Before he died, he wrote me a letter that I would find among the boot blousers and carabiners and thumbed-through magazines that the military shipped home.
My husband was killed in Iraq in the fall of 2006 at a time when the war made less and less sense. He died quickly but brutally in a helicopter crash outside Balad.In the week after his death, a casualty assistance officer sat at my kitchen table and asked if I would like to be notified if the military found partial remains, the pieces of my husband's body that might be recovered from the crash site after his funeral. Outside a late-autumn storm was building and the air in the room was damp.
Cameron Diaz loves your body—especially your butt. In her first attempt at a published work, titled The Body Book, she explains why you 'ladies' should too.
In Cameron Diaz’s first attempt at a published work, The Body Book, the 41-year-old abandons her Charlie’s Angel-face to play the all-knowing, flawlessly-fit stepmom we never knew we wanted. Full of girl-power shout-outs like “Hello, Lady! and “Hey, GIRL!”, the book reads like a 400-page endorphin-induced love letter, but it’s more than that with a panel of experts who explain “the law of hunger, the science of strength, and other ways to love your amazing body.
How José Ortega y Gasset's ‘The Revolt of the Masses’ helps us understand everything from YouTube to ‘Duck Dynasty.’
I first read José Ortega y Gasset’s The Revolt of the Masses more than thirty years ago. I still remember how disappointed I was by this cantankerous book. I’d read other works by Ortega (1883-1955), and been impressed by the Spanish philosopher’s intelligence and insight. But this 1929 study of the modern world, his most famous book, struck me as hopelessly nostalgic and elitist.Yet I recently read The Revolt of the Masses again, and with a completely different response.
There’s something to notice about successful people: they act quickly, even if they may fail.
[Ed’s note: This piece is excerpted from Fail Fast, Fail Often: How Losing Can Help You Win by Ryan Babineaux, PhD., and John Krumboltz, PhD., with the permission of Tarcher/Penguin. Copyright 2013 Ryan Babineaux, PhD., and John Krumboltz, PhD]In the book Art and Fear, the artists Ted Orland and David Waylon share a story about a ceramics teacher who tried an experiment with his class.The teacher divided the students into two groups. Those sitting on the left side of the studio were to be graded solely on the quantity of their work, while those on the right, solely on the quality.
Stop beating yourself over not reading the “right” books. Fiction is about two things: curiosity and pleasure.
I am a bad reader. I don’t mean that I don’t know how to read or that I don’t understand what I have read. And I’m about average when it comes to speed (no, I’ve never taken an Evelyn Woods course, but I once took their test and that’s what it said: I was smack in the middle of the pack).No, by bad reader, I mean someone who doesn’t finish books he doesn’t like, rereads old favorites at the expense of discovering something new, doesn’t worry about being broadminded, and prefers detective stories to Hemingway or Mary McCarthy.
It’s simple: decide not to decide. Here is how behavioral economics can help shape your habits and how you can make your New Year’s Resolution stick for good.
Many of us don’t need to come up with original New Year’s resolutions—we can simply use our list from last year. Most lists include a resolution to be “healthier”—exercise more, eat less, spend fewer hours on the couch—a commitment most individuals tend to follow religiously during the first couple of weeks of January, less so toward the end of the month, and eventually not at all when it comes time for that “what the heck” dinner.Understanding WHY we fail can help us construct a plan that will actually increase our chances of sticking with these resolutions.
A new book heralds the promise that big data will reveal more and more about how we live our lives and what we think, but is it really that useful?
In 1996, the artist Karen Reimer alphabetized the entire text of a romance novel and published the results as the book Legendary, Lexical, Loquacious Love. By listing every instance of each word in the original novel, she allowed the frequencies of words to tell a subversive story about the entire genre of the romance novel. The word “beautiful” appears 29 times, and “breasts” occupies one-third of a page. “Her” fills eight pages, while “his” fills only two and a half.
