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Books We Love: 3 recommendations for a non-fiction read

DANIEL ESTRIN, HOST:

You might be swimming through salt water this summer or chlorinated water or maybe a deep pool of books. And maybe you're not sure what to read. Well, we got you covered. NPR's Books We Love, Summer Edition, has all kinds of suggestions from our staff - today, some of the best nonfiction from 2022 so far. Our cultural correspondent Neda Ulaby kicks us off with "Making Videogames: The Art Of Creating Digital Worlds" by Duncan Harris and Alex Wiltshire.

(SOUNDBITE OF STREAMBEATS BY HARRIS HELLER'S "BASEMENT TAN")

NEDA ULABY, BYLINE: I picked this book because I am not a video game person, but I am an art lover. And the thing is, I feel really, profoundly disconnected from the world of video games, which is a world I understand is really important and that I really respect. So I wanted to find a way in that I could understand.

(SOUNDBITE OF STREAMBEATS BY HARRIS HELLER'S "BASEMENT TAN")

ULABY: I'm a sucker for a gorgeous coffee table art book, and that's what this book is. And what it does is it lays out how math and design collude to create an incredibly immersive visual experience. So you might be startled, as I was, to learn how the heightened naturalism of the Hudson River school inspired the look of a celebrated game called Red Dead Redemption 2, which is sort of an alternate history Western, or how the beautiful, atmospheric fighting in the game Control is drawn from the movies of Nicolas Winding Refn, who did the movie "Drive." I'd never before consider the artistry that goes into creating the textures of somebody's shining hair or a creature's ruffling fur or how the patina of a rusted spaceship transports a gamer more deeply into another world.

(SOUNDBITE OF STREAMBEATS BY HARRIS HELLER'S "BASEMENT TAN")

BRONSON ARCURI, BYLINE: This is Bronson Arcuri. I'm a producer on the visuals team. And the book I'd recommend is "The Nineties" by Chuck Klosterman.

(SOUNDBITE OF BLACK INTELLIGENCE AND NAS SONG, "NY STATE OF MIND, PT. 2")

ARCURI: See, I was a kid back in the '90s, and this book finally took me through that decade for the first time as an adult. And finally, everything going on in 2022 fell into place. It was like I'd been watching the second season of a TV show and I finally got to catch up on the first one. I think if you were there, "The Nineties" is a perfect refresher on what that decade was really like. And if you were too young, they tell you everything you need to know.

(SOUNDBITE OF BLACK INTELLIGENCE AND NAS SONG, "NY STATE OF MIND, PT. 2")

JANET WOOJEONG LEE, BYLINE: Hello there. I'm Janet Woojeong Lee, a producer on It's Been A Minute. The book I want to share with everyone is "Korean American: Food That Tastes Like Home."

(SOUNDBITE OF STREAMBEATS BY HARRIS HELLER'S "SAN ANDREAS")

LEE: It's the debut cookbook from New York Times cooking writer Eric Kim. In the book, Eric starts by introducing Korean pantry essentials like the different jangs, or pastes, to kimchi. Then, he moves into comfort food recipes with his own twist - sweets like his homemade milk bread or something a little more savory like red-pepper salmon.

(SOUNDBITE OF STREAMBEATS BY HARRIS HELLER'S "SAN ANDREAS")

LEE: What I love about Eric's writing in this book is that every recipe is peppered with stories from his childhood in Atlanta and his loved ones who have influenced his cooking. And even if you aren't really into food, I would say it's really a memoir accompanied by food. It'll make you smile, make you feel hungry, and take you back to your childhood kitchen. It's just a really lovely read, and I hope you enjoy it.

(SOUNDBITE OF STREAMBEATS BY HARRIS HELLER'S "SAN ANDREAS")

ESTRIN: You heard NPR staff recommending "Making Videogames," "The Nineties" and "Korean American: Food That Tastes Like Home." For more ideas on what to read - cookbooks, nonfiction, historical fiction, whatever you're interested in - dive into our books We Love list at npr.org/bestbooks.

(SOUNDBITE OF STREAMBEATS BY HARRIS HELLER'S "SAN ANDREAS") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Neda Ulaby reports on arts, entertainment, and cultural trends for NPR's Arts Desk.
Bronson Arcuri is a video producer at NPR, where he directs the "Planet Money Shorts" video series and helps out with Tiny Desk Concerts from time to time. He also produced "Elise Tries" and "Ron's Office Hours" along with the "Junior Bugler" series, which he still insists was "pretty good for what it was."
Janet W. Lee
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