Read: Steven Brill's America's Bitter Pill Paula Hawkins's The Girl on the Train … Mohamedou Ould Slahi's Guantánamo Diary … B.J. Novak's The Book with No Pictures … Allen Kurzweil's Whipping Boy Ilan Stavans and Lalo Alcaraz's A Most Imperfect Union Listen: The Decemberists ... Sleater-Kinney ... Belle and Sebastian ... Watch: Cheek to Cheek Live! ... Lucy ... The Zero Theorem ... Chris Koza stream and more.

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Listen to Fresh Air:
America's Bitter Pill Makes Case for Why Health Care Law Won't Work

America's Bitter Pill: Money, Politics, Backroom Deals, and the Fight to Fix Our Broken Healthcare System
By Steven Brill

"A superb guide to the maze of issues in American health care and health care reform ... America’s Bitter Pill is an energetic, picaresque, narrative explanation of much of what has happened in the last seven years of health policy. It is full of insights, contradictions, apologias, flashes of anger, tidbits of history, extended stories of awe, compassion, some glibness and moments of brilliance. Above all, it includes fascinating reporting on how crucial decisions were made involving the drafting and implementation of the Affordable Care Act." — The New York Times Book Review



Listen to All Things Considered:
A Journey Into the Lives of Familiar Strangers

The Girl on the Train
By Paula Hawkins

Obsessively watching a breakfasting couple every day to escape the pain of her losses, Rachel witnesses a shocking event that inextricably entangles her in the lives of strangers.



Listen to Morning Edition:
A Guantánamo Diary from a Prisoner Still on the Inside

Guantánamo Diary
By Mohamedou Ould Slahi

The diary of a still-imprisoned Guantánamo detainee traces the events that led to his imprisonment, his firsthand experiences and his ongoing incarceration in spite of a federal judge’s order for his release.



Listen to The Dinner Party Download:
BJ Novak Tells Stories with No Pictures — AKA Radio

The Book with No Pictures
By B.J. Novak

You might think a book with no pictures seems boring and serious. Except … here’s how books work. Everything written on the page has to be said by the person reading it aloud. Even if the words say …


Even if the words are a preposterous song about eating ants for breakfast, or just a list of astonishingly goofy sounds like BLAGGITY BLAGGITY and GLIBBITY GLOBBITY.

Cleverly irreverent and irresistibly silly, The Book with No Pictures is one that kids will beg to hear again and again. (And parents will be happy to oblige.)



Listen to Weekend Edition:
Finding a Childhood Bully, and So Much More

Whipping Boy: The Forty-Year Search for My Twelve-Year-Old Bully
By Allen Kurzweil

In his new memoir, Allen Kurzweil goes looking for his childhood tormentor — and discovers he's served time for involvement in an international fraud scheme so wild and colorful, it could be a movie.



Listen to Alt.Latino:
History Goes to the Illustrators

A Most Imperfect Union: A Contrarian History of the United States
By Ilan Stavans and Lalo Alcaraz

Enough with the dead white men! The true story of the United States lies with its most overlooked and marginalized peoples — the workers, immigrants, housewives, and slaves who built America from the ground up, and who made this country what it is today. In A Most Imperfect Union, cultural critic Ilan Stavans and award-winning cartoonist Lalo Alcaraz present a vibrant history of these unsung Americans. In an irreverent, fast-paced narrative that challenges the conventional narrative of American history, Stavans and Alcaraz offer a fresh, controversial take on the philosophies, products, practices, and people — from Algonquin and African royals to early feminists, Puerto Rican radicals, and Arab immigrants — that have made America such an outsized and extraordinary land.


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Listen to The Current:
Album Review: What a Terrible World, What a Beautiful World

What a Terrible World, What a Beautiful World
By The Decemberists

"Typically we book four or five weeks in the studio and bang out the whole record," explains singer Colin Meloy. "This time, we started by just booking three days, and didn't know what we would record. There was no direction or focus; we wanted to just see what would come out. We recorded "Lake Song" on the first day, live, and then two more songs in those three days. And the spirit of that session informed everything that came after."

From the soaring, bittersweet first single "Make You Better," to the ruminating ballad "Lake Song," and anthemic closer "A Beginning Song," What a Terrible World, What a Beautiful World establishes itself as The Decemberists' most varied and dynamic work to date, both musically and emotionally.



Listen to Morning Edition:
Sleater-Kinney’s Deleted Scenes

No Cities to Love
By Sleater-Kinney

No Cities to Love is the first album in 10 years by Sleater-Kinney (guitarist/vocalist Carrie Brownstein, vocalist/guitarist Corin Tucker, and drummer Janet Weiss), who came crashing out of the '90s Pacific Northwest riot grrrl scene, setting a new bar for punk's political insight and emotional impact. Formed in Olympia, WA in 1994, Sleater-Kinney were hailed as "America's best rock band" by Greil Marcus in Time Magazine, and put out seven searing albums in 10 years before going on indefinite hiatus in 2006. No Cities to Love was produced by the band’s longtime collaborator John Goodmanson.



Listen to NPR:
Girls in Peacetime Want to Dance

Girls in Peacetime Want to Dance
By Belle and Sebastian

On Girls in Peacetime Want to Dance, Belle and Sebastian’s members compensate for any lost momentum by tinkering with unexpected sounds. Chugging synth-pop single “The Party Line” follows a straight line back to Pet Shop Boys, as does the seven-minute epic “Enter Sylvia Plath,” which is surely the peppiest song ever to use the titular poet as its muse. But the core ingredients of Belle and Sebastian’s sound remain intact, most notably Murdoch’s ability to skate along the fine line between erudition and preciousness. The singer has said he wrote the new album from the perspective of a young woman named Allie — the presence of the song “Allie” backs him up there — but its subject matter still feels personal, lived-in and universal.

