One of my great pleasures is listening to Shelagh Rogers’ “The Next Chapter”, via podcast on the CBC.
I particularly enjoy the interviews and discussions when I have already read the book being discussed (or I have read an earlier book by the author, but I have not yet read their latest), and many of the recent guests have recently appeared in my TBR stacks as well: Marina Endicott on November 23, Susin Nielsen on November 9, Joan Clark on September 14, Austin Clarke on August 22, Ann-Marie MacDonald on July 25, Griffin Ondaatje on June 10, Sabrina Ramnanan on May 18, Jennifer Quist on April 20.
But there are many times that this program has encouraged (sometimes I’d go so far as to say that the show has persuaded me) me to pick up a book.
Sometimes one that I didn’t necessarily think was something I would appreciate (like Candace Savage’s Geography of Blood, here). They discuss the culture of nature, the nature of culture, and the intersection between and convinced me to spend time in Stegner, Butala and Vanderhaeghe country.
Or sometimes a book that I had thought I would find inaccessible (say Michael Crummey’s poetry, even though I had loved his fiction), here. Poetry is, he says, “still the writing that I love most”; it feels meditative and feeds him somehow. “So much of that urge to write…has been me wanting to make things hold still long enough to get them down.”
Often the show’s book panel, with a focus on a genre that I don’t necessarily read regularly, adds to my stack. (The most recent is the Children’s Summer Book Panel, here.) Did I say ‘often’? That pretty much always happens with the panels (the mystery one is brutal for my TBR).
Sometimes, too, an episode makes me want to reread (as with two books discussed by Robert Wiersema in this recent episode, and I’m not naming either, so that I don’t spoil the big reveal).
But mostly I love the sound it makes when the recommended books land on my TBR:
David Carpenter’s The Education of Augie Merasty (2015), here
A residential-school memoir: poignant and matter-of-fact, authentic and piercing.
Steve Burrows’ A Siege of Bitterns (2014), here
The first in the Birder Murder series, introducing Dominic Jejeune. “Human tastes, he thought; a mystery far beyond the abilities of a simple policeman.”
Janet Marie Rogers’ Splitting the Heart, here
“This is medicine. The words are medicine. The poetry is medicine.” Writer, performer, drum-maker and teacher, she is Mohawk/ Tuscarora from Six Nations territory.
Joel Thomas Hynes’ Saw Nothing Saw Wood (2014), here
A riveting tale of Newfoundland strange-ness, in a particularly attractive package from Running the Goat
Amy Krouse Rosenthal’s Exclamation Mark (2013) , Illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld, Michele Landsberg’s pick in the Summer Children’s Book Panel 2013, here
“He stood out from the very beginning.” And thus the tale of a dot and a line unfolds. It’s charming and spirited, and I immediately wanted to buy a dozen copies. Not only for the young ones in my life. But for everyone with whom I’ve ever had a conversation about punctuation. For everyone I know who has felt out-of-step, regardless of age and stage-of-life.
Sarah De Leeuw’s Geographies of a Lover (2012)
This is a raw, muscular way to write about female sexuality, something we don’t know how to do. Inspired in part by works of Judy Blume, Erica Jong, Elizabeth Smart, and Marian Engel, she “hoped to carve some new space”. It’s about loss, distance, and relationships that tremble and break.
Cary Fagan’s Mr. Zinger’s Hat, Illustrated by DušanPetričić (2012) Ken Setterigton’s pick in the Holiday Children’s Book Panel 2012
“Every day after school, Leo took his ball into the courtyard. He threw the ball high into the air. It would hit the brick wall and bounce back, and Leo would try to catch it.” The art of storytelling can be just as repetitive as playing catch with the wall. But as every ball player knows, the trajectory is unpredictable when the corner of a brick is struck. A story can take an expected and exhilaring turn as well, whether inspired by its creator or by the responsiveness of the listener/reader. Back and forth. Around and around. The dance of story.
Amanda Lang’s The Power of Why (2012)
We are 98% creative at the age of five; curiosity shouldn’t be a problem. But we lose how to ask the question “why”, and we need to be more innovative. “Think like a four-year-old and don’t worry if you get a question wrong, just keep asking “why”.
Jack Hodgins’ Master of Happy Endings (2012) Part of the Masterclass Series
“I don’t believe in endings. Stories have to come to some kind of end, but I always feel at the end that it’s only a tentative ending.”
The dates here may be an indication of the publication date, but the great thing about having interviews like this archived is that, if your TBR list is as long as mine, it doesn’t really matter whether the book being discussed is current or not.
Because “The Next Chapter” is one of my favouite book programs, I am more up-to-date with its episodes than I am with most of my listening, but also I don’t mind listening to older episodes of bookish podcasts, because I am that-much-more likely to find the book at hand, either on my own shelves or on a public library’s.
How about you? Do you have favourite book programs?