Bookmarks

Wisconsin Public Radio

Great writers are great readers. And they have amazing stories to tell. Not just about the books they write, but about the books they read.

Anne Strainchamps and the producers behind “To the Best of Our Knowledge” have been asking authors for years to tell a story about that one book that left a mark. A book they can’t forget. A book that changed everything.

Coming April 30: Bookmarks, Kid's Book Edition
Trailer 1 min 48 sec

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Ebony Thomas is the author of “The Dark Fantastic: Race and the Imagination from Harry Potter to the Hunger Games.” For her the most important word in that title is "imagination." She believes that without imagination we can't change the world because we can't see it. We can't daydream a better world into existence. It's why she's always identified with another literary daydreamer — Anne of Green Gables. Hi, my name is Ebony Elizabeth Thomas. I am the author of "The Dark Fantastic: Race and the Imagination from Harry Potter to The Hunger Games." My favorite book has changed over time. My favorites were Beverly Cleary's stories about Ramona and Judy Blume's stories about Peter and his little brother Fudge, because Fudge reminded me of my little sister, Danielle. By the time I was nine, my parents gifted me with "The Little House on the Prairie" series, which I have critiqued 30 years later. I have to say that I encountered my favorite girl protagonist of all, Anne Shirley of Anne of Green Gables. I remember encountering Anne when I was 12 years old, not through the library or a bookstore, but through PBS and the CBC. I grew up in Detroit, we were right next door to Canada and so we had channel nine, CBC. They were airing a little series titled "Anne of Green Gables: The Sequel" over in Canada, and "Anne of Avonlea" here in the States. And I will never forget seeing Anne and her neighbor, rival, and eventual love interest, Gilbert Blythe, on a bridge. It was just at the right time of my life. I was 12 years old, quite romantic, head full of dreams. I remember Gilbert telling Anne, "I won't leave you." There was something about that encounter that just really struck me. When I went to the library next, I went to search for the books and come to find out there were eight stories in total. I picked up everything I could get my hands on. Lucy Maud Montgomery told Anne's story from the time she was 11 years old until she was in her 50s. That is how I fell into the world of Avonlea, And I was hoping to go to Prince Edward Island this year for the conference, but the pandemic stopped that. That was my favorite book growing up and my favorite story girl. —This author recommends— Anne of Green Gables (Puffin in Bloom)

Apr 30

4 min 5 sec

“The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” by Mark Twain is one of the most controversial books in the American literary canon, particularly because of its frequent use of the N word. But for Enrique Salmon, a young Native kid trying to master the English language, “Huckleberry Finn” was the book that launched his lifelong love of reading. I'm Enrique Salmon. I'm a professor of American Indian Studies at California State University East Bay. And I've also written the book, “Eating the Landscape,” and I have a book coming out right now about American Indian ethnobotany called “Iwígara.” When I was growing up, I couldn't really read or write or speak English very well, up until like 11th grade. It was amazing I even made it to 11th grade. And then there was a teacher, an English teacher, Mrs. Anderson, who decided she was going to bring me up to speed with regards to being able to read and write in English. And she introduced me to Mark Twain, and more specifically, “Huckleberry Finn.” And I remember working my way through “Huckleberry Finn,” and reading about Huck and Jim and the Mississippi River and all of those things. It really had this impact on me as a person of color of how people from different ethnic backgrounds can just be friends, in that space along the Mississippi River and in this area that was actually very racist. I can understand where people are coming from with the use of the N word that Mark Twain used. But I look at it from the perspective that the Mark Twain was writing in a period and from a perspective, emerging from his own experience. He never says if he liked or disliked the word, it was just, that was his experience, then the fictional characters experience. And we have to acknowledge that experience and be mindful of that. Cultures and people change through time, and today we realize that that word is not acceptable anymore, and we have to respect that as well. That book led me to other Mark Twain books, that led me to Hemingway and “The Old Man and the Sea,” that led me to Steinbeck, and to Faulkner. And then, and ever since, I've just had this incredible fascination with books and with reading and to the point where I'm a writer myself. And that's the power of an 11th-grade English teacher, taking it upon herself to teach a young Native guy to read and write through Mark Twain. —This author recommends— Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (SeaWolf Press Illustrated Classic): First Edition Cover

