NPR Staff

Instant ramen noodles are often looked upon with scorn as cheap food for starving college kids.

But as a new book points out, those noodles are like gold for people in prison.

Gustavo "Goose" Alvarez spent more than a decade locked up on a weapons charge, among others. And during that time, he grew to love ramen noodles. Along with a childhood friend, Clifton Collins Jr., he put together a new book of recipes called Prison Ramen: Recipes And Stories From Behind Bars.

In 2013, the actor Leah Remini left the Church of Scientology after more than 30 years. Her new memoir, Troublemaker, might make her the most famous former Scientologist to publicly criticize the religion. (The Church calls the book "revisionist history.")

The story starts when Remini was nine, growing up in Brooklyn. Her dad had just left, and her mom got a new boyfriend. He was a Scientologist. Her mom joined the church, too.

From El Salvador to Lebanon to Nepal, NPR has been exploring the lives of 15-year-old girls around the world. But what's it like to be 15 in the U.S.? To find out, NPR's Michel Martin spoke with three sophomore girls at Montgomery Blair High School in Silver Spring, Md.

Author Robert Galbraith just loves the band Blue Öyster Cult — in fact, lyrics from the band are all over his latest book, Career of Evil, the third novel in the Cormoran Strike series.

"To be honest, it's the guitar hook. I'm a real sucker for guitars," laughs Galbraith — otherwise known as J.K Rowling. "I've had a crush on many, many a guitarist."

For his third album as Neon Indian, Alan Palomo wanted to take his time. Born in Mexico and raised in Texas, the electronic artist came to music slowly and indirectly — despite having watched his brother learn voice and guitar from their father growing up.

This week, the Chinese government announced a major change: all Chinese families will now be permitted to have two children.

For 35 years, the nation's one-child policy shaped the lives of millions of people around the world — including Ricki Mudd.

Mudd is one of more than 100,000 children, mostly girls, who have been adopted from China since the early 1990s. But unlike many adoptees, Mudd knows her backstory.

She was born to a rural family, in a region where there was intense pressure to have a boy. So her family hid her away, hoping they'd have a son.

Pick a sound, any sound: A dog's bark, the crackle of pop rocks in someone's mouth, a stone skipping over water. Nick Koenig is a musician who says he can make music out of just about anything.

The presidential race is close; the gloves come off and the campaigns go negative.

Sound familiar?

That's the premise of the new film Our Brand Is Crisis — which is set in Bolivia, not the contemporary U.S. — and the competing advisers for the two campaigns in the movie include a legendary political strategist who looks a lot like Sandra Bullock.

You don't often hear "football" and "bel canto" in the same sentence. How about the same opera?

Even at 70, Rod Stewart has a singing voice unlike any other. Already one of the best-selling musical artists of all time, in the past 15 years he's become well known as an interpreter of songs from the past, in particular the American Songbook. But recently, he's grown ever more at ease with writing his own material once again.

In the mid-1960s a young David Hare was touring the U.S. in a somewhat unlikely way: He'd gotten a job cleaning and repainting a beach house for a therapist in Los Angeles, and she had arranged for him to stay with a succession of her patients as he traveled around the country.

"I knew what their problems were because I'd redone her filing system ..." Hare tells NPR's Scott Simon. "It certainly gave me a highly colored view of America for the first time."

Outer space is silent, and that may be one reason why a lot of movies about space have iconic scores — in addition to helping advance the the plot, the music in films like Star Wars and 2001: A Space Odyssey must fill a literal void.

In September 1975, Time magazine featured decorated Vietnam veteran Leonard Matlovich on the cover. His name was clearly visible on his Air Force uniform, and the headline read: "I Am a Homosexual."

Matlovich — who had come out in a letter to his commanding officer before the cover ran — was challenging the military ban on gay service members.

NPR Music editors have determined that phrases in 10 stories filed jointly on the NPR Music and WQXR websites were copied from other sources without attribution. They were written for NPR and WQXR by Brian Wise, the online editor at WQXR, a classical radio station owned by New York Public Radio. Effective Oct. 28, Mr. Wise resigned following the discovery of plagiarism in these stories.

Sure, our smartphones know a lot about who we are.

If you have an Android smartphone, you may not know that Google saves all of the voice commands you give it. They're archived online in your Google account.