With 12 songs stretching out for more than an hour, Girls in Peacetime Want to Dance allows Belle and Sebastian’s music to shimmer and breathe. As you’d expect from a band that’s begun to dabble in dance music, it feels light on its feet, without sacrificing the thoughtful, careful precision at its core.


Explore Video: PBS | Comedy | Drama | Animation



Watch PBS:
Tony Bennett & Lady Gaga Sing "Cheek to Cheek"

Cheek to Cheek Live!

Cheek to Cheek Live! is an American concert television special featuring live performances by Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga in support of their collaborative studio album, Cheek to Cheek. Taped at Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Frederick P. Rose Hall on July 28, 2014, each song was handpicked by the artists, and features classic selections from the Great American Songbook. Bennett and Gaga were joined on stage by 39-piece orchestra and jazz musicians associated with both artists.



Listen to Studio 360:
Lucy fixed Hollywood’s female superhero problem


From La Femme Nikita and The Professional to The Fifth Element, writer/director Luc Besson has created some of the toughest, most memorable female action heroes in cinematic history. Now, Besson directs Scarlett Johansson in Lucy, an action-thriller that tracks a woman accidentally caught in a dark deal who turns the tables on her captors and transforms into a merciless warrior evolved beyond human logic. Lucy also stars Academy Award winner Morgan Freeman.



Listen to Here & Now:
Terry Gilliam Goes Back to the Dystopian Future

The Zero Theorem

Qohen Leth (2-time Academy Award winner Christoph Waltz) is a computer genius plagued with existential angst. Eccentric and reclusive, he lives in a burnt-out church, toiling on a top-secret project personally assigned by Management (Matt Damon) to discover the meaning of life. If there is one. Witness a vision of the techno-philosophical future from Terry Gilliam, the visionary director of Brazil, 12 Monkeys, and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, also starring Tilda Swinton, David Thewlis, and Melanie Thierry.

From Page to Silver Screen

Making movies from books: The good, the bad and the impossible

Hollywood is always scanning the bestsellers list for fresh ideas. In recent years, the jump from the bookshelf to the big screen has become nearly instantaneous. Movie rights are sometimes sold before books even hit the stores.

Some books, however, resist adaptation. The recent release of Inherent Vice, directed by Paul Thomas Anderson, marks the first time a filmmaker has tackled any of Thomas Pynchon's critically-acclaimed novels.

Why has it taken so long? "Time and place isn't stable in Pynchon books," said Peter Schmidt, a professor of English literature at Swarthmore College. "There are rarely scenes where the dialogue and action, if there is any, takes place in a single setting."

Books that jump around in time and place present a unique challenge to filmmakers. Books with dragons, magic and aliens do too, of course, but computer-generated special effects have changed the game.

There's more to adapting a book, though, than just capturing a series of events.

"Of course scene and character and dialogue and plot sometimes can be copied on film," Schmidt said. "But what about the narrator's voice?" Can a film capture Pynchon's riffs on pop culture? Jane Austen's sly irony? F. Scott Fitzgerald's melancholy or Dr. Seuss' brilliant silliness?

Read the article for examples of accurate adaptations, cinematic betrayals and books that are impossible to film. Below, we present books that have been adapted into films currently showing at your local theater.

Travelling to Infinity:
The True Story Behind The Theory of Everything

By Jane Hawking

American Sniper: The Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in U.S. Military History
By Chris Kyle

Alan Turing: The Enigma (The Inspiration for
The Imitation Game)

By Andrew Hodges

A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience,
and Redemption

By Laura Hillenbrand

Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail
By Cheryl Strayed

Inherent Vice
By Thomas Pynchon

Of Interest to Public Radio Fans

Jazz: A Film By Ken Burns


Chris Koza is a very prolific Minnesota singer/songwriter, releasing 19 albums in 10 years, including nine as the frontman for the band Rogue Valley. Pretty Good Goods has arranged a stream of his newest solo album, In Real Time. The album includes some of Chris’ favorite works he has produced to date. The stream is live until Feb 6th. Enjoy!

Stream Chris Koza's In Real Time

Here are a few words from Chris on making the music:

"Each song comes from a deeply personal place — yet I feel the resulting composition can be universally embraced. The writing process was varied — some songs took several years of revisions and waiting while others seemed to fall into place in the span of a few hours. From the blurry outset, I wanted this album to be a collection of songs written for the sake of the song. I strived to cultivate a group of compositions where the vocal performances and the musicianship would bear the emotions instead of overly intricate arrangements or production elements.

"Some genres have made a deeper mark on my aesthetic than others: 60's pop, classic rock, folk, and country to name a few. The musicians that I worked with for this album: bassist John Munson (The New Standards, Semisonic, Wits), drummer Richard Medek (Wits, Alternate Routes), guitarist Sam Getz (Stephen Kellogg and The Sixers, Welshly Arms), pedal steel guru Joe Savage and keyboardist/vocalist Alicia Christiansen, all possess an elite understanding of nuance and musicianship. The tracks were mixed by Brett Bullion who had the task of turning twelve unique songs into a single album. The result is an album that sounds different — yet more cohesive — than anything I've done before."

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