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Animal Madness: How Anxious Dogs, Compulsive Parrots, and Elephants in Recovery Help Us Understand Ourselves by Laurel Braitman
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Weekend Edition: Author Plumbs The Human Psyche Through ‘Animal Madness’
For the first time, a historian of science draws evidence from across the world to show how humans and other animals are astonishingly similar when it comes to their feelings and the ways in which they lose their minds.
Charles Darwin developed his evolutionary theories by looking at physical differences in Galapagos finches and fancy pigeons. Alfred Russell Wallace investigated a range of creatures in the Malay Archipelago. Laurel Braitman got her lessons closer to home—by watching her dog. Oliver snapped at flies that only he could see, ate Ziploc bags, towels, and cartons of eggs. He suffered debilitating separation anxiety, was prone to aggression, and may even have attempted suicide. Her experience with Oliver forced Laurel to acknowledge a form of continuity between humans and other animals that, first as a biology major and later as a PhD student at MIT, she’d never been taught in school. Nonhuman animals can lose their minds. And when they do, it often looks a lot like human mental illness.
Thankfully, all of us can heal. As Laurel spent three years traveling the world in search of emotionally disturbed animals and the people who care for them, she discovered numerous stories of recovery: parrots that learn how to stop plucking their feathers, dogs that cease licking their tails raw, polar bears that stop swimming in compulsive circles, and great apes that benefit from the help of human psychiatrists. How do these animals recover? The same way we do: with love, with medicine, and above all, with the knowledge that someone understands why we suffer and what can make us feel better.
After all of the digging in the archives of museums and zoos, the years synthesizing scientific literature, and the hours observing dog parks, wildlife encounters, and amusement parks, Laurel found that understanding the emotional distress of animals can help us better understand ourselves.
Rogue Elephant: Harnessing the Power of India’s Unruly Democracy by Simon Denyer
NPR: 'Rogue Elephant' Asks: Is Democracy Right For India?
Presents a cultural portrait of today’s India that evaluates the role of political corruption, economic inequality, and civil rights violations in the economic promise of five years ago.
Rah! Rah! Ramen: Fast, Easy, Cheap, Good and Healthy Microwave Cooking by Sara Childs
NPR’s The Salt: 'Artisanal' Ramen? Instant Noodles Get A Healthy Dose Of Hacking
Fast, Easy, Cheap, Good and Healthy microwave cooking for students and lovers of ramen. With a few simple ingredients, a few minutes and a microwave, meals, including dessert, are ready to eat. A valuable alternative to student “fast food,” cheaper and healther too! 53 recipes, kitchen-tested and photographed with easy to follow instructions. Perfect for the starving student or just a fast meal. Ramen is inexpensive and using a microwave oven is faster than standing in line to order a fast food burger. Ramen has almost half the calories of a popular fast food chicken sandwich, less than a third of the calories of a reuben sandwich and has less than a quarter of the fat and a third of the calories of deep fried xcrispy chicken tenders. It’s high in carbohydrates and if you use the flavor packet, fat and sodium. BUT… the up side is, ramen has fewer calories than many fast foods. But ramen noodles can be more than a super fast microwavable carbohydrate meal. If you discard the flavor packet, add a can of stewed tomatoes, some Italian herbs, powdered garlic and dried onion flakes you’ve created Ramen Marinara in 5 to 7 minutes or try Ramen in Red Clam Sauce, the prep and cooking time is 7 to 10 minutes. Ramen is one of the cheapest foods in the supermarket and with imagination can be a versatile staple in your college cuisine. RAH! RAH! RAMEN recipes will add flavor and variety for a super fast, super-cheap, super-good meal.
Diary of a Mad Diva by Joan Rivers
Weekend Edition: Life Is Tough, Says Joan Rivers, So ‘You Better Laugh At Everything’
The legendary comedian presents the contents of her diary, offering insights, quips, musings and critiques on her daily life, pop culture and celebrities.
Hustle by David Tomas Martinez
All Things Considered: David Tomas Martinez Turns Hustle In The Street To Poetry On The Page
A collection of poems details the Latino author’s youth in San Diego, a time marked by car thefts, sex and shootings.
