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Andreas Bolzer et al. / Wikimedia Commons

Inside our genomes, we carry information about our recent ancestors as well as ancient human history. This hour, we sit down with science writer Carl Zimmer to talk about his new book, She Has Her Mother's Laugh: The Powers, Perversions, and Potential of Heredity. We ask him what our DNA can—and can’t—tell us about where we’re from and who we are.

The Buzz About Flies

Jun 1, 2018
Mr.checker / Creative Commons

Fruit flies. You may have seen one or two dancing above your fruit bowl. But what about under a microscope?

Believe it or not these seemingly insignificant insects have had a long and (dare we say) fruitful history in advancing scientific research.

This hour, First in Fly author Dr. Stephanie Mohr joins us to explain why.

Later, we also take a deeper look into the realm of so-called “true flies” with London-based "fly girl" Dr. Erica McAlister

Sarah Kendzior

Sarah Kendzior predicted that the conditions she witnessed in 2013 from her home in America's overlooked heartland would lead to the rise of a candidate like Donald Trump. She was one of the few that saw it coming.

Inside a secret annex above her father's office, Anne Frank edited passages from her first diary, the book that captured a teenager's experience of the Holocaust. What she hid underneath brown gummed paper on two pages was revealed on Tuesday — five crossed-out phrases, four risqué jokes and 33 lines about sex education and prostitution.

In a career that spanned more than half a century, Tom Wolfe wrote fiction and nonfiction best-sellers including The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test and The Bonfire of the Vanities. Along the way, he created a new type of journalism and coined phrases that became part of the American lexicon. Wolfe died Monday in Manhattan. He was 88.

Wolfe didn't start a novel with a character or a plot, but rather, with an idea. In 1987, wearing his signature white suit, Wolfe told me how he began his first novel, a panoramic story of New York Society:

Jamie / Creative Commons

This hour: the deadly reality of counterfeit drugs. We discuss the history and proliferation of fake pharmaceuticals with Dr. Muhammad Zaman, author of Bitter Pills: The Global War on Counterfeit Drugs, and consider their impact both internationally and at home. 

Also: a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention outlines an alarming trend in the U.S. -- fleas, ticks, and mosquitos are on the rise. But what, exactly, is driving the increase? And what does it mean for public health?

Adam Tiner / flickr creative commons

Lauren Bacall probably does have the most famous line about smoking in all of cinema. But there are other good ones too. "What are you gonna do? Charge me with smoking?" "Smoke if ya got 'em." And many more.

Cigarettes have been such an integral part of movies for so long that one big concern in the lead up to Disney and Fox's planned merger is -- seriously -- all the smoking in Fox movies.

Tripp / Creative Commons

 

Comedy forces us to confront uncomfortable realities that we prefer to ignore. It also makes us laugh. Laughter is a powerful force. It can release chemicals in our body that make us feel good and help us better cope with the daily stress of living in a world that can lately seem to be spiraling out of control. 

Evan Kalish / Postlandia

When Alexis de Tocqueville toured America in the early 1830's to gather observations that he would later put on the pages of Democracy in America, he was impressed with the efficiency of our American Postal Service.

Jonathan McNicol / WNPR

Matt Taibbi is an American journalist, author, and iconoclast. He is a contributor to Rolling Stone and the author of nine books, the most recent of which are Insane Clown President: Dispatches from the 2016 Circus and I Can't Breathe: A Killing on Bay Street.

Michele Lamberti / Creative Commons

Guilt. Ah, yes, that awful, anxiety-ridden five-letter word. Most of us have experienced it. All of us have learned to dread it. But is a little guilt really such a bad thing?

This hour, we consider that question and more with a series of guilt (note we did not say “guilty”) experts. We check in with a researcher at the University of Virginia and with a psychologist based in New York. And we want to hear from you, too. 

Nik / Creative Commons

I find great joy in walking in the dead of winter along the river trail near my house. Everything leaves my mind as I watch the Canadian geese take flight, their wings flapping together as they lift and swoop over my head. I'm in awe of their beauty.

Jennifer Pharr Davis

This spring, thousands of hikers will embark on the 2186-mile trek from Springer Mountain, Georgia to Mount Katahdin in Maine on the Appalachian Trail. It takes a skilled hiker to complete the trail in 5-7 months, but Jennifer Pharr Davis completed the hike faster than any man or woman.

In 2011, Davis achieved the fastest known time to complete the trail in forty-six days, eleven hours and twenty minutes. 

Creative Commons

Does the investigation of Trump lawyer Michael Cohen signal the beginning of the end for the Trump presidency? 

