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November 26, 2014

Online "Best Books of 2014" Lists Updates - November 26th

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

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:

A.E. Snow (best books)
As the Card Rack Turns (favorite books)
Barb Sampson (best books)
Blurppy (best books)
The Book Chook (best book gifts for kids)
BookPage (best mysteries and thrillers)
Changing the Game Project (best youth sports books)
Christchurch City Libraries (best book lists)
Compass Book Ratings (best books)
Desiring God (best books)
Flagpole (best JFK assassination books)
A History of my Life in 100 Objects (best books)
Jennifer Lyn King (favorite books)
Kellyn Says (best books)
Library of Michigan (notable Michigan books)
Literally (best books with strong female protagonists)
Midlife Mixtape (favorite music books)
New America (best books)
New York Daily News (best books)
Readings (Christmas books)
The Root (best nonfiction books by black authors)
Slashfilm (best graphic novels)
Slashfilm (best movie and TV books)
Urban Farm Junkie (great foodie books)
YFS Magazine (top startup, small business and entrepreneurship 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

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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November 26, 2014

WORD Bookstores Books of the Week - November 26, 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.


Redefining Realness

Redefining Realness
by Janet Mock

Janet Mock's bestselling, vital memoir is now out in paperback!


Ugly Girls

Ugly Girls
by Lindsay Hunter

Hunter's debut novel follows two high school girls and the fellow who's been pining after one of them online -- and isn't who he says he is.


Area X: The Southern Reach Trilogy

Area X: The Southern Reach Trilogy
by Jeff VanderMeer

The beloved-by-WORD-staff series gets a shiny new all-in-one hardcover edition.


Clothes Clothes Clothes Music Music Music Boys Boys Boys

Clothes Clothes Clothes Music Music Music Boys Boys Boys
by Viv Albertine

This memoir from the guitarist and songwriter of The Slits is full of stories from a punk-rock life well-lived.


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)


Posted by david | Permalink | Comments (View)

Shorties (Computer-Generated Novels, Stream the New Owen Covers Album, and more)

The Verge examined the world of computer-generated novels.


The A.V. Club is streaming Owen's covers album Other People's Songs.


23 online "best books of 2014" lists were added to the master aggregation at Largehearted Boy yesterday (bringing the total number of lists up to 216), including Kirkus Reviews' best children's books, Brain Pickings' best science books, and the Telegraph's best cookbooks.


The Guardian is counting down the best albums of 2014.


The Rumpus interviewed author Richard Ford.


Ariel Pink shared a mixtape at Gorilla vs. Bear.


Flavorwire listed obscure nonfiction books by famous fiction authors.


Turntable Kitchen shared a gift guide for music lovers.


All Things Considered interviewed Sarah Wildman about her memoir Paper Love.


The Riverfront Times listed the 100 best St. Louis songs.


Ali Smith talked to the New York Times about her new novel How to Be Both.

"Every great narrative is at least two narratives, if not more — the thing that is on the surface and then the things underneath which are invisible."


The Pop Group will release its first new album in 35 years.


Huffington Post recommended true crime books for fans of the podcast Serial.


Flavorwire interviewed singer-songwriter Ariel Pink.


The Observer profiled author Arundhati Roy.


The Record examined Billboard's decision to add streaming data to its music charts.


Fresh Air interviewed author Phil Klay about his National Book Award-winning short story collection Redeployment.


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)

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 (Survival Knife, Me and the Horse I Rode In On, and more)

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


Today's free and legal mp3 downloads:

Cats Of Transnistria: "Good Night" [mp3]

Faye and Wren: Volume One EP [mp3]

Hidden in the Sun: "Salt and the Spring" [mp3] from Seven Seasons (out January 20th)

Jason Kenny: The Swan The Bear Sampler EP [mp3]

Lost Orchards: "Nights Through the Summer" [mp3]

Me and the Horse I Rode In On: "Driving Home For Christmas" [mp3]

Other Bodies: "Reality" [mp3]
Other Bodies: "Black Box" [mp3]

Petter Carlsen: "Tiger" [mp3]


Free and legal live performances at other websites:

Survival Knife: 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
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


Posted by david | Permalink | Comments (View)

November 25, 2014

Book Notes - Fred Venturini "The Heart Does Not Grow Back"

The Heart Does Not Grow Back

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.

