The New York Times' 100 Notable Books of 2013 include: BLEEDING EDGE (Thomas Pynchon), AFTER THE MUSIC STOPPED (Alan Blinder), COMMAND AND CONTROL (Eric Schlosser), THE THIRD COAST (Thomas Dyja), WILD ONES (Jon Mooallem), and YEAR ZERO (Ian Burama)!

The New York Times' 100 Notable Books of 2013 include: BLEEDING EDGE (Thomas Pynchon), AFTER THE MUSIC STOPPED (Alan Blinder), COMMAND AND CONTROL (Eric Schlosser), THE THIRD COAST (Thomas Dyja), WILD ONES (Jon Mooallem), and YEAR ZERO (Ian Burama)!

 io9:
A beautifully-illustrated history of 101 objects that tell the story of the United States through objects in the Smithsonian collection — some owned by extraordinary people, and some representing life at a particular time in history.

 io9:

A beautifully-illustrated history of 101 objects that tell the story of the United States through objects in the Smithsonian collection — some owned by extraordinary people, and some representing life at a particular time in history.

Great Book Gifts for History Readers

randomhouse:

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For your favorite history buff – we’ve got you covered from five years ago to five hundred years ago.

Read More

Elizabeth of York by Alison Weir
The Borgias: The Hidden History by G.J. Meyer
Empty Mansions by Bill Dedman and Paul Clark Newell, Jr.
Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power by Jon Meacham
Lawrence in Arabia by Scott Anderson
Book of Ages: The Life and Opinions of Jane Franklin by Jill Lepore
Falling Upwards: How We Took To The Air by Richard Holmes
Iron Curtain by Anne Applebaum
Five Days at Memorial by Sheri Fink
Zealot by Reza Aslan (audiobook)
One Summer: America, 1927 by Bill Bryson (audiobook)
The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown
JFK’s Last Hundred Days by Thurston Clarke
Double Down: Game Change 2012 by Mark Halperin and John Heilemann
Bunker Hill by Nathaniel Philbrick
The World Until Yesterday by Jared Diamond

Storytelling is — what’s the word? — HARD. Use these world-renowned podcasts to learn the art from the masters.
#1: Weekly short stories on a variety of topics, the Moth podcast features enchanting tales from the best storytellers of our generation.
#2: StoryCorps has made it their mission to capture every story on the planet with the hopes of restoring a culture of listening. They have met with nearly 90,000 people and have archived over 45,000 interviews! Holy Moly.
#3: This American Life is an engaging and thought-provoking program which chops a weekly theme into several powerful stories. Also: Ira Glass is delightful.
from 12 Storytelling Podcasts That You Need To Be Listening To by Buzzfeed’s Jose Cuervo. 

Storytelling iswhat’s the word?HARD. Use these world-renowned podcasts to learn the art from the masters.

#1: Weekly short stories on a variety of topics, the Moth podcast features enchanting tales from the best storytellers of our generation.

#2: StoryCorps has made it their mission to capture every story on the planet with the hopes of restoring a culture of listening. They have met with nearly 90,000 people and have archived over 45,000 interviews! Holy Moly.

#3: This American Life is an engaging and thought-provoking program which chops a weekly theme into several powerful stories. Also: Ira Glass is delightful.

from 12 Storytelling Podcasts That You Need To Be Listening To by Buzzfeed’s Jose Cuervo

Great Book Gifts for Literary Fiction and Nonfiction Readers

randomhouse:

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The best literature and nonfiction of the year, for the serious reader in your life.

 

A Constellation of Vital Phenomena by Anthony Marra
Songs of Willow Frost by Jamie Ford
Empty Mansions by Bill Dedman & Paul Clark Newell, Jr.
The Mushroom Hunters by Langdon Cook
My Promised Land by Ari Shavit
Dissident Gardens by Jonathan Lethem
The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri
The Purchase by Linda Spalding
Dear Life by Alice Munro
The Circle by Dave Eggers (audiobook)
And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini
Bleeding Edge by Thomas Pynchon
The Good Lord Bird by James McBride
Wilson by A. Scott Berg
Double Down: Game Change 2012 by Mark Halperin & John Heilemann

Great Biography & Memoir Gifts for Readers

randomhouse:

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Memoirs: because everyone has a story to tell. Some people’s stories are just more interesting.

