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When you think back on your childhood, what did dinnertime look like? Many of us might think back on meals eaten around the kitchen or dining room table in idyllic terms: good food, conversation and togetherness. While the reality might have been a little more nuanced, there was a time when the family meal was a pretty typical shared experience in America.

Ken Hanson

There is a growing cultural conversation about gender identity in the United States. Shows like TransparentOrange is the New Black, and I Am Cait have all put transgender issues in the spotlight, and explored what it really means to be trans or gender nonconforming. But these concepts of gender diversity and identity weren't really talked about until recently.  

Courtesy of Algonquin Books

Of the many archetypes that exist in popular culture, the cowboy may be considered the most American.

From Hollywood movies to dimestore novels and the Marlboro Man, for many of us the image of the cowboy conjures up nostalgic ideas of old world charm and masculinity. Even today, people in other parts of the world sometimes stereotype American attitudes and personalities by using the metaphor of the cowboy.

Simon and Schuster Publishing

You may know Grace Helbig from her YouTube channel, It’s Grace. It has over three million subscribers to her brand of comedy-meets-satire-meets-social commentary.

This conversation originally aired November 11, 2016.

Like many mystery novel protagonists before her, if you come in contact with the character Chloe Ellefson, there's a good chance that someone is going to end up dead. 

Courtesy of Meg Rosoff

The British newspaper The Times once described Meg Rosoff's literary output thusly: "Searingly well written, her books read like Samuel Beckett on ecstasy." Perhaps best known for her first novel, How I Live Now, Rosoff's books often feature a teenaged protagonist exploring what it means to live in a world not of one's own making.

Earlier this month, writer and bookstore owner Ann Patchett shined a spotlight on Boswell Book Company as reason alone to visit Milwaukee. Her article in the New York Times included it as one of a handful of bookstores to visit in the country. Patchett singled out the store as "lit by the internal fire of one Daniel Goldin, a stupendously great bookseller."

Rhalee Hughes Public Relations + Marketing

Children’s book author and illustrator Jan Brett has created more than 35 children’s books, all typically centered around animals and folk tales.  They’re painstakingly drawn, intricate and beautiful illustrations - a work of art on each page. Some of her best-known books include The Mitten, The Hat and Comet’s Nine Lives. 

Centre for Indo-Canadian Studies, University of the Fraser Valley.

2016 has been a year of deep political divisions in this country.  But it would be a mistake to say that divisions are something unique to this year, or the United States.  They’re a phenomenon of which Milwaukee writer Shauna Singh Baldwin is keenly aware.

Photo by Master Karen Kenyon / J.K. Lee Black Belt Academy

For many Americans, sports is not just a hobby – it’s a crucial aspect of their daily lives, whether they are participating or following. Many athletes, both professional and amateur, train for hours to “get in the zone” come game or race time. But what happens to a person’s mental makeup when they can no longer play sports to the same degree?

Wisconsin LGBT History Project

 *Original airdate: 08/25/16

For decades, LGBT culture was – out of necessity - hidden and unspoken of in daylight. But three-quarters of a century has brought a lot of social change in America.

For a smaller industrial city with German roots, you may not have expected Milwaukee to be a spot for gay and lesbian culture to thrive; but it did.

Harper Collins Publishers

  *Original airdate: 09/19/16

Wisconsin native Danielle Trussoni wrote a memoir ten years ago that focused on her childhood in La Crosse. It explored how she came to terms with her dad, who had suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder from his service as a so-called “tunnel rat” during the Vietnam War. 

Penguin Random House

Winston Churchill was the prime minister of the United Kingdom during the dark days of World War II. This was during a time when Britain seemed to stand alone against Nazi Germany. Churchill’s leadership is largely credited for keeping up the spirit of the British people, especially during the German air blitz and the allied defeat at the Battle of Dunkirk in 1940.

In the final days before the November election, a letter by President George H.W. Bush was widely circulated on the internet and across the traditional media. It was a letter he wrote to his successor, Bill Clinton, as Clinton prepared to take up residency in the White House. The letter was a lot of things: gracious, thoughtful and for a lot of people, surprising.

Algonquin Publishing

Do you ever wonder what would happen if you drove past your exit on the highway, instead of going home to make dinner after work? Or what your destination would be, if you could just drop everything and head out on the road?

That’s the fantasy-turned-reality for the main character in Leave Me, the latest novel from bestselling author Gayle Forman.

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