Books

pawpaw67 via flickr Creative Commons

The digital age has rendered letter writing, paperboys, and checkbooks as old-fashioned as the rotary phone. While the proliferation of e-books, e-mail, and online newspapers appear to be hastening the death of the printed page, Nicholas Basbanes argues that we are far from becoming a paperless society. Nicholas is an impassioned bibliophile and author of On Paper: The Everything of its Two-Thousand-Year History.

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As long as there have been stories of princesses, there have been little girls to love them. The Disney princess phenomenon seeds young imaginations with shiny pink costumes, and gossip magazines continue the fantasy with pages devoted to Kate Middleton, and before her, Princesses Grace and Diana – the latter proving that becoming royalty is no guarantee of living happily ever after. Beyond these two dimensional characters are scores of real princesses  -- sometimes tragic, often extraordinary human beings who left scant record of their lives. Mental Floss columnist Linda Rodriguez McRobbie scoured through history for stories of women who fought, stole, schemed and survived, and pulls them together in her new book, Princesses Behaving Badly: Real Stories From History – Without The Fairy-Tale Endings.

In early September, 1965 a UFO sighting was reported near Exeter, New Hampshire.  Air force investigators were sent to question several eye witnesses who reported a “big orange ball” and a “huge dark object as big as a barn with flashing red lights” in the sky.  They dismissed the sighting as “nothing more than stars and planets twinkling…owing to a temperature inversion.” The incident is one of the best documented accounts of an alleged close encounter with the paranormal.  New Hampshire’s brush with paranormal fame makes it the perfect setting for a new compilation of short stories called Live Free or Sci-Fi. The book features stories that bend science and reality together into hair raising tales of speculative fiction.

Rick Broussard is the editor of Live Free or Sci-Fi and creator of the New Hampshire pulp fiction series. He is also the editor of New Hampshire Magazine.

via benbradleejr.com

“The Kid”, “The Splendid Splinter”, “Teddy Ballgame”; Ted Williams went by a few nicknames while playing for the Boston Red Sox.  Maybe none so fitting as: “The Greatest Hitter That Ever Lived.”  Williams was the last player in the major leagues to achieve a batting average over .400--which he did in 1941–in his third season in the majors. Ted Williams was obsessed with hitting, taking meticulous care of his bats, and was often observed swinging or posing for a pitch, whether he had a bat in his hands or not.

Off the field, the measure of Ted Williams is not so easy to follow. A private and mercurial man, he was moody and prone to bouts of rage. He would blow up at the press, his teammates, and his family. Williams married three times and had three children, but struck out as a father or husband. Ben Bradlee Jr., former editor and reporter for the Boston Globe, spent ten years trying to find out exactly why Ted Williams was the way he was. He interviewed more than six hundred people who knew “The Kid” going all the way back to his childhood. Ben Bradlee Jr.’s new book is called “The Kid: The Immortal Life of Ted Williams.”

2013 Holiday Books Show

Dec 2, 2013
Faith Meixell / NHPR

Two New Hampshire independent booksellers give us their picks for the best reads of 2013. Here's a list of their favorites for the season, as well as a list of the books mentioned during the show.

GUESTS:

  • Michael Herrmann - Owner of Gibson's Bookstore in Concord
  • Dan Chartrand - Owner of Water Street Bookstore in Exeter

Best of the Season Book List from Michael & Dan:

(scroll down for list of programs mentioned during the show)

Children’s book writer and illustrator David Wiesner is a three-time winner of the Caldecott Medal for most distinguished children’s picture book. His newest work is about a group of tiny extra-terrestial explorers, whose wee spaceship unwittingly becomes a plaything for a house cat named Mr. Wuffles. 

As with all of Wiesner’s books, Mr.Wuffles is nearly wordless, with dramatic visuals that propel readers from the plausible and everyday into the fantastical world of what could happen… 

Venturist via Flickr Creative Commons

It’s estimated that one in ten Americans show signs of depression, but in a society where mental illness is simultaneously taboo and overexposed, it’s easy to stick to a black-and-white label to describe mental health.

