WXXI AM News

books

Local author Alex Sanchez has a new graphic novel for young adults. "You Brought Me the Ocean" is the story of a teenager struggling to come out as gay...and as a superhero. The book was published by DC Comics and is part of the DC universe.

We talk with Sanchez about the book, what he hopes readers take from the story, and about broader issues affecting the LGBTQ community. 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. 

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Acclaimed children's author and Brighton resident Linda Sue Park is releasing a new book on March 3.

"Prairie Lotus" is the story of Hanna, a half-Chinese girl who moves with her father to a small town in the American heartland in 1880.  Hanna's mother has died and she's trying to reimagine life without her. Hanna is also determined to make at least one friend, graduate from school, and work as a dressmaker in her father's new shop.

But first, she must overcome and challenge the prejudice she faces from her new classmates and neighbors.

We continue an annual Connections tradition by talking to community leaders about their favorite books of the year. We also get insight into how they think, what they read, and why.

Our guests:

  • Natalie Sheppard, commissioner for the Rochester City School Board (“Free To Be Me: I Am Not My Issues” by Dante Worth)
  • Andrew Brady, CEO of the Xcelerate Team and co-founder and chair of Conscious Capitalism Rochester (“The Healing Organization: Awakening the Conscience of Business to Help Save the World” by Michael J. Gelb and Rajendra Sisodia)
  • Amanda Chestnut, artist, curator, educator, and administrator (“Let's Explore Diabetes with Owls” by David Sedaris)
  • Michael Galban, curator and historian at the Seneca Art and Culture Center at Ganondagan  (“There There: A Novel” by Tommy Orange)
  • Rebecca Rafferty, arts and entertainment editor at CITY Newspaper (“Mr. Splitfoot” by Samantha Hunt)
  • Pete Nabozny, director of policy for the Chilren’s Agenda (“Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World” by Anand Giridharadas)
  • Jeremy Tjhung, activist (“Monkeys” by Herbert S. Zim)

We continue an annual Connections tradition by talking to community leaders about their favorite books of the year. We also get insight into how they think, what they read, and why.

Our guests:

  • Jeff Spevak, arts and living editor at WXXI News (“Benjamin Franklin: An American Life” by Walter Isaacson)
  • Krystle Ellis, director of communications at the Ronald McDonald House, influencer, and culture shifter (“The Power of One Thing: How to Intentionally Change Your Life” by Dr. Randy Carlson)
  • Pablo Miguel Sierra Silva, author and assistant professor of history at the University of Rochester (“The Book of Chameleons: A Novel” by Jose Eduardo Agualusa)
  • Reverend Dr. Stephen Cady, senior minister at Asbury First United Methodist Church (“Marley: A Novel” by Jon Clinch)
  • Adam Frank, author and professor of astrophysics at the University of Rochester (“The Crowded Hour: Theodore Roosevelt, the Rough Riders, and the Dawn of the American Century” by Clay Risen)
  • Allison O’Malley, chief executive officer of RESOLVE (“Work is Love Made Visible: A Collection of Essays About the Power of Finding Your Purpose From the World's Greatest Thought Leaders” by Frances Hesselbein, Marshall Goldsmith, and Sarah McArthur)
  • Reverend Shari Halliday-Quan, senior minister of First Unitarian Church of Rochester (“The Leavers” by Lisa Ko)
  • Samiha Islam, senior at Brighton High School (“The Traitor Prince” by C. J. Redwine)

When is the last time you read a short story? Novelist Zadie Smith recently turned to short fiction, publishing her first collection of short stories last month. Is the popularity of the medium on the rise? Why are Smith and other authors turning to short stories?

We discuss those questions with local short story writers and publishers, who share trends in the industry. In studio:

Jeff Spevak/WXXI News

Leave your digital devices at the door. At last weekend’s Rochester Antiquarian Book Fair, old-school technology was on display. The printing press.

The Main Street Armory was a creepily appropriate setting for the people who love old books. To see the books, hold them, smell them, own them and, I suspect, sleep with them.

“Where did you get the braille Playboy?” I ask Dennis Seekins. I figure he found it under a bed.

“At an estate sale!”

Why do we need diverse books – books written by diverse authors that feature diverse characters?

The question is the focus of an upcoming panel hosted by the Henrietta Public Library. We preview that panel with local authors and a representative from the organization We Need Diverse Books. They help us understand the value and impact of reading diverse books (especially for children), and we explore the current literary landscape. Our guests:

During the season premiere of the PBS Kids’ show “Arthur,” Arthur’s teacher, Mr. Ratburn, got married. The episode, “Mr. Ratburn and the Special Someone,” featured the wedding of Mr. Ratburn and his partner, Patrick. The show is the latest in a series of children’s television programs and books to highlight diverse characters and inclusive storylines.

This hour, we discuss the value of inclusion on screen and in print – as well as behind the scenes – and the learning goals for children. Our guests:

  • Lesli Rotenberg, chief programming executive and general manager for children’s media and education at PBS
  • Cara Rager, manager of educational training and family engagement at WXXI Education
  • Leslie C. Youngblood, author of “Love Like Sky”
  • Ed Popil (Mrs. Kasha Davis), local drag performer and children's book author

George Orwell’s dystopian novel, “1984,” was published 70 years ago this week. In a recent piece for the “New Yorker,” Louis Menand writes that unlike other books with similar themes, “1984” has remarkable staying power – “an amazing run as a work of political prophecy” – as it looked at a world 35 years into the future. In 2017, the novel saw a surge in sales and rose to the top of the Amazon best-seller list.

This hour, we sit down with fiction writers and creative writing teachers to discuss why the book’s success continues, and what a dystopian novel written today might predict for a future 35 years from now. Our guests:

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