These historical novels all take place during the Civil War or immediately afterward.

Related event:
Robert Hicks discusses A Separate Country, Oct. 6, 2009

A Separate Country
By Robert Hicks
Set in New Orleans in the years after the Civil War, A Separate Country is based on the incredible life of John Bell Hood, arguably one of the most controversial generals of the Confederate Army – and one of its most tragic figures. Robert E. Lee promoted him to major general after the Battle of Antietam. But the Civil War would mark him forever. At Gettysburg, he lost the use of his left arm. At the Battle of Chickamauga, his right leg was amputated. A Separate Country is the heartrending story of a decent and good man who struggled with his inability to admit his failures – and the story of those who taught him to love, and to be loved, and transformed him. 

Banned Books Week

It’s Banned Books Week from September 26 – October 3, 2009, a time for everyone to celebrate their freedom to read. This list includes the top 10 books of 2008 most frequently challenged (books that individuals or groups attempted to remove or restrict). For more books, check out the American Library Association’s list of all books challenged and banned in 2008-2009 (pdf).

And Tango Makes Three
By Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell
Based on the true story of two male penguins at the Central Park Zoo who built a nest and hatched a chick together, this picture book for children tells a heartwarming story.

The Homeward Bounders, by Diana Wynne Jones; Reviewed by Leah Merrill

In this high stakes science fiction novel from the ever inventive Ms. Jones, twelve year old Jamie Hamilton discovers a secret he should never have known. His world-and every other world-is just a game played by the mysterious demon "Them." Wars are played out in turns, and the loss of life is dependant on the toss of dice.

The Gathering, by Michael Carroll; Reviewed by Anne Hentzen

This book is about a group of young superheroes. Colin-the son of Titan, a flying superhero, and Energy, a superhero who can control energy- are dealing with identity issues. Danny is the son of Quantum, who predicted that he would lead a war against humans. Danny saw the prophecy as well, and is frightened by the vividness of the vision, including the mechanical arm. Renata, aka Diamond, is a superhuman who has been frozen for 10 years, has just woken up and has lost ten years without aging.

These memoirs all recount experiments in living (most within a one-year time frame), from eating locally to reading the Oxford English Dictionary to cooking every recipe in a classic cookbook.

Related event:
A.J. Jacobs discusses The Guinea Pig Diaries, Sept. 30, 2009

The Guinea Pig Diaries: My Life as an Experiment
By A.J. Jacobs
The Guinea Pig Diaries is a collection of essays written by Jacobs as he immersed himself in eight different lifestyles to see what he could learn. For “My Life as a Hot Woman,” the author lived undercover as a beautiful woman, signing his son’s nanny up on a dating web site. For “My Outsourced Life,” he hired a team of people in Bangalore, India, to answer his e-mails, respond to phone calls, and argue with his wife for him (and then buy her gifts when he wins).

The private detectives in these novels feature women solving the crimes – from V.I Warshawski to Sharon McCone to Kinsey Millhone. For more books with these women on the case, check out their mystery series.

Related event:
Sara Paretsky discusses Hardball, Sept. 24, 2009

Hardball
By Sara Paretsky
Chicago politics – past, present, and future – take center stage in Paretsky's latest V.I. Warshawski novel. When Warshawski is asked to find a man who’s been missing for four decades, a search that she figured would be futile becomes lethal. Old skeletons from the city’s racially charged history, as well as haunting family secrets of her own and those of the elderly sisters who hired her make an appearance.  Hardball is the thirteenth novel in the V.I. Warshawski mystery series.

For a fictional look at the immigrant experience in the United States, check out one of these novels.

Related event:
Joseph O’Neill discusses Netherland, Sept. 22, 2009

Netherland
By Joseph O’Neill
O’Neill delivers a mesmerizing novel about a man trying to make his way in post-9/11 New York City, and the unlikely occurrences that pull him back into an authentic, passionately engaged life.

The Namesakebook jacket

The Namesake
By Jhumpa Lahiri
Expanding on her signature themes of the immigrant experience, the clash of culture, and the tangled ties of generations, Lahiri brings to her poignant first novel remarkable powers of emotion and insight.

These nonfiction books tell the stories of individuals faced with legal battles against large corporations or local governments.

Related event:
Jeff Benedict discusses Little Pink House, Sept. 15, 2009

Little Pink House: A True Story of Defiance and Courage
By Jeff Benedict
When Suzette Kelo refused to sell her home to make way for a pharmaceutical plant, her city decided to exercise its power of eminent domain and launched one of the most extraordinary legal cases of modern times. An award-winning investigative journalist details how one woman led the charge to take on corporate America.

