Book Review: The Organized Mind

The Organized Mind by Daniel J. Levitin

The Organized Mind: Thinking Straight in the Age of Information Overload by Daniel J. Levitin (New York: Dutton, 2014. 512 pp) Daniel J. Levitin earned a B.A. in Cognitive Psychology and Cognitive Science from Stanford University and his Ph.D. in Psychology from the University of Oregon. He is the James McGill Professor of Psychology, Behavioral Neuroscience, and Music at McGill University, and Dean of Arts and Humanities at the Minerva Schools at KGI. Codes and Keys Have you forgotten your keys? Do you remember where you put them last? Chances are, you probably misplaced them, carelessly setting them in the wrong spot at the other end of the house. The usual spot for your keys, in actuality, represents an external… Read More →

Book Review: The Human Body

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The Human Body by Paolo Giordano, translated by Anne Milano Appel (New York: Viking Press, 2014. 318 pp) Paolo Giordano is the author of the critically acclaimed international bestseller The Solitude of Prime Numbers, which The New York Times called “mesmerizing,” and which has been published in more than forty languages. He has a Ph.D. in particle physics and lives in Italy. Afghani Doldrums The Human Body is not what it sounds like. Upon looking at the title, one might think the book is a novel of anatomy and physiology. However, The Human Body by Paolo Giordano is a darkly comic novel inspired by the author’s two ten-day tours in Afghanistan as an embedded journalist reporting on the most recent… Read More →

Film Review: Rush

Rush

Rush written by Peter Morgan, directed by Ron Howard (Exclusive Media Group, Cross Creek Pictures, Imagine Entertainment, R, 123 min) Starring Chris Hemsworth, Daniel Brūhl, Olivia Wilde, and Alexandra Maria Lara. A Good Sports Film Is Hard to Find A quality sports movie is hard to find. Sporting events, in fact, seem to be the only thing in the world that’s rating-proof. Each game has a sense of drama. The viewers don’t know the result and the potential narratives seem endless. These facts could contribute to the difficulty of creating that iconic sports movie. Scripting a story—whether fact or fiction—feels false compared to the narratives we all can watch on a daily basis. Actually, I would argue this reality functions… Read More →

Book Review: The Farm

The Farm By Tom Rob Smith

The Farm by Tom Rob Smith (New York: Grand Central Publishing, 2014. 368 pp) Tom Rob Smith was born in 1979 to a Swedish mother and an English father. His bestselling novels in the Child 44 trilogy were international best sellers. Smith has won the International Thriller Writers Award for Best First Novel, the CWA Ian Fleming Steel Dagger Award, and was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize. The Day It Changes Do you remember the day it all changed in your family? Do you remember the moment the bubble burst around the family utopia? It might have been early in life. It could be much later after you are out of the house. But it always seems like life… Read More →

Television Show Review: The Leftovers: Season 1

The Leftovers Season 1

The Leftovers: Season 1 created by Damon Lindelof (Warner Bros. Television) Starring Justin Theroux, Amy Brenneman, Christopher Eccleston, Liv Tyler, Chris Zylka, Margaret Qualley, and Carrie Coon. Dream State Are you a dreamer? Do you spend those hours before sunrise drifting in the lightest sleep states while your mind explores surreal connections between ideas, people, and objects? How about those moments after you’re awake, stumbling to the shower hoping for the cascading water to rouse your slumbering soul? These moments can be confusing. Truth and fiction have little meaning. Your body reacts slowly as your brain works to restore consciousness. You probably have heard funny stories from others about the crazy things you’ve said in these states. For example, my… Read More →

Film Review: Noah

Noah Film Review

Noah written by Darren Aronofsky and Ari Handel, directed by Darren Aronofsky (Paramount Pictures, Regency Enterprises, Protozoa Pictures, PG-13, 138 min) Starring Russell Crowe, Jennifer Connelly, Ray Winstone, Anthony Hopkins, Emma Watson, Logan Lerman, and Douglas Booth. At Last Ever since I heard the announcement that Darren Aronofsky would make a biblical epic, I’ve been giddy. Darren Aronofsky, you see, is one of my favorite filmmakers. He has a tendency toward bringing light to the dirty aspects of humanity and exposing it for all of its flaws. Knowing Aronofsky’s style, I fully expected Noah to move me deeply, to revolt me, and to display the shades of gray we all experience in life. Despite many protests from Christians about its… Read More →

Film Review: Nebraska

Nebraska

Nebraska written by Bob Nelson, directed by Alexander Payne (Paramount Vantage, FilmNation Entertainment, Blue Lake Media Fund, R, 115 min) Starring Bruce Dern, Will Forte, June Squibb, and Bob Odenkirk. Thoughts of My Son My boy isn’t even 5 months old yet, but I imagine the day when he’ll need to take care of me… Or put me in a home if I’m being honest. It’s odd to consider this little man who can’t even use a toilet will someday be someone I’ll need to rely upon. But thus is the nature of the familial relationship and the nature of aging. We all needed our diapers changed. We all procured a driver’s license. We all will retire. We all will… Read More →

Book Review: The Hundred-Year House

The Hundred-Year House

The Hundred-Year House: A Novel by Rebecca Makkai (New York: Viking, 2014. 352 pp) Rebecca Makkai’s first novel, The Borrower, was a Booklist Top Ten Debut, an Indie Next pick, and an O, The Oprah Magazine selection. Her work has appeared in Harper’s, Tin House, Ploughshares, and New England Review, and has been selected four times for The Best American Short Stories. The recipient of a 2014 NEA Fellowship, she lives in Chicago and Vermont. The History of Place I live in a house nearing its one-hundredth birthday. I am aware of a few of the inhabitants before me, perhaps 5 years worth of residency. The people meandering these rooms for the other 95 years are left to the imagination…. Read More →

Book Review: The Magician’s Land

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The Magician’s Land: A Novel by Lev Grossman (New York: Viking Press, 2014. 401 pp) Born in 1969, Lev Grossman has a degree in literature from Harvard, and spent three years at Yale in the Ph.D. program in comparative literature. He writes for TIME as their book reviewer and as one of its technology writers. Codex (2004) became an international bestseller, and The Magicians (2009) was named one of the best books of 2009 by The New Yorker. In August of 2001, he won the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer. He also has a wife and two daughters. Leaving Fillory Behind Our hero, Quentin Coldwater, has lost everything since the last installment of the Magician’s trilogy. His friends and his childhood world of Fillory are now restricted to him. Naturally,… Read More →

Book Review: Gone Girl

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

Gone Girl: A Novel by Gillian Flynn (New York: Crown Publishers, 2012. 432 pp) Born in Kansas City, Missouri, Gillian Flynn earned undergraduate degrees in English and journalism at the University of Kansas and a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University. Flynn wrote for Entertainment Weekly for 10 years—4 of which were as the TV critic. Her first book, Sharp Objects, won two of Britain’s Dagger Awards. Gone Girl has been adapted into a feature film. Page-Turner Sometimes there’s nothing better than a page-turner. I usually shy away from page-turners as for better or worse, I tend to label them guilty pleasures—they aren’t deep, literary fiction. But not all page-turners and New York Times bestsellers are created equal. When… Read More →