Interviews By Topic

A knight at the gates

A girl, a horse, and a magical sword save a kingdom in Robin McKinley's young adult classic, "The Blue Sword" — a book beloved by women of all ages. "Hild" author Nikola Griffith explains why. More

children's book illustration of a city street

There’s a book that author Ada Calhoun thinks of as both one of her favorites to read out loud with her son, as well as one that has inspired her own writing. It’s “A Street Through Time: The 12,000 Year Journey Along the Same Street ” — a story of one street, leading the reader through historical events and the passage of time, with the street itself starring as the main character.More

Farmhands

Lulu Miller, author of “Why Fish Don’t Exist,” first read the young adult book “The Search for Delicious” when she was in that transformative and uncertain stage in between childhood and adulthood.More

Huck Finn

“The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” by Mark Twain is one of the most controversial books in the American literary canon, particularly because of its frequent use of the N word. But for Enrique Salmon, a young Native kid trying to master the English language, “Huckleberry Finn” was the book that launched his lifelong love of reading.More

children reaching for the stars

English author and professor Katherine Rundell thinks all of us – even adults – can benefit by reading books primarily meant for kids. Reading children’s books might inspire us to take chances, learn new things and go — literally and figuratively — to new worlds.More

Ebony Thomas doesn't see Hermione from the Harry Potter series as Black. But a whole new generation of young Black girls do, and they're using fan fiction and online communities to re-imagine a witch they can identify with more deeply.More

A wolf

"White Fang" by Jack London is a classic outdoor adventure story about a wild wolf-dog's struggle to survive in the Yukon Territory during the 1890's Gold Rush. Writer Quan Barry read it for the first time at age 11 and learned just how powerful a book can be. More

Apps

Sara Wachter-Boettcher warns that failing to account for the unintended ways technology shapes our lives can cause us pain that might be avoided if we think about how we design digital platforms and apps differently.More

an illustration of a knight in armor

Every year, at holiday time, "H is for Hawk" author Helen Macdonald reads this tale of a boy who finds out he's one of the "old ones," part of a series from author Susan Cooper. She says it reconnects her with a sense of wonder inspired by what might lurk beneath the surface of the seen world.More

Elizabeth Feinler, Radia Perlman, and Stacy Horn.

You know the Apple origin story with the two Steves in the garage. You know the Facebook origin story with Mark Zuckerberg in his dorm. But journalist Claire Evans argues, if you want to tell the internet origin story, you have to talk about women.More

fish

Lulu Miller's book “Why Fish Don’t Exist” — which examines ichthyologist David Starr Jordan — is a meditation on the shadow side of scientific classification, and the dangers of trying too hard to impose order on chaos.More

Eel

Eels are philosophically and scientifically slippery — they're still some of the most mysterious creatures on the planet. Journalist Patrik Svensson has been obsessed with them, and wound up writing a surprise bestseller — “The Book of Eels.”More

Math of the universe

For centuries, people have considered mathematics the purest form of knowledge — and our best bet for deciphering the universe's hidden order. Steve spoke with two people who love math: physicist James Gates and science writer Margaret Wertheim.More

The Schlitz Bottling Floor, c. 1666.

Milwaukee has a reputation as America's "Brew City." But why? Historian Ben Barbera lays out the economic forces and acts of God that built the houses of Miller, Pabst and Schlitz.More

The Len-Der, our boat for the Milwaukee River

Milwaukee historian John Gurda takes us on a boat ride down the Milwaukee River as we learn how the city nearly lost its river, and what Milwaukee is now doing to preserve it.More

people

Social scientists are finding that generating happiness in your life may have less to do with an arbitrary number — like your bank account or how many Instagram followers you have — and more to do with how well you connect with the people around you.More

people on the horizon

Psychologist Laurie Santos created a college course to teach students how to use what scientific research has discovered about what makes us happy and why. It became the most popular class in the 300 year history of Yale.More

Ross Gay

In a dark world, poet Ross Gay recommends "stacking delights." Share what you love, he says — not what you hate.More

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