This month, NPR's Backseat Book Club goes snooping in Nikki Maxwell's "private and confidential" Dork Diaries. But the secret's already gotten out; the series launched four years ago, and there are already 12 million books in print in 34 different languages. The sixth in the series — Tales From a Not-So-Happy Heartbreaker — was just published in June.
Basil is growing thick and leafy in many backyard gardens throughout the U.S. right now, which means many people are thinking about pesto. It's one of the more basic sauces you can make — in addition to basil, all you need is Parmesan or Romano cheese, a little garlic, some extra virgin olive oil and Italian pine nuts.
Researchers say one particular flavanol, (-)-epicatechin, may be the source of the brain benefits seen from consuming cocoa.
Credit Courtesy of Mars
Cocoa beans are naturally rich in flavanols, but these compounds can get stripped out by the time you get to a chocolate bar. Researchers use cocoa powder specially prepared to preserve the flavanols to figure out how they affect the brain.
Don LaFontaine had avoice anyone would recognize. As a voice-over artist, he recorded thousands of movie trailers and TV commercials, and became famous for his delivery of the phrase "In a world," which kicked off countless trailers. He died in 2008, but the new comedy In a World ... -- written and directed by actress Lake Bell — tells the story of voice-over artists competing to become the next LaFontaine.
It's one of the most familiar stories in fantasy: someone from our world stumbles on a gateway to a world entirely other — usually magical, sometimes dangerous, and always ripe for a great adventure. But despite the iconic image of a paradise just beyond the doorway, the portal fantasy is often, at heart, a cynical work. After all, some of folkore's most notable archetypes were supernatural threats who crossed from their world to ours to beleaguer us.
Poor Donna Reed: Her Mary would have ended up working in a library — shudder — if not for the matrimonial intervention of Jimmy Stewart's George Bailey. Happily, 1946's It's a Wonderful Life isn't the only lens through which pop culture assesses the worth of the institution and those who make it tick.
When I was 9, I spent a lot of time at a public library just down the street; I was already a theater nerd, and it had a well-stocked theater section. Not just books, but original cast albums for Broadway shows old and new. One day, an addition: The Music Man, about a salesman who was crazy about a girl named, as one song put it, "Marrrrrrrion, madam librarian."
Instead of throwing out the nutritious broth that's left over when you cook down greens, why not use it as the base for a delicious dish like this rockfish with clams in a garlic-shallot pot liquor sauce?
Credit Alison Aubrey / NPR
Chef James Huff of Pearl Dive restaurant ladles up some pot liquor fresh from a steaming pot of sauteed collard greens and kale.
The Netflix hit Orange Is the New Black has won over critics and viewers alike this summer. The original series follows a diverse cast of characters in a women's prison in upstate New York. One of the breakout stars is Laverne Cox. Her character, Sophia, is a transgender woman who stands up for herself among prison officials and other inmates.
Cox spoke with Tell Me More host Michel Martin about the show and her experience as a transgender woman and actress.
Originally published on Wed August 7, 2013 8:44 am
To be or not to be? You decide.
Shakespeare's most famous question appears in Hamlet, but now readers will get to answer it themselves with Ryan North's To Be Or Not To Be: That Is The Adventure, a "Choose Your Own Adventure"-style rewrite of Shakespeare's classic play.
Percy Jackson (Logan Lerman of Perks of Being a Wallflower) and his pal Annabeth (Alexandra Daddario) are two of the unusually talented teens resident at Camp Half-Blood, a summer retreat for — well, demigods, not to put too fine a point on it.
Credit Murray Close / Twentieth Century Fox
Wine god Dionysus (Stanley Tucci) is charged with protecting the resident half-humans — though he's anything but fond of Percy.
Returning from sleep-away camp, my teenage daughter, who'd hitherto declared reading a foreign pursuit, announced that she was now a "bookie." Ruthlessly suppressing my inner jig, I nodded casually and asked how this literary epiphany had come about. A cabin full of reader-girls, it seemed, had turned her on to Rick Riordan's Percy Jackson series. And so it came to pass that, over the next few weeks, my child holed up at the library and indulged a burgeoning obsession with Greek mythology.
Warning: The following story may be upsetting to some people.
That's because it's about clowns.
Yes, clowns. Painted white faces, red lips, receding hairlines with tufts of wild hair, and — of course — the red foam nose. Fun for all ages, yet plenty of people are downright scared of them. There's even a word for it: coulrophobia, though that's not an official diagnosis.
Before I read Adelle Waldman's brilliant debut novel, The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P., I had about as much interest in reading about the hip, young literary types who've colonized Brooklyn as I do in watching Duck Dynasty, that reality show about a family of bearded Luddites who live in the Louisiana swamps. Both clans are ingrown and smug, each, in their own way, disdainful of the American mainstream.
Bob Odenkirk plays sleazeball lawyer Saul Goodman on AMC's Breaking Bad. The show is in its final season, but creator Vince Gilligan has talked about doing a spinoff series for Saul that would star Odenkirk.
Originally published on Tue August 6, 2013 12:55 pm
Today is Andy Warhol's birthday, marking 85 years since the artist was born. To honor the icon of pop art, the Andy Warhol Museum, located in his hometown of Pittsburgh, is streaming video from his gravesite.
The museum calls the project Figment — a reference, it explains, to this quote from the late artist:
Originally published on Tue August 6, 2013 8:56 am
Marisha Pessl's dark, cinematic and wildly over-the-top new novel, Night Film, starts with a mysterious death: Ashley Cordova, troubled former child prodigy and daughter of mysterious filmmaker Stanislas Cordova, is found dead at the bottom of a disused elevator shaft, an apparent suicide. Disgraced investigative journalist Scott McGrath thinks there's more to the case.
In Choire Sicha's Very Recent History: An Entirely Factual Account of a Year (c. AD 2009) in a Large City, a voice from our future looks back at events taking place in a "massive" East Coast metropolis, its citizens perpetually gripped with "a quiet panic" while living in a gritty landscape of iron and excess. Throw in a mysterious virus, a rich, blind governor, a sketchy mayor campaigning for a third term, and this novel gets even more curious.
Dan Balz, one of the nation's most respected political reporters, has written his review of the last presidential election — what happened and why.
It's called Collision 2012: Obama vs. Romney and the Future of Elections in America.
The chief correspondent for The Washington Post, Balz is the author of several books, including one on President Obama's first election — The Battle for America 2008: The Story of an Extraordinary Election — written with Haynes Johnson.
For Robert Pinsky, the pleasure in poetry comes from the music of the language, and not from the meaning of the words. So he put together an anthology of 80 poems that are models by master poets-- from Sappho to Allen Ginsberg, Shakespeare to Emily Dickinson.
Robert Hayden was born in Detroit 100 years ago Sunday. He became the first African-American to receive the honor now known as "poet laureate." Among his most famous works is the collection of short poems called Elegies for Paradise Valley. We hear an excerpt from the collection, as read by the author in 1976.
In the summer of 1969, all eyes were on Los Angeles, where nine people had been murdered. Among the dead was Sharon Tate, a movie star and wife of movie director Roman Polanski. Police said a cult called "The Family" was responsible.
The leader of The Family was the charismatic, ruthless and manipulative Charles Manson. America was captivated by him, and by the young women who, under his spell, had snuck into two houses in Los Angeles to murder people they had never met. The trial was nationally broadcast, and Manson became a household name.