What We Are Reading Today: Japanese Tales of Lafcadio Hearn

Updated 16 June 2019

What We Are Reading Today: Japanese Tales of Lafcadio Hearn

Introduced, edited by Andrei Codrescu

Lafcadio Hearn (1850–1904) was one of the 19th century’s best-known writers, his name celebrated alongside those of Mark Twain and Robert Louis Stevenson. Born in Greece and raised in Ireland, Hearn was a true prodigy and world traveler. He worked as a reporter in Cincinnati, New Orleans, and the West Indies before heading to Japan in 1890 on a commission from Harper’s. There, he married a Japanese woman from a samurai family, changed his name to Koizumi Yakumo, and became a Japanese subject. An avid collector of traditional Japanese tales, legends, and myths, Hearn taught literature and wrote his own tales for both Japanese and Western audiences. Japanese Tales of Lafcadio Hearn brings together 28 of Hearn’s strangest and most entertaining stories in one elegant volume. Hearn’s tales span a variety of genres. Many are fantastical ghost stories, such as “The Corpse-Rider,” in which a man foils the attempts of his former wife’s ghost to haunt him.
Throughout this collection, Hearn’s reverence for Japan shines through, and his stories provide insights into the country’s artistic and cultural heritage.


What We Are Reading Today: Under the Influence by Robert H. Frank

Updated 27 January 2020

What We Are Reading Today: Under the Influence by Robert H. Frank

Psychologists have long understood that social environments profoundly shape our behavior, sometimes for the better, often for the worse. 

But social influence is a two-way street— our environments are themselves products of our behavior. Under the Influence explains how to unlock the latent power of social context. 

It reveals how our environments encourage smoking, bullying, tax cheating, sexual predation, problem drinking, and wasteful energy use. We are building bigger houses, driving heavier cars, and engaging in a host of other activities that threaten the planet — mainly because that’s what friends and neighbors do.

In the wake of the hottest years on record, only robust measures to curb greenhouse gases promise relief from more frequent and intense storms, droughts, flooding, wildfires, and famines. Robert Frank describes how the strongest predictor of our willingness to support climate-friendly policies, install solar panels, or buy an electric car is the number of people we know who have already done so. In the face of stakes that could not be higher, the book explains how we could redirect trillions of dollars annually in support of carbon-free energy sources.