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Public domain / United States Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions

It may not seem like a health issue at first but Dr. Vivek Murthy, the 19th Surgeon General of the United States (and first person of Indian descent to hold the post), is very concerned about what he calls a 'loneliness epidemic.' Today, we dig into why he thinks tackling it is one of the most important things society can do.

Bibliofiles: Romance

Jan 2, 2018
Stewart Butterfield / Flickr-CC

Love is hard to define — so how do you analyze a whole literary genre with rules built around the concept? Today, KCUR's 'Bibliofiles' explain the themes, constructs and plot devices behind the romance genre. They also recommend their favorite books featuring romantic elements and wade through controversy stirred up by a condescending article on romance novels featured in the New York Times.

Guests:

Danie Alexander / KCUR 89.3

Have a little last minute shopping to do for the young bookworms on your list? With a visit to your local bookstore, and these recommendations from the Johnson County Librarians, you'll be all set. Today, the librarians give us their reading pics for tots to teens and all the kids in-between. 

Guests: 

  • Debbie McCleod, retired librarian.
  • Elena McVicar, youth collections librarian.
  • Dennis Ross, youth services supervisor.

Books:

Pete Souza / Official White House Photo

Given the importance of the American presidency, it's no surprise photos of the commander-in-chief tend to become iconic. Today, veteran White House correspondent Kenneth T. Walsh explains what makes the White House photographer role so influential, and why he thinks Pres. Trump is missing an opportunity with his chief image-maker. Then, we hear from two leaders in the Missouri Statehouse, Democrat Rep.

Associated Booking Corporation

A great song makes us feel happy, sad, or any of the emotions in between, and it endures. Today, Wall Street Journal contributor, author and music historian Marc Myers shares the stories behind some of the last century's most iconic tunes. Learn the elements of successful hit songs by Tammy Wynette, the Allman Brothers, Steely Dan and others.

Arlington National Cemetery / Flickr - CC

Mark Phariss and Vic Holmes, a gay couple living in Texas, strove to keep a low profile and their sexual orientation private. However, as the movement for marriage equality expanded, they finally agreed to be plaintiffs in the lawsuit that would overturn their state's ban on same-sex marriage. Author David Collins recounts their journey in Accidental Activists.

Updated Dec.12 — On Tuesday's St. Louis on the Air, host Don Marsh discussed the life and legacy of noted author and Washington University professor William Gass.

Joining him for the discussion were Lorin Cuoco, co-founder and former associate director of the International Writers Center at Washington University, Stephen Schenkenberg, creator and curator of the website Reading William Gass and author and publisher of "The Ears Mouth Must Move: Essential Interviews of William H. Gass" and William Danforth, chancellor emeritus and member of the Board of Trustees at Washington University.

Gass died on Dec. 6 at his home in St. Louis. He was 93. The former Washington University professor was known for his contributions to fiction, criticism and philosophy. 

Courtesy Elizabeth Schultz

Few people in their 80s are inclined, or able, to feed time and energy into a second career. Elizabeth Schultz is such an anomaly.

As an English professor at the University of Kansas, Schultz was an acclaimed scholar on Herman Melville’s “Moby Dick.” However, just before her retirement in 2001, she felt a pull toward a more creative use of language.

Lane Pearman / Flickr - CC

Kansas doesn't usually rank high as an outdoor destination state. But, while there are no grand canyons, snowcapped peaks, or white sand beaches, it does have a subtle character all its own. Today, we meet two sisters-in-law who made a mission of visiting every state park in Kansas. They say outdoorsy-types might be giving the Sunflower State the short shrift. Then, only about 1 percent of Americans currently serve in the armed forces. While some see this as evidence of progress, others think it's a problem.

On this December arts show: the story behind "Uplift," a new exhibit that's inspired by ladders, and a local science fiction writer on her book, which takes place in the aftermath of the second civil war in the United States.

Plus: pajamas and punk rock at the museum? The Nelson hosts a pj party for grown-ups, featuring the music of The Architects. We catch up with drummer Adam Phillips ... and talk about fuzzy onesies.

Guests:

B. Allen / VOA

It's no secret that race influences a lot of things in our lives, including how our cities are laid out. Today, urban designer Tyler Cukar explains the lasting legacy of racism and redlining that's shaped Kansas City, and how we can move toward a more racially integrated future. Then, if you remember one image from last year's Democratic National Convention, it's probably of Khizr Khan. The Gold Star father raised a lot of attention when he held up a copy of the Constitution and challenged Donald Trump to give it a read.

Courtesy of Jane Pronko

Jane Pronko has for years captured the spirit and flavor of Kansas City with her paintings, which have in turn captured the fancy of collectors around the world. Today, meet one of the metro's pioneering female artists.

Courtesy Randy Michael Signor

In Randy Michael Signor’s new novel “Osawatomie,” homesteaders settle near the titular Kansas town just before the Civil War. This turns out to be problematic in ways that reverberate for generations (it might as well be a metaphor for America).

