books

Debating The Date For Pennsylvania's Primary Elections

2 hours ago
John Keane / flickr

As the nation gears up for the next presidential election the debate as to when Pennsylvania should hold its primary resumes. There’s currently legislation in the statehouse to move the primary from late-April to mid-March. Could this move make the Commonwealth more of a key player in the road to the White House? Guest host, Tribune Review reporter Andrew Conte, addresses the issue with political consultants Charlie Gerrow & Bill Green.

Join the conversation LIVE between 12pm & 1pm weekdays at 412-246-2002.

via Keystone Crossroads

Jonathan Waldman’s new book — "Rust: The Longest War" — is an exploration of how corrosion eats away at the United States’ infrastructure, military equipment and monuments.

The U.S. spends $400 billion a year fighting rust. And it’s certainly something Pennsylvania’s cities—once producers of so much steel, now part of the Rust Belt — spend a lot of time dealing with.

Allegheny County Celebrates National Bookmobile Day

Apr 14, 2015

With an annual circulation of roughly 70,000 books, CDs, and other items, the Allegheny County Library Association’s Mobile Library Services program serves the elderly and the very young through a century-old American tradition—the bookmobile.

April 15 is National Bookmobile Day, which is dedicated to raising awareness of the approximately 900 bookmobiles currently operating in the United States. This is part of the larger National Library Week.

Pittsburgh City Council will take a final vote Tuesday to approve a $500,000 state grant to renovate Knoxville Library.

The Keystone Recreation, Park and Conservation Award would help cover the costs of adding a second public meeting space and a new teen area to the library, as well as structural updates to comply with ADA accessibility mandates.

According to the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh Assistant Director of Neighborhood Libraries Mary Monaghan, the Knoxville branch was built in the 1960s and hasn’t been renovated since.

Ryan Loew / 90.5 WESA

Lidia Bastianich is a chef, restaurateur, cookbook author, host of a cooking show on PBS and a children's book author.

Her most recent book, "Lidia's Egg-citing Farm Adventure," teaches kids about the chicken and the egg, the way the animals should be treated, how the life cycle works and recipes for egg and chicken-centered dishes.

Bastianich said her grandchildren often asked about her childhood in northern Italy. She explained that recounting those memories helped inspire her book.

http://www.johnchampsey.com

Author John Hampsey grew up in Mt. Lebanon in the 1950s and '60s. In 1972 he left for college, and today he's a professor of Romantic and Classical Literature at Cal Poly.

But Hampsey revisits the Pittsburgh area and his childhood in his new memoir "Kaufman's Hill." In an interview, Hampsey said he began the book years ago, but other projects got in the way until 2004 following his mother's death.

Jennifer Schatten

As the year comes to a close, we’re looking back on our favorite Essential Pittsburgh stories and guests from 2014. Today we’re highlighting some of our favorite author interviews from the year.

To hear the full-length audio for this story, please refer to the original post.

Before Elizabeth Gilbert wrote her best-selling memoir “Eat, Pray, Love” she was known for novels about travel, adventure, and characters that defy convention. Elizabeth came to town for the Pittsburgh Arts & Lectures Monday Night Speaker Series in November to talk about her latest novel, “The Signature of All Things,” and her return to fictional storytelling.

After the success of “Eat, Pray, Love” and “Committed,” she talked about what prompted her to return to writing novels and this one in particular.

“It had been twelve years since I wrote a novel, and I think part of me was a bit afraid that maybe I’d forgotten how to do it, and I wanted to aim high. I felt like I kind of have nothing to lose, so I wanted to write the kind of novel that I love to read.”

Jacket Design by Eric Fuentecilla
Eric Fuentecilla / Penguin Books

As the year comes to a close, we’re looking back on our favorite Essential Pittsburgh stories and guests from 2014. Today we’re highlighting some of our favorite author interviews from the year.

To hear the full-length audio for this story, please refer to the original post.

Tomorrow and Tomorrow” is a science fiction novel set in Pittsburgh, or rather a full-scale computer simulation of Pittsburgh, created in the aftermath of a terrorist attack that has destroyed the city. The book came out this summer and received good early reviews.

By the time this segment aired, the movie rights had been optioned by Sony Pictures -- an auspicious start to the literary career of cyberpunk author Thomas Sweterlitsch, a long-time Pittsburgher.

Among other things, WESA Morning Edition host Josh Raulerson asked Thomas when he started writing stories.

“I started writing when I was seven -- that’s my earliest notebook I still have. I remember very clearly writing stories about G.I. Joe. I think I was obsessed with the movie “Red Dawn.” So, all my stories were G.I. Joe/”Red Dawn” mashups. So, it’s kind of fun for me to go back because my mom had saved all of these notebooks that I’d filled up over the years, and they were just full of little horror stories that I was writing when I was nine and ten years old.”

