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December 17, 2014

Favorite Food and Drink Books of 2014

Once again I co-hosted a food storytelling and reading series this year, and was exposed to a multitude of cookbooks as well as food and drink books.

These are the six food and drink books I have most recommended to friends, family, and anyone else who has crossed my path.

What was your favorite food and/or drink book of 2014?


Eating Wildly: Foraging for Life, Love and the Perfect Meal

Eating Wildly: Foraging for Life, Love and the Perfect Meal by Ava Chin

Ava Chin's Eating Wildly is a captivating memoir of love and urban foraging.


Heritage

Heritage by Sean Brock

Heritage captures Sean Brock's love for the local agriculture of South Carolina in the recipes from his restaurants Husk and McCrady’s as well as illuminating essays.


Pie School

Pie School by Kate Lebo

Kate Lebo followed up her poetry collection A Commonplace Book of Pie with a cookbook Pie School. Lebo's engaging voice encourages even the most novice baker to make her handmade pies.


Plenty More

Plenty More by Yotam Ottolenghi

Yotam Ottolenghi impresses again with Plenty More, a cookbook that expands beyond the Middle Eastern influences of his earlier books and offers fresh (and delicious) insights into cooking with vegetables.


Prune

Prune by Gabrielle Hamilton

Gabrielle Hamilton's cookbook is uniquely laid out like a restaurant's recipe book, and filled with the dishes that have made Prune one of NYC's finest dining establishments.


Whiskey Cocktails

Whiskey Cocktails by Warren Bobrow

Warren Bobrow has been called "the cocktail whisperer" for good reason, he is a master at mixing restoratives. These cocktails are hearty without being overpowering and magnificently balanced, this is the drinks book of the year.


also at Largehearted Boy:

online "best of 2014" book lists

Favorite Food and Drink Books of 2013

Largehearted Boy favorite nonfiction books of 2014
Largehearted Boy favorite novels of 2014

lists at Largehearted Boy
Antiheroines (interviews with up and coming female comics artists)
Book Notes (authors create playlists for their book)
Note Books (musicians discuss literature)
musician/author interviews


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December 17, 2014

Online "Best Books of 2014" Lists Updates - December 17th

For the seventh straight year, I am aggregating every online "best of 2014" book list I find, updating the list often.

Please feel free to leave a comment or e-mail me with a blog, magazine, newspaper, or other online media list I have missed.

The master list of online "best books of 2014" lists.
Daily updates to the list.

Revisit previous years' lists from 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, and 2000-2009 (best of the decade) online year-end book list collections.

Today's updates to the master list of online "best of 2014" book lists:

125 Water Street - Liz Whaley (favorite books)
Angela Savage (top crime books)
Berkeleyside (authors' best books)
Better Life Coaching (favourite books)
The Blazing Center (best books)
Book Riot (favorite book covers)
BookBub (best YA books)
BookPage (best book covers)
Books on the Nightstand (favorite books)
Brian G. Hedges (top books)
Brin's Book Blog (top books)
Confessions of a Book Geek (favourite books)
Cooking with Amy (big cookbooks)
Copyediting (favorite books for copyeditors)
Deutsche Welle (German books)
Diana Henry (food books)
Earth's Mightiest Comic Book Blog (favorite comics)
East Bay Express (marijuana books)
Eight Acres (books)
Emilybooks (books)
Eric Smith (favorite books)
Exploring Classics (top books)
Follow the Thread (favourite books)
The Frugal Chariot (top books)
Gabbing Away (favourite books)
Great New Books (best books)
The Hundreds (best books)
Irish Herald (best cookbooks)
Jenn Bishop (favorite books)
Jennifer Spiegel (best books)
Julia Blogs Books (favourite books)
The L Magazine (best books)
The Ladybug Reads (top books)
Legolegislegimus (top books)
Lisa Notes... (favorite books)
Lost in Wonderland (favorite books)
The Maine Edge (favorite books)
Mind Meld (best books)
Mother Jones (best food books)
Orlando Weekly (Florida-centric books)
Petit Texas Mama (favorite books)
Philadelphia Review of Books (best poetry books)
Pickle Me This (favourite children's picture books)
Quicksilver Reads (best books)
The Quivering Pen (best first lines)
Refinery29 (best books)
SDAV Reads (best books)
The Speculative Scotsman (best books)
Spontaneity Review (books)
Stay and Watch the Stars (top books)
Teleread (best books)
Tom Williams (top books)
Traveling with T (favorite books)
Veritas Et Lux (best books)
Vijaya Bodach (best books)
The Week UK (best business books)
YA Romantics (best fantasy, science fiction, and paranormal books)
You've Gotta Read This! (best audiobooks)


also at Largehearted Boy:

Online "Best Books of 2014" Lists
daily updates to the master list of online 2014 year-end book lists

Online "Best Books of 2013" Lists
Online "Best Books of 2012" Lists
Online "Best Books of 2011" Lists
Online "Best Books of 2010" Lists
Best of the Decade (2000-2009) Online Book Lists
Online "Best Books of 2009" Lists
Online "Best Books of 2008" Lists

2014 Online Year-end Music Lists
2013 Online Year-end Music Lists
2012 Online Year-end Music Lists
2011 Online Year-end Music Lists
2010 Online Year-end Music Lists
Best of the Decade (2000-2009) Online Music Lists
2009 Online Year-end Music Lists
2008 Online Year-end Music Lists
2007 Online Year-end Music Lists
2006 Online Year-end Music Lists
other lists at Largehearted Boy

Atomic Books Comics Preview (weekly comics and graphic novel picks)
Anitiheroines (interviews with up and coming female comics artists)
Book Notes (authors create playlists for their book)
Largehearted WORD (weekly new book picks)
Librairie Drawn & Quarterly Books of the Week (recommended new books, magazines, and comics)
musician/author interviews
Note Books (musicians discuss literature)


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WORD Bookstores Books of the Week - December 17, 2014

In the Largehearted Word series, the staff of Brooklyn's WORD bookstore highlights several new books released this week.

