NWPR Books

Northwest Public Radio loves to read! Below, you will find our editorial reviews and personal recommendations for literary works we think you, our listeners, would love.

We are also receive station support from many Northwest Independent Booksellers, who provide their own recommendations here.

And, if you have any great reads you would like to share with us, please let us know, by emailing your review to NWPR@wsu.edu!

There are a hundred writers that I want to have a beer with, but Etgar Keret isn't one of them.

I want to almost have a beer with him — to have plans and a time and a place — and then for everything to go wrong. For trains to break down, cabs to be late; for him to be delayed by a missing wallet or a flood in his hotel, for me to blow a tire and for my cell phone to die so that we miss each other, arriving at the bar at different times to find it actively on fire or already burned to the ground.

'Modern Romance:' Love In The Age Of Demography

Jun 17, 2015

Editor's note: There is some adult language in this piece that some readers may find offensive.

They say that all actors really want to direct. That all journalists dream of being novelists. That all babies want to grow up to be cowboys. And that all comedians want to become data analysts. Okay, maybe not all comedians. Maybe just one: Aziz Ansari. And with his new book, Modern Romance, he finally gets his shot at living the dream.

Who's That Batgirl? 'Burnside' Charms Despite Stumbles

Jun 16, 2015

"I guess you can't trust any Batgirl these days," Barbara Gordon says roguishly (she does everything roguishly) in Batgirl Vol. 1: Batgirl of Burnside. It's a sly, even subversive line, referring to the fact that the role has been played by many different characters — and in many different ways — over the years. With Barbara's comment, the authors reiterate their cleverly layered theme: Identity, especially in the digital age, is anything but fixed.

Audiobooks have traditionally been tricky to get right and even harder to make special. Very often, they're literally just books read aloud, to the best of the ability of a single, usually highly skilled reader. In fiction, you get readers who are asked to provide voices for however many characters the author invented.

In "The Miracle Worker," one of the nine stories that make up Mia Alvar's debut collection In the Country, a wealthy Bahraini woman hires a Filipino special education teacher to try to coax some communication from her daughter, a profoundly disabled girl with extensive physical deformities. The mother wants nothing more than for her daughter to be "normal." She explains to the teacher: "Often people do not love difference."

Only last year, New Jersey writer Norman Lock brought out The Boy in His Winter, his time-travel version of Huck and Jim's passage along a great American river, and the river of time. In his new novel, American Meteor, Lock demonstrates that he doesn't have to lean on other people's creations to make a novel worth reading. He invents a cast that includes doctors, photographers, poets, presidents, and Indian chiefs, making a fable all his own which sheds brilliant light along the meteoric path of American westward expansion.

Let us stipulate at the outset that at 57 Stephen Fry is a world-class wit, unquestionably a learned fellow and surely a decent one — because really, anyone of whom Emma Thompson is that fond can't be entirely irredeemable, can he? That said, the 36-year-old Stephen Fry who inhabits the infuriating latter stretch of More Fool Me is a world-class git. Thank God he's rehabilitated himself since.

When it came out last year, Beth Cato's The Clockwork Dagger was a fresh, welcome addition to the steampunk canon. Still, it left many questions unanswered: The novel's protagonist, Octavia Leander — a young healer with a tragic past — hadn't grasped the scope of her magical powers. And the political machinations that swirled around her had much left to play out.

The Truth About 'Mike's Place'

Jun 11, 2015

There are places, according to popular belief and classic TV shows, where everybody knows your name. At these mythical sites you can find reasonably priced drinks and eats, great music and, most importantly, a certain elusive kind of people. They're the people you always wish you could meet — and at these few special places, you can. Behind these doors, everyone feels like — could it be possible? — family.

Some ideas are so clever it's a wonder no one has thought of them before. Case in point: Algerian writer Kamel Daoud's The Meursault Investigation, a response to Albert Camus' The Stranger, written from the point of view of the brother of the nameless Arab murdered by Camus' antihero Meursault.

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