Books | St. Louis Public Radio

Books

Jon Else, filmmaker and author of "True South," discussed the legacy of St. Louis filmmaker Henry Hampton with St. Louis on the Air on Wednesday.
Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

Filmmaker Henry Hampton grew up in segregated St. Louis, Richmond Heights to be specific, during the 1940s. He would go on to found a film production company called Blackside, Inc. in Boston. His company produced over 80 documentaries and other productions and most notably created “Eyes on the Prize.”

The 14-part documentary is considered one of the most influential and definitive documentaries about the 30 years encompassing what Americans call the civil rights movement era, from Emmett Till to the Black Panthers.

On April 7, the world lost Patricia McKissack, a famed children’s book author who made her home in St. Louis. She died of a heart attack at age 72.

A file photo of Augusten Burroughs accompanies this image of the cover of his new book, "Lust and Wonder."
Christopher Schelling

From the beginning of his writing career, Augusten Burroughs was determined to be honest, even if writing about his often messy life would be a daunting process.

In his memoir “Running with Scissors,” and his later works, Burroughs has engaged in self-reflection, an approach that has won him a loyal following and inspired a hit movie. He continues that process in his latest book, “Lust and Wonder.”

“That’s really the key: to understand what happened to you, what your role in it was,” said Burroughs, who speaks tonight at the Schlafly Branch of the St. Louis Public Library. “Just becoming more and more and more truthful with yourself.”

Sidney Keys III, the founder of Books N Bros.
Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

If you Google the terms “boys and reading,” you will find thousands of results laying out the state of the gender gap between boys and girls when it comes to reading and literacy. “The Boys Have Fallen Behind,” writes Nicholas Kristof. “Why Women Read More than Men,” says NPR.

This collage of file photos shows the "Words for Love" book cover and author Emily Robbins.
Collage images provided by Riverhead Books

Author Emily Robbins was a Washington University grad student in August 2013 when she saw St. Louisans protesting in University City against U.S. plans to attack Syria. She was profoundly moved by the local activists and incorporated those feelings into the book she was writing, called “A Word for Love.”

On Wednesday night, Robbins will appear at Left Banks Books to sign copies, and speak about the book and its St. Louis roots.

“There is a very active community here,” Robbins said. “That was something I really drew on and felt proud of in St. Louis.”

A Parkway School District and Mizzou Veterinary School grad, James Rollins, is a bestselling author of over 30 books, including the Tucker Wayne and Jake Ransom novels. He recently released his 33rd book, “The Seventh Plague,” the next book in the Sigma series.

On Tuesday, he joined St. Louis on the Air to discuss the novel, his writing process and how he has managed to become such a prolific author in so little time.

Mark Sundeen, author of "The Unsettlers," followed families who opted to live outside of the traditional American economy.
Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

The trend of rural to urban migration across the world has been well-documented and is going strong. But what about people who migrate the opposite way? Or who choose to live a life outside of the traditional American economy? These people choose a different life with different challenges, but they also make up a community all their own.

Jim Merkel is the author of "Colorful Characters of St. Louis."
Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis has a colorful past filled with interesting characters, so it makes sense that local author Jim Merkel would turn his next literary sights on the people that made St. Louis what it is today.

On Thursday’s St. Louis on the Air, Merkel discussed his book, “Colorful Characters of St. Louis” with host Don Marsh.

Moyan Brenn | Flickr

Need something to entertain you during the long, cold winter? Still looking for gifts for your family and friends?  Why not go for a well-chosen book by a local author?

On Thursday’s St. Louis on the Air, we heard from two local booksellers about their favorite local and national titles both for gifts and for reading time over the holidays.

Holland Saltsman is the owner of The Novel Neighbor in Webster Groves. Alex Weir is the manager of Subterranean Books in the Delmar Loop.

Valerie Battle Kienzel’s new book, “What’s with St. Louis?” tackles some of St. Louis' strangest traditions.
Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

There are myriad oddities about St. Louis that if you’ve lived here long enough, you’ll learn to nod and make commentary about in polite conversation. Toasted ravioli.

In 2015, 12 million coloring books for adults were sold, according to Nielsen Bookscan. That’s a huge jump from 2014, when only 1 million were sold. As for 2016? We’ll have to wait and see, but it is certain the trend isn’t going away any time soon.

Author Candice Millard's book "Hero of the Empire" looks into Winston Churchill's exploits during the Boer War.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Originally published on September 29, 2016.

Winston Churchill sure didn’t make it easy to become a seminal figure in world history.

Before becoming Great Britain’s prime minister and leading his empire through World War II, Churchill was an extremely ambitious youngster who saw military glory as a pathway to political power. But this type of thinking almost got him killed in the Second Boer War, a late 1890s military conflict in what’s now South Africa.

Chris Hebert.
Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

Angels of Detroit” is author Christopher Hebert’s second novel.  It delves into the fictional lives of those experiencing Detroit’s decline and redevelopment. 

Hebert joined St. Louis on the Air on Thursday to discuss the book and the parallels between Detroit and St. Louis. 

Hebert lived in St. Louis in 1998 after finishing college.

"It was brief but meaningful," Hebert said.

Humorist and former journalist Dave Barry is a native of New York, which might have some people raising eyebrows at the title of his new book: “Best. State. Ever.: A Florida Man Defends His Homeland.

Homeland?

“I’ve been here for 30 years now, which in Florida terms, makes me a Floridian,” Barry told St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh. “This is a state where most people are from somewhere else. … I can’t imagine living anywhere else at this point.”

