expertise, and with twenty-four years of experience, he knows how to help those suffering from insomnia achieve a healthy sleep pattern without medication. According to Dr. Winter, the key to fixing deep-rooted sleep problems is understanding what the problems are and why they came about. This book leads readers on a journey of sleep self-discovery to uncover the issues hidden beneath the surface, and will help to create a custom rehabilitation plan to fit every lifestyle.

The cover of the book Before I Go To Sleep

Before I Go To Sleep

S. J. Watson

A worldwide bestselling novel and major motion picture, this thriller follows the story of Christine, an amnesiac who wakes up every morning in an unfamiliar bed with an unfamiliar man – her husband, Ben, of many years. She doesn’t recognize herself, or her home, or her friends. And every morning, Ben must explain everything to Christine: He is her husband, she is forty-seven years old, and a terrible accident twenty years ago affected her ability to form new memories. Every day, Christine reconstructs her past from scratch, and when she starts to piece together what happened, she realizes she can’t trust anyone.

The cover of the book The Sleep Revolution

The Sleep Revolution

Arianna Huffington

In this New York Times bestseller, co-founder and editor in chief of The Huffington Post Arianna Huffington demonstrates how society’s view of sleep as wasted time negatively impacts all aspects of our lives, from work to relationships, and our health and happiness. The current sleep deprivation crisis will only come to an end with a sleep revolution – we need to change our outlook on sleep to change our lives. Huffington tackles many issues, such as the sleeping pill industry, the rise in chronic diseases, and our extreme addiction to technology. Additionally, she offers helpful tips from leading scientists on how we can get better and more restorative sleep, and wield its power to our advantage.

The cover of the book Black Moon

Black Moon

Kenneth Calhoun

Insomnia has become a worldwide epidemic in this gripping novel, and it has affected everyone Biggs knows, including his wife, Carolyn. People are walking zombies, with red-rimmed eyes, slurred speech, and cloudy minds, and before long, they disappear. Biggs has not succumbed to insomnia.  He can still sleep and dream, which allows him to function properly. This is something that people are dying for – something that people would kill for. When Biggs’s wife goes missing, he sets out to find her. With sleep such a precious commodity, Biggs is putting his own life on the line by looking for his wife. Will he find her in time?

The cover of the book Dreamland: Adventures in the Strange Science of Sleep

Dreamland: Adventures in the Strange Science of Sleep

David K. Randall

Though sleep is a large part of our life, most people including journalist David K. Randall don’t give it too much thought – until he began sleepwalking. After crashing into a wall one night, David decided to conduct a serious investigation into the strange science of sleep. In Dreamland, Randall shares his in-depth research with us, taking readers on a journey from military battlefields to children’s bedrooms. The conclusion? Sleep isn’t simple. Once you’ve finished reading this book, you’ll never see sleep in the same way again.

The cover of the book The House of Sleep

The House of Sleep

Jonathan Coe

Sarah is a narcoleptic with dreams so vivid she thinks they’re actually happening, and her condition has changed Robert’s life. Meanwhile, Terry spends his nights wide awake watching movie after movie, and Gregory, a doctor, sees sleep as a decimating disease that must be eradicated. Besides their complicated relationships with sleep, what do these four have in common? They all were friends in college. And now, ten years later, their reunion plays out in a Gothic cliffside manor being used as a clinic, and unexpected discoveries are made.

The cover of the book Snooze: The Lost Art of Sleep

Snooze: The Lost Art of Sleep

Michael McGirr

In Snooze, McGirr takes a serious look at the puzzling world of sleep. He examines the many benefits of a good night’s sleep, and the consequences of not getting enough. Why is sleep so elusive, and why do we stay up all night, tossing and turning? McGirr attempts to explain these phenomenons by drawing connections to our increasingly fragmented world. He also showcases the abnormal sleep patterns of some of history’s greatest minds, including Aristotle, Homer, Shakespeare, Florence Nightingale, Thomas Edison, and more, which demonstrates that even the smartest people need help with sleep.

The cover of the book Exploring the World of Lucid Dreaming

Exploring the World of Lucid Dreaming

Stephen LaBerge, Ph.D., and Howard Rheingold

This workbook is highly researched, and establishes plans for actually using lucid dreaming – the act of consciously influencing the your dreams. Indeed, crazy stuff. Based on Dr. Stephen LaBerge’s extensive laboratory work at Stanford University, this book outlines the mind/body relationship during the dream state, as well as the teachings of Tibetan yogis and other scientists, and will show you how to use your dreams to create solutions to your problems, have more self-confidence; improve creativity, and more.

