It’s time again to compile our UPR community book list. We want to know what you’re reading. Maybe something for Valentine’s Day or Black History Month? Whatever’s on your nightstand or device, you can send us your list right now by email to email@example.com. Or you can email us or call us during the program, next time on Access Utah. Elaine Thatcher, our usual co-host for these episodes, is always reading something interesting. She’ll share her list with us. We’ll also get recommendations of interesting new books from various booksellers.
We’ll be talking to Anne Holman from The King’s English Bookshop, Shauna from Central Book Exchange, and Ken Sanders from Ken Sanders Rare Books, all in Salt Lake City.
Elaine Thatcher's Reading List:
"Days before his release from prison, Shadow’s wife, Laura, dies in a mysterious car crash. Numbly, he makes his way back home. On the plane, he encounters the enigmatic Mr Wednesday, who claims to be a refugee from a distant war, a former god and the king of America.
Together they embark on a profoundly strange journey across the heart of the USA, whilst all around them a storm of preternatural and epic proportions threatens to break.
Scary, gripping and deeply unsettling, American Gods takes a long, hard look into the soul of America. You’ll be surprised by what – and who – it finds there."
"In 1917, the Great War seems far from Logan, Utah. But soon it will change the lives of suffragette and mechanic Clara, Swiss-German immigrant and LDS convert Trudi, Marine Corps volunteer Reed, and Shoshone seeking U.S. citizenship Joseph. This novel weaves real events with compelling fictional characters into a sweeping tale of war, romance, self-discovery, and sacrifice."
"In the landlocked center of the American West thrives a culture strongly rooted in the practices and doctrines of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the religion embraced by the early white settlers in the Utah Territory. These settlers were often called Mormons. This region is now known to many as the Mormon Corridor. Over the last half-century, the two lane highway that once connected much of the Mormon Corridor was replaced by the much larger Interstate Fifteen. This stretch of highway is now one of the busiest in the United States. In his compilation of short stories, Dead On The Corridor, James Elliott's characters live on the cultural fringes. Their faith, their lack of faith, their sins, their loves, and their life circumstances converge in unexpected ways. The result is freedom, hope, life, death, and murder."
"Jake Kimball is afraid he agreed too hastily to spend the summer working his way through the mess Isaac Bingham, the old potter-God rest his soul-left behind. As Jake begins his work in the old studio, he becomes aware of a unique collection of mugs hanging from an overhead beam. When friends of the old potter stop by to sip peppermint tea from these mugs and tell their stories, Jake begins to understand the remarkable man he has come to replace. With the help of his new friend Amy, Jake pieces together the secrets of life Isaac lived by and shared with all who knew him. Remembering Isaac celebrates the art of creation, the ancient wisdom of a humble craftsman, the euphoria of love, and the joys found through understanding and making the most of reality."
"One thousand years after the Jupiter mission to explore the mysterious Monolith had been destroyed, after Dave Bowman was transformed into the Star Child, Frank Poole drifted in space, frozen and forgotten, leaving the supercomputer HAL inoperable. But now Poole has returned to life, awakening in a world far different from the one he left behind--and just as the Monolith may be stirring once again . . ."
"Ulysses S. Grant's life has typically been misunderstood. All too often he is caricatured as a chronic loser and inept businessman, fond of drinking to excess; or as the triumphant but brutal Union general of the Civil War; or as a credulous and hapless president whose tenure came to symbolize the worst excesses of the Gilded Age. These stereotypes don't come close to capturing adequately his spirit and the sheer magnitude of his monumental accomplishments. A biographer at the height of his powers, Chernow has produced a portrait of Grant that is a masterpiece, the first to provide a complete understanding of the general and president whose fortunes rose and fell with dizzying speed and frequency."
2. Utah author Chris Crowe, with books including:
"It’s 1968, and war is not foreign to seventeen-year-old Ashe. His dogmatic, racist father married his passionate peace-activist mother when she became pregnant with him, and ever since, the couple—like the situation in Vietnam—has been engaged in a senseless war that could have been prevented.
With the help of his high-school history teacher, who dares to teach the political realities of the war, and a beautiful new student whose brother is missing in action, Ashe grows to better understand the situation in Vietnam, his family, and the wider world around him. But when a new crisis hits his parents’ marriage, Ashe finds himself with no options before him but to enter the fray.
Death Coming Up the Hill is a moving and illuminating narrative in haiku form, each passage introduced with a chilling statistic chalked on the blackboard by Ashe’s teacher: the number of soldiers killed that week. Here is an innovative and deceptively simple telling of the momentous events of 1968 as seen through the eyes of a perceptive seventeen-year-old American male."
