Lynn Neary

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You know, for seven years now, your friends here at NPR have been recommending books of the year just in time for the holidays. We call it the Book Concierge, and now you can not only browse through more than 300 titles from this year, but also check out the lists from years gone by. We asked NPR books and publishing correspondent Lynn Neary to tell us about one of her favorites from 2019.

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The decade now coming to a close was a tumultuous one for the publishing industry. NPR's Lynn Neary has been digging into her old reporting, and she found that as the decade opened, publishers and booksellers faced a digital revolution with trepidation.

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Libraries across the U.S. are furious with one of the country's big five publishing houses. As of Friday, Macmillan Publishers Ltd. is drastically restricting the sales of its e-books to libraries.

For the first eight weeks after an e-book goes on the market, a library system can buy only one copy. So if you are used to getting your books from a library and you are an e-book fan who has been eagerly awaiting Hillary Mantel's next book, The Mirror and the Light, for example, you may have a long wait when it comes out in March 2020.

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In newspapers she was described as the "unconscious intoxicated woman." In the courtroom she was called Emily Doe. On Tuesday, she let the world know that her real name is Chanel Miller.

In 2015, Miller was attacked while unconscious after drinking too much at a fraternity party at Stanford University. Two young men on bicycles rescued her. Her attacker tried to run away but they chased him and held him down until the police arrived. Brock Turner, her attacker, was a student at Stanford and a swimming champion.

Discoverability. It's a word that people who market and sell books use when talking about one of their biggest challenges: With hundreds of thousands of titles released each year, how do readers find the books that publishers want them to buy?

Word of mouth is the old standby. Media interviews are a big help. Book clubs can go a long way to boosting sales. Put those all together and you get celebrity book clubs, which are increasingly seen as a ticket to success.

When writer Téa Obreht's first book came out in 2011, it got the kind of reaction that most debut novelists only dream of: The Tiger's Wife was both critically acclaimed and a best seller. It was nominated for the National Book Award and won the Orange Prize.

Writers, like all artists, are willing to give up a lot to keep doing what they love best. But sometimes, reality bites, and dreams have to be put aside in order to put food on the table. That's what happened to Adrian McKinty — but then, with a little help from some friends, he found a way to keep going. The result is his new book, The Chain.

This story is part of American Anthem, a yearlong series on songs that rouse, unite, celebrate and call to action. Find more at NPR.org/Anthem.

Poet, writer and musician Joy Harjo — a member of the Muscogee Creek Nation — often draws on Native American stories, languages and myths. But she says that she's not self-consciously trying to bring that material into her work. If anything, it's the other way around.

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Now a moment to remember the writer Tony Horwitz. He died yesterday at the age of 60. Horwitz was best known for his historical nonfiction, including the bestselling "Confederates In The Attic." He began his writing career as a journalist.

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In 2017, during the Super Bowl halftime show, Lady Gaga did something extraordinary. She performed a song that had become the unofficial anthem of the LGBTQ community.

(SOUNDBITE OF SUPER BOWL LI TELECAST)

LADY GAGA: (Singing) No matter gay, straight or bi, lesbian, transgender life - I'm on the right track, baby. I was born to survive. No matter black, white or beige, chola or Orient made - right track, baby, I was born to be brave.

(CHEERING)

Four years ago the unthinkable happened to Jayson Greene. His 2-year-old daughter, Greta, was visiting her grandmother. The two were sitting on a bench on New York's Upper West Side when a brick came loose from a nearby building. It struck Greta in the head, and she died three days later. Greene began keeping a journal, which turned into his new memoir, Once More We Saw Stars.

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Editor's note: This story contains offensive language.

A photo and a confession, both widely condemned as racist: The first, a page in the medical school yearbook of Virginia governor Ralph Northam, showing a picture of two men in blackface and KKK garb. The second, actor Liam Neeson's confession that he once went looking to kill an innocent black man after a friend was raped. Both men expressed regret, both denied they were racist. But how can there be racism without racists?

Imagine a world where lying is against the law. You might expect that any place that values truth so highly would be a utopia — but the world writer Ben Winters has created in Golden State is far from idyllic. And though it's set in the future, it's very much based on our current political moment.

Winters says he knows exactly when he started writing Golden State: The day following President Trump's inauguration. Specifically, it was after "the infamous incident of the inauguration crowd-size debate."

This story is part of American Anthem, a yearlong series on songs that rouse, unite, celebrate and call to action. Find more at NPR.org/Anthem.

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This morning, at its annual conference in Seattle, the American Library Association gave out its prizes for children's and young adult literature. Its awards include the prestigious Caldecott and Newbery medals. NPR's Lynn Neary reports.

Much-loved poet Mary Oliver died Thursday of lymphoma, at her home in Florida. She was 83. Oliver won many awards for her poems, which often explore the link between nature and the spiritual world; she also won a legion of loyal readers who found both solace and joy in her work.

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When thousands of young people descended on the National Mall earlier this year for the student-led March for Our Lives, singer Jennifer Hudson ended the event with an emotional rendition of Bob Dylan's "The Times They Are A-Changin'"

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