Literature

Literature

In Hong Kong's densely packed Causeway Bay district, a red sign with a portrait of Chairman Mao looms over the bustling storefronts and shoppers. The sign indicates that there is coffee, books and Internet on offer inside.

Customers go past a window where travelers can exchange foreign currencies, up a narrow staircase and into a room stacked high with books. The walls are painted red and decked out with 1960s Cultural Revolution propaganda posters and other Mao-era memorabilia. The aroma of coffee and the sound of jazz waft over the book-browsing customers.

A Sampler Of Web Comics To Keep You Clicking

Feb 2, 2016

Webcomics have matured a lot in recent years. Today's clickables aren't necessarily artistically superior to those created a decade ago, but they radiate a certain confidence and, in some cases, a more experimental vibe. That may be partly because fast connection speeds provide a more seamless reader experience, and partly because webcomics are somewhat more lucrative these days. Thanks to crowdfunding, more creators can afford to issue print editions or simply pay themselves for their time.

On this week’s Shelf Discovery, Kristin goes on an audio parenting adventure with Jen Mann’s People I Want to Punch in the Throat.

Title: People I Want to Punch in the Throat

Author: Jen Mann

Runtime: 5 hours, 22 minutes

Publisher: Tantor Audio

AISN: B00QL3HJ2C

And read Kristin's full review on NightsAndWeekends.com.

As many know, parenting isn't an easy job. It can be hugely frustrating and even lonely trying to figure out what's best for your kid. Should you be a taskmaster or a best friend? Is there a middle ground? The pressures of full-time work and round-the-clock activities can make that question even more challenging to tackle.

Readers have waited almost 15 years for a second novel from the acclaimed Alexander Chee, following the highly-praised Edinburgh. The wait is over.

The Queen Of The Night is sprawling, soaring, bawdy and plotted like a fine embroidery. Lilliet Berne is the most famous soprano in the French opera. She is offered the role of a lifetime: an original part written for her. But then she sees that the opera must be based on a part of her life she's kept under wraps.

A long-lost Beatrix Potter book, The Tale of Kitty-in-Boots, is set to be released this fall, 150 years after the beloved author's birth.

The tale about a sharply dressed feline has "all the hallmarks of Potter's best works," editor Jo Hanks, who stumbled upon the story, says in an interview with Penguin U.K., which will publish the book.

'All The Birds' Overturns Sci-Fi And Fantasy, Gently

Jan 26, 2016

As a genre, science-fantasy is often as basic as it sounds: People with swords meet people with lasers. (In some cases, like Star Wars, the swords and lasers are even the same thing.) But there's so much more potential in the overlap between science fiction and fantasy, a fact that's not lost on Charlie Jane Anders.

On this week’s Shelf Discovery, Kristin heads out on a cross-country comic adventure with Jane Lotter’s The Bette Davis Club.

Title: The Bette Davis Club

Author: Jane Lotter

Pages: 325

Publisher: Lake Union Publishing

ISBN: 978-1503951075

And read Kristin's full review on NightsAndWeekends.com.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Elizabeth McKenzie's clever, romantic comedy broadcasts quirkiness right on its cover, with its potentially off-putting title and its illustration of a squirrel instead of the interlocked wedding rings you might expect. In the tradition of Elizabeth McCracken's The Giant's House and Graeme Simsion's The Rosie Project, The Portable Veblen is a smart charmer about a brainy off-center couple who face up to their differences — and their difficult, eccentric families — only after they become engaged. Although plenty whimsical — the squirrel has opinions!

On this week’s Shelf Discovery, Kristin heads back to middle school with a mutant dinosaur in the audio edition of Sink or Swim, the second book in author Bob Balaban’s The Creature from the Seventh Grade series.

Title: Sink or Swim

Author: Bob Balaban

Runtime: 4 hours, 41 minutes

Publisher: Listening Library

AISN: B00EE0Y8P0

Winnie-the-Pooh's Hundred Acre Wood is based on a real forest in the English countryside. NPR's Ari Shapiro visits Ashdown Forest with Kathryn Aalto, author of The Natural World of Winnie-the-Pooh. (This story originally aired on All Things Considered on Oct. 26, 2015.)

After a torrent of criticism, Scholastic has decided to stop distributing A Birthday Cake for George Washington, a picture book about one of George Washington's slaves.

The historical book tells the story of Hercules, a slave used by the president as his chef. It shows Hercules and his daughter Delia happy and taking pride in making Washington a birthday cake.

Almost as soon as the book was released, it received withering criticism for whitewashing the history of slavery.

Great Expectations: Dickens And The Powerball

Jan 13, 2016

The Powerball bonanza, which has touched an unprecedented $1.5 billion, may be the largest jackpot in human history, but the frenzied ticket buying and wild hopes attending it are hardly new. Ask Charles Dickens.

On this week’s Shelf Discovery, Kristin contemplates middle age with Michael Ian Black in Navel Gazing.

Title: Navel Gazing: True Tales of Bodies, Mostly Mind (But Also My Mom’s Which I Know Sounds Weird)

Author: Michael Ian Black

Pages: 173

Publisher: Gallery Books

ISBN: 978-1476748825

And read Kristin's full review on NightsAndWeekends.com.

The Authors Guild has started the new year with a bang. First, the group, which represents the interests of writers, asked the Supreme Court to review an October appeals court ruling, which upheld Google's right to digitize out-of-print books without an author's permission. A few days later, the guild addressed a separate issue when it released a letter to publishers demanding better contract terms for authors.

When Eric Weiner sat down to write his new book he had to tackle a big question first: How do you define genius?

"That's not as easy as it sounds," he tells NPR's Rachel Martin. "I have a slightly unusual definition ... that a genius is someone we all agree on is a genius. It's a social verdict."

Weiner traveled all over the world — to Greece, Italy, Scotland and Silicon Valley — to investigate how genius takes root and grows. His book The Geography of Genius is an exploration of how great thinkers are affected by the places and times in which they live.

Memories Of A Long Life Return In 'Alive, Alive Oh!'

Jan 10, 2016

Diana Athill is, by her own account, a very old woman. At 98, she lives in a home for the elderly in North London. This small and lovely book is a collection of favorite memories that return to Athill at the end of her life: heartbreak, yes, a miscarriage, but also a moment by the apple tree, a hill carpeted in bluebells, Byron's letters.

Three sisters — and their brother — converge on their late grandparents' dilapidated cottage for what's likely to be a valedictory summer holiday together as they decide the old homestead's fate. Yes, Tessa Hadley's sixth novel is unabashedly Chekhovian. But The Past also channels those delicious English country house dramas in which characters thrown together under one roof unpack some of the psychological baggage they tote everywhere, airing out old resentments, disappointments, secrets and affinities.

On this week’s Shelf Discovery, Kristin practices her spells with the magical misfits in the audio edition of Upside-Down Magic by authors Sarah Mlynowsky, Lauren Myracle, and Emily Jenkins.

Title: Upside-Down Magic

Author: Sarah Mlynowsky, Lauren Myracle, and Emily Jenkins

Runtime: 3 hours, 8 minutes

Publisher: Scholastic Audio

AISN: B01180GUY0

Pages