Books

NWPR Books
12:03 am
Thu July 11, 2013

Tech-Savvy Cities May Be 'Smart,' But Are They Wise?

Cable cars move commuters over a complex of shantytowns in Rio de Janeiro, one of many cities taking part in the smart city boom around the world.
Felipe Dana AP

Originally published on Thu July 18, 2013 1:52 pm

This summer, NPR's Cities Project has been looking at how cities around the world are solving problems using new technologies. And though there's great promise in many of these "smart" city programs, New York University's Anthony Townsend remains skeptical.

Townsend, whose book Smart Cities is due out in October, tells NPR's David Greene about the causes, benefits and potential dangers of the smart city boom.


Interview Highlights

On what caused the smart city boom

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NWPR Books
1:28 pm
Wed July 10, 2013

The Science Of Twinkies: How Do They Last So Darned Long?

Unlike the dodo that sits next to it on an NPR Science Desk shelf, this year-and-a-half-old Twinkie is still around — but that doesn't mean you want to eat it.
Heather Rousseau NPR

Originally published on Fri July 12, 2013 9:56 am

We have to confess: When we heard that Twinkies will have nearly double the shelf life, 45 days, when they return to stores next week, our first reaction was — days? Not years?

Urban legend has long deemed Twinkies the cockroaches of the snack food world, a treat that can survive for decades, what humanity would have left to eat come the apocalypse. The true shelf life — which used to be 26 days — seems somewhat less impressive by comparison.

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NWPR Books
11:47 am
Wed July 10, 2013

'Blue Plate Special': A Generous Helping Of Life

Author Kate Christensen weaves her love of food and cooking into a new memoir.
Michael Sharkey Doubleday

Originally published on Wed July 10, 2013 12:56 pm

When novelist Kate Christensen was just a toddler, she witnessed her father beating her mother. It was a scene that would haunt Christensen for decades.

And so it's with a description of that morning that she chooses to begin her memoir Blue Plate Special: An Autobiography of My Appetites. The book that unfolds is an examination of the reverberations of her father's violence in her life, and a meditation on how her love of food helped her cope.

As a child, she tells Fresh Air's Dave Davies, she refused to identify with her mother in the scenario.

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NWPR Books
11:28 am
Wed July 10, 2013

'Eating On The Wild Side:' A Field Guide To Nutritious Food

The cover of Eating on the Wild Side.
Little Brown and Company

Originally published on Tue July 16, 2013 7:17 am

We like to think that if we eat our recommended daily allowance of fruits and vegetables, we're doing right by our bodies. Think again, says health writer Jo Robinson.

In her new book, Eating on the Wild Side, Robinson argues that our prehistoric ancestors picked and gathered wild plants that were in many ways far more healthful than the stuff we buy today at farmers' markets.

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NWPR Books
8:13 am
Wed July 10, 2013

Elevator Pitch: Why Care About Washington?

wbeem via Flickr

Originally published on Thu July 11, 2013 8:24 am

­­My friend Mark Leibovich — a New York Times reporter — has written a book about the inner watchworkings of Power Washington called This Town: Two Parties and a Funeral-Plus, Plenty of Valet Parking!-in America's Gilded Capital. Among the incestuous cognoscenti of the Capital City, This Town has more buzz than a top-bar beehive.

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NWPR Books
4:03 am
Wed July 10, 2013

Rhetoric Drowns Out The Thrills In Huston's 'Skinner'

iStockphoto.com

Charlie Huston's 2010 novel, Sleepless, bowled me over. What a powerful combination of combustible plot and fiery language! At the center of that book, an insomnia plague spreads across Southern California (and the rest of the country). The illness keeps you awake all night, quite fuzzy-minded during the day, and then after a couple of months it kills you. The only thing approaching an antidote is a drug called Dreamer, which makes a little sleep possible before you die.

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NWPR Books
2:53 pm
Tue July 9, 2013

Chuck Klosterman On Batman, Bad Guys And Wearing 'The Black Hat'

Originally published on Tue July 9, 2013 3:00 pm

News stories can often be distilled into good guys versus bad guys, heroes versus villains. But what makes a villain? What's the difference between a garden-variety bad guy and an evil genius, besides a couple of IQ points? Those are the questions pop culture critic Chuck Klosterman grapples with in his new book, I Wear The Black Hat.

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NWPR Books
10:42 am
Tue July 9, 2013

Drugs, Chaos And Violence Darken Mexico's 'Midnight'

In his new book, Alfredo Corchado writes about the escalating violence in Mexico.
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Tue July 9, 2013 11:11 am

When Alfredo Corchado went to cover Mexico for The Dallas Morning News, he was determined not to focus on drugs and crime but rather to cover issues critical to the country's future — immigration, education and the economy.

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NWPR Books
4:10 am
Tue July 9, 2013

Physics And Poetry: Can You Handle The Truth?

T.S. Eliot (1888 - 1965), winner of the 1948 Nobel Prize in Literature
Hulton Archive Getty Images

If you are going to shell out cash sending a kid to college, you might as well get in on their fun too. That's how my daughter's post-modern lit class slammed me into The Waste Land by T.S. Eliot.

It is, arguably, one of the most important poems of the 20th century. At least that is what they told her and that is what my dad told me when he first gave me a copy as a boy. But she had a class that helped her understand the poem. Alone in my study I didn't get it ... again (sorry Dad).

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NWPR Books
4:03 am
Tue July 9, 2013

What's Eating Her? A Writer Meditates On Food And Loneliness

iStockphoto.com

These days, it's often noted that food has displaced art, sport and even sex as the literary mind's propulsive muse. The single cookie that launched poor Proust on his interior odyssey feels shockingly modest compared with the vast smorgasbord today's writers seem almost compelled to revel in.

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