Certain people heighten our senses, changing our perception of the world. Our breakfast tastes better. The air smells sweeter. The sun shines brighter. Like a newfound superpower, we see life pulsing through trees and grass. When with these people, every peach is perfectly ripe and, even if it isn't, it doesn't matter: it's the first peach you remember eating and it tastes indescribable. Time becomes a paradox: slow as a snail's pace, and yet when each moment is over, it somehow slipped by too quickly. Life is immeasurably improved. When lost to us for a day or a lifetime, a dull ache appears, successively enhanced and quelled by a touch of sunlight on our cheek and a bite of peach. Certain authors create a similar effect.

Read more

It was a rare 80-degree day in Acadia National Park. A friend and I ducked out of work early to hike a 6-mile loop: Otter Creek parking lot to Ocean Path, then the Bowl Trail and a fast up and down Gorham Mountain, with pitstops at Thunder Hole and Sand Beach. We figured it would take us three hours maybe, as half of the path is flat and the conditions were optimal. While wrapping up our Gorham Mountain descent and patting ourselves on the back for a hike well done, we somehow took a wrong turn and ended up on an unrecognizable section of the Park Loop Road. With no idea which direction would lead back to our car, we took a guess. A bad guess.

Read more

My last week was spent partying like a rockstar with my friends in a seaside mansion. Charmed life, right? Technically, we rented it for a work project, but since we spent days and nights blaring music, drinking champagne, and feeling like rockstars, the setting was appropriate for my latest read, Meet Me in the Bathroom: Rebirth and Rock and Roll in New York City 2001 - 2011, by Lizzy Goodman. This book was getting a lot of buzz in music press lately, so I picked it up without knowing much about it. The author studied romantic poetry and Greek literature, and (perhaps for that reason, or more likely following the footsteps of other rock biographies) chose to pen this book in an oral history style. Maybe

Read more

In 1991, Nirvana's Nevermind was released to glowing reviews and plenty of mainstream radio play, jumping to the number one spot on Billboard's album list. After a great Pixies show at the House of Blues in Boston a few weeks ago, I got thinking about how influential the Pixies were to bands like Nirvana, Radiohead, and The Strokes - but who influenced them? The best I could come up with was some vague references to 70s-era punk, but I knew there must be more to it. To fill in the gaps, I picked up a copy of Our Band Could Be Your Life: Scenes from the American Indie Underground 1981-1991 by Michael Azerrad. Now that I've been schooled in what it truly means to be "

Read more

Few authors deftly create characters as deeply human and mesmerizingly real as Haruki Murakami. Whether sketching biographies of quake victims in After the Quake, or capturing the derailment of a man's life in Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage, he is an undisputed master of his craft. In his latest collection of short stories, Men Without Women, Murakami transports us into the lives of lonely men suffering heartbreak and self-inflicted isolation. So genuine are these characters and their problems that we forget they are not long-lost uncles we have yet to meet. While all eight stories are beautifully poignant, two are stand-outs. In "Scheherazade," Murakami paints an unpredictably tender relationship between a man under house arrest (readers assume) and his appointed caretaker.

Read more