Lynn Neary

Lynn Neary is an NPR arts correspondent and a frequent guest host often heard on Morning Edition and Weekend Edition.

In her role on the Arts desk, Neary reports on an industry in transition as publishing moves into the digital age. As she covers books and publishing, she relishes the opportunity to interview many of her favorite authors from Barbara Kingsolver to Ian McEwan.

Arriving at NPR in 1982, Neary spent two years working as a newscaster during Morning Edition. Then, for the next eight years, Neary was the host of Weekend All Things Considered. In 1992, she joined the cultural desk to develop NPR's first religion beat. As religion correspondent, Neary covered the country's diverse religious landscape and the politics of the religious right.

Over the years Neary has won numerous prestigious awards including the Robert F. Kennedy Journalism award, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting Gold Award, an Ohio State Award, an Association of Women in Radio and Television Award and the Gabriel award. For her reporting on the role of religion in the debate over welfare reform, Neary shared in NPR's 1996 Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Silver Baton Award.

A Fordham University graduate with a Bachelor of Arts in English, Neary thinks she has the ideal job and suspects she is the envy of English majors everywhere.

Sue Monk Kidd's new novel is a story told by two women whose lives are wrapped together — beginning, against their wills, when they're young girls. One is a slave; the other, her reluctant owner. One strives her whole life to be free; the other rebels against her slave-owning family and becomes a prominent abolitionist and early advocate for women's rights.

The book, The Invention of Wings, takes on both slavery and feminism — and it's inspired by the life of a real historical figure.

When writers finish a book, they may think they've had the last word. But sometimes another writer will decide there's more to the story. The madwoman Bertha from Jane Eyre and the father in Little Women are just two examples of secondary characters who have been given a fuller life in a new work of fiction based on a classic novel.

A former Amazon executive who helped Jeff Bezos turn shopping into a digital experience has set out to end illiteracy. David Risher is now the head of Worldreader, a nonprofit organization that brings e-books to kids in developing countries through Kindles and cellphones.

Risher was traveling around the world with his family when he got the idea for Worldreader. They were doing volunteer work at an orphanage in Ecuador when he saw a building with a big padlock on the door. He asked a woman who worked there what was inside, and she said, "It's the library."

In the 50 years since the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, the public has never tired of books about the charismatic young president and his tragic death.

This year, the market has been particularly flooded with Kennedy books — from glossy photograph collections to serious biographies and histories to a new round of books devoted to conspiracy theories.

Joe Sacco is a cartoonist, graphic novelist and journalist; he's best-known for his dispatches from today's regions of conflict, like the Middle East and Bosnia, in cartoon form. But for his latest book, The Great War, Sacco turns his eye on history. He's recreated of one of the worst battles of World War I, the first day of the Battle of the Somme, from its hopeful beginning to its brutal end.

When it comes to book publishing, all we ever seem to hear about is online sales, the growth of e-books and the latest version of a digital book reader. But the fact is, only 20 percent of the book market is e-books; it's still dominated by print. And a recent standoff in the book business shows how good old-fashioned, brick-and-mortar bookstores are still trying to wield their influence in the industry. You might even call it brick-and-mortar booksellers' revenge.

In his new novel, Sycamore Row, John Grisham returns to a character close to his heart: Jake Brigance. Grisham introduced Jake to readers in his first novel, A Time to Kill — an adaptation of which is opening soon on Broadway.

Grisham insists that he didn't plan for his first new Jake Brigance book to come out at the same time as the play. "You know it makes us look real smart," he says. "There is no way, if we had planned, that it would ever happen. It is completely coincidental."

The Quiet Dell murders were among the first big, sensational crime stories of the Depression: A serial killer corresponded with vulnerable widows he met through lonely hearts clubs, then lured them to their deaths.

As a child, writer Jayne Anne Phillips learned about the murders from her mother, who was a child in 1931, when the murders took place. Phillips says she didn't talk a lot about the tragedy, but whenever they drove close to where the crime occurred — near Clarksburg, W.Va. — her mother would say, "There's the road to Quiet Dell."

Movie lovers have Netflix, music lovers have Spotify — and book lovers (whether they read literary fiction or best-selling potboilers) now have Scribd. The document sharing website has been around since 2007, but this week it launched a subscription service for e-book lending.

Best-selling author Tom Clancy has died. He was 66 years old. Beginning with the publication of his 1984 megahit The Hunt for Red October, Clancy wrote a string of blockbuster thrillers inspired by his fascination with military hardware and history.

Clancy didn't mince words when he talked to would-be writers. "If your objective is to write a book, get a computer and write the damn book," he told members of the military at a 2004 writing workshop. "Yes, you can do this if you try hard enough. It's a lot easier than you realize it is."

Earlier this month, Jhumpa Lahiri rejected the idea of immigrant fiction. "I don't know what to make of the term," she told The New York Times. "All American fiction could be classified as immigrant fiction."

You may be hearing a lot about the National Book Awards this week — at least that's what the National Book Foundation hopes. That's because they've made some changes to the awards that they hope will get more people talking about them. Over four days starting Monday, they will roll out their nominees in four different categories — beginning with Young People's Literature and ending Thursday with Fiction.

The Ozarks mountain town of West Plains, Mo., is the kind of town where a person can stand in his front yard and have a comfortable view of his past.

"My mom was actually born about 150 or 200 feet that way, and my grandfather's house is I guess 200 yards that way," says Daniel Woodrell, author of Winter's Bone, and most recently, The Maid's Version.