The Zhivago Affair: The Kremlin, the CIA, and the Battle Over a Forbidden Book by Peter Finn, Petra Couvée
All Things Considered: A Writer Who Defied The System In ‘The Zhivago Affair’
Draws on unique access to classified CIA files to document the role of Boris Pasternak’s Doctor Zhivago in promoting American Cold War agendas in the 1950s, revealing how the CIA helped publish the Soviet-banned book in Russian to an enthusiastic black-market audience. 35,000 first printing.
Friendship: A Novel by Emily Gould
NPR: An Exploration Of ‘Friendship’ That’s Full Of <3
Fresh Air: 'Friendship': A Startlingly Nice Novel By A Tough-Girl Blogger
Two best friends living in New York in their early 30s find that their relationship changes when one unexpectedly becomes pregnant
My Krazy Life by Yg
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NPR: NPR Music’s 25 Favorite Albums Of 2014 (So Far)
After the success of his platinum selling single “My Hitta” and Drake-flavored “Who Do You Love,” YG released his debut album, My Krazy Life, earlier this year. My Krazy Life has the feeling of a traditional West Coast album (skits included): You can hear Dr. Dre bass lines and some Bay Area bounce slips in thanks to the production of DJ Mustard. YG is a ’90s baby straight outta Compton, the storied neighborhood that brought us rap icons N.W.A. When the good kid from the maad city himself, Kendrick Lamar, meets up with his bad a$$ neighbor YG on “Really Be (Smoking N Drinking)” they sound vulnerable exposing the harsh realities of inner-city life and their coping mechanisms (Kush and alcohol). My Krazy Life is his cautionary tale about the trappings of street life — the highs, the lows and eventually redemption. — Cedric Shine
Lost In The Dream by The War On Drugs
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The War on Drugs’ Lost In The Dream is the sound of tomorrow’s greatest classic rock today. Lead singer and guitarist Adam Granduciel’s epic guitar playing and songwriting on album tracks like “Under The Pressure,” “In Reverse” and the seven-minute “An Ocean In Between The Waves” are infused with mesmerizing Springsteen-Petty-Velvet Underground influences. He’s got a vocal style that brings to mind Dylan circa Blood On The Tracks. It’s possible to deduce the themes of the album by the names of the songs. “Eyes To The Wind,” “The Haunting Idle,” the title song and the slow burning “Suffering,” express matters of the heart and soul. There are plenty of searching, longing and questioning, set to a soundtrack of a psychedelic heartland. Lost In The Dream is a triumphant, transcendent, classic rock album — whether or not you hear the Springsteenisms that subtly inform the record. —Bruce Warren,
Melana Chasmata by Triptykon
NPR: NPR Music’s 25 Favorite Albums Of 2014 (So Far)
In his third band in three decades, Tom Warrior continues to be one of metal’s most thoughtful innovators. As visionary as Warrior has been in Hellhammer and Celtic Frost, Warrior works best in tandem with a band that locks into his dark world. Triptykon’s second album, Melana Chasmata, is a bottomless pit where nocturnal creatures breed and kill, uncovering atmospheres and riffs still unknown. — Lars Gotrich
Love, Marriage & Divorce by Toni Braxton & Babyface
Rich doesn’t come close to describing Toni Braxton’s voice. More than 20 years after her first duet with Babyface, with the mic capturing every little thing that comes out of her mouth — every catch, every low-key run, even the bitten off end of a word — she sounds at once impossible and exactly like your friend did the last time her heart got broken. There are overblown moments on Love, Marriage & Divorce, but most of the album feels personal, and all that reverb helps to make it feel interior, even private. Babyface’s voice is tangy and refined. On “Roller Coaster” he’s punchy, using his voice like a rhythm instrument. Braxton takes liberties with the beat. Her two solo turns, “I Wish,” which is too real, and “I’d Rather Be Broke” aren’t occasions to show off; they further the narrative. The album sticks to its story, and in the process delivers a set of mature songs masterfully detailed. — Frannie Kelley
