Arts and Culture

Albert Camus in the 1950s

Albert Camus’s first novel, "The Stranger," speaks strongly to the search for meaning. It’s the story of an alienated man who commits a senseless murder. Literary critic Alice Kaplan calls it "the perfect Black Lives Matter book."More

flowers

The poet Nikki Giovanni, reading her poem "One Ounce of Truth Benefits Like a Ripple on a Pond."More

Brandy Clark

One of Charles’ favorite musician interviews is with country music star Brandy Clark. Brandy and Charles have a similar upbringing and he had a strong connection with her album “Big Day in a Small Town.”More

Lisa Bielawa

With "Broadcast From Home," New York City composer and musician Lisa Bielawa hopes to set the thoughts and emotions of quarantine to music, in the voices of anyone willing to contribute a performance. More

Tree

Richard Powers’ “The Overstory” has overturned a lot of conventional thinking. Though human characters shape the plot of this 500-page epic, the real heroes are trees.More

ruth ozeki

For her own book, author Ruth Ozeki drew from “Kamikaze Diaries,” a collection of writings left behind by the young soldiers who died on suicide missions. They represent a generation of brilliant, highly educated young students who were conscripted into the army and ordered not just to kill but to die.More

Dæmon Pan and the alethiometer in HBO's adaptation of "His Dark Materials"

Philip Pullman, the celebrated English writer has just written a 630-page sequel brimming with contentious ideas about religious tyranny, the loss of imagination and the nature of consciousness — all in a book that’s marketed to children.More

Philip Pullman

Philip Pullman — author of the fantasy classic "His Dark Materials" — is clearly attuned to the imaginative world of children. So maybe it’s not surprising that the book that exerted such a pull on his own imagination was "The Pocket Atlas of the World," which he first encountered at the age of nine.More

Henry Morton Stanley (center) meets David Livingstone (right)

Nineteenth century European explorer David Livingstone died of malaria nearly 150 years ago, but as author Petina Gappah explains, Africans are still debating his legacy today as they assess the impact of European colonialism.More

Petina Gappah on "Persuasion"

Author Petina Gappah recommends a book she explains is “The most African of Jane Austen’s novels.” Her reason why is a look at women in Africa today told through the eyes of two novelists: a Zimbabwean in 2020 and English woman in 1818.More

Nature writer and adventurer Robert Macfarlane has given away one book more than any other volume. It's "The Living Mountain," by Scottish writer and poet Nan Shepherd.More

Blues People

Alex Abramovich recommends "Blues People: Negro Music in White America" by Leroi Jones, who later changed his name to Amiri Baraka.More

Vijay Iyer

Celebrated jazz pianist Vijay Iyer talks improv and basketball with Steve backstage before a show.More

 Early fall on the pond in "Walden, a game."USC Game Innovation Lab

Game developer Tracy Fullerton tells us why Henry David Thoreau would play her new game. It’s called “Walden.”More

Band A Part

Norway's acclaimed pianist Tord Gustavsen recommends another Norwegian classic, Masqualero's album "Bande a Part."More

Screenshot from "Desert Bus" playthrough by Phrasz013.

A simulated eight-hour bus drive earns you one point. Why would anyone want to play a game like that?More

Mark and Anne in front of Mark's home in "Animal Crossing"

Mark just built a new house. In fact, he built a whole town. And it's the one place we can actually visit, because it’s inside a game. He’s been taking refuge from the grim reality of a global pandemic...in Animal Crossing.More

sea wall on a cliff

British journalist John Lanchester’s recent novel “The Wall” paints a very chilly picture of climate catastrophe. It begins in the future, when rising sea levels and an immigration crisis pit children against parents.More

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