books

In an essay on Jane Austen, Virginia Woolf observed, "Of all great writers she is the most difficult to catch in the act of greatness."

To that double-edged and astute assessment, one can add, she is also the most difficult to catch in the act of tea-time.

This observation might seem irksomely contrarian to the legions of Janeites in hats and bonnets gathered around tea and scones to pay fealty to the novelist on the bicentenary of her death, which falls today.

It’s Bastille Day! To celebrate the French national holiday, this week we asked some experts on France and the French language about their favorite books.

Share yours with us — or just tell us what you’re reading – by tweeting us @WLRN.

Travis Cohen, writer

Mary Casanova / Literacy Volunteers of America

Ever since Peter Minuit bought Manhattan Island from the Native Americans, New York City's character has been defined by money and con artistry. So it is that classic New York stories are always populated by a grifter or two.

Octavia Butler used to say she remembers exactly when she decided to become a science fiction writer. She was 9 years old and saw a 1954 B-movie called Devil Girl from Mars, and two things struck her. First: "Geez, I can write a better story than that!" And second: "Somebody got paid for writing that story!" If they could, she decided, then she could, too.

Christophe Ena / AP

It’s July and if you follow the sport of cycling, you are probably aware that this month belongs to the Tour de France — the sport’s biggest event.

In honor of the tour, we asked some local cycling enthusiasts for their favorite books about bikes.

Share yours with us — or just tell us what you’re reading — by tweeting @wlrn.

Christopher Hamilton, bicycle/pedestrian/transportation coordinator, city of Key West

For this Friday before the Fourth of July, we asked some South Floridians about their favorite works of American history. Tell us what you're reading — or your favorite American history book — by tweeting us @wlrn.

Capt. Bobby “Beetle” Baker, Commanding Officer, Naval Air Station Key West

Summer Reading For The College-Bound

Jun 30, 2017

Madison Catrett, 18, grew up in south Georgia — in a town about 30 miles from Tallahassee. Her high school was mostly white, Christian, and conservative — a place "where education is not as important as football," says Catrett.

She's bound for Duke University in the fall — and she's a little nervous to go somewhere new, somewhere so different from her hometown.

Luckily, she and other Duke freshmen have a built-in conversation starter: the reading they've all been assigned — Richard Blanco's Prince of Los Cocuyos.

Tales from the American West are marked by heroism, romance and plenty of cruelty. Among those stories, the saga of the Donner Party stands alone — a band of pioneers set out in covered wagons for California, and eventually, stranded, snowbound and starving, resorted to cannibalism.

What are you reading? WLRN wants to know — and we'll share what we, and other people in the South Florida community, are reading every week in this space.

Tell us what you're reading by replying in the comments, or tweet us @WLRN with the hashtag #FridayReads

Lydia Martin, Miami journalist and fiction writer

Roxane Gay has finally written the book that she "wanted to write the least."

The author of Bad Feminist and Difficult Women says the moment she realized that she would "never want to write about fatness" was the same moment she knew this was the book she needed to write. The result is Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body.

Tracy K. Smith knows many readers are intimidated by line breaks. She knows people don't like identifying consonance, assonance or alliteration.

But Smith — the newly announced 22nd Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry of the United States — wants to help America push past that anxiety.

"What do you hear? What do you feel? What does this remind you of?" she asks NPR. "These are all real and valid reactions to a poem."

What are you reading? WLRN wants to know — and we'll share what we, and other people in the South Florida community, are reading every week in this space.

Tell us what you're reading by replying in the comments, or tweet us @WLRN with the hashtag #FridayReads

Cynthia Chinelly, poet and associate director of the Florida International University writing program

Arundhati Roy's Return To Fiction

Jun 6, 2017

With guest host Anthony Brooks.

20 years after her smashing debut, novelist Arundhati Roy’s back with a shattering mosaic of modern India.

What are you reading? WLRN wants to know — and we'll share what we, and other people in the South Florida community, are reading every week in this space.

Tell us what you're reading by replying in the comments, or tweet us @WLRN with the hashtag #FridayReads

Jeff Huffman, meteorologist at the Florida Public Radio Emergency Network

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