I’ve talked about it before, but the idea that you can’t judge a book by its cover is wrong. Very wrong. You should be judging books by their covers. I also think you should be judging them by their spines, too, but that’s another blog. The design of a book is purposeful and artistic, chosen to target the right audience at the right time. Haruki Murakami is one of the most popular writers of the last 20 years, and he’s a great writer, but Chip Kidd’s incredible designs helped push a quirky, mostly unknown writer into the rare space of an author who actually makes money. And even if money has nothing to do with it, Kidd brings more readers to Murakami’s works because he condenses what’s inside into visually stunning cover art.
Tear-jerking. Soul-stirring. Immensely powerful. Just a few apt descriptions of Samuel Barber's Adagio for Strings, a piece you've surely heard before. Even if you're not a classical music afficianado, you've heard it in movies, TV shows or on CNN. It was used as the soundtrack for many 9/11 montages around the time of the attacks and on it's anniversary.
If you're not familiar with TED conferences (the letters stand for "Technology, Entertainment and Design") you should Google it now. It's ok, I'll wait...back yet? Hopefully, you were directed to a video that blew your mind. TED is basically a reoccurring conference where really interesting people from all over discuss groundbreaking ideas on culture, science, art...anything that expands our understanding of this crazy world. In this clip taken from a TED conference, Steven Johnson discusses the methodology of "good ideas". While it's kind of impossible to predict where and when a "good idea" might occur to us, Johnson claims that there are many recognizable factors of "good ideas" and how they come into being. He cites certain factors and environments that foster the birth and maturation of good ideas. Here, just watch:
Nobel Prize time! I don’t know about you, but nothing gets my literary list juices flowing quite like the Nobel Prize for Literature. Sure, the National Book award is usually the most literary, the Pulitzer creates the most buzz, and the Booker opens our eyes to World literature, but it’s the Nobel that warms my coffee cup. It’s the Nobel that often surprises, but never disappoints. This year’s winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature is the Peruvian juggernaut of political and social satire, Mario Vargas LLosa.
Susan Casey's new book, The Wave: In Pursuit of the Rogues, Freaks and Giants of the Ocean, follows an elite band of surfers ( including world-champion pretty boy Laird Hamilton) as they search out humongous "rogue waves", the holy grail for those looking to hang the ultimate ten. These waves, 100-feet tall or higher, seem to defy the laws of physics. Casey also investigates the dark side of this phenomenon, believed to be responsible for the disappearance of a startling number of ocean tankers (and crews). She'll be here this Friday, October 15th, at 8PM to read from her book and discuss what she calls "the most powerful force in nature."
Kester’s review of Adam Levin’s The Instructions (from the always dependable McSweeney’s press) is the first of several from our staff. The book has really taken hold here at BookPeople, and to give you a sense of it’s immensity and presence (it’s a real big book), we’ll publish several different perspectives. I know what it’s like to believe a thing that lots of people think is crazy to believe. In my case, it is that there is a God, that that God has a Son, and that that Son died and then, three days later, wasn’t dead anymore. It is the craziest thing that I believe wholeheartedly. I mention this, because it shapes how I come at a book like Adam Levin’s The Instructions. That isn’t to say that you have to be religious or even to believe in God to enjoy it. You don’t. But it made me empathize with Gurion Macabee (a boy who may or may not be the messiah) all the more. This is the story of a boy who struggles to know what it is he’s meant to do and who it is he’s meant to be. A boy who feels a high degree of confidence that he is the messiah, but a willingness to admit that he can’t really know until he knows. You know? It’s that kind of struggle, a knowing unknowing, that make faith the exciting adventure that it is. I’m pretty sure I’m right…but what if I’m wrong? I have to live into the truth of what I believe in order to discover whether it is true, but what if I give my whole life to that truth only to discover it’s a lie? This is the risk of faith. To watch that risk play out in the life and mind of a twelve-year-old boy is a marvelous and sometimes frightening thing.