Apr 30

3 min 51 sec

There’s a book that Ada Calhoun, author of “Why We Can’t Sleep: Women’s New Midlife Crisis“ thinks of as both one of her favorites to read out loud with her son, as well as one that has inspired her own writing. It’s “A Street Through Time: The 12,000 Year Journey Along the Same Street,” Illustrated by Steve Noon and written by Anne Millard. The book is the story of one street, leading the reader through historical events and the passage of time, with the street itself starring as the main character. My name is Ada Calhoun and I'm the author of "Why We Can't Sleep Women's New Midlife Crisis." When I was the mother of a young child, I was reading this book to him and it was called "A Street Through Time: The 12,000 Year Journey Along the Same Street," Illustrated by Steve Noon and written by Dr. Anne Millard. The great thing about it, it's mostly pictures of the same street and every time you turn the page it's hundreds of years later. So the houses go up and there's an invasion. The houses come down and then they come back up again and then they get bigger. What I love about this book is, first of all, it gives you this amazing history lesson, because you see how world civilization has evolved over thousands of years. And then also it just gives you the sense of perspective about how small we are and how different things have been just not that long ago. And I love it that you'll see somebody will drop his sword in a battle and then another, 200 years later, someone will fish out the sword while they're out in their rowboat. And it inspired me a lot when I started working on a book about the history of my street, St. Mark's Place in the East Village, that's where I grew up, called St. Mark's is Dead: the Many Lives of America's Hippest Street. And I feel like I was really influenced by that way of looking at history. As you look at this, this one piece of land, and it's a stage and people come onto the stage and they have a fight or they have a conversation and then some people leave the stage and other people come on the stage. And so, thinking of the street as a stage where things change, but it's like a fixed place, was really, really helpful to me and I think it inspired me to do the book the way I did it. Then that book did pretty well. And then I was able to do another book and then I was able to do this book. So I kind of, I traced my whole career back to reading that children's book to my son many years ago. I like it because, yeah, we sort of think of that as anti-career time. In ways sometimes I think, okay, I'm not going to work right now. I'm going to focus on my child. Or I'm going to have to step away from my child and go do my work. But I think a lot of the best things with both are when they come together. And I think about now, reading that book to my son was really creative for me. It was really inspirational. And it, I feel like led basically my whole writing career in some ways. —This author recommends— A Street Through Time: A 12,000 Year Journey Along the Same Street —More from this author— Interview: The Things That Keep Gen X Women Up At Night