Why Books and Reading Are More Important Than Ever

When I can’t stand to look at one more hateful tweet from the president, I read a book.

When I turn on the television to hear the news and all I hear is people shouting and talking over one another, I read a book.

When I realize that I have 1,200 unread emails, I read a book.

When the apartment is a mess and friends are on their way over, I read a book.

You get the point. When I’m stressed, I grab a book. I also read when I’m not stressed. I like to read. And that’s a good thing because I work in publishing and I write books. You can’t (or shouldn’t) do either unless you like to read them.

When it’s a beautiful day, I read in the park.

When it’s raining, I read under the covers.

When I’m on a plane, I read on the plane.

When the plane is stuck on the tarmac, I have more time to read on the plane.

In Books for Living, my most recent book, I described the ways books have guided me throughout my life. On the last page, I wrote that books remain one of the few defenses we have against narrowness, domination, and mind control. But only if we read them – and then only if we spring into action based on what we’ve learned and discovered. Books can’t do anything by themselves. They need us.

Today we need to read more than ever. And we need to act now more than ever.

If you are reading this essay, you aren’t reading a book. At least, not this very second. But you’re probably a book reader or you wouldn’t have found your way here or clicked on the shared link that brought these words to your attention. And there’s the rub. I’m writing a piece about the importance of books for an audience already sold on the concept. And it’s taking you (and me) away from them.

So I want you to stop reading this (so I can stop writing it). Go read The Burning Girl by Claire Messud, a haunting novel about friendship. Go read Less by Andrew Sean Greer, one of the funniest books I’ve read in years – but also a book that had me sobbing at the end (happy tears). Go read Glass Houses by Louise Penny; this new novel is a masterwork that shook me with its exploration of justice, retribution, guilt, and honor. Go read Tears We Cannot Stop: A Sermon to White America by Michael Eric Dyson, a book of breathtaking urgency.

As for me, I’m going to read Here Comes the Sun by Nicole Dennis-Benn, a first novel set in Jamaica; it just won the Lambda Literary Award and all my friends who have read it are obsessed. And I’m going to read Walter Stahr’s Stanton: Lincoln’s War Secretary; Stahr’s biography of William Henry Seward consumed me three summers back. And An Odyssey: A Father, A Son, and an Epic by Daniel Mendelsohn. It looks right up my alley. And The Leavers, a novel by Lisa Ko; Ann Patchett loved it, so I’m pretty sure I will too. And then I don’t know what’s next. But I have many ideas. So many books, so little time.

Seriously. Go. I’ve got books to read. You do, too. And in the immortal words of June Carter Cash: Time’s A Wastin’.

Editor’s Note:

Will Schwalbe has worked in publishing; digital media, as the founder and CEO of Cookstr.com, and as a journalist, writing for various publications, including The New York Times and the South China Morning Post. His latest book, Books for Living, explores the power of books to shape our lives in an era of constant connectivity.

Prefer psychopaths to ghosts in your scary reads? Well, just in time for Halloween…

The 10 Most Terrifying Serial Killers in Fiction to Read Right Now

silence-lambs

Anthony Hopkins and Charles Napier in The Silence of the Lambs (1991)/© MGM

From classic fairy tales like Bluebeard to more modern horrors like Hannibal Lecter, murderous monsters of the more human variety have long held a firm grip on readers’ imaginations.  Perhaps it’s the escapist thrill of seeing a terrifying killer outsmarted—a macabre fascination with the deepest recesses of our collective imagination. Or, it could simply be the love of a good thriller. Whatever the case, serial killers and the novels about them very often make for terrifyingly enjoyable reads. With “The Snowman,” based on the novel of the same name by Jo Nesbo, due to hit theaters on Friday, we thought this the perfect time to take a look at a fiction’s most chilling and unnerving serial killers.

  • The Snowman by Jo Nesbo

    Jo Nesbo might be just be the current king of Nordic Noir, and this bleak, tightly constructed thriller is one of his best. The seventh novel in the Nesbo’s Harry Hole Series sees the tortured detective land a missing persons case that soon sets him on the hunt for methodical serial killer whose fascination with a deeply disturbing snowman fascination.

  • The Silence of the Lambs by Thomas Harris

    Thomas Harris created one of the most fascinating and unnerving serial killers in pop culture history in Hannibal Lecter. Hannibal became a pop culture icon following Anthony Hopkins Oscar-winning portrayal of the character in the 1991 adaptation of The Silence of the Lambs. Preternaturally intelligent, charismatic, and utterly immoral, Lecter was a serial killer for the ages. While Lecter grabs the popular attention – and with good reason – Harris also created two other deranged and terrifying human monsters in the Tooth Fairy from Red Dragon and Buffalo Bill in The Silence of the Lambs. Where the Tooth Fairy slaughtered families to spur what he believed would a transformation in the Great Red Dragon, Buffalo Bill took a page from Ed Gein and murdered his victims in order to fashion a suit from their skin. Thomas Harris novels are not for the feint of heart.