WORD Bookstores are independent neighborhood bookstores in Greenpoint, Brooklyn and Jersey City, New Jersey. Our primary goal is to be whatever our communities needs us to be, which currently means carrying everything from fiction to nonfiction to absurdly cute cards and stationery. In addition, we're fiends for a good event, from the classic author reading and Q&A to potlucks and a basketball league (and anything set in a bar). If a weekly dose of WORD here isn't enough for you, follow us on Twitter: @wordbookstores.


Go big for the holidays with this selection of lovely oversize books from all over the store (and world).


Maps

Maps
by Aleksandra Mizielinska, Daniel Mizielinski


Ad Reinhardt: How to Look

Ad Reinhardt: How to Look


The World of Ice and Fire

The World of Ice & Fire: The Untold History of Westeros and the Game of Thrones
by George R. R. Martin, Elio M. Garcia, Jr., Linda Antonssen


Mexico: The Cookbook

Mexico: The Cookbook
by Margarita Carrillo Arronte

WORD Brooklyn links:

WORD website
WORD Facebook page
WORD on Instagram
WORD Tumblr
WORD Twitter


also at Largehearted Boy:

other Word Bookstores Books of the Week (weekly new book highlights)

List of Online "Best of 2014" Book Lists

Antiheroines (interviews with up and coming female comics artists)
Atomic Books Comics Preview (weekly comics & graphic novel highlights)
Book Notes (authors create music playlists for their book)
guest book reviews
Librairie Drawn & Quarterly Books of the Week (recommended new books, magazines, and comics)
musician/author interviews
Note Books (musicians discuss literature)
Short Cuts (writers pair a song with their short story or essay)


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Shorties (The Top 9/11 Novels, A Juliana Hatfield Three Reunion Tour, and more)

At the Guardian, author Porochista Khakpour listed the top novels about 9/11.


The Juliana Hatfield Three has announced a 2015 reunion tour.


78 online "best books of 2014" lists were added to the master aggregation at Largehearted Boy yesterday (bringing the total number of lists up to 815), including Newsweek's favorite books, the Washington Post's best cookbooks, Wired's best science books, and the Observer's best thrillers.


The Largehearted Boy list of essential and interesting "best of 2014" music lists.


Stream a song from the forthcoming Decemberists album, What A Terrible World, What A Beautiful World.


Weird Fiction Review interviewed author Nicholas Rombes.

The Irish Times profiled Rombes.


Filmmaker Jim jarmusch talked to the Guardian about his music career.


Hazlitt interviewed author Karl Ove Knausgaard.


Pitchfork named its top albums of 2014.


Punch listed the best bars in fiction, television, and movies.


Flavorwire dubbed 2014 "the year of the essay."


NPR Music shared highlights from its year of Tiny Desk Concerts.


Fresh Air interviewed John Cleese about his memoir So, Anyway....


Blake Butler discussed literary success at Creative Loafing Atlanta.


Follow me on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Pinterest, Google+, and Stumbleupon for links (updated throughout the day) that don't make the daily "Shorties" posts.


also at Largehearted Boy:

previous Shorties posts (daily news and links from the worlds of music, books, and pop culture)

Essential and Interesting 2014 Year-End Music Lists
List of Online "Best of 2014" Book Lists

100 Online Sources for Free and Legal Music Downloads
Atomic Books Comics Preview (the week's best new comics and graphic novels)
Book Notes (authors create playlists for their book)
daily mp3 downloads
Librairie Drawn & Quarterly Books of the Week (recommended new books, magazines, and comics)
musician/author interviews
Note Books (musicians discuss literature)
Short Cuts (writers pair a song with their short story or essay)
weekly music release lists
WORD Bookstores Books of the Week (recommended new books)


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Daily Downloads (Antietam, The Duke of Norfolk, and more)

Every day, Daily Downloads offers 10 free and legal mp3 downloads.


Today's free and legal mp3 downloads:

The Duke of Norfolk: European Robin EP [mp3]

Early Riser: Demo EP [mp3]

Joel Rakes: (the best of) festive mood inducing music album [mp3]

Lauren Hoffman: Becoming the Secret Storm album [mp3]

Luke Wallace: The Kitimat LP album [mp3]

Noah Glenn: Good News: It's Christmas! EP [mp3]

Pinecones: "Sleep Is Forget" [mp3] from Sings For You Now

Various Artists: Naviar Records: State of Origin album [mp3]

We Are Temporary: "I Can't Breathe (In Memory of Eric Garner)" [mp3]


Free and legal live performances at other websites:

Antietam: 2014-12-06, Philadelphia [mp3]


search for more free and legal music downloads at Largehearted Boy


also at Largehearted Boy:

other daily free and legal mp3 downloads
Essential and Interesting 2014 Year-End Music Lists
covers collections
100 Online Sources for Free and Legal Music Downloads

Book Notes (authors create playlists for their book)
musician/author interviews
Note Books (musicians discuss literature)
Short Cuts (writers pair a song with their short story or essay)
Shorties (daily music, books, and pop culture news and links)
Soundtracked (composers and directors discuss their film's soundtrack)
weekly new album lists


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December 16, 2014

Online "Best Books of 2014" Lists Updates - December 16th

For the seventh straight year, I am aggregating every online "best of 2014" book list I find, updating the list often.

