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Courtesy of Paul Bongaarts

One of the truisms about living in the Great Northwest is that wherever you are, it doesn’t take long to get out into the mountains. Whether we’re from here or migrated here, we crow about the natural beauty and adventure that surround us.

When Kelly Barrales-Saylor was a new mom, she got a lot of children's books as gifts. Most were simple books about shapes, colors and letters. There were none about science — or math.

"My editorial brain lit up and said there must be a need for this," says Barrales-Saylor, who works as an editor for a publishing company outside Chicago.

Halfway across the world, Chris Ferrie was similarly unsatisfied.

When reading to his kids, Ferrie noticed that most books used animals to introduce new words. In today's world, that just didn't make sense to him.

Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor and Naomi Klein move past their shock at Trump's election at the Neptune Theatre
Courtesy of Debra Heesch

Journalist and author Naomi Klein is famous for her 2007 book, “The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism.” The shock she explored there was the manipulation of international crisis situations to implement so-called neo-liberal, free market policies.

On a recent stop in Seattle, Klein considered another kind of shock. She read from her new book, “No Is Not Enough: Resisting Trump's Shock Politics and Winning the World We Need.”

The first book of the Harry Potter series went on sale in the U.K. 20 years ago today. It offers a convenient excuse to reacquaint yourself with a world before anyone on this side of the Atlantic had heard of muggles, horcruxes or pensieves, before tourists would crowd into London's Kings Cross railway station simply to peer wistfully at the space between Platforms Nine and Ten.

Here's the first story NPR ever aired about Harry Potter — a wonderful piece by the late Margot Adler, from All Things Considered in 1998.

Some gems, from that bygone era:

Courtesy of The Hachette Book Group

It’s still a little hard to believe, but 17 years ago a comedian famous for his contributions to Saturday Night Live ran to become a U.S. Senator from Minnesota, and won, barely. At first it appeared he had lost, but after a recount and a protracted legal dispute, Senator Al Franken went to Washington. And not because he’s such a funny guy.

Several years ago, when Garrett Graff was working at Washingtonian magazine, a coworker brought him a lost ID badge that he'd found on the floor of a parking garage.

"It was a government ID for someone from the intelligence community, and he gave it to me since I write about that subject, and he's like, "I figure you can get this back to this guy,' " Graff recalls.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kurt_Vonnegut#/media/File:Kurt_Vonnegut_1972.jpg

 

Kurt Vonnegut (1922-2007) was grim about the future in a hilarious way.

Brian Weiss

Six years ago Seattle poet Tara Hardy was blindsided by a mysterious chronic illness. It nearly killed her. She talks with KUOW's Elizabeth Austen about what it was like to live with that mystery, what changed once the disease had a name, and why she believes we're all living with a diagnosis of "human frailty."

Author and filmmaker Sherman Alexie waits with dancers backstage for his turn on stage as the keynote speaker at a celebration of Indigenous Peoples’ Day Monday, Oct. 10, 2016, at Seattle's City Hall.
AP Photo/Elaine Thompson

In Sherman Alexie’s deeply personal memoir, “You Don't Have to Say You Love Me,” he tells the story of growing up as the son of Lillian Alexie on the Spokane Indian Reservation.

Brett Lowell/Courtesy of Viking/Penguin Books

Tommy Caldwell understands risk and adventure better than most. Two years ago, he became the first person to free climb the Dawn Wall of El Capitan in Yosemite National Park.

The wall is more than half a mile of sheer, vertical granite — and Caldwell made the climb with nothing but a rope tied around his waist.

Twitter War vets Lindy West and Scaachi Koul at SPL
KUOW Photo/John O'Brien

Scaachi Koul, a Toronto-based writer, didn’t hold back when speaking in Seattle recently.

For starters, she thinks all non-savory pies are gross — especially America’s beloved apple pie.

“Hot stewed fruit? Bad. Bad. I don’t get it,” Koul said.

Courtesy of Libby Lewis Photography

The idea of getting up on stage may terrify most of us, but actor Jeffrey Tambor knew from a very young age that was exactly what he wanted to do.

As long as he can recall, he’s wanted to give people his autograph.

Civic boosters in an Olympic Peninsula rainforest town are looking to a trove of movie props and costumes to maintain the flow of vampire tourism. A collection related to the bestselling "Twilight" teen vampire romance series, which was set in real life Forks, Washington, opened to the public there Thursday.

Updated at 3:12 p.m. ET

Denis Johnson, the author behind the seminal collection Jesus' Son, has died at the age of 67. A protean stylist who made a career of defying readers' expectations, he crafted fiction, poetry and reportage that was often as unsparing as it was unconventional.

Bishop Scott Hayashi: 'Three men entered. One jumped behind the counter where I was standing, put a gun to my side and pulled the trigger. Pffft! It was that fast.'
Courtesy of Kathy Shorr

To say the least, the statistics surrounding gun violence in the United States are disturbing. On an average day, 93 Americans are killed with guns. Seven of those are children.

For every person killed with guns, two more are injured.

'Passion in Red.'
CREDIT XANDRISS SINGLE LINE ARTIST HTTPS://FLIC.KR/P/N7B6V7 (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Claire Dederer’s book “Love and Trouble: A Midlife Reckoning” is a memoir. But unlike “Wild” or “Eat, Pray, Love,” it’s not the kind of memoir where a woman of a certain age goes traipsing off into the unknown to start a new life.


