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books

Jacob Walsh / CITY

Customers of John’s Tex-Mex in the South Wedge typically get their tacos and burritos with a side of refried beans or mashed potatoes. On a recent Saturday, they got a side of indie lit, too.

Nestled in a back corner of the restaurant, past clusters of patrons gorging on guacamole, was a pop-up bookstore fashioned out of a small table displaying a couple dozen books — novels, essays, and poetry, mostly from small presses and international authors.

We talk with organizers and participants in the Greater Rochester Teen Book Festival. The event is in its 14th year. This year's virtual festival is set for Saturday, May 15. Participants will be able to hear from authors of young adult books, attend workshops, and visit virtual publisher booths.

We talk with festival representatives about the program and the latest in reading trends among young adults. Our guests:

How has the pandemic affected the book publishing industry? NPR reports that like many other fields, book publishing has been upended. Publishers pushed back release dates, book events were put on hold, and many bookstores closed their doors for good.

This hour, we talk about the state of the industry with the experts. Our guests:

When it comes to racial justice in the United States, historian Bruce Levine argues that there is one historical figure that is often left out of the conversation. His new book aims to be the definitive biography of Congressman Thaddeus Stevens. Stevens is best known as a Radical Republican who thought Abraham Lincoln was moving too slowly on emancipation and civil rights.

Levine joins us to set the record straight about a historical figure who he says has been long misunderstood. Our guest:

We continue an annual Connections tradition by talking to different community members about their favorite books of the year. This year, we put the focus on librarians, whose work has changed during this pandemic. We about their “books of the year,” and about reading habits among patrons from across the community. Get a pen and paper so you can write a book list for yourself!

Our guests:

  • Anna Souannavong, director of the Gates Public Library (Brené Brown’s podcasts)
  • Ron Kirsop, executive director of the Pioneer Library System (“Factfulness: Ten Reasons We're Wrong About the World – and Why Things Are Better Than You Think” by Hans Rosling)
  • John Cohen, director of the Ogden Farmers’ Library (“Peace Talks” and “Battle Ground” by Jim Butcher)
  • Jenny Paxson, reader's discovery librarian at the Webster Public Library (“Memorial: A Novel” by Brian Washington, “Smoke Bitten” by Patricia Briggs, “The 7 ½  Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle” by Stuart Turton, “White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk about Racism” by Robin DiAngelo, and “The Yellow House” by Sarah M. Broom)
  • Matt Krueger, children's services librarian at the Irondequoit Public Library (“You Matter” by Christian Robinson)
  • Alexis Lawrence, adult services librarian at the Wood Library in Canandaigua (“Small Great Things: A Novel” by Jodi Picoult)
  • Adrienne Pettinelli, director of the Henrietta Public Library (“Leave the World Behind” by Rumaan Alam, “The Meaning of Mariah Carey” by Mariah Carey and Michaela Angela Davis, and “Kent State” by Deborah Wiles)

We continue an annual Connections tradition by talking to different community members about their favorite books of the year. This year, we put the focus on librarians, whose work has changed during this pandemic. We about their “books of the year,” and about reading habits among patrons from across the community. Get a pen and paper so you can write a book list for yourself!

Our guests:

  • Zoe Davis, librarian at Gates Public Library (“Passing” by Nella Larsen)
  • Cassie Guthrie, director of the Greece Public Library (“Riot Baby” by Tochi Onyebuchi)
  • Susie Flick, adult services library assistant at the Geneva Public Library (“Furiously Happy: A Funny Book about Horrible Things” by Jenny Lawson)
  • Greg Benoit, director of the Irondequoit Public Library (“The Buddhist on Death Row: How One Man Found Light in the Darkest Place” by David Sheff)
  • Abby DeVuyst, adult services programming librarian at the Fairport Public Library (“The Gown: A Novel of the Royal Wedding” by Jennifer Robson)
  • Beth Larter, school librarian in Gates Chili (“Prairie Lotus” by Linda Sue Park and “Dragon Hoops” by Gene Luen Yang)

We talk with local author Leslie C. Youngblood about her new book, "Forever This Summer." It's the remarkable sequel to her debut novel, "Love Like Sky."

"Forever This Summer" continues the story of Georgie and her blended family, with Georgie and her mom spending their summer in Louisiana caring for Georgie's great aunt, who has Alzheimer's disease. During their stay, Georgie makes a new friend, Markie, and learns about how their family histories intertwine. It's a story about friendship, about loyalty and compassion, and about finding the truth.

We talk to Youngblood about the book, her writing process, and about reaching diverse young readers with characters who look like them. Our guest:

"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:

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

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