Marcus Charleston / 90.5 WESA

The last time author Jonathan Auxier stopped by the program, he had summer reading recommendations for children. He recently stopped by our studio and spoke with WESA’s man of letters, Morning Edition host, Josh Raulerson to offer up some book suggestions for young readers.

Jonathan Auxier Suggests 

LeVar Burton: Opening Books and Opening Minds

Aug 6, 2014
Courtesy readingrainbow.com

LeVar Burton is known as an actor for the numerous roles that he has taken on over the years: as Kunta Kinte in “Roots,” as Detroit Tiger Ron LeFlore in “One In A Million: The Ron LeFlore Story,” and as Lt. Commander Geordi La Forge in “Star Trek: The Next Generation.”

But to millions of young adults, he was known as the affable host on the PBS show “Reading Rainbow” from 1983 to 2006. Burton will be in Pittsburgh for Steel City Con this week due to his fame on “Star Trek,” but Burton appeared on Essential Pittsburgh to discuss the revival of “Reading Rainbow.”

In 2011, Burton and his business partner, producer Mark Wolfe, acquired the “Reading Rainbow” license, promising to bring to the next generations of kids the finest reading and enrichment experiences found anywhere.

“Reading Rainbow” is now a fully re-imagined app bringing the beloved brand to children of the digital age and one of the most popular and highest rated children’s products in the market.

Jacket Design by Eric Fuentecilla
Eric Fuentecilla / Penguin Books

There aren’t too many writers whose first attempt at a novel gets published- and even fewer have the movie right to their debut scooped up immediately by a major film company.

If Thomas Sweterlitsch's experience in literature has been anything but ordinary, that’s because his first novel, Tomorrow And Tomorrow, has been too.

The book tells the story of John Dominic Blaxton, an investigator living in the future who explores a digital recreation of Pittsburgh, in order to explore the city a decade after it was reduced to dust by a nuclear detonation.

Lisa Kirchner

Lisa Kirchner’s book Hello American Lady Creature: What I Learned as a Woman in Qatar has been compared to Elizabeth Gilbert’s bestseller Eat, Pray, Love. Kirchner doesn’t mind the comparison, after all both books deal with a woman’s journey of self-discovery. Although guest host Josh Raulerson thinks Kirchner's book has a little more humor than Gilbert's bestseller.

Kirchner made her trip to Qatar to help out with Carnegie Mellon University's new campus and she had some very challenging times while over there. The hardest change for Kirchner was the heat.

Breznican

Watch any movie about friends reuniting and it’s a near guarantee one of the characters will be a writer.

With Anthony Breznican it’s a case of life imitating art. The senior writer for Entertainment Weekly magazine came home to Pittsburgh for a high school reunion, which coincides with the release of his first novel, Brutal Youth.

The story is inspired by Favorite Hour, an Elvis Costello song that was released in 1994, the year Breznican graduated high school.

The story is set at a crumbling, Catholic high school in Western Pennsylvania called St. Michael the Archangel. The school is a dumping ground for troubled kids and for kids of protective parents who are trying to shelter them from public school.

Breznican said that this ironic combination creates "sort of a perfect Darwinist mix of survival of the fittest."

Between these groups, the book shows the two different types of people in difficult situations.

Rebecca S. Antal / Prime Stage

The Devil’s Arithmetic is an award-winning historical novel about time travel and the Holocaust by author Jane Yolen.

The book has been adapted for the theater by Lancaster, PA resident Barry Kornhauser. This weekend Prime Stage Theater gives the first performance of the adapted play, at the New Hazlett Theater on the North Side.

The story centers on Hannah, a modern day teenager who is mysteriously transported back to the time of the Holocaust. 

Arthur Goldwag / Facebook

Arthur Goldwag, writer of The New Hate: A History of Fear and Loathing on the Populist Right speaks at the Penn State New Kensington campus this Thursday. 

The talk will focus on "conspiracy theory as the canary in the mine shaft of the Democratic Party."

The New Hate discusses racism and paranoid speculations about money that have long thrived on the American fringe as possible conspiracy theories. 

It also links the hysteria about the Illuminati of the new American Republic of the 1790s and the McCarthyism of the 1950s, and considers the similarities between the anti-New Deal sentiments of the 1930s and the modern day Tea Party movement.

When Goldwag originally began his book he said he focused on the older conspiracy theories and then something changed.

Julian Routh

Twenty lucky people in the Cultural District in Pittsburgh received free books from the HearYourselfThink Project Wednesday for World Book Night.

Across the country, 25,000 volunteers handed out half a million books to encourage reading.

“We can open folks’ eyes to the power and joy of reading, and we’re talking to folks in the street asking them ‘have you read a good book lately’ and starting the conversation. It’s really great to be out here getting books into folks’ hands,” said director of HearYourselfThink, Dave Ninehouser.

Doug Kerr / Wikipedia Commons

2013 marked the first time in two decades, the Pirates finally had a winning baseball season.

What does it mean to the psyche of a city to end the longest consecutive season losing streak in the history of the four major professional sports leagues?

