WCSU

Ari Shapiro

It's the second week of 2018, and if you are still resolved to improve your life in this new year, Jolenta Greenberg and Kristen Meinzer may be able to help. They host a podcast called By The Book, and for each episode, they choose one self-help book and live by its rules for a couple of weeks. So they're well-equipped to tell us which of these books has actually improved their lives — and which ones to avoid.

Jerry Miller spent more than 25 years behind bars for kidnapping, rape and robbery — crimes he didn't commit.

Miller was released from prison in 2006. In 2007, after decades of insisting he was innocent, Miller was finally vindicated: He became the 200th American to be cleared by DNA evidence of a wrongful conviction. Today, that number is closer to 350.

Paul Kingsnorth's new novel, The Wake — a grim tale of medieval conquest and revenge — became a hit against all odds in the U.K. last year, and it's about to be released in the U.S.

I met Kingsnorth at his home in the countryside of far western Ireland. He and his wife grow their own food and home-school their two young kids. "I think we'll get bees and chickens, we hope, maybe something else," he told me, calling out to his daughter. "Lela, you want an alpaca, don't you? Lela wants an alpaca or a donkey or anything fluffy, really."

Detox diets come and go, like any other fad. In South Korea, one popular diet has staying power. It has been around for at least 1,600 years, ever since the founding of the Jinkwansa temple in the mountains outside of Seoul.

This Buddhist monastery sits at the convergence of two streams, amid twisting leafy trees and soaring peaks. It's one of many temples in the countryside outside of South Korea's capital. Each temple has its own specialty. Jinkwansa is famous for two reasons.

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

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

William Butler Yeats, one of the greatest poets of the 20th century, was born in Ireland 150 years ago this week, and across the country, the Irish are celebrating with public readings and festivals.

But his presence has never left rural County Galway, in far western Ireland, where Yeats spent many years, far from the big cities. And in turn, its landscape and spirit infuses so much of his poetry.

So it may not be surprising that a passionate nun in Galway has turned an old one-room schoolhouse on a country road into a small museum to Yeats.

On a recent winter's day in the village of Jukkasjärvi, Sweden, it's 22 degrees below zero — or -30 Celsius. Whatever you call it, it's way below freezing.

Sculptor Jens Thoms Ivarsson stands over a block of ice with a razor-sharp chisel, turning a bare room into an ornate Spanish mosque made entirely of ice.

Here, 120 miles above the Arctic Circle, sits a frozen institution: Icehotel, the original.

Lots of theater companies use animation and video projection. None uses it quite like the British troupe called 1927. The company has combined vintage style with sophisticated technology to carve out a unique niche in the theater.

1927's newest play, Golem, has just opened in London to rave reviews.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

What is the most cliched tattoo you can think of? Chinese characters? A tribal armband?

How about a Celtic knot? Those interlocking lines that look like ropes or basket weaving.

Last week I was in Ireland and decided to investigate the roots of this trend.

I spoke with Kevin McNamara at the Dublin Ink tattoo parlor.

"It would be a weird week in the shop if I didn't do at least, like 40," he told me. "That's not a literal number, but yeah, it's nuts."

Without Celtic knots and shamrocks, McNamara said, he would never have learned how to tattoo.

In Scotland, some long-time whisky makers are switching over to gin. In Germany, people who distill traditional brandies are doing the same. The world is in the middle of a gin distillery boom, and it is coming to America.

One place to find the roots of this boom is London, where 250 distilleries once existed in the city limits alone.

For Charles Maxwell, this story is personal. "My great-great-grandfather was apprenticed in the city of London in the 1680s to learn how to make gin," Maxwell says. "And from that day to this, we've distilled gin in London."

How do you memorialize an event that happened 100 years ago? Almost nobody is alive who witnessed the start of World War I. In England, at the Tower of London, an unusual artistic commemoration is blooming. Its name comes from a poem, written by an anonymous soldier in World War I: "The Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red."

It's a Wednesday afternoon in London and a bunch of kids are standing outside a West End theater, giddily unaware that their parents have just shelled out a lot of money for the experience they're about to have. A giant sign over their heads shows a silhouette of a girl standing on a swing, her hair flying behind her in the wind — it's a matinee performance of Matilda.

Crime writer Ann Cleeves puts it best in her novel Dead Water: "Shetland didn't do pretty. It did wild and bleak and dramatic."

The Shetland Islands are a damp and rocky place, with endless miles of green and gray. Humanity seems to cling to the land here like a few tenacious barnacles. "I love the idea of long, low horizons with secrets hidden underneath," Cleeves says.

Pages