October 31, 2013 Pop quiz: what do you get when you combine a talking penguin, a man with a bird beak for a face and an interrupting dragon? The answer, surprisingly, is a writing guide: Jeff VanderMeer's Wonderbook. VanderMeer tells NPR intern Colin Dwyer about his collaboration with illustrators and his imaginative, character-driven approach to teaching writing.
October 31, 2013 Donna Tartt is a writer who takes her time — she's published just one novel per decade since her debut in 1992. But critic Maureen Corrigan says she'd gladly wait another 10 years for a book as extraordinary as Tartt's latest work, The Goldfinch, an "exuberantly plotted triumph."
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The governor of the Bank of England, Mark Carney, displays the concept design for the new 10-pound banknote featuring author Jane Austen.
October 31, 2013 Also: Attica Locke wins the Ernest J. Gaines Award for Literary Excellence; Neil Gaiman on the job of an author; Zadie Smith on British and American takeout.
October 31, 2013 The last issue of Neil Gaiman's Sandman comics came out a decade ago. Now, the author returns to Dream's world with a prequel series, The Sandman: Overture. Gaiman speaks with NPR's Steve Inskeep about the freedom of starting something new and why he, like all writers, is a Sandman himself.
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October 30, 2013 The former International Space Station commander achieved Internet stardom with his in-space rendition of David Bowie's "Space Oddity." After three missions and a total of six months in space he shares what he's learned in a new book, An Astronaut's Guide to Life on Earth.
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Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos unveils new Kindle reading devices during a 2012 news conference.
David McNew/Getty Images
October 30, 2013 Also: Hyperbole and a Half creator Allie Brosh talks about her struggles with depression; Barnes & Noble launches a new Nook; Anna Holmes writes about the value of Twitter in literary discourse.
October 30, 2013 In Mira Grant's Parasite, genetically engineered tapeworms are a magic cure-all and a terrible danger. Sure, they keep their hosts healthy — but as it turns out, that's not all they do. Reviewer Genevieve Valentine says Parasite has interesting things to say about medical ethics, but reads too much like groundwork for a series.
Barnes & Noble is one of several stores that have refused to carry Amazon Publishing's books.
Karen Bleier/AFP/Getty Images
October 30, 2013 When Amazon revamped its publishing wing, a lot of booksellers said enough is enough: They refused to stock Amazon Publishing's books, and Barnes & Noble followed suit. Now, with the departure of a star talent and some book releases that fell flat, many say Amazon Publishing may in trouble.
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October 29, 2013 Allie Brosh's popular Web comic/blog hybrid, Hyperbole and a Half, features MS Paint-style doodles and seemingly everyday stories about things like cake and dopey dogs. Hyperbole is now out in book form, containing a mix of old and new material including two funny but unsparing essays on Brosh's struggles with depression.
This rare portrait of Bach, by Elias Gottlob Haussmann, hung in John Eliot Gardiner's home during World War II.
courtesy of William H. Scheide, Princeton, N.J.
October 29, 2013 In his new book, conductor John Eliot Gardiner searches for clues to uncover what the great composer's life and personality were really like. He finds a man full of contradictions and unfathomable music — even "a great guy to go out and have a beer with."
October 29, 2013 Nikki Giovanni is one of the most celebrated living poets, known for beautiful descriptions of family, friends, politics and even food. Host Michel Martin talks with Giovanni about her "truth telling" and some of the surprises in her latest collection, Chasing Utopia.
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October 29, 2013 Allie Brosh is an artist whose drawings have covered sugar highs, silly pets, and childhood humiliations. But it's her writing about depression that has sparked the most discussion in recent months.
October 29, 2013 Rebecca Walker's debut novel, Adé: A Love Story, is a whirlwind tale of romance and tragedy in Kenya. A biracial American college student falls in love with a Kenyan man, but their relationship is complicated by illness and government brutality. Reviewer Richard Torres says Walker rushes the romance and skimps on character development.
October 29, 2013 Through all the pain and redemption, "Johnny Cash was a good man," author Robert Hilburn tells NPR's David Greene. Hilburn's new biography of the late country singer is titled Johnny Cash: The Life.
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October 28, 2013 In softcover fiction, Tracy Chevalier follows an English Quaker across the Atlantic, Herman Koch serves a meal with a hefty helping of unease and Peter Sis brings an ancient flock of birds into the 21st century. In nonfiction, Jared Diamond mines lessons from traditional societies.
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