Let Me Off At The Top by Ron Burgundy
Wild Tales by Graham Nash (audiobook) 
The Beatles: All These Years: Tune In by Mark Lewisohn
Five Days at Memorial by Sheri Fink
Provence, 1970 by Luke Barr
Robert Oppenheimer by Ray Monk
My Beloved World by Sonia Sotomayor
The Man Who Saved The Union by H.W. Brands
Elsewhere by Richard Russo
My Brief History by Stephen Hawking
Jim Henson by Brian Jay Jones
Rob Delaney by Rob Delaney
Orange is the New Black by Piper Kerman
Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power by Jon Meacham
The Death of Santini by Pat Conroy (audiobook)
The Dark Path by David Schickler
Detroit: An American Autopsy by Charlie LeDuff
There Was a Country by Chinua Achebe
Eminent Hipsters by Donald Fagen
Undisputed Truth by Mike Tyson

What a cool idea! For her £500 donation to the Red Cross, Patrick Ness will name a character Henna Silvennoinen in his next book.

Don’t forget to vote for the Goodreads Choice Awards! Here are our picks for poetry, cooking, science fiction and nonfiction! 

Penguins make us happy

Penguins make us happy

Ten Kliks South

By: Phil Klay





At the table all nine of us are smiling and laughing, still jittery with nervous excitement. I’m sitting next to Voorstadt, our number one guy, and Jewett, who’s on the ammo team with me and Bolander. Voorstadt’s got a big plate of ravioli and Pop-Tarts, and before digging in, he looks down the table and says, “It’s about time we killed someone.”
Sergeant Deetz laughs. Even I chuckle a little. We’ve been in Iraq two months, one of the few artillery units actually doing artillery, except so far we’ve only shot illumination missions. Some of the other guns in the battery had shot bad guys, but not us. Not until today. Today, the whole damn battery fired.
Jewett, who’s been pretty quiet, asks, “How many insurgents do you think we killed?”
“Platoon-sized element,” says Deetz.
“What?” says Bolander, laughing. “Platoon-sized? Sergeant, AQI don’t have platoons.”
“Why you think we needed the whole damn battery?” says Deetz, grunting out the words.
“We didn’t,” says Bolander. “Each gun only fired two rounds. I figure they just wanted us all to have gun time on an actual target. Besides, even one round of ICM would be enough to take out a platoon in open desert. No way we needed the whole battery. But it was fun.”
Deetz shakes his head slowly, his heavy shoulders hunched over the table. “Platoon-sized element,” he says again. “That’s what it was. And two rounds a gun was what we needed to take it out.”
“But,” says Jewett in a small voice, “I didn’t mean the whole battery. I meant, our gun. How many did our gun, just our gun, kill?”
“How am I supposed to know?” says Deetz.
“Platoon-sized is like, forty,” I say. “Figure, six guns, so divide and you got, six, I don’t know, six point six people per gun.”
“Yeah,” says Bolander. “We killed exactly six point six people.”
Sanchez takes out a notebook and starts doing the math. “Divide it by nine Marines on the gun, and you, personally, you’ve killed zero point seven something people today. That’s like, a torso and a head. Or maybe a torso and a leg.”
“That’s not funny,” says Jewett.
“We definitely got more,” says Deetz. “We’re the best shots in the battery.”
Bolander snorts. “We’re just firing on the quadrant and deflection the FDC gives us, Sergeant. I mean . . .”
“We’re better shots,” says Deetz. “Put a round down a rabbit hole at eighteen miles.”
“But even if we were on target . . . ,” says Jewett.
“We were on target.”
“Okay, Sergeant, we were on target. But the other guns, their rounds could have hit first. Maybe everybody was already dead.”
