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'Read With Me' Book Series Returns


Pick up WNIJ's book bag and turn it over. What falls out?

Two novels, one book of poems, and a story collection -- all by northern Illinois writers.

Each will share her insights into the craft of storytelling during interviews that air during Morning Edition on 89.5 FM and WNIJ.org.

WNIJ invites you to read the following selections before the series airs Feb. 20 - 23.

Time in a Bottle is a novel about twin high-schoolers, Beth and Teddy, who find themselves grappling with Beth's sudden addiction to alcohol. Author Kathleen Tresemer mines her experience working with addicted teens to breathe life into this story of substance abuse and co-dependence. Though it veers into dark places, this book is appropriate for younger readers.

Tresemer, of Rockton, will talk about it on Monday, Feb. 20.


On Feb. 21, WNIJ welcomes L.B. Johnson who will discuss her latest novel, Small Town Roads.

This story features rookie cop Rachel Raines, who leaves Chicago after her aunt dies and wills her a home in a village without baristas or nightlife -- just one restaurant with a life sized plastic cow on the roof. Yet Raines seems ready for a place like this; she recently broke up with her boyfriend and is weary of the city's dangers.

Across the street from Rachel's new home lives Evelyn, a widow who knew Rachel's aunt. An emerging friendship with Evelyn teaches Rachel about fidelity and faith -- values the author associates with smaller, quieter communities.

Johnson, who lives near Chicago, previously wrote two books that are Amazon best-sellers.

On Feb. 22, Susan Azar Porterfield returns with a new collection of poems called Dirt, Root, Silk. The manuscript won the 2015 Cider Press Review Editors' Prize. Porterfield previously read a handful of these poems for WNIJ, so we'll explore new ones including the acerbic and chilling "Chicago Killings Fall."


Porterfield, from DeKalb, judged WNIJ's first poetry contest last February.

Our final author, Christine Sneed, returns with a new story collection called The Virginity of Famous Men.


Each story features characters trying to make peace with the paths they've taken so far. They include a screenwriter who falls in love with a film star, a high school girl who befriends an older blind man, and a ghost who banters and flirts with a married woman.  New York Times reviewer Lauren Christensen describes the book this way:

The individuals in Sneed’s stories are standing tenuously on tiptoe at the precipice of irrevocable change, not yet having fallen off into scandal, crime, estrangement, insanity. She catches them in moments of relative stillness, moments revealed not in tales of wild adventure but of inward conflict, indecisive contemplation ... Sneed never settles many of the questions that arise throughout the collection. Paradoxically, however, this uncertainty only serves to highlight the engaging power of her writing. Our unease indicates that we’ve absorbed the unsettling truth saturating her stories: that placid surfaces often camouflage the rumblings of disquiet, transition, even rebellion, beneath.


Sneed, of Evanston, will talk about these stories on Feb. 23. She previously discussed her novel, Paris, He Said with WNIJ last year.


Each interview will air during Morning Edition right after Perspectives at 6:50 and 8:50. You'll also be able to download author readings, and read other information on the WNIJ website.

As always, when you talk about these books on social media, please use #WNIJReadWithMe.

Thanks for visiting -- and Happy Reading!

Good morning, Early Riser! Since 1997 I've been waking WNIJ listeners with the latest news, weather, and program information with the goal of seamlessly weaving this content into NPR's Morning Edition.