Farmland near Ritzville, Washington.
Flickr Photo/John Westrock (CC BY NC ND 2.0)/https://flic.kr/p/GwCkwW

Ten years ago, University of Washington professor David Montgomery published his influential book “Dirt: The Erosion of Civilizations.” One year later, he received a MacArthur Genius fellowship, and continued his research in geomorphology: “the branch of geology that is concerned with the structure, origin, and development of the topographical features of the earth's surface.”

Courtesy of Libby Lewis Photography

Yes, poetry month is over. But how about some more poetry anyway?

We’ve collected readings from the Seattle Arts & Lectures poetry series over the last two months. You’ll hear the work of poets Ellen Bass, Ross Gay and Alice Notley. Each spoke at Seattle’s McCaw Hall.

Would a universal basic income solve poverty?

May 12, 2017

Bill Radke talks with historian Rutger Bregman and author of the new book "Utopia for Realists." The book details, in part, Bregman's belief that there should be a universal basic income, where everyone is given enough money to put them above the poverty line, even if they don't work. Bregman believes this would solve multiple problems while costing a fraction of what is spent on poverty measures now. He also believes a basic income for everyone would allow people to rethink the true value of work. 

KUOW Photo/Sonya Harris

Author Thomas Frank made his mark on the book world by taking Republicans to task for the state of the nation. Last year, well before Donald Trump’s presidential win, Frank shifted his gaze to the Democrats. He didn’t like what he saw there, either.

Meredith Heuer

Bill Radke speaks with Daniel Handler, aka Lemony Snicket, and his wife Lisa Brown about their new book, "Goldfish Ghost." Handler wrote the story and Brown did the illustrations. And as you might guess from the title, it's a kid's story about a dead goldfish. Handler and Brown discuss the new book, why we don't really want happy endings, and the need for loneliness and bewilderment in our daily lives. 

Courtesy of Dave Hardwick

Civic Saturday is the brainchild of Eric Liu and Jená Cane, co-founders of the Seattle-based non-profit Citizen University. They call it the civic analog to church.

Like church, it brings people together but to ponder our civic lives. And like church, the gathering includes songs, readings of “scripture” taken from great American texts, silent reflection and a “sermon” given by Liu.

KUOW Photo/Sonya Harris

Before Chris Hayes became an Emmy Award-winning MSNBC host and a best-selling author, he was a kid trying to navigate New York City in the 1990s. His experience of borders, between neighborhoods and classes of people, informed his world view.

They're called "my wife," and it seems they've done it all: typed, transcribed and even researched for their scholar husbands.

And, through a hashtag that started last weekend, their work also started a conversation on the uncredited female labor in academia.

In this March 21, 2017 photo, Misty Copeland, first African-American female principal dancer with the American Ballet Theatre, appears at the Steps on Broadway dance school in New York.
AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews

Ballerina Misty Copeland started her dance training at the late age of 13. Nonetheless, she was soon recognized as a prodigy and rose quickly to opportunity and success. In 2015, she became the first African-American woman promoted to principal ballerina by American Ballet Theatre.

Courtesy Private Collection

There are many reasons to be thankful for the life and work of author Betty MacDonald.

If you have a love/hate relationship with chickens, her best-seller “The Egg and I” will satisfy both passions. If you have children in your life, her “Mrs. Piggle Wiggle” series will likely delight and challenge them. And if you suffer from self-doubt her book about finding work in the Great Depression, “Anybody Can Do Anything,” may help.

Author Viet Thanh Nguyen at Seattle Public Library
KUOW photo/Sonya Harris

Before Viet Thanh Nguyen became the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of the novel “The Sympathizers,” he was a 4-year-old boy uprooted from war-torn Vietnam and transported to a refugee camp in the United States.

Nguyen’s experience as a refugee marked his journey towards becoming an American in crucial ways. He describes the experience of being both a refugee and an American as being “split in two.”

How to keep young readers from ditching Dickens and chucking Chaucer

Mar 18, 2017
books
KUOW Photo/Soraya Marashi

Breaking up with Shakespeare? Done with Dickens?  Between misrepresentations, boring language, and distracting covers, reading classical literature can seem like a chore. Join RadioActivians Soraya Marashi and Zuheera Ali as they explore youth’s broken relationship with classical literature and how we can help mend the ties.


toilet
Flickr Photo/dirtyboxface (CC BY SA 2.0)/https://flic.kr/p/epNYWW

Bill Radke talks with professor Philip Fernbach, co-author of the new book "The Knowledge Illusion," about how people don't know nearly as much as they claim, whether it's about politics, science or even how a toilet works. Fernbach has found that we as a species share knowledge, which both helps society as well as gives us a self-inflated sense of how much we actually know. This is one reason, he says, that we may want to be a little more humble next time we think about starting an argument

Parents: Be gardeners, not carpenters

Mar 7, 2017
Developmental psychologist Alison Gopnik
Wikimedia Photo/Kathleen King (CC BY-SA 3.0) http://bit.ly/2miDSmR

Bill Radke sits down with child psychologist Alison Gopnik, author of the new book "The Gardener and the Carpenter." Gopnik explains her problems with modern parenting and how to better face the unexpected that comes with raising a child. 

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