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.

Marius Watz via Flickr CC / //

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. 

mclcbooks via flickr Creative Commons| /

For some people, the day to day grind of the work week can be soul sucking, but for some, a job is more than just a paycheck, it's a passion. On today's show we'll talk to a rare book dealer who found his calling in the pages of antique books. Also today, in the early days of medicine, doctors weren't always revered by their patients. We'll hear about the so-called "Doctors Riot" that happened in 1788 New York City.

Peter Biello / NHPR

The year is 1842, and Christopher Robinson, a poor young man living with his family on an island just north of Scotland, has just been accused of stealing his father’s small savings. The real culprit is his brother, who has just fled their small town. As Christopher chases his brother, we encounter a world in which there is a vast difference between the haves and the have-nots, and a cast of characters seeking opportunities for better lives.

Spring Book Picks 2015

Mar 19, 2015
Faith Meixell / NHPR

Two local independent booksellers give us their picks for new reads of 2015. Scroll down for a complete list of books mentioned during today's show.


Top Picks:

You may know Maz Jobrani as a panelist on Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me! but his early acting career included roles in television and film, often playing parts fashioned from Middle Eastern stereotypes. 

Listen to Virginia's full interview with Maz below.

Kevo Thomson via flickr Creative Commons /

We may not know who will bring home Oscars tonight, but two things are certain: a-list actresses will walk the red carpet, and they will be asked the standard question: “Who are you wearing?”

On today’s show, why some Hollywood actresses are bucking against the red carpet parade.

Then, Selma, Gone Girl, and Interstellar are among this year’s Oscar snubs. We’ll approach the academy’s cold-shoulder from a different angle, and reveal entire categories notably absent from the awards.

Listen to the full show and click Read more for individual segments.

Miranda July: The First Bad Man

Feb 19, 2015

Miranda July. Maybe you know her from her quirky and charming 2005 film “Me And You And Everyone We Know,” which won the special jury prize at Sundance – but since then she’s made a second film, a book of short stories, a messaging app, and has performed all over the world, and now she’s written a novel.

July’s debut novel The First Bad Man continues her skill at revealing uncomfortable moments and unexpected truths … in a very funny way.

Rachel via flickr Creative Commons /

The Oscars are Hollywood’s top award for recognizing achievement in film – and of course, fashion. On today’s show: why some actresses are bucking against the red carpet parade.

Then, for most of us, the prospect of winning a million dollars is a daydream, but for Justin Peters, it was just two right answers away. He’ll explain how losing Who Wants to Be a Millionaire changed his life for the better.

Plus, a conversation with artist, writer and filmmaker Miranda July.

Listen to the full show and click Read more for individual segments.

Harold Holzer's 'Lincoln And The Power Of The Press'

Feb 17, 2015

Abraham Lincoln is most often remembered for preserving the Union, abolishing slavery, and his untimely death. But—a less- documented aspect of Honest Abe’s legacy, according to scholar Harold Holzer, was the extent of his involvement with the press, which, at the time, was coming into its own as a strong, partisan force in shaping public opinion.

This program was originally broadcast on 11/12/14.


The Best Overlooked Books Of 2014

Dec 22, 2014

Here at Word of Mouth, we have a tradition of looking for the books that everyone might not be talking about. Joining us to highlight the best of the under the radar books of 2014 is Michele Filgate. She’s written for Salon, Vulture, The Daily Beast, and other publications. Here’s her list, with commentary, and you can also listen to her conversation about the books with Virginia, below.

the justified sinner via flickr Creative Commons /

With the countdown to Christmas now measured in hours instead of days, the online holiday deals you may have shrugged off a few weeks ago are now looking downright clickable. On today’s show we’ll discuss why those offers are often too-good-to-be-true.

Plus, a literary wrap up of 2014. We’ll venture off the best-seller list for a sampling of the best overlooked books of the year.

And a glimpse of pre-revolutionary Cuba through the story of Julian Lobo, a sugar trader and financier, considered to be Cuba’s last tycoon.

Listen to the full show and click Read more for individual segments.

Giving Matters: The Library Is A Town Hub in Gilmanton

Dec 20, 2014

The Gilmanton Year-Round Library opened in 2009 -- entirely the product of volunteer labor and donated funds. Jenn MacLeod and her four kids could not imagine the town without it. “My son, who’s 3, comes into the library, takes off his shoes, hangs up his coat and says ‘I’m home.’”


Best Books For The Holidays, 2014

Dec 9, 2014
Faith Meixell / NHPR

This time of year, bibliophiles of all stripes - from the editors at the New York Times to the staff at your local library - are putting out their picks for the best books of 2014.  And while every year has its standout authors and dominant themes, one trend this year is just how long some of these lists are. (digital post by Faith Meixell)


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

Top Picks:

Logan Shannon / NHPR

The recent disintegration and crash of a Virgin Galactic suborbital space plane raised questions about the safety and viability of space tourism. On today’s show we consider another issue for commercial spaceflight….the psychological effects of leaving earth.

