Author

Ben S. Dutka

Ben S. Dutka has 90 articles published.

figured it all out too late. He got his degree in Psychology and realized years later that he wanted to write for a living. He now has 16+ years of digital and print journalism experience and currently entertains an ongoing love affair with the greatest literary classics (he savored every page of "War and Peace" and thought it could've been longer, and he will finish Proust's "In Search of Lost Time"). He also loves crossword puzzles, tennis, the outdoors, and working on numerous novels. One of these days, one will get picked up...and when it does, the world will make a little more sense.

5 Healthy lunches for the time-crunched crowd

in Potpourri by

Yeah, it’s tough. Eating properly while on the run is a constant hurdle for those who put a premium on health. Work is as demanding as ever and you have less time than ever before. What to do? Well, here are some simple, tasty and healthy options for the busy professional on the go.       1. Lunch in a jar It may sound odd but it has become quite the Pinterest phenomenon. You just pack your lunch ahead of time and when noon rolls around, you’ve got a ready-made – and decidedly healthy – lunch. The options are almost limitless and they’re not restricted to lunch, either. Here are 27 more ideas that encompass breakfast, lunch and dinner. The…

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Can pickles cure your social anxiety? The experts say, “yes!”

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Crowds put you on edge. Walking down a crowded sidewalk can make you anxious. Even hanging out with a large group of your peers might be a little uncomfortable. Well, maybe the problem is that you’re not eating enough pickles. Yeah, you read that right. Pickles and other fermented foods offer a variety of health benefits and a recent study – as cited by Rebecca Rupp for National Geographic – indicates a link between fermented vegetables and the easing of social anxiety. According to the study, published in the August issue of Psychiatry Research, foods like pickles, sauerkraut and yogurt specifically target a person’s neuroticism. William and Mary psychologist and co-author of the study Matthew Hillimire said: “It is likely that the…

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Beneath the Canvas: 3 Books That Reveal What the Artist Meant

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There’s a kind of magic in a piece of art in that it contains more than what meets the eye. For this week’s selection, Vroman’s Bookstore in Pasadena, CA, founded in 1894 and the oldest and largest indie bookstore west of the Mississippi, has chosen to peer behind the canvas and reveal the deeper meanings in works of art. Our curator this week is book buyer Sherri Gallentine who has three gems you might want to add to your holiday wish list. The Master of the Prado by Javier Sierra (Atria Books; November 17, 2015) “Sierra’s unusual fictionalized memoir begins in 1990 when Sierra encounters a man in Madrid’s Prado Museum, whom he refers to as ‘The Master of the…

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Hidden History: 3 Books That Crack Open Past Secrets

in Non-Fiction by

We’ve all been thrilled by the hidden corners of history so deftly incorporated into the novels of suspense writers like Steve Berry and Dan Brown, but you don’t have to wait for your next thriller to discover them for yourself. Our history is a treasure trove of fascinating information, much of which remains hidden until we crack open a truly revealing book. If you’re looking to revel in the previously unknown, Copperfield’s Books has some terrific reads. Copperfield’s of California will celebrate its 35th year in 2016 and with bookstores in seven locations (and an eighth coming next year), they might be just around your corner. These picks were selected by Copperfield’s frontlist buyer Sheryl Cotleur: Ivory Vikings: The Mystery…

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A Better Tomorrow: 3 Books that Can Change the World

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In the words of the musical that wowed America Thursday night, “Don’t bring me no bad news.” It seems like that’s all we see in the headlines lately, but Odyssey Bookshop has the balm that heals: their selection of “Books that Can Change the World.” First opened in 1963, Odyssey Bookshop in South Hadley, Massachusetts is known throughout the state as a “unique place to look for books.” They even survived two major fires in the 1980s thanks to the assistance of the community and Mount Holyoke College and today, the anchor store of the Village Commons is still going strong. Manager and Fiction Buyer Emily Crowe turned to her knowledgeable staff for these selections: Trace: Memory, History, Race, and…

