November 24, 2012 Kim Thuy based her award-winning novel Ru on her own experiences as a refugee from war-torn Vietnam. She says the word "ru" has a poetic double meaning: In archaic French, it means a rill or stream, but in Vietnamese, it means a lullaby to soothe a child.
November 22, 2012 Musician Michael Feinstein chronicles his experience working as an archivist and cataloger for legendary songwriter Ira Gershwin. The book is presented through the stories of 12 of the Gershwin brothers' songs, including "Fascinating Rhythm," "The Man I Love" and "I Got Rhythm."
November 22, 2012 According to poet Kevin Young, the best poems are like the best meals — they're made from scratch. Young has edited a new collection of poems that celebrate the pleasures of food, from "butter disappearing into whipped sweet potatoes" to oysters that taste like "starlight."
November 21, 2012 Margaret Talbot tells the story of her father, actor Lyle Talbot, in her memoir The Entertainer. He began his career as an assistant to a traveling hypnotist, and went on to star in movies with Shirley Temple and Humphrey Bogart — and played next-door neighbor Joe Randolph on Ozzie and Harriet.
November 21, 2012 The Venetian painter Titian is one of the most enduringly influential artists of the Renaissance. Yet his last full biography was written in the 19th century. Sheila Hale's new book, Titian: His Life, contrasts the Italian master's quiet existence with that of the turbulent city that nurtured his talent.
November 21, 2012 Vampires and other creatures of the night are modern pop-culture staples — not least within the Twilight franchise — but these gothic novels show why sometimes older is better. Author John Connolly explores three of his favorite Anglo-Irish gothic thrillers.
November 20, 2012 At 86, the legendary singer says he's at the top of his game and more passionate than ever about his art. In his memoir, Life Is a Gift: The Zen of Bennett, he reflects on more than six decades in the recording industry and a lifetime surrounded by family and friends.
November 20, 2012 In a new memoir, Grace Coddington explains how she grew up on a remote island off the coast of Wales, started modeling as a young woman and ended up as creative director at Vogue magazine. Coddington speaks with Fresh Air's Terry Gross about her life in the fashion industry.
November 20, 2012 Jami Attenberg's black comedy about the fallout of one woman's food addiction is a tough but affecting story about family members putting up with each other. Critic Maureen Corrigan says the novel's fragmented narration and jumpy timeline add to its emotional punch.
November 20, 2012 The latest book by former New Yorker editor Robert Gottlieb, Great Expectations: The Sons and Daughters of Charles Dickens, reads more like scintillating gossip about the famous writer and his family than literary scholarship. NPR's Heller McAlpin is fine with that.