Daniel Levitin on Why Being Organized Is More Important Than Ever Before

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© Arsenio Corôa
Daniel Levitin's at Changing Hands Bookstore in Phoenix this week.

Daniel Levitin was in his 30s when he went back to college and got a degree in cognitive psychology, launching the career that has made him a best-selling author. His first book, This Is Your Brain on Music: Understanding a Human Obsession (2006), spent more than a year on The New York Times Bestseller List.

Not that Levitin was a slacker before that. He'd racked up more than a dozen gold and platinum records as a music producer and consultant, working with Steely Dan, Blue Oyster Cult, and Stevie Wonder. He also did pretty well as a stand-up comedian and joke writer, performing at the 1984 Democratic National Convention in San Francisco with Robin Williams and at comedy clubs in California. And he played bass in a San Francisco punk band that opened for Bad Religion.

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Phoenix Center for the Arts to Host Summer Author Event August 16

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Kate Ter Haar via Flickr
Looks like your summer reading list is about to get a little longer.

On Saturday, August 16, Phoenix Center for the Arts is inviting bookworms and writers to meet and greet more than 30 local authors for the one-day-only Summer Author Event hosted by Write Market Design and the Phoenix Publishing and Book Promotion Meetup. This free gathering will give the literary community a chance to mix and mingle with veteran authors and recently published ones who are making their debut.


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Phoenix's Four Chambers Press to Hold Literary Flash Mob on the Light Rail

Categories: Events, Literary

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Jared Duran
Shawnte Orion reads during Four Chambers Press' recent "Festival of Literary Oddities," held at Bragg's Pie Factory.

When most people think of public art, the usual images of street festivals, sculptures, and decorative fountains come to mind. But for the minds behind Four Chambers Press, public art can be so much more.

For its latest endeavor, the year-old literary journal continues reaching out into the community with the Flash Your Fiction: Literary Flash Mob, a public reading taking place on the light rail, scheduled for Saturday, September 13. Beginning at the Central and Camelback light rail station and running all the way to the end of the line in Mesa, before returning to Central and Roosevelt, the event is both a sprint and a marathon for prospective participants.

As the journal prepares for the release of its second issue in October, Four Chambers co-founder and editor-in-chief Jake Friedman explained the magazine's public arm as simply another half of its mission, with the light rail being yet another realm of accessibility to broach in reaching the broadest audience possible.

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Tempe Author Elizabeth Maria Naranjo on Why Young-Adult Books Are for Everyone

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Courtesy Elizabeth Maria Naranjo/Evie Carpenter

Elizabeth Maria Naranjo is a petite woman with long, black hair that today she's pulled back, save for a few wisps that frame her face. She's personable, but not bubbly, and passionate without being overbearing. She alternates between sips of water and coffee and she is, as she'll later admit, understandably nervous -- this is her first face-to-face interview to promote her first book, The Fourth Wall.

The 235-page piece follows a young girl, Marin, who adopts lucid dreaming (a dream in which one is keenly aware he or she is actively dreaming) as a way to escape reality after her mother's death. She creates a safe haven, devoid of memory and sadness, but the dream becomes a nightmare, and something inside of it doesn't want her to wake up.

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Miles to Go's Promises to Keep Volume Two Now Available for Pre-Order

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milestogoclothing.com
With June more than half over and July just around the corner, it's high time you finalized your summer reading list. Fortunately for you, local clothing company Miles to Go, which silkscreens imagery from literary classics onto crew neck T-shirts and totes, has a few suggestions.

Make that almost 100.


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Comedian Annabelle Gurwitch on Aging Not-So-Gracefully and Performing at The Most of Lit Lounge

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Courtesy Annabelle Gurwitch
Annabelle Gurwitch on HBO's "Real Time with Bill Maher" in April.

Comedian and author Annabelle Gurwitch has a habit of turning the negative into positive -- or, at the very least, a lucrative book deal. When Woody Allen fired her from the cast of his off-Broadway New York production, Writers Block, in 2003, she created Fired, a collection of essays about getting canned from Tim Allen, Felicity Huffman, and David Cross to name a few. When her 50th birthday was fast approaching, she penned I See You Made an Effort: Compliments, Indignities and Survival Stories from the Edge of 50 a comedic call to action for the middle-aged that has made the New York Times bestseller list.

Her penchant for performing caught the attention of Tania Katan, the entertainer at the helm of SMoCA's Lit Lounge series and the second annual The Most of Lit Lounge event held on Thursday, June 26 at the Virginia G. Piper Theater at the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts.

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5 Life Lessons Learned from Maya Angelou

Categories: Literary, Poetry

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York College ISLGP via Wikimedia Commons
Maya Angelou died at her Winston-Salem, North Carolina, home on Wednesday, May 28. She was 86. Her artistic achievements included working as an actress, dancer, poet, and novelist, while her cultural impact as a creative voice and civil rights activist spanned both the globe and generations.

Some of Angelou's more significant historical moments include the 1969 release of her first autobiography, I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, working alongside iconic activists such as Malcom X and Martin Luther King Jr., and reciting her poem "On the Pulse of Morning" at Bill Clinton's 1993 presidential inauguration.

But perhaps the most memorable parts of Angelou are the words she left behind. Here are the five most valuable life lessons we learned from her.


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The Most of Lit Lounge Returns to Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts June 26

Categories: Events, Literary

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Amy Walker
New York Times bestseller Beth Lisick performs at Lit Lounge's debut event in June 2012.

Lit Lounge presents its second "Most of" edition, a sort-of best of round-up featuring prominent performers of both national recognition and local prowess. The conversation returns to the Virginia G. Piper Theater at 7 p.m. on Thursday, June 26.

Award-winning author and comedic performer Tania Katan is at the helm of the storytelling series. The cancer survivor and frequent TEDx speaker (and occasional Jackalope Ranch contributor) created the series in June 2012 to both media and audience acclaim.

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5 Must-Attend Literary Events in Metro Phoenix This Summer

Categories: Events, Literary

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conejoazul via Flickr

Local literature lovers are lucky that some excellent public libraries and two of the nation's best bookstores also call the Valley home. Here's a look at some upcoming literary events in our area.

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ASU to Host Chaucer Celebration on Friday, April 18, in Tempe

Categories: Events, Literary

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Portrait of Chaucer by Thomas Hoccleve in the Regiment of Princes (1412) via Wikimedia Commons
Portrait of Chaucer by Thomas Hoccleve in the Regiment of Princes (1412)
Every two years, the ASU English Department takes a day to celebrate Geoffrey Chaucer; the so-called father of English poetry was pivotal in bringing vernacular Middle English into the realm of literature, where French and Latin dominated during the Middle Ages. While his accomplishments might be old news (circa the late 14th/ early 15th century, to be exact), the free Chaucer Celebration at ASU's Tempe Campus promises to be one for the books.


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