Books

It might seem cramped to you, but there are plenty of reasons people consider downsizing into a tiny home.  Young adults who've been priced out of living in the city, retirees who prefer a tiny home on wheels to a giant RV, even folks whose finances were upended by the recession, are all driving a trend toward smaller, more economical living spaces.

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You know the story; with a good education, hard work, and a little stick-to-itiveness, you can make a better life for yourself and your kids. It's quite literally the American dream. Political scientist and author Robert D. Putnam wonders, though, if that narrative is becoming less attainable.

Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

Within ten minutes of his first day of school Juan Felipe Herrera was spanked, scolded, and left crying, all for speaking Spanish, the only language he knew. You wouldn't have guessed it then, but Herrera would grow up to be named the United States Poet Laureate. Twice.

His journey may never have happened if it weren't for his third-grade teacher, Mrs. Sampson.

"She said something that stayed with me for the rest of my life, and that I tell everyone I meet," Herrera said in an interview on KCUR's Up To Date, "you have a beautiful voice."

Most of us get that the U.S. government failed to fix the banking system after the Great Recession. The irony is that the world of high finance and wealth creation is still ruling the country, while the financial system is as vulnerable as ever.

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  • Rana Foroohar is an assistant managing editor at TIME and the magazine's economics columnist. She is the author of Makers and Takers: The Rise of Finance and the Fall of American Business.

Laura Spencer / KCUR 89.3

The Vietnam War divided the country – and families – including that of Kansas City writer Alan Robert Proctor. His brother, Bruce Proctor, worked in the Pentagon’s Defense Intelligence Agency before fleeing the country to avoid being sent to Vietnam.

We might be breaking kayfabe in saying so, but it's well-known that most professional wrestling is three parts theater, one part combat. While the moves in the ring might be choreographed, the injuries sustained by performers and the emotion from the crowd is anything but a farce.

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Literature lovers owe a debt of gratitude to industrialist Henry Folger, who assembled the largest collection of William Shakespeare's folios, including the famed First Folio. Without that anthology, "half of his plays would have ended up on the ash heap of history," says author Andrea Mays.

You probably think he turned his back on our nascent nation, but before all that Gen. Benedict Arnold was an ally of George Washington and a war hero to boot. Author Nathaniel Philbrick's latest book, Valiant Ambition, explores Arnold's motives for making the decision that ultimately became his legacy.

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3FM

As Debbie Pettid, one of the creators of The Rabbit Hole, waited for some 30 elementary school students from Rosehill Enhanced Learning Classroom in the Shawnee Mission School District on a recent Friday morning, she reflected on the whirlwind of the past several months.

Becoming a grandparent can have vivid effects on a person. Journalist Lesley Stahl's new book, Becoming Grandma, explores the evolution of close relationships, personal transformation, and the intense joy that came over her when she held her grand-daughters for the first time.

When Al-Qaida moved into Timbuktu, Mali, the terror group was bent on enforcing Shariah law, threatening many historical artifacts in the region. That's when an African collector and adventurer, Abdel Kader Haidara, took it upon himself to salvage and smuggle more than 370,000 ancient manuscripts out of harm's way.

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With the birth of his first-born, Brian Gordon quickly learned that parenting wasn't exactly what he'd expected, much less what had been promised. So Gordon turned to cartooning, creating a duck family to comment on the joys and pains of parenthood in Fowl Language: Welcome to Parenting

As we're in the midst of another election season, we hear a lot about how each candidate seems "presidential." What does that word mean, and what does it say about us? An editor who publishes books about the presidency shares his thoughts.

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C.J. Janovy / KCUR 89.3

Kansas City writer Angela Cervantes won an International Latino Book Award in 2014 for her first book, Gaby, Lost and Found. Published by Scholastic Press, the book helped establish Cervantes, originally a poet and short-story writer, as an author of middle-grade fiction (for audiences between the ages of 8-12).

Courtesy Historic Kansas City

“Adult" coloring books are hot right now. Some 12 million coloring books sold in 2015, up from just 1 million the year before, according to the Nielsen Bookscan.

