books

Jeff Cohen

As the inaugural season of Serial comes to an end, speculation about the second season heats up. What will the story be about? Will it be another crime mystery?

Welcome to the first meeting of the Morning Edition Reads book club! Here's how it's going to work: 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. And about a month later, we'll reconvene to talk about the book with the author and the writer who picked it.

Ready? Here we go:

Look Into My Eyes / Creative Commons

In his new book, Jealousy, Peter Toohey explores the lesser talked about side of the green-eyed monster. That is, he takes a look at some of the ways that jealousy can actually be good for us. 

This hour, Peter joins us for a panel discussion about jealousy's impact on creativity. We take a look at how the emotion has fueled some of society's greatest books, plays, songs, and paintings -- and discuss what these works, in turn, tell us about ourselves. 

Chion Wolf

In a recent essay in the New York Review of Books, Tim Parks contrasted E.L. James, who wrote "50 Shades of Grey," with Haruki Murakami, a more critically-acclaimed literary novelist. Parks wrote that  both addressed "the individuals need to negotiate the most intimate relationships in order to get the most from life without losing independence and selfhood." Wow.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

We're talking about cowardice today and it makes me think of two people - Hector and Dr. Bones McCoy.

We claim to despise cowardice and to exalt bravery but in real life, I think we value balance a little bit more.

Hector, in the Iliad, is a much debated figure. He seems on occasion to lose his nerve. He also on occasion seems to do something brave mainly because he could not live down the dishonor of not being brave. I've always liked Hector.

Jedediah Laub-Klein/flickr creative commons

Faith's motto on The Book Show is: Life is short, but it can be ever so wide.

Join Faith and her book buddies for a call-in show recommending terrific books to read in all categories. If you're in a book club, please tell us what you've read and enjoyed.

Iryna Yeroshko / Creative Commons

Let's play a game. I'm going to name five things and you tell me what they are - "An Unnecessary Woman," "All the Light We Cannot See," "Redeployment," "Station Eleven," "Lila." They are the five fiction finalists for this year's National Book Award which will be given out this week.  Don't feel bad if you didn't get the answer - I wouldn't have either. My  connection to the nominees begins and ends with having picked up one of the five books from a table at - of all places - Whole Foods.

David Shankbone / Flickr Creative Commons

We live in amazing times. But where did all this stuff come from? And by stuff, I mean computers and the internet, and all the amazing platforms like Wikipedia, that exist on the internet. There are many answers to those questions. A common theme is, people who were very good at math. But that includes a woman, crippled by measles, living in the nineteenth century as the daughter of one of the most famous poets of all time, and a man living a hidden homosexual life in an era when that was a criminal offense, leading a team of code-breakers in England during WW2. Those were two of the most famous innovators investigated by Walter Isaacson.

Wikimedia Commons

You know lots of sociopaths right?

It could be anyone from your ex-spouse to the guy who cut you off on your drive to work today. It's a term we throw around loosely to refer to anyone whoever lied to us or didn't follow the rules. 

But, if we use it that way, it's not a very useful term. A sociopath is not the same thing as a jerk. In fact, the person you know who strikes you as a jerk is probably not a sociopath because it's not in the best interests of sociopaths to let you know what kind of people they are and sociopaths are usually pretty good about acting in their own best interests.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

If you know the name Kara Sundlun, you probably associate it with an especially sunny form of T.V. journalism. She co-hosts the show, Better Connecticut, and as the name suggests, it's about 98% dedicated to positive experiences.

Kara's own life has been more problematic. She grew up aware that her biological father was a man who refused to raise her or even have contact with her.

Only twice in American history has a son followed his father into the presidency. The first was John Quincy Adams. The second, George W. Bush, has now written a biography of his father, George H.W. Bush. It's called 41: A Portrait of My Father.

The 43rd president of the United States traces the life of the 41st from his youth in New England through his entry into the Texas oil business, combat during World War II, party politics, diplomacy, the White House, retirement — and skydiving.

Do you talk to yourself? Is it a silent inter-narrative or do you talk aloud? What form of address to you use to yourself?

When I'm mad at myself I sometimes address myself as Colin. But, I sense that when LeBron speaks to himself as LeBron, it's more affirming. 

I talk aloud quite a bit. A hangover, I think, from growing up as an only child.

The Spanish and Argentine novelist Andres Neumann has a new work, "Talking to Ourselves," in which he explores the solitary inner narrative that each of us conducts either silently, aloud, or writing a diary. 

Andrea López, flickr creative commons

Faith's motto on The Book Show is: Life is short, but it can be ever so wide.

Join Faith and her book buddies for a call-in show recommending terrific books to read in all categories. If you're in a book club, please tell us what you've read and enjoyed.

Tom Jervis / Creative Commons

First up on the Scramble today, writer and thinker Nicholas Carr, whose new book, "The Glass Cage" is about our blind surrender to automation. Most tellingly about the way we surrender (unthinkingly) control to sophisticated computer tools. 

You'll hear for instance, the story of a luxury cruise ship that ran aground on a sand bar because the GPS was spitting out wrong information and the entire crew ignored visual evidence that should have been a dead giveaway.

