Friday, December 30, 2011

Column: Winter reading suggestions from North Carolina Bookwatch

By: D.G. Martin
UNC-TV host

It is time to talk about books again.
If you are looking for some special holiday gifts for some hard-to-give-to friends, I may have some help for you, thanks to UNC-TV’s North Carolina Bookwatch’s programs during the next few weeks.
Here is a book for lovers of history or politics: One of North Carolina’s most popular speakers about European history and the history of ideas is Lloyd Kramer, chair of the department of history at UNC-Chapel Hill. He makes complicated topics understandable and interesting. That is what he has done in his new book, “Nationalism in Europe & America: Politics, Cultures, and Identities since 1775.” I always thought of nationalism as our collective loyalty to our country, a good thing that binds our country’s people together. But Professor Kramer challenges those ideas in his book and in his conversation with me on Bookwatch on Friday, Dec. 9.
For those who love down-to-earth stories about North Carolina people, I recommend Ruth Moose. She is widely admired as an author, storyteller, poet, teacher and supportive reviewer of the works of other writers. What grabs my attention are her stories about farmers, townspeople, preachers, teachers, handymen and regular people struggling to get to the next day. Most are set in and near the Uwharries, where Moose grew up. Her book of short stories, “Rules and Secrets,” was the subject of conversation on North Carolina Bookwatch on Dec. 16 and 18.
If you know someone who ever wanted a career on Broadway or wanted a child to have such a career, “Broadway Baby” might be a perfect present. The author, Alan Shapiro, is a nationally acclaimed poet. “Broadway Baby,” his first novel, follows the life of a woman whose hopes for fame in show business for herself and later for her son end in disappointment. Publishers Weekly writes that Shapiro is “an acute observer of moments, people, art and language [who] packs even seemingly simple stories with many layers of meaning.”
Here is a book for those who love a pet so much that cloning would be an idea to consider. Pulitzer prize-winning reporter John Woestendiek tells that story in “Dog, Inc.: The Uncanny Inside Story of Cloning Man’s Best Friend.” While entertaining his readers with the tale of how a former beauty queen and other Americans pushed scientists in Korea to make duplicates of their favorite pets, Woestendiek gently explains the science of cloning.
History lovers may like “The Resurrection of Nat Turner Part One: The Witnesses,” even though it is fiction. Durham author Sharon Ewell Foster’s novel is based on groundbreaking historical research into the Nat Turner rebellion in Southampton County, Va., in 1831. Ever since, people have argued whether Turner was a terrorist, an early version of Osama bin Laden or a hero of an unsuccessful—but justifiable—effort to liberate slaves. This will be on Bookwatch Friday and Sunday, Jan. 6 and 8.
Don’t give your doctor friends “Top Screwups Doctors Make and How to Avoid Them” by world-famous North Carolinians, Joe and Terry Graedon. Their new book’s title gets your attention and gives notice of serious warnings about risks associated with medical procedures. This will be on Bookwatch Friday and Sunday, Jan. 13 and 15.
Bookwatch’s current season ends Sunday, Jan. 15. But encore showings will begin Sunday, Jan. 22. If we are able to have one more season of Bookwatch, it will probably begin in July 2012.

D.G. Martin hosts UNC-TV’s "North Carolina Bookwatch," which airs Fridays at 9:30 p.m and Sundays at 5 p.m. For more information or to view prior programs, visit the webpage at

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