Staff Picks: Flavorwire’s Favorite Cultural Things This Week

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Need a great book to read, album to listen to, or TV show to get hooked on? The Flavorwire team is here to help: in this weekly feature, our editorial staffers each recommend the cultural object or experience they’ve enjoyed the most in the past seven days. Click through for our picks, and tell us what you’ve been loving in the comments.

VB6: Eat Vegan Before 6 to Lose Weight and Restore Your Health by Mark Bittman

Here’s a rare non-fiction recommendation: I just finished Mark Bittman’s book VB6: Eat Vegan Before 6 to Lose Weight and Restore Your Health. I’m a fan of Bittman’s anyway and like what he’s trying to do to change the way people think about food both in terms of personal consumption and environmental impact. (Ignore the self-help-y title; it’s a smart, thoughtful book.) The premise is simple: Eating vegan before 6pm every day can radically change your health and is better thought of as a lifestyle change than a diet. It doesn’t require constant self-denial or deplete all of your willpower, but it systematically introduces more fruit and vegetables into your everyday meals. It also addresses the moral and ethical questions of how we raise and kill animals for food and what is sustainable in the long run. — Elizabeth Spiers, Editorial Director

Fantasy by Lightning Dust

I’ve been digging Lightning Dust’s upcoming third album, Fantasy. The duo, Amber Webber and Joshua Wells, have shed the folky sounds of their previous records as well as the heavy-hitting stoner rock of their other band, Black Mountain. On Fantasy, the pair bring in a synth-heavy sound that blends nicely with Webber’s wavering, delicate voice. It’s an intimate listening experience, but one that packs a surprising punch. The lead single, “Diamond,” is a strong contender for the best song in the last year to include the refrain, “Shine bright like a diamond.” — Tyler Coates, Deputy Editor

House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski

I’m probably late to the party with this — and I haven’t finished it, so don’t spoil the ending — but over the last week I’ve been absolutely devouring Mark Z. Danielewski’s House of Leaves. (Sorry, I mean “house.”) Experimental fiction has a tendency to disappear up its own ass at times, but this is pretty amazing; it’s a compelling and supremely creepy story, and also an exploration of the nature of fiction and storytelling itself. — Tom Hawking, Music Editor

Attempting Normal by Marc Maron

I just finished reading Marc Maron’s terrific new book Attempting Normal, which is, thankfully, not another one of those “stand-up comic transcribes their act and sells it to you” books. Maron isn’t that lazy — and he prides himself on being something of an intellectual, which is luckily backed up by the fact that he’s quite a fine writer. Those who listen to his WTF podcast will recognize his distinctive voice in the prose — a little bitter, a little needy, a little self-loathing, but well-intentioned and self-aware — and while the book utilizes that voice, as well as the storytelling skill of his live act, he still manages to carve out a literary style that is complimentary yet self-sufficient. And, bonus, it’s very, very funny. — Jason Bailey, Film Editor

Modern Vampires of the City by Vampire Weekend

Vampire Weekend’s new album started streaming in full on iTunes yesterday, and I’ve been listening to it since. As they’re one of my favorite bands, it’s naturally been a hard wait, but it was well worth it. MVOTC is a fantastic listen, and there are some gorgeous tracks here. Because they’re not named in the stream, here are the time stamps for my favorite tracks so far: “Unbelievers” (4:12) “Step” (7:34) “Ya Hey” (31:47) And the exceptional “Hannah Hunt” (17:59) — Chloe Pantazi, Editorial Intern

In the House directed by François Ozon

Ozon has been among my favorite directors for years, for his ability to dramatize the pathos of family, sex, and creativity through stories that are both perceptive and surprising. Following a teenage boy of mysterious origins who becomes obsessed with his dim classmate’s middle-class family — and the teacher who, in turn, becomes obsessed with the boy’s accounts of his forays into their home — In the House is about what happens when real life blurs with fiction and a good story takes the place of real, human emotion and relationships. — Judy Berman, Editor-in-chief

Girl Model, directed by David Redmon and Ashley Sabin.

You should try to catch Girl Model before it disappears from Netflix Instant. It’s not cheery viewing, but the way it quietly scratches the surface of industry problems provides a necessary, stark contrast to the glorified presentation of the business on American reality television. Led by a jaded former model who can’t extract herself from the industry that once exploited her because it has made her rich, the documentary shows model scouts (traffickers, really) shuttling impoverished, underage, underfed girls across continents with promises of big paychecks and fame. Girl Model presents the uncomfortable footage without commentary, which has maddened a lot of viewers. From the opening shot, snaking through a warehouse of pallid, skinny teens, to the journey of a 13-year-old Siberian girl as she is plucked from her village and fed to the youth-obsessed agents in Japan, the film makes you wonder about the reality behind the beautiful faces staring out from glossy pages. — Alison Nastasi, Weekend Editor

“The Sublime Cluelessness of Throwing Lavish Great Gatsby Parties” by Zachary M. Seward

Thank God someone said it. This article from The Atlantic delves into the extreme irony of fans throwing ’20s-themed benders and misquoting the book (see the Brooks Brothers ad above) just to sell more things. Best line: “It’s like throwing a Lolita-themed children’s birthday party.” Yeaaah. — Julia Pugachevsky, Editorial Intern