Fred Venturini's The Heart Does Not Grow Back is a unique and entertaining debut novel.

The New York Times wrote of the book:

"The writing is joyous, but the dark side of life — fathers who beat their sons, mothers who die of cancer — gives depth to the comedy. Dale's voice is refreshing, his strange power of regeneration and the aftermath of fame and fortune expertly rendered. 'The Heart Does Not Grow Back' is an exciting, thoroughly enjoyable ride, hitting the perfect spot of strange and bittersweet."

Stream a playlist of these songs at Spotify.


In his own words, here is Fred Venturini's Book Notes music playlist for his novel The Heart Does Not Grow Back:


People have asked me about my novel's genre, and I don't know how to answer. I just like stories, I try to have fun, and let everyone else worry about what shelf it goes on. Only when I made this list of songs did I realize that I'm pretty much the same way when it comes to music, that if someone asked me "what kind of music do you like?" the answer would pretty much be "music that I listen to and I like it." That's how you get Eminem, Hans Zimmer, and Pearl Jam mixed together in the same list, I guess.

I took a stab at making a "soundtrack" for the novel a while back, and ended up with like fifty songs, but for this, I wanted to include tracks had overlap in importance, meaning some of them are soundtrack-y while still important to the people in my life, the characters in the book, and the process of getting this story down on paper.

Eminem, "You're Never Over"

In 2009, when the novel was in its earliest form, I lost a good friend of mine, Tom Pigg. When I heard this song a year later, it made it into heavy rotation. Eminem laments the loss of a friend, but the song is as breezy and celebratory as it is emotional as he channels the pain of the loss through his work, supercharging it in a sense. I can't listen to this song without thinking of Tom. The book is dedicated to him and friendship is one of the central cogs of the story, so the track is a natural fit.

Hans Zimmer, "Time"

I listen to a lot of movie scores and trailer music during the actual act of writing, and Hans Zimmer peppers those playlists. "Time" gets special mention because it captures that something that's hard to describe, an immense sadness that somehow evaporates into hope and ends on a note that makes you feel like anything is possible. If you could crystallize that into prose, you'd do pretty well at the writing game. I gave it my best.

Cypress Hill, "Rock Superstar"

One of those songs that Dale and Mack would listen to in order to rub their country-loving friends the wrong way, and also has a lot to say about the fleeting nature of fame.

Johnny Cash, "Ain't No Grave"

Whenever I hear this, I imagine it playing over the end credits of the "movie" of the book that plays in my head. Everything about it is a wonderful echo once the novel ends, from the twang to the haunting voice to the death-defying lyrics.

Wallflowers, "One Headlight"

When I wanted to write Dale and Mack as young men, I needed to get into a high school state of mind, and this is one of the more memorable tracks from those years. I think it holds up. The hook about bringing it home with "one headlight" makes me think about pushing forward despite being wounded, along with rich images that connect with some of the darker parts of the novel.

Pearl Jam, "Better Man"

While the lyrics of the song are generally on the nose concerning some of the events in the novel, it's also one of those songs that help me get into a "younger" mood for writing the first half of the book. As strange as it sounds, I've always loved this song more than I've loved Pearl Jam as a whole, and I'm told that's an insane stance to take, but there it is, out in the public now. I can't hide from it.

Drew Baldridge, "In the Right Hands"

While I'm not the biggest country fan, that genre is embedded in the DNA of Southern Illinois, and to take this a step further, Drew is from the same town I'm from—he has his finger on the pulse of the vibe I'm going for like few people do. And oh yeah, he's a budding country music star. This track captures so much about the novel, and I'm not even sure if he's read the book yet. The song lyrically resonates with the key relationships in the novel, and it's one of those songs a kid form Dale Sampson's high school would play for a girl and say "you gotta listen to the words." There's something to be said for having a superpower in the "right hands" as well . . .

Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, "Consummation"

The novel has one particularly brutal scene of violence, and when I first heard "Consummation" I finally felt like it was a fitting soundtrack to that occurrence. Then I saw Gone Girl and noted that it had an intimate connection to its own brutal violence. So maybe I'm being a copycat here, but listen to this and see if your imagination doesn't start dredging up dark and hideous images.

John Spicer, "Pretty Good at Loving You"

When I heard "I'm just your knight in some rusty armor" from this song, it was one of those things that described Dale Sampson so perfectly, I wanted to steal it. The entire track is about a Dale-type everyman who's just emotionally raw and hopelessly in love. John is yet another budding country music star and guitar virtuoso from my hometown (two music stars and a novelist for a town of 600? Not bad I think).

