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Reading Recommendations from NPR Personalities
Critics, Writers and Readers List Their Favorites

Scoop, NPR's programming guide, has begun asking some familiar NPR voices about their summer reading choices:

Susan StambergSusan Stamberg, NPR Special Correspondent
I have particularly enjoyed Embers, by Sandor Marai. It's a brilliant, short novel written in Budapest in 1942 and only recently translated into English. It's a tour de force about love, life, and the end of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

Another favorite is Bel Canto by Ann Patchett. It's a PEN/Faulkner Fiction Award winner. An opera diva is among those taken hostage in a small Third World country. The music that she practices daily in captivity changes the lives of fellow hostages and her captors.

Liane HansenLiane Hansen, Host of Weekend Edition Sunday
I am looking forward to reading Tom Robbins' new novel, Villa Incognito. And Robb Walsh, NPR's culinary anthropologist, will be coming out with a new book: Are You Really Going to Eat That?

The best book I've read in the past year was Michael Chabon's The Adventures of Kavalier and Clay. Elaine Pagel's Beyond Belief is some spiritual reading sitting on my bedside table, and I'm in the midst of the galley for Kristin Ohlson's Stalking the Divine: Contemplating Faith with the Poor Clares. Of course, I highly recommend Play by Play by Neal Conan.

Nina TotenbergNina Totenberg, NPR Legal Affairs Correspondent
I bought a book for my husband, who rides horses, called Seabiscuit (by Laura Hillenbrand). He so loved it that I picked it up last summer and couldn't put it down. It's now in soft cover, making it a good choice for this summer.

Michele NorrisMichele Norris, host of All Things Considered
Too Beautiful to Die by Glenville Lovell is a Brooklyn mystery flavored with Carribean spice, according to one friend. Her recommendations for food or fiction have never disappointed me. The Gift of Southern Cooking, by Edna Lewis and Scott Peacock, and edited by Judith Jones is another book. I look forward to rolling out some of these dishes when our extended family gathers for our annual summer vacation and we all try to strut our stuff in the kitchen.

A Thousand Pieces of Gold: A Memoir of China's Past Through Its Proverbs by Adeline Yen Mah is an interesting window into a country's history and a woman's personal reflections. Still Hungry in America by Robert Coles and illustrated by Al Clayton is a poignant reminder that some things simply have not changed and for that we should all mourn, even 40 years after this book was published. There have been great advances in the rural southern hamlets featured in this book. For the most part, they now have electricity and running water. But children still go to bed hungry each night, and those who are elected to serve them have yet to find a solution to the region's corrosive poverty.

Fred ChildFred Child, host of Performance Today
I recently finished the new novel by Umberto Eco, Baudolino. His writing has always been smart -- sometimes a little too smart for his own good. While Baudolino is set in medieval Europe, like several of his earlier works, you don't have to know the history of the Knights Templar or read Latin to get through this one. There's quite a bit of history, but it's simply woven into a wonderful narrative. It's a meditation on the origin and meaning of relics; it's an evocation of medieval worlds (both real and utterly fantastic); it's a lively story of a scrappy kid who makes good in a hostile world. But most of all, it's convincing and entertaining storytelling. I may have to read it again this summer, I liked it so much.


Summer Books 2003