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For several years, panelists have gathered on Wednesday evenings on KZUM 89.3 FM to discuss contemporary and classic literature. As described on the radio station's internet page, "BookTalk on KZUM 89.3 is a variety show about books and stories on KZUM, Lincoln’s community radio station. Booktalkers are the people who love to read and love to talk about what we read. We interview authors, review best sellers and classics, read excerpts, and talk about the Web sites that book lovers are haunting." Several library staff members have served as guests or hosts of these literary discussions at various times. New episodes air every Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. local time.

The following is a partial listing of books discussed on episodes of Booktalk during 2008, based on the information currently available. We will attempt to fill in the gaps in this listing as additional information is made available to us.

December 17, 2008

book cover  Title Discussed: Curse of the Narrows
by Laura MacDonald
In this account of the 1917 explosion of a munitions ship in Halifax Harbor, MacDonald tells a riveting story of individual responses to a regional catastrophe. Relying on primary sources, including the files of the explosion's official historian and medical and social work records, she describes the event in careful detail and follows its consequences to the present day.

Participants: Scott Clark, Becky Wurm Clark

December 10, 2008

book cover  Title Discussed: Unbridled Dreams
by Stephanie Grace Whitson
IRMA FRIEDRICH has everything a girl could want…but she's miserable. To her, the perfect life includes horses and roundups and trick riding. WILLA FRIEDRICH, haunted by disappointment and fear, thinks controlling her daughter's future is the only way to protect Irma from dangers Willa knows all too well. SHEP STERLING, known as King of the Cowboys, leads a life that represents all Irma desires…and everything her mother fears. Something has to give when Willa's insistence on sending Irma to finishing school collides with Irma's determination to audition for Buffalo Bill Cody's Wild West Show. And Shep Sterling is waiting in the wings...

Participants: Stephanie Grace Whitson, John and Kit Keller

December 3, 2008

book cover  Title Discussed: The First Billion is the Hardest: Reflections on a Life of Comebacks and America's Energy Future
by T. Boone Pickens
From a businessman who is extraordinarily humble yet is considered one of the world’s most visionary, The First Billion Is the Hardest is both a riveting account of a life spent pulling off improbable triumphs and a report back from the front of the global energy and natural-resource wars—of vital interest to anyone who has a stake in America’s future.

Participants: Carol Swanson, Layne Pierce
[Also available in downloadable audio and book-on-cd formats.]

November 19, 2008

book cover  Title Discussed: Souvenirs
by Julia Lauer-Cheene
During the mid seventies Ruth travels to the tropical jungle of Africa's Ivory Coast to begin her service in the Peace Corps. She meets Ivorian school teacher, Kwassi, and finds herself unable to resist his charms. Little does Ruth know about Kwassi's future as tribal leader and inheritor of the secret healing power of the Séképoné. While she fights to understand the complex web of his culture's magic and mystery, Kwassi becomes a victim of his own spells and falls more deeply in love with Ruth. As lovers, they spiral into a web of contradictions, clashes of culture, and misperception. As individuals, they struggle to accept their separate destinies before it is too late.

Participants: Julia Lauer-Cheene, John and Kit Keller

November 12, 2008

book cover  Title Discussed: Home
by Marilynne Robinson
Robinson's beautiful new novel, a companion piece to her Pulitzer Prize–winning Gilead, is an elegant variation on the parable of the prodigal son's return. The son is Jack Boughton, one of the eight children of Robert Boughton, the former Gilead, Iowa, pastor, who now, in 1957, is a widowed and dying man. Jack returns home shortly after his sister, 38-year-old Glory, moves in to nurse their father, and it is through Glory's eyes that we see Jack's drama unfold. When Glory last laid eyes on Jack, she was 16, and he was leaving Gilead with a reputation as a thief and a scoundrel, having just gotten an underage girl pregnant. By his account, he'd since lived as a vagrant, drunk and jailbird until he fell in with a woman named Della in St. Louis. By degrees, Jack and Glory bond while taking care of their father, but when Jack's letters to Della are returned unopened, Glory has to deal with Jack's relapse into bad habits and the effect it has on their father. In giving an ancient drama of grace and perdition such a strong domestic setup, Robinson stakes a fierce claim to a divine recognition behind the rituals of home. (Publisher's Weekly)

Participants: Fran Reinehr, Mary Jo Ryan, John and Kit Keller
[Also available in book-on-cd format.]