I can see that, the shrapnel thudding into shattered corpses, the force of it jerking the limbs this way and that.
“Look,” says Bolander, “even if their rounds hit first, it doesn’t mean everybody was dead. Maybe some insurgent had shrapnel in his chest, right, and he’s like—” Bolander sticks his tongue out and clutches his chest dramatically. “Then our round comes down, boom, blows his fucking head off. He was dying already, but we’d have finished him off.”
“Yeah, sure,” says Jewett, “I guess. But I don’t feel like I killed anybody. I think I’d know if I killed somebody.”
“Naw,” says Deetz, “you wouldn’t know. Not until you’d seen the bodies.” He shrugs. “It’s better this way.”
“Doesn’t it feel weird to you,” says Jewett, “after our first real mission, to just be eating lunch?”
Deetz scowls at him, then takes a big bite of his Salisbury steak and grins. “Gotta eat,” he says with his mouth full of food.
“Why?” Voorstadt says to Jewett. “We just killed some bad guys.”
“I don’t think I killed anybody,” says Jewett.
“Technically, I’m the one that pulled the lanyard,” says Voorstadt. “I fired the thing. You just loaded.”
“Like I couldn’t pull a lanyard,” says Jewett.
“Yeah, but you didn’t,” says Voorstadt.
“Drop it,” says Deetz. “It’s a crew-served weapon. It takes a crew.”
“If we used a howitzer to kill somebody back in the States,” I say, “I wonder what crime they’d charge us with.”
“Murder,” says Deetz. “What are you, an idiot?”
“Yeah, murder, sure,” I say, “but for each of us? In what degree? I mean, me and Bolander and Jewett loaded, right? If I loaded an M16 and handed it to Voorstadt and he shot somebody, I wouldn’t say I’d killed anyone.”
“It’s a crew-served weapon,” says Deetz. “Crew. Served. Weapon. It’s different.”
“And I loaded, but we got the ammo from the ASP,” I say. “Shouldn’t they be responsible, too, the ASP Marines?”
“Yeah,” says Jewett. “Why not the ASP?”
“Why not the factory workers who made the ammo?” says Deetz. “Or the taxpayers who paid for it? You know why not? Because that’s retarded.”
Jewett gives a little shrug. “I don’t know,” he says. “I still don’t feel like I killed anybody.”
And as dumb as Jewett’s being, it dawns on me that I don’t either. I look around the table. Jewett’s fucking it up for everybody. And he’s fucking it up for me too. So I turn to him. “It’s supposed to feel good.” I say. “It feels good.”




- See more at: http://www.pen.org/flash-fiction/ten-kliks-south#sthash.QkMmpAfY.dpuf

Ten Kliks South

At the table all nine of us are smiling and laughing, still jittery with nervous excitement. I’m sitting next to Voorstadt, our number one guy, and Jewett, who’s on the ammo team with me and Bolander. Voorstadt’s got a big plate of ravioli and Pop-Tarts, and before digging in, he looks down the table and says, “It’s about time we killed someone.”

Sergeant Deetz laughs. Even I chuckle a little. We’ve been in Iraq two months, one of the few artillery units actually doing artillery, except so far we’ve only shot illumination missions. Some of the other guns in the battery had shot bad guys, but not us. Not until today. Today, the whole damn battery fired.

Jewett, who’s been pretty quiet, asks, “How many insurgents do you think we killed?”

“Platoon-sized element,” says Deetz.

“What?” says Bolander, laughing. “Platoon-sized? Sergeant, AQI don’t have platoons.”

“Why you think we needed the whole damn battery?” says Deetz, grunting out the words.

“We didn’t,” says Bolander. “Each gun only fired two rounds. I figure they just wanted us all to have gun time on an actual target. Besides, even one round of ICM would be enough to take out a platoon in open desert. No way we needed the whole battery. But it was fun.”