AC/DC, "The Furor"

One of my best friends from high school this move he pulled just before a fight—he always, always took his shirt off. It made tactical sense, and I guess there was a bit of intimidation factor there since he looked like he could beat your ass. That move is so burned into my memory, there was just no way Mack Tucker would leave his shirt on before a fight. Also burned into my memory is this song, which is one of those obscure AC/DC tracks that could prime you for drinking or fighting like the rest of their catalog, only this one has an almost Biblical anger to it. We listened to it all the time, and the only thing that would have been more perfect is if a sound system followed Mack around and whenever he took his shirt off this track blasted like it was a wrestler coming to the ring.

Hans Zimmer, "Rise"

Yeah I'm putting Hans on here twice, mostly because this song was on repeat during some of my later rewrites. Heart used to be an indie novel called The Samaritan, and one of the reasons I got back into the manuscript when the opportunity arose is because I had an ending in my head that I wish I would have done the first time. Without spoiling it, there's a montage feeling to the ending, and it all takes place without substantial dialogue. Then I saw The Dark Knight Rises and film is obviously a more visual medium, and it has a montage-style ending, and the Hans track really added a lot to those closing scenes. As a novelist you always want to stick the landing, so when I was going through the last few editorial hurdles, this track helped me get my mind right for the last few pages.


Fred Venturini and The Heart Does Not Grow Back links:

the author's website
excerpt from the book

Everyday eBook review
Kirkus review
New York Times review

My Bookish Ways interview with the author
Reddit interview with the author
The Quillery interview with the author
St. Louis Post-Dispatch 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

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 - November 25, 2014

Velvet Underground

With the winter holidays approaching, box sets are the highlights of this week's new release list, including selections from Joni Mitchell, Soundgarden, and The Velvet Underground.

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:

Andy Stott: Faith In Strangers
Bella Novela: Telemetry
Beyonce: Beyonce (Platinum Edition)
Bjork: Biophilia Live
Bob Dylan: The Basement Tapes Raw: The Bootleg Series Vol. 11 [vinyl]
Coldplay: Ghost Stories Live 2014
Eminem: Shady XV
Flake Music: When You Land Here, It's Time to Return (remastered)
Frank Zappa: Providence College Rhode Island April 26th 1975
Jason Isbell: Live at Austin City Limits [dvd]
Joni Mitchell: Love Has Many Faces: A Quartet, A Ballet, Waiting To Be Danced (4-CD box set)
Kevin Hearn: Days In Frames
The New Basement Tapes: Lost on the River
Philip Glass: The Complete Piano Etudes
Pink Floyd: 50 Years on the Dark Side [dvd]
The Postal Service: Everything Will Change [dvd]
Prince: Art Official Age [vinyl]
REM: REMTV [dvd]
Snowday: As We Travel
Soundgarden: Echo Of Miles: Scattered Tracks Across The Path (3-CD box set)
Various Artists: Native North America 1: Aboriginal Folk Rock
The Velvet Underground: The Velvet Underground - 45th Anniversary Super Deluxe Edition (6-CD box set)


also at Largehearted Boy:

weekly music release 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 (The Impac Dublin Longlist, Ghostface Killah on His New Album, and more)

The longlist for the 2014 International Impac Dublin literary award has been named.


Ghostface Killah discussed his new album 36 Seasons with SPIN.


23 online "best books of 2014" lists were added to the master aggregation at Largehearted Boy yesterday (bringing the total number of lists up to 216), including Kirkus Reviews' best children's books, Brain Pickings' best science books, and the Telegraph's best cookbooks.


R.I.P. author and transgender activist Leslie Feinberg.


Vulture profiled venerable Manhattan bookstore The Strand.


The Mix shared a streaming music playlist for Thanksgiving.


Word and Film examined filmmaker Mike Nichols' talent for adapting books to film.


Drowned in Sound interviewed singer-songwriter Richard Hawley.


Gabriel Garcia Marquez's archive will be housed at the University of Texas.


Mike Doughty visited The Current studio for an interview and live performance.


BuzzFeed interviewed Amanda Palmer about her new book The Art of Asking.