Please feel free to leave a comment or e-mail me with a blog, magazine, newspaper, or other online media list I have missed.

The master list of online "best books of 2014" lists.
Daily updates to the list.

Revisit previous years' lists from 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, and 2000-2009 (best of the decade) online year-end book list collections.

Today's updates to the master list of online "best of 2014" book lists:

As the Plot Thins (best books)
Barefoot Investor (best books)
A Bibliophile's Style (best books)
Blogging Theologically (favorite books)
The Book Barbies (top books)
Book.Blog.Bake (top books)
The Book Heap (best books)
The Bookbitch (best books)
Books and Culture (favorite books)
Boswell Book Company (best books)
BuzzFeed (best children's picture books)
Captivated Reader (top books)
Challies.com (top books)
Christianity Today (books)
Ciao Bella (top books)
Contagious Reads (top books)
Cooking with Amy (cookbooks)
Curled Up with a Good Book and a Cup of Tea (best books)
A Daydreamer's Thoughts (books)
Demand Media Studios (favorite books)
Dmitry Samarov (favorite books)
Embuhlee liest (top books)
Ethics Everyone (top books)
Falling Down the Book Hole (top books)
Fangirls Bookcase (top books)
Girl of 1000 Wonders (favorite books)
Gone Pecan (favorite books)
The Gospel Coalition (top books)
Grace for Sinners (favorite books)
Great Imaginations (favorite books)
The Grown-Up YA (top books)
Grrl Scientist (best bird books)
Kitchen Frolic (favourite cookbooks and food books)
Lawson Hembree (top books)
The Local Muse (top books)
Los Angeles Magazine (best little music books)
Megan Likes Books (top books)
My Little Heart Melodies (best books)
My Thoughts...Literally! (top books)
Next Step Editing (best books)
Newsweek (favorite books)
Novel Novice (best middle grade books)
Observer (best psychology books)
Observer (best thrillers)
ohshesaidso (top books)
The Overstuffed Bookcase (top books)
The Perpetual Page-Turner (top books)
Quinn's Book Nook (top audiobooks)
The Reader Bee (top books)
Reading Is Not the Challenge (top books)
Reviews in a Pinch (top books)
RTE (books)
Russia Direct (best books about Russia)
The Savvy Reader (best books)
School Library Journal (top Latino books)
Seasons of Humility (favorite books)
The Second Sentence (top books)
Shelf Life (favorite books)
The Spark (best books)
The Stacks (art books)
The Starlight Shelves (top books)
Story and Somnomancy (top books)
Take Me Away (top books)
Taking It One Page at a Time (top books)
Twirling Pages (best books)
Washington Post (best cookbooks)
The Well-Read Redhead (best cookbooks)
Wendy on the Web (best books)
The White Unicorn (favorite books)
Will Swardstrom (top books)
Wired (best science books)
YA Romantics (best books)
YA? Why Not? (best books)
The Zen Leaf (top books)
Zocalo Public Square (best books)


also at Largehearted Boy:

Online "Best Books of 2014" Lists
daily updates to the master list of online 2014 year-end book lists

Online "Best Books of 2013" Lists
Online "Best Books of 2012" Lists
Online "Best Books of 2011" Lists
Online "Best Books of 2010" Lists
Best of the Decade (2000-2009) Online Book Lists
Online "Best Books of 2009" Lists
Online "Best Books of 2008" Lists

2014 Online Year-end Music Lists
2013 Online Year-end Music Lists
2012 Online Year-end Music Lists
2011 Online Year-end Music Lists
2010 Online Year-end Music Lists
Best of the Decade (2000-2009) Online Music Lists
2009 Online Year-end Music Lists
2008 Online Year-end Music Lists
2007 Online Year-end Music Lists
2006 Online Year-end Music Lists
other lists at Largehearted Boy

Atomic Books Comics Preview (weekly comics and graphic novel picks)
Anitiheroines (interviews with up and coming female comics artists)
Book Notes (authors create playlists for their book)
Largehearted WORD (weekly new book picks)
Librairie Drawn & Quarterly Books of the Week (recommended new books, magazines, and comics)
musician/author interviews
Note Books (musicians discuss literature)


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Book Notes - Steven Church "Ultrasonic"

Ultrasonic

In the Book Notes series, authors create and discuss a music playlist that relates in some way to their recently published book.

Previous contributors include Bret Easton Ellis, Kate Christensen, Kevin Brockmeier, George Pelecanos, Dana Spiotta, Amy Bloom, Aimee Bender, Jesmyn Ward, Heidi Julavits, Hari Kunzru, and many others.

Steven Church's Ultrasonicis an impactful collection of linked essays, creative nonfiction that examines the connection between sound and identity.

Matthew Gavin Frank wrote of the book:

"If Montaigne were a mad cartographer driven to find the true unnameable intersection of earth and human body, with a heart the size of the sun, he would have looked something like Steven Church."

Stream a playlist of these songs at Spotify.


