The Speed of Sound

By Thomas Dolby (Flatiron Books)

From the beginning, Thomas Dolby’s memoir is an honest depiction of how life doesn’t always turn out as planned. The books starts with Dolby—the pioneering electronic musician behind hits like “She Blinded Me With Science”—attempting to pitch songs to Michael Jackson (yes, the King of Pop himself) from a pay phone outside Dolby’s tour bus in the middle of Nevada. Sadly, Jackson doesn’t retain the Englishman’s songwriting services. But instead of bemoaning his bad luck, Dolby accepts—as he does throughout his career, including when his first recording deal falls through—that the entertainment industry is a roller-coaster ride and that he would rather keep his head up and look for the next opportunity. This path leads him from his days as an MTV star to a software startup in Silicon Valley, and finally to his current position as a professor at The Johns Hopkins University. Filled with reminiscences about the likes of Foreigner, David Bowie, and Shane MacGowan, The Speed of Sound is an enlightening account of a man who has lived life at his own tempo.

See our full interview with writer Thomas Dolby.


Food Fight

By McKay Jenkins (Avery)

As GMOs—or genetically modified organisms like aspartame, sugar beets, and hydrogenated vegetable oil—have become prevalent in our food, their presence has ignited a contentious debate as the world decides whether these scientific advances are hurtful or helpful. Supporters say GMOs are our gastronomic future, as they have the potential to increase the food supply for an ever growing global population. Critics believe they are just another way for multi-national corporations to control our food system and make us more reliant on processed, unhealthy food. Baltimore writer McKay Jenkins, who teaches at the University of Delaware, explores this polarizing issue with great depth in his latest book. He takes the reader behind the scenes to scientists developing GMO crops for underserved areas and activists on the front lines of the fight to rid their communities of these engineered crops. Though Food Fight at times loses the reader in the depths of heavily detailed debates, Jenkins provides excellent context and analysis for a question we will grapple with for years to come.