As part of the 'Almost Effect'  series from Harvard Health Publications, two instructors at Harvard teamed up to write a book on that uncomfortable gray area between well-being and chronic depression. It's called Almost Depressed. 

MacMillan Publishers

Is there an adult out there who has not, in a moment of fatigue, insomnia, or on a particularly hard day at work, looked around at their life and asked, “Is this it? Is this what I want my life to be?”  Even people who have plenty of money and status and work in their industry of choice may find themselves fantasizing about a job that engages their spirit. A new book from the School of Life series sets out a practical guide to negotiating the myriad choices, overcoming the fear of change, and finding a career that has meaning. Roman Krznaric is a founding member of the school of life. He advises organizations from Oxfam to the UN on using empathy and conversation to create social change. He spoke to us from Oxford, England to talk about his new book How to Find Fulfilling Work.

Image Credit: Bettmann/Corbis via TLC.com

Fifty-years ago, on November 22nd, President John Fitzgerald Kennedy was shot while traveling in his motorcade through Dallas. Kennedy was pronounced dead at 12:30 pm central time that day. By Monday, 45,000 letters of condolence had arrived at the White House. Two months later, nearly 800,000 had arrived -- addressed mostly to Jackie Kennedy and her family. Over the next two years, that number doubled. Handwritten, typed, and cabled, those letters captured the collective grief of the nation and the world and were then filed away for nearly forty six years.

Letters to Jackie, released in 2010, was a compilation of hundreds of those letters by history scholar, UNH professor, author and our guest Ellen Fitzpatrick.

Letters to Jackie: Remembering President Kennedy” is a new documentary based on her book and features a selection from those letters read by movie and theater actors. The special makes its television premiere on TLC this coming Sunday, November 17th.

The Art of Procrastination by John Perry

Feeling guilty about putting off something important?  Can’t seem to finish that daunting task at the top of the to-do-list?  Here’s a philosophy book for you: “The Art of Procrastination: A Guide to Effective Dawdling, Lollygagging and Postponing John Perry is an emeritus professor of philosophy at Stanford University, and an admitted chronic procrastinator.  He wrote the book as a way of avoiding doing something else – a principle he calls “structured procrastination".

Writer and artist Tomie de Paola is perhaps best known for his books about the "grandma witch" Strega Nona and her magic pasta pot.

The inspiration for this character came to de Paola in an unusual place: a faculty meeting at Colby-Sawyer College in New London, New Hampshire.

via indiebound.org

Richard Pryor changed stand-up. He created comedy with no jokes. Instead, he unleashed a parade of street characters rarely glimpsed by white people and mortifying to middle class African Americans. Pryor wrote that the neighbors, whores and winos he saw growing up around his family’s bars and brothels inspired a lifetime of comedic material.

Pryor’s stand-up was outrageously blunt, fearlessly black and openly angry. His talent ran in tandem with episodes of self-destructive, violent, behavior -- often triggered by drug use – which jeopardized his career and endangered his life. Yet, in movies, Grammy-winning albums, and even a short-lived TV special, Richard Pryor’s unapologetically irreverent comedy crossed over to capture a huge American audience; Brothers Dave and Joe Henry among them. Dave is a screenwriter, Joe is a singer and songwriter and together they’ve written Furious Cool: Richard Pryor and the World That Made Him.

Vampire novels are big these days, but here’s one with a few twists: for one thing, part of the book takes place in 19th century Portsmouth.

And the lead vampire is named for the colonial governor of New Hampshire.

The book is called The Vampire Benning Wentworth and the End of Times, and it's written by Paul Jesep, a columnist, a former resident of Portsmouth and an ordained Orthodox priest.

Halloween is a perfect time for ghost stories and fairy-tales. Yes...fairy tales. But not the sanitized stuff of Disney Princesses,  but the grisly, violent, cautionary tales from which they were derived. 

