Books

Almost every day someone will ask me if I have read any good books lately?  I always respond in the affirmative. Anybody who has asked me that question during the past month has received the same response. I tell them that "The Son" by Philipp Meyer is the finest novel that I have read in a long time.

Mardi Jo Link's marriage had fallen apart. She was determined to keep the rest of her life together for her three sons. This meant paying the bills, scrimping and economizing, and trying to obtain another mortgage on their acreage in northern Michigan. It wasn't going to be easy.

Link tells her story in her memoir "Bootstrapper - from Broke to Badass on a Northern Michigan Farm." Link was making a living as a freelancer writing in the genre known as "true crime." Her income was unpredictable.  How could she find ways to conserve?

After a dozen excruciating years American forces are now in the process of finally pulling out of Afghanistan. So after all of this time what do we really know about this mysterious country and the people who live there? Probably not as much as we might think.

Anna Badkhen began reporting from Afghanistan right before the invasion.  She has written extensively about her experiences there. In her latest book, "The World is a Carpet - Four Seasons in an Afghan Village," Badkhen describes the time that she spent visiting a remote village in the desert.

David Margolick remembers the first time that he heard the name of John Horne Burns. Margolick was attending a boarding school when he heard about a book that had been banned from this prep school. Burns had written a scathing book, a novel, that was a thinly disguised critique of that school. Margolick was intrigued.

Michael Wellman brings his distinctive literary voice to fiction for the first time in his novel Versus the Demons. This is the story of Shorty Irslund, a guy who loved playing baseball so much that he sacrificed a good part of his life toiling away in the minor leagues.

John Scalzi is one of our bright young talents in science fiction today.  Scalzi is prolific and hard working. He just published his latest novel, "The Human Division," the latest installment in his "Old Man's War" universe of books. This book is classic Scalzi; witty, entertaining, and wildly imaginative.

In this wide ranging interview the author talks about this series, his influences and inspirations. And he describes the amusing chain of events that transplanted this city boy from southern California into a tiny community in rural SW Ohio.

Steve Bennish is a reporter for the Dayton Daily News. Bennish has written extensively about the deterioration of the manufacturing base in Dayton and Montgomery County. Hundreds of manufacturers have closed or moved away. Thousands of jobs have been lost. That's why they call this region the Rust Belt.

Bennish observed another symptom of our industrial malaise; scrappers, people who are surviving by salvaging scrap metal and selling it for a few cents on the pound. Many of these scrappers once had decent jobs. Now they are struggling just to get by.

Verlyn Klinkenborg is the author of a column called "The Rural Life," essays which appear on an irregular basis in the editorial pages of the New York Times. These pithy pieces are often inspired by his observations about life on the rural acreage that he owns somewhere in New York State.  The author can be a bit mysterious when it comes to describing the precise location of his small farm. It appears that he enjoys keeping his readers guessing in regard to that particular mystery.

150 years ago the Civil War was raging. During the first week of July, 1863 the battle of Gettysburg (Pennsylvania) marked a crucial turning point in the conflict.

Harold Holzer has made a career out of the study of President Lincoln and the Civil War. Holzer has written more than 40 books. I doubt that there is another author who has written more books about Lincoln than Holzer. He is the leading authority on our greatest president.

Deborah Copaken Kogan's most recent novel, "The Red Book," was recently issued in paperback.

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