Nonfiction Titles That Prove “Truth is stranger than fiction.” Show Aug 1 and 2

FEATURED BOOKS PREVIEWED

“The Billion Dollar Spy” by David E. Hoffman
“Once Upon A Time in Russia” by Ben Mezrich
“The Spy’s Son” by Bryan Denson
“Arms and the Dudes” by Guy Lawson
“God’s Bankers” by Gerald Posner
“Two Hours” by Ed Caesar
“The Coloring Book” by Colin Quinn

INTERVIEW
Ben Mezrich, Author

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A preview of new nonfiction titles that prove “Truth is stranger than fiction.” Ben Mezrich returns to the program to introduce Elaine to his latest book about Vladimir Putin and the Russian oligarchs, “Once Upon a Time in Russia.”

Of Mice And Men To Be Banned In Idaho?

Hailed by the Nobel prize judges in 1962 for his realism and sympathetic humour, John Steinbeck is under attack. Parents in Idaho have branded “Of Mice and Men” “neither a quality story nor a page-turner” and asked for it to be removed from classrooms. A curriculum review committee in the city of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho has recommended the 1937 novella should no longer be taught in classrooms, according to the Spokesman-Review, and that ninth-graders should study it “on a voluntary, small-group basis” only. For parent Mary Jo Finney, the use of words such as “bastard” and “God damn” makes it unsuitable for 14- or 15-year-old students. After counting more than 100 “profanities,” she expressed her shock to the Spokesman-Review that “teachers actually had the audacity to have students read these profanities out loud in class”.

Steinbeck’s story of the difficulties faced by migrant fieldworkers in the Great Depression is a fixture on high-school syllabuses in the US, the UK and beyond, but since 1953 has also become one of America’s most frequently-challenged books.

In the same week, one of the novels on the American Library Association’s most recent list of banned books, “The Kite Runner” by Afghan-born Khaled Hosseini, has come under attack in North Carolina. According to the Citizen-Times, a parent in Asheville complained about the global bestseller’s language and “adult themes”. “The description of the book the teacher included mentioned that there was a rape,” said Lisa Baldwin, “but not that it was the rape of a child and it was the homosexual rape of a child, which I felt was something parents needed to know.” Baldwin also objected that Erich Maria Remarque’s 1929 novel, “All Quiet on the Western Front” had been “removed from the curriculum without parents knowing about it”.

Hosseini’s 2003 book has been removed from classrooms until a committee at Ashville’s Reynolds High School has considered Baldwin’s complaint. It’s not yet clear if parents concerned by Hosseini’s depiction of war and chaos in Afghanistan will be reassured by Remarque’s evocation of the shock and horror of mechanised warfare in France.

Classic Titles Narrated By Top Actors ~ Show July 18 and 19

FEATURED BOOKS PREVIEWED

“Go Set A Watchman” by Harper Lee: performed by Reese Witherspoon
“To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee: performed by Sissy Spacek
“The Member of the Wedding” by Carson McCullers: performed by Susan Sarandon
“Being There” by Jerzy Kosinski: performed by Dustin Hoffman
“The Heart of Darkness” by Joseph Conrad: performed by Kenneth Branagh
“The Sheltering Sky” by Paul Bowles: performed by Jennifer Connelly
“The End of the Affair” by Graham Greene: performed by Colin Firth

INTERVIEW
Marja Mills, Author

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Elaine spotlights new performances of classic titles narrated by Hollywood’s top actors. Marja Mills shares her experiences as Harper Lee’s neighbor – timed to coincide with the Lee’s release of “Go Set a Watchman.”

Argentina Is World Capital Of Bookstores

ARGENTINA IS WORLD CAPITAL OF BOOKSTORES
All across Argentina’s capital, lodged between the steakhouses, ice cream shops and pizzerias, is an abundance of something that is becoming scarce in many nations: bookstores. From hole-in-the-wall joints with used copies of works by Jorge Luis Borges, Miguel de Cervantes and Gabriel Garcia Marquez to elegant buildings with the latest children’s books in several languages, Buenos Aires is filled with locales that pay homage to print.

