NWPR Books
12:34 pm
Mon December 15, 2014

Sometimes You Can't Pick Just 10: Maureen Corrigan's Favorite Books Of 2014

Rows of characters enjoying reading books.
Gustav Dejert Ikon Images/Getty Images

Originally published on Thu December 18, 2014 10:12 am

For this year's Best Books of the Year list, I reject the tyranny of the decimal system. Some years it's simply more than 10. Here, then, are my top 12 books of 2014. All of the disparate books on my list contain characters, scenes or voices that linger long past the last page of their stories. In fact, The Empire of Necessity by Greg Grandin, which is my pick for Book of the Year, came out in January and I haven't stopped thinking about it since.

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NWPR Books
2:33 pm
Fri November 28, 2014

After The Ferguson Decision, A Poem That Gives Name To The Hurt

Originally published on Fri November 28, 2014 3:22 pm

Since George Zimmerman was found not guilty of killing Trayvon Martin, I've been repeating these words by the poet Audre Lorde like a prayer. She writes:

For those of us
who were imprinted with fear
like a faint line in the center of our foreheads
learning to be afraid with our mother's milk
for by this weapon
this illusion of some safety to be found
the heavy-footed hoped to silence us
For all of us
this instant and this triumph
We were never meant to survive.

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NWPR Books
7:20 am
Fri November 21, 2014

There's More To Asking Than Just Art

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Grand Central Publishing

Amanda Palmer's well-intentioned, slightly clueless new book, The Art of Asking, is a little bit diary, a little bit TED talk, and a little bit how-to guide. Palmer, Neil Gaiman's wife and one-half of the band the Dresden Dolls, had a well-publicized break from her record label and asked her fans to front the money for her next venture via Kickstarter. She asked for $100,000 — and received $1.2 million. From this successful experiment in asking for help, she has produced a hazy philosophy of asking, built on the pillars of trust, reciprocity, couch-surfing and a lot of body paint.

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NWPR Books
12:12 pm
Wed November 19, 2014

'Unspeakable' Gives Voice To Things We All Think, But Don't Say


Meghan Daum's The Unspeakable is nominally a collection of essays about the conversations we all want to partake in but hold back from; the thoughts we all have but refuse to admit out loud.

And, in several respects, the book fits the bill. "Matricide," the collection's opening essay, recounts Daum's experience watching her mother die from gallbladder cancer. But the piece is equally an exploration of their troubled relationship, and Daum is open about her grievances. "I had a hard time not seeing her as a fraud," she says at one point.

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NWPR Books
10:18 am
Mon November 17, 2014

'Operation Sea Lion' Is A Flawed But Fascinating Look At WWII

During the summer of 1940, the Third Reich occupied most of Europe. If Britain fell too, the complete Nazification of the continent seemed like a real possibility.

And the German High Command had a plan for the invasion: Operation Sea Lion. But the mission never materialized into action.

After the war, many surviving Reich commanders claimed Sea Lion was merely a psychological game meant to demoralize Britain, and that Hitler never believed a full-scale invasion was necessary.

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NWPR Books
4:03 am
Sat November 15, 2014

Spend Some Time 'Loitering,' And Feel Less Alone

The essay, some time in its long journey from Samuel Johnson's "loose sally of the mind, an irregular undigested piece," has become something that can be persuasive instead of discursive, something that slices and gleams, an accumulation of arguments as relentless as the stacking of bricks.

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NWPR Books
3:34 pm
Fri November 14, 2014

After Catalonia's Independence Vote, An 'Homage' To George Orwell

Originally published on Fri November 14, 2014 5:26 pm

On Sunday morning as I cast my vote in the Catalan election, I thought of the day that George Orwell arrived in Barcelona. It was the day after Christmas in 1936 and Spain was in the midst of a terrifying and utterly chaotic civil war.

Orwell was shot in the throat and barely survived to tell the tale of what he saw, but survive he did, and in 1938 Homage to Catalonia, his personal account of the near six months he spent on the front lines of the Spanish Revolution, was published to little attention. In fact, it wasn't published in the United States until 1952.

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NWPR Books
8:01 am
Tue November 11, 2014

Behind The Famous Story, A Difficult 'Wild Truth'

Jon Krakauer's 1996 book Into the Wild delved into the riveting story of Chris McCandless, a 24-year-old man from an affluent family outside Washington, D.C., who graduated with honors from Emory, then gave away the bulk of his money, burned the rest and severed all ties with his family. After tramping around the country for nearly two years, he headed into the Alaska wilderness in April 1992. His emaciated body was found a little over four months later.

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NWPR Books
2:18 am
Sun October 26, 2014

The Freaky, Fabulous, Feminist 'Secret History' Of Wonder Woman

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Group sex parties. Polygamy. Bondage. What could such things have to do with Wonder Woman? Fortunately, there's no connection between those titillating concepts and the famous Amazon — certainly not in Jill Lepore's new book.

Just kidding! In fact, The Secret History of Wonder Woman relates a tale so improbable, so juicy, it'll have you saying, "Merciful Minerva!" It turns out that decades of rumors were true: The red-white-and-blue heroine, conceived during World War II, had a decidedly bohemian progenitor.

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NWPR Books
3:31 pm
Fri October 24, 2014

For The Midterm Elections, A Book On 'What It Takes' To Win

Originally published on Fri October 24, 2014 3:59 pm

In less than two weeks, Americans will go to the polls to vote in the midterm elections. At least, some of them will — about 40% of eligible voters, if past elections are any indication. This year's races have already made stars — some rising, some falling — out of Americans hoping to represent their states and districts.

Some, like Kansas Senate hopeful Greg Orman and Georgia governor candidate Jason Carter, may pull off surprising victories. Others, like Wendy Davis in the Texas governor race have seen their once bright lights fade.

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