November 5, 2008

book cover  Gift Book Ideas

Participants: Kathy Magruder, Carol Swanson, John and Kit Kelle

October 22, 2008

book cover  Title Discussed: Loving Frank
by Nancy Horan
Horan's ambitious first novel is a fictionalization of the life of Mamah Borthwick Cheney, best known as the woman who wrecked Frank Lloyd Wright's first marriage. Despite the title, this is not a romance, but a portrayal of an independent, educated woman at odds with the restrictions of the early 20th century. Frank and Mamah, both married and with children, met when Mamah's husband, Edwin, commissioned Frank to design a house. Their affair became the stuff of headlines when they left their families to live and travel together, going first to Germany, where Mamah found rewarding work doing scholarly translations of Swedish feminist Ellen Key's books. Frank and Mamah eventually settled in Wisconsin, where they were hounded by a scandal-hungry press, with tragic repercussions. Horan puts considerable effort into recreating Frank's vibrant, overwhelming personality, but her primary interest is in Mamah, who pursued her intellectual interests and love for Frank at great personal cost. As is often the case when a life story is novelized, historical fact inconveniently intrudes: Mamah's life is cut short in the most unexpected and violent of ways, leaving the narrative to crawl toward a startlingly quiet conclusion. Nevertheless, this spirited novel brings Mamah the attention she deserves as an intellectual and feminist. (Publisher's Weekly)

Participants: Mary Jo Ryan, John and Kit Keller
[Also available in downloadable audio, book-on-cd formats.]

October 15, 2008

book cover  Title Discussed: Odd Comics
by Scott Stewart
Lincoln cartoonist Scott Stewart has recently had a one-shot comic-book published under the title Scott Stewart's Odd Comics. He joins us in the studio to talk about this release, his love of the art form, and about Lincoln's connections to the comic-book industry.

Participants: Scott Clark, Scott Stewart

August 13, 2008

book cover  Title Discussed: America: Our Next Chapter: Tough Questions, Straight Answers
by Chuck Hagel
Nebraska's Senator Hagel stands out from many of the rest of his Republican colleagues for his relative willingness to buck some of his party's current orthodoxies. In this book, he offers his thoughts on a variety of political issues facing the United States. He addresses the failures of the Bush administration and Congress in taking us to war in Iraq, the Israel-Palestine conflict, diplomatic engagement with Iran, relations with China, multilateralism, overreliance on military power, volunteerism, partisan gridlock, social security, and health care, among other topics.

Participants: Kit and John Keller, Senator Chuck Hagel

June 11, 2008

book cover  Title Discussed: The Day I Ate Everything I Wanted
by Elizabeth Berg
A compelling anthology of short fiction, including eleven never-before-published pieces, explores the lives of women breaking free of the convention that controls their lives, in a collection that includes "Returns and Exchanges," "Over the Hill and Into the Woods," and the title story, about a woman who goes on a happiness binge after ditching Weight Watchers.

Participants: Mary Jo Ryan, John and Kit Keller
[Also available in downloadable audio, book-on-cd and Large Print formats.]

May 21, 2008

book cover  Lincoln's Star City Poetry Slam Team joins our hosts to perform work from their recently released book.

Participants: Mary Jo Ryan, John and Kit Keller, and members of the Star City Poetry Slam Team

May 14, 2008

book cover  Title Discussed: Marking Time: Nebraska's Historic Places
by Bobbi and Steve Olson
Bobbi & Steve Olson join Kit and John Keller to discuss their book, Marking Time: Nebraska Historic Places

Participants: Bobbi and Steve Olson, Kit and John Keller

April 30, 2008

book cover  Title Discussed: The Black Book of Secrets
by F.E. Higgins
A work for young adults: When Ludlow Fitch runs away from his thieving parents in the City, he meets up with the mysterious Joe Zabbidou, who calls himself a secret pawnbroker, and who takes Ludlow as an apprentice to record the confessions of the townspeople of Pagus Parvus, where resentments are many and trust is scarce.

Participants: Sally Snyder, Maria Medrano-Nels

April 23, 2008

NSWC logo  Topic Discussed: The 2008 Nebraska Summer Writers Conference

Participants: Michael Rips, Timothy Schaffert, John Keller

April 16, 2008

  Title Discussed: Back in Time
by Kent Cowgill

Participants: Fran Reinehr, Paul Olson, Mary Jo Ryan, John and Kit Keller

April 9, 2008

book cover  Titles Discussed: Big Ideas for Small Gardens by Emily Young and Dave Engbert, The Encyclopedia of Grasses for Liveable Landscapes by Rick Drake, and Incredible Vegetables From Self-Watering Containers
by Edward C. Smith
The group discussed several gardening books now that Spring has sprung!

Participants: Mary Jo Ryan, John and Kit Keller

April 2, 2008

book cover  Title Discussed: A Whole New Mind
by Daniel H. Pink
From the author of "Free Agent Nation" comes an original work that outlines six fundamentally human abilities that are essentials for success and personal fulfillment--and how to master them.