Apr 30

3 min 27 sec

A girl, a horse, and a magical sword save a kingdom in Robin McKinley's young adult classic, "The Blue Sword" — a book beloved by women of all ages. "Hild" author Nikola Griffith explains why.  My name's Nicola Griffith. I am the author most recently of a novel called “Hild.” I'd like to recommend a book. If you haven't read it, then please pick up “The Blue Sword” by Robin McKinley. It is ostensibly for teenagers, but I think I was probably about 25 or so when I read it. And I have re-read it many times since, and it holds up. It's a wonderful first-person story about a woman called Angharad, but she calls herself Harry, and by the end of the book is known as Harry, Harimad-sol. She moves from a place called Home. Sometimes I think of it as an English place, and sometimes I think of it as American Northeast, but it's very stuffy. It has lots of etiquette rules. Basically, the Wild West or the Indian frontier. When I first read it, I was thinking in terms of the Raj, I was very English. I am very English. But now that I've lived in this country for a bit, I can see the parallels with settlers who moved out to the Western frontier. Anyway, there's lots of magic. There are swords and horses. It's sword and pony fiction with magic. I love it. It's a great book. I've just started reading it aloud. I just read the first three pages, which is why it's on my mind. And McKinley does this amazing job of taking us in to this teenager's head, her essential loneliness, her longing for a place to belong. And she does that really, really well. And then further on in the book, there are these wonderful scenes where Harry learns that she has this power. She can do prophecy. She can fight. She can control her horse. Essentially, she could beat everybody, except, of course, the king who she ends up marrying. Sorry for the spoiler. So it's romantical, but it doesn't follow some of the really tired tropes of old fashioned romance in the sense that the woman has to look at the floor and flirt. She's basically very angry with this man in the nicest possible way. And he's reluctant to use her in the way that his powers dictate that she be employed to help him in his goal, which is to keep everyone safe because of her magic. The Blue Sword is the novel about a young woman becoming herself. It's about a woman finding her place in the world. She is a woman, but she could just as well be a man. It's about a person learning to belong, about a person finding their feet. And that is a story for any age, for any era. —This author recommends— The Blue Sword (Newbery Honor Roll) —More from this author— Interview: Nicola Griffith on Lesbian Crime Writing—Interview: Meet a Medieval Warrior-Girl: Nicola Griffith's "Hild"

Apr 30

3 min 45 sec

Every year, at holiday time, Macdonald reads this tale of a boy who finds out he's one of the "old ones," part of a series from author Susan Cooper. She says it reconnects her with a sense of wonder inspired by what might lurk beneath the surface of the seen world. My name's Helen Macdonald — I'm the author of "H Is For Hawk" — and I want to recommend a 1973 children's book called "The Dark Is Rising" by the author Susan Cooper. This funny thing happens in England every year: a whole bunch of friends of mine — on the winter solstice — we all read this book. It's a book about magic. Anyone who's read Harry Potter will know that there is a long history of books about small boys, when they're about 10 or 11, realizing that they're not normal, that they have magical powers. And this is one of the early books in that kind of tradition. It's about a small boy called Will who wakes up on his eleventh birthday to discover that he is, in fact, one of the "old ones." And his job is to protect the world against the forces of darkness. This all sounds very, very clichéd but my goodness, I cannot recommend this book more highly. It's one of the most beautifully written fantasy books I've ever come across. It made the English landscape sing for me as a child. It's full of snowy woods. It's full of Arthurian legend. It's full of Anglo-Saxon myths. It's full of everyday life. There are the most astonishing sequences which brim with eerie power of the small boy who has the power to light fires out of dead wood he sees lying on paths, and the panic as he realizes that — for some reason — he cannot put them out. When you're small, you're prey to fear, you're prey to panics in a way that I think disappear as you get older. Whenever I read this book, those old panics about our place in the world and the limits of our powers come back bright as ever. It's also a very poignant book. There are characters in here who suffer. There are characters who are caught out of time. And the whole thing is also about how we see the past in the landscape. This has been very influential for me — when you look at the landscape wherever you are in the world, it's very fascinating to try and imagine who stood there before you. And this book plays with that sense and plays with the stories we've told about the places we live. Also it's got the kind of really cool things that you find in fantasy books, you know: Will has to collect a series of very important things of power — again, very Potter-like — and the whole book itself is part of a much wider series that deals with this great fight between the dark and the light. You know you can't mess around with that, as a topic. So I really recommend you go out and buy this book and I really hope you'll love it as much as I do. —This author recommends— The Dark is Rising (The Dark is Rising Sequence) —More from this author— Interview: Helen Macdonald Battles Grief with a Goshawk—Interview: Helen Macdonald and "Birdle" the Parrot

Apr 30

3 min 39 sec

Lulu Miller, author of “Why Fish Don’t Exist,” first read the young adult book “The Search for Delicious” when she was in that transformative and uncertain stage in between childhood and adulthood. The enchanted fairy tale by Natalie Babbitt taught Miller to still believe in the power and poetry of magic, whatever her age. —This author recommends— The Search for Delicious —More from this author— Interview: We Call Them Fish. Evolution Says They're Something Else.

