David Shankbone, CC BY 3.0,

No word on whether Jonathan Lethem was among the first people in line for the latest Star Wars movie.  But he was a big fan of the first one (first one made, that is), seeing the 1977 classic 21 times. 

It was part of his escape into fictional characters, a process he continues in his own novels, like Motherless Brooklyn and Dissident Gardens

Lethem visited a few years back to talk about More Alive and Less Lonely, his writing that muses on the workings of the minds of other writers. 


Don't you miss the days when you had time to curl up with a good book, and read it from cover to cover?  Wait, did you ever really have such a time? 

Leah Price, English professor and book historian, asks that question and more in a book of her own that analyzes reading habits.  She's not sure a golden age of reading ever existed. 

Price makes the case in What We Talk About When We Talk About Books: The History and Future of Reading


There's a certain style to noir detective stories.  Example: "Beads of perspiration trickled down my neck, in defiance of the air conditioner that groaned like a heifer in labor." 

No actual heifers were harmed in the writing of that story and the others cranked out by Clive Rosengren.  He lives in the Rogue Valley now and describes himself as a recovering actor, focusing his work on a series of books about fictional detective Eddie Collins. 

Collins treads the same streets Rosengren trod as a working actor in L.A. 


August is nearly here, signaling a return to school and work in a few weeks.  But there's still some summer left, and therefore some time to curl up someplace with a good book. 

Our Summer Reads segment visits with independent bookstore owners around the region, for their advice on volumes to take on seasonal trips or just to the backyard.  J. Aubrey-Herzog from Northtown Books in Arcata visits. 


You have a bunch of choices to consider for spending a nice, slow, summer day.  Things like whether to bring a beach umbrella or wear sunscreen, whether to bring a chair or a blanket. 

We can help you with one of those choices, what to read on your outing.  Our Summer Reads segment invites people from independent book shops up and down the listening area to visit with their ideas for great books to read on quiet summer days.  Or noisy ones, we're not picky. 

Toni Wheeler of Mendocino Book Company is up this week. 


Blanket, sunscreen, shades, cool drink: check, check, check, and check. 

But what will you bring to read on your summer excursion?  That's a question we provide some answers for, in our weekly segment Summer Reads. 

Independent booksellers from around the region join us, and this week it's Bloomsbury Books in Ashland. 

Evgeniy Isaev, CC BY 2.0,

Ah summertime... a chance to pick a shady spot on a warm day and enjoy a good book.  But which book? 

That's a question we aim to answer with our weekly segment Summer Reads.  We visit once again with independent booksellers in the region for their ideas on quality titles and treatments. 

Up first: Rebel Heart Books in Jacksonville. 

The charms of our region mean people who might otherwise live in bigger cities settle in the hills and valleys around us. 

Including a number of published authors with names and works instantly recognizable to the public. 

These are celebrated at the Read Local, Buy Local Author Fair, coming to the Ashland Library on Sunday (December 9). 

Hemingway Collection/Kennedy Library

Ernest Hemingway is an American icon. He left behind many photographs. He left behind many other artifacts.

Michael Katakis is an author. He's collected photos, letters and images that tell Hemingway's life.

His book, Ernest Hemingway: Artifacts from a Life, answers a question. Did Hemingway's short, clipped sentences really come from the Kansas City Star's stylebook? 


Any society heading for more repression tends to put a lid on its fiction writers. 

Azar Nafisi, who lived under the regime in Iran, has seen it happen.  She demonstrated fiction's power when she taught there; she appreciates it at least as much now that she lives in the United States. 

Azar Nafisi joined us in 2015 to talk about books that should and do motivate Americans: The Republic of Imagination: A Life in Books

Does the name J.P. Beaumont mean anything to you?  How about Ali Reynolds?  Joanna Brady?  If none of those names mean anything, you probably don't read mystery novels, at least the novels of J.A. Jance. 

To call her a prolific author is putting it mildly... between her three series of murder mysteries and novellas, she's cranked out roughly 60 books. 

One of them takes place at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival (Failure to Appear).  The author is on tour supporting her latest work, Duel to the Death

NASA/Public Domain

Being able to communicate with each other by speaking made a big difference in our development as a species.  But when we turned our pictures into words and communicated through writing... that opened up a whole new dimension. 

Martin Puchner, editor of The Norton Anthology of World Literature, takes us on a writing appreciation tour in his new book The Written World: The Power of Stories to Shape People, History, Civilization

His survey covers stories from the earliest civilizations, through religious texts and classics, right up to Harry Potter.

We wonder sometimes when Robert Arellano sleeps. 

He's got talents as an author, teacher, and musician (among other skills), and has just cranked out his sixth novel.  Havana Libre is the sequel to Havana Lunar, his critically acclaimed book from 2010. 

Bombs, terrorists, and spies populate the new book, which is set in the Cuba of 20 years ago. 

Public Domain/Wikimedia

Any public building erected in recent years includes ramps and other devices to get people in wheelchairs inside with minimal effort. 

So we've adjusted our physical spaces, but how about our literature?  The depictions of people with disabilities are changing there as well, and University of Oregon Associate Professor Betsy Wheeler is observing and assisting the changes. 

Wheeler's work includes studies of disabilities in literature, but also postwar (WWII) literature and culture, including comic books. 

She is our guest in this month's edition of cUriOus: Research Meets Radio. 

Medford Comic Con Facebook page

When you think about all the times our parents told us to stop reading comic books, it's amazing comics survived. 

But survive they did, and now they are central to American culture... at least in the movies and TV.  Have you SEEN how many movies and TV shows feature characters who first appeared in the comics? 

Mike Madrid is a comic lover and documenter, with several books on costumed heroines, including The Supergirls.  He comes to Ashland for the Lit Fest on Saturday at the SOU library, and joins us for a preview. 

And we add Laura Kimberly, the Medford library branch manager.  She is also the organizer of the Medford Comic Con, a convention for comics lovers. 

Everything from classical poetry to comic books will be discussed and celebrated at the Ashland Literary Arts Festival

It takes over the Hannon Library at Southern Oregon University on Saturday (October 28) from 10 to 4. 

Did we mention film?  The renamed festival, now in its 6th year, celebrates independent story and thought in all of its forms. 

Evgeniy Isaev, CC BY 2.0,

Can you pull yourself away from the news long enough to get immersed in a good book? 

The long, warm days lend themselves to reading, and we'll spend the summer getting advice on WHAT to read from some of our local bookstores. 

Fiction or non, fantasy or not, what's your pleasure?  Our weekly feature "Summer Reads" probes the tastes and recommendations of Mendocino Book Company in Ukiah. 

Evgeniy Isaev, CC BY 2.0,

Can you pull yourself away from the news long enough to get immersed in a good book?

The long, warm days lend themselves to reading, and we'll spend the summer getting advice on WHAT to read from some of our local bookstores. 

Oregon Books in Grants Pass checks in with the latest installment of "Summer Reads". 

Evgeniy Isaev, CC BY 2.0,

What books have you chosen to read this summer? 

Philosophy?  Classics of fiction?  Comic Books? 

The long, warm days lend themselves to reading, and we'll spend the summer getting advice on WHAT to read from some of our local bookstores. 

Bloomsbury Books in Ashland is up first as "Summer Reads" debuts.

The ancient tale of Scheherazade is about a storyteller. 

She saved her own life, and many more, by telling stories to a tyrannical king for a thousand nights. 

The story resonates with Portland storyteller Will Hornyak, who tells stories in prisons and many other venues, firmly believing that storytelling can change lives.