rachel maddow

Underdog Literature, May 2012: 15 fresh or remarkable, off-the-wall titles


Here are 15 books that caught my interest lately.

Fresh, off-beat, quirky or curious titles that might deserve more attention:


01: RICHARD FORD, „Canada“, 432 pages, 2012.

02: JOSHUA HENKIN, „The World without you“, 336 pages, 2012.

03: DIRK WITTENBORN, „Fierce People“, 335 pages, 2003.

04: STEPHEN L. PECK, „A Short Stay in Hell“, 108 pages, 2012.

05: CAROL RIFKA BRUNT, „Tell the Wolves I’m home“, 368 pages, 2012.

06: KAZUSHI HOSAKA, „Plainsong“, 169 pages, 2011. [Japan]

07: STEVE ERICKSON, „These Dreams of you“, 309 pages, 2012.

08: RAYMOND FEDERMAN, „Double or Nothing“, 267 pages, 1971. [postmodern / Typography]

09: ANDRI SNAER MAGNASON, „LoveStar“, 275 pages, 2002. [Science Fiction, Iceland]

10: GREG RUCKA, „Alpha“, 304 pages, 2012. [Thriller]

11: RACHEL MADDOW, „Drift. The Unmooring of America’s Military Power“, 276 pages, 2012. [Cultural Studies / Essay]

12: AUSTIN KLEON, „Steal like an Artist“, 160 pages, 2012. [Cultural Studies / Self-Help]

13: JOHN VAN DE RUIT, „Spud“, 352 pages, 2006. [Young Adult, South Africa]

14: ANNETT GRÖSCHNER, „Mit der Linie 4 um die Welt“, 250 pages, 2012. [Journalism/Travel, German]

15: MATTHIAS SENKEL, „Frühe Vögel“, 298 pages, 2012. [German; Link to Amazon]


Here are five books that made me curious enough to buy them:

01: FRANCIS SPUFFORD, „Red Plenty“, 448 pages, 2007. [Science Fiction; German version published in April 2012: „Rote Zukunft“, Rowohlt]

02: JUNICHIRO TANIZAKI, „The Makiota Sisters“, 544 pages, 1946. [Japan]

03: LYNNE TILMAN, „Haunted Houses“, 208 pages, 1995. [Young Adult]

04: MARK OLIVER EVERETT, „Things the Grandchildren should know“, 256 pages, 2007.

05: LIZ MOORE, „Heft“, 352 pages, 2012.


…and finally, here are three books that I read – and that were really good:

1: 4 of 5 stars: BRAD KESSLER, „Birds in Fall“, 256 pages, 2006.

2: 4 of 5 stars: JHUMPA LAHIRI, „The Namesake“, 304 pages, 2003.

3: 4 of 5 stars: WOLFGANG HERRNDORF, „Tschick“, 253 pages, 2010. [Young Adult, German]


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„Ideas worth spreading“: 9 Video Talks that educated & entertained me.

Information, politics, fresh ideas and pervasive arguments: Here are 9 online videos that both educating AND entertaining.

Take 90 minutes over the weekend and watch them. It’s worth it!

1) „A squirrel dying in your front yard may be more relevant to your interest right now than people in Africa.“ (Mark Zuckerberg): Eli Pariser in a TED talk about the hidden filters and unknown customization that narrow down your Google searches and hide „lesser“ friends on your Facebook stream:

2) Games educate, manipulate and control their players through rewards and rules. And game designer Jesse Schell argues, that these game mechanics invade real life… and are used to modify people’s behavior:

3) A good ‚RSA Animate‘ talk: „Drive – the surprising truth about what motivates us“

4) Rachel Maddow, journalist and star of a daily MSNBC news show, talks about the right-wing and conservative US news media (Fox news etc.)… and how half-truths and propaganda get more and more self-perpetuating in ‚closed, self-contained and biased media circles‘:

5) Good animation, smart commentary… but a somehow amateurish, shrill tone: I don’t love the ‚The Story of Stuff‘ series. Still: Worth a look!

6) Simple idea… but excellent execution: If you like movies… or study Cultural Studies… you should see Kirby Ferguson’s „Everything is a remix“ series:

7) Anita Sarkeesian of „Feminist Frequency“ explains tired tropes and misogynist clichès in mainstream movies. In this must-see video, she explains ‚The Bechdel Test for Women in Movies‘. Go watch her other videos, too!

8) Bryan Safi of the web comedy news show ‚InfoMania‘ talks about horrible writing for gay characters in TV shows like ‚Desperate Housewifes‘ and ‚Ugly Betty‘:

9) „If you have three black people in it… [people will think that] it is a black product.“ Dwayne McDuffie (1962 – 2011), one of the few successful black comic creators, talks about racist fans and the huge backlash against minority super-heroes: