It's Rochester's favorite books of 2015!

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:

  • Shawn Brown, program coordinator, The Center for Teen Empowerment (Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates)


  • Jamal Rossi, dean of the Eastman School of Music (Traps - The Drum Wonder: The Life of Buddy Rich by Mel Torme)


  • Christine Ridarsky, City of Rochester historian (The Spirit of New York: Defining Events in the Empire State's History by Bruce Dearstyne)


  • George Moses, director of North East Area Development (NEAD) (The Maxwell Leadership Bible by John C. Maxwell; and Midway - The Midpoint: My Precious Memories of Times Gone By by Victoria Brown Smith)


  • Adam Chodak, anchor and managing editor, WROC-TV (The New Yorker: The Hunt for El Chapo and El Chapo Escapes Again by Patrick Radden Keefe)


  • Jack Garner, longtime Gannett film critic (Lawrence in Arabia: War, Deceit, Imperial Folly and the Making of the Modern Middle East by Scott Anderson)


  • Mona Seghatoleslami, host and producer, Classical 91.5 FM (Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi)  


  • Charlie Cote and Sarah Freligh, Poetically Connect (Sad Math: Poems by Sarah Freligh and The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood)


  • Scott Fearing, executive director, Gay Alliance of Genesee Valley (For Hearing People Only: Answers to Some of the Most Commonly Asked Questions about the Deaf Community, Its Culture, and the "Deaf Reality" by Matthew S. Moore and Linda Levitan)


  • Theresa Bowick, cruise captain, Conkey Cruisers (Walk Like You Have Somewhere to Go by Lucille O'Neal)


  • Peter Jemison, historic site manager, Ganondagan (Iroquois Creation Story: John Arthur Gibson and J.n.b. Hewitt's Myth of the Earth Grasper by John C. Mohawk)

It's Rochester's favorite books of 2015!

We have a conversation about the impact of raising children to believe in a god, or not.

Dan Arel is the author of the new book, Parenting Without God. He'll explain why he thinks raising children in a religious household is a recipe for poor critical thinking, and more. Our guests in studio offer a counterpoint, talking about the possible benefits of raising children to have faith in a deity. Our guests:

Upper-class suburbia is meant to look pristine, effortless, happy. Under the surface -- or, better, behind the closed doors -- there are insecurities and eccentricities, sadness, and longing. These stories are the threads that come together in the new work of fiction called The Wonder Garden.

Writers & Books in Rochester is bringing in the author, Lauren Acampora, as part of its Debut Novel series. Acampora will teach a master class; she'll present about her book; but first, she's on Connections. Our guests:

Are the Common Core standards threatening to push great fiction out of the classroom? A local English teacher says, in a word: Yes. We'll expand on a recent conversation about the future of teaching classic literature with a pair of passionate guests:

  • Evvy Fanning, English teacher at Pittsford Sutherland High School
  • Gillian Moore, recent high school graduate

In this edition of Education Friday on Connections, we talk with University of Rochester professor and author Joanna Scott, who recently penned a piece in The National titled "The Virtues of Difficult Fiction." The piece discussed how readers should be reading more complex and difficult literary works and why.

Connections: Rochester Teen Book Festival

May 14, 2015

Jennifer Niven's book "All the Bright Places" has become a very hot piece of young-adult literature. It focuses on depression and suicide. The book is climbing just about every conceivable sellers list, and has earned some understandable comparisons to John Green's mega-hit "The Fault in Our Stars." Niven is in Rochester for the 10th Annual Greater Rochester Teen Book Festival. She's our guest for the hour, along with two other guests:

  • Charles Benoit – author of "Cold Calls", Rochester Native, Greater Rochester Teen Book Fest Panelist
  • Laura Jones – Professor at Nazareth College and the site coordinator for The Greater Rochester Teen Book Festival.

The inaugural Rochester Black Author Expo is coming up in two weeks. We'll meet four of the authors who will be featured. We'll talk about the business of writing books and finding an audience. The authors:

  • Corey Lamar Tanksley
  • Dante Worth
  • Tracy Williams
  • Cheryl Holland

Why do people believe things that are so clearly dubious? Millions believe climate change is a hoax. Even more believe they can talk to ghosts, that Area 51 has aliens, that man has never walked on the moon. If it used to be funny, it has the potential to impact public policy. Guy Harrison is the author of a number of books about belief, including Think: Why You Should Question Everything, and 50 Popular Beliefs that People Think are True. He joins us for the hour to talk about the impact of adopting beliefs without a skeptical approach.

It's one thing to get published as a first-time fiction writer. It's another to have the New York Times declare, "Is there room in American fiction for another brilliant young émigré writer? There had better be, because here he is."

He is Boris Fishman, author of A Replacement Life. Writers & Books tapped Fishman for their Debut Novel Series. The series allows the public to not only explore a hit novel from a first-time author; the public can learn from the author about how to get published at all. What works? How to find an audience? What is the editing process like? Fishman and Writers and Books Executive Director Joe Flaherty join us to discuss.