In his own words, here is Steven Church's Book Notes music playlist for his essay collection Ultrasonic:


In the process of writing my collection of essays, Ultrasonic, I did an internet search for "sound as punishment," and came across a story about the use of music to torture detainees in Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib, and other US detention facilities. The story had the effect of shifting my understanding of the world in strange ways. It included a "top ten" list of bands and songs, and I was disheartened but not terribly surprised to find many of my favorite bands and songs on that list. Around that same time, I'd written a Book Notes playlist for Largehearted Boy on my last book, The Day After The Day After: My Atomic Angst. I again discovered that many of the songs/bands on that Book Notes playlist were also on the list of torture songs that I'd scribbled down. I've since been unable to find the original article, but a quick online search will take you to several stories and lists of the most used torture songs. What resulted through all of this back-and-forth is the final essay in the book, "Playlist for Finishing a Book," which is a revised (or reconsidered) version of my original Book Notes piece; and what I've done here is repackage and rearrange some excerpts of that essay with new songs and some new material to create a different Book Notes playlist for Ultrasonic.

"Enter Sandman," Metallica

Metallica, not surprisingly, makes most of the torture lists, often with perhaps their most radio friendly hit, "Enter Sandman," from The Black Album, a song that is, in my opinion, perhaps the catchiest and silliest song the band has ever recorded. It is a song about death featuring an almost sing-song chorus based a children's nursery rhyme and alluding to the children's classic Peter Pan (a stylistic choice which, though similar, I would argue is markedly different from the creepy Oompa-Loompa-esque chanting in "Frayed Ends of Sanity" on their previous album And Justice for All). If you try, you can sing most of "Enter Sandman" like a nursery rhyme. It's metal for children. And apparently for torturers. But I still can't fathom what it would be like to listen to it constantly, to have to tune it out somehow if you wanted to sleep. Sergeant Mark Hadsell told Newsweek magazine: "These people haven't heard heavy metal before. They can't take it. If you play it for 24 hours, your brain and body functions start to slide, your train of thought slows down and your will is broken. That's when we come in and talk to them." Try it. Try to listen to the song and hear the melody of, "Exit light. Enter night. Take my hand. Off to never never land," but then imagine it played over and over and over again, all night long. Though it pains me to admit this here on the page, James Hetfield, lead singer of Metallica has said about his music being used to torture human beings, "We've been punishing our parents, our wives, our loved ones with this music forever. Why should the Iraqis be any different?" (The Guardian, June 18, 2008). And here is a truth that I suppose many of us must face some day: occasionally our heroes of art and music really are deeply disappointing monsters of rock. Occasionally they are massive jerks.

"Lose Yourself," Eminem

It wasn't all metal all the time. And it makes sense that the musical taste of torturers would reflect the diversity of the people doing the torturing and, to some extent, of American culture writ large. It also makes sense, cruelly and ironically, that hip-hop music, an art form defined by appropriation, would in turn be appropriated. The difference is that the only thing the torturers are creating through their appropriation is pain, suffering, and true terror. There is no art in the terror we've created by using pop songs to break human beings. There is no value in the cultural mash-up of torture. On some level it also doesn't really matter what kind of music is used. Torturers love everyone from Elvis to Insane Clown Posse. Suzanne Cusick, a music professor at New York University, has interviewed a number of former detainees about their experiences. Played at a certain volume, Cusick said, the music "simply prevents people from thinking," proving that this is more than appropriation, and instead a corruption of art. Binyam Mohamed, a British resident held in Guantánamo Bay said that the constant loud music made him feel that he was losing his sanity . . . while being hanged up and deprived of sleep, "there was loud music. [Eminem's] Slim Shady and Dr. Dre for 20 days ... plenty lost their minds. I could hear people knocking their heads against the walls and the doors, screaming their heads off."

"Bullet in the Head," Rage Against the Machine

In the course of writing Ultrasonic and working on some other projects, I was trying to understand with my own writing the relationship between art and ethics (a dilemma that nonfiction writers carry around like Quasimodo's hump), and increasingly believing that art, while perhaps created in one, doesn't exist in a vacuum once it is given to an audience. Once you turn art loose into the world there's really no controlling how people interact with it, appropriate, or abuse it. The musicians themselves on the list also struggle mightily with the ways their work has been appropriated and corrupted, perhaps forever. Tom Morello, famous now for his rebuke of 2012 Republican Vice-Presidential candidate Paul Ryan's professed love for Morello's music and his band Rage Against the Machine, was equally outraged when he discovered that some of his songs were also on an expanded list of those used in detention facilities. Morello and other musicians demanded that the full list of songs be released and that the practice stop immediately. Quoted in The Guardian on Dec. 10, 2008, Musician David Gray, also on the list, said, "What we're talking about here is people in a darkened room, physically inhibited by handcuffs, bags over their heads and music blaring at them. That is nothing but torture. It doesn't matter what the music is. It could be Tchaikovsky's finest or it could be Barney the Dinosaur. It really doesn't matter, it's going to drive you completely nuts."

"Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap," AC/DC

I have a terrible singing voice. Can't hold a note, can't carry a tune. But I still sang to my daughter at night as I rocked her to sleep and gave her a bottle. Mostly it was the classic stuff. Mary and her lamb, twinkle-twinkle, and maybe a few lines from the gospel and bluegrass classic, "Go to Sleep My Little Baby," combined with other lines that I just made up to go with the lilting tune. I never sang any metal or rap music, never broke into some lines from Judas Priest or Danzig, and I didn't soothe her with the sounds of "Enter Sandman." Mostly she didn't care for the noise of my metal, but it's also just not terribly appropriate for a sleepy toddler. If you search, though, you can find an album of bluegrass covers of Metallica, a slightly softened and oddly appropriate take on many of their classic songs that even a child could love. More searching will lead you to an album called Rockabye Baby: Lullaby Renditions of AC/DC, another favorite band of mine, and of torturers. This album, though, is apparently intended to help your child drift peacefully off into dreamland, or at least help you relive your adolescence as you put them to bed. To achieve this, the list of songs includes the fan favorites, "Hells Bells," and "Back in Black," as well as a lullaby rendition of "Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap," the persona song narrated from the point of view of a hired killer who offers his services at a discounted rate just in case, "you're havin' trouble with the high school head," or, "If ya got a lady and ya want her gone, but you ain't got the guts."