The city has more bookstores per capita than any other major city in the world, according to a recent study by the World Cities Cultural Forum, an organization that works to promote culture. With a population of 2.8 million people within the city limits, there are 25 bookstores for every 100,000 people, putting Buenos Aires far above other world cities like London, Paris, Madrid, Moscow and New York. The closest is Hong Kong, which has 22 bookstores per 100,000 people.

“Books represent us like the tango,” said Juan Pablo Marciani, manager of El Ateneo Gran Splendid, an immense bookstore in the affluent Recoleta neighborhood where 7,000 people visit each week. “We have a culture very rooted in print.” Behind the high number of bookstores, 734 by last count, is a combination of culture and economics. Culture boomed along with the economy in the early part of the 20th century, and even if the economic path grew rocky, ordinary Argentines embraced and stuck to the habit of reading. To this day, many across the region call the Argentine capital the “Paris of Latin America” thanks to its architecture, wide streets and general interest in the arts. During the Spanish civil war in the 1930s, many top writers fled to Argentina, further cementing the country as a literary capital and powerhouse for printing.

In 2014, there were 28,010 titles in circulation and 129 million books were printed in the country, according to the Argentine Book Chamber, making it one of the most prolific book printers in Latin America. Many stores carry rare books that are hundreds of years old. At Libreria Alberto Casares, bookworms can gaze at a collection that includes a French translation of Spanish poet Garcilaso de la Vega from 1650 and Gregorian chants on papyrus dating to 1722.

In buses and subways, parks and cafes, it’s common to see people flipping pages of whodunits, histories and poetry, or most recently, new books about the mysterious death of prosecutor Alberto Nisman, a case that has rocked the country since he was found shot dead in his bathroom Jan. 18. “I was born with paper books and I’ll die with paper books,” said Aida Cardozo, 65. “Computers are for responding to emails and using Facebook, but not to read a novel,” she said.

Books also receive help when it comes to staving off the digital deluge. There are no sales taxes on books, notable in a country where most products get 21 percent slapped on top of the sticker price. And heavy import taxes on books, and electronics such as e-readers, help keep the local printing industry strong. While Argentines are increasingly glued to their mobile devices, customers who want to use foreign retailers like Amazon have to pay a 35 percent surcharge on their peso-denominated credit cards. The use of e-readers like the Kindle is still relatively low. Less than 10 percent of the 1.2 million people who attended the city’s annual book fair last year said they used electronic devices to read books, according to a fair survey.

Ignacio Iraola, the Southern Cone editorial director for publishing house Grupo Planeta, said the economic factors make printed books an attractive business for bookstores and make books a popular gift in tight economic times. “A book costs 200 pesos ($23) compared to 400 pesos $46 for a shirt,” said Iraola. “And the perceived value of a book is much higher.”

Listen to The Book Report at your convenience. Go to https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/the-book-report/id540205917?mt=2, or at bookreportradio.com, click on Archived Shows

People Who Changed Our World ~ Show July 11 and 12

FEATURED BOOKS PREVIEWED

“Elon Musk” by Ashlee Vance
“The Virgin Way” by Richard Branson
“Becoming Steve Jobs” by Brent Schlender and Rick Tetzeli
“Madison’s Gift” by David Stewart
“Strategy: A History” by Lawrence Freedman
“Napoleon: A Life” by Andrew Roberts
“Alibaba’s World” by Porter Erisman

INTERVIEW
Senator Gary Hart

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A spotlight on entrepreneurs, politicians and statesmen who changed our world. Elaine speaks with Senator Gary Hart about his new title, “The Republic of Conscience.”

Listen to The Book Report at your convenience. Go to https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/the-book-report/id540205917?mt=2, or at bookreportradio.com, click on Archived Shows

Get To Know The New James Beard Hall Of Famer

The James Beard 2015 Book, Broadcast & Journalism Awards have just been awarded, and the Cookbook Hall of Fame award went to Barbara Kafka. If her name isn’t familiar to you, you’re not alone. Many cooks have never heard of her.

