NPR's Book of the Day

NPR's Book of the Day

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171 episodes

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In need of a good read? Or just want to keep up with the books everyone's talking about? NPR's Book of the Day gives you today's very best writing in a snackable, skimmable, pocket-sized podcast. Whether you're looking to engage with the big questions of our times – or temporarily escape from them – we've got an author who will speak to you, all genres, mood and writing styles included. Catch today's great books in 15 minutes or less.
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20 May 2022

Understanding China's brutal treatment of Uyghur Muslims through two nonfiction books

NPR
It's estimated that more than 1 million Uyghur Muslims have been detained in camps in China, where they may be subjected to forced labor, sexual violence, torture, and religious restrictions. Today, we explore two nonfiction books that help understand the crisis. First, Geoffrey Cain speaks to Scott Tong on Here and Now about his book The Perfect Police State, an overview of the surveillance technology China is employing to monitor Uyghurs. Then, Nury Turkel speaks to Ayesha Roscoe on Weekend Edition Sunday about his book No Escape, an investigation into these torture camps and the life of Uyghur refugees.
19 May 2022

Authentic Mexican recipes abound Ricky Martínez's cookbook 'Mi Cocina'

NPR
Just like every person has a story, every recipe has a memory. For famous chef Rick Martínez, those memories often come from his time in Mexico, where he traveled through the country's 32 states stepping into kitchens, houses, and markets learning from locals how to make true, authentic Mexican food. For Morning Edition, Martinez invited Rachel Martin into his kitchen, where they cooked Salsa de Chipotle and Chile de Árbol together as they spoke about reclaiming identity and heritage through food.
18 May 2022

An unexpected, endearing friendship in 'Remarkably Bright Creatures'

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Can humans and sea creatures communicate? In Shelby Van Pelt's first novel, Remarkably Bright Creatures, they sure can –and they do. The story centers around an octopus in captivity and his relationship to Tova, a grieving 70-year-old woman who cleans the aquarium at night. In an interview with All Things Considered, Van Pelt told Adrian Florido that the idea came to her while thinking about the frustration animals must feel in captivity and the thoughts that might be running through their heads. But it's not only a story about freedom (or lack thereof), it's also a story about heartache, loss, and unexpected friendship.
17 May 2022

A new Bonnie and Clyde-type adventure in 'Teenager' by Bud Smith

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Two teenagers in love, in a whole lot of trouble, and on a road trip across the country. It's the plot of Bud Smith's novel Teenager, a Bonnie and Clyde-type story that blends romance, crime, and adventure to explore the complexities of adolescent love and juvenile crime. In an interview with Scott Simon on Weekend Edition, Smith said he wanted readers to not only get to know the characters profoundly, but also feel relief from seeing how a partner can help us get through any kind of adversity.
16 May 2022

Former Secretary of Defense Mark Esper on the ethical dilemmas of working for Trump

NPR
As secretary of defense for President Trump, Mark Esper was privy to a lot of the inner workings of the administration. In his new book, A Sacred Oath, he brings readers into the room with him, showing how certain controversial decisions were being made and how some others were prevented. In an interview with All Things Considered, Esper told Michel Martin about the ethical dilemmas of working for Trump and the reasons why he stayed: to serve his country, avoid what he calls 'bad things from happening,' and improve the military from the inside out.
13 May 2022

Two nonfiction books... that just won Pulitzer Prizes!

NPR
The Pulitzer Prize is one of the most prestigious awards in the country for writers... and last year's winners were just announced this week. So today, we're looking back at two nonfiction authors whose books won the accolade. First, journalist Andrea Elliot speaks to Jane Clyson on Here and Now about her book Invisible Child, the story of how a young child's life was directed by homelessness. Then, Tufts University professor Erin Kelly speaks to Debbie Elliott about the autobiography she helped the late artist Winfred Rembert write – a story about civil rights, injustice, and coping through art.
12 May 2022

The illusion and power of money in Hernan Diaz's 'Trust'

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Money is all things... or it can become all things, says Hernan Diaz, author of Trust. In his new book, readers are presented with narratives on wealth, reality, and a woman set on separating fact from fiction. In an interview on Weekend Edition Saturday, Diaz told Scott Simon that he thought a lot about money in the writing of this book, particularly about its power to warp and test reality. And although he wanted this story to be about money and class, he also wrote a book that gives women agency in narratives they've often been erased from.
11 May 2022

Romance, terror, and the supernatural in Isabel Cañas' debut novel 'The Hacienda'

NPR
In the aftermath of the Mexican war for independence, a new bride finds herself alone in a haunted house surrounded by people who don't believe her. It's the plot of Isabel Cañas' debut novel The Hacienda, where she blends romance, terror, and the supernatural to tell a story highly embedded with Mexican culture. In an interview with Weekend Edition Sunday, Cañas told Ayesha Rascoe about the themes she wanted to explore in her novel – colonialism, social status, the syncretism of Catholicism and indigenous practices – and her own fear of darkness.
10 May 2022

The paradox of fame in Minnie Driver's new memoir

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Minnie Driver's experience with fame has been what she calls "surreal." She's faced the paradox of fame: she wants to be seen, but not that much. In her new memoir Managing Expectations, the British-American actress opens up about the complicated relationships in her life, her childhood, her unexpected path to acting, and her experience as a single mother. In an interview with All Things Considered, Driver told Ailsa Chang that writing this book was an interesting inner-exploration and that it helped her understand many aspects of her own life – and her mother's.
09 May 2022

In 'The Family Roe:' the human side of the landmark abortion case 'Roe v. Wade'

NPR
Despite the attention that Roe v. Wade has gotten throughout the years, there are still many details about the case that are obscure to the public. For one, the landmark case that legalized most abortions for women did not in fact end with an abortion. The baby, often referred to as Baby Roe, is Shelly Lynn Thornton, now a grown woman whose story is at the center of Joshua Prager's book The Family Roe. In an interview with All Things Considered, Prager told Michel Martin that through the family's story, he hoped to humanize the debate and help others see abortion "not through politics, but people."