HPPR Radio Readers Book Club

The HPPR Radio Readers Book Club hopes that the holidays will bring you ample time to read after a full day’s activities with family and friends! 

Our holiday tradition will continue with two presentations of A Carol Dickens Christmas, with reading and commentary by author Thomas Fox Averill.  Of course, you’ll find the book at your favorite bookseller’s if you want to read along.

The 2020 Spring Read – Radio Waves is right around the corner.  We hope you enjoyed the selections from the 2019 Fall Read: Navigating Uncharted Waters – Past, Present and Future. 

Just in case you’re in a reading or book-giving frame of mind, we’re posting the book lists from 2019. And don’t forget to scroll back and listen to BookBytes from this fall and from previous seasons! You’ll find them below.

The theme Radio Waves will explore the medium of radio in several different ways this upcoming spring. From the role of radio on the plains of Texas during the 1930s to the wisdom and perspective found in the biography of Edward R Murrow or the antics of “Border Radio: Quacks, Yodelers, Pitchmen, Psychics, and Other Amazing Broadcasters” we’ll explore the power of radio as a medium to bring the world to our doorsteps.

If you’re interested in joining the Radio Readers Steering Committee, serving as a book leader or contributing a Radio Readers BookByte, simply contact Kathleen Holt at kholt@hppr.org for more information.  Become an HPPR Radio Reader today! Click here to join the Book Club—and stay informed by liking our Facebook page!

To download materials from previous seasons of the Book Club, please visit our archive.

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HPPR Radio Readers Book Club is made possible in part by a generous contribution from Radio Readers  Lon Frahm of Colby, KS and Lynne Hewes of Cimarron, KS.  Please join us in thanking them for their support!

High Plains: A Sense of Place or a Place of Sense?

Feb 5, 2016
Kathleen Holt

Tom Averill and Tom Prasch: a discussion inspired by Kent Haruff's Plainsong.

Tom Averill:  Yeah, I’m particularly interested in Plainsong as a branch of small town literature that I study, whether it is in eastern Kansas or on the High Plains – small town literature and probably small town film, sort of have a certain number of things in common.

Tom Prasch: Yes.

Sense of Place from the Radio Reader's Forum Leader

Feb 2, 2016
Karen Madorin

I’m Rebecca Koehn, Forum Leader for the HPPR Radio Readers Book Club.  I’ll be hosting discussions about the current read in the 2016 Spring Read – A Sense of Place.  We’ll be discussing Kent Haruf’s Plainsong in an on-line forum that you can join by following the simple instructions available at hppr-radio-readers-dot-org.

Plainsong is a GOOD book

Jan 31, 2016
Kathleen Holt

I hope you are enjoying our discussion of Kent Haruf’s Plainsong. I am, by profession, a teacher of English, but with a few publications in print, I like to think of myself as a creative writer. I enjoy studying novels and poetry for craftsmanship.

So.  When I read a book, especially a GOOD book, one that really touches me, resonates with me, as Plainsong does, deeply, I like to learn something about the author’s writing process, the way that he or she sets about to write.  In an interview for The Wall Street Journal, Haruf  noted that he would first read a passage from a favorite author – Chekhov, Faulkner, or Hemingway—so as to remind himself  “what a sentence can be.”  While Haruf’s admiration of these earlier modernist writers is worthy of further exploration, what’s more important to us is to appreciate what it tells us to expect about his style – it’s spare—relatively free of detail and description;  unadorned—plain, common words; yet, indirect, asking us to infer meaning.

Let's talk about the High Plains sense of place

Jan 29, 2016
Kathleen Holt

This is my first on-air, on-line book club, and I’m looking forward to exploring Kent Haruf’s Plainsong with you.  I currently serve as Division Chair of Humanities and English professor at Dodge City Community College where I teach, but the book club is my meeting you as a fellow reader.   

Admittedly, I am somewhat of a newbie to the High Plains having lived her for just over a decade, but in that time, I’ve driven to numerous small community for  Kansas Humanities sponsored book discussions or to vacation in a favorite small Colorado town very much like Haruf’s Holt. Traveling has given me a deep appreciation for the vastness of the High Plains as wel as its beauty – the muted palette, the skies – cloudy or clear--the panorama and for its temperamental weather.  More importantly, I’ve learned to ask, not “how many miles is that,” but “how many hours is that.”