From the man who miraculously survived falling overboard to the crazy micro-genres Netflix uses to suggest movies, The Daily Beast picks the best journalism from around the web this week.
A Speck in the Sea Paul Tough, The New York Times Magazine John Aldridge fell overboard in the middle of the night, 40 miles from shore, and the Coast Guard was looking in the wrong place. How did he survive?How Netflix Reverse-Engineered Hollywood Alexis C. Madrigal, The Atlantic To understand how people look for movies, the video service created 76,897 micro-genres. We took the genre descriptions, broke them down to their key words… and built our own new-genre generator.
It’s a new year, and once again Americans will stuff their heads with mindless optimism and pathological hope. Try reading these books instead to find real wisdom about life.
As the New Year dawns, let’s admit that the American psyche is a dilapidated maze of funhouse mirrors that leads nowhere. It should not shock even the most credulous patriot that many people who spend their internal lives within this maze of narcissism and dysfunction have major problems. One in five Americans suffers from some kind of mental illness, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. The New York Times recently reported that suicide rates are rising so rapidly and steadily that more Americans now die of suicide than in car accidents.
There’s a lot to be stoked about in pop culture this year. From ‘The Grand Budapest Hotel’ to ‘Inherent Vice’ and ‘Divergent,’ here’s what we can’t wait for.
2014 Winter Olympics—Feb. 7-23 The XXII Winter Olympics—the 22nd edition of the Winter Olympic Games—will take place in Sochi, Russia, on Feb. 7-23. And, with a price tag estimated at $51 billion (and climbing), it’s supposed to be the most expensive Olympics ever. There are a total of 15 sports in the games, including skiing, bobsleigh, and figure skating, and the event will be broadcast on NBC in the U.S. It’s also not without controversy. U.
Time magazine picked the pope, but look to China and you’ll see a new leader playing for big stakes at home.
In the league of major global power players nobody has had a stronger year than Xi Jinping, the stocky, 60-year-old boss of the world’s rising superpower. Since becoming head of the monopoly Communist Party 13 months ago, he has established himself as China’s strongest leader since Deng Xiaoping and aims to carve out a historical role for himself to equal the man who set the world’s most heavily populated country on its rise to become the world’s second largest economy.
It was a magnificent year—a year of innovation and triumph. Perhaps the best year of our lives. Charles Emmerson reflects on the year passed and what 1914 has in store for us all.
Dear Reader,That time of year is now upon us when old Father Time seems to slow his pace a little and a reflective cast of mind steals over us all. Even the scribblers of The Daily Beast are allowed a day or two away from their ink-wells, from the tap-tap-tap of the telegraph and from the daily avalanche of events with which the news reporter of the twentieth century must contend.Either fondly or with curses, it is a time to look back at a year grown familiar to us now.
From a collection of Iranian short stories to a tale of a self-style prophet's post-frontier standoff in Alaska, here are the books you might have missed in 2013.
The Pomegranate Lady and Her Sons by Goli TaraghiBorn in Tehran in 1939, Goli Taraghi was a teenager during Iran’s 1953 coup and a grown woman during the 1979 revolution. Both upheavals feature prominently in her writing, but the stories collected in The Pomegranate Lady and Her Sons are hardly polemical. Political tumult instead merely provides the backdrop of the transformations of her characters, young and old. The adolescent girls of “Flowers of Shiraz” can hardly comprehend the change underway in their country: In the run-up to Mossadeq’s ouster, they ride their bikes through the city, meeting for ice cream, flirting with boys, and racing through the hills, despite the protests on the streets.
Empires rise and fall, leaders fail and succeed, but the art of strategy is forever. James Warren on the ultimate history to Western strategy and what it teaches us about our history.
