Chris Ferrie is a quantum theorist. On a lark he created a book to explain quantum physics to babies. He was surprised when he learned that his wife and children loved Quantum Physics for Babies, so he set about getting it published in paperback format. Then Mark Zuckerberg and his wife posted a picture on Facebook that showed the couple reading the book to their newborn child. That’s when the book really took off. It was so popular that he has now published a number of additional board books: General Relativity for Babies, Newtonian Physics for Babies, Rocket Science for Babies, Optical Physics for Babies, and Quantum Entanglement for Babies. Of course a newborn won’t actually be able to understand the ideas in the books, but they’re cute gift ideas for newborns as well as for those of us who are physics-ly challenged.
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Being a ghostwriter can be quite lucrative, but there’s a downside to it as there is with most things in life. Andrew Crofts, who has ghostwritten many books, discusses the positives and negatives in a Times Literary Supplement article.
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“In theory, book clubs are supposed to be about reading and discussing books. In practice, they are often more about hanging out with a group of people, drinking, gossiping, and generally having a nice evening. Depending on the percentage of the group that has actually read the book, it may be discussed, or it may not. The book is the excuse, not necessarily the point.”
That’s the way many book clubs are today, but have they always been that way? You can learn a lot about the early days of book clubs in an interesting article at the Atlas Obscura website. You should also check out the site while you’re there.
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Nancy Pearl, “America’s librarian,” has issued her reading recommendations for this summer. You can read the list here. Be sure to check out other recommendations by Ms Pearl at the end of the article.
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In my last “Lagniappe” post I asked you to name two things that Sigmund Romberg, Rudolf Friml, Jerry Bock, Sheldon Harnick, Alan Jay Lerner, Frederick Loewe, Richard Rodgers, Oscar Hammerstein II, Lorenz Hart, Leonard Bernstein, Steven Sondheim, Irving Berlin, George and Ira Gershwin, Jerry Herman, Burton Lane, Yip Harburg, and Jerome Kern have in common. I provided the answer during the June 4th edition of Music on the Sunny Side on WBRH. The answer, in case you missed the show, is that they all wrote the music and/or lyrics for well-known Broadway musicals, and they are all Jewish.
One of the few non-Jewish Broadway greats during the golden age of Broadway was Cole Porter (1891 – 1964). Porter wrote both the music and lyrics for his shows. And what lyrics! They are often labeled as “sophisticated,” though I think a more appropriate word would be “catchy” – more so than the lyrics of any other Broadway songwriter. Porter loved to ride horses, but unfortunately, his right leg was crushed when his horse fell on him in 1937. Though he had 34 operations and endured ceaseless pain over many years, he was still able to produce some of the most remarkable and upbeat Broadway music ever written. Finally, his leg had to be amputated in 1958. He lived for six more years, but never wrote another song.
During the July 2nd edition of Music on the Sunny Side I’ll present five numbers from five different Porter musicals to demonstrate the remarkable talent of this gifted songwriter. The show airs between 8:00 a.m. and 11:00 a.m. CT. If you’re in the Baton Rouge, Louisiana area, you can listen at 90.3 FM. We’re also on the internet at WBRH.org.
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The next edition of the live author interview program In-Depth on Book TV (C-SPAN2) will air Sunday, July 2, 2017 from noon to 3:00 p.m. ET. The featured guest will be author, journalist, and history professor Herb Boyd. His books include Black Detroit: A People’s History of Self-Determination and By Any Means Necessary Malcolm X: Real, Not Invented.