Karen Madorin

By nature, Plains people share what they have with neighbors. It is how we survive and thrive. This opportunity for readers and lovers of ideas to explore and discuss our common landscape and the stories it generates is a gift. Each of us brings original perceptions to our common experience. Those differences can strengthen or weaken bonds necessary to make life good in a hard land. This group offers a venue for us to learn who we are because we value life on the Great Plains.

A Sense of Place – the High Plains

Jan 24, 2016
Karen Madorin

 In 1542, Father Juan Padilla wrote “the sky is so vast and unchanging that it resembles a great blue bowl turned upside down on the landscape.”  He was one of the chroniclers of the ill-fated expedition led Francisco Vasquez Coronado across the High Plains.

Coronado’s trek, along with the others led by fellow conquistadores during the Spanish exploration of the New World was never meant to just gain knowledge of the endless prairie.  The days they spent on the trackless grassland were a means to an end; the sacking of the mythical Seven Cities of Cibola and the forced conversion of the natives they encountered.  Coronado came to the New World determined to spread Catholicism, impose the Spanish regal system on all they met and most important, take all the gold they could find.  They set about to abolish tribal systems in place since the Neolithic, to give those peoples no choice but to be assimilated, dominated or die.

Plainsong

Jan 20, 2016

Plainsong by Kent Haruf is the first selection for the 2016 Spring Read.    

“In the same way that the plains define the American landscape, small-town life in the heartlands is a quintessentially American experience. Holt, Colo., a tiny prairie community near Denver, is both the setting for and the psychological matrix of Haruf's beautifully executed . . . descriptions of rural existence where weather and landscape are integral to tone and mood, serving as backdrop to every scene. This is a compelling story of grief, bereavement, loneliness and anger, but also of kindness, benevolence, love and the making of a strange new family. In depicting the stalwart courage of decent, troubled people going on with their lives, Haruf's quietly eloquent account illumines the possibilities of grace.”  (From Publishers Weekly, Peter Matson, 1999)

Empire of the Summer Moon

Jan 19, 2016

  Empire of the Summer Moon by S.C. Gwynne is the second book for the 2016 Spring Read.  

“The vast, semi-arid grasslands of the southern Great Plains could be dominated by hunters and warriors on horseback. In the first half of the nineteenth century, the Comanches, often referred to as ‘lords of the Plains,’ were the single most powerful military force in the region, to the frustration of both the Mexican and U.S. governments. This engrossing chronicle traces the rise of the Comanche people from their roots as primitive bands of hunter-gatherers to their mastery of the horse and emergence as the feared power brokers of the area. At the center of the narrative is the charismatic Quanah Parker, who skillfully navigated the gaps between his traditional culture and the emerging, settled culture of the late-nineteenth century.” (From: Jay Freeman, Booklist. Amazon)

A Strong West Wind

Jan 18, 2016

A Strong West Wind: A Memoir  by Gail Caldwell is the third book in the 2016 Spring Read.  

“In this exquisitely rendered memoir set on the high plains of Texas, Pulitzer Prize winner Gail Caldwell transforms into art what it is like to come of age in a particular time and place. A Strong West Wind begins in the 1950s in the wilds of the Texas Panhandle–a place of both boredom and beauty, its flat horizons broken only by oil derricks, grain elevators, and church steeples. Its story belongs to a girl who grew up surrounded by dust storms and cattle ranches and summer lightning, who took refuge from the vastness of the land and the ever-present wind by retreating into books. A memoir of culture and history–of fathers and daughters, of two world wars, the passionate rebellions of the sixties -- the book is also about the mythology of place and evolution of a sensibility: about how literature can shape and even anticipate a life” (From Amazon)

Spring Read 2016 Booklist

Jan 17, 2016

Plainsong by Kent Haruf

A heartstrong story of family and romance, tribulation and tenacity, set on the High Plains east of Denver.In the small town of Holt, Colorado, a high school teacher is confronted with raising his two boys alone after their mother retreats first to the bedroom, then altogether. A teenage girl—her father long since disappeared, her mother unwilling to have her in the house—is pregnant, alone herself, with nowhere to go. And out in the country, two brothers, elderly bachelors, work the family homestead, the only world they've ever known.

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