"At first Hiram is excited to visit his hometown in Mississippi. But soon after he arrives, he crosses paths with Emmett Till, a black teenager from Chicago who is also visiting for the summer, and Hiram sees firsthand how the local whites mistreat blacks who refuse to "know their place." When Emmett's tortured dead body is found floating in a river, Hiram is determined to find out who could do such a thing. But what will it cost him to know? Mississippi Trial, 1955 is a gripping read, based on true events that helped spark the Civil Rights Movement."
"The kidnapping and murder of Emmett Till is famous as a catalyst for the Civil Rights Movement. Emmett Till, a fourteen-year-old Black teenager from Chicago, was visiting family in a small town in Mississippi during the summer of 1955. Likely showing off to friends, Emmett allegedly whistled at a white woman. Three days later his brutally beaten body was found floating in the Tallahatchie River. The extreme violence of the crime put a national spotlight on the Jim Crow ways of the South, and many Americans-Black and white-were further outraged at the speedy trial of the white murderers. Although the two white men were tried and acquitted by an all-white jury, they later bragged publicly about the crime. It was a galvanizing moment for Black leaders and ordinary citizens, including such activists as Rosa Parks. In clear, vivid detail Chris Crowe investigates the before-and-aftermath of the crime, as well as the dramatic court trial, and places it into the context of the nascent Civil Rights Movement.With lively narrative and abundantly illustrated with forty fascinating contemporaneous photographs, this impressive work of nonfiction brings fresh insight to the case in a manner that will be accessible and eye-opening for teenagers and adults alike."
"A novice sleuth is hired by the police after he cons them into thinking he has psychic powers which help solve crimes. With the assistance of his reluctant best friend, the duo take on a series of complicated cases."
(Tom admits he's cheating a little with this recommendation, but it's the reason he may not have been doing as much reading as he normally would.)
From Local Booksellers:
Anne Holman, The King's English Bookshop:
"Out of gratitude for the poet’s art form, Newbery Award–winning author and poet Kwame Alexander, along with Chris Colderley and Marjory Wentworth, present original poems that pay homage to twenty famed poets who have made the authors’ hearts sing and their minds wonder. Stunning mixed-media images by Ekua Holmes, winner of a Caldecott Honor and a John Steptoe New Talent Illustrator Award, complete the celebration and invite the reader to listen, wonder, and perhaps even pick up a pen."
"In a rich embroidery of visions, musical cadence, and deep emotion, Andrea and Brian Pinkney convey the final months of Martin Luther King's life -- and of his assassination -- through metaphor, spirituality, and multilayers of meaning.
Andrea's stunning poetic requiem, illustrated with Brian's lyrical and colorful artwork, brings a fresh perspective to Martin Luther King, the Gandhi-like, peace-loving activist whose dream of equality -- and whose courage to make it happen -- changed the course of American history. And even in his death, he continues to transform and inspire all of us who share his dream."
"A lush and lyrical biography of Harriet Tubman, written in verse and illustrated by an award-winning artist. We know her today as Harriet Tubman, but in her lifetime she was called by many names. As General Tubman she was a Union spy. As Moses she led hundreds to freedom on the Underground Railroad. As Minty she was a slave whose spirit could not be broken. An evocative poem and opulent watercolors come together to honor a woman of humble origins whose courage and compassion make her larger than life."
"On May 4, 1961, a group of thirteen black and white civil rights activists launched the Freedom Ride, aiming to challenge the practice of segregation on buses and at bus terminal facilities in the South. The Ride would last twelve days. Despite the fact that segregation on buses crossing state lines was ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in 1946, and segregation in interstate transportation facilities was ruled unconstitutional in 1960, these rulings were routinely ignored in the South. The thirteen Freedom Riders intended to test the laws and draw attention to the lack of enforcement with their peaceful protest. As the Riders traveled deeper into the South, they encountered increasing violence and opposition. Noted civil rights author Larry Dane Brimner relies on archival documents and rarely seen images to tell the riveting story of the little-known first days of the Freedom Ride."
"This is the definitive visual biography of Barack Obama's presidency, captured in intimate, unprecedented detail by his official White House photographer.
Pete Souza began photographing President Obama on his first day as a U.S. senator, in January 2005, and served as the chief official White House photographer for the President's full two terms. Souza was with President Obama more often, and at more crucial moments, than any friend or staff member, or even the First Lady--and he photographed it all. Souza captured nearly 2 million photographs of Obama, in moments ranging from classified to disarmingly candid."
Holman says Neruda's tiny pink volume of love poetry is a Valentine's Day bestseller every year.
"Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed.
Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil's name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr.
But what Starr does or does not say could upend her community. It could also endanger her life."
