Books

Best Books for the Holidays, 2015

Dec 9, 2015

It’s our annual holiday book show: two N.H. independent booksellers give us their picks for the best reads of 2015. 

Guests:  

Fiona Wen Hui C via flickr Creative Commons / flic.kr/p/8cnsk4

At 5,525 miles, the US and Canadian border is the longest and friendliest in the world, but the long relationship between the two nations is not without conflict. Today, a history of US-Canadian skirmishes and why a war between neighbors isn’t out of the question. Plus, researchers in Virginia may be turning a long held belief about early America on its head. 

John W. Iwanski via Flickr CC / https://flic.kr/p/adzSde

Earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust. In times of mourning, we emphasize the cyclical nature of life and death - and yet, American burial practices are mostly designed to halt the natural process of decomposition. Today on Word of Mouth, a look at the historical forces that pushed America towards embalming and containment, and the growing "green burial" movement. Plus, how American judges are grappling with a difficult to interpret form of evidence that's starting to be introduced in the courtroom - the emoji.

Sara Plourde / NHPR

Recently, the multi-talented poet/artist/rock legend Patti Smith joined us to discuss her latest memoir, M Train, for our program Writers on a New England Stage. Before the show, we sat down with Patti in the greenroom of the Music Hall to talk about her writing process. The conversation is part of a series we call the 10-Minute Writer's Workshop.

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

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Garamond, Times New Roman, Helvetica. We use them so often, it’s easy to forget that typefaces are licensed products – and just like other forms of media, they can be pirated and plagiarized. Today, we confront the rampant problem of typeface piracy. Then, the founder of NaNoWriMo, National Novel Writing Month, urges our inner-writer out of its shell. 

Writers On A New England Stage: Stacy Schiff

Nov 9, 2015
David J. Murray, ClearEyePhoto.com

On today's show it's Writers on a New England Stage with Stacy Schiff, recorded live at the Music Hall in Portsmouth. The Pulitzer Prize-winning author of biographies of Mrs. Vladimir Nabokov, Benjamin Franklin, and Cleopatra, is known for discovering the real overlaid by popular mythologies. Her most recent book takes on the enduring fictions of one of the most confounding and hysterical events in American history: the Salem Witch Trials of 1692.

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Thoreau wrote, “I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately.” His two years spent in solitude at Walden Pond left an indelible mark on the national psyche – and cemented the relationship between the inner self and the outdoors. Today, a writer reflects on two years in a cabin in the Vermont woods. Then, first we get rid of all the bosses!  We check in on the online retailer, Zappos, six months after their radical shift – getting rid of managers and declaring a self-organizing workforce. 

Writers on a New England Stage: Salman Rushdie

Oct 16, 2015
David J. Murray, ClearEyePhoto.com

Salman Rushdie is a Booker-Award-winning novelist and the prolific author of a number of novels, non-fiction books, children’s books, story collections, and essays. He joined Virginia at the Music Hall in Portsmouth to talk about his latest novel, Two Years, Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights.  It’s a fantasy, a fairy tale for grown-ups, and the book, as he told us at the Music Hall, “...may be his weirdest,” adding, “I’m no stranger to weird.”

10.07.15: Star Wars, IKEA Hacking, & Flood Watch

Oct 7, 2015
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The first Star Wars film may have been released 38 years ago, but its hold on the popular imagination remains as strong as Darth Vader’s death-grip. On today’s show, a look at the role fandom has played in the success of the Star Wars franchise. Plus, from data collection to the latest internet tracking technology, online advertisers go to great lengths to find out who we are and what we like. We’ll enter the world of intelligent marketing to find out just how much, or little, they really know about us.

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This week, a federal judge sentenced peanut executive Stewart Parnell to 28 years in prison for his role in a deadly outbreak of salmonella…the first ever felony conviction for a food safety crime.  Today, we speak with the investigative reporter behind “Food Crimes” – a new video series examining everything from food borne illness, to the illegal saffron trade. Plus, a baffling new literary trend – why millions of Evangelical readers are snatching up Amish romance books.  

