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!

One of science fiction's toughest challenges is making nonhuman characters feel human. Robots are particularly hard: SF authors have spent decades putting every conceivable spin on the concept of manmade automatons, and the results have just as often been laughable as profound. Ian Tregillis tackles this prickly puzzle — and many more — with great skill in The Mechanical.

Cults and religions exist on a continuum, not in clearly delineated categories. It's even hard to claim that the distinction between the two comes down to "knowing it when you see it." For the most vulnerable people, the victims of groups that sit nebulously on the divide between cult and religion, that kind of clarity is what's often lacking.

'Escape' Is A Searing Indictment Of Nation-Building

Mar 17, 2015

Very early on in Escape from Baghdad!, before we realize how many murderous forces and literary genres are about to crash into each other, two friends are holed up in a safehouse in the South Ghazaliya neighborhood. Saddam Hussein has just been deposed; outside, the Madhi Army has just finished another minor street battle with a rival militia, and our heroes Dagr and Kinza are in possession of a stash of black market weapons and a captive: one of Saddam's head torturers.

I have been reading Genevieve Valentine's writing for a long time, and as much as her fiction delights me, I confess that the work of hers that brings me the most pleasure is her series of Red Carpet Rundowns.

The Discreet Hero is set in two Peruvian cities, the provincial desert town of Piura and the metropolis of Lima, and tells of two aging businessmen, each of whom we meet on the verge of life-changing situations.

A transportation company owner from Piura, Felicito Yanaque, has spent most of his adult years in a bloodless marriage. He has two sons, a young mistress, and has recently become the apparent target of an extortion threat against his transit enterprise, a threat that, he vows heroically, to fight against, with or without the help of the police.

The Ecstatic, Erotic Joy Of Reading 'Girl In The Dark'

Mar 12, 2015

Anna Lyndsey lives in the dark. She was living a pleasantly ordinary life, working for the British government, when she began to feel a sensitivity to light: At first, computer screens seemed to burn her face, and then artificial lights, and then, finally, sunlight.

Loss is the rough tie that binds two memoirs that, otherwise, are as different as day and night. What Comes Next and How to Like It is a sequel of sorts to Abigail Thomas' best-selling 2006 memoir, A Three Dog Life, which chronicled the one-two punch death of her husband — by her account, a sweetheart of a guy who took their dog out for a walk one afternoon in New York and was hit by a car. He suffered brain injuries and lingered for five years. Even after that catastrophe, more losses now loom for Thomas.

J.C. Hallman's audacious B & Me: A True Story of Literary Arousal, is a textbook example of "creative criticism" — a highly personal form of literary response that involves "writers depicting their minds, their consciousnesses, as they think about literature." Hallman, who has championed creative criticism in two anthologies, has written a wildly intelligent, deeply personal, immoderate — and somewhat belabored — exploration of Nicholson Baker's entire oeuvre, reading in general, and the state of modern literature.

I came late to Seraphina, Rachel Hartman's first book — only discovering that gorgeous story in preparation for reviewing its sequel. I fell deeply in love with it and have been pressing it into people's hands and climbing rooftops to shout about it since: half-human, half-dragon Seraphina and her wonderful voice, by turns wry and vulnerable; the rich, musical world of her country Goredd and its surrounding nations; the brilliantly original dragons and the tensions in their own society and philosophies.

"I am homesick most for the place I've never known," writes Kent Russell in his debut essay collection. He's referring specifically to Martins Ferry, Ohio, his father's childhood hometown — but it could be anywhere. The essays in I Am Sorry to Think I Have Raised a Timid Son find the young author miles away from his native Florida, at a music festival in Illinois, on a small island near Australia, and other out-of-the-way locales. He never seems to feel quite at home, or maybe he hasn't yet decided what home really is to him.