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's a telling moment in one of the stories in Luis Alberto Urrea's The Water Museum, when two high school friends are talking about their mutual love for Velvet Underground. "You like Berlin?" asks one of the boys. "Lou Reed's best album, dude!" A lot of Reed's fans (including this one) would agree, but it's a controversial record — it's certainly one of the most depressing rock albums in history, heavily suffused with references to suicide, violence and drug abuse.

Mary Norris has spent the past 20 years working as "a page OK'er" at The New Yorker, a position she says is unique to the magazine. Essentially, she's a highly specialized proofreader and copy editor on the publication's elaborate author-to-print assembly line. Alternate job descriptions include "prose goddess" and "comma queen."

A friend once told me the story of an enormous fish, Kun, that turns into an enormous bird, Peng, so huge that it must gain thousands of feet in elevation before it can fly — but once it does, it flies so far and so fast that it crosses oceans the way sparrows flit from branch to branch.

When it came time for Chucky Taylor to propose to his girlfriend Lynn, he didn't bother with embellishments. After having spent most of their relationship an ocean apart — he in Liberia, she in Pine Hills, Florida, where they'd met — Chucky drove Lynn to a beach in Monrovia and handed her not a ring but a bag of uncut diamonds.

'Lulu Anew' Is No Lifetime Movie

Apr 4, 2015

Somebody call Nicholas Sparks! Cue the rainstorm and contempo-schmaltz soundtrack! A woman has left her husband and gone off on a quest to find herself. Roll out the picturesque settings, dig up some quirky side characters and summon the Second-Act Prince Charming — it's time for One Of Those Stories.

But wait — actually, it isn't. The rather astonishing achievement of Étienne Davodeau's new graphic novel is that, despite telling a tale that screams "Lifetime movie," it's actually both surprising and unique.

As one of the many kids who became fascinated by the science-trumps-magic movie The Flight of Dragons, you can imagine my delight when I realized it was based on a real book. Well, a composite of two books (as it turns, out the plot comes from somewhere else entirely), so I was startled to open Peter Dickinson's The Flight of Dragons and find no human quest at all. What I did find, however, suited me just as much: a natural history that sparked my imagination — not only about mythical beasts, but about the nature of scientific inquiry.

T.C. Boyle has been writing books for a long time. He's cranked out 15 novels since he got started in 1979, along with numerous short stories and collections of short stories and essays and whatever else writers write when they're worried about keeping the lights on or maintaining their brand.

A Ghostly Chorus Narrates 'The World Before Us'

Apr 1, 2015

A gaggle of querulous ghosts narrates the events in Aislinn Hunter's new novel The World Before Us. Hunter, a Canadian author of both fiction and poetry, brings a moody grace to these phantoms and to her telling of this rather quirky tale. The novel spans three time periods: The present, a generation earlier, and the late 19th century. The spirits present themselves as witnesses to each period, and they become characters as rich and personal as any blood-and-bones characters in the novel.

"On this side I have old age, and on this side I have death." — Alejandro Jodorowsky

First, a hard-boiled fact: No one alive today, anywhere, has been able to demonstrate the sheer possibilities of artistic invention — and in so many disciplines — as powerfully as Alejandro Jodorowsky. An accomplished mime, filmmaker, playwright, novelist, composer, actor, comics writer and spiritual guru, Jodorowsky — best known for surrealist films like The Holy Mountain — is an ambitious misfit whose culturally disruptive work has much to offer the world.

Justine Sacco. Jonah Lehrer. Mike Daisey. The names sound vaguely familiar, like an old college friend or distant relative.