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Lost and Found, Hold and Buy, The Final Countdowns

Very Short List delivers one excellent item to your inbox, daily: Books, films, music, web-things, and dispatches on science and technology. Click through to meet the real-life Indiana Jones, see a striking collection of web animations, and learn how to avoid overspending.

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VERY SHORT LIST

Lost and found
El Dorado Stanley and Livingstone Raiders of the Lost Ark
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NONFICTION
The Lost City of Z

Percy Fawcett spent almost 20 years mapping out the Amazon. In time, he convinced himself that the rain forest contained the ruins of a vast civilization, and in 1925, he disappeared in search of it. In the years to come, hundreds of adventurers would set out to find Fawcett — only to add their own names to the list of the missing.

In his first book, The Lost City of Z, the excellent New Yorker writer David Grann does more than follow in their footsteps: He also solves the mystery that kept Fawcett up at night.

It’s a thrilling story, and Grann — who received the close cooperation of Fawcett’s relatives and had unprecedented access to the explorer’s maps and journals — tells it beautifully. Brad Pitt’s already snapped up the film rights.

BUY The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon (Doubleday; hardcover; 352 pages)

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VSL:SCIENCE

Hold and buy
Loss Aversion Attachment Theory
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STUDY REVIEW
“You Can Look — but Don’t Touch”

If you’re looking to save while you shop, be careful around the merchandise: Cognitive psychologists at Ohio State University tell us that consumers who hold an object for 30 seconds or more are far more likely to buy it — and will pay more to do so.

The researchers split 144 people into groups and auctioned coffee mugs off to them. Within each group, some bidders got to hold the coffee cup for 10 seconds beforehand, others for 30 seconds. On average, subjects who’d been allowed to handle the mugs for 30 seconds bid 37 percent more than subjects who’d handled the mugs for only 10 seconds.

The study’s authors speculated that the higher bids stemmed from “loss aversion” — i.e., the sense of attachment generated by holding the cup. But then, that’s something that car salesmen — who urge you to “take your time” with each test drive — have known all along.

READ “You Can Look — but Don’t Touch”

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VSL:WEB

The final countdowns
The National Anthem Film Countdown 404 Error Gallery
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ARCHIVE
Pretty Loaded

Pretty Loaded’s creators call it “a tribute to a vanishing art form.” Which is to say, the site collects flash animations that tell you how long a page takes to load, and most of them are delightful.

The archived bits zip by quickly, in stark contrast to the days of dial-up service, when loading messages (or “preloaders”) seemed to take forever. The highlights include an inflating Trojan condom (it shoots offscreen when loading is complete) and an old-school preloader for Old School (it features Will Ferrell, naked and running in place). It’s a narrow but fascinating slice of Internet history; for once, you’ll enjoy the wait.

CHECK OUT Pretty Loaded

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