The Bookshelf | New Hampshire Public Radio

The Bookshelf

Credit Sara Plourde, NHPR

The Bookshelf features authors from around New Hampshire and the region, as well as books about New Hampshire by authors from anywhere. Covering mostly fiction, creative nonfiction, and poetry, it also features literary conferences, events and trends.

Hosted by Peter Biello, The Bookshelf airs every other Friday on All Things Considered.

What's on your bookshelf? Let us know by sending an email to

The history of school desegregation in America has long been centered around the southern United States.

But in her new book, "In Pursuit of Knowledge," University of New Hampshire Professor Dr. Kabria Baumgartner explores an earlier story from much closer to home.

She joined All Things Considered host Peter Biello.

Note: The following transcript is lightly edited for clarity

Monadnock Underground

The second issue of the literary journal Monadnock Underground is set to release next week. The collection brings together more than a dozen pieces of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry, mostly by local writers.

The launch party for the newest volume will take place at the Peterborough Public Library on Friday, March 6.

Peter Biello / NHPR

In Concord-native Meredith Tate’s new novel, a young woman is kidnapped after a drug deal goes badly. To summon help, she has an out-of-body experience. Her quest to give her sister clues about where she is and how she got there serves as the central action of the book, which is called The Last Confession of Autumn Casterly. Tate spoke about it with NHPR's Peter Biello.

Editor's note: This interview includes discussion of sensitive subjects that may make some listeners feel uncomfortable, such as rape and sexual assault. 

One day, while hiking in the Georgia mountains, a couple finds the bones of a human body buried many years ago. The discovery prompts a search for answers: why was this person killed? Who did it? And how many more bodies are hidden in these hills?

These questions are at the heart of New Hampshire author Lisa Gardner's new thriller, When You See Me. 

Peter Biello/NHPR

Alexandria Peary is New Hampshire’s new poet laureate, and she’s ramping up her work as the state’s official advocate for poetry and the literary arts more broadly. As part of her work as poet laureate, she’s been reading work sent to her by New Hampshire poets.


NHPR’s Peter Biello spoke with Peary about this effort and about her new collection of poetry, The Water Draft.


Read Alexandria Peary's Top Five Reading Recommendations:

Peter Biello / NHPR

When Cindy Copeland was in seventh grade in the early 1970s, an English teacher encouraged her to become a writer. Shortly after that, the Keene resident landed an internship as a “cub reporter” with a local journalist, following her to public meetings and learning how question people powerful people—most of them men. And Cindy did all this while navigating the tricky minefield of fraught friendships, cliques, and bullying that so often characterize life in junior high.

Peter Biello/NHPR

When New Hampshire author John Brighton was six years old, his family bought a lakeside farm in Washington, a small town in New Hampshire's Sullivan County.

There he met farmers, road workers, and war veterans who, to Brighton, were the very essence of the rapidly changing rural New Hampshire landscape. Brighton's new memoir recalls the Washington of the 1960s and 70s, and the people who lived there.

NHPR’s All Things Considered host Peter Biello sat down with Brighton to discuss his new book, The Forgotten County: A Story of Community, Family and Friendship.

Charter Weeks

If you've ever been on a college campus or a public park, you may have seen desire lines. Those are those well-worn paths carved by travelers who, for whatever reason, preferred a route that diverged from the ones carefully cured in concrete by city or campus planners.

Such a metaphor proved irresistible to Marie Harris. The Barrington, New Hampshire poet's new collection, Desire Lines, keeps these paths in mind as it explores aspects of her own life. Harris, a former New Hampshire poet laureate, sat down with NHPR's Peter Biello discuss her new book.

Peter Biello / NHPR

This November, writers across the world are participating in National Novel Writing Month. Organized by a non-profit, its goal is to encourage anyone who has dreamed of writing a book to just do it...over the course of one month. With a little more than a week remaining, NHPR's Peter Biello spoke with writers from New England giving it a try.

Elisabeth Jewell of Penacook has been trying to find time to put her feet up on her couch, open her laptop, and work on her novel.

