The Book Show

Tuesdays, 3pm - 3:30pm; Thursdays, 8:30pm - 9pm

Each week on The Book Show, host Joe Donahue interviews authors about their books, their lives and their craft. It is a celebration of both reading and writers. 

As the son of a librarian, Joe has been part of the book world since childhood. His first job was as a library assistant, during college he was a clerk at an independent book store and for the past 25 years he has been interviewing authors about their books on the radio.

He is also the host of The Roundtable on WAMC Northeast Public Radio, a 3-hour general interest talk show. Notable authors he has interviewed include: Kurt Vonnegut, John Irving, John Updike, Alice Walker, Toni Morrison, Arthur Miller, Stephen King, Amy Tan, Anne Rice, Philip Roth, E.L Doctorow, Richard Russo, David Sedaris and Maya Angelou. 

Joe  has won several awards for his interviews, including honors from the Associated Press, the Edward R. Murrow Awards, the New York State Association of Broadcasters, The Headliners, The National Press Club and the Scripps-Howard Foundation. 

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Simon Winchester has taken on subjects as diverse as the volcanic explosion of Krakatoa to the creation of the Oxford English Dictionary. His latest, “The Perfectionists,” traces the development of technology from the Industrial Age to the Digital Age to explore the single component crucial to advancement: precision.

Author of "Object of My Affection," Stephen McCauley‘s new novel, "My Ex-Life," is about a formerly married couple who haven’t seen each other in decades.

Over the course of the story, we find out what happens when they find themselves living together again.

Set over the course of one week in June of 1939, the new novel The World of Tomorrow by Brendan Mathews is a story about siblings, the joys of music, love (mutual and unrequited), and the meaning of home.

It is a New York novel, but also one of the world, of big dreams and big love and what it means to be willing to pay any price for your family. 

This episode was recorded at The Mount in Lenox, Massachusettes. 

From his rapid-fire stand-up comedy riffs to his starring roles in "Mork and Mindy" and "Good Will Hunting," Robin Williams was an innovative and beloved entertainer -- but as New York Times culture reporter Dave Itzkoff shows in his new biography, "Robin," Williams' comic brilliance masked a deep well of conflicting emotions and self-doubt.

Tommy Orange and book cover for "There There"
Author Photo - Elena Seibert

Tommy Orange’s powerful and urgent Native American voice has exploded onto the landscape of contemporary fiction. His debut novel, “There There,” interweaves the experiences of twelve people who gather in Oakland for a pow wow. It is a multigenerational story about violence, recovery, hope, and loss.

Curtis Sittenfeld is the New York Times bestselling author of the novels “Prep,” “American Wife,” and “Eligible.” Now in “You Think It, I’ll Say It,” her first collection of short fiction, she showcases ten stories that upend assumptions about class, relationships, and gender roles in a nation that feels both adrift and viscerally divided.

Rachel Kadish’s new novel The Weight of Ink is set in London. It is the interwoven tale of two women of remarkable intellect – one an emigrant from Amsterdam who is permitted to scribe for a blind rabbi, just before the plague hits the city; the other an ailing historian with a love of Jewish history.

As host of “The Lead” and “State of the Union” on CNN, Jake Tapper spends his days bringing attention to some of the biggest political headlines.

Tapper has now brought Washington intrigue and the “swampiness” on this city to his first novel. “The Hellfire Club,” is a political thriller that takes place during the days when Senator Joe McCarthy was carrying out his Communist “witch hunt.”

Kirk Walla Johnson and Book cover "The Feather Thief
Marie-Josee Cantin Johnson

Kirk Wallace Johnson’s new book, “The Feather Thief: Beauty, Obsession and the Natural History Heist of the Century,” is a true story which explores the 2009 theft of rare Victorian-era bird feathers from a British museum by American music student Edwin Rist who was obsessed with using the feathers for exotic fishing lures.

Sue Halpern is the author of seven books of fiction and nonfiction. Her new novel, “Summer Hours at the Robbers Library,” tells us about a little New England library that has become the heart of a small town. In the book, we meet an unlikely trio who are drawn to each other and who come to terms with how their lives have unraveled and how they finally can reclaim their stories.

National Book Award winning author Richard Powers spent a year under the redwoods of California.

That reflection led to his new novel, “The Overstory,” about the world of trees and a band of people determined to change the way it’s perceived.

Bestselling YA author Andrea Buchanan lost her mind while crossing the street one blustery March morning. The cold winter air triggered a coughing fit, and she began to choke.

She was choking on a lot that day. A sick son. A pending divorce. The guilt of failing as a partner and as a mother. When the coughing finally stopped, she thought it was over. She could not have been more wrong. Her new memoir is "The Beginning of Everything: The Year I Lost My Mind and Found Myself."

