books | KUOW News and Information

books

George Saunders at KUOW 2/28/17
Ross Reynolds

What happens when we die? Writer George Saunders speculates on what happens to Abraham Lincoln’s young son Willie when he dies in his first novel "Lincoln in the Bardo." Most of the book takes place in a cemetery and is described as having the ambience of Hieronymous Bosch and Tim Burton.

Courtesy of Angela Carlye

In 1963, John Lewis was 23 years old when he addressed a crowd of over 200,000 people at the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.

Lewis was already a veteran of the civil rights movement. He had been a devoted anti-segregation and voting rights activist in college and was one of the original 13 Freedom Riders who dared to ride integrated buses into the segregated South. He had become the chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and a colleague of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Roxane Gay speaks at TEDWomen2015 - Momentum, May 27-29, 2015, Monterey Conference Center, Monterey, California, USA.
Marla Aufmuth/TED via Flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0) https://flic.kr/p/ybtHLA

“What did you have for breakfast this morning?”

It was a question to set microphone levels, the first question put to Roxane Gay, feminist-writer rock start, at her Seattle hotel room last week. 

“I didn’t have breakfast this morning,” Gay said.

“Did you have coffee or anything to drink?”

“No,” she said. “I had water.”

Nancy Pearl
KUOW Photo

Despite the allure of technology, librarian Nancy Pearl says picture books still draw in readers of all ages.

She tells KUOW's Marcie Sillman about two books in particular: "Roberto the Insect Architect," by Nina Laden and "Finding Winnie: The True Story of the World's Most Famous Bear," by Lindsay Mattick with illustrations by Sophie Blackall.

National Geographic contributing photographer Joel Sartore is 11 years into a 25-year endeavor to document every captive animal species in the world using studio lighting and black-and-white backgrounds. So far, he's photographed 6,500 different species, which leaves approximately 6,000 to go.

In the 1950s and '60s, if there were any children's books in a house, at least one of them was likely to be a Little Golden Book. With their golden spines and brightly colored pictures, they begged to be grabbed off a shelf by a curious child — which is exactly what their creators intended. Those beloved books celebrate their 75th birthday this year.

First introduced shortly after the start of World War II, many of them — such as The Tawny Scrawny Lion, The Saggy Baggy Elephant and The Poky Little Puppy — have become classics.

Two decades ago only about 9 percent of children's books published in the U.S. were about people of color. Things have changed since then, but not by much.

On Wednesday, the Cooperative Children's Book Center at the University of Wisconsin, Madison's Education School revealed that in 2016, it counted 427 books written or illustrated by people of color, and 736 books about people of color out of about 3,400 books it analyzed. That adds up to 22 percent of children's books.

Nancy Pearl
KUOW Photo

In Great Britain, the term "crime fiction" refers to everything from a cozy mystery to a police procedural. Here in the U.S., we divide our crime fiction into separate genres, according to librarian Nancy Pearl.

A mystery starts with the world out of kilter, and ends with everything put to rights again. A police procedural focuses on the nuts and bolts of solving crimes.

And a thriller? Well, as Nancy Pearl told KUOW's Marcie Sillman, a thriller is a page turner, as addictive as potato chips. "You can't stop with just one," says Pearl.

Pearl recommends two thrillers: "The Drifter" by Nick Petrie and "August Snow" by Stephen Mack Jones.

Author Helen Macdonald at Benaroya Hall
Courtesy of Libby Lewis Photography

In her acclaimed memoir "H Is for Hawk," author Helen Macdonald reflects on the shock and depression she experienced at the unexpected death of her father. The two had a close bond, marked by their mutual fascination with nature.

Thrown by her loss and struggling with depression Macdonald, an experienced falconer, chose to train a notoriously difficult-to-handle raptor, a Northern Goshawk. She called her Mabel.

What happens when a person decides their gender at birth is not that one they were meant to be? If that person is a child, the question has ramifications for everyone in the family. Marcie Sillman speaks with Laurie Frankel about her new book, "This Is How It Always Is." The novel tells the story of a young transgender girlFrankel talks about the parallels between her own life and the family in the novel.

How can we see a better Seattle?

Feb 9, 2017
Courtesy of Chuck Wolfe

Bill Radke speaks with Seattle writer and land use attorney Chuck Wolfe about how people view the cities they live in. Wolfe says people are caught up in either loving or hating the rapid growth that is happening in Seattle. But what should we do about that? His idea: keep an urban diary. Wolfe explains exactly what he means by that in his new book, "Seeing the Better City: How to Explore, Observe, and Improve Urban Space."

Marchers walk through Seattle's Central Area on the 2015 anniversary of the shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri.
KUOW Photo/Liz Jones

When Reverend David Billings started giving anti-racism trainings in the 1980s, he said many people "just didn't see it." But he said that's not the case today.

While structural and cultural racism remains entrenched in the U.S., Billings see a growing awareness by whites of their privilege and their role in combating the problem.  

Below are four of his main talking points. 


Jeannie Yandel speaks with Seattle Times reporter Claudia Rowe about her new book, "The Spider and the Fly." 

Before Seattle Times reporter Claudia Rowe moved here, she was living in Poughkeepsie, New York where  in 1996 women started to disappear. These women had worked as prostitutes, and they had all all reported a man named Kendall Francois to the police for sexual assault, beating, choking. 

