Hear an excerpt of 'Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power'
If you're feeling overwhelmed by the holiday rush — too swamped, even, to spend an afternoon reading those books you got for Christmas, we have some recommendations for you — but these are audiobooks, so you can listen while you multitask.
There's nothing like the distinctive "pop" of the uncorking of a bottle of bubbly to create a sense of celebration. Whether it's Dom Perignon or a $10 sparkling wine, bubbles add pizazz.
Sparkling-wine lovers sometimes point to the glittering streams of tiny bubbles as an important attribute. Why? Well, tiny bubbles are a sign of age, explains French chemist Gerard Liger-Belair, author of Uncorked: The Science of Champagne.
The familiar image of the salesman in American culture hasn't always been a flattering one. Just think of Alec Baldwin as the verbally abusive "motivator" of two real estate salesmen in Glengarry Glen Ross.
Daniel H. Pink, author of the new book To Sell is Human, says that this relentless, predator-style approach to selling has become outdated. He believes that the art of sales has changed more in the past 10 years than it did in the previous century.
Last spring, weekends on All Things Considered spoke with author Ben Fountain just as he released his widely acclaimed first novel, Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk. Later in the year, it was nominated for the National Book Award.
We asked Fountain to share with us what he's looking forward to in the book world next year. He says he's read about 25 books for release in 2013 and tells host Jacki Lyden, "The state of American fiction is really strong, at least from where I'm standing."
On-air challenge: This week is the annual "new names in the news" quiz. You're given some names that you probably never heard of before 2012, but who made news during the past 12 months. You say who they are. These names were compiled with the help of Kathie Baker and Tim Goodman, who were players on previous year-end quizzes.
This last weekend of the year, we're looking back on some of the best books of 2012. In this encore broadcast, Glenn Weldon highlights two graphic novels from the past year, starting with one called "Drama" by Raina Telgemeier.
GLENN WELDON: "Drama" is a young adult graphic novel about a middle-school girl named Callie...
Matt Damon has played Jason Bourne, the brainwashed assassin. He won an Oscar for co-writing the screenplay for Good Will Hunting with Ben Affleck. And now he's returned to the writer's chair for his latest film — Promised Land.
Damon plays Steve Butler, a salesman who comes to a small Pennsylvania town to sell the local farmers on allowing his company to drill on their land for natural gas using a controversial process known as fracking.
All good things must come to an end, and so it is with Marvel Comics' web-slinging, wise-cracking superhero. Spider-Man is no more. Well, to be more precise, Peter Parker is no more.
In the 700th and final issue of The Amazing Spider-Man, writer Dan Slott's controversial story saw Spider-Man's mind switched with that of his dying arch-foe Dr. Otto Octavius, aka Doctor Octopus. The twist is that with his final effort, Spidey was able to give all of his memories and morals to his body-stealing enemy.
In Quentin Tarantino's new film, Django Unchained, Jamie Foxx plays the title character, a freed slave turned bounty hunter searching for his wife and their plantation tormentors.
As is the case with all of Tarantino's films, Django Unchained is incredibly violent. We spoke to the director before the school shootings in Newtown, Conn., and before critics had taken him to task for the film's brutality. The film also is being debated for the way it brings humor to the story of slavery.
It's been a holiday week here at the old PCHH studios (I'm just kidding, that's completely not a thing), but we've got good news: we're offering the audio of our live show, which we recorded on December 15, in front of an incredibly patient and kind crowd.
This is FRESH AIR. I'm David Bianculli of the website TV Worth Watching, sitting in for Terry Gross. This week we've been revisiting some of our favorite interviews of 2012, and we conclude the week by presenting two more: Terry's visits with Stephen Colbert and Doris Day.
As part of our year-end wrap up, we are sharing the best Fresh Air interviews of 2012. This interview was originally broadcast on April 2, 2012.
The biggest female box-office star in Hollywood history, Doris Day started singing and dancing when she was a teenager, and made her first film when she was 24. After nearly 40 movies, she walked away from that part of her life in 1968, and started rescuing and caring for animals.
Workers pose for a photo at the Hoboken de Bie & Co. gin distillery in Rotterdam, Netherlands, circa 1900. By the end of the 19th century, cocktail culture had helped make gin a more respectable spirit.
Credit Three Lions / Getty Images
William Hogarth's Gin Lane (1751) was part of a campaign to reduce gin consumption in England.
Unlike a good martini, the story of gin isn't smooth; it's long, complex, sordid and, as Richard Barnett has discovered, it makes for tantalizing material. Barnett's newly published The Book of Gin traces the liquor's life, from its beginnings in alchemy to its current popularity among boutique distillers.