Strategy: A History, is an ambitious and sprawling book by a British military historian who has written widely, and very well, about nuclear and cold war strategy, the Falklands War, and contemporary military affairs, among other subjects. Sir Lawrence Freedman prefaces his more than 700-page investigation of a vast and important topic with a telling aphorism from an unexpected corner: “Everyone has a plan ‘till they get punched in the mouth.
Ken Kalfus’s unjustly overlooked Equilateral speaks to the delusions of our time in its depiction of a man bent on communicating with Mars.
The novel published this year that speaks most eloquently about America in 2013 takes place in Egypt’s Great Sand Sea, in 1894. In the middle of the vast desert Professor Sanford Thayer, one of the world’s leading astronomers, is presiding over “the greatest international peacetime undertaking in the history of man.” But even that’s an understatement. At twice the expense of the Suez Canal, 900,000 men have been employed to carve into the white sand an enormous equilateral triangle.
In 2013 China joined the short list of countries who have landed on the moon, but Chinese science fiction had been dreaming of just that for decades. Jeffrey Wasserstrom on the People’s Republic’s new wave of speculative fiction.
Thanks to China joining the elite club of countries that have carried out successful moon landings, 2013 will definitely be remembered as a special year in the annals of Chinese science. What’s likely less widely appreciated in some quarters is that it’s also been a banner year for Chinese science fiction.This genre has had its share of dramatic ups and downs in the past, with the Communist Party literary establishment treating it as a suspect form for much of the last half-century.
A masterful new history tells the story of the doomed 1944 Warsaw uprising as no other book yet has writes Ilana Bet-El—and the contemporary parallels are haunting.
Poland and Syria do not immediately appear to have much in common, but the people in both have been abandoned to untold violence with the full knowledge of the world. And while Poland and Ukraine do not share a common history, they have undoubtedly suffered the common problem of being considered a Russian possession: in 1939 Poland was partitioned between Germany and the USSR, then taken by the Soviets at the end of the war as if no more than a Russian province.
From Deadspin’s unmasking of the Manti Teo hoax to Ariel Levy’s harrowing account of losing her baby in Mongolia to Stephen Rodrick’s poignant portrait of Lindsay Lohan on set, The Daily Beast picks the best long-form journalism of the year.
The Lonely Quiet After Newtown Eli Saslow, The Washington Post, June 8 Six months later, the massacre in Newtown, Connecticut, fades into the past, and the parents left behind try to make the country remember.Thanksgiving in Mongolia Ariel Levy, The New Yorker, November 18 A journalist’s harrowing, heartbreaking story of her miscarriage while on assignment in a remote corner of Asia.On Smarm Tom Scocca, Gawker, December 5 From literature to politics, smarm—an insistence on civility, a finger-wagging disapproval of negativity—is doing its best to keep the cultural elite insulated from criticism.
From John Cheever’s haunting story ‘The Swimmer’ to the eloquent hangovers of Kingsley Amis, here are the 10 best books and stories on drinking and booze. Sip carefully.
Over the past few years, I’ve become a connoisseur of literary drunkenness. Once you start looking, alcohol is everywhere in literature, streaming dangerously through the books of sots and teetotallers alike. Here are ten of the greatest fictional takes on drinking, catching both the pleasures of a good night’s boozing and the troubles it can bring crashing down upon a life. Be warned, though: some of these might put you off the sauce for good.
Everyone else’s dreams are boring, but for a writer like Georges Perec his dreams can be a way to understand his other writing. Lauren Elkin journeys into Neverland with the Oulipian writer.
2013 really has been Georges Perec's year. With the first English translation of his dream journal, La Boutique Obscure, out earlier this year from Melville House, and a new collection of Oulipian responses to his story A Winter Journey published last month by Atlas Press, Perec, who died much too young in 1982 of lung cancer, is finally becoming a major cultural reference point in the English-speaking world. Last month, City Lights Bookstore in San Francisco hosted an Oulipo festival (or "laboratory"), partly organized by Daniel Levin Becker, translator of the dream journal and contributor to the Atlas Press volume.
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