It’s getting cold outside, which means it’s time to cuddle up with some good books to pass the time. Or maybe you’re just on the prowl for some holiday gifts for the reader in your life. Either way, we have some options for what to read this winter.
Ellen Keith, author, The Dutch Wife
Andrew Shaffer, author, Hope Never Dies: An Obama/Biden Mystery
It can easy to get the blues, especially with all of the division and turmoil in the world. But author Kate Davies has a different way of look at the world: one that can make us more hopeful, positive, and willing to pitch in and help. She calls it intrinsic hope, and it may be just what we all need this holiday season.
Kate Davies, author, Intrinsic Hope: Living courageously in troubled times
Welcome to Culture Crash, where we examine American culture. What’s new and old in entertainment.
Back in 2000, author Dave Eggers became a cult hero with his memoir titled A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius. In it, he chronicled the death of both his parents and his role stewarding his younger brother in their absence.
Eggers is also the co-founder of McSweeney’s, a non-profit publisher that is known for its literary fiction quarterly journal, and has written an interesting collection of fiction and non-fiction in the ensuing years. In 2005, he was named a Time Magazine Most Influential Person. His 2012 novel A Hologram for the King was a finalist for the National Book Award and his myriad other books have been shortlisted and won prizes across the country.
Throughout his career, Eggers has pushed the boundaries of writing, and no book better illustrates his desire to innovate than his 2014 novel, Your Fathers, Where Are They? And the Prophets, Do They Live Forever? It’s a book that consists only of dialogue. Each line is introduced with a single dash, and while it sounds complicated, the form actually makes it very straight-forward and easy to follow. It’s a revenge fantasy ethical debate featuring an unreliable main character who keeps kidnapping people.
Your Fathers, Where Are They? And The Prophets, Do They Live Forever? is a fascinating and challenging book. It certainly won’t be for everyone, but it’s a provocative quick-read and it’s unlike anything else I’ve ever read. Coming from an author with a pedigree like Eggers, it’s definitely worth reading and discussing.
Hank Green has a massive internet presence as a podcaster, vlogger, tweeter, and more. Now, he’s become an author. His new book, An Absolutely Remarkable Thing, deals with internet fame and our reactionary culture head-on. He joins the show to discuss these issues, and whether is the internet is good.
Hank Green, author, An Absolutely Remarkable Thing
For decades, science fiction was a genre written almost exclusively by white males. Now, the genre is flourishing with diverse voices, thanks in part to the trailblazing writer Octavia E. Butler. Historian Gerry Canavan discusses the obstacles Butler faced and her legacy on one of the most popular genres in American literature.
Gerry Canavan, professor at Marquette University and author, Octavia E. Butler
Jack London is known for the adventure and intrigue of his writings. Lesser known are the struggles London faced before he became a published author. He was well acquainted with manual labor under terrible working condition for minimal wages. The plight of laborers and the injustice they felt is woven into his fast paced plots.
Cecelia Tichi, Professor of English and American Studies at Vanderbilt University, as well as author of Jack London: A Writer’s Fight for a Better America, went back and reread all of London’s writings with social activism in mind. She found that London made a habit of commenting on social topics, specifically poverty and exploited workers.
Tichi explains Call of the Wild, London’s breakout work, contrasts American ideals with poverty and exploitation. She argues London deserve to be recognized as a forward political thinker, not just an author of exciting plot twists. Learn more at Tichi’s website: jacklondonbook.com
Cecelia Tichi, William R. Kenan Jr. Professor of English and professor of American Studies at Vanderbilt University, author, Jack London: A writer’s fight for a better America.
We grow up hearing nursery rhymes and fairy tales that deal with good and evil. All of us fondly remember the cartoons of our youth and the stories we grew up with. We talk to Soman Chainani about authoring a new entry into the catalogue of mythology and his attempt to course-correct the lessons more modern stories have been teaching our children.
Soman Chainani, author of The School for Good and Evil