Barnett joins NPR's Renee Montagne to discuss the medicinal origins and changing reputation of gin.
There is a major decision coming up that will truly define the year 2012. Yes, it's almost time for the American Dialect Society to once again vote on the Word of the Year. Will it be selfie? Hate-watching?Superstorm? Double down? Fiscal cliff? Or (shudder) YOLO?
The publishing industry has been in flux for years. First chain stores, then Amazon, then e-books — many forces have combined to create dramatic change in the traditional publishing model.
Mike Shatzkin is the founder and CEO of the publishing industry consulting firm Idea Logical. He says one of the biggest changes happening in publishing right now is the planned merger of two of the biggest players in the field, Penguin and Random House — with whispers of further mergers to come.
Have you ever borrowed an e-book from a library? If the answer is no, you're a member of a large majority. A survey out Thursday from the Pew Internet Project finds that only 5 percent of "recent library users" have tried to borrow an e-book this year.
About three-quarters of public libraries offer e-books, according to the American Library Association, but finding the book you want to read can be a challenge — when it's available at all.
Amanda Cohen is the chef-owner of Dirt Candy, a vegetable-focused restaurant in New York City.
Credit Courtesy of Clarkson Potter
Credit Clarkson Potter
Dirt Candy, A Cookbook: Flavor-Forward Food From the Upstart New York City Vegetarian Restaurant is a graphic novel, vegetarian cookbook and memoir — all in one.
Credit Clarkson Potter
Cohen was reluctant at first to write a book — she'd seen too many other chefs get distracted by their cookbooks. Her husband joked: "You may as well do something idiotic like write a comic book cookbook!" — and so she did.
The Ones That Got Away series: There were so many good arts and entertainment stories in 2012 that we couldn't get around to reporting on everything as it was released. So this week, our arts reporters are circling back to look at books, movies, TV shows and trends that we should have paid more attention to.
Amanda Cohen's Dirt Candy is a graphic novel, vegetarian cookbook and memoir. But because it's all of those things, it's also not exactly any of them — so it fell between the cracks.
So I'm wondering, how often have you actually counted your chickens before they'd hatched, or maybe thrown up a single stone and then hit two birds, not to mention having one of those critters in your hand that was worth two of them in the bush. Cliches are very often denounced as the most over-used and contemptible phrases in the English language.
As part of our year-end wrap up, we are sharing the best Fresh Air interviews of 2012. This interview was originally broadcast on July 16, 2012.
Aaron Sorkin's HBO drama The Newsroom follows the inner workings of a fictional cable network trying to challenge America's hyperpartisan 24/7 news culture. It's a typical Sorkin drama, complete with fast-paced dialogue, witty scenes and a strong ensemble cast.
The most dangerous trait a woman can possess is curiosity. That's what myths and religion would have us believe, anyway. Inquisitive Pandora unleashed sorrow upon the world. Eve got us kicked out of paradise. Blight on civilization it may be, but female curiosity is a gift to narrative and the quality my five favorite heroines of the year possess in spades.
A screengrab from the "Kony 2012" online video about the Central African warlord Joseph Kony, which skyrocketed in popularity after its release in March. It was criticized, then forgotten, just as quickly.
Credit via YouTube
"JB Fan Video" got more than 1 million views in 48 hours. Within weeks, it was largely forgotten.
American bartender Harry Craddock mixes a drink at the Savoy Hotel in London in 1926. Craddock is known for helping to popularize the Corpse Reviver, one of the drinks featured in historian Lesley Blume's book about vintage cocktail culture.
Credit Chronicle Books
Lesley M. M. Blume is an author, journalist and cultural observer based in New York City. Her work has appeared in Vogue, Vanity Fair and Slate.
It's the holiday season and for some people that means celebrating with friends, family and cocktails. But instead of settling for the standard martini or Manhattan, author and historian Lesley Blume suggests you reach for a taste of bygone cocktail culture.
In Let's Bring Back: The Cocktail Edition, Blume outlines more than 100 lesser-known oldies that are both delicious and delightful. She joins NPR's David Greene to discuss cocktail history and how to make vintage recipes part of a modern-day party.
If Dick Wolf's record in television is any indication, his debut novel, The Intercept, could be the first of dozens.
These days, Wolf says, episodes of the Law & Order franchise he created run or rerun an average of 109 times a week. He jokes with NPR's Robert Siegel that one secret to the series' longevity is how many of the shows originally aired at 10 p.m.
"The reason it repeats so well, in my opinion," he says, "is because half the audience has fallen asleep and can't remember: How does this end?"