Florida Keys--Public Libraries / Flickr - CC

In more than 30 years of writing for The New Yorker, Adam Gopnik has covered everything from the science of meditation to the relationship between baseball and art. Today, he joins Steve Kraske to help recalibrate the true meaning of liberalism. Then, we find out why some consider Harry Truman's presidency an accident, which nonetheless changed the course of history in its first few months.

Courtesy Tom Stroik

"One thing that a poet needs more than anything else — well, you need a sense of language — but you need people who love you. And I have that," the poet Michelle Boisseau told New Letters on the Air host Angela Elam earlier this year. "I have incredible colleagues, and of course my husband Tom [Stroik], and people who believe in your work. Just keep doing it."

Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

Author Whitney Terrell told the story of a female soldier in his novel, The Good Lieutenant. His consultant for that book, Angela Fitle, lived it in the Army during Operation Iraqi Freedom II. They share their thoughts on the female experience of war. Then children's author Brian Selznick reveals what it was like to condense his novel Wonderstruck​ into the screenplay for the just-released film version.

Bonnie Bolling remembers when she first stepped on Middle Eastern soil. A writer, Bolling was in an airport in Dubai and the call to prayer came over the loudspeakers.

She’d never heard the call, and while she definitely felt reverence, she also panicked because she didn’t know what to expect or what her own response should be. Her heart beat hard as she stopped and awaited the reactions of her fellow travelers.

“I realized I was going to experience it in a way I was going to need to write about,” Bolling says of the Middle East.

The Nelson-Atkins Museum campus with an illuminated Bloch Building on right.
Charvex / Public Domain

When the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art opened the Bloch Building, its "lens" architecture was so different from the existing museum that many didn't see how the two could stand side by side. Today, the architect of the addition, Steven Holl, talks about returning to his building ten years later.

In the early 2000s, an artist from Japan came to study at the Kansas City Art Institute. She made a big impression on the arts community here ... and it made one on her as well. She shares the story behind "Thank You for Teaching Me English," now on display at the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art.

Wikimedia Commons

For as long as there has been recorded music, there have been cover songs.

Kelly Paratore

In her new book Whitewash: The Story of a Weed Killer, Cancer, and the Corruption of Science, Kansas City-based investigative journalist Carey Gillam makes the argument that the chemical industry — particularly Monsanto — has spent decades deceiving the public about the dangers of Roundup, the popular weed killer.

“Everyone who eats is impacted by this chemical,” Gillam says.

Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

John Grisham's career has taken him from attorney, to Mississippi state representative, to best-selling author. Today, we speak with the acclaimed writer about his latest legal thriller, The Rooster Bar, which explores the underbelly tactics of for-profit law schools.

Photo courtesy of Pat O'Neill

It was 120 years ago this week that George Wigert was born in Axtell, a speck of a town in rural Nebraska. Wigert would grow up to attend military school, fight in World War I, then return home to start a family.

It was just three years ago that Wigert's grandson, author and publicist Pat O'Neill, came across hundreds of letters Wigert exchanged with his mother while preparing for and fighting in what was called "the war to end all wars."

Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

During World War I, millions of letters were sent between the American servicemen in Europe and their loved ones back home. Kansas City author and publicist Pat O'Neill focused in on 223 letters sent during the war by his grandfather. Today, we learn Sgt. George Wigert's story.

Jeff Ridenour

The opera Hansel and Gretel is based on a Grimm Brothers' fairy tale.

In this version of the story, the brother and sister are sent into the forest to gather strawberries. They get lost, encounter creatures like the Sandman and the Dew Fairy — and discover a mysterious gingerbread house where they're captured by a witch. 

A new University of Missouri-Kansas City production creates sets and costumes out of paper.

Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

The executive director of the Kansas City Symphony is a busy man, but Frank Byrne has carved out some time for Up To Date. Today, he leads us through a Shostakovich symphony he's been listening to a lot lately. Then, we learn about the reporting, the writing, and the living Ernest Hemingway did in Kansas City during his 18th year of life.

Intel Free Press / Flickr - CC

Kansas City has its fair share of historic buildings, but they're not always easy to find and appreciate. Today, learn how a new guidebook is bringing these sites to people's attention. Then, pediatrician Dr.

Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

One Missouri photographer has spent years collecting stories and making images of musicians and their most prized possession; their guitars. Today, Chuck Holley shares some of his favorites. Then, we visit with Nobel Prize-winning economist Robert Shiller about the possibility of an upcoming bubble. Shiller says many harbingers of recessions in the past are present, but something important is missing.

Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

More than 40 years after the Vietnam War ended, Tim O'Brien's The Things They Carried is still helping Kansas City readers understand the nature of conflict.

Cory Weaver / Kansas City Repertory Theater

The musical Between the Lines, based off a bestselling novel by Jodi Picoult and her daughter, just made its world premiere at the KC Rep. It was a huge hit, but will it make it to Broadway? We discuss what it takes to get there with a local artistic director, a national producer and a Broadway performer.

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