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Demanding trigger warnings? Canceling speakers? Shutting down comedians? College students today make the political correctness of the past seem tame. Today, is oversensitivity ruining education? We’ll also look at the roots of extreme protectiveness in a nation where police officers are stationed at more and more high schools…a story about what happens when school discipline meets law enforcement. And while the trans-gender movement gains ground, we’ll explore the shockingly common occurrence of doctors assigning gender to intersex babies. 

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Lots of organizations use 5ks and "fun runs" to raise money for charity – few involve sitting on a couch for hours at a time.  Today, how a super-fast, bizarre style of video-game playing has become a fundraising cash cow. Plus, we’ll celebrate the 30th anniversary of the video game industry’s most lucrative character of all time: Mario! Then, as the Daily Show’s “Senior Muslim or Foreign Looking Correspondent,” Aasif Mandvi helped Americans laugh at their own prejudice. We’ll hear why he almost refused the job. 

9.08.15: A Neurodiversity Primer & Miranda July

Sep 8, 2015
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The CDC estimates that about 1 in 68 children have been diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder or ASD. Today, the author of a new book on the science of autism gives us a primer on the neurodiversity movement. Then, Miranda July may be known for her quirky role in the 2005 film Me and You and Everyone We Know but the actress and artist has since written a debut novel which borrows heavily from her personal life. 

Writers On A New England Stage: Diana Gabaldon

Aug 28, 2015
David J. Murray / ClearEyePhoto.com

On today’s show, it’s Writers on a New England Stage with scientist turned novelist Diana Gabaldon, recorded live at The Music Hall in Portsmouth. Gabaldon is author of the phenomenally popular Outlander series – an addictive blend of historical fiction and fantasy based on the premise of time travel. Outlander plays with the past, overthrows traditional gender roles, and has inspired a cable television series that Buzzfeed called, “The Feminist Answer to ‘Game of Thrones.’ ” Her latest novel is the eighth in the Outlander series, Written in My Own Hearts Blood.

Chris Lott via Flickr CC / flic.kr/p/fBHKmY

Grocery lists, to-do lists, guest lists – human beings seem compelled to put things into manageable order…but the result can be anything but mundane.  We take a look at some of the most memorable lists ever written – from Walt Disney’s un-used dwarf names, to a day in the life of  country legend Johnny Cash. And, we’ll talk with a computer scientist who will forever be remembered not for his AI research, but as inventor of the emoticon. Plus, a writer attends her first autopsy, and says Hollywood gets it all wrong.

8.17.15: The Fight That Changed TV & The Speechwriter

Aug 17, 2015
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The 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago is remembered for protests and violence, but one radical decision that came out of that convention has changed the nature of debate in this country. Today, how the face-offs between liberal Gore Vidal and conservative William F. Buckley turned television debates into a blood sport. We’ll also speak with a speechwriter for Mark Sanford, the South Carolina governor who added “hiking the Appalachian trail” to our lexicon. 

Peter Biello / NHPR

The Bookshelf is NHPR's series on authors and books with ties to the Granite State. All Things Considered features authors, covers literary events and publishing trends, and gets recommendations from each guest on what books listeners might want to add to their own bookshelves. 

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According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 30% of people between the ages of 18 and 34 are living at home with their parents. There are many opinions as to why - but perhaps parental techniques are partly to blame. On today's show: can over-parenting ruin confidence? Then, the value of teaching kids to cook, and how coloring books - for adults, mind you - are on the rise. And finally, we take a look at the more political side of well-beloved Dr. Seuss.

In 1989, NHPR humanities reporter Robbie Honig profiled The Golgonooza Letter Foundry & Press. This small shop in the village of Ashuelot was opened by two poets from Boston who shared a passion for letterpress printing.

“We started with making type for ourselves, for our own poetry books," said Golgonooza co-founder Julia Ferrari. "But also, making a living by making books for other people too. We didn’t want to just go out and have to work somewhere else and then come back and do our art. We felt that if we could possibly do our art at the same time, we would be learning how to get better at what we did.”

By 1989, the shop was producing artisanal books that fetched up to thousands of dollars apiece.