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)

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)


Posted by david | Permalink | Comments (View)

Daily Downloads (Over the Rhine, Drew Holcomb and the Neighbors, and more)

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


Today's free and legal mp3 downloads:

Bee Tricks: Bee Tricks EP [mp3]

Drew Holcomb and the Neighbors: Good Light album [mp3]

Kim Johnson: All Is Bright EP [mp3]

Me You and Her: A Lil' More Christmas EP [mp3]

Over the Rhine: Even The Snow Turns Blue: An Over the Rhine Christmas Compilation album [mp3]

Sound and the Fury: The Contender album [mp3]

Various Artists: A Ready Set Records Collection: Here, Hitty Hitty album [mp3]

Various Artists: Shaking Through - Volume 5 album [mp3]


Free and legal live performances at other websites:

Thee Oh Sees: 2014-11-18, New York [mp3]


search for more free and legal music downloads at Largehearted Boy


also at Largehearted Boy:

other daily free and legal mp3 downloads
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


Posted by david | Permalink | Comments (View)

November 24, 2014

Book Notes - Joshua Harmon "The Annotated Mixtape"

The Annotated Mixtape

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.

Joshua Harmon connects music to his life and our culture in his book The Annotated Mixtape.

Will Hermes wrote of the book:

"Can all this -- mapping one's life around LP shopping, the exquisite playback rituals, and above all, the passionately empathic art of mixtape-making -- really be ancient history? Josh Harmon brings it all back home, joining Greil Marcus, Rob Sheffield, Geoff Dyer, and other great alchemists who use songs as magic portals to memory, history, and literary spelunking. Like a great mixtape, it connects music to how we live."

Stream a playlist of these songs at Spotify.


In his own words, here is Joshua Harmon's Book Notes music playlist for his book The Annotated Mixtape:


"The Records," the first essay I wrote for The Annotated Mixtape, once included a brief section headed with the abbreviation "np:"—shorthand for "now playing:"—which was made up of a list of records I was listening to at the time, or at least records I wanted people to know I was listening to at the time. Now that Spotify, etc., immediately broadcast to your friends' newsfeeds what you're listening to so that they can mock you, "np:"—an addendum used by many correspondents to the music listservs I subscribed to in the late '90s and early '00s—is pointless. Does anyone except old-timers like me still even write emails more than a sentence or two long? In any case, I revised the "np:" list in that essay multiple times during the writing and revising of the essay, and then again when it appeared in New England Review, and then again when I revised the essay for the book—well over a dozen different versions (I just counted) over a dozen years, until eventually I revised that passage right out of the book. But since The Annotated Mixtape is essentially already a list of songs accompanied by explanations about their intersections with my life, I'll skip all of those and return to some of the tracks I included in various iterations of the "np:" list over the years, some of the songs that didn't make it into the book:


Acetate Zero, "Contemplating the Existence of the Leaves"

Releasing an LP in an edition of 200 copies and filling it with songs titled, e.g., "Zealous Atom's Rage," "Departure," "Metropolitan Fatal Dawn," and "Variant Critiques to Conclude There's Nothing" was potentially an end-days gesture c. Y2K. A lot of things felt long since exhausted at that point, including the descriptor "post-rock," and in any case Acetate Zero's music has always been much more intriguing than most that gets tagged with that term. This mysterious French band—their records credit the band members only with initials—has quietly released a bunch of records since then, though this beautiful downer of an LP from 1999 remains the one I return to most in their catalog.


Little Ann, "Deep Shadows"

Speaking of Y2K, it's amazing to see what's happened to the LP since then, when many labels, even indies, were only putting out new albums on CD, and a lot of the new LPs you could find were pressed pretty badly: off-center spindle holes, visible warps, etc. Now everyone's buying LPs again, and labels are making way too many really nice ones to keep up with. There are also tons of vinyl reissues and rediscoveries, some of dubious quality, but many others, like the ones put out by Numero and Light in the Attic, beautifully assembled. Thank god someone saw fit to gather Little Ann's long-forgotten tracks and reissue them on LP a few years back.


Verlaines, "Baud to Tears"

"And that guy reads and tries to write / And talks until he bores you / He wants to know all the secrets of soul / He hasn't got a shit show / And he jumps the bandwagon before it's too late / With a head full of crap / And he never loves, he never hates / He doesn't write, he imitates: he's a clown / The artist in the idiot's clothes / You know the way they go: / They go down, they drown…" Or, in more condensed form: "You'll never spend a season in hell / If you lie in bed all day." The Verlaines' Juvenilia compilation LP is a foundational text. I'm pretty sure no rock band in the '80s was remotely as cool as they were.


