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One of the two women at the center of Meg Wolitzer's absorbing new novel, The Female Persuasion, is a legendary feminist named Faith Frank. Faith, who's in her 60s when the story begins, seems to be modeled on Gloria Steinem: She's charismatic, sexy and witty. We're told that Faith is not "a firebrand or a visionary; her talent was different. She could sift and distill ideas and present them in a way that made other people want to hear them."

The romance genre is a juggernaut that continues unabated.

It's a billion-dollar industry that outperforms all other book genres, and it's remarkably innovative, with a strong tradition of independent and self-publishing.

Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright describes herself as an "optimist who worries a lot." And lately, it seems, there has been much to worry about.

Albright's new book, Fascism: A Warning, starts by describing how Hitler and Mussolini came to power in the 20th century, then warns about today's authoritarian rulers in Eastern Europe, North Korea, Turkey and Russia.

Courtesy of the Food Network

Guests for Sundial on Thursday, March 22, 2018:

Pachinko by Korean-American author Min Jin Lee made the New York Times Book Review's 10 Best Books List of 2017. The book was a National Book Award Finalist in the fiction category and was warmly received nationwide.  It took Lee almost 20 years to complete the book and she joined the program last year to reveal how she drew on her life experiences to do so. 

Leslie Ovalle / WLRN News

Guests for Sundial on Wednesday March 14, 2018:

We revisited a past interview with Haitian-American novelist and short story writer Edwidge Danticat. She spoke with us in 2017 about her book, The Art of Death, which she wrote as part of her journey after her mother's passing.

The winners of the 2018 Whiting Awards don't have much of a track record. None on this list has the laundry list of accolades you may be accustomed to seeing for literary prize winners. Several don't even have a second book to their names.

But that's the idea here.

Junot Díaz wanted to write a children's book for more than 20 years. In the meantime, he wrote several grown-up books, including The Brief Wondrous Life Of Oscar Wao, which won a Pulitzer Prize in 2008. He also won a MacArthur "Genius" Grant, among other accolades.

Now he has finished that children's book. Islandborn is about a curious, Afro-Caribbean girl named Lola.

The Library of Congress hosted a very special guest at story time this week:

Dolly Parton.

The country music legend is also a champion of early childhood literacy, through her Imagination Library. Every month, the nonprofit program mails a free book to more than a million children — from infants to preschoolers.

Zadie Smith is justly celebrated for her chameleon-like gifts as a writer. In novels like White Teeth and On Beauty she's ventured deeply into the lives of a multi-racial assortment of immigrants to Great Britain and the United States. Her characters run the gamut from aspirational working-class kids, self-important academics, pensioners, young dancers and, to date, one Chinese-Jewish Londoner with a fixation on Golden Age Hollywood.

The first Bible I ever purchased was a New International Version Student Life Bible; it was black with neon pink and green lettering. I picked it up from the bookstore of a church I was invited to in my late teens. This "expanded" version featured maps, reading plans, and questionnaires geared toward teenagers who wanted to learn how to effectively apply biblical principles to their daily lives. In other words, how to learn to be the "salt of the earth."

Apocryphal stories about our nation's first president abound.

Wooden dentures? Experts say disabusing the public of this myth is like ... well, pulling teeth. (And George Washington did have several pulled, having suffered mightily from dental problems.)

Alicia Zuckerman / WLRN

Judy Blume turns 80 today (February 12), and she celebrated all day yesterday at the nonprofit bookstore she and her husband George run in Key West. It was hard to keep track of how many fans who showed up called her their "childhood hero" (present company included). 

Blume works four days a week at the Books & Books at The Studios of Key West, including all day every Sunday.

Even though Jane Austen died in 1817, the English author’s works – like “Sense and Sensibility” and “Pride and Prejudice” – have lived on for more than two hundred years.

Laura Runge, the chair of the University of South Florida Department of English, thinks she knows why.

WLRN’s daily news and cultural affairs show Sundial features news, politics, music, sports, arts and food — all with a local twist. It airs at 1 p.m. Monday-Thursday.

Here's what the people behind the show are reading.

Luis Hernandez, host

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