"Waymore's Blues," Waylon Jennings

I'd grown up with the Oak Ridge Boys and John Denver, a little bit of Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, Kenny Rogers, and Merle Haggard but it wasn't until I got older and closer to finishing writing Ultrasonic that I began drifting away from mostly metal back into the blues and country music of my roots. I suppose I needed a break from metal and torture, angst and face-melting guitar riffs, needed something slower, easier, and easier to sing along to. My daughter was just a toddler when I rekindled my appreciation for Waylon Jennings, a man who'd been one decision away from dying in the plane with the Big Bopper and Ritchie Valens. Jennings, also the former lead guitarist for Hank Williams, is someone I like for his lack of polish, for his faults and failings. Though he never achieved the commercial and critical success of his "outlaw" compatriots, Cash and Nelson, Waylon would carve out a deep place in my heart, thanks initially to his role as the balladeer on the 80s TV show, The Dukes of Hazzard, and more recently, because he would end up teaching my daughter how to spell one of her first and favorite words. His song, "Waymore's Blues," a song that Shel Silverstein once called an, "American folk classic," contains the line, "If you wanna get the rabbit out the l-o-g, you gotta make a commotion like a d-o-g," and was played on heavy rotation for a while in our house and in my car. We'd be driving and my daughter would bark, "Daddy, I want Waylon," and the two of us would sing along, me trying to mimic Waylon's laconic bass-toned voice and her singing, "d-o-g" on cue, smiling and laughing and demanding that I play it again and again. She never got tired of it. Sometimes I did, and I'd try to get her to sing along with me to other Waylon songs, but she always came back to, "Daddy, I want the d-o-g song," and most days it was nearly impossible for me to say no to anything she asked of me.


Steven Church and Ultrasonic links:

the author's website
the author's Wikipedia entry

Bookslut interview with the author
Fresno Bee profile of the author
Largehearted Boy Book Notes essay by the author for The Day After the Day After
Los Angeles Times interview with the author
Propeller interview with the author


also at Largehearted Boy:

Book Notes (2012 - ) (authors create music playlists for their book)
Book Notes (2005 - 2011) (authors create music playlists for their book)
my 11 favorite Book Notes playlist essays

List of Online "Best of 2014" Book Lists
Essential and Interesting 2014 Year-End Music Lists

100 Online Sources for Free and Legal Music Downloads
Antiheroines (interviews with up and coming female comics artists)
Atomic Books Comics Preview (weekly comics highlights)
Daily Downloads (free and legal daily mp3 downloads)
guest book reviews
Largehearted Word (weekly new book highlights)
musician/author interviews
Note Books (musicians discuss literature)
Short Cuts (writers pair a song with their short story or essay)
Shorties (daily music, literature, and pop culture links)
Soundtracked (composers and directors discuss their film's soundtracks)
weekly music release lists


Posted by david | Permalink | Comments (View)

Book Notes - Casey Walker "Last Days in Shanghai"

Last Days in Shanghai

In the Book Notes series, authors create and discuss a music playlist that relates in some way to their recently published book.

Previous contributors include Bret Easton Ellis, Kate Christensen, Kevin Brockmeier, George Pelecanos, Dana Spiotta, Amy Bloom, Aimee Bender, Jesmyn Ward, Heidi Julavits, Hari Kunzru, and many others.

Casey Walker's Last Days in Shanghai is an impressive debut, a literary thriller that deftly explores American political corruption and modern China.

Kirkus Reviews wrote of the book:

"Though its observations about China’s construction boom and the dismal state of American politics are as fresh as the morning news feed, Walker’s novel also feels like a disquieting peek deep into the coming decades of global economic upheaval."

Stream a playlist of these songs at Spotify.


In his own words, here is Casey Walker's Book Notes music playlist for his debut novel Last Days in Shanghai:


There's an inside and an outside to the music of Last Days in Shanghai—there's the anonymous, cloying music in the world of the novel, and there's the music that I listened to as I wrote, which I imagine to be somehow more personal.

The music inside the book is all the ambient noise of dislocation—sonatas degraded by airport speakers; fragments of a cab driver's radio; loops of instrumental nothingness in a hotel lobby. The narrator, Luke Slade, is visiting China on other people's business, shambling along after the congressman he works for, and he's desperate to hear anything but what he's hearing. His Beijing is corrupt little whispers over a business dinner, and all the lively bars on Sanlitun Lu echo with the dance tracks of someone else's good time. Luke's music is foggy and placeless—a glazed stumble through a business hotel after too much baijiu. Elevator music was constantly on my mind: it's the perfect expression of a kind of confinement and discomfort we all recognize. Who is this institutional music for, anyway? Luke wants to see Chinese cities, but mostly what he gets, barely apprehended through jetlag, is the indoor playlist of global capitalism's most passionless architectures—airports, hotels, conference rooms. It's the music everyone hears and no one listens to.