Popol Vuh, "Wo Bist Du, der Du Überwunden Hast?"

There are so many songs I would've loved to have written about in the book (instead of songs by, say, Def Leppard and Raccoo - oo - oon), if only I'd had something specific and interesting to write about them. For example, this staggering beauty from Popol Vuh. I don't know what to say about it other than this: please listen.


Amerie, "1 Thing"

I've never really kept up much with pop music (as is probably evident by including a nine-year-old pop song here), because often it bores me. This song is anything but boring: in its combination of Amerie's insanely compelling voice and the alchemical transformation of a brief drum break in the Meters' "Oh, Calcutta!" to this monstrous backing track, it's perfect. I'm pretty sure someone called this song "‘Crazy in Love,' Junior" back in 2005, maybe not undeservedly, but to my ears it's way more exhilarating than Beyoncé's early masterpiece.


Broken Dog, "You Should Go Home"

John Peel declared Broken Dog among his favorite bands, which ought to have been enough to raise them out of obscurity. Their 1999 LP, Sleeve with Hearts—the last copies of which can still be purchased via Broken Dog's decidedly 1990s-looking website—has been a persistent favorite during the entire time I took to write The Annotated Mixtape: even now, listening to these languid, sad, British-via-Americana songs, I might as well be sitting on the hardwood floor of my long-ago rented house on the Rhode Island shore, late at night, gradually getting colder as the fire dies inside the woodstove, listening to records on headphones and thinking I should go to bed, but not just yet. The heartbroken "Your Name" isn't on YouTube, so "You Should Go Home," another lovely track from this record, will have to do.


Congos, "Open Up the Gate"

When I was a teenager, reggae didn't make much sense to me, either because the diluted, appropriated versions of it I heard in songs by, say, Elvis Costello and the Police weren't that exciting, or because the overplayed Bob Marley and the Wailers greatest hits that the stoner white kids wearing Baja pullovers listened to turned me against the genre by association. I've spent a lot of my adult years rectifying this blunder, and thankfully I encountered the Congos' 1977 masterpiece, Heart of the Congos, before wasting any more time.


Ean Eraser, "Illegitimate Love"

I bought this 7" during the 2008 recession, and it seemed a perfect throwback to the late '70s/early '80s recession that marked my childhood. The style is power-pop from that era, when a band with a slight sneer might be considered punk or new wave, since those terms were applied at least as indiscriminately as they are now (didn't someone in those years say "new wavers are punks who still take out the garbage for their moms" or something like that?). The guitar riffing here recalls Greg Sage's playing on the first Wipers LP, maybe, but the rest of the song could be any anonymous garage band who'd heard the Only Ones and the Cars and the Sex Pistols. The record itself had no artwork, no label, no real identifiers beyond band and song names—perhaps a reaction to the hype cycle in indie music circles c. 2008, perhaps because someone wanted the anonymity to be the hype. Regardless, this song is wonderful.


Simple Minds, "Theme for Great Cities"

If you were a teenager in the early to mid-1980s, Simple Minds occupied a continuum of new wave cool somewhere between U2 and Echo and the Bunnymen, maybe: cooler than the former, not as cool as the latter: which is to say, not very cool. Jim Kerr had much of Bono's hamminess and a wardrobe filled with sparkly, too-big suit jackets, and by the time "Don't You (Forget About Me)" was being played on the radio and MTV every five minutes, every teenybopper knew his soft voice, sleepy eyes, and goofy dance moves. (My first girlfriend, c. September 1985, told me that she thought "Alive and Kicking" was "our song.") "Theme for Great Cities" has all the moody Simple Minds melodrama you may remember if you're my age, and none of the Jim Kerr. (Note: I don't mind Jim Kerr, really.)


Chrome, "Chromosome Damage"

The year 1977 has figured pretty large in my memory and imagination lately, since I'm working on a nonfiction book about cultural iterations of fantasy from that year. Despite its references to aliens and pigmies [sic] and magnetic dwarf reptiles (look, just get the LP), Chrome's scared, scary 1977 LP, Alien Soundtracks, is utterly realistic. Distorted, freaked-out, noisy, and interrupted, "Chromosome Damage" sounds more like 1977 to me than, say, Arrival, Rumours, Never Mind the Bollocks, or pretty much anything else.