  • Darkly Dreaming Dexter by Jeff Lindsay

    Jeff Lindsay took us deep into the mind of a serial killer when he introduced to the world to Dexter Morgan and Morgan’s Dark Passenger with his 2004 novel Darkly Dreaming Dexter. Lindsay put a fascinating spin on the serial killer trope by introducing a sociopath who channels his homicidal urges toward those who have escaped justice. It’s an intriguing twist, and it makes Dexter Morgan one of the more intriguing entries on this list.

  • Mr. Shivers by Robert Jackson Bennett

    One part horror, one part dark fantasy, and one part American gothic, Mr. Shivers proved an impressive and genuinely creepy novel when it appeared on shelves in 2010. The novel centers on a man named Connely who’s drifting through Dust Bowl era America on a path of revenge. He’s on the hunt for a deranged and scarred serial killer known by some as Mr. Shivers. Mr. Shivers is a great, recent addition to the pantheon of disquieting and disturbing fictional serial killers. He may have many names, he may be supernatural – he’s a horrifying specter lurking in the shadows timeless and broken piece of Americana.

  • Psycho by Robert Bloch

    While Alfred Hitchcock’s genre-defining 1960 adaptation of Psycho gets the lion’s share of the attention, Robert Bloch’s novel remains an incredibly influential and unsettling study in madness and obsession. Where Hitchcock’s Norman Bates was somewhat sympathetic – a conscious decision by Hitchcock and Hopkins – Bloch’s version of Norman Bates is a sallow, sweaty man, and a wholly unlikable misogynist who unnerves from page one. Both interpretations work well in the context of their respective mediums and Norman Bates remains one of the most enduring and genuinely chilling fictional serial killers.

  • Misery by Stephen King

    Of all the human villains that populate Stephen King’s novels, unhinged and obsessive super-fan Annie Wilkes ranks near the top. Her moods range from calm to terrifying anger to utter despondency in a matter of moments, which is precisely why she is so unpredictable. Given that her murderous past may have included nearly forty victims – several of them infants during her time as a nurse – Annie Wilkes ranks among the most vicious of fictional serial killers. Wilkes was brought to the silver screen by Kathy Bates in a disquieting, Oscar-winning performance in Rob Reiner’s 1990 adaptation of the same name.

  • The Talented Mr. Ripley by Patricia Highsmith

    Patricia Highsmith was among the most influential crime fiction writers of the latter twentieth century, and Tom Ripley is her greatest creation.  Beginning as a small-time con man, Ripley works his way up the social ladder to a life of opulence. Completely without remorse and absolutely amoral, Ripley does literally whatever it takes to maintain the life he has built for himself. Ripley is a charming monster, which makes him all the more fearsome, and one of the greatest characters of contemporary literature.

  • American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis

    What would this list be without Bret Easton Ellis and Patrick Bateman? With American Psycho, Ellis took a deep dive into the darkest reaches of what the American dream could mean. The portrait of this unhinged serial killer and the searing satirical indictment of consumer greed fueled culture of 1980’s Wall Street. American Psycho is an American classic – just a grisly and unforgettably disturbing one.

  • The Perfect Husband by Lisa Gardner

    This page-turning thriller from Lisa Gardner is the sort of novel that demands to be read in a single sitting. When she discovers her perfect husband is a brutal serial killer, Tess Beckett’s life is torn to pieces. And when her husband escapes from prison five years later, Tess knows the monster she once loved will be on the hunt for not only her, but their young daughter. The Perfect Husband is a taut, white knuckle thriller.

  • The Alienist by Caleb Carr

    With TNT’s eight episode adaptation of Caleb Carr’s bestseller set to premiere on January 22nd, now is the perfect time to pick up a copy of The Alienist. Set against the backdrop of corruption and scandal in 1896 New York City, the novel follows renowned and controversial “alienist” (an archaic term for a psychiatrist or psychologist) Dr. Laszlo Kreizler, who at the behest of then-Police Commissioner Theodore Roosevelt puts together a team to track down a particularly violent and dangerous serial killer stalking the Lower East Side. Inspired by real-life serial killer Albert Fish, the very human monster of The Alienist is one of the most unsettling in recent memory.