There's a considerable amount of overheard music in my own experience of writing, too. I tend to write out in coffee shops and cafes (and moreso now, with a small child in the house). The jazz standards and indie strumming that saturates most cafes mixes with the coffee grinder and the squeal of milk being steamed. Almost always, the conversation two people are having at the next table over is deeply private and I'm an inveterate eavesdropper. I have to put on headphones and play my own music low, try to create a brownout of blended sounds. I think what separates the narrator's music from mine—elevator music from my own playlist—is the illusion of intimacy. You get to imagine a song is addressed to you just by choosing to listen.


"Cello Suite No. 1 in G-Prelude," Pablo Casals
"Twilight," Elliott Smith

Most often, the music in my headphones was either Casals' rendition of Bach's Cello Suites or the extended catalog of Elliott Smith—six albums, plus innumerable b-sides and live recordings I've acquired over the years. Casals became my Pavlovian training: his bow hit the strings, and I knew it was time to work. Later, I'd turn to whatever Elliott Smith record I was wearing out. His last, posthumous album was released right around the time I first went to China, and I loved everything about "Twilight," down to the crickets you can hear in the background of the recording. The day after I returned from my first trip to China, I sat in the backyard of a coffee shop on 4th Ave in Brooklyn and I scribbled a banquet scene about a drunken provincial official. I hoped it was the start of something.

"Hold Time," M. Ward
The most direct reference in the novel that I can recall—where I knew I wanted this passage to feel like this—is lifted from M. Ward. The narrator is in Venice, being ferried from one side of the Grand Canal to the other with his girlfriend, and they're more or less breaking up. That failed relationship hangs over the novel, and M. Ward's refrain hold time, hold time caught me so acutely that I ended up using the phrase in the passage itself. It's an allusion, or its plagiarism. The song is so hypnotic that I can only plead that the suggestion was subconsciously planted.

"Los Arcos- Granaína," Paco Peña
Many of the years I worked on Shanghai, I was commuting out of Brooklyn to teach—endless hours on New Jersey Transit. In an effort to break out of my own head, filled with cast-off novel pages and dissertation work, I started taking flamenco guitar classes once a week. My teacher turned me on to Peña and his virtuosity, compared to my poor strumming, was inconceivable. On years of journeys, Peña drowned out the harried commuters of the Northeast Corridor.

"Moonlight Reflected on the Er-Quan Spring," Lei Qiang
I felt painfully my distance—culturally, geographically—from the China I was writing about. I tried to shrink the insurmountable gap with books, pictures, emails to people I'd met there. When nothing else would suffice, I'd listen to this and think of the difference between the imagined China the narrator wishes he could encounter, and the China of state capitalist upheaval he's actually encountering. The ehru is such a mournful instrument, perfectly suited to vanishing dreams.

"The Sound of Silence," Simon and Garfunkel
Eventually, I had a draft of the novel—not a good one, as it turned out, but the rest of my work life felt grimly halted by the financial crisis and nationwide hiring freezes. Desperate, I sent out an over-long version of the novel to a few agents. That first encounter with the business end of publishing felt exactly like the moment in The Graduate that this song is famous for—plunged underwater, weightless and adrift.

"Condition Oakland," Jawbreaker
Sometimes you have to go back to the beginning. This is one of those songs that fed my most romantic teenage dreams about writing. It's all longing and frustration—Climbed out onto my roof, so I'd be a poet in the night—and I must have listened to it a thousand times. I learned who Jack Kerouac was from the spliced in recording of Kerouac reading "October in the Railroad Earth" near the end of the song. There's almost nothing else of my teenage self that I still listen to.

"I Fought the Law," The Clash
I wanted Shanghai, like the city itself, to be frenetic—for the narrator to feel the constant pressure of things moving too fast. The whole book takes place over the course of a single week—a week of scheming, corruption, deaths and missing persons all in a foreign space totally illegible to him. In this song, there's a slow build of drums that ramps up before the screaming guitars enter and the whole blistering song is over in 2 minutes, 41 seconds—there's something in The Clash's music that always reminds me to keep pace, to build and then burst. I'm always trying to balance my own reflective streak with a commitment to propulsion. A reader spends hours, days, even weeks reading a novel. You need cello suites, but you also need The Clash.

"Say Yes" Elliott Smith
I try to tell myself that to be a writer you should live like a cactus. Your skin should be spiny and uninviting, all of your resources husbanded to survival in an extreme climate. You should look for very little from the world outside—the smallest dew should suffice. That tough exterior is not the world of Elliott Smith's music, where difficult vulnerability is vast. But I do think I learned something about editing from listening to him. This album, Either/Or, was self-recorded in a basement. It's just his voice and a guitar, and this is one of the shortest tracks on the record. Strip it all down and get your two minutes of perfection. Out of the 125,000 word novel I originally wrote, I had to carve a 65,000 word version—had to learn what to leave out and when to just be quiet.


Casey Walker and Last Days in Shanghai links:

excerpt from the book

Kirkus review
Publishers Weekly review

Publishers Weekly profile of the author


also at Largehearted Boy:

Book Notes (2012 - ) (authors create music playlists for their book)
Book Notes (2005 - 2011) (authors create music playlists for their book)
my 11 favorite Book Notes playlist essays

List of Online "Best of 2014" Book Lists
Essential and Interesting 2014 Year-End Music Lists

100 Online Sources for Free and Legal Music Downloads
Antiheroines (interviews with up and coming female comics artists)
Atomic Books Comics Preview (weekly comics highlights)
Daily Downloads (free and legal daily mp3 downloads)
guest book reviews
Largehearted Word (weekly new book highlights)
musician/author interviews
Note Books (musicians discuss literature)
Short Cuts (writers pair a song with their short story or essay)
Shorties (daily music, literature, and pop culture links)
Soundtracked (composers and directors discuss their film's soundtracks)
weekly music release lists


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This Week's Interesting Music Releases - December 16, 2014

KInks

The Kinks' The Anthology 1964 - 1971 5-CD box set contains remastered songs from the band's Pye Label days, as well as previously unreleased demos and outtakes.