Of course, scary stories are told best by Word of Mouth, so we invited author Adam Gidwitz to share the rather horrible story of “Ashputtle,” or as you might know her, Cinderella. It’s one of the tales from his new book, The Grimm Conclusionthe third volume of delightfully dark, vividly re-told stories originally written by the Brothers Grimm.

Photo of Nicholson Baker courtesy the Poetry Foundation

Author Nicholson Baker joins us to talk about his recurring character Paul Chowder. The procrastinating poet first tuned up in Baker's novel The Anthologist, and is now the center of his latest book, Traveling Sprinkler.

In a new book called “Saved”, author Ben Hewitt explores a different way of looking at wealth. Rather than dwelling on monetary standards and what can be lost financially, Hewitt writes through experience of what can be gained when we prioritize personal relationships, community cooperation, and connectedness to the environment.

Guest:

  • Ben Hewitt - Vermont based author. His new book is called "Saved: How I Quit Worrying about Money and Became the Richest Guy in the World"
fiell.com / Fiell Publishing

With over twenty years of experience on the editorial side of design publishing, Charlotte and Peter Fiell are pioneers in bringing great design to the masses with big, beautiful glossy books. Their first book together, “Modern Design Classics Since 1945”, was published twenty-two years ago and introduced mid-century modern furniture to a new generation of design lovers and novices.

They are also the former editors-in-chief for the best-selling design imprint Taschen. Three years ago the design power couple established their own line of art and design books—Goodman Fiell—which publishes titles written by the couple in addition to books written by experts across a wide range of disciplines; from art and architecture to natural history and popular culture.

By looking at corporate and financial structures from an historical perspective, Smith contends that over four decades our middle class has been dismantled and that we have become two Americas.

GUEST:

  • Hedrick Smith - author, prize-winning investigative reporter and documentary producer. Among the books that Smith has written are The Power Game: How Washington Works and Rethinking America.

*Hedrick Smith will be appearing at Gibson’s Bookstore in Concord on Tuesday, October 22nd at 7.

According to this map posted on BusinessInsider.com, John Irving's Hotel New Hampshire is the most famous book set in New Hampshire. 

But what about Peyton Place? A Separate Peace? Or Irving's other classic, A Prayer For Owen Meany?

We'd love to know what you think should hold the title...leave us a note on Facebook with your pick.

In this new approach to the Civil War, Wineapple provides the reader with a sense of the passions and tragedies of the era, including character studies of the vibrant and flawed personalities behind the scenes.

GUEST:

  • Brenda Wineapple – teaches literature at both New York's New School University and Columbia University.  Wineapple is also professor of modern literary and historical studies at Union College.  Her previous book is White Heat: the Friendship of Emily Dickinson and Thomas Wentworth Higginson.
iphonebookstore via Flickr Creative Commons

We turn now to that exemplary literary magazine, Playboy.  Hugh Hefner’s magazine has always been about the centerfold and male fantasy and an air-brushed version of female sexuality…but it's also a great read. Really.

In 2005, writer Amy Grace Loyd was hired to revive Playboy’s traditions of stories from the likes of Hunter S. Thompson and short fiction from Margaret Atwood, or that scandalous interview with Presidential candidate Jimmy Carter.  Amy was Playboy’s Fiction and Literary Editor for seven years, and she recently wrote in Salon about some of the ribbing she took for a job she loved. She also recently published her first novel, called “The Affairs of Others."

Revulsion kept early humans from eating spoiled meat, or snuggling up to people covered with oozing sores. Today, some cultures prize cheeses writhing with maggots, or drink liquor made from fermented saliva. This is not a trick to get you to “eeewww” but a way to evoke the visceral nature of disgust, which as Rachel Herz found, is powerful enough to convict suspects, incite genocide, and make us writhe and wretch within seconds. 