Apr 30

5 min 2 sec

"White Fang" by Jack London is a classic outdoor adventure story about a wild wolf-dog's struggle to survive in the Yukon Territory during the 1890's Gold Rush. Writer Quan Barry read it for the first time at age 11 and learned just how powerful a book can be. My name is Quan Barry, and I'm the author of “We Ride Upon Sticks.” And the book that I'd like to talk about, that affected me quite a bit as a writer is “White Fang” by Jack London. I have to admit, I haven't read White Fang probably since I read it when I was in seventh grade. I was 11 years old. I have this memory of sitting in the house that I grew up in as a child. I had my own bedroom, it was tiny. It had a red rug, and I have this memory of lying on the floor, on my stomach, reading White Fang for seventh grade English. For those of you who don't know, so “White Fang” is basically very similar to “Call of the Wild.” It's a book about a dog in the Yukon or somewhere in Alaska and the adventures that this dog has. The thing though, that I remember. And again, I was 11 years old. [It was] many, many years ago, more than 30 years ago, 35 years ago or so when I read this book. I have a memory though, that it was the first book that made me cry when I finished it. I can't even tell you what happened at the end. I barely remember. I'm like, "Does he live or die? I don't even know." I think White Fang, not be a spoiler, but it might be the kind of thing like, "Son of White Fang goes on," that kind of thing. But I don't really remember. But I just remember crying, and I didn't realize that literature could do that to you, that you could read something, and then cry about it. It was such a new experience to me. So it's interesting that I remember that. I don't even remember the story itself. I just remember my reaction to it. And that's the reason why it stayed with me all these many years. —This author recommends— White Fang: 100th Anniversary Collection —More from this author— Interview: In a 'Post-Truth' Era, Should You Get Your News From Poems?—Interview: The News From Poems: 'Inaugural'—Interview: Quan Barry Writes Vietnam

Apr 30

2 min 41 sec

Neverland. Wonderland. Magic wands and unicorns. Your escape from COVID-19 is just a wish-upon-a-star away. Season 3 of Bookmarks — the kid’s book edition — is flying in on a fire-breathing dragon. In this ragtag collection, awesome writers share their favorite children’s books from an audio treehouse of hope in tough times. Because you know what you need right now? An orphan on an adventure where she triumphs against all odds! It’s Black Girl Magic meets White Fang on a raft down the Mississippi with a little Search for Delicious along the way.   Bookmarks is brought to you by Anne Strainchamps and the producers of TTBOOK — a crew of ballerina pirates who are all just kids at heart. We’ll eat you up, we love you so!  Check out the latest season at TTBOOK.org/bookmarks, or wherever you get your podcast fix!  

Apr 23

1 min 48 sec

Over the years, author, journalist and podcaster Malcolm Gladwell has written about some notorious cases of police brutality, including the deaths of Amadou Diallo, the African immigrant who was shot 41 times by New York police officers when he reached for his wallet to show them his ID, and Sandra Bland, the black woman who died in a jail cell after being arrested for a routine traffic violation. Gladwell is famous for mining behavioral science for his work — including his books "The Tipping Point" and "Outliers," and his podcast "Revisionist History" — and when it comes to understanding the intersection of crime, violence, and policing, he turns again and again to criminologist Frank Zimring. A law professor at the University of California, Berkeley, Zimring has had a long academic career examining policing, gun violence, crime rates, and the social factors that interact with each of them. In 2017, he published a book called "When Police Kill," one that Gladwell believes is especially important to read as the police killing of George Floyd sparks debates about defunding police departments. —This author recommends— When Police Kill —More from this author— Interview: 'Why Do Police Do Traffic Stops?' Journalist Malcolm Gladwell On Rethinking Law Enforcement