In discussing Thatcher's newfound interest in Gaiman, our guest from Central Book Exchange mentions she enjoyed this Gaiman novella.
"Romantic Outlaws is the first book to tell the story of the passionate and pioneering lives of Mary Wollstonecraft – English feminist and author of the landmark book, The Vindication of the Rights of Women – and her novelist daughter Mary Shelley, author of Frankenstein."
4. At the intersection of our two themes: love and Black History Month, is Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
"As teenagers in Lagos, Ifemelu and Obinze fall in love. Their Nigeria is under military dictatorship, and people are fleeing the country if they can. The self-assured Ifemelu departs for America. There she suffers defeats and triumphs, finds and loses relationships, all the while feeling the weight of something she never thought of back home: race. Obinze had hoped to join her, but post-9/11 America will not let him in, and he plunges into a dangerous, undocumented life in London.
Thirteen years later, Obinze is a wealthy man in a newly democratic Nigeria, while Ifemelu has achieved success as a blogger. But after so long apart and so many changes, will they find the courage to meet again, face to face?
Fearless, gripping, spanning three continents and numerous lives, Americanah is a richly told story of love and expectation set in today’s globalized world."
Ken Sanders, Ken Sanders Rare Books:
Sanders is feeling poetry this Valentine's day -- so much so that he's kind enough to treat us with a poem on air: "My Date with Wonder Woman," an excerpt from Bucky Sinister's collection, All Blacked Out and Nowhere to Go.
He recommends the poetry of Americans Edgar Allan Poe, Emily Dickinson and Walt Whitman. "Across the pond," Sanders recommends the love poetry of Alfred Lord Tennyson, Robert Browning, Elizabeth Barrett Browning and of course, William Shakespeare.
Not to be forgotten, Sanders says, are Utah poets May Swenson and Ken Brewer. He recommends Swenson's The Complete Love Poems and Brewer's Whale Song: A Poet's Journey into Cancer.
"In Ken Brewer's dying, he taught us how to die and how to live," Sanders says.
Finally, Recommendations From Our Listeners:
1. "I've been reading the Southern Reach Trilogy by Jeff VanderMeer. A spectacular work of fiction where the author attempts to describe the indescribable." - Arden
3. The Heroic Slave by Frederick Douglass: "It's a great read!" - Kyle
4. "In what is surely a sign of the times, I am reading two political books right now — both about the Trump presidency. The first is Fire And Fury, Michael Wolff’s much ballyhooed inside account of the Trump White House. There has been so much publicity surrounding this book, there is probably no need for me to say more. The second is David Cay Johnston’s It’s Even Worse Than You Think: What The Trump Administration Is Doing To America. Johnston is a Pulitzer Prize winning investigative journalist who specializes in economics but has in addition a broad range of expertise and topical interests. Each of the chapters addresses a different aspect of Trump’s life and presidency with titles such as “Kleptocracy Rising” and “Stocking The Swamp." Amusingly, one of the blurbs on the jacket is from Donald Trump, himself: 'I know the reporter is a weird dude who’s been following me for 25 years so obviously he hasn’t done so well. He’s been following me in a negative fashion for 25 years, always a hit. And I’m president, so he hasn’t done a very good job.'" - Steve
6. "My favorite book of the last several years is The Orphan Master’s Son by Adam Johnson. This book won the Pulitzer for fiction in 2012, but it’s a wonderful and thoughtful look into the inner workings of North Korea – very timely, and it helps me understand the current situation. Also, I just finished The Book of Dust by Philip Pullman, the new prequel to (H)is Dark Materials series. My opinion is it’d be boring and weird if you haven’t read The Golden Compass. But if you love Lyra, you’ll love this book." - Janelle
7. "All, Here is what I have been reading: Pop history: The Ascent of Money, Niall Ferguson; a very interesting look at the history of money, finance, bonds, insurance, and lending. Published around 2009 the book had an interesting look into the global financial crisis as well. White Trash, Nancy Isenberg; an in depth look into the 400 year history of class in America, beginning with the American Colonies. Fiction: Mayfly, Jeff Sweat. I’m not a big fan of dystopian novels, but this one was written by a good friend of mine. (Shameless plug!) It is a good read and I fully expect it to become a Netflix series in the future. This is one of my favorite show topics!" - Glen
8. "Listening to the program today featuring CBE in Sugarhouse, I wonder if your listeners are aware of a similar locally owned used bookstore in Logan that has thousands of books: Becky's Bookshelf, 29 West 100 North." - Kris
9. UPR's audio engineer Friend Weller recommends Long Distance Voyagers: The Story of the Moody Blues 1965-1979 by Marc Cushman.