Kafka is a cookbook author, journalist and teacher. She has taught with James Beard, consulted for many fine restaurants, written for The New York Times, and contributed to Gourmet magazine with her regular column “The Opinionated Palate.” And that’s just a sampling of her professional accomplishments.

Her award, however, was not for teaching or restaurant consulting or columns. It was for her cookbooks, which according to the James Beard Foundation website are “a series of remarkable books.” In each she starts from scratch, coming up with interesting questions and then figuring out answers, never working from received wisdom. The result is a body of work that, book by book, has transformed the culinary landscape.

Kafka’s first best-seller was the 1987 “Microwave Gourmet.” She was the first major food writer to dedicate a cookbook to microwave cooking. The book is not just a recipe book. It also includes a dictionary of foods and techniques that explains how different foods react in the microwave. Kafka introduced a high-temperature roasting technique in the 1995 “Roasting: A Simple Art” that “completely changed the way we think about that subject,” according to Naomi Duguid who wrote the biography for Kafka on the James Beard site. Other books include 1992’s “Party Food,” 1998’s “Soup, A Way of Life,” and 2005’s “Vegetable Love.” Kafka published her latest cookbook, “The Intolerant Gourmet” in 2011 with recipes for those with food intolerances including gluten.

Listen to The Book Report at your convenience. Go to https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/the-book-report/id540205917?mt=2, or at bookreportradio.com, click on Archived Shows

James Patterson Donates $100,000 To Bookstores In Australia And New Zealand

JAMES PATTERSON DONATES $100,000 TO BOOKSTORES IN AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND

In his first visit to Australia in 11 years, Patterson announced a $100,000 donation from which Australian and New Zealand book sellers with dedicated children’s sections could apply for cash grants of up to $5000. The donation was timed for Patterson’s arrival in Sydney for a series of Writers’ Festival events and promotion of Rafe’s Aussie Adventure, his Middle School pre-teens collaboration with writer-illustrator Martin Chatterton.

The greatest challenge facing society, warned Patterson, was getting bright children to read more broadly and at-risk kids reading competently. One in three Australian high school students could be considered functionally illiterate. Patterson’s hope was that Australia might follow Germany’s lead and set up a ministerial foundation to support and acknowledge the importance of independent booksellers as missionaries of children’s literacy. Were Amazon to locate its operations in Australia, Patterson predicts half the local bookstores would close.

Patterson has been one of the loudest voices in the book world warning about the pressure of online discounting and e-book retailing on the local bookstore. Retailers, who applauded Patterson’s assistance, have been lobbying for the imposition of GST for all online purchases and a review of international parcel delivery agreements.

Patterson holds the Guinness Book of Record for Number One New York Times bestsellers. Total worldwide sales exceed 300 million, of which he has sold 4.5 million copies in Australia.

A former copywriter, Patterson’s prodigious output includes one or two standalone thrillers each year in his name and seven or eight books which he commissions by way of detailed 50 to 80 page synopsis, edits and, if necessary, rewrites. To criticism of his methods, “my answer is Simon and Garfunkel, Lennon and McCartney, Stephen King and Peter Straub and the Coen brothers”.

As a commissioning editor and co-author, Patterson has branched into the genre of young-adult and children’s fiction, collaborating in six children’s book series. Chatterton describes his partnership as a “pain-free” experience, and Patterson as a precise and conscientious editor. “I strive for the highest common denominator,” Patterson says.

Patterson’s passion for child literacy began with his son’s reluctance to read. One summer he cancelled Jack’s chores and told him his only obligation was to read for one hour a day. “Give them stories that they’ll gobble up like chocolate pudding and ask for more,” says Patterson of the secret to enthusing reluctant readers. The only bad book was one that put a child off reading for life.

Listen to The Book Report at your convenience. Go to https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/the-book-report/id540205917?mt=2, or at bookreportradio.com, click on Archived Shows