Sylvan Esso by Sylvan Esso
Front Row: Sylvan Esso
An unexpected, intoxicating left-field debut, Sylvan Esso captures the sound of two equally unlikely musicians: singer Amelia Meath, known for singing folk a cappella in Mountain Man, and producer Nick Sanborn, known for playing bass in the psychedelic roots-rock band Megafaun. Neither had hinted at anything that sounds quite like this batch of intricately crafted, emotionally resonant, strikingly catchy electro-pop songs. Music this sturdy and remix-ready doesn’t generally come from such a distinct and powerful lyrical point of view: Meath’s often hauntingly ambivalent words seize just as much attention as the multidimensional sound beds on which they’re placed. “Coffee” is the most unstoppably great song here — maybe the most unstoppably great song of the year, period — but everything else on Sylvan Esso grabs hard, too, from the playful provocation of “Hey Mami” to the wobbly anthemic rush of “Play It Right.” — Stephen Thompson
Metamodern Sounds in Country Music by Sturgill Simpson
NPR First Listen: Sturgill Simpson, ‘Metamodern Sounds In Country Music’
Weekend Edition: 'I Wanna Make Art': Sturgill Simpson's Twisting Path To Nashville
NPR’s All Songs TV: Sturgill Simpson, ‘The Promise’
NPR’s The Record: God, Drugs And Lizard Aliens: Yep, It’s Country Music
There are people who fret about the health and purity of country music and there are those who just keep the damn stuff alive. On his second solo album, Sturgill Simpson pumps oxygen into familiar forms — the honky-tonk all-night drunk, the philosophical road song, the country-politan ballad, the gospel singalong, the trucker anthem — with the no-fuss creativity of a rebel with a cause, and a plan. The Kentucky native, now living in Nashville, set out to make songs that honored tradition but rejected easy associations: Instead of odes to girls with painted-on jeans, Simpson applies his majestic baritone to sometimes psychedelic ruminations about fate, personal agency and the Zen interconnectedness of all things. His muscular touring band keeps Simpson grounded while letting him range wide. The result is hard country with no edges made for people with big sky minds. — Ann Powers
Racine Carree by Stromae
It’s hard to pin the Belgian artist Stromae down, and that’s just how he likes it: a little EDM, a little hip-hop, a little R&B, a little Eurodance, a little Congolese rumba, a little tango … and yet it all works, beautifully. One of the smartest songwriters around, Stromae navigates the shoals of modern life — from relationships and race to the financial crisis and existential concerns — with grace, humor, a wink and a teeny bit of swagger. There are so many tracks to fall in love with here — “Formidable,” “Tous Les Mêmes,” “Ave Cesaria,” “Ta Fête,” “Humain A L’Eau,” the global smash “Papaoutai” — that the whole album is an unmitigated, heavy-repeat pleasure. And his live show is, improbably, even better. — Anastasia Tsioulcas
Al Quantara by Majid Bekkas
Al Qantara (“The Bridge”) is a fitting title for the new album by Majid Bekkas. The native Moroccan’s home country has long been a nexus of African, Eastern and Western cultures. Bekkas is steeped in Gnawa, an ancient Moroccan spiritual trance music, but on Al Qantara he adroitly fuses the tradition with jazz and African styles. His principal tools are the oud and the guembri, a three-stringed guitar-sized instrument covered in camel skin that produces the low notes of a double bass. With his Afro-Oriental Jazz Trio, Bekkas guides a journey through traditional Moroccan tunes (“Bania”), jazz staples (Don Cherry’s “Guinea”) and his own mesmerizing creations. “Choroq,” after an extended oud introduction, gives way to Manuel Hermia’s evocative basuri (bamboo flute). When Khalid Kouhen’s Indian tabla drums kick in, the piece takes flight with a melody of sublime beauty. Hopefully Al Qantara will bridge yet one more gap — the one between the notoriety Bekkas enjoys in Morocco and that which we hope he finds far beyond. — Tom Huizenga