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books

Investigative journalist Maryn McKenna
COURTESY OF DAVID-TULIS

We take for granted living in a post-antibiotic world. Go ahead: climb that ladder to hang Christmas lights, get a stent to open a blood vessel, let your kids slide into home plate. We don’t have to fear scratches and minor injuries.


When author Judy Blume first broached topics like puberty and adolescent sexuality in her writing, it was long before those questions could be asked in a quick Google search.

Yet for those who read her now, her tales of adolescence remain modern – so much so that many of her young readers are surprised to learn Blume's books aren't brand new.

"They don't know that I wrote them generations ago. They think I wrote them yesterday for them, for the most part," Blume, who turns 80 on Monday, tells NPR's Rachel Martin.

Courtesy of Libby Lewis Photography

Seattle-based writer Ijeoma Oluo has been widely recognized for some time now as a person who speaks sometimes uncomfortable truths about racism in America. That recognition reached a crescendo in recent days with the release of her first book, “So You Want to Talk About Race.”

Courtesy of Josh Patterson

In a parallel universe, poets stand on street corners and recite for us. We stop what we’re doing and gather together with friends and strangers to listen. Then we pay them some tribute and go on with our days, moved and enriched in some way.

Presidential candidate Donald Trump, pictured here 2013 Conservative Political Action Conference.
Flickr Photo/Gage Skidmore (CC BY SA 2.0)/https://flic.kr/p/e41ELr

Kim Malcolm talks with University of Washington law professors Lisa Manheim and Kathryn Watts about their new book, "The Limits of Presidential Power: A Citizen's Guide to the Law."

Phil Yu still remembers reading “Keep Out, Claudia,” from the “The Baby-Sitter’s Club” book series. The story is about a client who did not want Claudia Kishi, a Japanese American member of the club, to babysit her kids. After some investigation, Kishi and her friends discover that the family, which also rejected another non-white babysitter, is racist.

The impact of the story on Korean American Yu, who grew up in Northern California, was lasting. It was one of the rare times he remembers reading about everyday racism as a kid.

Courtesy of Carmen Maria Machado/Art Streiber

There have been so many momentous days recently. Today, for instance, women around the U.S. and the world (and their allies) are participating in the second annual Women’s March. Yesterday, Congress shut down the government due to differences over border security and immigration.

Author Ijeoma Oluo.
Courtesy of Seattle Colleges

This year will mark the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Today, the United States celebrates the birth of the great non-violence activist and civil rights leader. The federal holiday was signed into law in 1983 by President Reagan, but it wasn’t until the year 2000 that all 50 states officially observed the holiday.

Daniel Ellsberg (left) and co-defendant Anthony Russo talk to news reporters outside the Federal Building in Los Angeles on Jan. 17, 1973, during the Pentagon Papers trial.
AP Photo/Staff

The acronym MAD stands for mutual assured destruction. The concept has been a cornerstone of U.S. military security policy since the creation of nuclear weapons. It's based on the theory that no super-power leader would start a nuclear war knowing Armageddon would be the result. To this day, that either helps you sleep at night or the opposite.

Journalist Maria Hinojosa at UW's Kane Hall
Courtesy of Emile Pitre

Maria Hinojosa and her team at Latino USA have been reporting on how Latinos and Hispanics experience and impact the United States since 1992. That ethnic group accounted for more than half of the total U.S. population growth from 2000 to 2014. The Pew Research Center predicts they will make up 24 percent of the population here by 2065.

Courtesy of Libby Lewis Photography

And now for something maybe completely unexpected. Tom Hanks wrote a book. The prolific actor credits writer and filmmaker Nora Ephron with encouraging his writing years ago on the set of “Sleepless in Seattle.” He later wrote a piece about a friend in the film business and ran it by Ephron, asking “Is this a thing?” She said yes, with some qualifications, and Hanks took her advice to heart.

Journalist Michael Wolff’s new book, “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House,” was released Friday.

Publisher Henry Holt & Co. decided to push the publication date up by four days after President Trump’s legal team issued a cease-and-desist letter to Wolff, the publisher and former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon, who was interviewed at length for the book.

Updated at 3:50 p.m. ET

The book that created a rift between President Trump and his former campaign chief executive and adviser Steve Bannon hit the shelves Friday morning, ahead of the original Tuesday release date, despite the president's threat to block its publication.

Michael Wolff, author of Fire and Fury: Inside The Trump White House, told NPR's Kelly McEvers that he "100 percent" stands behind his reporting, which the White House and some of the book's subjects have sharply criticized.

The audio link above includes an excerpt of Terry Gross' 1989 conversation with Sue Grafton.

I think the last time I reviewed one of Sue Grafton's novels was in 2009. I wrote that U is for Undertow was so good, "it makes me wish there were more than 26 letters at her disposal." Now, of course, that line falls flat.

FILE - In this July 28, 2016, file photo, Khizr Khan, father of fallen Army Capt. Humayun Khan and his wife Ghazala speak during the final day of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia.
AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File

Khizr Khan is an American citizen of Pakistani descent. He is perhaps most famous for the fact that he carries a copy of the U.S. Constitution in his breast pocket and for a speech he gave at the Democratic National Convention in 2016. 