Peter Biello/NHPR

Novelist Alex Myers came out as transgender in the mid-90s, when society's understanding of what it means to be transgender was less clear than it is today. 

In his new novel, "Continental Divide," Myers writes about 19-year-old Ron, who was born female, and grew up in Tamworth, New Hampshire. Ron decides to reinvent himself as a man by moving west to work on a ranch in Wyoming. Alex Myers is an English teacher at Philips Exeter Academy. NHPR's Peter Biello stopped by his classroom earlier this week to talk about "Continental Divide," and the challenge of coming out as transgender. 

Steve Hooper

Writer Stacia Tolman worked for many years as a high school English teacher at a private school in New Hampshire’s Monadnock region.

Now, she’s drawn on her observations of high school social dynamics to write her debut young adult novel, The Spaces Between Us.

The story centers on the relationship between Serena Velasco and Melody Grimshaw, high school students and best friends with a common goal: to escape their dull, lifeless hometown in rural New York.

Sara Plourde / NHPR

When Joe Hill launched his career as a writer, he didn't want anyone to know about his famous writer parents, Stephen and Tabitha King. Rather than ride their coattails, he wanted to find success on his own—thus the pen name, Joe Hill.

Peter Biello / NHPR

This week marked the launch of the second annual edition of The People's Book, a collection of literary works and visual art created by New Hampshire writers and artists.

Peter Biello / NHPR

For much of human history, human beings have waged war against each other. In the new novel by Marko Kloos, that tendency to wage war remains as strong as ever more than a thousand years into the future. Aftershocks is an adventure story as well as a portrait of a technologically-advanced civilization struggling to maintain the peace after a devastating war. Kloos spoke with NHPR’s Peter Biello. 

Read Marko Kloos's Top Five Reading Recommendations:

Peter Biello / NHPR

In Jennifer Militello's debut memoir, Knock Wood, time moves in more than one direction. The relationship between cause and effect is upended as Militello explores her memories of illicit love, domestic violence and dangerous influences. Militello, is the author of several books of poetry, and she teaches at New England College. She sat down with All Things Considered host Peter Biello to talk about her new book.

Read Jennifer Militello's Top 5 Reading Recomendations:

Peter Biello / NHPR

Miriam Levine's new collection of poetry is, as she describes it, a book about loss and consolation. In Saving Daylight, poems recall small moments: a chance meeting outside a theater, an encounter with a mosquito, watching a harmless spider walk across someone's hair. Levine lives in Concord for part of the year, and she sat down with NHPR's All Things Considered Host Peter Biello to chat about her new collection.

Read Miriam Levine's Top Five Reading Recommendations

Courtesy of Marek Bennett

Freeman Colby was a young schoolteacher from New Hampshire who joined the Union Army during the American Civil War. For the first nine months, Colby kept detailed notes of his service and wrote to his family members. Marek Bennett of Henniker drew on these rich resources for his graphic novel, The Civil War Diary of Freeman Colby. In that volume, Bennett stuck close to Colby's exact language. Recently, he's published Volume II, in which he takes some liberties and draws on new sources for inspiration. NHPR's Peter Biello sat down with Marek Bennett to talk about Volume II.

Imagine there's a virus living inside you. This virus is harmless. Most of the time. But then, something causes it to change and it could kill you unless you take one dose of a powerful drug. Now imagine there is a critical shortage of this drug. This is the scary scenario at the heart of the debut novel by Hanover resident and Dartmouth professor Charles Wheelan. It's called The Rationing, but this isn't a book about a disease. It's a political satire about how the United States government handles the unfolding public health crisis. Personalities clash.

Peter Biello / NHPR

For many kids, middle school is a fraught time. Friendships are forged and broken; bodies begin to change in sometimes uncomfortable ways. For Zenobia July, starting middle school is far more complicated than it is for most of her peers.

Peter Biello/NHPR

In a small New Hampshire community two sisters, Henrietta and Jane, grow up under the shadow of a folk tale about the ruins of a house near their own. The house, more than a century earlier, was the home of a family of five who, legend has it, were transformed into coyotes. 

