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Updated: 1 hour 20 min ago

A Beautiful Book, Whether Or Not It Makes You 'Happy'

Sat, 08/09/2014 - 6:03pm

Eleanor Davis' gorgeous new How to Be Happy doesn't actually tell you how to be happy; rather, it dramatizes the promise of happiness, and the funny and tragic effects that follow on from it.

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'Building A Better Teacher': Dissecting America's Education Culture

Sat, 08/09/2014 - 4:12pm

Author Elizabeth Green argues that effective teaching is a craft, not a skill teachers have naturally. She says teachers need more mentorship — not just more mandates.

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Effort To Preserve Yiddish Works Not 'Bupkes'

Sat, 08/09/2014 - 7:49am

The preservation of Yiddish as a spoken language gets more attention, but Yiddish once had a vibrant written tradition as well, filled with plays, poetry, novels and political tracts.

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For A Proper Pretzel Crust, Count On Chemistry And Memories

Sat, 08/09/2014 - 7:03am

The key to getting a good soft pretzel to brown properly is to dip it in a lye solution, the same stuff that's used to make soap. But a German mom insists it takes much more than that.

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Lev Grossman: A 'Magician' Grows Up

Sat, 08/09/2014 - 4:03am

NPR's Petra Mayer sees the sights at San Diego Comic-Con with Magicians Trilogy author Lev Grossman — and discusses what happens when wizardly kids have to face an adult world, without mentors.

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In 'Dirty Work,' A Doctor Turns To Fiction To Talk About Abortion

Sat, 08/09/2014 - 4:02am

Gabriel Weston is an ear, nose and throat surgeon. She says writing Dirty Work — about an obstetrician-gynecologist who performs abortions — made her more sensitive to all sides of the debate.

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As Film Stocks Dwindle, Movie-Makers Weigh What May Soon Be Lost

Fri, 08/08/2014 - 3:05pm

Film isn't dead — not yet, at least. Kodak recently announced that it will keep making film stock for motion pictures despite a dramatic drop in sales, after a handful of high-profile directors advocated for it. But, since the medium's days may yet be numbered, it's worth asking what film can offer that digital media can't.

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Over 900 Authors Lend Their Names To A Letter Backing Hachette

Fri, 08/08/2014 - 3:05pm

Douglas Preston wrote an open letter supporting book publisher Hachette in its dispute with Amazon, which has since spread among his readers and throughout the literary community. More than 900 other writers have signed on, including John Grisham and Stephen King.

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The Shaggy Story Of A Real-Life 'Dog'

Fri, 08/08/2014 - 2:31pm

Critic Bob Mondello says The Dog, a quirky, eye-opening documentary about the bank robber who inspired Dog Day Afternoon, will leave you "alternately amused and slack-jawed in astonishment."

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In The Irish Film 'Cavalry,' A Priest's Crisis Of Faith Is Weirdly Jokey

Fri, 08/08/2014 - 1:43pm

John Michael McDonagh's new movie stars Brendan Gleeson as a priest who must eventually face off against a killer. It's excruciatingly obvious and inept, but Gleeson brings it alive.

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For Novelist Jonathan Lethem, Radicalism Runs In The Family

Fri, 08/08/2014 - 1:42pm

His new book, Dissident Gardens, follows three generations of an activist family. The book is fiction, but its characters were inspired by Lethem's own story. Originally broadcast Sept. 9, 2013.

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'The Knick': Cinemax's Quality Play Opens Its Eyes To Race

Fri, 08/08/2014 - 12:11pm

NPR TV Critic Eric Deggans says Steven Soderbergh's Cinemax medical show makes an unusual decision for a period drama: it looks seriously at race in America.

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What Are Those Parabens Doing In My Tortilla?

Fri, 08/08/2014 - 10:28am

Parabens are chemical preservatives. I've spent years trying to avoid them in beauty products, but I'm not sure why. When I saw them on a nutrition label recently, I decided to investigate.

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Pop Culture Happy Hour: 'Guardians Of The Galaxy' And So Bad It's Good

Fri, 08/08/2014 - 7:24am

On this week's show, we talk about the runaway success of Marvel's Guardians Of The Galaxy and tentatively poke around the matter of the "so bad it's good" film, including — yes — storms of sharks.

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Book News: Hachette's Deal For Perseus Falls Through

Fri, 08/08/2014 - 6:40am

Also: James Patterson pretends to be Jeff Bezos; journalist and author Jim Frederick has died.

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'Joss Whedon': Biography Of A Geek King

Fri, 08/08/2014 - 6:08am

The creator of Buffy and the Avengers movie is immensely talented, and critic Bob Mondello says Amy Pascale's belligerently upbeat biography might have benefited from his eye for detail and nuance.

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Aye, Sassenach — Gabaldon's Appeal Is Timeless

Fri, 08/08/2014 - 2:31am

20 years ago, Diana Gabaldon's time-travel epic Outlander shot to the top of the bestseller lists — and stayed there. NPR's Karen Grigsby Bates digs into the enduring potency of Gabaldon's magic.

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If A Monkey Takes A Photo, Who Owns The Copyright?

Thu, 08/07/2014 - 6:30pm

In 2011, a macaque took over wildlife photographer David Slater's camera — and took a striking image. Now Slater is clashing with Wikimedia over who owns it.

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'Boondocks' Creator Asks, 'What Would Black Jesus Do?'

Thu, 08/07/2014 - 6:08pm

Aaron McGruder's Black Jesus premieres Thursday night on Adult Swim, and it features a Christ who drops f-bombs and drinks 40s. So is it sacrilege or subversive? Some biblical scholars weigh in.

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Helen Mirren: 'Like Night Follows Day,' Roles For Women Will Reflect Real Life

Thu, 08/07/2014 - 4:47pm

Mirren stars as a French restaurant owner in The Hundred-Foot Journey, a film about food, family and the clash of cultures. She says during her first 20 years in film, sets were "very locker roomy."

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