Jun 2020

4 min

Nature writer and adventurer Robert Macfarlane has given away one book more than any other volume. It's "The Living Mountain," by Scottish writer and poet Nan Shepherd. —This author recommends— "The Living Mountain" —More from this author— Interview: Why We're Drawn To Darkness

Jun 2020

4 min 40 sec

For decades, Stanley Crouch has cut a singular path through American culture. Once an aspiring jazz musician and later a noted cultural critic, he was friends with Ralph Ellison and Albert Murray, and later an intellectual mentor to Wynton Marsalis. For all of his intellectual virtuosity, we were still surprised to discover the book that Crouch wanted to recommend: Alejo Carpentier’s “Reasons of State.” —This author recommends— Reasons of State —More from this author— Interview: Stanley Crouch on 'The Artificial White Man: Essays on Authenticity'

May 2020

3 min 31 sec

When he’s not drawing, Chris Ware likes to read and look at vintage comics. He highly recommends a book that defies even his powers of description — a folio-sized reproduction of some of America’s first newspaper cartoons, made long before super-heroes and adventure stories took over the medium. Back then, he says, the medium could be anything — and was. —This author recommends— Society is Nix: Gleeful Anarchy of the Dawn of the American Comic Strip 1895-1915 —More from this author— Interview: Chris Ware on his graphic novel 'Building Stories'

May 2020

3 min 31 sec

Cheryl Strayed’s "Wild" is one of the most famous wilderness memoirs of our time. She especially appreciates writers who combine honesty with emotional intensity — writers who reveal themselves unflinchingly on the page. She recommends a memoir by the writer Poe Ballantine. —This author recommends— Love and Terror on the Howling Plains of Nowhere: A Memoir —More from this author— Interview: Cheryl Strayed on Hiking the Pacific Crest Trail

May 2020

3 min 47 sec

The Turkish writer and Nobel laureate says his favorite novel — the 800-plus-page Russian novel bursting with characters living the life of imperial Russian society — is a complex miracle of a book. —This author recommends— Anna Karenina —More from this author— Interview: Orhan Pamul on 'Snow'—Sonic Sidebar: Orhan Pamuk on The Arabian Nights—Interview: Orhan Pamuk on Fundamentalist Islam—Interview: Why Write? Nobel Prize-Winner Orhan Pamuk Offers His Take—Interview: Istanbul with Orhan Pamuk

May 2020

3 min 40 sec

The author of "Another Brooklyn" recommends a James Baldwin novel she says belongs on everyone's bookshelf. —This author recommends— If Beale Street Could Talk (Vintage International) —More from this author— Interview: Four Girls Growing Up In 'Another Brooklyn'

May 2020

3 min 31 sec

Famed novelist Kazuo Ishiguro recommends “Prayers for the Stolen,” by Jennifer Clement —a harrowing tale about young children who are abducted in the midst of Mexican drug wars. —This author recommends— Prayers for the Stolen —More from this author— Interview: Kazuo Ishiguro on 'Never Let Me Go'—Interview: Kazuo Ishiguro on 'The Buried Giant'

Apr 2020

3 min 52 sec

For her own book, author Ruth Ozeki drew from “Kamikaze Diaries,” a collection of writings left behind by the young soldiers who died on suicide missions. They represent a generation of brilliant, highly educated young students who were conscripted into the army and ordered not just to kill but to die. —This author recommends— Kamikaze Diaries: Reflections of Japanese Student Soldiers —More from this author— Interview: A Diary Becomes A Time Capsule

Apr 2020

3 min 38 sec

Author Petina Gappah recommends a book she explains is “The most African of Jane Austen’s novels.” Her reason why is a look at women in African today told through the eyes of two novelists: a Zimbabwean in 2020 and English woman in 1818. —This author recommends— Persuasion —More from this author— Interview: The Empire Writes Back: Author Discusses Explorer David Livingstone's Complicated Legacy