Moving Mountains book jacket

Moving Mountains: How One Woman and Her Community Won Justice from Big Coal
By Penny Loeb
Moving Mountains recounts the struggle of Trish Bragg and other ordinary West Virginians for fair treatment by the coal companies that dominate the local economies of southern West Virginia.

These nonfiction books explore the history of and contemporary issues facing conservatives in American politics.

Related event:
Thomas Frank discusses The Wrecking Crew, Sept. 15, 2009

The Wrecking Crew: How Conservatives Rule
By Thomas Frank
In this book, Frank provides an investigation of the decades of what he considers deliberate – and lucrative – conservative misrule.

From the New Deal to the New Right: Race and the Southern Origins of Modern Conservatism
By Joseph E. Lowndes
The South’s transition from Democratic stronghold to Republican base has frequently been viewed as a recent occurrence, one that largely stems from a 1960s-era backlash against left-leaning social movements. But Lowndes argues this rightward shift was not necessarily a natural response by alienated whites, but rather the result of the long-term development of an alliance between Southern segregationists and Northern conservatives.

From traffic jams to road rage, these nonfiction books take a look at how we drive and why.

Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do
By Tom Vanderbilt
In this lively and eye-opening investigation, Tom Vanderbilt examines the perceptual limits and cognitive underpinnings that make us worse drivers than we think we are. He demonstrates why plans to protect pedestrians from cars often lead to more accidents. He uncovers who is more likely to honk at whom, and why. He explains why traffic jams form, outlines the unintended consequences of our quest for safety, and even identifies the most common mistake drivers make in parking lots. Traffic is about more than driving: it's about human nature.

These books explore Barack Obama’s successful presidential campaign and the initial days of his presidency.

Related event:
Richard Wolffe discusses Renegade, Sep. 9, 2009

Renegade: The Making of a President
By Richard Wolffe
With exclusive access to Barack Obama and his inner circle, veteran political reporter Wolffe portrays a historic candidate and his inscrutable character and campaign in stunning detail.

A Long Time Coming book jacket

A Long Time Coming: The Inspiring, Combative 2008 Campaign and the Historic Election of Barack Obama
By Evan Thomas
In this compelling narrative, Newsweek editor Thomas shares the inside stories from one of the most exciting elections in recent history, illuminating the personalities and events that have influenced the outcome, and taking stock of the key players and key issues for the new administration.

These nonfiction books tell the personal stories of Holocaust survivors and their rescuers in Poland.

They Were Just People: Stories of Rescue in Poland during the Holocaust
By Bill Tammeus and Rabbi Jacques Cukierkorn
This book tells the stories of Polish Holocaust survivors and their rescuers. Tammeus and Cukierkorn traveled extensively in the United States and Poland to interview some of the few remaining participants before their generation is gone. The duo unfolds gripping narratives of Jews who survived against all odds and courageous non-Jews who risked their own lives to provide shelter.

The Federal Writers’ Project (FWP) helped define America and American literature by supporting literary talent during the Great Depression. These books include explorations of the history of the FWP, writings and narratives from the FWP, and a select list of writers who worked for the FWP.

Federal Writers’ Project | FWP Writings | FWP Writers

Related events:
Soul of a People: Writing America’s Story series of events, Sep. - Oct. 2009

Learn all about John Brown, the abolitionist who rose to fame during the Bleeding Kansas years in the mid- to late-1850s, was executed for his raid on the armory at Harpers Ferry, and elevated to legend in the years that followed.

Books | Documentaries

Related event:
Meet the Past: John Brown, September 1, 2009

Books

John Brown, Abolitionist: The Man Who Killed Slavery, Sparked the Civil War, and Seeded Civil Rights
By David S. Reynolds
This biography by the prize-winning cultural historian brings to life the controversial anti-slavery martyr who used terrorist tactics against slavery and single-handedly changed the course of American history.

Just in time for football season, these books examine high school football teams and the small towns they played in.

Related event:
Joe Drape discusses Our Boys, August 24, 2009

Our Boys: A Season on the Plains with the Smith Center Redmen
By Joe Drape
The football team in Smith Center, Kansas, has won sixty-seven games in a row, the nation’s longest high-school winning streak. Joe Drape, a Kansas City native and an award-winning sportswriter for The New York Times, moved his family to Smith Center to discover what makes the team and the town an inspiration even to those who live hundreds of miles away. His stories of the coaches, players, and parents reveal a community fighting to hold on to a way of life that is rich in value, even as its economic fortunes decline.

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