What to Read and Listen to This Weekend: Writers, Inventors, and Pink Martini

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PinkMartini byAutumndeWilde What to Read and Listen to This Weekend: Writers, Inventors, and Pink Martini

1. Una Notte a Napoli, by Pink Martini: Music guaranteed to make you happy. If you’re not familiar with Pink Martini, check them out immediately. 13 piece orchestra singing music across many languages and genres. Lush, sophisticated, and presided over by the world’s most unassuming diva, China Forbes (that’s her in the ballgown up top).

2. When Does a Writer Become a Writer?, by Betsy Morais in the Atlantic: I’ve noticed that many readers of this blog are writers of one form or another, so thought this question would interest you. Of course, it applies to all things creative — when do you get to claim the identity of the thing you most love to do? Is it enough to practice your craft regularly, or do you need the validation of the outside world to make it “real”? I wrote for years in every conceivable genre (memoir, plays, poetry) before trying to publish anything, and always hesitated to call myself a writer even though I felt since I was a kid that that’s who I was. How about you?

3. Reinventing the Inventor, by Lev Grossman: Fascinating piece on inventors vs. optimizers. You need a subscription to Time Magazine to read the full piece, but the link I gave you is a great summary from the Lavin Daily. (Full disclosure: The Lavin Daily is penned by my friend Charles Yao.)

And here’s an excerpt from the actual article:

“…Tell me what you think of when you read the word inventor…I’ll tell you what I think of: a little guy with white hair and a white lab coat from an old Disney cartoon. He’s tinkering with an old-fashioned computer — you can tell it’s a computer because it has a lightbulb sticking out of it. He looks like Christopher Lloyd in Back to the Future…It wasn’t always like this. Inventors used to be cool….

We live in an age when inventors are cheap. They’re a necessary evil, a manufacturing by-product to be discarded as soon as their patents are safely in the hands of the optimizers. But let’s take a second to remember how much we need them. A lot of the things you’ll see in this feature aren’t pretty; it’s a rough draft of the future, unoptimized. One day someone like Jobs will take it as raw material to be tamed and refined and turned into something that will change the world. But not yet. This is the uncut, unprocessed ore of invention, straight from the idea guys, who got it straight from the gods themselves.”

Let me know what you think of this week’s picks! And have a great weekend.

P.S.: This morning the Diane Rehm show broadcast an interview with me and several others, on shyness and social anxiety, for the third time! You can listen to it here.


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  1. Esha on 27.11.2011 at 01:22 (Reply)

    OMG! Pink Martini! As an introvert, I don’t usually OMG, but that video link is so swell … yes, will be getting that album! What a super recommendation! (And they’re from Portland, Oregon? Who knew?) Can’t wait to see what Pandora does with the Pink Martini channel!

    BTW: I would love to pre-order your book just to add to the buzz it deserves, but I’m having trouble deciding whether to get the book-book or the Kindle version. Does the book have a lot of formatting, e.g. separate boxed lists and/or highlights (which tend to be less successful in Kindle format), or is it mostly straight text? Not to worry, however … will be getting it regardless.

    Am off to listen to the Diane Rehm interview … I don’t often comment as it seems so anti-introvert-ish but I check your blog every day. You kinda gave me back my life … I had no idea that I am the way I am because I am an introvert, and that there’s nothing wrong with being that way!

    1. Susan Cain on 27.11.2011 at 22:47 (Reply)

      Hi Esha,

      nope i wouldn’t say the book has a lot of formatting — mostly straight text. and, what a perfect description of Pink Martini — swell is the exact right word. (I listen to the Pink Martini channel on Pandora all the time, btw!)

      i’m so glad you like the blog. historically i haven’t commented much either, even on blogs I read regularly, but now that I have my own blog I know that comments actually mean a LOT to the author — so thx.

      1. Esha on 30.11.2011 at 09:05 (Reply)

        Thank you for your response! I have pre-ordered the Kindle version (can’t wait!) and downloaded a bunch of Pink Martini (total fun!)

  2. Don on 30.11.2011 at 09:31 (Reply)

    Hi Susan –

    First, I would like to thank you for helping me discover the real “me.” By bringing introverts (a term/trait of which I was completely ignorant of) to the fore, for me anyway, has validated who I am. I don’t need to feel “odd” about not wanting to go to that party, or over-socialize, etc, etc. I am eagerly looking forward to the release of “Quiet.”

    Secondly, I work in publishing on an island off the coast of Mass. and am always looking for new music (on Rhapsody) to listen to while I work. Your “Pink Martini” recommendation is spot on! Nice, very nice. Also, I’m an avid listener of NPR and heard your interview with her last week. I tended, at times, not to agree with some of the other guests on their comments, in particular about the introvert trait of not having the ability to share in another’s successes. Maybe I misunderstood it, but I find that, for me, it is often the other way around.

    Anyway …. thanks again!

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