Keep reading after the story for my conversation with Julia. But first, from the archives this week, here’s Honig's report from the Golgonooza Letter Foundry & Press in 1989.


Dennis Jarvis via Flickr CC / bit.ly/1PkMiA1

At 5,525 miles, the US and Canadian border is the longest and friendliest in the world, but the long relationship between the two nations is not without conflict. Today, a history of US-Canadian skirmishes and why a war between neighbors isn’t out of the question. Then, with immigration a focal point in the presidential primary circuit, a commentator takes a tongue in cheek look at the rarely talked about immigration crisis that’s playing out north of the border. Plus, researchers in Virginia may be turning a long held belief about early America on its head. 

Peter Biello / NHPR

The Bookshelf is NHPR's series on authors and books with ties to the Granite State. All Things Considered features authors, covers literary events and publishing trends, and gets recommendations from each guest on what books listeners might want to add to their own bookshelves. 

Stephanie Sicore via Flickr CC / //flic.kr/p/5amX9E

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 30% of people between the ages of 18 and 34 are living at home with their parents. There are many opinions as to why - but perhaps parental techniques are partly to blame. On today's show: can over-parenting ruin confidence? Then, the value of teaching kids to cook. And finally, we take a look at the more political side of well-beloved Dr. Seuss.

8.04.15: Tattoos & Lists of Note

Aug 4, 2015
Megan Tan for NHPR

Grocery lists, to-do lists, guest lists – human beings are compelled to put things into manageable order…and sometimes the result is anything but mundane. Today we look at some of the most memorable lists ever written – from Walt Disney’s un-used dwarf names, to a day in the life of country legend Johnny Cash. Plus, we’ll talk about tattoos in the workplace, and how gender stereotypes play into how people perceive ink.

8.03.15: Drones, Autopsies, & Let's Be Less Stupid

Aug 3, 2015
Ars Electronica via Flickr CC / flic.kr/p/chvytS

Drone war proponents say that unmanned aircraft save American lives -- but what's life like for drone operators? On today's show, a look at drone fatigue. Then, brain fitness. Does taking fish oil, and playing brain fitness video games actually help with memory loss? And finally, a forensic turn! Autopsies are pretty cool, but Hollywood may have them all wrong.

Peter Biello / NHPR

The Bookshelf is NHPR's series on authors and books with ties to the Granite State. All Things Considered features authors, covers literary events and publishing trends, and gets recommendations from each guest on what books listeners might want to add to their own bookshelves. 

American author Erskine Caldwell was born in Georgia in 1903. His most famous novel, 1932’s Tobacco Road, boldly addressed the South’s inequalities during the Great Depression.

“He was writing about racial relations when one did not write about racial relations," said Phillip Cronenwett of Dartmouth College in 1989. "He was writing about the difference between the rural wealthy and the rural poor when one did not talk about that sort of thing.”

This week, we’re taking a fresh look at Caldwell, whose writing depicted what he saw as the realities of society – however unpleasant those realities might be.

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Fifty-five years ago, Harper Lee’s novel To Kill A Mockingbird gave the nation a glimpse of the deep south. Soon afterwards the author and the town that inspired the classic book disappeared from public imaginations. Today, we take a look at the conflicted history of a town that produced two great American authors. Then, the skill, planning, and access required to successfully dupe the art world easily captivates the public imagination. We’ll explore the meticulous effort behind some of the greatest art frauds. And, few people realize the danger works of art can face while safely housed inside a museum – from docents.

  When he was young, George H.W. Bush, got some advice from his mother, first about life, and then about tennis: Don’t brag and bend your knees when you volley.

Bush’s White House Chief of Staff, former New Hampshire Governor John H. Sununu, says Bush’s reluctance to talk about himself has meant his presidency has been overlooked. Sununu’s new book is an effort to change that – it’s called The Quiet Man, and he joined Weekend Edition to talk about it. 

Jason Moon / NHPR

We're checking in booksellers and a librarian for their picks of what to read this summer.

Brady Carlson / NHPR

Judson Hale is best known for his a half century at Yankee Magazine and a long tenure as editor of The Old Farmer’s Almanac.

But Judson Hale's story is much more than magazines. 

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