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J. Peder Zane
The Top Ten
Operating under the theory that no one knows more about great books than great writers, J. Peder Zane, book editor of the Raleigh News & Observer, asked 125 British and American writers (Clyde Edgerton, Reynolds Price and Tom Wolfe, among them) to "provide a list, ranked, in order, of what you consider the ten greatest works of fiction of all time."
The result isThe Top Ten— providing summaries of 544 books—each of which is considered to be among the ten greatest books ever written by at least one leading writer. Zane suggests that these lists (and reconfigurations of the most often cited titles into various categories—top ten works of the 19th century, living writers, comic works and so on) are "detailed road maps to the land of literary possibilities. Part Rand-McNally, part Zagat's . . . it takes the anxiety out of bibliophilia by offering a comprehensive and authoritative guide to the world's best books." Already sparking debate, The Top Ten will help readers answer the most pressing question of all: What should I read next?
Governor Mike Easley
Look Out College, Here I Come!
The message behind North Carolina Governor Michael Easley’s new children’s offering Look Out, College, Here I Come! is that it is never too early for kids to begin thinking about college and career goals. Beautifully illustrated by his sister, H. Marie Easley, this charming book features the antics of “Flappy the Fish,” a character that was inspired by her brother Michael, who kept his siblings entertained during their childhood—and still today.
In this exclusive interview with North Carolina Bookwatch’s D.G. Martin, Governor Easley shares his thoughts on education reform within the state and how his latest book is meant to “go directly to our children [to] tell them at an early age that college is essential in this economy.”
Holy Ghost Corner
Theresa Elaine Hopson, 46, owner of Miss Thang's Holy Ghost Corner and Church Women's Boutique, is puzzled. She can't for the life of her figure out why even Baby Doll Henderson, despite her false teeth and her navy-blue-socks-with-yellow-jelly-sandals-wearing self, can find a man and she can't. Theresa's been looking all of her life and it seems like the only thing she finds are things that need to stay lost--like her on-and-off "friend" and sometime escort, the sneaky businessman, Reverend Parvell Sikes. So, when church mother Queen-Esther Green reacquaints Theresa with the older woman's backslidden-player nephew, Lamont Green, it seems like the same old story. But this time, Theresa decides to listen to God, and what she hears soon brings a smile to her face with the realization that the Holy Ghost has been in her love corner all along.
With its hilarious characters and local backdrops, Michele Bowen’s latest novel takes a lighthearted and humorous look at the issues facing today's black Christian woman. In this episode, Bowen spotlights the spiritual, and sometimes sordid, side of her Holy Ghost Corner.
Driving with the Devil: Southern Moonshine, Detroit Wheels and the Birth of NASCAR
NASCAR, a sport that prides itself on fast-paced, death- defying thrill rides, is quickly emerging as a symbol of America itself. The red, white, and blue logo is splashed across everything from cereal boxes and magazines to clothing and even leather recliners. At a time when some pro-baseball teams play before paltry crowds of a few thousand, attendance at NASCAR races averages nearly 200,000 and is growing by 10 percent a year. The sport’s stars are millionaire celebrities, appearing in music videos, dating supermodels, and living in mansions. But how did NASCAR happen at all? And why?
In Driving with the Devil: Southern Moonshine, Detroit Wheels and the Birth of NASCAR, author Neal Thompson takes readers on a trip down the weathered red-dirt roads below the Mason-Dixon line, uncovering the whiskey-soaked stories of the troubled men who, with the help of moonshine and fast cars, created a new sport for the South to call its own.
Despite promises to his pregnant wife and dead mother never to follow in the footsteps of his father, Calvin Gaddy takes a job at Coventry Prison in the North Carolina Piedmont. He soon finds himself snared in the literal prison of Coventry—and a cell of his own making. While Gaddy desperately desires to do the right thing, he finds himself seduced again and again by the power that his position on the yard affords him and the diabolical energy of the prison itself. Calvin realizes, over the course of Joseph Bathanti’s new novel, Coventry, that in the hellish world of prison, there is no middle ground.
In this episode of North Carolina Bookwatch, Bathanti shares Coventry’s two worlds—one of brutal reality and another of inexplicable hauntings.
Joanna Catherine Scott
The Road from Chapel Hill
From author Joanna Catherine Scott comes The Road from Chapel Hill—a sweeping tale of the Civil War, unique in its perspective and exquisitely woven, in which three young Southerners worlds apart are joined in a quest for something greater than themselves.