Participants: Layne Pierce, Carol Swanson, John Keller

March 26, 2008

book cover  Title Discussed: The Prom
by Laurie Halsey Anderson
Eighteen-year-old Ash wants nothing to do with senior prom, but when disaster strikes and her desperate friend, Nat, needs her help to get it back on track, Ash's involvement transforms her life.

Participants: Sally Snyder, Nancy Smith

March 19, 2008

book cover  Title Discussed: Burning Bright
by Tracy Chevalier
Tracy Chevalier, author of the international bestseller Girl With a Pearl Earring, returns with another brilliantly rendered historical tale set in the waning days of eighteenth-century London. Poet, artist, and printer William Blake works in obscurity as England is rocked by the shock waves of the French Revolution. Next door, the Kellaway family has just moved in, and country boy Jem Kellaway strikes up a tentative friendship with street–savvy Maggie Butterfield. As their stories intertwine with Blake’s, the two children navigate the confusing and exhilarating path to adolescence, and inspire the poet to create the work that enshrined his genius.

Participants: Mary Jo Ryan and Kit Keller
[Also available in book-on-cd and Large Print formats.]

March 12, 2008

book cover  Title Discussed: Schulz and Peanuts: A Biography
by David Michaelis
It is the most American of stories: How a barber's son grew up from modest beginnings to realize his dream of creating a newspaper comic strip. How he daringly chose themes never before attempted in mainstream cartoons - loneliness, isolation, melancholy, the unending search for love - always lightening the darker side with laughter and mingling the old-fashioned sweetness of childhood with a very adult and modern awareness of the bitterness of life. And how, using a lighthearted, loving touch, a crow-quill pen dipped in ink, and a cast of memorable characters, he portrayed the struggles that come with being awkward, imperfect, human. Based on years of research, including exclusive interviews with the cartoonist's family, friends, and colleagues, unprecedented access to his studio and business archives, and new caches of personal letters and drawings, Schulz and Peanuts: A Biography is the definitive epic biography of an American icon and the unforgettable characters he created.

Participants: Scott Clark, Becky Wurm Clark

March 5, 2008

book cover  Title Discussed: Persepolis
by Marjane Satrapi
Originally published to wide critical acclaim in France, Persepolis is Marjane Satrapi's wise, funny, and heartbreaking memoir of growing up in Iran during the Islamic Revolution -- told in the format of a graphic novel.

Participants: Layne Pierce

February 20, 2008

book cover  Title Discussed: Run
by Ann Patchett
Since their mother's death, Tip and Teddy Doyle have been raised by their loving, possessive, and ambitious father. As the former mayor of Boston, Bernard Doyle wants to see his sons in politics, a dream the boys have never shared. But when an argument in a blinding New England snowstorm inadvertently causes an accident that involves a stranger and her child, all Bernard Doyle cares about is his ability to keep his children - all his children - safe." "Set over a period of twenty-four hours, Run takes us from the Museum of Comparative Zoology at Harvard to a home for retired Catholic priests in downtown Boston. It shows us how worlds of privilege and poverty can coexist only blocks apart from each other, and how family can include people you've never even met. Ann Patchett illustrates the humanity that connects disparate lives, weaving several stories into one narrative. Run is ultimately a novel about secrets, duty, responsibility, and the lengths we will go to protect our children.

Participants: Kit Keller, Mary Jo Ryan
[Also available in book-on-cd format.]

February 13, 2008

Discussion Topic: Mary K. Stillwell and the Nebraska Presence Poets

Participants: Mary Jo Ryan

February 6, 2008

book cover  Title Discussed: The Alienist
by Caleb Carr
The year is 1896, the place, New York City. On a cold March night New York Times reporter John Schuyler Moore is summoned to the East River by his friend and former Harvard classmate Dr. Laszlo Kreizler, a psychologist, or "alienist." On the unfinished Williamsburg Bridge, they view the horribly mutilated body of an adolescent boy, a prostitute from one of Manhattan's infamous brothels. The newly appointed police commissioner, Theodore Roosevelt, in a highly unorthodox move, enlists the two men in the murder investigation, counting on the reserved Kreizler's intellect and Moore's knowledge of New York's vast criminal underworld. They are joined by Sara Howard, a brave and determined woman who works as a secretary in the police department. Laboring in secret (for alienists, and the emerging discipline of psychology, are viewed by the public with skepticism at best), the unlikely team embarks on what is a revolutionary effort in criminology-- amassing a psychological profile of the man they're looking for based on the details of his crimes. Their dangerous quest takes them into the tortured past and twisted mind of a murderer who has killed before. and will kill again before the hunt is over. Fast-paced and gripping, infused with a historian's exactitude, The Alienist conjures up the Gilded Age and its untarnished underside: verminous tenements and opulent mansions, corrupt cops and flamboyant gangsters, shining opera houses and seamy gin mills. Here is a New York during an age when questioning society's belief that all killers are born, not made, could have unexpected and mortal consequences.