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Apocalypse Now: 3 Tales for the End of the World as We Know It

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From The Road to Armageddon, we’re riveted by apocalyptic tales. It goes well beyond the despair and explosions; we’re always intrigued when humans must face insurmountable odds. This is why our friends at McLean & Eakin booksellers have given us their favorite apocalyptic tales. One of the best independent bookstores in all of Michigan, they’ve got book clubs, numerous store events, and one heckuva staff. Previously, they delivered several fantastic summer lovin’ books and now, owner Matthew Norcross has given us three more must-reads. Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel (Vintage, 2015) “A Shakespearean troupe wanders the northern shores of lake Michigan after a pandemic has ravaged the world. Short listed for the National Book Award, this novel is…

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Going South: 3 Books That Explore Life Below the Mason-Dixon Line

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In The World’s Largest Man: A Memoir author Harrison Scott Key tries to explain the southern United States: “The South is a strange place, one that can’t be fit inside a movie, a place that dares you to simplify it, like a prime number, like a Bible story, like my father.” For our latest round of Shelfie picks, we return to our friends at Square Books, located in the historic town square of Oxford, Mississippi and boasting three separate buildings and its own café. Back in September, they gave us three great books to keep you up past your bedtime. This week manager Lyn Roberts is focusing on the rich tapestry of the South. South Toward Home: Travels in Southern…

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All in the Family: 3 Books that Explore the Ties that Bind

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There’s no getting around it—as we build toward the holidays we’re going to have to spend at least some time with family. To put it all in perspective we have three books about families in emotional crisis. There’s nothing like peeking at someone else’s family drama to appreciate your own family. This week’s recommendations are brought to us by Jill Miner, owner of Saturn Booksellers, a popular independent bookstore that has won the Michigan Retailer of the Year Award for small businesses and the local Chamber of Commerce’s Golden Pineapple Award for Best Customer Service. The Muralist by B.A. Shapiro (Algonquin Books, November 3, 2015) “During Roosevelt’s WPA program, artists were put to work creating large-scale pieces for public spaces.…

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Scary Stories: 3 Books for When the Halloween Candy Disappears

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As the moon rises on another Halloween night, candy is the thing. But as the festivities wind down – and the sugar rush is in full swing – you’ll want to settle down with a deliciously scary book. That’s when R.J. Julia Booksellers and general manager Lori Fazio step in to satisfy your craving. Going strong for over a quarter-century and winner of several major awards, including Publishers Weekly Bookseller of the Year and Connecticut Magazine’s Best Bookstore, R.J. Julia previously helped us out with some fantastic Y.A. titles. Now, they’re back with three diverse Halloween goodies: Illustrated Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling and Jim Kay (Arthur A. Levine Books, October 6, 2015) “What is Halloween…

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Everyday Heroes: 3 Novels about the Road to Redemption

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When facing life’s biggest challenges, even ordinary folk can become heroes. Events coordinator Sam Kaas of Village Books in Bellingham, Washington chose this week’s theme; “Three Tales of Messy Redemption and Defiant Perseverance.” He was influenced by the great Northwest writer Brian Doyle (Mink River, The Plover), who says that his books are about “ordinary, strange, flawed people who stare into the face of terrifying darkness, join hands, and march forward.” City On Fire by Garth Risk Hallberg (Knopf, October 13, 2015) “A massive, gritty, and ultimately triumphant novel, City On Fire follows an ensemble cast—artists, writers, journalists, cops, punks, kids—through six tumultuous months in New York City, from New Year’s Eve, 1976 to the devastating, city-wide blackout of July 13…

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Race Relations in America: 3 Books to Grow Your Empathy Muscles

