Professor Robert Reich at Town Hall Seattle on Oct. 19, 2015.
Flickr Photo/Al Garman (CC BY NC ND 2.0)/

Robert Reich says he’s often stopped by strangers at airports. People walk right up to him, forego any niceties, and get straight to the question: “What are we going to do?”

Reich says that makes him optimistic, because it’s not just liberals asking.

Julianna Baggot's book, 'Hariet Wolf's Seventh Book of Wonders'
KUOW Photo/Bond Huberman

Marcie Sillman talks with book hugger Nancy Pearl about a book that both surprised and delighted her: "Harriet Wolf's Seventh Book of Wonders," by Julianna Baggott.

Gloria Steinem and Cheryl Strayed at Benaroya Hall on Nov. 8.
Courtesy of Bre LeBeuf

Gloria Steinem doesn’t like being called an icon. She sees herself as one in a tide of women who made and make change, so she doesn’t want to be put up on a pedestal.

But she is called an icon, and has come to represent the modern struggle for women’s rights and equality.

Rainn Wilson: 'I was on the chess team. Model United Nations. Computer club. Debate club. I played xylophone in the marching band, and the Shorecrest High School Highlanders wear kilts.  So I was a skinny, xylophone player in a dress.'
Flickr Photo/Jens Schott Knudsen (CC BY NC 2.0)/

Rainn Wilson – Dwight Schrute on The Office – grew up in the Seattle area and attended the University of Washington. He spoke recently with KUOW Ross Reynolds about nerd-dom, the Baha'i faith and his new book, "The Bassoon King: My Life in Art, Faith and Idiocy."

David Hyde interviews Seattle-based biologist Anne Bikle ad University of Washington Professor David Montgomery about their new book on the beneficial role microbes play in agriculture and human health called "The Hidden Half Of Nature."

Poet Rick Barot reads his poem "After Darwish."
Courtesy of Mara Barot

Washington state poet laureate Elizabeth Austen presents a "darkly beautiful love poem" from Tacoma-based poet Rick Barot.

In his poem "After Darwish," he gives voice to the perennial human longing for a love without conflict, without loss. His poem borrows a line from Palestinian  poet Mahmoud Darwish's "I Want From Love Only the Beginning." 

'The Prize: Who's in Charge of America's Schools?' by Dale Russakoff
KUOW Photo/Bond Huberman

Marcie Sillman gets the week's reading recommendations from Nancy Pearl, "The Prize: Who's in Charge of America's Schools?" by Dale Russakoff. This new book chronicles one big effort in Newark, New Jersey to improve its public schools. 

Washington and Lafayette at Mount Vernon, 1784, by Thomas Prichard Rossiter and Louis Rémy Mignot.
Public Domain

In 1777 Marie-Joseph Paul Yves Roch Gilbert du Motier de Lafayette was a French aristocrat looking for military glory. Since the French weren’t at war, the 19-year-old crossed the Atlantic to join George Washington and other American revolutionaries in their fight with the British.

That’s where Sarah Vowell comes in.

Courtesy of Dean Forbes, Seattle University

Legendary science fiction writer Ursula K. Le Guin visited Seattle University recently to meet with students and read from her novel "The Lathe of Heaven." The work was chosen as the common text reading for SU freshman and transfer students this year.

Pacific Ocean from across the straights.
KUOW Photo/Kara McDermott

Ross Reynolds talks to writer Simon Winchester about his book "Pacific: Silicon Chips and Surfboards, Coral Reefs and Atom Bombs, Brutal Dictators and Fading Empires and the Coming Collision of the World's Superpowers." 

Seattle Public Library central branch, 1914 (not the first iteration - that was in 1898 on the fifth floor of the Occidental Building in Pioneer Square).
Flickr Photo/Seattle Municipal Archives (CC BY 2.0)/

David Hyde travels back in time through the magic of radio with writer Knute Berger to the site of Seattle's first library.  

Nancy Pearl
KUOW Photo

Marcie Sillman talks with reading guru Nancy Pearl about a series of reprints of classic children's books, including "The Highly Trained Dogs of Professor Petit," by Carol Ryrie Brink.

Ross Reynolds talks to Doug Merlino, author of "Beast: Blood, Struggle, and Dreams at the Heart of Mixed Martial Arts," about the legacy of mixed martial arts in the Pacific Northwest — and the superstar it created.

Nancy Pearl
KUOW Photo

Marcie Sillman talks to librarian Nancy Pearl about a favorite "comfort book" -- one that she chooses to read over and over again. This week's recommendation is "Larry's Party," by Carol Shields.

Ross Reynolds interviews former King County prosecutor Christopher Bayley about his new book, “Seattle Justice: The Rise and Fall of the Police Payoff System in Seattle."