If you play today's massively multiplayer online role-playing games — World of Warcraft or Final Fantasy, for example — you have a 1970s tabletop game to thank, says author Michael Witwer.

Witwer has just written a biography of Gary Gygax, the co-creator of Dungeons & Dragons.

"Even first-person shooters like Call of Duty have some of the roots at least in tabletop role-playing games," he tells NPR's Ari Shapiro.

In 1966, author A.E. Hotchner published Papa Hemingway, the memoir of his 13-year friendship and many conversations with Ernest Hemingway, who had taken his own life a few years earlier.

The book's publication was contested and controversial — Hemingway's widow, his fourth wife, Mary, went to court to block it. She failed, and the book came out.

Welcome to the third session of the Morning Edition Reads book club! Here's how it works: A well-known writer will pick a book he or she loved. We'll all read it. Then, you'll send us your questions about the book. About a month later, we'll reconvene to talk about the book with the author and the writer who picked it.

The World Health Organization made an announcement Monday that's likely to come as a blow to anyone whose favorite outdoor snack is a hot dog.

Processed meats — yes, hot dogs, plus sausage, ham, even turkey bacon — are cancer-causing, a committee of scientists with WHO's International Agency for Research on Cancer concluded. And it classified red meat as "probably carcinogenic to humans."

We'd like to visit a place that you've likely been before — maybe not in real life, but in your imagination. It's a land that inspired heffalumps and expotitions (yes, that spelling's correct). In real life, it's a forest in southeast England — but you know it as Winnie the Pooh's Hundred Acre Wood.

The setting is sort of the quintessential English countryside: Rolling hills, trees, squares of farmland, heather and gorse and a perfectly blue sky day — perhaps the only thing that's not very English about the setting.

For the pious Puritans of early America, witchcraft was a crime of the highest order.

Back then, the term "witch hunt" was not just an expression: In 1692, 19 women and men were hanged and one pressed to death with stones after being found guilty of witchcraft.

In her book The Witches, author Stacy Schiff follows the buildup of fear and outrageous tales of consorting with the devil. The witch trials were set in motion by two young Salem girls in the grip of strange and disturbing symptoms.

"The Unicode Consortium" may sound like the dark cabal of villains in a James Bond movie. And though they aren't plotting world domination in a volcano lair, they do hold a lot of power — over your text messages.

The Unicode Consortium's job has always been to make basic symbols work across all computers and other devices, but the emoji has put the group at the center of pop culture.

In the beginning, there was the blues. A while later, there was hip-hop. And then, in the early 1990s, the musical melting pot of G. Love and Special Sauce served up something called hip-hop blues.

Now, 10 albums in, G. Love and Special Sauce are still cooking with help from artists including DJ Logic, Citizen Cope, Ozomatli and David Hidalgo from Los Lobos. The band's new album is called Love Saves The Day, and frontman G. Love joined NPR's Rachel Martin from the studios of WBGH in Boston to talk about it. Hear their conversation at the audio link.

Lewis Carroll's Wonderland is a singular place. It's a place that symbolizes the beauty and strange, illogical nature of childhood; a place that has captivated children and adults for 150 years. This year, the anniversary of Alice in Wonderland has been celebrated in museums, and it's also being marked in literature.

What would you do if a stranger stopped you on the street, asked to take your picture and asked to hear your story?

For the past five years, photographer Brandon Stanton has been doing exactly that — on the streets of New York, no less — and thousands of people have said yes. Stanton has been not only collecting their stories and images, but also sharing them on his blog, Humans of New York.

A new James Bond movie tends to mean a few things: a new villain, two new Bond girls (one of whom may or may not be painted gold), and — perhaps most dependably — a new song playing behind the opening credits. Fifty years of Bond films has left much music to be analyzed, and the Oxford University Press does just that in a new book called The James Bond Songs: Pop Anthems of Late Capitalism.

Jamie Cullum, musician and BBC Radio 2 host, is constantly searching for the freshest sounds in jazz music. A frequent guest on Weekend Edition, he recently visited the program to share new music from Matthew Halsall & the Gondwana Orchestra, Daymé Arocena and Sons of Kemet. The sounds range from Coltrane-influenced spiritual jazz to acoustic club music informed by the traditional sounds of Ethiopia and West Africa.