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We don’t live in a post-racial America, no matter how much we might wish it were true. To understand what people of color live with on a daily basis, and to begin the kind of deep listening that might lead to change, The Elliott Bay Book Company recommends three books that explores topics so brilliantly discussed by Ta-Nehisi Coates. Located in the heart of Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood business district, Elliott Bay is home to more 150,000 titles. They’re known for their readings by famous authors and literary events throughout the year. Here are their recommendations: The Making of Asian America: a History by Erika Lee (Simon & Schuster, 2015) Recommended by bookseller Karen Allman: “The Making of Asian America brings…

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Unique Writing: 3 Books That Offer Fresh Forms of Prose

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Tired of the same old, narrative style? This week we offer three books that dive deeper and offer fresh prose styles, thanks to recommendations from our friends at City Lights Books in San Francisco. These books brilliantly employ unique methods of writing to bring their stories to life. One of the country’s largest independent bookstores and publishers, City Lights also has the distinction of being the nation’s first all-paperback store. It’s been five decades since the Beatnicks discovered Jack Kerouac at this book lover’s landmark, which is why the store masthead reads, “A Literary Meetingplace Since 1953.” This week’s selections are: Counternarratives by John Keene (New Directions, 2015) Bookseller Tân Khánh Cao says: “If I had to read one book…

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Going Home: 3 Books About Discovering the Truth About Family

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Can you really go home again? This week Full Circle Bookstore in Oklahoma City recommends three books about protagonists who discover something unexpected about themselves and what family means to them. Full Circle was established in 1970 and is still going strong as the oldest and largest independent bookstore in Oklahoma. It also boasts the largest selection of books about Oklahoma in the state. Manager Dana Meister and bookseller Mary Robideaux recommend three books where the biggest surprises come from people they thought they already knew: The Art of Crash Landing by Melissa DeCarlo (Harper Paperbacks; September 8, 2015) “This is about a girl [Mattie] returning home to her mother, who she thinks is just an alcoholic and a deadbeat.…

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Mighty Girls: 3 Young Adult Heroines to Cheer For

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Ask any teen girl—being an adolescent blows. Your body is changing, your world is changing, your friends are changing and adult independence is banging on your door. It’s hard enough when you fit in with the people around you, but coming of age with unique challenges is really tough. This week Katie Orphan, manager of Los Angeles’ The Last Bookstore, recommends three terrific Young Adult novels about mighty girls who conquer the world on their own terms. The Last Bookstore began in a small loft and has swelled to their current 20,000 sq. ft. space and yes, the name is an intentional message; independent bookstores continue to struggle against big chains and e-books. But The Last Bookstore is flourishing with…

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Can’t Put It Down: 3 Books to Keep You Up Past Your Bedtime

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We’ve all been there. The hour is late but the book is SO good. You tell yourself, “I’ll read for a half-hour and then it’s lights-out.” But that half-hour turns into one hour, then two. We might regret it when we’re downing coffee at an alarming rate the following morning but when lost in those riveting pages, we think of nothing but the story. That’s what Square Books in Oxford, Mississippi recommends this week: Books to Keep You Up Past Your Bedtime. Known for its great selection of literary fiction, excellent children’s section, and books on the American South, Square Books plays host to more than 150 author events each year and hosts the popular Thacker Mountain radio show. Here’s…

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So Gorgeous They Hurt: 3 Tough Tearjerkers Worth Every Tissue

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Sometimes you just want a book that shreds your heart and sheds your tears. This week BookPeople in Austin, Texas recommends three gorgeous books that will bring the feels in a major way. BookPeople is a well-loved landmark in Austin voted the best bookstore in Austin for 20 years, and voted Bookstore of the Year by Publisher’s Weekly in 2005. Their booksellers recommended these titles: Did You Ever Have a Family by Bill Clegg (Gallery/Scout Press, September 1, 2015) Recommended by Raul Chapa, inventory manager, who said: “This great work encompasses the vast emotional range brought on by considerations of mortality and a hopeful awareness: we are stories that live on in others. We are aware of some of them…

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