Larry Ruhl’s new book, “Breaking the Ruhls,” is a profoundly personal account of the impact of complex trauma on a man’s life. Larry’s father sought comfort from his only son, blurring critical boundaries that would prove deeply debilitating. Larry’s mother, with her spiraling, ever-changing mental illness kept the family in a constant state of anxiety.

Tara Westover’s memoir, “Educated,” has made its way to the number one spot on the New York Times bestsellers list.

She tells her story of being a young girl who, kept out of school, leaves her survivalist family and goes on to earn a PhD from Cambridge University.

It's been more than two decades since award-winning author Charles Frazier had wild success with his debut novel, "Cold Mountain."

Frazier’s 4th novel, "Varina," returns to that era with the story of Varina Howell - the second wife of Jefferson Davis.

This is an Off The Shelf edition of The Book Show, presented by Northshire Bookstore and taped live in front of an audience.

Guided by the 3,000 letters between the prominent journalist, Lorena Hickok, and one of the world’s most admired women, Eleanor Roosevelt, Amy Bloom’s novel “White Houses” explores Eleanor’s real-life romantic relationship with Lorena.

Stefan Merrill Block and book cover for "Oliver Loving"
Author Photo: Beowulf Sheehan

Stefan Merrill Block frequently covers bleak territory in his novels, and his latest, “Oliver Loving,” is no exception.

Block takes us inside the mind of a comatose West Texas teen who has been hit in the head during a mass shooting on the night of his high school prom.

Sigrid Nunez’s new novel, “The Friend,” is a moving story of love, friendship, grief, healing, and the magical bond between a woman and her dog.

Nunez’s previous novels include “Salvation City,” “The Last of Her Kind” and “A Feather on the Breath of God.”

Kristin Hannah’s best-selling novel “The Nightingale” illuminated the women of the French resistance in World War II. Her new novel “The Great Alone” focuses on fiercely independent women in extraordinarily difficult circumstances in Alaska who must fight each day to survive.

Gish Jen has spent much of her literary career writing about the experiences of Chinese-Americans. Her latest book, “The Girl at the Baggage Claim: Explaining the East-West Culture Gap,” makes the case for the sociological and cultural patterns that influence many aspects of identity.

If you knew the date of your death, how would you live your life? It is the question at the center of Chloe Benjamin’s new novel, “The Immortalists.”

Four siblings find out and keep the dates secret from one another, but their prophecies inform their next five decades.

In Tayari Jones’ new novel, “An American Marriage,” newlyweds Celestial and Roy, African-American professional who live in Atlanta, find their lives shattered when Roy is accused of a crime he didn’t commit and is incarcerated. The novel explores race, loyalty, and love that endures.

Colson Whitehead’s novel "The Underground Railroad," tells the story of a runaway slave and re-imagines the pre-Civil War South. It won the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book award and it is now out in paperback.

Tom Perrotta’s novel, "Mrs. Fletcher," is a provocative and very funny look at parenthood, the empty nest, and sex in the suburbs.

Perrotta is the author of eight works of fiction including "Election," "Joe College" and "Little Children." His novel "The Leftovers" was adapted into an HBO series. 

Nick Harkaway is the author of such novels as “The Gone-Away World” and “Tigerman.”

His latest, “Gnomon,” is set in a near-future, high-tech surveillance state that is equal parts dark comedy, detective story, and mind-bending philosophical puzzle.

The new book, “Modern Loss: Candid Conversation about Grief. Beginners Welcome,” is an examination into navigating grief and resilience in the age of social media, offering comfort and community for coping with the mess of loss through candid original essays from a variety of voices.

At a time when we mourn public figures and national tragedies with hashtags, where intimate posts about loss go viral and we receive automated birthday reminders for dead friends, it’s clear we are navigating new terrain without a road map.

Enter Rebecca Soffer and Gabrielle Birkner. Each having lost parents as young adults, they co-founded Modern Loss, responding to a need to change the dialogue around the messy experience of grief. They look to offer the insights of the Modern Loss community to help us cry, laugh, grieve, identify, and empathize.

Acclaimed writers Madeleine Thien and Peter Ho Davies join us this week to share their stories of Chinese heritage and the human experience. Thien’s latest work is “Do Not Say We Have Nothing” and Peter Ho Davies’ novel is “The Fortunes.”

Roz Chast has published more than a thousand cartoons in The New Yorker since 1978. Her frantic and disheveled characters have become icons of American humor. Her new book is "Going Into Town: A Love Letter to New York" – a graphic ode/guide/thank-you note to Manhattan.

Alexandra Fuller is best known for her memoirs about her African childhood and the family she left behind; she’s just written her debut novel, Quiet Until the Thaw.

The book brings us into the world of the Lakota Sioux in South Dakota and the fictional family she has imagined there. 

Arundhati Roy published her first novel, The God of Small Things, back in 1997 and now Roy is back with a new novel, The Ministry of Utmost Happiness.

In it, she weaves among other threads, the story of a transgender woman in Delhi and a Kashmiri freedom fighter while also shining a spotlight on modern India.

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