Books

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It's known on the street as Ecstasy, MDX, or Molly, but MDMA is now being tested as a way to treat the millions of Americans who suffer from chronic PTSD. Today, one of the premier drivers of MDMA research brings his mission to fund clinical trials to New England.

Then, fans of Downton Abbey know that it takes a well-oiled domestic staff to keep a British estate looking pristine. We’re taking deeper look into the history of British servitude...and cleaning.

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The word vitamin has only been around for just over 100 years.  But now vitamins are a $36 billion dollar-a-year industry. Today, the history and science behind a mostly unregulated market.

Plus, can a dress shirt be racist?  An online retailer has come up with an algorithm they say ensures a near-perfect fit... But part of that data set includes ethnicity, prompting questions about the connection between ethnicity and biology.

4.18.16: Small Bombs & the Penny Poet of Portsmouth

Apr 18, 2016
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In the age of global terrorism, some attacks get more attention than others. We got blanket coverage of coordinated bombs in Brussels, but little on explosions in Turkey just nine days before or the devastating suicide bomb in Iraq a week later. Today, the far-reaching effects of "small" bombs - those exploding in Middle Eastern and South Asian cities with alarming regularity that often go ignored.

Then, a writer reflects on her friendship with Robert Dunn, a character seemingly from another age, known as Portsmouth's Penny Poet.

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When we were growing up, eggs were eggs - packed by the dozen in cardboard cartons, consumers weren't all that picky about what they were taking home.  Walk into a grocery store today... And the choices are overwhelming. Today we decode grocery store egg labels.

Plus, a look at an app designed to split restaurant bills by inequality of wages based on gender and race.

On this episode, author, columnist and critic Olivia Laing. Her most recent work, The Lonely City, is part memoir, part searching exploration of loneliness and artists whose outsider experience inspired and fed  their creativity - from seeming social gadfly Andy Warhol to the reclusive Henry Darger. She is also the author of To the River and The Trip to Echo Spring.

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For decades, environmentalists have fought to keep plastic, glass, paper and other recyclables out of landfills where they’d sit for thousands of years…so, is recycling truly making a difference in the health of the planet? Today, some data that challenges recycling’s sanctified status.

Then, India’s government says it will clean up the horribly polluted Ganges, the river which supports ten percent of the world’s population. The first step: working with the Hindu belief that the Ganges is holy, self-purifying and the place to be buried. 

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A while ago came the news that the US is in grave danger of a clown shortage. Today we'll get a report from a clown convention and find out why membership is down, but why clowns are still unlikely to completely disappear. 

We'll also talk to a futurist about ectogenesis, or artificial wombs. Often referenced in science fiction, the idea of children being grown outside of a mother's body is inching closer to reality.

Plus, the latest 10-Minute Writer's Workshop with anatomical historian Alice Dreger. 

Alice Dreger is a historian of science, anatomy, and medicine, known for her work studying and advocating for people born with atypical sex disorders. She famously resigned from Northwestern University in protest of academic censorship, and gained some infamy on Twitter for live-tweeting her son's sex education class. We had a delightful chat with her about her writing process in advance of the paperback release of her book, Galileo's Middle Finger: Heretics, Activists, and the Search for Justice in Science.

Charles Wheelan on What Money Is and Why It Matters

Apr 5, 2016
alisonbowden14 / Flickr/CC

In his new book, economist Charles Wheelan untangles our complex monetary and banking systems, and why they've veered toward disaster at multiple points throughout our history.  Wheelan also highlights the role individuals, as well a financial institutions, have played in spurring economic prosperity and adversity.

The Caped Crusade, Dark Heart, & Alexander Chee

Mar 25, 2016
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Today, from TV's campy crusader to the Dark Knight, Batman has been reflected American anxieties and social norms for almost 80 years. We'll explore his appeal as a mere mortal among superhumans, making him a magnet for our heroic dreams. 

Then, the phrase, "if it bleeds, it leads" has long been a critique of journalism, but a new book of pulp-fiction style stories by New England reporters plays up the lurid, sensational, side of following crime. Today, we'll talk to two of the veteran reporters behind Murder Ink.

Plus, a pair of true crime writers comb through the dark fantasies exposed at the trial of Seth Mazzalia.

Tamás Mészáros via Flickr CC / https://flic.kr/p/eimCUu

The phrase, "if it bleeds, it leads" has long been a critique of journalism, but a new book of pulp-fiction style stories by New England reporters plays up the lurid, sensational, side of following crime. Today, we'll talk to two of the veteran reporters behind Murder Ink.

Also today, a look back at the roots of film noir, and a pair of true crime writers comb through the dark fantasies exposed at the trial of Seth Mazzalia.

M. Sharkey

Alexander Chee is a careful craftsman of language. As we came to find out, when we talked to him from Argot Studios in NYC, he is as measured, unassuming and thoughtful in his speech. A retiring man, who prefers to write in transient spaces, he also just so happens to have penned the most hotly anticipated literary novel of 2016 - The Queen of the Night, a sophomore work fifteen years in the making*.

Simon & Schuster

Long-time NPR reporter and five-time author Tom Gjelten recently visited the studios here at NHPR. We, of course, couldn't resist talking to him about his latest book, A Nation of Nations, and asking him for ten minutes.

What's harder to write - the first sentence, or the last?

NPR's Barbara Bradley Hagerty on Reimagining Midlife

Mar 15, 2016
Michael Garcia Novak / Flickr/CC

Even with all the angst about mid-life crises, and birthday cards calling you over the hill, the author says the middle years are most often about renewal. Today we're talking with former NPR correspondent Barbara Bradley Hagerty on what she discovered about middle age in America.