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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Elmore Leonard, sometimes called the Dickens of Detroit, created some of the most memorable characters in modern crime fiction. The 87-year-old writer died after suffering a stroke several weeks ago. Until then, he had never stopped writing. His first book, published in 1953, was a Western. Later, he turned to crime novels and left an indelible imprint on that genre. NPR's Lynn Neary has this remembrance.

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LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

E-books have strained the relations between libraries and the major publishing houses. Libraries say they're being cut out of the market because publishers are afraid they could lose money selling e-books to libraries. After much negotiation, the publishers are experimenting with new ways of doing business. But some libraries are already looking to bypass the high prices and restrictions that publishers place on e-books.

Chances are you have had contact with Scholastic Publishing at some point in your life: You might have read their magazines in school, or bought a book at one of their book fairs, or perhaps you've read Harry Potter or The Hunger Games? From its humble beginning as publisher of a magazine for high schoolers, Scholastic has become a $2 billion business and one of the biggest children's book publishers in the world.

There is no one definition of a summer book. It can be a 1,000-page biography, a critically acclaimed literary novel, a memoir everyone is talking about — or it might be your favorite guilty pleasure: romance, crime, science fiction. Whatever you choose, it should be able to sweep you away to another world, because there is nothing like getting totally lost in a book on summer day. Here are a few books that swept away some of our favorite critics.

Shopping at a farmers market on a weekend morning can turn bittersweet if your eye for just-picked summer fruit is bigger than your refrigerator and appetite.

That's a crisis first-time cookbook author Kevin West found himself in a few years back. After one particular farmers market spree, West's buyer's remorse came from a big package of fresh strawberries.

Walk into any bookstore or library, and you'll find shelves and shelves of hugely popular novels and book series for kids. But research shows that as young readers get older, they are not moving to more complex books. High-schoolers are reading books written for younger kids, and teachers aren't assigning difficult classics as much as they once did.

About five years ago, Colum McCann stumbled upon a small piece of history he had never known: In 1845, Frederick Douglass, then an escaped slave who was already famous for his anti-slavery writings and speeches, visited Ireland to raise money and support for his cause. McCann says he knew almost immediately that he wanted to turn this historical fact into fiction: "This intersection between history and fiction, between what is real and what is not real, fascinates me," he says.

The American West has always been fertile ground for writers. Now Philipp Meyer steps into that territory with his new novel The Son. It's a family saga that traces the settling of Texas from its days as a wild frontier to the oil boom — with no shortage of violence.

It all started one night when writer Amanda Filipacchi was browsing through Wikipedia and noticed an absence of women under the category "American novelists." At first, she thought the female writers being moved off the page were not important enough to be on it. But then she discovered some obscure male novelists were still listed, while some well-known women were not.

Elizabeth Strout, author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning book Olive Kitteridge, sets much of her work in Maine, where her family has lived for eight generations. But Strout herself has lived most of her adult life in New York. In her new novel, The Burgess Boys, she writes for the first time about the city she now calls home.

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AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Online retailer Amazon has acquired Goodreads. It's a popular site where people who love to read exchange reviews and recommendations about books. As NPR's Lynn Neary reports, Amazon now has a powerful new tool for enhancing its customers' ability to find out about books they might want to buy.

In 2008, during the brief window when it was legal for same-sex couples to get married in California, perhaps no couple drew more attention than Ellen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi.

After their wedding, photos of the couple were everywhere; DeGeneres, beaming, in a white suit and holding hands with de Rossi, the very picture of the princess bride so many young girls dream of being one day. It was a cultural touchstone, and Dietram Scheufele, a communications professor at the University of Wisconsin, says it was neither the first nor the last time DeGeneres has played that role.

On Dec. 26, 2004, Sonali Deraniyagala was vacationing with her husband, her two sons and her parents in Yala, Sri Lanka. The day was just beginning when she and a friend noticed that something strange was happening in the ocean. Within a matter of minutes, the sea had wiped out life as she had known it. In a new memoir, called simply Wave, she recalls her experience with the tsunami that killed more than 200,000 people, including her own family.

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LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

Barnes & Noble Chairman and chief stockholder, Leonard Riggio, is looking into the possibility of buying the company's retail book business, but not the Nook, the e-book, the company had staked it future on.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

That news comes as the company is set to release its third quarter earnings on Thursday. Barnes & Noble has already signaled the report will be disappointing, especially with the e-reader.

NPR's Lynn Neary reports on the future of the bookstore chain.

Woody Guthrie wrote thousands of songs in his lifetime — but as far as anyone knows, he only wrote one novel. Recently discovered, House of Earth is the story of a young couple living in the Texas Panhandle in the 1930s. They dream of building a house that will withstand the bitter winds and ever-present dust that constantly threaten the flimsy wooden shack they call home.

Reading always seemed to be the most private of acts: just you and your imagination immersed in another world. But now, if you happen to be curled up with an e-reader, you're not alone.

Data is being collected about your reading habits. That information belongs to the companies that sell e-readers, like Amazon or Barnes & Noble. And they can share — or sell — that information if they like. One official at Barnes & Noble has said sharing that data with publishers might "help authors create even better books."

Some children's book illustrators might not have gotten a lot of sleep over the weekend. That's because they might have been wondering if this could be the year they win one of the grand prizes of children's literature: the Randolph Caldecott Medal.

This year is the 75th anniversary of the Caldecott, which is given to the most distinguished children's picture book of the year. The winner is being named Monday morning at a meeting of the American Library Association.

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