Secret Stars, "N29, It's Alright"

An ode to a late-night bus ride played by one of the quieter duos of the mid- to late-'90s. I thought of their then-recent song "Wait" every time I met someone at the State Street Diner in Ithaca, NY, during grad school, but this whispered track, from the Genealogies LP, is the one that's haunted me longest.


Mittens on Strings, "Party"

Urged mostly by a couple of students and a friend who came up with the terrific name "Unpacking My Milk Crates," I briefly hosted a college radio show in summer and fall 2005. I mail-ordered this unassuming EP that summer, and it ended up being broadcast by WVKR at least once. "It was a party / just a block and a half away / Oh well, it probably / would've sucked anyway" pretty much sums up Poughkeepsie, NY, in the mid-Aughts for me.


Joshua Harmon and The Annotated Mixtape links:

the author's blog
the author's Wikipedia entry

LitReactor review

The Rumpus contributions by 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

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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Online "Best Books of 2014" Lists Updates - November 24th

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

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:

Books and Beyond (best books)
Brain Pickings (best science books)
Dymocks (best books)
Kirkus (best children's books)
Marginal Revolution (best fiction)
Marginal Revolution (best non-fiction books)
Note and Query (books)
Penguin Random House (best "best books of 2014" lists)
Readings - Jason Austin (books)
Telegraph (best cookbooks)
Tor.com (readers' favorite books)
Woman's Day (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

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 - Mandy Aftel "Fragrant"

Fragrant

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.

Mandy Aftel's Fragrant is a fascinating mixture of history and personal anecdotes about perfume and the role scent plays in our lives.

Publishers Weekly wrote of the book:

"In this sensuous and profound exploration of the history, science, and art of perfume, expert perfumer Aftel (Essence and Alchemy) seduces readers with an sensualism that only intensifies as her stories unfold."

Stream a playlist of these songs at Spotify.


In her own words, here is Mandy Aftel's Book Notes music playlist for her book Fragrant:


For the twenty years that I've been creating perfume, I have always without fail done it listening to loud music. I do the same when I write. As counter-intuitive as it sounds, loud music helps me to go deeper inside myself.

Perfume has a lot in common with music: perfume follows a musical metaphor, in which individual "notes" of scents are arranged into "chords" of fragrance.

Also, like many musicians, I create perfume to try to capture a memory or experience. My hope is that the person who buys it has a similar experience smelling it. And as with music, perfume (at least perfume made from the complex, ephemeral natural essences, which are all I work with) plays through and then is gone, is by its very nature here and not here.

The songs that I chose here, as a kind of soundtrack for my latest book, Fragrant: The Secret Life of Scent, are all about desire and loss. I was living in a lost world while I wrote Fragrant—a world of beauty and mystery and longing. The deep wells of passion in the music I listened to spoke to me of those lost world that were still so alive to me.


"New Danville Girl," Bob Dylan, Genuine Bootleg Series Vol 1 Disc 3
This is a "take to a desert island" kind of song -- eleven and a half minutes of longing, regret and broken-heartedness. Although I find it almost impossible to believe that Bob Dylan has been dumped by anyone, he certainly knows how to draw a scale map of that territory. There are two versions of this song: The later and better-known is "Brownsville Girl (Knocked Out Loaded)." This very raw earlier version is a rambling epic in which the singer mourns the lost love of a woman of the old West: "You know I can't believe we've lived so long and are still so far apart."


"The Window," Leonard Cohen, Field Commander Cohen
This quietly beautiful song is like a religious vision. I don't totally understand it, but it is one of those songs that enters you like a fragrance, the phrases like "the rose on its ladder of thorns" and "lost in the rages of fragrance."

"Born in Time," Bob Dylan, Genuine Bootleg Series Vol 2 (Disc 3)
Dylan sings of the intensity and volatility of love, "Where the ways of nature will test every nerve, you don't get anything you deserve." Writing this book was like having simultaneous love affairs with the five scents I was writing about – cinnamon, mint, frankincense, ambergris, and jasmine. I thought about them all the time, the way you obsessively think of a lover. But this song also reminds me of how scent, like love, exists in time, comes and goes like a whisper.

