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What to Read Now: Spring Book Picks, 2016

We'll hear about some of the best new books coming out this spring. Also, check out NHPR's other book-related series: The Bookshelf is an NHPR project featuring authors from around New Hampshire and the region, as well as books about New Hampshire by authors from anywhere. And the 10 Minute Writer's Workshop is a new podcast featuring interviews with writers about their writing process.


  • Dan Chartrand, owner of Water Street Bookstore in Exeter
  • Michael Herrmann, owner of Gibson's Bookstore in Concord
Books mentioned during the show:

  • Gloria Norris, Kookooland – true story set in Manchester, NH. Here's an interviewwith her on Word of Mouth.
  • Katherine Towler, The Penny Poet of Portsmouth: A Memoir of Place, Solitude, and Friendship – memoir by local fiction writer, involving a Portsmouth poet named Robert Dunn whom she got to know. **Correction: Dunn was not the first poet laureate of Portsmouth as was said during the show, but the second. The first was Esther Buffler.
  • Brady Carlson, Dead Presidents: An American Adventure Into the Strange Deaths and Surprising Afterlives of Our Nation's Leaders – from NHPR’s host and reporter Brady Carlson. We interviewed him on The Exchange about the new book. It's quirky, full of interesting trivia, but also digs into the cultural meaning of how we memorialize presidents.
  • Paul Durham, The Luck Uglies: Rise of the Ragged Clover -  another great local writer; connects with middle-grade kids through characters of the same age.
  • Kevin Flynn and Rebecca Lavoie, Dark Heart: A True Story of Sex, Manipulation, and Murder – about the Seth Mazzaglia case; true crime story set in New Hampshire; written by NHPR’s digital director Rebecca Lavoie and husband, Kevin Flynn. Here's an interviewwith them on Word of Mouth.
  • Alexander Chee, The Queen of the Night – dark tones; rich cast of characters from history; about an opera singer. Listen toNHPR's interviewwith him on our new podcast 10 Minute Writer's workshop.
    One of the things I love about the sort of January, February, March time period, is that after all the big books of the fall and before the blockbusters of the summer, there’s this space for publishers to launch some unknown authors, some quieter stories, some books that might not get attention at another time of year. - Dan Chartrand

  • Elizabeth Strout, My Name is Lucy Barton.
  • Diane Les Becquets, Breaking Wild – by an SNHU professor; a thriller about two women in the Colorado wilderness, one of whom goes missing. Listen to NHPR Bookshelf’s interview with her.
  • Matt de la Pena, Last Stop on Market Street - Newberry medal winner this year; excellent picture book.
  • Jane Mayer, Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right – looks at the ways that billionaires shape our political process; Charles & David Koch are chief figures.
  • Nancy Jo Sales, American Girls: Social Media and the Secret Lives of Teenagers
  • Paul Kalanithi, When Breath Becomes Air – memoir of promising young doctor diagnosed with Stage IV lung cancer. (Like Atul Gawande’s Being Mortal, another doctor-turned-writer addressing the topic of death).
  • Caller recommendation: Megan Grumbling, Booker’s Point -  poetry collection about a Maine codger.
  • Helen Oyeyemi, What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours – new book of short stories.
  • Valeria Luiselli, Story of My Teeth – by young Mexican author.
  • Elizabeth McKenzie, The Portable Veblen - a novel about an idiosyncratic free spirit in Palo Alto who talks to squirrels.
  • Fiona Barton, The Widow – a new psychological thriller for fans of The Girl on the Train or Gone Girl. It's about a woman whose husband, himself a suspect in the disappearance of a child, dies in an accident.
  • Hanya Yanagihara, A Little Life – new in paperback; Gibson's staff warns: "prepare to have your heart trampled."
  • Bill Bryson, The Road to Little Dribbling: Adventures of an American in Britain.
  • Sarah Bakewell, At the Existentialist Cafe: Freedom, Being, and Apricot Cocktails – nonfiction; takes on the Existentialists; author has another book  How to Live: A Life of Montaigne, about the French essayist.
  • Molly Guptill Manning, When Books Went to WarConcord Reads is featuring this book this spring; it traces the WWII project to send pocket-sized editions of novels to soldiers.
  • Evan Thomas, Ike’s Bluff - what Dan is reading now.
  • Glenn Stout, The Selling of the Babe – what Michael is reading now.
  • Coming up later this spring & summer: a new Harry Potter book, new book from Joe Hill, new Richard Russo book in May.

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