Apr 2020

3 min 23 sec

Given the hyper-realism of author Karl Ove Knausgaard’s "My Struggle," you might be surprised to hear that the formative books of his childhood were filled with magic and imaginary worlds. He says Ursula K. Le Guin’s "Earthsea" fantasy series shaped him as an early reader. —This author recommends— Book: The Earthsea Trilogy —More from this author— Bookmark: Karl Ove Knausgaard on 'The Flame Alphabet'—Interview: Opening A World — an interview with Karl Ove Knausgaard—Interview: 'This Novel Has Hurt Everyone Around Me': A Frank Conversation with Karl Ove Knausgaard

Apr 2020

4 min 1 sec

Because he’s fascinated by the process of collecting and by the impulse to document everyday life, poet Ross Gay recommends “Gene Smith’s Sink,” by Sam Stephenson. It’s a portrait of another collector — the legendary documentarian and photographer, W. Eugene Smith. —This author recommends— “Gene Smith’s Sink: A Wide Angle View” —More from this author— Interview: 365 Days Of Delight: A Poet's Guide To Finding Joy

Mar 2020

4 min 5 sec

For as long as she can remember, Susan Orlean has had a favorite book, "The Sound and the Fury," by William Faulkner. A southern gothic novel set over a period of three decades, the book explores the lives of the members of one family, the Compsons. Told from multiple perspectives and set in several time periods, it’s not a chronological or easy read. —This author recommends— The Sound and the Fury (Third Edition) (Norton Critical Editions) —More from this author— Interview: The Book Burning That Brought All Of Los Angeles Together

Mar 2020

3 min

Philip Pullman — author of the fantasy classic "His Dark Materials" — is clearly attuned to the imaginative world of children. In fact, he was a middle school English teacher before he became a best-selling novelist. So maybe it’s not surprising that the book that exerted such a pull on his own imagination was "The Pocket Atlas of the World," which he first encountered at the age of nine. —This author recommends— Pocket World Atlas —More from this author— Interview: Why Philip Pullman Is Obsessed With Panpsychism—Interview: 'His Dark Materials' Author Philip Pullman On The Consciousness Of All Things

Mar 2020

3 min 43 sec

Why does Philip Pullman love maps? How does Petina Gappah see Jane Austen as African? What science fiction stories did a young Karl Ove Knausgaard read before bed?  Bookmarks, season 2. Coming March 13. Learn more at ttbook.org/bookmarks

Feb 2020

1 min 47 sec

The next season of Bookmarks starts on March 13. In the meantime, we wanted to share a few stories we've heard from listeners about the books that have shaped them. Have your own story to share? Email us at listen@ttbook.org or leave a voicemail at the bottom of the page at ttbook.org/bookmarks.

Feb 2020

3 min 7 sec

"On Immunity: An Inoculation" author Eula Biss recommends a memoir in which author Maggie Nelson asks questions that bend conventions about gender, sexuality, motherhood, family and identity itself. —This author recommends— The Argonauts —More from this author— Interview: The Ethics of Vaccines

Jan 2020

3 min 54 sec

Paul Beatty, the Booker Prize Winning Author of "The Sellout" recommends "The Nazi and the Barber," a novel by Holocaust survivor Edgar Hilsenrath.  —This author recommends— The Nazi and the Barber —More from this author— Interview: Daring to Offend: Paul Beatty's Brilliant Satire

Jan 2020

2 min 25 sec

Sometimes you stumble upon a book that sets you on a whole new path. For Israeli historian and philosopher Yuval Norah Harari — author of "Sapiens," "Homo Deus," and "21 Lessons for the 21st Century" — it wasn’t a novel, a memoir, or even a history book that changed his world. It was a book about chimpanzees. —This author recommends— Chimpanzee Politics: Power and Sex among Apes —More from this author— Interview: What Comes After Homo Sapiens?—Interview: Control The Data, Control The World

