books

Chion Wolf / WNPR

It's National Grammar Day, a time to take stock of the current status of the English language, and possibly get into bitter fights.

I'm old school. I'm the kind of person who will only use "not only" if I intend to follow it with "but also." That's probably a convention that died the quiet death of a feverish sloth many years ago. But I know what's right, and sometimes it feels like I'm helping to hold the language together even as it drifts into chaos.

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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.  

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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.

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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?

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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.

Hubble Space Telescope / Creative Commons

Scientists say that the asteroid that exploded over Chelyabinsk, Russia this past February was a rare event, unlikely to happen more than every 100 -200 years. But a recent paper in the scientific journal Nature said the earth should expect and plan to get hit by Chelyabinsk-sized asteroids more often-- maybe every decade or two.

This news sparked a flurry of talk about what that means for us on earth. How vulnerable are we and are we doing enough to detect and deflect asteroids?

Chion Wolf / WNPR

Today's show originally aired November 18, 2013.  

From Faith Middleton: Wally Lamb's books beat with a human heart.

Many people, especially Wally Lamb's fans, recall that his first novel, She's Come Undone, was selected by Oprah's book club. But what I remember is the experience of riding in the New York subway, and seeing so many people bumping along, engrossed in his story. On one occasion, these subway readers, strangers to each other, started a discussion about the book—possibly the first underground book club. 

The news from former Defense Secretary Robert Gates' interviews with NPR and other news outlets — notably, how he uses a new book to criticize many in the White House — has now been widely reported.

But we also want to point to two passages in his conversation with Morning Edition host Steve Inskeep that particularly struck us.

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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.

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This hour, we talk with neuroscientist James Fallon. He found something shocking when he was looking at brain scans of serial killers. We’ll talk about his book The Psychopath Inside: A Neuroscientist’s Personal Journey into the Dark Side of the Brain and what his research might tell us about Sandy Hook shooter Adam Lanza.

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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.

Daniel Menaker

If you read magazines and live on the North half of the East Coast there is a good chance that you believe that The New Yorker is the ne plus ultra of magazine writing and if you believe that there's a good chance you run around using phrases like ne plus ultra.

With The New Yorker's Olympian status goes a certain preciousness One of the reasons there's nothing else quite like The New Yorker is The New Yorker deeply believes that to be true and communicates it to us in subtle ways. 

Mark Milloff

When he’s not playing professor at the Rhode Island School of Design, artist Mark Milloff sculpts, paints, and envisions gigantic pastel drawings. He also moonlights as a musician. But all things being equal, he’d rather be fishing.

Chion Wolf

We’ve spent a lot of time talking about the epidemic of injury in the game of football - concussions and traumatic brain injuries… but have you ever asked yourself why football helmets are designed the way they are? And how better helmet design might actually have made the game more dangerous? And while you’re at it, have you considered “the divine randomness of prolate spheroid?” That’s science talk for the unlikely evolution for the shape of the football.  

Mark your calendars: According to some scholars, the next time it might happen is the year 79,811. I'm talking, of course, about the hybrid holiday of Thanksgivukkah, a melding of Thanksgiving and the Jewish Festival of Lights. The Borsch Belt-style Pilgrim jokes and mishmash recipes (turkey brined in Manischewitz, anyone?) are flying around the Internet; but since Jews are frequently referred to as "the People of the Book" and Pilgrims pretty much lived by the Book, Thanksgivukkah seems to me like the quintessential (stressful) family holiday to celebrate by escaping into a book.

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Norman Rockwell. It's the day before Thanksgiving. Who else are we gonna talk about? Deborah Solomon (the same one who invented the "Questions for" format in the New York Times magazine) will spend the whole show talking about her new comprehensive biography of Rockwell.

Nicholas Dawidoff's Collision Low Crossers: A Year Inside the Turbulent World of NFL Football may be the best book I've ever read about football. It is certainly the most detailed account of the players inside the helmets and the coaches obscured from an enthralled public by large, laminated playsheets.

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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

From Faith Middleton: Wally Lamb's books beat with a human heart.

Many people, especially Wally Lamb's fans, recall that his first novel, She's Come Undone, was selected by Oprah's book club. But what I remember is the experience of riding in the New York subway, and seeing so many people bumping along, engrossed in his story. On one occasion, these subway readers, strangers to each other, started a discussion about the book—possibly the first underground book club. 

In the late 90s, before Dave Eggers wrote a bestselling memoir (A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius), before he penned the screenplay for Where the Wild Things Are, before any of his novels, he was a young guy sitting in his kitchen tearing open envelopes filled with literary submissions.

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

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Today's show originally aired September 12, 2013.

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.

Tag Him, Track Him, Hug Him, Love Him

Nov 7, 2013

In Dave Eggers' terrific new novel, The Circle, set at a California computer company, a cult of connection is slowly taking over the United States and spreading around the globe. An evolving cultural preference for constant sharing by way of computer and camera is turning any citizen's wish for privacy into a scorned, misanthropic secrecy.

Chion Wolf

Okay, this is sad. Like a lot of people, I have trouble achieving the deep focus needed to enjoy long fiction. And, like a lot of people, I have trouble finding time to read novels.

Recently, I came up with a solution. I go to the gym, get on a recumbent bike, and I read while I pedal for an hour, so yes,  I kill two birds with one Robert Stone.

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From Faith Middleton: Book Clubs call in, and so do individual readers, telling us which books are great reads in all categories—mystery, history, thrillers, romance, art, politics, science, biographies and memoirs.

Chion Wolf

If you listen to public radio, you know Frank Tavares. Colin McEnroe called him NPR’s Yoda, but you probably best know him as the voice of NPR.  He’s wrapping up his tenure as the voice that says, “This is NPR” after funding credits.  

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by Faith Middleton

We celebrate a book that reminds us of what a great read can do to light up your life. Will Schwalbe, author of The End of Your Life Book Club, found a way to write about the books he and his mother read together as her life drew to a close. It makes you want to set aside a year to read what they did, because such wise and caring people have to reflect the stories they read. This is a tribute to the power of reading in our lives, the way it opens conversation, touches the deepest parts of ourselves, entertains and enlightens us. It turns out that The End of Your Life Book Club is very much about living in the best possible way.

Alice Munro has been awarded the Nobel Prize in literature, the Swedish Academy announced Thursday morning. The academy often explains its decision — what it calls the "prize motivation" — with lush precision; recent winners have been praised for their "hallucinatory realism," "condensed, translucent images" and "sensual ecstasy." But for Munro, the committee came straight to the point: They called her simply "master of the contemporary short story."

This post was updated at 9:30 a.m.

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

Michael Childers

Fear of Flying sold 18 million copies worldwide and helped tip feminism into a new focus on fulfilled sexuality. But it also introduced a meme so pervasive that the book's author, Erica Jong, worried the phrase "zipless f--k" would appear on her tombstone.

Jong recenly defined the phrase on NPR's Weekend Edition:

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