What We`re Reading This Summer

Word Girl

Even though we run a television station, we’re big on books and reading at Nashville Public Television, whether it’s doing it ourselves or encouraging other people to do it. Nearly all our kids programs are about reading in some way, whether it’s Super Why!, Word Girl, Sesame Street or Martha Speaks. We’ve been talking about books for more than 35 years on A Word on Words with John Seigenthaler. And occasionally, we write a blog post about novels we think everyone should read. So come the summer, we’re like everyone else, perhaps even moreso, and have big plans for big reading. While we’re united in our mission at NPT, our reading preferences are all over the place. Here’s a little survey, with a contribution from Seigenthaler, of what we’re getting into this summer.

Kevin Crane (Vice President of Content and Technology)

The Mighty Queens of Freeville by Amy Dickinson: I used to live in upstate NY a few miles from Freeville, and am enjoying reading about her love of this part of the country.

Kathy Edson (Community Engagement Manager)

After making a list of the books I’ve been reading this summer I noticed they all have a common theme: friendship. So, I will pick a few standouts to share. I started the summer with a re-read Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck. There is something about that book of vulnerable, lonely dreamers that just sticks with me after I have turned the last page. Steinbeck writes with such amazing imagery and symbolism that you feel like you are another character in his book. His stories are always life lessons for me and I highly recommend. Another quick read was The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne. It is a sweet, innocent tale of unlikely friends: the son of a Nazi and a boy on the other side of the fence in a concentration camp. We’ve all had friends like George and Lenny who are always together or Bruno and Shmuel that are always separated by a fence. Friendships come and go but these relationships impact who we are and what we are made of. In the end, it is our decision whether or not the fence ultimately separates us or keeps us together forever.

Erin McInnis (Production Assistant)

Cleopatra: A Life by Stacy Schiff: I’ve been reading this book for what feels like forever. I picked it up based on three things: one, I’m fascinated by ancient history, particularly that of Greece and Rome; two, I saw an interview with Schiff and was intrigued by her struggle to separate Cleopatra the woman from Cleopatra the myth; and three, it’s about Cleopatra. Cooking with Fernet Branca by James Hamilton Paterson: I was told I should read it and that based on my affection for Muriel Barbery’s The Elegance of the Hedgehog, I would find it delightful. Faceless Killers by Henning Mankell: I loved the PBS Masterpiece Mystery Wallander series based on Mankell’s books. The Watery Part of the World by Michael Parker: Being from North Carolina, the coast, particularly the Outer Banks, has always held a strange fascination for me. Stories of pirates, treasure, ghosts, lost colonies and wild ponies were a regular part of my childhood. All I needed to hear to pick this book up was that Parker was taking two historical facts — in 1813, Theodosia Burr Alston, daughter of infamous Vice President Aaron Burr, went missing on her return to New York from South Carolina, and in 1970, two white sisters and a black man were the last residents on a small barrier island off the coast of North Carolina — and re-imaging and blending them to explore how the past both haunts and anticipates the present.

Joy Ngoma (Intern)

Recently read: The Help by Kathryn Stockett: It’s good story of forgiveness and living life. Bossypants by Tina Fey. On every page of this book , you’ll laugh like you are watching a Vince Vaughn movie. A great, fun read. All that is Bitter and Sweet by Ashley Judd. I’ve read this book three times already. Very well written and surprisingly healing for anyone. Currently reading The Girls guide to Homelessness by Brianna Karp, Love you More by Lisa Gardner and Burma / Myanmar : What Everyone Needs to Know by David I. Steninberg.

Joe Pagetta (Director of Media Relations and Online Strategies)

The Confessions of Zeno by Italo Svevo: It’s the fictional autobiography of someone whose therapist tells him that as part of his treatment, he should write it. It’s been on my “to-read” list for years, and a recent article I read about Svevo and James Joyce’s relationship in Trieste, Italy was a good reminder that perhaps it was time. A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan: I like to read each year’s Pulitzer Prize winner, and this was 2010’s. The Story of Charlotte’s Web by Michael Sims: I picked this up while perusing the new books collection (yes, there’s a place to get new books in Nashville proper!) at BookMan/BookWoman, and then caught an entertaining lecture by Sims at the library’s Salon 615 series.  It’s the wonderful story of E.B. White and how he came to write that most perfect of children’s books. If I can get to a beach anytime soon, I plan on bringing Jerry Weintraub’s memoir, When I Stop Talking, You’ll Know I’m Dead.

Jo Ann Scalf (Director, Education)

I just read Bel Canto by Ann Patchett. She has a new book, State of Wonder, that I am waiting to become available from the library … it’s going to be months … so I decided to read this one first. I like poetry, and am also reading a few books by Billy Collins (Sailing Alone Around the Room) and Mary Oliver (Swan). Collins poems are often very funny; Oliver writes poetry about nature. I am also reading Drive by Daniel Pink.

John Seigenthaler (Host, A Word on Words and One on One)

Our Kind of Traitor by John Le Carre’s: I am reading it to see whether Le Carre can take the Cold War business of spying into contemporary times. Absolute Monarchs by John Julius Norwic: I was intrigued by the New York Times review by Bill Keller.

Linda Wei (Producer)

What to Expect When You’re Expecting by Heidi Murkoff. My husband reads a couple of pages of this book to me every night. It’s helping us both prepare for our first child due next month. Battle Hymm of the Tiger Mother by Amy Chua. I’m borrowing this from fellow NPT employee Soraya Salam. Being raised by a “Tiger Mother,” I’m curious to see if this will provide me with insights about my own mother and what kind of mother I might be. Medium Raw by Anthony Bourdain. I enjoy learning the culinary world. Usually I’m reading cookbooks but this month I’ve decided to swap instruction with narrative.

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