Sisosmme / Creative Commons

Having babies is something we're supposed to do - even though few of us know anything about parenting until we're deep in the game. 

Warner Bros. Ent.

Ernest Cline's novel Ready Player One is a futuristic nostalgia bomb that lovingly apes Spielbergian 1970s and '80s pop culture. Steven Spielberg's film adaptation of Ready Player One could have been a self-aware, winking paean to the current Urban Outfitters kitsch for which Spielberg's somewhat responsible. Instead -- and perhaps not surprisingly -- it's a bigger, nostalgia bombier futuristic adventure filled with more decades' worth of pop culture references even than the book is. For better or worse. The Nose has thoughts.

Eleanor Roosevelt (second from left) and Lorena Hickok (far right)
Franklin D. Roosevelt Library / Wikimedia Commons

Eleanor Roosevelt was a woman with a huge historical footprint—First Lady, first U.S. delegate to the United Nations General Assembly. She was dubbed “The First Lady of the World” by Harry Truman. 

But how much is known about Eleanor’s personal life beyond the politics and activism? This hour, we sit down with Connecticut author Amy Bloom. Her new book, White Houses, is a fictional novel that explores Eleanor’s real-life romantic relationship with female journalist Lorena Hickok.

Shaheen Lakhan / Creative Commons

H.M. is one of the most important and studied human research subjects of all time. He revolutionized what we know about memory today because of the amnesia he developed after a lobotomy in 1953 to treat the severe epilepsy he developed after a head injury sustained earlier in life. 

Sucking Up

Mar 27, 2018
Bob Jenkins / Creative Commons

At President Trump's first full cabinet meeting in June 2017, we watched with some amusement while each member expressed over-the-top gratitude for the president's giving them the privilege to serve him and/or the American people. 

Hermitosis / Google Images For Reuse

There was a lot of pressure on Ava Duvernay to bring Madeleine L'Engle's 1962 classic book, A Wrinkle In Time, to the screen. This is the first $100-million movie directed by an African-American woman with a diverse cast chosen to fill the roles written for whites in 1962.

Sara Wise

Xhenet Aliu may be new to the literary world, but she’s already one of the most well-received authors of 2018. A native of Waterbury, Conn., Aliu’s critically acclaimed debut novel, Brass is a byproduct of growing up in the Brass City.

Alfred A. Knopf, Publisher

The Times of London has said that Martin Amis "is as talented a journalist as he is a novelist." His latest collection of essays and reportage covers 1994 through 2017, Travolta through Trump.

Amis joins us for the hour.

Is Democracy Dying?

Mar 7, 2018
Fort Meade Public Affairs Office / Creative Commons

Populism is on the rise from Europe to India to the United States.

Green Fuse Films Inc.

On the one hand, obituaries are an amalgam of a bunch of different kinds of journalism: they're feature stories, they're profile pieces, they cover history, and they're hard news too.

On the other hand, the subject is always... dead.

Roman Vanur / flickr creative commons

Consciousness has been an elusive enigma for philosophers and scientists alike for about as long as there've been philosophers and scientists.

And, while it's long been thought that artificial intelligence would bring us the next big breakthroughs in our understanding of consciousness, A.I. authority David Gelernter has a different idea entirely.

He looks for answers to these fundamental questions in, instead... literature.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

Xhenet Aliu is a native of Waterbury, CT, a city that once hosted a strong brass manufacturing industry.

McFadden Publications / Wikimedia Commons

A hard-boiled private eye, a glamorous blond, and a hapless drifter all sit at a bar on the seamy side of town. It's night, the streets are wet, the shadows are long. They each nurse a drink to the notes of a mournful saxophone and a lonely piano.  Smoke from the cigarettes swirls in the darkness. 

Chion Wolf / WNPR

When we hear the words “autism diagnosis” it’s common to imagine a young child or adolescent.

But what about those who receive their diagnoses at a later stage of life -- in the midst of successful careers or long, happy marriages?

An Ode To Ink

Jan 17, 2018
Cranberries / Flickr

From ancient scrolls to modern toner cartridges, ink (in one form or another) has been around for millennia. And while we may take it for granted now, it was for much of that time a precious and coveted substance.

Jason D. Neely

This hour: the origin of the Connecticut Valley Railroad. Author and historian Max R. Miller takes “along the valley line” -- sharing stories from the railroad’s past.

But first: on the heels of last month’s devastating Amtrak derailment in Washington state -- a look at what lies ahead for the nation’s aging transportation infrastructure

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