Writer Charlie Wilmoth attempts to answer that question in his newly published book Dry Land, Winning After 20 Years At Sea With The Pittsburgh Pirates.

Wilmoth grew up in Wheeling, West Virginia and says he has always felt a special connection to Pittsburgh. He has been writing about the Pirates for the past 10 years and explained what it was like to be a Buccos fan during the losing streak.

Smithsonian Institution

The Smithsonian Institution has been referred to as "America's attic." It is home to many iconic objects that have shaped the history of our nation, from industry to culture. In his book, History of America in 101 Objects, author and Smithsonian curator Dr. Richard Kurin chronicles and pinpoints these national treasures by focusing on key objects in the vast collection. 

Here are some of Kurin’s favorite objects related to the Pittsburgh region:

Brendan Bourke

National Book Award winner Colum McCann will speak to Pittsburgh-area high school students Monday as featured author for the Allegheny County Library Association (ACLA)'s 2014 "One Book, One Community" program.

McCann will appear at Woodland Hills High School to discuss his 2013 novel TransAtlantic, which combines historical research with fictional elements in a story that spans centuries, continents, and multiple generations of characters.

Behind the Stage Door with Rich Engler

Dec 18, 2013
Rich Engler / RichEngler.com

Rich Engler is a nationally recognized concert promoter from Pittsburgh. The former co-owner of  DiCesare-Engler Productions has written a new book called Behind the Stage Door, a retrospective of his 40 years as one of the top concert promoters in the region.

Engler shares some entertaining, personal stories of what went on backstage at many of the largest concerts to come through Pittsburgh, and how he went from rock musician to rock promoter.

Ryan Loew / 90.5WESA

Through her new novel The Valley of Amazement author Amy Tan explores the struggles of mother-daughter relationships.

She says the staging of the book's characters in a Chinese courtesan house, was partly inspired by what she learned from an old photo of Chinese women, which reminded her of her grandmother.

The True Legacy of an Undying Hero

Oct 25, 2013
Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

Devoted father, philanthropist and baseball hero Roberto Clemente holds an impressive number of personal and professional accomplishments. In addition to being the first Latin American baseball player to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame, he was the 1971 World Series MVP and a 12-time Gold Glove winner.

His family has written a new book, Clemente: The True Legacy of an Undying Hero, which reveals never-before-seen photographs and commemorates his legendary career through the voices of his children and wife.

His youngest son and co-author Luis Clemente says the book remembers his father for his loyalty, honesty and relentless courage.

Rep. Mike Doyle (D-Forest Hills) likes page-turning crime dramas and thrillers with a political bent. He has a unique vantage point on novels set in Washington, which — as it turns out — are more true to life than you might think.

David Baldacci, The Forgotten

Josh Raulerson/ 90.5 WESA

Writer, improviser, and performer Andrea Laurion lives in Bloomfield. She talks with 90.5 WESA Morning Edition host Josh Raulerson about the inspiration she receives from reading non-fiction narratives.

Josh Raulerson / 90.5 WESA

Between classes, social media, and a social life, do college students still find time to get in some unassigned leisure reading? 90.5 WESA Morning Edition Host Josh Raulerson talks with Mark Posicha, Marulla Quirk and Anne Kandray, members of the RMU Honors Book Club about what they're reading for fun

Josh Raulerson / 90.5 WESA

Steve Tuell studies Hebrew and the Old Testament at the Pittsburgh Theological Seminary. As a theologian and a scholar of ancient languages, he has a special appreciation for the fantasy fiction of C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien.

Fox News "Mole" Emerges with Book

Jun 11, 2013
Joe Muto
Alexis Lamster

After graduating from Notre Dame, Joe Muto moved to New York in search of a media position.  He ended up with the Fox News Company, eventually becoming a producer for the top-rated show,The O’Reilly Factor.  After eight years he decided he wanted to search for another position.  He was, after all, a liberal at heart and he noted that since the Obama administration, Fox News was becoming progressively more conservative and far less “fair and balanced.”  Muto approached Gawker as a possible employer after leaving Fox, but was instead encouraged to begin writing for Gawker while still an employee at Fox.  He was to be the liberal inside the right-wing media group.  

Josh Raulerson/90.5 WESA

Gary Terner of Mt. Lebanon was blown away by the new short story collection from George Saunders.

George Saunders, Tenth of December

Josh Raulerson/90.5 WESA

Lori Jakiela is a poet, a memoirist and a devotee of sparse, unsentimental prose.  

A few of the books you might encounter in her writing class at Chatham or Pitt-Greensburg:

Speaking Volumes on Essential Pittsburgh: Lori Jakiela

May 24, 2013
Lori Jakiela / ljwritesbooks.com

WESA Morning Edition Host Josh Raulerson interviews poet, memoirist and devotee of sparse, unsentimental prose, Lori Jakiela about her reading selections.

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