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NPR's Book of the Day

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In need of a good read? Or just want to keep up with the books everyone's talking about? NPR's Book of the Day gives you today's very best writing in a snackable, skimmable, pocket-sized podcast. Whether you're looking to engage with the big questions of our times – or temporarily escape from them – we've got an author who will speak to you, all genres, mood and writing styles included. Catch today's great books in 15 minutes or less.
700 Episodes
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Caoilinn Hughes' novel The Alternatives revolves around the four Flattery sisters, each with a more impressive career or degree than the last, all with a profound grief for the parents they lost at a young age. When one of the sisters purposely goes off the grid, the other three are reunited in the Irish countryside in an attempt to find her. In today's episode, NPR's Andrew Limbong asks Hughes about crafting the witty dialogue between the sisters, writing side characters that jump off the page and getting feedback from her own siblings. To listen to Book of the Day sponsor-free and support NPR's book coverage, sign up for Book of the Day+ at plus.npr.org/bookoftheday Learn more about sponsor message choices: podcastchoices.com/adchoicesNPR Privacy Policy
In 2022, WNBA star Brittney Griner was detained by Russian authorities, convicted of drug charges and given a nine-year prison sentence. Her new memoir, Coming Home, details the conditions she was held in and her eventual return to the U.S. following a swap deal. In today's episode, NPR's Juana Summers asks Griner about the mental and physical toll she's still grappling with, reuniting with her wife and trying to forgive herself for what happened. To listen to Book of the Day sponsor-free and support NPR's book coverage, sign up for Book of the Day+ at plus.npr.org/bookoftheday Learn more about sponsor message choices: podcastchoices.com/adchoicesNPR Privacy Policy
As a parent, how do you navigate – and feel hope – raising kids through a pandemic, a climate crisis and with police brutality in the news? That's the question at the center of Emily Raboteau's new book, Lessons for Survival: Mothering Against 'The Apocalypse.' In today's episode, Raboteau tells Here & Now's Celeste Headlee what she learned about radical care, resilience and interdependence through the people she met in her community and in her travels, and how she thinks about parenting through personal and global hardships. To listen to Book of the Day sponsor-free and support NPR's book coverage, sign up for Book of the Day+ at plus.npr.org/bookofthedayLearn more about sponsor message choices: podcastchoices.com/adchoicesNPR Privacy Policy
The writer Colm Tóibín says he never meant to write a sequel to his 2009 novel Brooklyn. But an image came to him years later, of his protagonist from that book suddenly finding out her husband has had an affair that resulted in a pregnancy — and so he followed the story in Long Island. In today's episode, NPR's Mary Louise Kelly speaks with Tóibín about revisiting Eilis Lacey in her 40s and upending her domestic life. To listen to Book of the Day sponsor-free and support NPR's book coverage, sign up for Book of the Day+ at plus.npr.org/bookoftheday Learn more about sponsor message choices: podcastchoices.com/adchoicesNPR Privacy Policy
Chanel Miller's first book was a critically acclaimed memoir about her sexual assault and the following trial. But she always wanted to write and illustrate books for kids. In today's episode, Miller tells NPR's Andrew Limbong how moving to New York City and ingraining herself into her community inspired Magnolia Wu Unfolds It All, a new book about a young girl and her BFF traversing their neighborhood to return socks that were left behind at the laundromat to their owners. To listen to Book of the Day sponsor-free and support NPR's book coverage, sign up for Book of the Day+ at plus.npr.org/bookofthedayLearn more about sponsor message choices: podcastchoices.com/adchoicesNPR Privacy Policy
Real Americans, the new novel by Rachel Khong, spans generations and decades within a family to understand the ongoing struggle to make sense of race, class and identity in the United States. Like with any family story, there are secrets and confrontations and difficult conversations, too; that desire to fill in the gaps about where we come from and how it has shaped our lineage is at the center of today's interview with Khong and NPR's Juana Summers. To listen to Book of the Day sponsor-free and support NPR's book coverage, sign up for Book of the Day+ at plus.npr.org/bookoftheday Learn more about sponsor message choices: podcastchoices.com/adchoicesNPR Privacy Policy
