One of the great things about being a reader is that over time, the books on your shelf seem to start talking to one another. Themes echo and resurface and resonate in new ways. That's why in February, NPR's Backseat Book Club — our monthly feature aimed at young readers — selected a pair of books published 60 years apart that still seem to speak directly to each other.
After decades of global dominance, America's space shuttle program ended last summer while countries like Russia, China and India continue to advance their programs. But astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, author of the new book Space Chronicles: Facing the Ultimate Frontier, says America's space program is at a critical moment. He thinks it's time for America to invest heavily in space exploration and research.
Theologian Lauren Winner was 21 when she became a Christian.
Although she was raised in a Jewish household and had converted to Orthodox Judaism, she says she felt drawn to Christianity. Her surprising conversion is the subject of her first memoir, the bestseller Girl Meets God.
In Winner's new book, Still: Notes on a Mid-Faith Crisis, she writes about a spiritual crisis.
Winner, an ordained Episcopal priest who teaches Christian spirituality at Duke University, says it happened around the time her mother died and her marriage collapsed.
Amid stories of horrific atrocities like the Holocaust and the ethnic cleansing that took place in the Balkans in the 1990’s, occasional tales of courage emerge: the stories of individuals who fly in the face of convention – or even the law – to stand up for what they know is right.
On the day she was born, Fawzia Koofi nearly died after being left outside in the unrelenting Afghan sun. But against all odds, Koofi survived and went on to become Afghanistan's first female deputy speaker of Parliament. Today, Koofi's name is floated in discussions about whether Afghanistan is ready for a first female president.
Patrick deWitt is the author of The Sisters Brothers.
"Doesn't the act of noticing matter as much as what's noticed?" So asks the narrator of Harry Mathews' masterpiece of minutia, The Journalist.
On the mend from a nervous breakdown (though it's mentioned only in passing — "the steering wheel came off in my hands," he says), he's been encouraged by his doctor to keep a journal. A seemingly benign idea, and he throws himself into the task with gusto — far too much gusto, it turns out, as the journal soon eclipses his entire life.
According to our guest today, Colin Woodard, America's political divisions aren't between red states and blue states, right and left, Republicans and Democrats but between 11 distinct North American cultural regions. They are regions the he names "Yankeedom", "Greater Appalachia", "The Deep South" and "The Far West" and they have been created by centuries of Americans who settled there, each with their own unique cultures, religions, political traditions and ethnographic characteristics. Woodard suggests that only by truly understanding these regions can we begin to see beyond these deep
A tower of books about Abraham Lincoln as seen from the top down.
Credit Maxell MacKenzie /
The Abraham Lincoln book tower stands 34 feet tall and 8 feet around in the lobby of the new Ford's Theatre Center for Education and Leadership in Washington, D.C. <a href="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2012/02/17/lincoln-tower-2_archive.jpg">Click here to see the tower from the top down.</a>
This President's Day, a group of historians in Washington, D.C., decided they wanted to do something different to recognize the legacy of Abraham Lincoln. But how do you memorialize someone who is already one of the most memorialized people in history?
Their solution: to physically illustrate Lincoln's importance by creating a tower of books written about him. The tower measures about eight feet around and 34 feet — that's three and a half stories tall.
A troubled starlet dies in a helicopter crash off the Irish coast after sending a series of mysterious text messages. Three years later, a hungry young reporter desperate for work takes an assignment to write a quickie celebrity biography of her — but finds complexity and danger.
That seemingly accidental death is the catalyst for the events in Bloodland, a new thriller by Irish author Alan Glynn.
Reid Hoffman is the co-founder and executive chairman of the professional networking website LinkedIn. As a frequent angel investor, he has helped turn many Silicon Valley startups into success stories.
"Relatively few people should start companies," Reid Hoffman says bluntly. And he should know. As a co-founder of popular social networking website LinkedIn and an influential Silicon Valley angel investor, he has engineered several startup success stories — and now he has distilled his business wisdom into a book, The Start-up of You: Adapt to the Future, Invest in Yourself, and Transform Your Career.