The Bookshelf: Author David Elliott on the Timeliness of Joan of Arc

Apr 26, 2019
Peter Biello / NHPR

About a dozen years ago, New Hampshire author David Elliott was in Germany on a book tour with his wife when she suggested they hop over the border into France. Before he went, he thought, “I have a lamp that looks like the Eiffel Tower – that’s good enough for me.”

But after just spending 20 minutes in Paris, he says he fell in love with the city and France.

Peter Biello/NHPR

Marian Engström always had a few nagging suspicions about her boyfriend Tate. Before he died suddenly, she wondered about that faraway empty look in Tate's eyes, and was puzzled by a profound lack of empathy he sometimes displayed.

And then there was the time he said he found the body of a young woman who had been murdered. Did he really just find that young woman? Or was he somehow responsible for her death?



Fionn Shea is an actor, activist, musician, and writer from New Hampshire. He is also transgender. In the new book, “transVersing,” which is also a play, Fionn Shea contributes his thoughts on what it means to have made the transition from woman to man, and to navigate a world that Shea says “rejects my manhood [and] forces my womanhood.” 

Scroll down to read a transcript of the interview as well as Fionn Shea's top five reading recommendations.

Fionn Shea's Top Five Reading Recommendations: 

Rachel Cohen/NHPR

Last weekend, the Oscar for “Best Documentary” went to a film called Free Solo, which captures the rope-free climb of Alex Honnold up the awe-inspiring face of El Capitan in Yosemite National Park. Nobody had ever done a free solo climb of "El Cap" and it had previously been considered impossible. Free solo climbers use no ropes or equipment, so a single slip-up could mean a fatal fall to earth.

Peter Biello / NHPR

One night, Evie Carter returns home to find her husband has been shot and killed in his home office. Her response? Destroy his laptop. She's arrested for his murder. Sergeant Detective D.D. Warren is on the case. Warren remembers that Evie Carter was also cleared more than a decade earlier for accidentally shooting her father. Does lightening really strike the same location twice? And what does confidential informant Flora Dane know about Evie Carter's husband?

Peter Biello / NHPR

Poet Becky Dennison Sakellariou of Peterborough is no stranger to writing about Greece where she spent four decades. In her last collection, she wrote about feeling the pull of that country while living here in New Hampshire. In her new collection, she writes of a different Greece -- one that recently has been grappling with an influx of migrants. The book is called Undressing the Earth and she spoke about it with NHPR's Peter Biello.


Read Becky Dennison Sakellariou's Top Five Reading Recommendations:

Nancie Battaglia

In the new novel by Sue Halpern, a young woman named Sunny gets busted for stealing a dictionary and a judge sentences her to work as a volunteer at a library in the small town of Riverton, New Hampshire. This “Riverton” is not the actual “Riverton,” New Hampshire but a fictional one that has fallen on hard times. Summer Hours at the Robber’s Library is Sue Halpern’s seventh book. She spoke with NHPR's Peter Biello.  

Sue Halpern's Top Five Reading Recommendations:


Peter Biello / NHPR

Social media allows us to create another self. We have our in-person, corporeal lives, and then there are our digital lives: the people we are (or seem to be) on the screen. Where is this technology going? Will we someday be able to upload ourselves to a digital space and exist only there? And if so, for how long? And what happens to our minds? To free will? To our ability to love?

Peter Biello / NHPR

In Kirsti Sandy's new collection of essays, She Lived, and Other Girls Died, there are stories of family and work....of Sandy's search for her own place, and of the people she met along the way. She spoke with NHPR's Peter Biello about the book, which won Bauhan Publishing's 2017 Monadnock Essay Collection Prize, in her office at Keene State College. 

Kirsti Sandy's Top Five Reading Recommendations

Peter Biello / NHPR

The presumption of innocence is a cornerstone of our judicial system. You are innocent until proven guilty. But in Concord native Meredith Tate's new novel for young adults, accused criminals have the presumption of guilt. At a time when our nation is gripped by conversations about due process and the court of public opinion, a young adult novel about what it means to be accused of and punished for a crime feels particularly relevant. The novel is called The Freedom Trials. NHPR's Peter Biello spoke with Meredith Tate.