Public Radio Nerds: Book Edition

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If you spend a lot of time listening to public radio, the voices of correspondents have likely become a part of your daily soundtrack. In fact, many National Public Radio (NPR) hosts are now household names. So if you’re like me and you see a new book coming out and the name seems vaguely familiar, you aren’t seeing things. Several NPR correspondents and hosts are also published authors, with books covering everything from politics to pop culture.

Here are a few Public Radio Nerd-approved reads!

The Best Strangers in the World by Ari Shapiro, host of All Things Considered

In his first book, broadcaster Ari Shapiro takes us around the globe to reveal the stories behind narratives that are sometimes heartwarming, sometimes heartbreaking, but always poignant. He details his time traveling on Air Force One with President Obama, or following the path of Syrian refugees fleeing war, or learning from those fighting for social justice both at home and abroad. As the self-reinforcing bubbles we live in become more impenetrable, Ari Shapiro keeps seeking ways to help people listen to one another; to find connection and commonality with those who may seem different; to remind us that, before religion, or nationality, or politics, we are all human.

It Goes So Fast by Mary Louise Kelly, host of All Things Considered

Ever since she became a parent, Mary Louise Kelly has said “next year.” Mary Louise is coming to grips with the reality every parent faces. Childhood has a definite expiration date. You have only so many years with your kids before they leave your house to build their own lives. It’s what every parent is supposed to want, what they raise their children to do. But it is bittersweet. Mary Louise is also dealing with the realities of having aging parents. This pivotal time brings with it the enormous questions of what you did right and what you did wrong.

Imperfect Union by Steve Innskeep, host of Morning Edition

The 1831, John Fremont was born a nobody. But with help from a series of mentors he rose from obscurity and married the daughter of influential senator Thomas Hart Benton. Jessie Benton Fremont had limited options for her own career, and threw herself into the promotion of her husband as John travelled thousands of miles on horseback to map the uncharted American West. Back home, Jessie skilfully shaped the letters he sent into dramatic reports and bestselling books. She became his political adviser, helping John secure a seat in the Senate and to ultimately become the first-ever presidential nominee Republican party.

Midnight in Siberia by David Greene, former host of Morning Edition

Far away from the trendy caf├ęs, designer boutiques, and political protests and crackdowns in Moscow, the real Russia exists. Midnight in Siberia chronicles David Greene’s journey on the Trans-Siberian Railway, a 6,000-mile cross-country trip from Moscow to the Pacific port of Vladivostok. In quadruple-bunked cabins and stopover towns sprinkled across the country’s snowy landscape, Greene speaks with ordinary Russians about how their lives have changed in the post-Soviet years.

Unforgettable by Scott Simon, host of Weekend Edition

When NPR’s Scott Simon began tweeting from his mother’s hospital room in July 2013, he didn’t know that his missives would soon spread well beyond his 1.2 million Twitter followers. Squeezing the magnitude of his final days with her into 140-character updates, Simon’s evocative and moving meditations spread virally. Over the course of a few days, Simon chronicled his mother’s death and reminisced about her life, revealing her humor and strength, and celebrating familial love.

So We Read On by Maureen Corrigan, NPR Book Critic

Conceived nearly a century ago by a man who died believing himself a failure, it’s now a revered classic and a rite of passage in the reading lives of millions. But how well do we really know The Great Gatsby? As Maureen Corrigan, Gatsby lover extraordinaire, points out, while Fitzgerald’s masterpiece may be one of the most popular novels in America, many of us first read it when we were too young to fully comprehend its power.

Enjoy these radio-related reads!