Vinoth Venkatesan

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The best books about science from the last 15 years that everyone should read

From discussions of human-machine hybrids to lost civilizations in the Amazon and octopus brains, scientists and writers have produced some amazing works of nonfiction in the past 15 years.<p>If you're in the mood to learn something new, as well as be entertained by riveting storylines, look no …

15 science fiction and fantasy books to read this December

Space operas, fairy tales, and a whole bunch of trilogy-enders<p>We’ve reached the end of 2017, and it’s been quite the year for books. December tends to be the slow period of the publishing calendar, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t some exciting books hitting stores this month.<p>I’ve been …

Nora Ephron on Women, Politics, and the Myth of Objectivity in Journalism

“I’ve never believed in objective journalism … because all writing is about selecting what you want to use. And as soon as you choose what to select, you’re not being objective.”<p><i>“Women have been driven mad, ‘gaslighted,’ for centuries by the refutation of our experience and our instincts in a</i> …

David Foster

The Simple Beauty of the Unexpected: Astrophysicist Marcelo Gleiser on the Transcendence of Nature and Fishing as a Metaphor for the Pursuit of Knowledge

“We are surrounded by mystery, by what we don’t know and, more dramatically, by what we can’t know.”<p><i>“You put that line,”</i> the great director Robert Altman enthused about his love of fishing, <i>“and you don’t know what’s on the other end. Your imagination is under there.”</i><p>In <b>The Simple Beauty of the</b> …

Anki’s next smart toy is an A.I. robot named Cozmo

Anki has a big hit with its iPhone-controlled Anki Overdrive race cars that use sophisticated artificial intelligence. And now it has its second act in the form of a cute, smart A.I. toy robot named Cozmo.<p>Cozmo is a playful, intelligent, and seemingly sentient being that is aware of people and its …

How Me Before You Author's Own Family and a Real-Life Paraplegic Inspired Her Heartbreaking Best-Seller and Movie

Jojo Moyes’ best-selling book <i>Me Before You</i> packs an emotional punch. The story revolves around small-town free spirit Louisa Clark, who becomes a …

2016 preview: Ian McEwan

For his new novel, Nutshell, Ian McEwan chooses an extremely unusual narrator. Read More

Einstein’s Brilliant and Unusual Life, in a Graphic Novel

From relativity to romance, an illustrated chronicle of genius.<p><b>Albert Einstein</b> (March 14, 1879–April 18, 1955) is celebrated as “the quintessential modern genius” and his groundbreaking discoveries have changed the course of science, but he was also a man of enormous and thus inescapably fallible …

The Lost Art of Astropoetics: An 1881 Cosmic Masterpiece by the Forgotten Woman Who Popularized Astronomy

“No observers could lift their eyes to the golden mysteries enshrined above without being impressed with the exceeding loveliness of the shining throng.”<p>On February 8, 1881, a short and stunning piece appeared in the <i>Providence Journal</i> under the heading “The Beauty of the Evening Sky: Telescopic …

Virginia Woolf on the Relationship Between Loneliness and Creativity

“If I could catch the feeling, I would; the feeling of the singing of the real world, as one is driven by loneliness and silence from the habitable world.”<p>There is a kind of loneliness that lodges itself in the psyche and never fully leaves, a loneliness most anguishing not in solitude but in …

Solstice, Seasonality, and the Human Spirit: A Beautiful 1948 Meditation

“As never before, our world needs warmth in its cold, metallic heart, warmth to go on and face what has been made of human life, warmth to remain humane and kind.”<p><i>“All true culture … is an effusion of light and warmth,”</i> Nietzsche wrote in his beautiful meditation on how to find yourself. But from …

Solstice

Patternicity: Dreamy Diagrams and Lyrical Visualizations of the Eccentric Details of Daily Life in the City

An abstract love letter to the art of paying attention.<p><i>“How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives,”</i> Annie Dillard memorably wrote. Out of the way we attend to the minutia of our days emerges the grand scheme of our lives and the grain of that attention renders the texture of our …

In 'The Girls,' A Teen's Need To Be Noticed Draws Her Into A Manson-Like Cult

Author Emma Cline's debut novel, <i>The Girls</i>, was inspired by the infamous Manson family murders. But Cline says it wasn't the cult that fascinated her; she was more interested in exploring how a young girl can brush up against evil without even realizing it.<p>During adolescence, Cline says, a young …

