NWPR Books

NWPR Books
10:17 am
Wed January 29, 2014

A New Look At George Eliot That's Surprisingly Approachable

English novelist George Eliot (1819 - 1880), pseudonym of Mary Ann Evans, poses for a photograph.
Hulton Archive Getty Images

Meg Wolitzer's latest novel is The Interestings.

I have to admit that the first time I tried to read Middlemarch by George Eliot, I ended up putting it aside after only 20 pages. My teenage self, feeding heavily at the time on Pearl S. Buck and Go Ask Alice, found the novel difficult and dry. But then one day, when I was older and more discerning and less antsy, I tried again, and this time I was swept in. This time, I guess I was ready.

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NWPR Books
10:04 am
Wed January 29, 2014

Anna Quindlen Is (Still) The Voice Of Her Generation

Courtesy of Random House

Back in the 1980s, Anna Quindlen's New York Times column, "Life in the 30s," delineated — with humor and grace — what so many of her fellow newly liberated female Boomers were going through: the complications of using your maiden name after you have children. Check. The challenges of balancing a career with parenting. Check. Grocery shopping with small children in tow, "an event I hope to see included in the Olympics in the near future." Check again.

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NWPR Books
4:02 am
Wed January 29, 2014

Allende Creates Realism Without The Magic In 'Ripper'

Chilean writer Isabel Allende is the author of 20 books, including The House of Spirits and City of the Beasts.
Lori Barra Courtesy of HarperCollins

I've been wanting to read Isabel Allende's work for years now, for the praise it's received as an exemplar of the magical realist tradition (which I love) and for its focus on the lives of women (which I applaud). So it's with some bemusement that I discovered my first experience with it would be a crime novel about a San Francisco serial killer.

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NWPR Books
10:57 am
Tue January 28, 2014

Entrepreneurs Looking For 'Windfall' Cash In On Climate Change

A boat skims through the melting ice in the Ilulissat fjord in August 2008, on the western coast of Greenland.
Steen Ulrik Johannessen AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Tue January 28, 2014 11:48 am

In 2008, as scientists documented a record melt in the Arctic ice and Al Gore's film An Inconvenient Truth was in theaters, a half dozen major investment houses launched mutual funds designed to take advantage of financial opportunities offered by climate change.

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NWPR Books
5:20 am
Tue January 28, 2014

'Founding Mothers' Helps Kids 'Remember The Ladies'

Deborah Franklin defended her home against a mob that was angry about the Stamp Act.
Courtesy of Harper

In 2004, Morning Edition contributor Cokie Roberts published a book about the ways in which the wives, mothers, daughters and sisters of America's Founding Fathers helped forge the nation. Now she's back with an illustrated version aimed at children. It's called Founding Mothers: Remembering The Ladies.

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NWPR Books
4:02 am
Tue January 28, 2014

Conflict And Colonization Under Alien Ice In 'A Darkling Sea'

A Darkling Sea, James Cambias' first novel, is the perfect action romp for people who miss old-fashioned stories of planetary colonization. It has all the gee-whiz wonder of a classic space opera tale, complete with weird aliens. But it also reflects contemporary concerns like environmental contamination, and the political problems that can arise from first contact between very different civilizations. The result is an exciting, if ultimately flawed, tale of first meetings between alien groups.

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NWPR Books
9:48 am
Mon January 27, 2014

'Pope And Mussolini' Tells The 'Secret History' Of Fascism And The Church

Originally published on Mon January 27, 2014 10:45 am

It's commonly thought that the Catholic Church fought heroically against the fascists when Benito Mussolini's party ruled over Italy in the 1920s and '30s. But in The Pope and Mussolini, David Kertzer says the historical record and a trove of recently released archives tell a very different story.

It's fascinating, Kertzer tells Fresh Air's Dave Davies, "how in a very brief period of time, Mussolini came to realize the importance of enlisting the pope's support."

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NWPR Books
9:48 am
Mon January 27, 2014

On This Spanish Slave Ship, Nothing Was As It Seemed

Detail from the cover of The Empire of Necessity.
Courtesy of Metropolitan Books

Originally published on Mon January 27, 2014 2:14 pm

Shortly after sunrise, on the morning of Feb. 20, 1805, sailors on an American ship called the Perseverance, anchored near an uninhabited island off the coast of Chile, spied a weird vessel drifting into view. It flew no flag and its threadbare sails were slack. The captain of the Perseverance, a man named Amasa Delano, decided to come to the aid of the ship, whose name, painted in faded white letters along its bow, was the Tryal.

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NWPR Books
6:57 am
Mon January 27, 2014

8 Picture Books That Make Us Wish We Were Kids Again

Courtesy of Candlewick Press

Originally published on Mon February 3, 2014 8:21 am

Update: On Jan. 27, the American Library Association awarded the Caldecott Medal to Locomotive by Brian Floca. Three Caldecott Honor books were also named, including Journey by Aaron Becker and Mr. Wuffles! by David Wiesner.

Our original post:

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NWPR Books
9:03 am
Sun January 26, 2014

In Fragments Of A Marriage, Familiar Themes Get Experimental

iStockphoto

Originally published on Sun January 26, 2014 9:47 am

Love, parenthood, infidelity, a crumbling marriage ... these are pretty traditional themes for fiction. It's not the kind of stuff that normally makes for an experimental novel.

But in Jenny Offill's new book, Dept. of Speculation, those familiar subjects take on an unusual form. The book is short, just 46 brief chapters, and instead of forming a narrative, they're disconnected snippets of prose, poetry and anecdotes. The story centers on two characters, "the wife" and "the husband," who are never named.

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