This weekend is Mother's Day, a good occasion to reflect on the art of parenting. First, comedian Glenn Boozan speaks to Celeste Headlee on Here and Now about her book There Are Moms Way Worse Than You, a joke-book that uses examples of bad parenting from the animal kingdom to soothe those who might be worried about their own child-raising skills.Then, an interview from our archives: a 1989 chat with Amy Tan on All Things Considered about her novel The Joy Luck Club, the story of four Chinese American families living in San Francisco inspired by Tan's experience as a child of immigrants. To listen to Book of the Day sponsor-free and support NPR's book coverage, sign up for Book of the Day+ at plus.npr.org/bookoftheday Learn more about sponsor message choices: podcastchoices.com/adchoicesNPR Privacy Policy
For poet Camille Dungy, environmental justice, community interdependence and political engagement go hand in hand. She explores those relationships in her book, Soil: The Story of a Black Mother's Garden. In it, she details how her experience trying to diversify the species growing in her yard, in a predominantly white town in Colorado, reflects larger themes of how we talk about land and race in the U.S. In today's episode, she tells NPR's Melissa Block about the journey that gardening put her on, and what it's revealed about who gets to write about the environment.To listen to Book of the Day sponsor-free and support NPR's book coverage, sign up for Book of the Day+ at plus.npr.org/bookofthedayLearn more about sponsor message choices: podcastchoices.com/adchoicesNPR Privacy Policy
At the center of author Naima Coster's novel What's Mine & Yours are two struggling mothers. Jade is a Black single mother who is trying to provide a better life for her son, and Lacey May is a white mother who is trying to give her daughters the life she never had. Their stories will intertwine over decades, starting with when Lacey May opposes the integration of her daughters' school – the same school Jade is trying to get her son into. Coster told NPR's Audie Cornish that fiction gives us a window into other people's lives but that does not mean we have to condone their actions.To listen to Book of the Day sponsor-free and support NPR's book coverage, sign up for Book of the Day+ at plus.npr.org/bookofthedayLearn more about sponsor message choices: podcastchoices.com/adchoicesNPR Privacy Policy
Poet Ocean Vuong's collection,Time Is A Mother, is about his grief after losing family members. Vuong told NPR's Rachel Martin that time is different now that he has lost his mother: "when I look at my life since she died in 2019, I only see two days: Today when she's not here, and the big, big yesterday when I had her."To listen to Book of the Day sponsor-free and support NPR's book coverage, sign up for Book of the Day+ at plus.npr.org/bookofthedayLearn more about sponsor message choices: podcastchoices.com/adchoicesNPR Privacy Policy
It's almost Mother's Day – so today, we learn about the women who raised some of history's most important men in The Three Mothers: How the Mothers of Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, and James Baldwin Shaped A Nation. Author Anna Malaika Tubbs told 1A's Jenn White that history is often told by and about men, but knowing these women's stories - "taking their lives from the margins and putting them in the center" - is just as important. As Tubbs notes, "If they'd never had these famous sons, they still were worthy of being seen."To listen to Book of the Day sponsor-free and support NPR's book coverage, sign up for Book of the Day+ at plus.npr.org/bookofthedayLearn more about sponsor message choices: podcastchoices.com/adchoicesNPR Privacy Policy
Author Amy Tan spends hours in her backyard, watching and drawing birds go about their business. Her new book, The Backyard Bird Chronicles, is full of essays and illustrations about her connection to these small creatures. In today's episode, she speaks with NPR's Leila Fadel about how an overwhelming sense of gloom from racism and political division in 2016 forced her to find a way to immerse herself in nature, and how her obsessive hobby led to a pretty high bird food budget – and mealworms in her fridge. To listen to Book of the Day sponsor-free and support NPR's book coverage, sign up for Book of the Day+ at plus.npr.org/bookoftheday Learn more about sponsor message choices: podcastchoices.com/adchoicesNPR Privacy Policy
Two childhood best friends realize they're in love and break up with their significant others to be together – that's a classic romantic-comedy storyline. But in her new book, Funny Story, author Emily Henry wonders about some of the other forgotten cast members: what happens to the people who got dumped along the way? In today's episode, NPR's Juana Summers asks Henry about writing male characters that go to therapy, leaning into the cringey moments of falling in love and looking up to her own parents' relationship. To listen to Book of the Day sponsor-free and support NPR's book coverage, sign up for Book of the Day+ at plus.npr.org/bookoftheday Learn more about sponsor message choices: podcastchoices.com/adchoicesNPR Privacy Policy