Remembering Lois Duncan, The Queen Of Teen Suspense

Author Lois Duncan has died at the age of 82. She was the queen of teen thrillers, a pioneer in the young adult suspense genre.<p>Long before vampires sparkled or hunger was a game, Duncan was writing tense, scary stories for teenagers. Books like <i>Down a Dark Hall</i> and <i>Stranger With My Face</i> kept a …

African-American coming of age

When 17-year-old Trayvon Martin was killed in 2012, Mychal Denzel Smith was 25. "I hadn't prepared for life at twenty-five," he writes, "having …

Harvard Launches Robot Moth

A robotic tobacco hawkmoth joins Harvard's collection of artificial insects Image: Harvard Microrobotics LaboratoryHarvard researchers have been …

Robotics

The Year's Best Crime Novels, 2016

<i>For the past 20 years</i> Booklist <i>has published a Mystery Showcase issue in spring.</i> <i>For the past seven years, we’ve enhanced that coverage online during</i> …

The Logistics of World Building: Algebra for Fantasy Writers

There are days—horrible, dark days—when I end up doing more algebra than writing. You remember those word problems from high school?<p><i>If Valyn is</i> …

Thirty Meter Telescope Project Is Stalled, but the Robot Needed to Build It Is Ready

Illustration: Mitsubishi ElectricMitsubishi robot grabbing a hexagonal mirror.The prosaically named Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) project, a planned …

Robotics

12 Books Being Made Into Movies in 2016

<i>The Girl on the Train</i> | Amblin Entertainment<p>2016 is set to be a big year for book-to-film adaptations. Several highly anticipated novel-inspired …

Film Industry

Welcome to the Anthropocene: A Reading List

<i>"We already live in the Anthropocene, so let us get used to this ugly word and the reality that it names. It is our epoch and our condition. This</i> …

Anthropocene

A Gathering of Shadows Is a Welcome Return to an Irresistible Fantasy World

After what seems like far too long, our whirlwind tour of color-coded parallel Londons resumes in <i>A Gathering of Shadows,</i> the second installment of …

Sweeping Sagas to Lose a Weekend To

Sometimes we crave a light, quick read—a momentary distraction from life’s hustle. Other times, we want to fall down the rabbit hole of a truly epic …

Books

23 Books You Need To Read Before Watching The Movie Versions

Because the book is always better.

6 Late-in-Series Fantasy Novels that Make Great Entry Points

It can be startling to discover the universe existed prior to your own introduction into it (not to mention that it might go on existing after your …

7 Very Long Book Series

<i>While we at the Riot are taking this lovely summer week off to rest (translation: read by the pool/ocean/on our couches), we’re re-running some of</i> …

Daniel Silva On 'Double-Edged Sword' Of Writing An Israeli Spy Protagonist

Another summer, another best-seller from novelist Daniel Silva. In <i>The English Spy</i>, the most famous woman in the world — a titled and gorgeous ex-member of the British royal family — is sunk on her yacht. To track down her killer, British Intelligence needs a little help — actually, a lot of help — …

Marvel's Half-Black, Half-Latino Spider-Man Is Going Mainstream

Step aside, Peter Parker: There's a new Spider-Man joining the Marvel Universe.<p>Since his creation in 2011, the character Miles Morales, the half-African-American, half-Latino version of Spider-Man, has occupied Marvel's Ultimate Universe — a side realm of Marvel that reimagines various superhero …

A Bar, Blackjack And Best-Sellers: One Author's Big Break

<i>As part of a series called</i> My Big Break<i>,</i> All Things Considered <i>is collecting stories of triumph, big and small. These are the moments when everything seems to click, and people leap forward into their careers</i><i>.</i><p>Once — before he'd hit the <i>New York Times</i> Best Sellers List, before he'd hosted a TV show, …

The Value of Not Understanding Everything: Grace Paley’s Advice to Aspiring Writers

“Luckily for art, life is difficult, hard to understand, useless, and mysterious.”<p><i>“As a person she is tolerant and easygoing, as a user of words, merciless,”</i> the editors of <i>The Paris Review</i> wrote in the introduction to their 1992 interview with poet, short story writer, educator, and activist <b>Grace</b> …

Literature