Read With WNIJ This Summer

Apr 22, 2016

A thriller set in an Illinois "unschooling" community. A novel about a Maine woman asked by the FBI to revisit her childhood. A tale of two Chicago runaways heading west across the prairie.

These are just three of the books featured during the WNIJ Read With Me Book Series, which returns in June. We'll also explore the lives of Sylvia Plath and other famous poets, and finish with quirky stories about President Andrew Jackson and his gardener.

This WNIJ series, unique among area news media, introduces readers to the best literature from northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin.

The authors join us to talk about their books during Morning Edition from June 14-17 at 6:52 and 8:52, and Weekend Edition on June 18 at 7:35 a.m. This is the first time we'll air our these interviews during one week; in past series, we aired them once per week during a single month.

On Tuesday, June 14, we'll begin with Carpe Diem, Illinois, a thriller about a community that "unschooled" its children for decades, eschewing tests and classrooms for real-life experiences. Now long-smoldering political feuds, and personal secrets, threaten to ruin this community. When a woman is hospitalized after a highway crash, her teenage daughter finds herself at the heart of a conspiracy. At the same time, award-winning reporter Leo Townsend struggles to overcome his own demons as he works to expose those behind the scheme. Written by Kristin Oakley, this book won the Chicago Writers Association "Book of the Year."

The following day, GK Wuori returns to talk about his latest novel, HoneyLee's Girl. Wuori was the judge in our first writing contest last fall. His new book features protagonist Michelle Monelle, a middle-aged woman who retraces her life during a series of FBI interviews. The agents are investigating the disappearance of Michelle's closest childhood friend, a Native American who became an activist for tribal causes.

On June 16, we feature a young adult novel for the first time. Ruthlessly Aadi, by Maria Boynton, follows fifteen-year-old Aadi Benoit as she leaves her abusive mother in Chicago and walks west across the prairie. Along the way, she meets an 8-year-old Spanish speaking orphan and learns what it means to be part of a real family.

Boynton is a former WNIJ staffer; this is her first novel.

June 17 features the return of NIU poet and professor Amy Newman, whose latest book examines the lives of mid-century poets -- through a poet's lens. On This Day in Poetry History imagines events involving Sylvia Plath, John Berryman, Elizabeth Bishop, Robert Lowell, Theodore Roethke, Delmore Schwartz and Anne Sexton. Why these poets? asked New York Times reviewer David Kirby:

Because theirs is the generation that represents what a poet is to many of us: somebody who lived it up while producing memorable work and who usually managed to land a teaching job rather than punch a time clock or starve in a garret.

Prof. Newman was last featured in our inaugural series in Summer, 2012.

In another first, the WNIJ Read With Me Book Series extends into Weekend Edition Saturday with oddball stories featuring the nation's seventh President and his gardener.

The Andrew Jackson Stories collects short fiction previously published in journals. Each story is by Aaron Sitze, a teacher at Oregon High School.

"This is the book Annie Dillard would write if she took acid," wrote one reviewer on Goodreads.

While we can't encourage you to take hallucinogens, we can urge you to read these books before the series begins. And if you talk about them on social media, please use #WNIJReadWithMe

Happy reading!