books

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It’s easy to type a word into Google and get a brief definition. However, using a physical dictionary is an entirely different experience. 

Steve Kleinedler can relate to both the online and the physical experiences as the editor of the American Heritage Dictionary, which recently issued its fifth edition with more than 400 heretofore undefined words. 

Much of writer Emily Fridlund’s new novel, A History of Wolves, plays out in a remote part of a lonely town in northern Minnesota. But anyone who reads it could probably substitute the north woods of Wisconsin as an appropriate image.

Check cashing stores and payday loan centers have a checkered reputation, to put it mildly. Critics say their high interest rates and fees take advantage of people who are already financially disadvantaged. But the truth is, these alternative financial systems are proliferating in Wisconsin and around the country.

Writer Lisa Servon wondered why. Servon is a professor of city and regional planning at the University of Pennsylvania and her new book is called The Unbanking of America: How the New Middle Class Survives.

For someone who is not himself a combat veteran, Milwaukee writer Nick Petrie sure gets it.

Last year, his debut novel, The Drifter, came out to great acclaim. The book was a thriller, and featured fictional Wisconsin native Peter Ash, a veteran of multiple tours of duty with the Marines in Afghanistan and Iraq. And while he made it back to Wisconsin sound in body, his mind was less intact.

After a couple trips to Norway, Wisconsin writer Sandy Brehl knew she wanted to write a story about the Nazi's occupation of the country.

"I was sure that Norway had been neutral, the way Sweden was or Switzerland was, and it turns out that wasn't the case at all. And their stories just were so embedded with national pride and resilience and humor," says Brehl. "The humor particularly struck me, and I came away knowing that I'd want to write those stories."

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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?

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