Some claim coloring is therapeutic. It’s undeniably nostalgic, but no matter the reason, The First Kansas City Coloring Book resurfacing now is certainly an example of good timing.

It's Leavenworth, Kan., in the 1980s. Two young boys. One escaped convict. Two recently divorced parents too absorbed in their own struggles to fully supervise their children. An apartment-complex swimming pool. A mysterious new friend. 

Meet the Leavenworth-born novelist behind this vision.

Guests:

Andrea Tudhope / KCUR 89.3

The Reading Reptile children's bookstore in Kansas City's Brookside neighborhood will close on March 12, its owners announced on Monday.

The owners of a popular children's bookstore in Brookside are moving on to their new project: an immersive "explorastorium" for children's literature, to be called The Rabbit Hole. The inside scoop on this couple's love affair with stories, books, paper-mache... and each other. 

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Andrea Tudhope / KCUR 89.3

Pete Cowdin and Deb Pettid, longtime owners of the Reading Reptile children's bookstore in Brookside, are transitioning out of that business and turning their energies toward what they say will ultimately be something resembling a museum dedicated to children's literature.

But they also say it will be a place where visitors will be fully immersed in the books' narratives. 

Todd Wade / Flickr -- CC

The year is 2300 and Kansas City — as we know it — no longer exists.

The Eastern Empire — a loose federation of Chinese-led nations — has claimed the West Coast of the United States.

The refugee crisis from Americans fleeing east over the Rockies triggered a cataclysmic civil war, pitting the extremely wealthy against the extremely poor.

The very rich won, and the new nation that emerges has been restructured into a formalized, class-driven society.

Pexels / Creative Commons

The con-man may be someone  you want to avoid in real life, but he is a beloved figure in literature. Why do readers and writers love the con artist so? And why is he always a "he"? Lots of reading recommendations, plus the story of a local writer who's not only written about the con-man; he's also been one.

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Finding Strange And Obscure Sports

Jan 8, 2016

Have you ever considered playing golf with a bow and arrow? What about boxing with fireworks? On this edition of Up to Date, we find out about these pastimes that sound made up but are actually very real.

Guest:

  • Edward Brooke-Hitching is the author of Fox Tossing and Other Forgotten and Dangerous Sports, Pastimes and Games.

Having a sibling with autism can be challenging, as kids with autism often struggle to connect with other children. These frustrations inspired actress Holly Robinson Peete to co-write a book with her daughter, Ryan Elizabeth, about Ryan's twin brother, R.J.. The book, My Brother Charlie, won an NAACP Image award.

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Courtesy Doug Bradley

A new book about music and the Vietnam War is striking a deep chord, one reverberating from a long-ago Kansas City connection that shows up between the lines of We Gotta Get Out of This Place: The Soundtrack to the Vietnam War.

Adam / Flickr--CC

Steve Potter was sitting in a plane at Kansas City International Airport, waiting to taxi away from the gate.

“I got an email saying, ‘The audiobook that you’ve been waiting for is ready,’” says Potter, director of Mid-Continent Public Library. “So I’m like, OK, I’ll give this a try, see how fast it downloads.”

Before it was time to put his phone in airplane mode, he’d downloaded the audiobook and had it to listen to on his flight.

Natasha Ria El-Scari
Screaming Times

The first poem in Natasha Ria El-Scari’s Screaming Times launches a new war on a lie 397 years in the making.

That’s how long it’s been since African slaves were brought to Jamestown, Virginia, a full 157 years before America’s declaration “that all men are created equal.” The poem, “Treat Me Like a White Man,” is weary, incisive, and funny. “I hate being a Black woman,” El-Scari writes, “don’t wanna be an African woman.”

Penguin Random House

Are you stumped looking for last-minute gifts for the kids and teens in your life? How about the gift of shape shifting or time traveling? 

It's all possible between the covers of a good book, and these selections represent the best that 2015 had to offer in the way of children's literature.

Johnson County Librarians Dennis Ross and Kate McNair and retired librarian Debbie McLeod offer some recommendations to keep kids and teens reading well into 2016.

For preschool through 2nd grade:

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