Middle school can be a rough time no matter what. But for Isaiah, the eighth grader at the heart of Alicia D. Williams' book Mid-Air, there are some added challenges: feeling like his affinity for rock music and nail polish makes him weird, grieving the loss of a close friend, and drifting further and further apart from his other best bud. In today's episode, Williams speaks with NPR's Andrew Limbong about the particular difficulties Black boys face to feel like they belong, and why — in the face of tragedy or discomfort — it can be even harder for them to connect with one another. To listen to Book of the Day sponsor-free and support NPR's book coverage, sign up for Book of the Day+ at plus.npr.org/bookoftheday Learn more about sponsor message choices: podcastchoices.com/adchoicesNPR Privacy Policy
Reporter David Sanger has covered five American presidents for The New York Times. But in today's episode, he tells NPR's Mary Louise Kelly that there's an unpredictability to the politics of today — particularly on an international stage. His new book, New Cold Wars, analyzes how the ties between the United States, Russia and China have rapidly evolved in recent decades, and how technology, military intelligence and economic sanctions play into the conflict To listen to Book of the Day sponsor-free and support NPR's book coverage, sign up for Book of the Day+ at plus.npr.org/bookoftheday Learn more about sponsor message choices: podcastchoices.com/adchoicesNPR Privacy Policy
In 2022, the author Salman Rushdie was onstage at a public event when a man ran up and stabbed him. His new memoir, Knife, delves into that moment when Rushdie thought he was going to die — and everything that's come after, as he's healed from the attack. In today's episode, he speaks at length with NPR's Mary Louise Kelly about how the miracles found in his fiction might've manifested themselves in his real life, how his wife – poet Rachel Eliza Griffiths – has helped him move forward, and how writing about that experience became a way for him to fight back. To listen to Book of the Day sponsor-free and support NPR's book coverage, sign up for Book of the Day+ at plus.npr.org/bookoftheday Learn more about sponsor message choices: podcastchoices.com/adchoicesNPR Privacy Policy
To listen to Book of the Day sponsor-free and support NPR's book coverage, sign up for Book of the Day+ at plus.npr.org/bookoftheday Learn more about sponsor message choices: podcastchoices.com/adchoicesNPR Privacy Policy
Scout Bassett is a gold medalist runner – but it was a long road to get there. In her new memoir, Lucky Girl, Bassett details how when she arrived in the United States as a young girl from China, she felt like an outsider in more ways than one. She speaks with NPR's Lakshmi Singh about her earliest years living in an orphanage in Nanjing, exposing her disability when she began running track as a teenager, and preparing for the upcoming Paris 2024 Paralympic Games. To listen to Book of the Day sponsor-free and support NPR's book coverage, sign up for Book of the Day+ at plus.npr.org/bookofthedayLearn more about sponsor message choices: podcastchoices.com/adchoicesNPR Privacy Policy
In the 1840s, a Scottish minister named John Ferguson accepts the task of traveling to a remote island to evict Ivar, the only man who lives there. When Reverend Ferguson falls off a cliff, Ivar brings him back to life — and the two find a common understanding even as they realize they don't speak the same language. That's the basis of Carys Davies' new novel, Clear. In today's episode, NPR's Scott Simon asks the author about how she discovered a real-life extinct language called Norn, and how the historic Highland Clearances of Scotland inspired the events of the book. To listen to Book of the Day sponsor-free and support NPR's book coverage, sign up for Book of the Day+ at plus.npr.org/bookofthedayLearn more about sponsor message choices: podcastchoices.com/adchoicesNPR Privacy Policy
Susan Casey has traveled about 17,000 feet deep into the ocean – and in her book The Underworld: Journeys to the Depths of the Ocean, the diver and author speaks with oceanographers, marine biologists and geologists to explain some the of the wonders that exist way beyond what we can see in the water. For our Earth Day episode, Casey speaks with NPR's A Martinez about the millions of shipwrecks that are still preserved underwater, the creatures that call the deep ocean home and the humility it takes to learn about the sea.To listen to Book of the Day sponsor-free and support NPR's book coverage, sign up for Book of the Day+ at plus.npr.org/bookoftheday Learn more about sponsor message choices: podcastchoices.com/adchoicesNPR Privacy Policy
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