The Amazon bestseller list has become something of a political barometer of late. Recently Georgia Democratic Rep. John Lewis's memoir March rose to the top after President Trump criticized him for questioning the legitimacy of the presidential election. Since the election, Hillbilly Elegy, a memoir that has become a guide to working class America has been at or near the top of the list. Now the classic dystopian novel 1984, written by George Orwell and published in 1948, is number one.

Courtesy of Anne McTiernan

Bill Radke speaks with Anne McTiernan about her new memior called, "Starved: A Nutrition Doctor's Journey from Empty to Full." McTiernan is a research professor at the University of Washington Schools of Public Health and Medicine and a member of the public health sciences division at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.

Does America have a divine origin?

Jan 12, 2017
Michael Medved speaking at the 2014 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Maryland.
FLICKR PHOTO/Gage Skidmore (CC by SA 2.0)/https://flic.kr/p/kPpwPZ

Bill Radke speaks with conservative talk show host Michael Medved about his new book, "The American Miracle: Divine Providence in the Rise of the Republic." 

Some Americans believe that President Trump will restore this nation's greatness as God intended it. Medved is not a Trump supporter, but he does believe God has a plan for America. Medved believes the history of the United States is improbable and bizarre, which makes it easier to see where that divine providence guided the nation.

Jessica Bennett at Town Hall Seattle.
KUOW Photo/Sonya Harris

Author Jessica Bennett and a group of fellow female professionals were facing man’s world issues, like male colleagues taking credit for their ideas and work. The women started a monthly meeting to share stories and look for solutions. Their gatherings explored workplace discrimination and social research on how to combat it. 

If reading more in 2017 was one of your new year's resolutions, Nancy Pearl is here to help. Every once in a while, the Seattle-based librarian sends host Steve Inskeep a big stack of books. They're generally "under-the-radar" reads — titles she thinks deserve more attention than they've been getting.

This year, the stack includes breathtaking thrillers, a multi-generational crime story, an unforgettable family tale, and more. Pearl tells Inskeep why she loves these novels, and why she thinks you will, too.

Chin Music Press

Bill Radke talks with KUOW poetry correspondent Elizabeth Austen about the book, "Are You An Echo? The Lost Poetry Of Misuzu Kaneko," illustrated by Toshikado Hajiri with narrative and translation by David Jacobson, Sally Ito and Michiko Tsuboi. 

"Difficult woman" is a loaded term, but writer Roxane Gay isn't afraid of taking on ideas with baggage. (A few years ago, she wrote a book of essays called Bad Feminist.) Her new short story collection, Difficult Women, explores women's lives and issues of race, class and sex.

White House 2014 World AIDS Day
Flickr Photo/Ted Eytan (CC BY 2.0)/http://bit.ly/2hT2Rem

Author David France faced the fear and reality of AIDS first hand as a gay man, an investigative reporter and a New Yorker. He was there when word of the illness spread through the gay community and was largely ignored by politicians, religious figures and the press.

He writes about that dark history and how a small group of activists forged a way out in “How To Survive A Plague: The Inside Story of How Citizens and Science Tamed AIDS.”

The AP reported Friday that Simon & Schuster planned to move forward with publication of a book by Milo Yiannopoulos, in spite of harsh criticism. The forthcoming book, called Dangerous, is said to be about free speech.

Soon-to-be President Donald Trump will hold the keys, or the codes, to America's nuclear weapons arsenal in a few short weeks.

A lesson in leadership illustrated by images of men only. A fill-in-the-blanks test whose "correct" answer is a stereotype: "I am a Filipino. I am a domestic helper in Hong Kong." A discussion of global warming that highlights potential "positive effects" of climate change, such as "Places that are too cold for farming today could become farmland."

These are some examples from textbooks around the world included in a newly released study about the role of textbooks by the UNESCO Global Education Monitoring Report.

Bill Radke sits down with local author Maria Semple, author of "Where's You Go, Bernadette?" and the new "Today Will Be Different." Semple discusses the idea of "the helpless traveler," a theory that when on vacation, you choose to either take charge or do absolutely nothing. 

KUOW Photo/Bond Huberman

If you've been in a quandary over what to give your favorite child this holiday season, fret no more! Nancy Pearl tells KUOW's Marcie Sillman about "The Christmas Crocodile," a picture book by Bonny Becker, illustrated by David Small.

Senator Bernie Sanders at University Temple United Methodist Church
KUOW Photo/Sonya Harris

It may come as no surprise to you to hear that Bernie Sanders is not done. He was on the post-campaign trail last week, with a stop in Seattle to promote his new book, “Our Revolution: A Future To Believe In.”

Even after a bruising election season and outcome, Sanders says the majority of Americans agree with his vision of progress. He challenges us to “think big” about progressive change.

KUOW Photo/Bond Huberman

Longtime KUOW listeners know that Nancy Pearl calls herself an armchair historian. She tells KUOW's Marcie Sillman about Candice Millard's new book "Hero of the Empire," a chronicle of Winston Churchill and South African's Boer War.

Fishermen's Terminal, Seattle, Washington.
KUOW Photo/Kara McDermott

Bill Radke speaks with managing director of Investigate West Lee van der Voo about her new book, "The Fish Market: Inside the Big-Money Battle for the Ocean and Your Dinner Plate." She explains the effects that privatizing access to fishing rights have had on the fishing industry and how you buy seafood. 

NPR's annual Book Concierge is back. And to mark the occasion, correspondent Lynn Neary joins Morning Edition's Rachel Martin to talk about the year in fiction — and to share a couple of her favorite titles from 2016.

If you're looking for the books mentioned on-air, here are links to:

Pages