Top Picks: Peter Robinson's mystery novel 'In the Dark Places,' Frank Turner and the Sleeping Souls' album 'Positive Songs for Negative People,' and more

PBS brings viewers to California's Monterey Bay, it's easy to see why actress Marion Cotillard earned critical acclaim for her performance in the film 'Two Days, One Night,' and more top picks.

American Masters PBS

Sports pioneer

The newest “American Masters” documentary from PBS showcases Althea Gibson, the first African-American to win at Wimbledon. Althea chronicles Gibson’s early life in addition to her achievements both within and beyond the world of sports. Did you know she recorded a jazz album and played a part in a John Wayne movie? “Althea” airs Sept. 4 at 9 p.m. 

Double mystery

In rainy Yorkshire, England, Inspector Alan Banks and his colleagues encounter a missing-persons case, a murder, and a tractor theft – all related, of course. The Inspector Banks series of procedurals is a popular one, but even new readers will have no trouble keeping up in Peter Robinson’s latest, In the Dark Places. Robinson offers a perfectly paced and satisfying mystery filled with just the right amount of menace and a believable cast of diverse male and female detectives. 

Working woes 

Marion Cotillard earned a well-deserved Oscar nomination for Best Actress for her work in Two Days, One Night. In the film, Sandra (Cotillard) must ask her fellow employees to forgo bonuses in order for her to get her job back. The brutalizing effects of the world economy on the working class, so prevalent in the news, get a human face on the big screen. “Two Days, One Night” is now available on DVD and Blu-ray. 

Live from the sea

Take a dive into the deep with Big Blue Live, a PBS and BBC coproduction that brings viewers to California’s Monterey Bay. Live programming will happen over three nights to show how the ecosystem of the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, with its diverse and captivating marine life, has rebounded. “Big Blue Live” airs on PBS from Aug. 31 to Sept. 2 from 8 to 9 p.m. EDT and PDT, and at www.pbs.org/big-blue-live. 

True troubadour

You gotta love Frank Turner, Britain’s answer to Bruce Springsteen, circa 1978. All passion, swagger, and heart-on-sleeve, Turner and his cohorts, The Sleeping Souls, leave it all on the field on their sixth – and best – studio album, Positive Songs for Negative People. The album starts and ends with two touching acoustic numbers, but the meat in the middle is pure FT, hard-charging and fully committed to the gospel of rock ’n’ roll.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.