Reissues include vinyl editions of four Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds albums (Firstborn Is Dead, From Her To Eternity, Kicking Against The Pricks,
Your Funeral... My Trial) and two from Death Cab for Cutie (Something About Airplanes, We Have the Facts and We're Voting Yes).

What new releases are you picking up this week? What can you recommend? Have I left anything noteworthy off the list?


This week's interesting music releases:

65daysofstatic: The Destruction of Small Ideas (reissue) [vinyl]
Band Aid 30: Do They Know It's Christmas?
Charli XCX: Sucker
Chief Keef: Nobody
The City On Film: La Vella
Cream: Cream: 1966 - 1972 [vinyl] (7-disc box set)
Death Cab for Cutie: Something About Airplanes (reissue) [vinyl]
Death Cab for Cutie: We Have the Facts and We're Voting Yes (reissue) [vinyl]
Frazey Ford: Indian Ocean [vinyl]
Genesis: Foxtrot (reissue) [vinyl]
Genesis: Nursery Cryme (reissue) [vinyl]
Gov't Mule: Dark Side of the Mule
The Kinks: The Anthology 1964 - 1971 (5-CD box set)
The Melvins: Hold It In (reissue) [vinyl]
Misfits: Project 1950 (reissue) [vinyl]
Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds: Firstborn Is Dead (reissue) [vinyl]
Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds: From Her To Eternity (reissue) [vinyl]
Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds: Kicking Against The Pricks (reissue) [vinyl]
Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds: Your Funeral... My Trial (reissue) [vinyl]
Nicki Minaj: The Pinkprint
Peter Hammill: All That Might Have Been
Russian Circles: Enter (reissue) [vinyl]
Steve Earle: Train a Comin' (reissue) [vinyl]
Trip Shakespeare: Applehead Man (reissue)
Trip Shakespeare: Are You Shakespearienced? (reissue)
Various Artists: Inherent Vice (soundtrack)
Various Artists: Into the Woods (soundtrack)
Various Artists: Millions Like Us: The Story of the Mod Revival 1977-1989 (4-CD box set)
Various Artists: Peter Pan LIVE! (Original Soundtrack of the NBC Television Event)
Various Artists: Transparent: Music From the Original Series
Various Artists: Unbroken (soundtrack)


also at Largehearted Boy:

weekly music release lists

Essential and Interesting "Best of 2014" Music Lists

100 online sources for free and legal music downloads
Book Notes (authors create music playlists for their book)
Daily Downloads (free and legal daily mp3 downloads)
musician/author interviews
Note Books (musicians discuss literature)
Short Cuts (writers pair a song with their short story or essay)
Soundtracked (composers and directors discuss their film's soundtracks)


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Shorties (An Interview with Poet Kevin Young, Pitchfork's Top Tracks of 2014, and more)

Guernica interviewed poet Kevin Young.


Pitchfork named its top 100 tracks of 2014.


78 online "best books of 2014" lists were added to the master aggregation at Largehearted Boy yesterday (bringing the total number of lists up to 740), including The Atlantic's best books, The Daily Beast's best nonfiction, the The Kansas City Star's best books, and Kirkus Reviews' best indie books..


The Largehearted Boy list of essential and interesting "best of 2014" music lists.


The New Yorker previewed December's new books.


SPIN interviewed singer-songwriter Mark Kozelek.


Noisey interviewed author and musician Frank Portman.


Aquarium Drunkard listed its albums of the year.


The Guardian interviewed author John Corey Whaley.


LA Music Blog shared "a very indie Christmas" playlist.


Judy Bloom's first novel for adults in 16 years will be published this summer.


Stream Jonny Greenwood's soundtrack for the film Inherent Vice.


The Folio Prize has announced the longlist for its 2014 award.


Stream Modest Mouse's new single.


At n + 1, Nicholas Dames looked back on the literature of the 1970s.


Follow me on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Pinterest, Google+, and Stumbleupon for links (updated throughout the day) that don't make the daily "Shorties" posts.


also at Largehearted Boy:

previous Shorties posts (daily news and links from the worlds of music, books, and pop culture)

Essential and Interesting 2014 Year-End Music Lists
List of Online "Best of 2014" Book Lists

100 Online Sources for Free and Legal Music Downloads
Atomic Books Comics Preview (the week's best new comics and graphic novels)
Book Notes (authors create playlists for their book)
daily mp3 downloads
Librairie Drawn & Quarterly Books of the Week (recommended new books, magazines, and comics)
musician/author interviews
Note Books (musicians discuss literature)
Short Cuts (writers pair a song with their short story or essay)
weekly music release lists
WORD Bookstores Books of the Week (recommended new books)


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Daily Downloads (Pink Avalanche, Foxtrott, and more)

Every day, Daily Downloads offers 10 free and legal mp3 downloads.


