NWPR Books

NWPR Books
12:49 pm
Tue January 22, 2013

Missing Out: On The Uses Of Dissatisfaction

Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Originally published on Wed January 23, 2013 8:11 am

From Malcolm Gladwell to the Freakonomics guys to (discredited) science writer Jonah Lehrer, writers these past few years have flooded bookstores with popular nonfiction titles that purport to tell us how we think. But something has been lost amid the recent vogue for cognitive science and behavioral economics. What about the human part of human behavior — the dreams and desires that set us apart from animals and computers? Are we just assemblages of neurons and chemicals?

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NWPR Books
10:28 am
Mon January 21, 2013

Fiction Truer Than Fact: A Haunting Autobiographical Novel

Sarah Manguso's latest book is called The Guardians.

I like autobiographies that approach their subjects insidiously. My favorite ones begin as a study of someone or something else. Then, partway through, the author realizes he's the subject. And my very favorite autobiographies are the ones, in all their particularity, that might as well be about me — or you, or anyone.

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NWPR Books
10:19 am
Mon January 21, 2013

'Double V': The Fight For Civil Rights In The U.S. Military

The fight to integrate the U.S. military began with the Revolutionary War, says author Rawn James, Jr.
Bloomsbury Press

In his new book, The Double V: How Wars, Protest and Harry Truman Desegregated America's Military, author Rawn James Jr. argues that if one wants to understand the story of race in the United States, one must understand the history of African-Americans in the country's military. Since the country was founded, he tells Fresh Air's Dave Davies, the military "has continually been forced to confront what it means to segregate individuals according to race."

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NWPR Books
10:11 am
Mon January 21, 2013

Urban Oases: Getting Lost in 'Invisible Cities'

Carlo Allegri Getty Images

Eric Weiner's latest book is Man Seeks God: My Flirtations with the Divine.

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NWPR Books
2:29 pm
Sun January 20, 2013

George Saunders On Absurdism And Ventriloquism In 'Tenth Of December'

iStockphoto.com

George Saunders has been writing short stories for decades.

Saunders, a professor at Syracuse University, was once a geological engineer who traveled the world; he now crafts stories that combine the absurd and fantastic with the mundane realities of everyday life. One story about a professional caveman inspired those Geico commercials.

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NWPR Books
1:12 pm
Sun January 20, 2013

Connecting With Nature To Reclaim Our Natural 'Birthright'

Stephen Kellert is a professor emeritus and senior research scholar at Yale University.
John Mueller Yale University Press

Originally published on Sun January 20, 2013 2:29 pm

"Contact with nature is not some magical elixir but the natural world is the substrate on which we must build our existence," writes Stephen Kellert in his new book Birthright: People and Nature in the Modern World.

In it, he tells stories of the environment's effect on us, and ours on it. His writing builds on the traditions of Thoreau, John Muir and Rachel Carson. Modern society, he argues, has become adversarial in its relationship to nature, having greatly undervalued the natural world beyond its narrow utility.

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NWPR Books
5:05 am
Sun January 20, 2013

Presidents Use Bully Pulpit To Shape American Language In 'Words'

Bloomsbury

The office of the president offers a lot of responsibilities and privileges. Your actions drive the world's most powerful military, billions of dollars worth of domestic policy and, perhaps most importantly, the way the country speaks.

That's what linguist and writer Paul Dickson contends in his new book, Words From the White House. It's a look back through history at the words and phrases popularized by our presidents — including the ones they don't get credit for anymore.

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NWPR Books
5:05 am
Sun January 20, 2013

Relationships And Rocket Ships In 'Last Girlfriend'

Reagan Arthur Books

Everyone has relationship problems, even God — at least, according to humorist Simon Rich. His latest book of short stories, The Last Girlfriend on Earth: And Other Love Stories, is quirky, surreal and sometimes a little dark. It's divided into three sections: Boy Meets Girl. Boy Gets Girl. Boy Loses Girl.

"It is a pretty honest and personal book," Rich tells NPR's Rachel Martin, "which is a strange thing to say about a book that's filled with so much time travel, and rocket ships, and talking trolls and magical goats, but it is actually a pretty honest book."

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NWPR Books
4:25 pm
Sat January 19, 2013

'All We Know': Three Remarkable But Forgotten Lives

Farrar, Straus and Giroux

The scene is Paris in the 1920s. The stars are three women: Esther Murphy, a product of New York high society who wrote madly but could never finish a book; Mercedes de Acosta, an insatiable collector and writer infatuated with Greta Garbo; and Madge Garland, a self-made Australian fashion editor at British Vogue. All three were lesbians.

Their histories burst onto the literary scene this summer in the biography All We Know: Three Lives by Wesleyan University professor Lisa Cohen.

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NWPR Books
4:13 am
Sat January 19, 2013

After 30 Years, Neil Jordan Returns To 'The Past'

Courtesy Soft Skull Press

Neil Jordan is best known as a filmmaker — he directed The Crying Game, Michael Collins, Interview with the Vampire and the Showtime series The Borgias — but he began his career as a writer. His first novel, The Past, was published in Ireland in 1980 to great acclaim.

The novel follows an enigmatic protagonist on his search for his family's secrets in a Cornish seaside town. Jordan joins NPR's Scott Simon to talk about The Past, which has been reissued in the United States by Soft Skull Press.

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