Would you describe yourself as "weird"? In her new book, "Weird: The Power of Being an Outsider in an Insider World," the Atlantic's Olga Khazan works to reclaim the word by emphasizing how being different can be a person's greatest strength. We talk to Khazan about why being an outsider is an asset. Our guest:

What did Virginia Woolf, Oliver Sacks, and Emily Dickinson have in common? They all suffered from migraine, and wrote about their experiences. A new book collects the writing of migraine sufferers in an attempt to help the general public understand this disease.

Our guest is the editor who collected these pieces of literature; she's also an author and migraine sufferer herself:

A photographer in Geneva is documenting how the city has navigated the pandemic. Photographer Jan Regan teamed up with longtime journalist Chris Lavin to tell Geneva's story through photos and essays. Their work is now available in a new book called "#porchportraits."

We talk with them about what they've learned about their city and its residents. Our guests:

  • Jan Regan, photographer, and co-author of "#porchportraits"
  • Chris Lavin, longtime journalist, co-author of "#porchportraits," and executive director of the Boys and Girls Club in Geneva

"I Was Their American Dream" is a graphic novel by NPR deputy editor Malaka Gharib. Gharib is Egyptian-Filipina-American and grew up with her immigrant parents in California. Her book explores her multicultural identity and how she felt she had to adapt to different traditions, languages, and religions with the different people in her life.

Nguyên Khôi Nguyễn, also an author, can relate. His work focuses on his identity as Vietnamese-American.

Both Gharib and Nguyễn join us this hour to share their stories and to discuss what it means to be a first-generation American in 2020. Our guests:

We preview the annual Rochester Jewish Book Festival, which runs October 25 through November 1. We're joined by Ben Sheehan, author of "OMG WTF Does the Constitution Actually Say?: A Non-Boring Guide to How Our Democracy is Supposed to Work." The book is a humorous look at why Americans don't understand how government works and how to change that.

Sheehan shares what he thinks Americans need to know, especially during election season. Our guest:

  • Ben Sheehan, author of "OMG WTF Does the Constitution Actually Say?: A Non-Boring Guide to How Our Democracy is Supposed to Work"

Community members in Irondequoit are gearing up for a town-wide discussion about Ibram X. Kendi and Jason Reynold's book, "Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You." It's a remix of Kendi's bestselling book "Stamped" that's written in a conversational way for young readers.

Our guests discuss the upcoming event and what they want readers to learn:

  • Patrina Freeman, Irondequoit Town Councilwoman
  • Brya Potter, 6th grade school counselor at East Irondequoit Middle School
  • Greg Benoit, director of the Irondequoit Public Library
  • Karen Finter, director of instruction for grades 7-12 at West Irondequoit Central School District

Local author Melanie Conroy-Goldman says there’s always a bit of darkness in a true friendship. That’s certainly true of the characters featured in her debut novel, “The Likely World.” It’s the story of a single mom named Mellie who’s in the early days of her recovery from a fictional drug called cloud. The substance causes short term memory loss in users, and when Mellie first tries it at age 16, the consequences of her addiction 20 years later are unimaginable. As an adult, her past upends her newfound society, and she’s faced with life-threatening choices.

In previous summers on this program, we’ve devoted a week to discussing books. The summer is a bit different this year, and we’re doing things a bit differently, but we still want to have conversations about literature. This hour, I’m joined by Hobart and William Smith professor Melanie Conroy-Goldman to talk about “The Likely World.” It’s a gritty story of addiction, of family, of loyalty, and of feeling, and we spend the hour exploring it.

Our guest:

  • Melanie Conroy-Goldman, author of “The Likely World,” and professor of English at Hobart and William Smith Colleges

We're joined by local writer Sejal Shah. Her debut book, "This Is One Way to Dance," is a collection of essays, stories, and poems that explore being Indian in America. Her book weaves together personal stories, cultural perspectives, and an exploration of identity over a 20 year period. We talk to Shah about the themes of her work.

Our guests:

  • Sejal Shah, author of "This Is One Way to Dance"
  • Bill Ferguson, acting executive director of Garth Fagan Dance

*This hour includes an update on the coronavirus pandemic from WXXI's health reporter, Brett Dahlberg.

Author Linda Sue Park’s new novel, “Prairie Lotus,” tells the story of a half-Chinese girl and her white father as they make a home in Dakota Territory in 1880. In the story, Hanna and her father face racial prejudice as they try to adapt to their new surroundings. The book was released earlier this month to critical acclaim; some critics compare the historical fiction to “Little House on the Prairie.” 

Park won the Newbery Medal in 2002, becoming the first Korean American author to do so. She joins us this hour to talk about “Prairie Lotus,” its themes, and trends in children’s literature today. Our guest:

Joel Stein is a journalist, author, and political pundit. His new book, "In Defense of Elitism," is a look at why President Trump won the 2016 election. Using wry humor, Stein argues that economic anxiety and racism were not the cause of the 2016 results. He says Americans voted for Trump because he attacked elitism.

Stein joins us to discuss his work.