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.

If all of Rochester reads the same book, Writers & Books says it will be The Age of Miracles. That’s their selection for their annual event. The author, Karen Thompson Walker, joins me by phone, and Writers & Books executive director Joe Flaherty in studio with us.

The reclusive, aging author is releasing her long-hidden second novel, a prequel to the classic "To Kill a Mockingbird". The problem is, Lee's protective older sister Alice just died a few months ago at the age of 103. There are allegations that her agent and the publisher are taking advantage of a woman who is no longer mentally sharp enough to decide what she wants. HarperCollins has offered two separate releases claiming it's all good. Is it?

We'll talk about whether books stores should carry the novel, whether we should read it, and the problems with elder abuse.

Our panel:

Kathy Pottetti, Gell Center director of operations & programming at Writers & Books

Rochester's Favorite Books 2014! We talk to community leaders about their favorite book in 2014. We also get insight into how they think, what they read, and why. 

We continue to present books for the season, including two authors with local ties:

Do you have an idea for a book you’d like to write, but don’t think it can be published? You can self-publish a book, and it’s not hard at all. As part of our new “How Do You Do That?” series on “Connections”, Evan Dawson talks with Nina Alvarez of Dream Your Book Literary Services about how you can self-publish your first (or next) book.