Denise Bogard, founder of St. Louis Writers Workshop, has written a novel titled "The Middle Step."
Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

Monday’s St. Louis on the Air featured a discussion with Denise Bogard about her recent book “The Middle Step,” which is set in north St. Louis and explores the intersection of race, poverty and family.

The novel delves into the life of a white woman, Lisa, as she runs a group home with four charges, three of whom are black. 

St. Louis-based author Ridley Pearson.
Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis-based author Ridley Pearson has written over 50 suspense and adventure novels but his latest, “White Bone,” is tackling an issue that is close to him: illegal wildlife poaching in Africa.

Roy Sorenson, Washington University philosophy professor, boggles our minds with riddles, puzzles and mind-bending tricks on "St. Louis on the Air."
Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

Washington University philosophy professor Roy Sorensen knows your true philosophical quandary: ‘Which came first, the chicken or the egg?’ We asked him to answer this question and share some of his trickiest puzzles, riddles and audio mysteries for our listeners to sort through on Monday’s St. Louis on the Air.

“I’m an egg man myself,” Sorensen said. Not all of you agreed, however.

Elaine Viets

Eight years ago, mystery author Elaine Viets survived six strokes, a coma and brain surgery. Now, she’s drawing on that experience in a new, dark mystery called “Brain Storm,” which will be released on Aug. 2.

Kelly Moffitt, Wikimedia Commons

Everybody has that one song — that one song that immediately takes you back to a time, a place, a friend, a poignant memory. Now, try to imagine your life as told by a whole series of such important songs. That’s exactly what St. Louisan Dave Holmes, the runner-up in MTV’s inaugural “Wanna Be a VJ” contest in 1998, has done.

You’re invited: On July 11, St. Louis on the Air will take you back to the beloved era of music videos with St. Louisan and former MTV host and runner-up in the network’s inaugural “Wanna Be a VJ” contest. His name is Dave Holmes, a graduate of Saint Louis Priory School, who recently wrote the book “Party of One: A Memoir in 21 Songs.”

Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

It takes a special kind of inquisitive mind to step out of the body’s current state and examine what it would look like from an entirely different perspective. Horace Miner did it in 1956 with his radical paper “Body Ritual Among the Nacirema,” and author Chuck Klosterman has done it again with his new book “But What If We’re Wrong?: Thinking About the Present As If It Were the Past.”

Wikimedia Commons

This St. Louis on the Air program will be re-broadcast on Monday, May 30 at noon. You can listen live online here. It was initially aired on July 22, 2015. 

During the summer and fall of 1948, President Harry S. Truman’s risky journey toward a second term turned out to be one of his greatest campaigning decisions.

After a 31,000-mile train ride across the country and 352 speeches during what’s known as his “Whistle Stop Tour,” Truman won the presidential election against then New York Governor Thomas Dewey.

Clint Hill served five American presidents as a Secret Service agent from 1958 to 1975. On Thursday's St. Louis on the Air, he shared his story.
Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

Former Secret Service Agent Clint Hill served silently beside Presidents Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon and Ford. Recently, he broke his silence about what that experience at the forefront of American history was like.

Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis  author John O’Leary wasn’t supposed to survive the burns that covered 100 percent of his body when he had an accident at age 9. No one thought he would walk, write with a pencil, or play a piano ever again. O’Leary, now 38, is not only able to do those things, he also found love, married and fathered four children.

Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that if a writer makes reference to Jane Austen in her works, she could likely incur what we’re calling “the wrath of the Janeites.” Or, at least, that’s some of what author Curtis Sittenfeld has experienced since the release of her novel “Eligible,” which is a modern retelling of Austen’s most famous book “Pride and Prejudice.”

Author Gail Pellett of "Forbidden Fruit: 1980 Beijing" spoke with "St. Louis on the Air" host  Don Marsh.
Alex Heuer

Author Gail Pellet recently released a new memoir called “Forbidden Fruit: 1980 Beijing,” which details her experience working for Radio Beijing as a foreign expert.

“I was hired as the first experienced broadcast journalist to work at Radio Beijing,” Pellett told host Don Marsh.  

Pellett discussed her experiences in China as well as her connection to St. Louis — she was a student at Washington University during the late 1960s and early 1970s.

Charles Bogel | Wikimedia Commons

CBS journalist Lesley Stahl, most widely known for her work on 60 Minutes, has interviewed heads of state, covered Watergate and broken scores of political news stories throughout her journalism career. Now, Stahl is facing a new challenge: “Becoming Grandma.”

Stahl has written a new book about “The Joys and Science of New Grandparenting,” and joined host Don Marsh to discuss her experience learning to become a grandmother.

Bundesarchiv Bild | Wikimedia Commons

Lithuanian-American young adult author Ruta Sepetys has known her whole life of the trials faced by refugees fleeing war. Her father fled from Lithuania when the Soviets occupied the country following World War II and spent nine years in refugee camps before he was able to come to the United States.

Tavis Smiley 2014
Provided

This segment will be rebroadcast on Monday, January 18, in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. It was originally aired on February 5, 2015. You can also listen live.

There’s a disconnect between Martin Luther King Jr. celebrations today, and attitudes toward the man before he was killed in 1968, author Tavis Smiley says.

Eileen Myles
Libby Lewis

Writer Eileen Myles’ seems poised on the brink of widespread recognition. This fall she’s publishing two books: “I Must Be Living Twice” and “Chelsea Girls,” which collect new and selected poems and capture the downtown New York of the 1970s in a novel. Much of Myles’ work deals with life in New York City yet the author said her themes and content also exist in cities like St. Louis.

Pages