Speaking Volumes

Speaking Volumes was a weekly conversation hosted by Josh Raulerson on books and reading with interesting people from all walks of life here in Pittsburgh.

Speaking Volumes as a regular feature ended in December, 2013 but occasional specials may pop up.  

Josh Raulerson / 90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh Arts and Lectures executive director Jayne Adair's reading list is as rich and varied as her schedule of speakers.

Nathaniel Philbrick, Bunker Hill

All For One, One For All

May 6, 2013
Josh Raulerson/90.5 WESA

Matthias Sundberg, from Point Breeze, likes action and adventure stories tinged with social realism. 

Dan Baum, Nine Lives: Death and Life in New Orleans

Josh Raulerson / 90.5 WESA

Writer and Mt. Lebanon resident Mary Frailey Calland does intensive research for her Civil War era novels. In between deep dives in the archives, she reads contemporary fiction.

James McPherson, Battle Cry of Freedom

Josh Raulerson/90.5 WESA

Dr. Mario Fischetti is a clinical psychologist with the Pittsburgh Psychoanalytic Center, and the moderator of its ongoing "Reading Fiction with Freud" discussion series. 

Josh Raulerson / 90.5 WESA

When Pittsburgh Controller Michael Lamb isn't busy minding the city's books, he's reading history and genre fiction. 

Josh Raulerson/90.5 WESA

North Sider Betsy O'Neill admits: "In a previous life, I probably lived in the 19th century." In her present incarnation, she spent the summer of 2012 immersed in Melvilliana.

Bob Kosturko

As the popular British drama "Call the Midwife" returns for a second season on PBS, Morgantown-based author and certified nurse-midwife Patricia Harman offers recommendations for readers with an interest in the practice.

Jennifer Worth, The Midwife: A Memoir of Birth, Joy, and Hard Times


As President of the Forbes Funds, Kate Dewey is interested in how nonprofits can adapt along with changing technology. 

Josh Raulerson/90.5 WESA

Don Block runs the Greater Pittsburgh Literary Council, and practices what he preaches...

Andy Warhol Museum

Warhol Museum director Eric Shiner's reading interests are eclectic in a way that Andy would surely appreciate.

Colleen McKenna

As a former teacher, parent, and author of children's and young adult novels, Colleen McKenna values fiction for young readers that doesn't insult their intelligence.

Editor and critic John Allison works on the Sunday Books section at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Though much of his week is spent sifting through boxes of galleys for forthcoming books, it hasn't dimmed his enthusiasm for the printed word.

David Lodge, Nice Work 

Peter Kope and Michele de la Reza are the co-founders and artistic directors of Attack Theatre. Their upcoming show draws heavily on opera, a genre that not so long ago was considered popular entertainment.

Ron David, Opera For Beginners 

Shady Side Academy math teacher Michele Ament puts her commuting hours to good use listening to audiobooks.

Edmund Morris, Theodore Rex

A seasoned journalist and senior lecturer for the University of Pittsburgh’s writing program, Cindy Skrzycki has an eye for a story. Her recent fiction and nonfiction book selections reflect what she teaches her students: Foundationally, good writing is informed writing. 

Joan Clark, Latitudes of Melt

Pittsburgh's Saxifrage School is an experiment in higher education, rethinking the concept of college to emphasize purposeful learning and meaningful work. Founding Director Tim Cook's reading reflects that mission:

William Carlos Williams, Collected Poems

Brian O’Neill, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette writer and author of The Paris of Appalachia: Pittsburgh in the Twenty-First Century, talks about how fiction can impart a true sense of place, and the poetry of former Pennsylvania State Poet Samuel Hazo.

Kaui Hart Hemmings, The Descendants

Point Park University English professor Megan Ward is a Victorianist, so it shouldn't come as a surprise that her reading includes a lot of 19th century British fiction. She also loves the fiction of Michael Chabon, which Ward finds "Dickensian in its exuberance... its intricacies and weirdness."

Lately she's been reading:

George Eliot, Middlemarch

Woodland Hills math teacher Justin Aion uses young adult novels in the classroom and enjoys genre fiction in his downtime. Lately he's been reading:


David Mitchell, Cloud Atlas

Rabbi Aaron Bisno of Rodef Shalom Congregation values narrative for its power "to convince someone of the meaning of an argument because of its direct implications on someone with whom they have a relationship, who they care about."

Erik Larson, In the Garden of Beasts

Zach Simons is a Pittsburgh-based standup comic and podcaster, and a lifelong Saturday Night Live fan. Lately he's been reading:

Tom Shales & James Andrew Miller, Live From New York: An Uncensored History of Saturday Night Live

Ruth Drescher from Squirrel Hill will be the first to admit that Paul Auster's new memoir -- written entirely in the second person -- may not be for everyone. But she found Winter Journal unexpectedly compelling.

Paul Auster, Winter Journal

This memoir from the author of The Invention of Solitude details his mother's life and death, as well as the effects of time and aging on one's body and memory.

Staycee Pearl is a Pittsburgh-based choreographer who stages dance performances based on, or inspired by, works of literature. She offers a few favorite books and talks about their role in her work at the Kelly-Strayhorn Theater.

Octavia Butler, Wild Seed

Paige McKenzie, from Penn Hills, is a fan of travel writing and memoirs.