Deetz shakes his head slowly, his heavy shoulders hunched over the table. “Platoon-sized element,” he says again. “That’s what it was. And two rounds a gun was what we needed to take it out.”

“But,” says Jewett in a small voice, “I didn’t mean the whole battery. I meant, our gun. How many did our gun, just our gun, kill?”

“How am I supposed to know?” says Deetz.

“Platoon-sized is like, forty,” I say. “Figure, six guns, so divide and you got, six, I don’t know, six point six people per gun.”

“Yeah,” says Bolander. “We killed exactly six point six people.”

Sanchez takes out a notebook and starts doing the math. “Divide it by nine Marines on the gun, and you, personally, you’ve killed zero point seven something people today. That’s like, a torso and a head. Or maybe a torso and a leg.”

“That’s not funny,” says Jewett.

“We definitely got more,” says Deetz. “We’re the best shots in the battery.”

Bolander snorts. “We’re just firing on the quadrant and deflection the FDC gives us, Sergeant. I mean . . .”

“We’re better shots,” says Deetz. “Put a round down a rabbit hole at eighteen miles.”

“But even if we were on target . . . ,” says Jewett.

“We were on target.”

“Okay, Sergeant, we were on target. But the other guns, their rounds could have hit first. Maybe everybody was already dead.”

I can see that, the shrapnel thudding into shattered corpses, the force of it jerking the limbs this way and that.

“Look,” says Bolander, “even if their rounds hit first, it doesn’t mean everybody was dead. Maybe some insurgent had shrapnel in his chest, right, and he’s like—” Bolander sticks his tongue out and clutches his chest dramatically. “Then our round comes down, boom, blows his fucking head off. He was dying already, but we’d have finished him off.”

“Yeah, sure,” says Jewett, “I guess. But I don’t feel like I killed anybody. I think I’d know if I killed somebody.”

“Naw,” says Deetz, “you wouldn’t know. Not until you’d seen the bodies.” He shrugs. “It’s better this way.”

“Doesn’t it feel weird to you,” says Jewett, “after our first real mission, to just be eating lunch?”

Deetz scowls at him, then takes a big bite of his Salisbury steak and grins. “Gotta eat,” he says with his mouth full of food.

“Why?” Voorstadt says to Jewett. “We just killed some bad guys.”

“I don’t think I killed anybody,” says Jewett.

“Technically, I’m the one that pulled the lanyard,” says Voorstadt. “I fired the thing. You just loaded.”

“Like I couldn’t pull a lanyard,” says Jewett.

“Yeah, but you didn’t,” says Voorstadt.

“Drop it,” says Deetz. “It’s a crew-served weapon. It takes a crew.”

“If we used a howitzer to kill somebody back in the States,” I say, “I wonder what crime they’d charge us with.”

“Murder,” says Deetz. “What are you, an idiot?”

“Yeah, murder, sure,” I say, “but for each of us? In what degree? I mean, me and Bolander and Jewett loaded, right? If I loaded an M16 and handed it to Voorstadt and he shot somebody, I wouldn’t say I’d killed anyone.”

“It’s a crew-served weapon,” says Deetz. “Crew. Served. Weapon. It’s different.”

“And I loaded, but we got the ammo from the ASP,” I say. “Shouldn’t they be responsible, too, the ASP Marines?”

“Yeah,” says Jewett. “Why not the ASP?”

“Why not the factory workers who made the ammo?” says Deetz. “Or the taxpayers who paid for it? You know why not? Because that’s retarded.”

Jewett gives a little shrug. “I don’t know,” he says. “I still don’t feel like I killed anybody.

And as dumb as Jewett’s being, it dawns on me that I don’t either. I look around the table. Jewett’s fucking it up for everybody. And he’s fucking it up for me too. So I turn to him. “It’s supposed to feel good.” I say. “It feels good.

- See more at: http://www.pen.org/flash-fiction/ten-kliks-south#sthash.QkMmpAfY.dpuf