Eugenia Mae Spotswood, the daughter of a failed aristocrat, longs to regain the life she lost. The slave Tom wants one thing: freedom. After becoming the property of Eugenia Mae, a dangerous affection grows. But he learns freedom is not something she can give him-he must fight for it himself. Clyde Bricket, the farm boy responsible for Tom's capture, has always believed in the South. But he soon learns that sometimes the only way to redeem yourself is to fight against everything he thought he believed in.
In this episode, the award-winning author shares her latest unforgettable epic novel based in the Antebellum South.
During an amazing year of living botanically, author James Dodson went behind the scenes of the world's two most important garden shows (the Philadelphia Flower Show and the Chelsea Garden Show in England); spent time with the Botticelli of Bulbs; attended a rare-plant auction with high rollers; sneaked into a Hosta convention; communed with the kindred spirits of Thomas Jefferson and John Bartram; met a man smuggling exotic daylilies; learned the inside poop on ten or twelve of the Western world's most influential gardens; swiped cuttings from a Founding Father's shrubbery; hung out with ten or twelve of the most accomplished gardening fanatics on earth; built three new gardens of his own; and wound up hanging perilously from a limb on the side of a cliff in Southern Africa, the birthplace of an estimated one-third of the world's flowers, and capped off a year of incalculable learning and discovery by tagging along with four of America's leading plant hunters on an expedition into the rugged jungles to find the exotic new species of tomorrow.
In this episode of North Carolina Bookwatch, Dodson shares Beautiful Madness — his true tale of shared horticultural obsession and burrows deeply into the story of how Americans became such fanatical gardeners and are today, in fact, at the forefront of what everyone agrees is a new Gold Age of Gardening, an unprecedented growth in gardening's popularity that has—according to a recent Gallop poll - an astonishing 80 percent of adult Americans claiming to be primary hobby gardeners.
Made to Stick
Why do some ideas thrive while others die? And how do we improve the chances of worthy ideas? In Made to Stick, accomplished educators and idea collectors Chip and Dan Heath tackle, head-on, these vexing questions. Inside, the brothers Heath reveal the anatomy of ideas that “stick” and explain sure-fire methods for making ideas stickier, such as violating schemas, using the Velcro Theory of Memory, and creating “curiosity gaps.”
In this episode, D.G. Martin talks to co-author and Duke Corporate Education consultant Dan Heath about his critically-acclaimed guide to effectively communicating ideas.
Multiple award winner of the most prestigious prizes for mystery fiction, Margaret Maron is back with a new novel on a hot-button issue—immigrant workers—featuring her critically acclaimed (and newly married) sleuth Judge Deborah Knott.
As Knott presides over a case involving a barroom brawl, it becomes clear that deep resentments over race, class, and illegal immigration are simmering just below the surface in the countryside. An early spring sun has begun to shine like a blessing on the fertile fields of North Carolina, but along with the seeds sprouting in the thawing soil, violence is growing as well. Mutilated body parts have appeared along the back roads of Colleton County, and the search for the victim's identity and for that of his killer will lead Deborah and her new husband, Sheriff's Deputy Dwight Bryant, into the desperate realm of undocumented farm workers exploited for cheap labor.
Grounded Globalism: How the U.S. South Embraces the World
Grounded Globalism: How the U.S. South Embraces the World, the latest book by author and Kenan Professor of Anthropology at UNC-Chapel Hill James L. Peacock, examines the impact of globalism on the Southern identity.
In this episode, Peacock explores both the present and the past to develop the idea of “grounded globalism” in which global forces and local cultures rooted in history, tradition, and place reverberate against each other in mutually sustaining and energizing ways.
I’m Proud of You: My Friendship With Fred Rogers
It has been said that a person is lucky if, at the end of his life, he can count his true friends on the fingers of one hand. I’m Proud of You: My Friendship with Fred Rogers is the story of two men who formed just such a friendship following author and journalist Tim Madigan’s interview, and subsequent personal visits, with the beloved public television icon, Fred Rogers.
In this episode of North Carolina Bookwatch, Madigan shares his memories of the man behind Mister Roger’s Neighborhood: an ordained minister, loving husband, father, grandfather, and devoted friend.
The Marines of Montford Point
With an executive order from President Franklin Roosevelt in 1941, the United States Marine Corps—the last all-white branch of the U.S. military—began recruiting and enlisting African Americans. The first black recruits received basic training at the segregated Camp Montford Point, adjacent to Camp Lejeune, near Jacksonville, North Carolina. Between 1942 and 1949, more than 20,000 men trained at Montford Point, most of them going on to serve in the Pacific Theatre in World War II as members of support units. The book, The Marines of Montford Point, in conjunction with the documentary film of the same name, tells the story of these Marines for the first time.