Courtesy of Simon & Schuster

Looking back at a year that was tumultuous in so many ways, this talk by author Walter Isaacson stands out as something that has almost nothing to do with our modern day trials and tribulations. 

It seems fitting that 2017 has been bookended by two novels about women and power. When the year began, Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale, which depicts a future where women are stripped of all power, began making its way to the top of best-seller lists. As 2017 draws to a close, another dystopian novel has made it onto some prominent top ten lists: Naomi Alderman's The Power.

Before 2017 ends, read one of these new books

Dec 19, 2017
Flickr Photo/Pietro Bellini (CC BY-NC-ND)

2017 was a tough year in many ways, but there was one good thing about it. The books.

Authors gave us plenty of profound, thoughtful and wonderful things to read this year, so if you feel like spending the last few days of 2017 holed up with a book — go for it. And you might consider including the latest work of one of these writers who visited the KUOW studios.

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaking with supporters at a town hall meeting at Hillside Middle School in Manchester, New Hampshire on Jan. 22, 2016.
Flickr Photo/Gage Skidmore (CC BY SA 2.0)/https://flic.kr/p/Cvop2D

There’s a rap against Hillary Rodham Clinton: that she’s cold, robotic. That was certainly not the persona she presented on her visit to Seattle this week. If Clinton were a robot, she’d be the Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em variety, with a healthy dash of reflective and forward-thinking feminist, doting grandmother and super-sharp political analyst.

Courtesy of Libby Lewis Photography

Writer Isabel Allende has cast a spell on her readers since at least 1982, when she published her first major work “The House of the Spirts.” Her fiction, noted for elements of magic realism, has struck a deep chord. She has sold nearly 70 million books.

Courtesy of Susan Fried

What’s a progressive citizenry to do? It’s been over a year since President Donald Trump was elected. Liberal Seattleites reacted to that event (they call it “the incident” here) in various ways.

The individuals you’ll hear in these talks switched careers, took a road trip to conservative Oregon, reflected on the balance between parenting and activism, sought ways to confront family divisions, and took up boxing.

Courtesy of Spelman College/J.D. Scott

In 1997 Dr. Beverly Tatum published her acclaimed book "Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? And Other Conversations About Race.” The work explores an enduring American reluctance to acknowledge the realities of racial identity development and racism. For the last 20 years, it has served as a catalyst in efforts to address those realities.

Esther Perel and Dan Savage at the Egyptian Theatre
KUOW Photo/Sonya Harris

It’s the holiday season, so oh what fun it is to offer you this moment in time when renowned sex advice columnist Dan Savage met renowned sex therapist Esther Perel for an extremely frank discussion of marriage and infidelity.

Author Isabel Allende in the KUOW studios on Tuesday, November 28th.
KUOW Photo/Kara McDermott

Isabel Allende’s history with Seattle began  with a dress. It looked like a butterfly, she lovingly remembered, and she flew all the way back to the city to try it on. “And I looked terrible. I looked like an extra in the Cirque du Soleil,” she laughed. She brought that sense of humor back to Seattle for a conversation with Bill Radke following the publication of her latest book, "In the Midst of Winter."

Courtesy of Penquin Press

Author and political commentator Lawrence O’Donnell was a teenager in 1968. He recalls the time in some detail. He was coming of age as someone drawn to politics and directly affected by the Vietnam War.

Courtesy of Heather Malcolm

It’s Thanksgiving week, and among the many things one might be thankful for, pie and whiskey could be high on your list. A group of writers led by Kate Lebo and Sam Ligon certainly thought so. They thought so much of that duo that they created the anthology “Pie & Whiskey: Writers under the Influence of Butter & Booze.”

Courtesy of Workman Publishing

If you’re a regular listener to WNYC’s On The Media, you know that Brooke Gladstone is a force in journalism. You hear her commitment to accurate, nuanced reporting and analysis in everything that show does. She won’t accept any nonsense, even from her co-host, Bob Garfield.

Courtesy of Northeastern University-Seattle

The name Bill Ayers rings a bell for people of a certain age. He is one of the icons of '60s and '70s counterculture and anti-Vietnam War movements. As a young man he became a founder of the notorious leftist radical organization The Weather Underground.

One of the group's goals was to overthrow the U.S. government. They orchestrated a string of bombings of public offices. In 1970, three members were killed when a bomb they were building exploded. Ayers became a fugitive for a time after that incident.

David Neiwert and Knute Berger at University Lutheran Church
KUOW Photo/Sonya Harris

Author David Neiwert would prefer to write books about whales at this point in his career.

Seriously. He’s done it. He says it’s much less stressful than writing about extremist groups.

Courtesy of Marvel Comics

Comic books are more popular now than they’ve ever been. Sales have been on the rise for years and keep climbing. They are also experiencing growth in diversity. One indication is the character Kamala Khan, the new Ms. Marvel.

Khan is a Pakistani-American teenager, a shapeshifter and a Muslim. One of her primary creators is the Seattle-based author Willow Wilson. (The G is silent.)

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