Books

Author Interviews
10:20 am
Mon March 19, 2012

'Damn Good Advice' From One Of The Real 'Mad Men'

George Lois, pictured above in the early 1960s, was a pioneer during the "Creative Revolution" of American advertising.
Courtesy Phaidon Press

Don Draper, the main character on the hit TV show Mad Men, is said to have been inspired by a real Madison Avenue ad man: George Lois. Lois was a leader in the "Creative Revolution" in advertising during the 1950s, and became one of the most influential art directors in advertising history. His work helped make brands like Xerox, Lean Cuisine and Jiffy Lube famous. Lois is perhaps best known for creating iconic Esquire magazine covers, many of which now reside in the Museum of Modern Art.

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Three Books...
4:05 pm
Fri March 16, 2012

Pioneers Of The Sky: 3 Books That Take Flight

AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Sat March 17, 2012 6:44 am

Today, flying is like riding a bus. But it wasn't always that way. Vaulted from the sands of Kitty Hawk and freed from military exigencies by the end of World War I, aviation soared into the 1920s and '30s on a direct course to tomorrow. Here are three flyers who not only helped open the skies, but also brought literary gems back from the cutting edge of progress, from a time when flying was the most exciting thing in the world.

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Word of Mouth - Segment
10:54 am
Wed March 14, 2012

The Long Con

Photo by Robert Huffstutter via Flickr Creative Commons

We can’t say with any authority when the first con artist found his mark. But we can trace the term “confidence man” to an article in The New York Herald in 1849. The Herald reporter urged citizens to stop by the city’s notorious tombs and peer at the suspect known as Samuel Williams. Many came to peer at the flim-flam man who described his effect on his marks as “putting them to sleep.”  The willingness to be duped, is of course, the genius of the con.

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Author Interviews
11:33 am
Tue March 13, 2012

'Emancipating Lincoln': A Pragmatic Proclamation

Detail of The First Reading of the Emancipation Proclamation Before the Cabinet.
The Library of Congress

One hundred fifty years ago, in the summer of 1862, the Civil War was raging and President Abraham Lincoln was starting to scribble away at a document, an ultimatum to the rebellious states: Return to the Union, or your slaves will be freed.

Emancipation was a "military necessity," the president later confided to his Cabinet. Lincoln called it "absolutely essential to the preservation of the Union. We must free the slaves," Lincoln said, "or be ourselves subdued."

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Author Interviews
12:01 am
Tue March 13, 2012

Jodi Picoult Turns Tough Topics Into Best-Sellers

Adam Bouska Atria Books

Originally published on Tue March 13, 2012 11:24 am

When you think about blockbuster best-sellers, genres like mystery, crime and romance typically come to mind. Ethical or moral fiction? Not so much. But that's how Jodi Picoult, who has 33 million copies of her books currently in circulation, describes her novels. So how did an author who writes about divisive issues get so popular?

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Author Interviews
12:01 am
Mon March 12, 2012

How Ford's CEO Helped Restore The 'American Icon'

Journalist Bryce Hoffman describes Ford CEO Alan Mulally as an older version of Ron Howard's character from the sitcom Happy Days.
William Thomas Cain Getty Images

Seven years ago, when journalist Bryce Hoffman started covering the Ford Motor Co. for The Detroit News, he knew he was either witnessing the end of an American icon or its resurrection.

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Books News & Features
12:01 am
Thu March 8, 2012

'Lifespan': What Are The Limits Of Literary License?

iStockPhoto.com

When an author writes something that's supposed to be a true story and readers discover he's stretched the truth, things can get ugly fast. Recall Oprah Winfrey's famous rebuke of author James Frey for making up much of his memoir, A Million Little Pieces. "I feel duped, but more importantly, I feel that you betrayed millions of readers," she told him.

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Author Interviews
12:01 am
Thu March 8, 2012

'Fragile Beginnings': When Babies Are Born Too Soon

Dr. Adam Wolfberg had two daughters and another on the way when his wife, Kelly, went into labor. But this joyous occasion had come much too soon — Kelly was three months away from her due date. After just 26 weeks in the womb, their baby daughter Larissa entered the world by emergency cesarean section and was whisked into the neonatal intensive care unit of a Boston hospital. It was the same hospital where Wolfberg was doing his residency in obstetrics and gynecology, and his medical background turned out to be a mixed blessing.

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Monkey See
12:01 am
Thu March 8, 2012

A Bestselling Book Becomes An HBO Movie About A 'Dynamic Moment'

Ed Harris as John McCain and Julianne Moore as Sarah Palin in the HBO film Game Change.
Phillip V. Caruso HBO

There were a lot of good stories from the 2008 presidential election, including Hillary Clinton's serious run for the Democratic nomination, not to mention the election of the first African-American president. The whole story was covered in the bestselling — and controversial — book by John Heilemann and Mark Halperin, Game Change.

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Monkey See
3:59 pm
Tue March 6, 2012

Spurred By Success, Publishers Look For The Next 'Hunger Games'

Originally published on Tue March 6, 2012 7:19 pm

The film version of the young adult book sensation The Hunger Games opens March 23rd. The hype around the movie has sent the sales of the already best-selling trilogy to new heights. And publishers are eagerly churning out more books set in post apocalyptic dystopian worlds — just like The Hunger Games.

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Books News & Features
3:35 pm
Mon March 5, 2012

The Unlikely Best-Seller: 'A Wrinkle In Time' Turns 50

Originally published on Mon March 5, 2012 5:40 pm

Imagine, for a moment, that you're a publisher hearing a pitch about a children's book whose tangled plot braids together quantum physics, fractions and megaparsecs (a measure for distances in intergalactic space). The book also casually tosses out phrases in French, Italian, German and ancient Greek. Sound like the next kids' best-seller to you?

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Author Interviews
4:43 pm
Sun March 4, 2012

They're Nobody And Want To Know Everything

Two mysterious men pull up to the courthouse and head to the public records office. They're strangers, and they ask a lot of strange questions like, "I'd like to look at Mayor John Doe's property deeds." Or, "I want to see Congressman Smith's voting records."

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Author Interviews
2:25 pm
Sun March 4, 2012

A Road Trip In Search Of America's Lost Languages

Trip of the Tongue cover detail
Bloomsbury Publishing

Originally published on Mon March 5, 2012 1:38 pm

The vast majority of the 175 indigenous languages still spoken in the United States are on the verge of extinction.

Linguist Elizabeth Little spent two years driving all over the country looking for the few remaining pockets where those languages are still spoken — from the scores of Native American tongues, to the Creole of Louisiana. The resulting book is Trip of the Tongue: Cross-Country Travels in Search of America's Lost Languages.

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Author Interviews
4:55 pm
Sat March 3, 2012

'Enchantments' Of Rasputin's Lion-Taming Daughter

Rischgitz Getty Images

Originally published on Sat March 3, 2012 5:09 pm

The famed mystic Rasputin — notorious for his otherworldly powers and his sexual escapades — may not have seemed like a traditional family man, but in fact, he had a wife and three children.

His eldest daughter, Maria, is at the center of Kathryn Harrison's new novel, Enchantments, a dark fairytale mash-up of history and magical realism set during the last days of Imperial Russia.

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NPR's Backseat Book Club
7:16 pm
Tue February 28, 2012

Two Books For Kids About How Hard It Is To Fit In

Cover detail: The Hundred Dresses

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.

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