Participants: Layne Pierce, Lisa Voss

January 23, 2008

book cover  Title Discussed: Playing for Pizza
by John Grisham
Rick Dockery was the third-string quarterback for the Cleveland Browns. In the AFC Championship game against Denver, to the surprise and dismay of virtually everyone, Rick actually got into the game. With a 17-point lead and just minutes to go, Rick provided what was arguably the worst single performance in the history of the NFL. Overnight, he became a national laughingstock and, of course, was immediately cut by the Browns and shunned by all other teams. But all Rick knows is football, and he insists that his agent, Arnie, find a team that needs him. Against enormous odds Arnie finally locates just such a team and informs Rick that, miraculously, he can in fact now be a starting quarterback. Great, says Rick - for which team? The mighty Panthers of Parma, Italy. Yes. Italians do play American football, to one degree or another, and the Parma Panthers desperately want a former NFL player - any former NFL player - at their helm. So Rick reluctantly agrees to play for the Panthers - at least until a better offer comes along - and heads off to Italy. He knows nothing about Parma (not even where it is), has never been to Europe, and doesn't speak or understand a word of Italian. To say that Italy - the land of opera, fine wines, extremely small cars, romance, and football americano - holds a few surprises for Rick Dockery would be something of an understatement.

Participants: Kit and John Keller, Mary Jo Ryan
[Also available in unabridged book-on-cd and Large Print formats.]

January 16, 2008

book cover  Title Discussed: Valentines
by Ted Kooser
On January 16, BookTalkers Kit and John Keller and Mary Jo Ryan will interview Poet Laureate emeritus Ted Kooser. He will read from his new collection of poems, Valentines. For Valentine’s Day 1986, Ted Kooser wrote “Pocket Poem” and sent the tender, thoughtful composition to fifty women friends, starting an annual tradition that would persist for the next twenty-one years. Printed on postcards, the poems were mailed to a list of recipients that eventually grew to more than 2,500 women all over the United States. Valentines collects Kooser’s twenty-two years of Valentine’s Day Poems, complemented with illustrations by Robert Hanna and a new poem appearing for the first time. Ted Kooser is a former U.S. poet laureate and winner of the Pulitzer Prize in Poetry.

Participants: Kit and John Keller, Mary Jo Ryan, Ted Kooser

January 9, 2008

book cover  Title Discussed: T is for Trespass
by Sue Grafton
In what may be her most unsettling novel to date, Sue Grafton's T is for Trespass is also her most direct confrontation with the forces of evil. Beginning slowly with the day-to-day life of a private eye, Grafton suddenly shifts from the voice of Kinsey Millhone to that of Solana Rojas, introducing readers to a chilling sociopath. Rojas is not her birth name. It is an identity she cunningly stole, an identity that gives her access to private caregiving jobs. The true horror of the novel builds with excruciating tension as the reader foresees the awfulness that lies ahead. The suspense lies in whether Millhone will realize what is happening in time to intervene.

Participants: Kit and John Keller, Lisa Kelly
[Also available in book-on-cd [abridged or unabridged], and Large Print formats.]

January 2, 2008

book cover  Title Discussed: Stormy Weather
by Paulette Jiles
Oil is king of East Texas during the darkest years of the Great Depression. The Stoddard girls - responsible Mayme, whip-smart tomboy Jeanine, and bookish Bea - know no life but an itinerant one, trailing their father from town to town as he searches for work on the pipelines and derricks; that is, when he's not spending his meager earnings at gambling joints, race tracks, and dance halls. And in every small town in which the windblown family settles, mother Elizabeth does her level best to make each sparse, temporary house they inhabit a home. But the fall of 1937 ushers in a year of devastating drought and dust storms, and the family's fortunes sink further than they ever anticipated when a questionable "accident" leaves Elizabeth and her girls alone to confront the cruelest hardships of these hardest of times. With no choice left to them, they return to the abandoned family farm. It is Jeanine, proud and stubborn, who single-mindedly devotes herself to rebuilding the farm and their lives. But hard work and good intentions won't make ends meet or pay the back taxes they owe on their land. In desperation, the Stoddard women place their last hopes for salvation in a wildcat oil well that eats up what little they have left ... and on the back of late patriarch Jack's one true legacy, a dangerous racehorse named Smoky Joe. And Jeanine, the fatherless "daddy's girl," must decide if she will gamble it all ... on love.

Participants: Layne Pierce, Lisa Voss
[Also available in downloadable audio format.]

Other past KZUM Booktalk pages:

Past Years: Master Index | 2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006 | 2005

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