When comedian Amy Poehler was in her 20s, she read her boyfriend's journal and found out that he didn't think she was pretty.

"It was almost like an itch being scratched, which was, 'Aha! I knew that you didn't think I was pretty!' ... And then it was followed by a real crash because ... my ego was bruised," Poehler tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross.

Poehler says it taught her that the earlier you figure out your "currency," the happier you'll be. For Poehler, that meant not leaning on her looks to be successful.

Jedediah Laub-Klein/flickr creative commons

Faith's motto on The Book Show is: Life is short, but it can be ever so wide.

Join Faith and her book buddies for a call-in show recommending terrific books to read in all categories. If you're in a book club, please tell us what you've read and enjoyed.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

Whenever I see a production of Hamlet, I am newly floored by its impact on language, no matter how many times you tell yourself that a lot of our spoken language is in this play, you're freshly assaulted by how many things people say all the time that come from Hamlet. It's crazy.

But then there are all sorts of questions about staging Hamlet. There can be, and there have been many theories about what to emphasize in the play. Themes of sex, politics, indecision, suicide, and reality testing are either brought to the fore, or pushed to the back. No matter what happens on the stage, it's a really, really good story.

Survivors do it. Children do it. Retirees do it, too—begin again despite what came before.

Look around and you will see people returning to college in later life to earn a degree. You'll find individuals choosing love after the shock of a lying spouse. And then there are the lives of children.

Javie Delgado, Flickr Creative Commons

It's hard to improve on the poet, Rilke, who wrote, "Love consists of this, that two solitudes meet, protect, and greet each other." But did Rilke have to deal with Angry Birds and Snap Chat?

Lord Jim / Creative Commons

Kids today are so spoiled! Alfie Kohn says politicians, academics, and the media spend a lot of time instilling in parents the fear that they're ruining their children with too much love. 

But, Kohn says wait a minute! Instead of assuming we're spoiling kids who don't show grit, motivation, and a competitive spirit, maybe we should instead question those values we hold dear.  

Simon Fraser University

Why should we care about writing when texting is quicker and easier to bypass inflexible grammar rules that perplex even the most seasoned writers? Mixed metaphors, split infinitives, passive sentences, ugh!!

The daily lowdown on books, publishing, and the occasional author behaving badly.

Amtrak has announced the inaugural class of its brand-new writers residency program. Out of a crop of some 16,000 applications, the railroad service has picked just 24 writers to ride the rails on a long-distance train — and to write while they do so.

Anna Fox / Creative Commons

A couple of weeks ago, I was sick with the April flu, lying in bed in a New York apartment, and trying to distract myself by watching one of the film adaptations of "Nicholas Nickleby." I found myself repeatedly moved to tears, especially when anything good or kind happened. Okay, part of this was that I felt a little vulnerable, and may have over identified with poor tubercular Smike. But another part, I'm convinced, was the excitement generated by pure moral language, which you don't encounter so much in modern culture.

Gags9999 / Flickr Creative Commons

If you were dreaming up a new religion, maybe you wouldn't include the idea of hell. But in traditional forms of Christianity, even as they evolve, hell seems almost grandfathered in. They can't quit hell. Or can they? A 2013 Harris poll found that while 74 percent of U.S. adults believe in God, and 68 percent believe in heaven, only 58 percent believe in the devil and in hell, down four percentage points from 2005. Still, 58 percent! That seems like a lot.

Jedediah Laub-Klein/flickr creative commons

Faith's motto on The Book Show is: Life is short, but it can be ever so wide.

Join Faith and her book buddies for a call-in show recommending terrific books to read in all categories. If you're in a book club, please tell us what you've read and enjoyed.

David Masters/flickr creative commons

If you're in search of great reads, here's a list to get you started. Gina Barreca joins Faith to talk about the books many of us have forgotten about.  

Where Have All The Poets Gone?

Sep 5, 2014

For centuries, poets were the mouthpieces railing loudly against injustice. They gave voice to the hardships and evils facing people everywhere. From Langston Hughes to Jack Kerouac and Federico García Lorca — so many — verse once served as a vehicle for expressing social and political dissent. There was fervor, there was anger. And it was embraced: See, there was a time when the poetry of the day carried with it the power of newspapers and radio programs. It was effective, even as it was overtly political. What has happened?

Simon Cocks/flickr creative commons

Faith's motto on The Book Show is: Life is short, but it can be ever so wide.

Join Faith and her book buddies for a call-in show recommending terrific books to read in all categories. If you're in a book club, please tell us what you've read and enjoyed.

Katy Tresseder / Flickr: Creative Commons

Poetry, prose, sculpture, painting and music composition: Humanity's final frontiers beyond which no computer will ever go... right? Perhaps not. As technology advances and the dawn of true A.I. draws near, Machines are usurping creative domains once thought to be solely the province of man. 

For Inspiration Only/flickr creative commons

He wrote one of the greatest cartoon lines ever, a sentence that rocketed through the country like a speeding train: How about never—is never good for you?

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