Education

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'Happy' Isn't So Happy, But It Packs A Punch

Feb 1, 2015

Every now and then, you find a book that's thinly plotted and has a slightly confusing, almost infuriating structure — but it's impossible to put down. The French writer Yasmina Reza has achieved exactly that with Happy are the Happy, a collection of twenty short, interconnected stories that crackle with emotion and playfulness.

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Transcript

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

What comes to mind when you think of Scandinavia? Great education systems? The world's happiest people? Healthy work-life balance?

One man, a British transplant living in Denmark, sought to set the record straight about his adoptive homeland.

Michael Booth is the author of The Almost Nearly Perfect People: Behind the Myth of the Scandinavian Utopia. He tells NPR's Rachel Martin about how culturally different Scandinavian countries really are.

If you know any college seniors, now might be a good time to send them some encouraging words. The class of 2015 can't be blamed if they're feeling a little worried: They're facing one of the most important transitions of their lives.

In a matter of months, they're about to launch from the relatively protected confines of college into the so-called "real world," where they have to find a sense of purpose — not to mention a paycheck. It's not hyperbole to say the decisions they make now will shape the rest of their lives.

Emily Hu is a veritable master chef of the dorm room.

No oven? No problem. The college student is skilled at navigating the cooking limitations of campus living — she can whip up cakes with just four ingredients and a microwave, and make muffins in a toaster oven.

Kid President has a vision for America, one of ferocious positivity. And corn dogs. Robby Novak — now 11 years old — and his older brother-in-law Brad Montague created the character in 2012.

In a series of YouTube videos, Robby appears in a suit and speaks to America from a cardboard Oval Office. He extolls the virtues of corn dogs, interprets Robert Frost, and delivers pep talks to America. The videos quickly became an Internet sensation, garnering tens of millions of views.

Last year, a poet arrived at the end of the earth: Jynne Dilling Martin spent six weeks, funded by the National Science Foundation, living in Antarctica.

She spent the summer (winter, to those of us in the Northern Hemisphere) shadowing scientists as they went about their work, and writing about the people who call the icy continent home.

Saturday is Boys' Bid Night at the University of Virginia, when fraternities welcome their new members.

Women from U.Va.'s sororities are always invited to join the Boys' Bid Night party, but this year, they're under strict orders from national sorority presidents to stay clear of frat houses. The orders come after a Rolling Stone article about a gang rape at U.Va. that was later discredited.

But the women at U.Va.'s sororities are outraged, calling the ban unnecessary and patronizing.

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

"Rule, Britannia" was written by Thomas Arne. Maestro, if you please.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "RULE, BRITANNIA")

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