Drawing from interviews with 60 veterans, The Marines of Montford Point relates the experiences of these pioneers in their own words. In this episode, author Melton McLaurin shares the Marines' stories and reasons for enlisting; their arrival at Montford Point and the training they received there; their lives in a segregated military and in the Jim Crow South; their experiences of combat and service in World War II, Korea, and Vietnam; and their sustaining legacy.
Kathryn Stripling Byer
Coming to Rest
Kathryn Stripling Byer's five published books of poetry have won awards including the Lamont Poetry Selection for Wildwood Flower, The Roanoke-Chowan and Brockman Campbell prizes for Black Shawl, and the Southern Independent Booksellers Association Award for Catching Light.
Byer’s new poetry collection, entitled Coming to Rest, is considered a re-articulation and a culmination of her distinguished career, which includes her present position as a North Carolina Poet Laureate. In this episode, the award-winning local poet shares her latest works and how they reflect on remembered seasons of personal, familial time and which are said to bring words alive within those distances of nature, time and meaning out of which poetry originally was born.
Jake Fades: A Novel of Impermanence
An aging Zen master and bicycle repairman confronts his mortality and looks for a successor in this new novel by Duke Professor, and longtime Buddhist practitioner, David Guy. In this episode, the Durham author explores the Zen landscapes of Jakes Fades, acknowledged as a low-key tale of meditation, mentoring, and mouth-watering baked goods.
Literary Trails of the North Carolina Mountains
In her guidebook, Literary Trails of the North Carolina Mountains, the first of three regional volumes, Carrboro's own Georgann Eubanks invites residents and out-of-state visitors to explore North Carolina while reading literature from our state's finest writers.
Organized geographically through a series of eighteen half-day and day-long tours in the western part of the state, Eubanks directs curious travelers to the historic sites where Tar Heel authors have lived and worked. Along the way, travelers can read outstanding excerpts from the writers, evoking the places, customs, colloquialisms, and characters that figure prominently in their poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction, and plays.
Cold Running Creek
During one of the most tumultuous times for the North American continent (pre and post Civil War) three generations of women, both Native American and African American, struggle to be free in Zelda Lockhart’s book Cold Running Creek.
In this episode, the Hillsborough native shares her enlightening and revealing story set amid a chorus of swamps, voodoo, floods, and the inevitable cold-running creek.
Our Vanishing Americana: A North Carolina Portrait
Our Vanishing Americana provides a pictorial guide to North Carolina's commercial relics of the 19th and 20th century: the general stores and hardware shops, the corner drug stores with soda fountains, the blue-plate diners and hot dog stands, the filling stations, the barber shops, the single-screen theaters.
In this episode, Statesville lawyer Mike Lassiter shares the many images he captured on his travels along North Carolina's rural highways and byways, exploring an era before Internet shopping, big-box stores, shopping malls, chain restaurants and strip malls.
Joe and Terry Graedon
Best Choices from the People’s Pharmacy
We can read the newspaper for candid restaurant or movie reviews or consult Consumer Reports for an impartial analysis of the best buys on toasters or automobiles. But where can we find objective evaluations of popular treatments for conditions like arthritis, high cholesterol, and migraines?
In this episode, Joe and Teresa Graedon, the best-selling authors of The Peoples Pharmacy, fill in the void with all the information readers need to become savvy health-care consumers from their latest comprehensive guide to healthful living.
Off the Rim: Basketball and Other Religions in a Carolina Childhood
“Why should a particular game, played with a round ball by twenty-year-olds in short pants often hundreds of miles away, mean so much to me, since I seem to have so little to gain or lose by its outcome?” Fred Hobson thus begins Off the Rim, his narrative of college basketball and society, of growing up and not growing up. He seeks the answer to this question by delving into the particulars of his own experience as a player and fan in his book, Off the Rim.
In this episode, Hobson shares his story of a boyhood that never ends, relived each year during basketball season in the frantic, tortured life of a fan.
Encyclopedia of North Carolina
The first single-volume reference to the events, institutions, and cultural forces that have defined the state, the Encyclopedia of North Carolina is a landmark publication that will serve those who love and live in North Carolina for generations to come.
Editor William S. Powell, whom the Raleigh News & Observer described as a "living repository of information on all things North Carolinian," spent fifteen years developing this volume and, in this episode, shares some of the many contributions by more than 550 volunteer writers—including scholars, librarians, journalists, and many others—whio aided in creating what is considered to be the true "people's encyclopedia" of North Carolina.