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Boom in Memoir Industry as Ordinary People Record Their Stories

…people have different reasons for wanting to record their lives. “Sometimes their motivation to write their biography might be as a result of a big moment in their life, be that an achievement or a turning point, good or bad. But a lot of the time motivation simply comes from either themselves wanting to get their stories down to pass on to their families, or their families wanting to record stories from parents or grandparents.” Read more

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What the Music You Love Says About You

This Is What It Sounds Like is a journey into the science and soul of music that reveals the secrets of why your favorite songs move you. But it’s also a story of a musical trailblazer who began as a humble audio tech in Los Angeles to became Prince’s chief engineer for Purple Rain, and then create other No. 1 hits as one of the most successful female record producers of all time. Now an award-winning professor of cognitive neuroscience, Susan Rogers leads readers to musical self-awareness. She explains that we each possess a unique “listener profile” based on our brain’s natural response to seven key dimensions of any song. Are you someone who prefers lyrics or melody? Do you like music “above the neck” (intellectually stimulating), or “below the neck” (instinctual and rhythmic)? Whether your taste is esoteric or mainstream, Rogers guides readers to recognize their musical personality, and offers language to describe one’s own unique taste. Like most of us, Rogers is not a musician, but she shows that all of us can be musical–simply by being an active, passionate listener. Read more

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Chokepoint Capitalism by Rebecca Giblin and Cory Doctorow

Melbourne Law School professor Giblin and Boing Boing cofounder Doctorow deliver a lucid and damning exposé of how big business captured the culture markets. Contending that anticompetitive practices are hollowing out the music, literature, video game, journalism, film, and TV industries, the authors untangle the complex web of contracts, regulations, and legal arguments deployed by corporations to maximize their profits and prevent new competitors from entering their markets … The book’s broad scope, expert policy recommendations, and flashes of wit (Disney executives are “cartoon villains” for refusing to honor science fiction writer Alan Dean Foster’s contracts) make it a must-read for anyone involved in these industries. Read more

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The Man Who Invented Motion Pictures: A True Tale of Obsession, Murder, and the Movies

With a spellbinding, thriller-like presentation supported by painstaking research, Fischer puts forth evidence to try to unravel the mystery of Le Prince’s life and death. Deftly organized facts, coupled with the technical minutiae of filmmaking, reveal fascinating details of Le Prince’s life and the challenges faced in his work, while also exposing the mysterious circumstances surrounding his disappearance. Fischer’s stellar, suspenseful narrative is a work of art unto itself that finally gives Le Prince–and the impact of his often overlooked, cut-short creative genius–his due. Read more

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Inspired: Understanding Creativity by Matt Richtel

Richtel, a science reporter for the New York Times, explores the origins and outcomes of creativity in this remarkable guide … At once conversational and intellectual, Richtel’s lucid writing and intensive research showcase the many facets and manifestations of creativity. This profound and at times whimsical volume informs and inspires. Read more

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‘Sandy Hook’ Is Vital Reading in the Post-Truth Age

“Sandy Hook: An American Tragedy and the Battle for the Truth” is exactly what it purports to be, though the title couldn’t have prepared me for the level of schooling I was about to get … Filled with the most impeccable details — the ones that rarely make it into tight news reports — Williamson draws on documented facts to paint pertinent portraits of the families and victims of the Dec. 14, 2012, shooting in Newtown, Connecticut … Expert organization keeps the narrative momentum up, never stagnating on any one person or topic … The thick web of connections explored within reaches from the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing to QAnon and everything in between … Somehow, despite the depressing nature of the subject matter, Sandy Hook remains hopeful … Conspiracies and our post-truth reality are topics that have become evergreen, making Sandy Hook one of the most important books of 2022. Read more

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How a Death-Row Inmate’s Embrace of Conservatism Led to His Release

In 1957, Edgar Smith, a 23-year-old former Marine who was both a husband and a new father, confessed to the bludgeoning murder of 15-year-old Vickie Zielinski in New Jersey. After deliberating for two hours, a jury convicted him. The judge sentenced him to death and he was sent to Trenton State Prison. What interests Weinman, who writes the Crime column for The New York Times Book Review, is not the murder but what transpired in its wake. Through a confluence of events, William F. Buckley Jr., the founder of National Review and one of the architects of the 20th-century conservative movement, learned that Smith was a fan of his publication. Flattered, Buckley began to mail the inmate the latest issues. These communications initiated a relationship that would add up to nine years and 1,500 pages of correspondence — and, ultimately, Smith’s release from prison. Read more

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Baillie Gifford prize goes to ‘controlled fury’ of Empire of Pain

Patrick Radden Keefe’s investigation into the Sacklers, the dynasty whose company Purdue Pharma sold the OxyContin painkiller which is said to have fuelled the US’s opioid crisis, has won the £50,000 Baillie Gifford prize for non-fiction. Read more

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