Then, we can all remember our favorite sports movies – but what about our favorite sports-based books? Bill Littlefield of NPR’s Only a Game talks about his favorite sportswriters, and reads from his new collection of athletics inspired poetry. 

Plus, a conversation with America’s only water sommelier. That’s right, water sommelier.

Listen to the full show and click Read more for individual segments.

Bill Littlefield's Favorite Sports Books...Right Now

Dec 4, 2014

If you're shopping for a sports fan this holiday season, Bill Littlefield host of NPR's Only a Game, has some suggestions for new titles that he considers his favorites, right now.

courtesy Library of Congress

A new book is shining a light on an unusual chapter in the life of the founder of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy.

In the second half of the 19th Century, the New Hampshire native was a wealthy and prominent public figure. But toward the end of her life, Eddy faced a legal challenge to her wealth and her fitness to manage her own affairs – and it came in part from inside her own family.

Gilmanton, New Hampshire was once the most famous – or, if you prefer, notorious - small town in America, thanks to the 1950 Grace Metalious novel Peyton Place.

10.12.14: The Wonderful World Of Books

Oct 10, 2014
MorBCN via flickr Creative Commons

Today’s show is all about the wonderful world of books, starting with the U.S. Senate Handbook, a 380 page document of sometimes confounding rules intended to keep Senate offices running smoothly. Then, we’ll speak to an antiquarian bookseller about the beauty and obsession of rare books. And actor and comedian Bob Odenkirk discusses his debut collection of writings, A Load of Hooey.

Listen to the full show and click Read more for individual segments.

Which New Books To Read This Fall

Oct 9, 2014

As cooler weather sets in, we’ll find out what’s new in books suited for coming days in front of the fireplace. There’s a history of Wonder Woman from New Yorker staff writer Jill Lepore, a memoir from actor and director Lena Dunham, and a new book examining the old debate over vaccinations. (digital post by Faith Meixell)


Good Gig: Rare Books Dealer Ken Gloss

Oct 8, 2014

Good Gig is a series of conversations with individuals who have landed their dream job. 

We're kicking off the series with Ken Gloss, the proprietor of the Brattle Book Shop in Boston, one of the largest--and oldest--antiquarian bookshops in the country. He has also been an appraiser of rare books and manuscripts for The Antiques Roadshow since 1998.

Pimthida via flickr Creative Commons

From the Trojan war to the current war in Afghanistan, soldiers have been penning farewell letters for centuries. On today’s show, a look into the deeply private “death letter” tradition throughout history.

Then, we’ll kick off our new series, “Good Gig”, with a rare bookseller who found his dream job among the binders on a dusty shelf.

Listen to the full show and click Read more for individual segments.

Guldfisken / flickr, creative commons

  The Portsmouth Athenaeum’s annual book sale begins on Friday at the North Church Parish. “There’s a bumper crop this year,” says Tom Hardiman, the Athenaeum’s “keeper,” or Executive Director.

Peter Kirkeskov Rasmussen via flickr Creative Commons

It’s September, put down that beach novel, it's time to get serious about your to-be-read list. Thankfully, fall is the biggest season in the publishing world, so there's plenty of titles to choose from. Michele Filgate, freelance writer, critic, and independent bookseller at Community Bookstore in Brooklyn brings us her must read list for early fall. Click on the book titles for more information.

Michael May via flickr Creative Commons,, Rui Costa via flickr Creative Commons and via

In 1936 18-year-old Marty Glickman was one of the fastest sprinters in the country, earning him a spot on the U.S. Olympic team and a trip to the Berlin Games. Today on Word of Mouth, we have the story of how he was removed from the competition to appease Hitler and how he then became a legendary sports broadcaster. Then lessons in science with The Art of Tinkering and a conversation about how elements were named.
Finally, Producer Zach Nugent spoke with front-woman Arleigh Kincheloe of the band Sister Sparrow and the Dirty Birds. Their new album is called Fight.

Listen to the whole show and click Read more for individual segments.

This show originally aired on 3.27.14. 

8.14.14: All About Language

Aug 14, 2014
Taylor Quimby

Prove it, learned behavior, survival of the fittest, organic produce… scientific terminology is part of our common language, but are we using the terms correctly? Today is all about language: starting with our frequent misuse of scientific terms. Plus, France’s government is banning English words like ‘fast-food’ and ‘hashtag’ in the name of cultural preservation…we find out why the words are unlikely to disappear from the vernacular anytime soon. And, deaf Americans who work in science have a unique challenge – helping to develop a scientific vocabulary for sign language.

Listen to the full show and Read more for individual segments.

For the past few years Ben H. Winters has been writing detective novels set at the end of the world. His protagonist is Henry Palace, a member of the police force in Concord, NH, a man who is working to solve mysteries while a massive asteroid known as Maya heads toward Earth. As Maya’s impact grows closer society breaks further and further down, and still, Palace carries on. The third novel in this series has just been released, and it’s called World of Trouble. I spoke with Mr. Winters last week about his third and final book.