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From solitary poets to reclusive painters, loneliness is a rich vein for artists. Today, writer Olivia Laing meditates on this essential part of the human condition.

Then - we'll talk to the designer behind one of NASA's viral ad campaigns, a beautiful set of travel posters that put a mid-century spin on the future of space tourism. And, we’ll delve into the history of the iconic NASA logo known as "the meatball" and its doomed successor "the worm.”

What to Read Now: Spring Book Picks, 2016

Mar 8, 2016
NHPR

We'll hear about some of the best new books coming out this spring. Also, check out NHPR's other book-related series: The Bookshelf is an NHPR project featuring authors from around New Hampshire and the region, as well as books about New Hampshire by authors from anywhere. And the 10 Minute Writer's Workshop is a new podcast featuring interviews with writers about their writing process.

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Mid-life crises are embarrassing and all-too-common...but surely not among the prudent judges of nation's highest court? On today’s show, a former court clerk's new novel imagines a Supreme Court justice going off the rails.

Then, we'll hear about how today's gyms are building personal bathrooms and shower stalls for body shy millennials -- one writer thinks it's absurd for adults to fear getting undressed in front of others.

click-see via Flickr CC / https://flic.kr/p/V62An

From the solitary writer to the reclusive painter, loneliness is a rich vein for artists. Today, Olivia Laing meditates on her own bouts of loneliness, what it has meant to the world's great creative minds and why such an essential human experience cannot be wholly worthless.

Then, a historian on what ads seeking the capture of runaway slaves reveal about the identity, character and lives of runaways. 

We're talking with the author of a new book on the unlikely ways in which inventors think up groundbreaking ideas.

In his new book, Dead Presidents, NHPR's Brady Carlson unearths the offbeat and wacky ways we've memorialized our Commanders-in-Chief, from a laxative drink called Garfield tea to a game called Hooverball.

Logan Shannon

We spoke to YouTube superstar and writer of books Grace Helbig after the publication of her second tongue-in-cheek guide, Grace & Style: The Art of Pretending You Have It. She gave us a glimpse at her writing process backstage at The Music Hall in Portsmouth, NH before a Writers on a New England Stage event.

Chris Bohjalian has written some thrilling novels tackling some tough subjects - Armenian genocide, the ethics of midwifery, and, most recently, in The Guest Room, sex trafficking - but he speaks about the process of writing with humor and aplomb.

What's harder to write - the first sentence or the last?

2.1.16: Dead Presidents & Killer Heels

Feb 1, 2016
Brady Carlson / bradycarlson.com

After Iowans caucus tonight, the candidates will be back in New Hampshire, making a case for why they deserve to be president. The job's got plenty of perks, but it also means giving over your life, and your death. On today’s show, from mountainside monuments to commemorative sandwiches, we'll explore how America remembers its dead presidents.

Also today, high heeled shoes: mocked, coveted, and symbolic to feminists and fashionistas. We'll learn about the history of high heel shoes and why they haven’t always been a symbol of feminine status.

Sara Plourde, NHPR

Tom Perrotta is the author behind, among others, Little Children, The Abstinence Teacher, and The Leftovers, now a hit HBO drama which he co-writes. Recently, he provided the foreword to a new Penguin edition of The Scarlet Letter. For this episode of the 10-Minute Writer's Workshop, we made a date with him and settled into a corner of Harvard Book Store to ask him about his writing process.

Plenty of would-be presidents are criss-crossing New Hampshire these days, each hoping he or she will be the one moving into the White House next January.

But plenty of sitting presidents have made their way through this state as well, going all the way back to the first one.

Drew Reilly

Described as "David Lynch for teenagers," award-winning crime writer Megan Abbott. Her latest, The Fever, seemed to make every Best of 2014 list, from the Village Voice, to Amazon, to NPR. Her forthcoming novel, You Will Know Me, is out in July 2016.

We spoke to Megan from Manhattan on a busy NYC New Year's Eve, 2015.

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The term "protest song" conjures up songs from the 1960s...and artists from Nina Simone and Sam Cooke to Bob Dylan and Pete Seeger. If we are living in a new civil rights era, what do protests songs sound like in 2016? We have a playlist and analysis.

Then, we all have baggage. The things we inherit from our childhood that clutter our psyches. What happens when that clutter is actually physical -- from generations of hoarding? We'll hear from a woman who rejected her chaotic upbringing in favor of extreme minimalism, and found that less is not always more.

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In November, Paul Ryan stepped onto the floor of the US Capital sporting a beard, the first bewhiskered Speaker of the House in a century. On today’s show, has the beard boom hit Washington?  

Then, from Bill Clinton to Ben & Jerry--when campaign season hits, political surrogates come out of the woodwork. We'll find out who is stumping for whom, and why it matters.

We’ll also open the history books for a serious look at a surprisingly well-rewarded skill, with roots reaching back to ancient Sumerians: professional flatulence.

Public Radio Tulsa

In this 10-Minute Writer's Workshop web extra, author Kate Christensen - novelist, memoirist, foodie. We caught up with her, at the farm in northern New Hampshire she calls home, after the publication of her latest book, How to Cook a Moose.

 

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No matter how polished, prepped, and put together he or she may be, every presidential candidate copes with an Achilles heel. On today’s show, we'll find out how Marco Rubio capitalized on reaching for the water bottle...again and again and again. Then, need a gift idea for the book lover in your life? We'll go beyond the best seller list for a sampling of the best overlooked books of 2015, including a collection of short stories from Kelly Link.

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