"Can't Wait," Bob Dylan, Time Out of Mind
This is the ultimate song about the frailty of reason in the face of emotion, particularly when your heart is broken: "If I ever saw you coming, I don't know what I would to/I'd like to think I could control myself, but it isn't true/That's how it is when things disintegrate." I don't know who has delineated more achingly the thin veneer that overlies our most intense feelings.

"San Andreas Fault," Natalie Merchant, Live in Concert
I have had a long love affair with Northern California, and this song nails for me its beauty and inherent fragility. As Natalie Merchant sings, "Go west, Paradise is there, You'll have all that you can eat, The milk an' honey over there." And then the fault that runs through the center of things: "Build a dream, An' watch it all fall down."

"River Man," Nick Drake, Five Leaves Left
Not even sure what it's about, just has this broody vibe about things that take place on the edges of life. Just like perfume, it creates his rich atmosphere you can sink right down into, with a sweet, lilting undercurrent. It's timeless, as fresh now as it was over forty years ago.

"Lake Charles," Lucinda Williams, Car Wheels on Gravel Road
A great song about loss, infused with the languid richness and decay of the bayou country. The deep sense of place that goes with knowing someone or something intimately reminds me of the deep way I know my essences. And the head-on sensuality of Lucinda's voice and words—the fierce sense of looking what is in the face--counterbalances the pain of losing someone who has given up.

"Up to Me," Bob Dylan, Biograph
This song is like a world in a bottle and is redolent of fragrance itself: "I've only got one good shirt left and it smells of stale perfume," and "Orchids are in bloom." With deceptive simplicity, the song turns around the three little two-letter words of the title like a prism held up to the light, making rainbows from different angles: "And the harmonica around my neck, I blew it for you, free/No one else could play that tune, you know it was up to me."
That last line inspired me through the writing of Fragrant, reminding me how no one but me could write what I had to say.

"Most of the Time," Bob Dylan, The Bootleg Series, Vol. 8: Tell Tale Signs [Disc 1]
A song about pretending you've gotten over a wounding loss, acting like you're not broken. It's about the way things disappear and how you cope with that knowledge: "I don't cheat on myself, I don't run and hide/
Hide from the feelings that are busied inside/I don't compromise and I don't pretend/I don't even care if I see her again/Most of the time."

"A Thousand Kisses Deep," Leonard Cohen, Ten New Songs
A song about things that don't last, but are unforgettable. This is so inspiring to me about what beautiful fragrance can do: it's profound, and then it melts and disappears. "The ponies run, the girls are young, the odds are there to beat": this is what life is—the moment of youth, the betting, the loving—and then it's over. It feels like it will last, but it doesn't.

"My Band," Eminem and D12 (explicit) D12 World
I just love this song and the way it makes fun of everything. Its funny, unbridled, in-your-face energy is a shot in the arm about being free and expressing yourself, without taking yourself too seriously.


Mandy Aftel and Fragrant links:

the author's website
the author's Wikipedia entry

Bookforum review
Columbus Dispatch review
Kirkus review
Publishers Weekly review

Birschbox interview with the author
Dinner Party Download interview with the author
Huffington Post profile of the author
Los Angeles Times profile of the author
San Francisco Chronicle 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

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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Shorties (The Reading Habits of Writers, Stream the New She and Him Covers Album, and more)

The Believer asked writers about their reading habits.


NPR Music is streaming She and Him's new covers album, Classics.


23 online "best books of 2014" lists were added to the master aggregation at Largehearted Boy yesterday (bringing the total number of lists up to 216), including the Globe and Mail's best books of the year, the Telegraph's best biographies, and several from the Wall Street Journal.


Biographile listed essential books about Berlin.


Turntable Kitchen shared a mid-Autumn mix perfect for soundtracking your Thanksgiving meal.


The Slashdot community interviewed author Warren Ellis.


The Atlantic examines the rise in first-person narrative online.


The band Stars visited The Current studio for an interview and live performance.


Flavorwire listed the short stories behind famous films.


The Fader explored Red Bull's patronage of independent music and its effects on the industry.


Carolyn Chute talked to Weekend Edition about her new novel Treat Us Like Dogs and We Will Become Wolves.


Drowned in Sound interviewed rising singer-songwriter Hannah Lou Clark.


Bon Appetit shared a menu to pair with Beyonce music.


Dick Cavett discussed his favorite books at The Week.


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)

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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