Jan 2020

4 min 29 sec

The main character in Jeff VanderMeer’s other-worldly tale is a polymorphous bear who moves in magical and unexpected ways, and keeps secrets in his fur. It’s both a futuristic story and one with deep history, the kind of dystopian fiction that drew Yuknavitch in, again, and again. —This author recommends— Borne: A Novel —More from this author— Interview: Lidia Yuknavitch’s Dream World: How Dreams Shaped Her Dazzling Speculative Novel

Jan 2020

3 min 25 sec

The author of "Lincoln in the Bardo" recommends Victor Klemperer's two-volume diary that reads as a slow-motion picture of what the Holocaust looked like before it was known Holocaust. —This author recommends— I Will Bear Witness, Volume 1: A Diary of the Nazi Years: 1933-1941 —More from this author— Interview: A Haunting Story of Lincoln's Love and Loss

Jan 2020

3 min 34 sec

Writer Anne Lamott says that the children’s classic made her feel like there was room in the world for imaginative, adventurous girls who just might wear mismatched knee socks.  —This author recommends— Pippi Longstocking —More from this author— Interview: Hope Is Faith In Life Itself

Dec 2019

3 min 36 sec

Jean Rhys takes up a "mad" wife’s story in "Wide Sargasso Sea," an overlooked novel recommended by "Handmaid’s Tale" author Margaret Atwood. —This author recommends— Wide Sargasso Sea —More from this author —Interview: Margaret Atwood Blends Dystopia and Social Satire —Interview: 'Handmaid’s Tale' Author Margaret Atwood on the Roots of Dystopia

Dec 2019

3 min 31 sec

Writer Lorrie Moore says Alice Munro’s book of short stories, "Carried Away," shows mastery of the architecture of the short story that is both brilliant and can’t be imitated. —This author recommends— Carried Away: A Selection of Stories (Everyman's Library) —More from this author— Interview: Lorrie Moore's Bark Stories

Dec 2019

3 min 30 sec

Filmmaker Werner Herzog, whose films include "Grizzly Man" and "Cave of the Forgotten Dreams," recommends a nonfiction collection of J.A. Baker's observations of peregrine falcons, recorded in the early 1960s. —This author recommends— The Peregrine (New York Review Books Classics) —More from this author— Interview: Why Werner Herzog Is Awe-Struck

Dec 2019

3 min 19 sec

Martin Amis has written his fair share of novels and essay collections. For a writer, you expect their favorite books to be a source of inspiration. For Amis, Saul Bellow's 1953 novel is a source of writer's block. —This author recommends— The Adventures of Augie March (Penguin Classics) —More from this author— Interview: When Should An Author Call It Quits?

Nov 2019

3 min 58 sec

As a black, gay poet, Jericho Brown considers it “hilarious” that he discovered sex through one of the whitest writers in American history — John Updike.  —This author recommends— The Witches of Eastwick —More from this author— Interview: Can A Poem Be A Kind Of Prayer?

Nov 2019

3 min 11 sec

Alice Walker recommends Richard Yates' novel following an advertising executive whose seemingly successful life quietly fractures under the pressure of mundanity, alcoholism, anger, and recklessness. She says she was drawn to the book because Yates' world was so different from hers. —This author recommends— Disturbing the Peace: A Novel —More from this author— Interview: What To Do With An Arrow In Your Heart

Nov 2019

2 min 55 sec

Tommy Orange says he wasn't much of a reader in his early years. But a chance encounter with an absurd, experimental novel by John Kennedy Toole showed him a path to writing a novel that was truly his own. —This author recommends— A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole —More from this author— Interview: The Unheard Stories of the 'Urban Indian'

Nov 2019

2 min 56 sec

Bookmarks are stories mined from our secret lives as readers. Stories of intimate relationships and life-changing encounters with books. Stories about the books we can’t forget. In this micropodcast, the producers behind “To The Best Of Our Knowledge” ask writers and creators to share what they’ve read and how it shaped them. New episodes every Friday. For more info, visit ttbook.org/bookmarks

Oct 2019

1 min 48 sec