Books - Non-Fiction

When I was in the fourth grade I received a Webster's Dictionary as a birthday present. I had asked for it and was so delighted to receive it. I spent the next year reading it. I have been a dictionary lover ever since.

2002 was the breakout year for the humorist Bruce Cameron. The previous year he had finally gotten his first book published and in 2002 as "8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter: And other tips from a beleaguered father [not that any of them work]" was coming out in paperback he was on a roll. Bruce was coming through Dayton to honor the late Erma Bombeck when I caught up with him. The book was being developed for a television pilot which then became a TV series and he was definitely on his way to fame and riches.

Andy Martin spent a year shadowing the best-selling author Lee Child. Child allowed Martin to watch him as he was writing another one of his novels in the blockbuster series that features Jack Reacher. He sat there like a fly on the wall as Child typed away in his apartment which overlooks Central Park. He went out to eat with Child. He encountered Lee Child's fans. He gives us an up close and personal view of the man behind these popular books. He even reveals this nervous author who was concerned his book would not go straight to Number One on the best-seller list.

Professor Keith Doubt returned to the program to discuss his latest book about Bosnia. If you want to gain a better understanding of this region and the impact that the Dayton Peace Accords have had on the nation of Bosnia this interview could serve to enlighten you.

In 2012 I had an opportunity to interview Robert K. Massie. The author was probably best known for his blockbuster biography of the last monarchs of imperial Russia, the doomed "Nicholas and Alexandra." Massie had also written a highly regarded biography of another czar, Peter the Great. 8 years ago he published another monumental biography of a Russian ruler in "Catherine the Great: Portrait of a Woman" and he joined me on the telephone to talk about the paperback release of what ultimately became his final book. Massie died earlier this month.

In 1958 a mining disaster in Canada made headlines all over the world. The design of the mine had been a risky one and when it collapsed it did not come as a huge surprise. There were many fatalities that day but miraculously some miners remained alive, trapped inside the mine. In her book "Last Man Out: The Story of the Springhill Mine Disaster" Melissa Fay Greene describes the rescue efforts that followed and what it was like for the men who were struggling to survive down below. Their food was gone, their water was gone, things were looking very dire. This is quite a story.

The debut of the iPhone seems to have signaled a tipping point in our culture. A dozen years later millions of us are addicted to our screens; on our televisions, on our computers, and on those now ubiquitous "smart" phones.

Tiffany Shlain was just as entranced by technology as the rest of us but about ten years ago she decided to make a conscious effort to draw the line and put up some resistance to all those screens that had taken over her life.

Mark Kurlansky made his one and only appearance on the program to discuss his fascinating study of a substance that seems ubiquitous to us in "Salt: a World History."

Kurlansky has distinguished himself by publishing scholarly studies that are treasure troves of trivia. In the past the people who had access to large quantities of salt possessed enormous power. You can learn so much from reading this book and Kurlansky gives a great interview.

Our senior U.S. Senator from Ohio is Sherrod Brown. When he was first elected to the U.S. Senate he was brought on to the floor of the Senate chamber along with the other newly elected first-time Senators. They were there to choose their desks. The desks are numbered.

Susan Orlean made her first appearance on the program to discuss the paperback reissue of her bestseller "The Library Book." I had wanted to interview Susan for some time. A number of years ago she wrote a book about Rin Tin Tin and I really wanted to interview her for that non-fiction history of the 1950's canine TV star but I could never arrange to get her on the schedule to do that. Then when "The Library Book" came out in hardcover I tried again to get an interview but had no luck again.