Today's free and legal mp3 downloads:

Evans the Death: "Don't laugh at My Angry Face" [mp3] from Expect Delays (out March 2nd)

Foxtrott: Shields EP [mp3]

Jeffrey Philip Nelson: Christmas Please album [mp3]

Kirsten Arian: "Oh Holy Night" [mp3]

Lainey Wright: Austin Holiday Sampler EP [mp3]

Mappa Mundi: several tracks [mp3]

The Neon Ambiance: A Neon Christmas EP [mp3]

Shaylee Simeone: Happy Christmas EP [mp3]

Warehouse Eyes: Carvings Sampler single [mp3]


Free and legal live performances at other websites:

Pink Avalanche: 2014-11-22, Brooklyn [mp3]


search for more free and legal music downloads at Largehearted Boy


also at Largehearted Boy:

other daily free and legal mp3 downloads
Essential and Interesting 2014 Year-End Music Lists
covers collections
100 Online Sources for Free and Legal Music Downloads

Book Notes (authors create playlists for their book)
musician/author interviews
Note Books (musicians discuss literature)
Short Cuts (writers pair a song with their short story or essay)
Shorties (daily music, books, and pop culture news and links)
Soundtracked (composers and directors discuss their film's soundtrack)
weekly new album lists


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December 15, 2014

Online "Best Books of 2014" Lists Updates - December 15th

For the seventh straight year, I am aggregating every online "best of 2014" book list I find, updating the list often.

Please feel free to leave a comment or e-mail me with a blog, magazine, newspaper, or other online media list I have missed.

The master list of online "best books of 2014" lists.
Daily updates to the list.

Revisit previous years' lists from 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, and 2000-2009 (best of the decade) online year-end book list collections.

Today's updates to the master list of online "best of 2014" book lists:

Already and Not Yet (best books)
Annabel Smith (best books)
Asian Writer (best books)
The Atlantic (best books)
The Atlantic (best food books)
Barnes and Noble Review (authors' favorite books)
Brain Pickings (best biographies, memoirs, and history books)
Big Picture Agriculture (cookbooks)
Blue Manatee Book Blog (favorite books)
Book Beat (best young adult books)
Book Riot (readers' best books)
Books by Ashley Suzanne (favorite books)
The Bookworm of Edwards (best books)
Boston Globe (best New England books)
Che Tantos (favourite books)
Complex (best comics and graphic novels)
Countdown to Mexico (favorite books)
Crazytown (best books)
Crime Always Pays (best books)
Daily Beast (top nonfiction)
Dataconomy (best big data books)
Denver Post (best books)
Dropout Nation (best books)
ELLE (best books by women)
Entrepreneur (business books)
eric forbes’s book addict’s guide to good books (favorite books)
Fantasy Findings (best books)
Flavorwire (best nonfiction books)
Forbes (noteworthy books)
Foyles (best nonfiction)
FSG (best books)
Gawker (best books)
The Gilmore Guide to Books (favorite books)
Greater Good (best books)
Guardian (best city books)
Guardian Australia (best books)
Immediate Regret (favorite books)
Independent (best film books)
Independent (best memoirs and biographies)
Independent (best poetry books)
Independent (best politics books)
Irish Times (best books for children and young adults)
Irish Times (best food books)
Jamie, Write Now (favorite books)
Jillian's Books (top books)
Juan Pablo Gargiulo (best books)
Kalireads (best books)
Kansas City Star (best books)
Kidsreads (favorite books)
Kirkus (best indie books)
Librairie Drawn and Quarterly - Jason (favorite books)
Maureen Corrigan (best books)
Moment (best books)
National Post (best kids books)
The Nonfiction Detectives (best nonfiction books)
North Shore News (best books)
Not Without My Bowler Hat (best books)
Novel Novice (best YA books)
Observer (best food books)
Powell's Books (best fiction)
Pumpjack Press (best books)
Read It or Weep (top books)
The Reading Room (best nonfiction)
RPM (top biblical counseling books)
Running Conversations (favorite books)
Sandusky Register (favorite books)
Science Friday (best science books)
Scott Whitmore (best books)
Scroll.in (best book covers)
Seattle Times (best books)
SeniorHomes.com (best books for aging and caregiving)
Shane McLean (top books)
Strand (best books)
Urban Moms (best cookbooks)
Watchable/Readable/Loveable (best books)
What Johnny's Reading, Listening and Watching Today (best books)
Words in the Kitchen (books)
Writer of Wrongs (debut books)


also at Largehearted Boy:

Online "Best Books of 2014" Lists
daily updates to the master list of online 2014 year-end book lists

Online "Best Books of 2013" Lists
Online "Best Books of 2012" Lists
Online "Best Books of 2011" Lists
Online "Best Books of 2010" Lists
Best of the Decade (2000-2009) Online Book Lists
Online "Best Books of 2009" Lists
Online "Best Books of 2008" Lists

2014 Online Year-end Music Lists
2013 Online Year-end Music Lists
2012 Online Year-end Music Lists
2011 Online Year-end Music Lists
2010 Online Year-end Music Lists
Best of the Decade (2000-2009) Online Music Lists
2009 Online Year-end Music Lists
2008 Online Year-end Music Lists
2007 Online Year-end Music Lists
2006 Online Year-end Music Lists
other lists at Largehearted Boy

Atomic Books Comics Preview (weekly comics and graphic novel picks)
Anitiheroines (interviews with up and coming female comics artists)
Book Notes (authors create playlists for their book)
Largehearted WORD (weekly new book picks)
Librairie Drawn & Quarterly Books of the Week (recommended new books, magazines, and comics)
musician/author interviews
Note Books (musicians discuss literature)


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