“The researchers found that that sad music has a counterintuitive appeal – it actually makes people feel better. Sad songs allow listeners to experience indirectly the emotions expressed in the lyrics and implied by the (usually) minor-key melodies. The sadness may not directly reflect the listener’s own experiences, but it triggers chemicals in our brain that can produce a cathartic response: tears, chills, an elevated heartbeat. This is not an unpleasant feeling, and may explain why listeners are inclined to buy sad songs and why artists want to write or sing them.”—The science of why we love sad songs. Pair with these 7 essential reads on music, emotion, and the brain. (via explore-blog)
“I think that people should carry notebooks with them at all times just for those moments because there’s nothing worse than having that moment and finding that you’re unable to set it down except with a knife on your leg or something.”—Margaret Atwood (via filthiestlaugh)
“Beauty slips through the door of our rational thought and gets us to see the world differently.”—Sarah Lewis reflects on “aesthetic force" in a talk at the New York Public Library, March 26, 2014. (via explore-blog)
As I mentioned in the most recent click-read-see-love we just enjoyed the annual Shanghai International Literary Festival. It takes place over 2-3 weeks and brings authors on a wide range of subjects and genres to the Glamour Bar and M on the Bund along the Huangpu River. It’s a bit of a chore to sort through all the offerings and decide which tickets to buy, but it’s worth it! Often I don’t know many of the authors I plan to see, so it’s an adventure of discovery.
I took lots of notes during this year’s fest, sometimes scribbled down in a dimly lit room. Below are the books I encountered and some bullet points from my tangle of notes.
Have you read any of these books? Or do you plan to? Let me know in the comments. I hope at least one of these piques your interest. (Each book image is a link so you can find a copy for yourself.)
nicholas griffin. pretty much every story he told was more ridiculous than the previous one. the role of ping pong in China-Western relations is much more fun that what you learned in social studies class. (also ping pong is NOT from asia!)
david vann. this was maybe one of my favorite talks. our friend colin moderated the discussion and he did a great job getting the author to describe how his books come into being. this book started from a place of autobiography, but took a twist he didn’t anticipate when he started writing. “to honestly not know” he also had some funny stories about coming of age in the New Age in california involving fire walkers and ego-driven spiritual seekers. systems of self-delusion. he is a tropical fish nut. a “legend” can be a series of portraits—chaucer’s legend of good women inspired his legend of good men
deidre madden. listening to her Irish accent was wonderful. most of her talk was her reading from her books and that was great, too. in addition to Molly Fox’s Birthday, she read from Time Present Time Past, her most recent book. i would like to read both
emma larkin. this talk was about george orwell in burma/myanmar—he was a police officer there and later wrote the book above. emma told us that some folks read Burmese Days, Animal Farm, and 1984 as a possible trilogy describing the timeline of burma’s history
she investigated where he lived, what he did there, and how it shaped his future and his understanding of government, colonialism. he apparently had some hand tattoos that are part of burmese tradition or superstition (? my notes are a little unclear on the details) he had a fear of ghosts. she gathered that he carried a huge guilt about things he saw and did in burma
anna greenspan. shanghai as the site of futuristic tales. modern vs. post-modern—to what extent is shanghai’s modernization repeating what has happened elsewhere (industrialization, etc.) and in what ways does it deviate from that. the role of suburban communities in shanghai. linear versus cyclical progression—chinese idea of time is more looped? the idea of SPECTACLE: in the west, something empty and deceptive, but perhaps here in china that sort of facade “works” in a different way. technology and/ versus/encountering spirituality
evan osnos—new yorker’s china reporter. the fevers and trends that sweep china. the sense of aspiration and possibility. “you can achieve anything.” opportunity but also individual abandonment with the rise of capitalism. china narratives that help form the big picture. “the right to fight and claw your way each day”
rumana husain. karachi, pakistan—a city of migrants from dozens of nations—she profiles individual stories of customs, languages, and cultures preserved and lost within the city
benjamin law. he is an australian journalist and decided to see what it’s like being gay in various parts of asia. he visited bali, thailand, china, japan, malaysia, myanmar and india. various religious takes-yoga “cures,” evangelical pastors, sham marriages, celebrity culture, varying levels of acceptance and not always what he expected to find in each place
adam minter. due to lame circumstances we actually didn’t make it to adam’s talk—though i did hear him talk to terry gross about it. i think the book will be a great read (and adam is from minnesota) so i still wanted to include it here
I think the librarians at the school where I help out noticed me lurking around all the time. I asked if I could borrow a book for a few hours one afternoon and the woman at the desk said, “I can tell you like to read, so I’ll make you a temporary i.d. to use.” This means I can now check out books and take them home with me! (exclamation exclamation exclamation) I’ve realized during my time in Shanghai not to take things like libraries for granted.
I am now on a novel-reading streak and it is 100% awesome. I read books while in transit. I stay up late finishing one book and start another with my morning coffee if I don’t need to be off somewhere right away. In particular I’m going to try to read all the Jude Blume books they have (that I didn’t already read in 2nd grade) after listening to this conversation called “Thundershirt” (yes like what dogs wear) between Judy and Lena Dunham. (Probably also inspired by being around teens and pre-teens at the school.) Sometimes they are hardcover books and have the wonderfully crinkly-sounding plastic covers unique to library books.