ALBUM| Like many of her roots-music elders, Lydia Loveless manages to convey deeply emotional material with a combination of delicate beauty that leans toward traditional country and big, brash hooks from the rock side of the street. Her new album REAL showcases the same sly humor and vulnerability that made her previous release Somewhere Else one of 2014's best, but this time songs like "Longer" and "Same To You" show a more confident Loveless, delivering tighter hooks through its 10 tracks from start to finish.
BOOK| I never heard of Noah Hawley before I got obsessed with the Fargo TV series, so pardon my obliviousness to his past novels. Better late than never, though, and his new book BEFORE THE FALL is a great introduction to his off-screen prose. What starts as a thriller about a plane crash and its survivors and casualties evolves into an often hilarious and always trenchant look at modern celebrity and news coverage. Given the sensational nature of our current presidential campaign, Hawley couldn't have timed his new novel better.
ARTICLE| The New York Times Magazine and journalist Scott Anderson do a remarkable job of distilling the past 13 years of turmoil in the Middle East — including the U.S. invasion of Iraq, the Arab Spring, the rise of ISIS and the ongoing refugee crisis — in the magazine-length "FRACTURED LANDS: HOW THE ARAB WORLD CAME APART." Told through personal stories of six people in Egypt, Libya, Syria, Iraq and Kurdistan, and accompanied by amazing photographs by Paolo Pellegrin, it will take you days to read, but it's worth every minute. The online presentation, including a virtual-reality film, is even better, and available at nytimes.com/section/magazine. ♦