Rachel is an instructor at Brown University and expert on the psychology of smell and emotion and the author of “That’s Disgusting: Unraveling the Mysteries of Repulsion.”

via The Poetry Foundation

The Biblical story of Abraham and Isaac is horrifying, unforgettable and open to interpretation. Faithful Jews, Christians and Muslims regard God’s demand that Abraham sacrifice his beloved son as a lesson about the demands of faith, the rewards for obedience, or for some, evidence of God’s cruelty.  

Others see the essence of the story not in the command not to sacrifice, but the command to stop. The parable is alluded to throughout “The Exchange” by Sophie Cabot Black, one of the poems about the exchange of love and money and sex and time which anchors her third collection of poems. Black is among the many writers who will be sharing her work with audiences at the Brattleboro Literary Festival this weekend. 

In his book, My Heart is an Idiot, Davy Rothbart chronicles his shocking and sometimes disturbing real life stories about traveling around America, looking for love, and meeting strangers who take strange to a whole new level. He’s also the creator of Found Magazine and a regular contributor to This American Life.

Image courtesy Smith College

This year marks the 50th anniversary of poet Sylvia Plath’s death by suicide, the singular lens through which many readers and academics have viewed her life, writing, and marriage. Now, a new generation is re-discovering Plath from a fresh perspective, one not colored by her sad and macabre death. 

howardmansfield.com

Mansfield has spent his literary life writing stories that connect people to the land where they live. In his latest book, he explores the idea of one’s ‘dwelling’… from mansions to condos to sheds and how, as he says, ‘they succeed or fail to shelter us…body and soul”.

  GUEST:

  • Howard Mansfield: Noted New Hampshire author, whose latest book is “Dwelling In Possibility”.

*Howard will be speaking and reading from his book this Saturday at the Toadstool Bookshop in Peterborough at 11:00 AM.

ed_needs_a_bicycle via Flickr Creative Commons

When was the last time you read a book? Not for work, not a kid’s bedtime story, but a real honest to goodness book, just for the pleasure of reading?

If you sheepishly answered, "more than a year ago," you’re not alone. A recent survey puts the number of Americans who have failed to crack a spine in more than a year at one in four. While new technological distractions have certainly cut into our reading time, our next guest would also like to blame the Sisyphean task of merely trying to choose a book that’s worthy of reading. His solution? Authors should take a break from writing to give readers a chance to catch up.

Colin Robinson is a co-founder of the New York based independent publisher OR.

There’s not a ton to look at in Los Alamos, New Mexico these days, but one of the most terrifying and iconic series of pictures in the history of the human race were once taken there, a little over 65 years ago, when a group of pioneer scientists photographed the world’s first atomic bomb test. They captured a speck of light, that turned into a snow-globe burning hotter than the surface of the sun, that turned into a mushroom cloud, now a universal symbol of epic destruction.  

Jonathan Fetter-Vorm is co-founder of Two Fine Chaps, a graphic imprint dedicated to adapting and illustrating classic works of literature and natural science… he’s also the author and illustrator of Trinity: A Graphic History of the First Atomic Bomb.

This month All Things Considered has been talking with authors who write in or about New Hampshire.

We conclude the series with D.M. Cataneo. His new novel Eggplant Alley tells the story of Nicky Martini, a 13 year old growing up in a run-down New York City neighborhood during the turbulent year of 1970.

D.M. Cataneo talks about the book with All Things Considered host Brady Carlson.

Courtesy JoyceMaynard.com

Say the name "Joyce Maynard" and you’re likely to get some pretty visceral reactions…from those who’ve admired her career since her time as a reporter for the New York Times and her later syndicated column “Domestic Affairs,” and from her detractors…those who are critical of her relentless self-examination and her revelations about her relationship with J.D. Salinger. Salinger was living as a recluse in Cornish, New Hampshire when he began exchanging letters with Maynard after reading an article she wrote as a freshman at Yale. She dropped out of college and moved in with Salinger. She was eighteen…Salinger was 53.

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