Books & Beats

Book reviews and concert previews brought to you by Betsy Burton, co-owner of The King's English Bookshop, and Austen Diamond, producer of 13% Salt. Books & Beats airs Saturdays at 7:35 a.m. and 9:35 a.m. during NPR's Weekend Edition.

Books & Beats: September 5, 2015

3 minutes ago
Courtesy of the Artist

In Ways to the West: How Getting out of Our Cars is Reclaiming America’s Frontier (Utah State University Press), urban planner Tim Sullivan crisscrosses the American West, testing the idea that car-based development has disconnected us from each other.  Betsy Burton says that Sullivan “combines the personal with the factual with the theoretical, turning what might have been a dry and technical account into a series of fascinating

Books & Beats: August 29, 2015

Aug 27, 2015
Courtesy of the Artist

In Best Boy (Liveright Publishing Corporation) by Eli Gottlieb, autistic protagonist Todd Aaron grows suspicious of the new faces at his assisted living center—a new staff member and a roommate with a brain injury.  Betsy Burton says “Todd’s literal mind and exact reporting make for the wryest of commentary, and some scenes are howlingly funny.”

Books & Beats: August 22, 2015

Aug 21, 2015
Courtesy of the Artist

In Robert Goddard’s Into the Blue (Delta), a bartender’s past chases him from London to Greece and back again.  Betsy Burton says, “Complex and elegantly plotted, well-written and compulsively readable, even better, Into the Blue is but one of a dozen such by an author who flies under the radar but shouldn’t.  Robert Goddard, one of many fecund and literary authors, [is] ideal for readers who have exhausted the best-selling writers of the mystery genre or are jaded by those who write badly.”

Books & Beats: August 15, 2015

Aug 14, 2015
Courtesy of the Artist

Ivan Doig’s final novel Last Bus to Wisdom (Riverside) finds a young boy on the lam with an illegal German immigrant in post-World War II America.  Betsy Burton says, “Chockfull of rollicking humor, blissfully good storytelling and characters so alive on the page they live on in the reader’s mind, Doig’s last book is a paean to this country as it existed half a century ago.”  A celebration of Doig’s life and work will be

Books & Beats: August 8, 2015

Aug 7, 2015
Courtesy of the Artist

Barefoot to Avalon (Atlantic Monthly Press) is the latest work from novelist David Payne.  This time he’s written a memoir about coming to terms with the death of his bipolar brother.  In her review, Betsy Burton says Payne “has done something astonishing here—has written a memoir so willfully intent on drilling to the core of who he is and what has motivated his behavior, not to mention his family’s, that it is utterly devoid of the sentimental and is painfully revelatory.”

Books & Beats: July 25, 2015

Jul 24, 2015
Courtesy of the Artist

In The Red Collar (Europa) by Jean-Christophe Rufin, a military investigator tries to get to the bottom of a prisoner’s strange behavior.  In her review, Betsy Burton says the novel “has surprising narrative tension, an atmosphere that is at once breathless and brooding, and the resonance of fine poetry.”

Books & Beats: July 18, 2015

Jul 17, 2015
Courtesy of the Artist

Betsy couldn’t pick just one book this week.  Instead, she introduces us to the mystery novels of Michael Robotham, including his latest, "Life or Death" (Mulholland Books).  She says his books are “well-written, intricately plotted, chockfull of well-conceived people for whom the reader bleeds, and they’re beyond suspenseful.”

Books & Beats: July 11, 2015

Jul 10, 2015
Courtesy of the Artist

In Among the Ten Thousand Things (Random House), the debut novel of familial strife by Julia Pierpont, children and teenagers cope with the complexities of the adult world.  Betsy Burton says Pierpont “portrays her characters with an ocean of compassion and an insistent honesty that is both convincing and a little scary.”

Books & Beats: July 4, 2015

Jul 3, 2015
Courtesy of the Artist

This week, Betsy Burton reviews The Oregon Trail: An American Journey (Simon & Schuster) by Rinker Buck.  Betsy says it’s an adventure “replete with raging rivers, runaway wagons, and a love story with mules.”

Books & Beats: June 27, 2015

Jun 26, 2015
Courtesy of the Artist

Milan Kundera has been nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature more than once.  In his latest novel, The Festival of Insignificance (Harper), the host of a party hides the truth about his cancer from the guests, and Joseph Stalin’s life is adapted to Marionette theater.  Betsy Burton says, “The party and its aftermath, past memories of women, not to mention Stalin and his stooges, summon up the banality of evil and yet enchan

Books & Beats: June 20, 2015

Jun 18, 2015
Courtesy of the Artist

In I Saw a Man (Nan A. Talese) by Owen Sheers, what starts as a mundane chore becomes a deep meditation on a man’s past.  Betsy Burton says “it’s a novel that tells truth about life and about relationships. Who could ask for more?”

The Utah Arts Festival is coming right up, and Austen Diamond has the celebration’s live music covered.

Books & Beats: June 13, 2015

Jun 12, 2015
Courtesy of the Artist

In The Sunken Cathedral (Scribner), the latest novel from Kate Walbert, two World War 2 survivors take a painting class together. Reviewer Betsy Burton says the book gets at “the ways our interior lives assimilate and hold, at least in memory, our hurts, our hopes, our satisfactions, our terrors, our loves. Pure Walbert, purely stunning—as always.”

Books & Beats: June 6, 2015

Jun 4, 2015
Courtesy of the Artist

In Jonathan Galassi’s novel Muse (Knopf), booklover Paul Dukach is caught up in the rivalry between two men—each lions of the publishing industry—and the famous poet they both love. In her review, Betsy Burton says the book’s “deepest pleasure is its paean to books—and to those who write them, those who bring them to the marketplace, those who sell them.”

Books & Beats: May 30, 2015

May 28, 2015
Courtesy of the Artist

Author Kent Haruf died last November.  His final novel Our Souls at Night (Knopf) finds him reflecting on old age. Louis, a long-time widower, gets a knock on his door one night. It’s a widow who was once friends with his late wife. And she has a proposal for him.

Books & Beats: May 23, 2015

May 22, 2015
Courtesy of the Artist

Jim Shepard’s new novel The Book of Aron (Knopf) takes us back to the Warsaw Ghetto, where Jews are being rounded up by the invading Nazis.  We follow young Aron, as he and other children scavenge and barter for food to give their families.  In her review, Betsy Burton says that “this novel, which is by turns incandescent and chilling, funny, morally repellant, and compassionate, is a book you’ll never forget.”

Books & Beats: May 16, 2015

May 15, 2015
Courtesy of the Artist

In God Help the Child (Knopf), the latest offering from Nobel and Pulitzer Prize winning novelist Toni Morrison, the life of a lovesick fashion icon is intertwined with another woman's release from prison. Reviewer Betsy Burton says "The story line, eviscerating at times, can take us by surprise... The imagery is cinematic, the writing fluid, evocative, yet more pared down than in Morrison's previous work."

Books & Beats: May 9, 2015

May 7, 2015
Courtesy of the Artist

In The Sympathizer (Grove Press), the debut novel by Viet Thanh Nguyen, a nameless double agent juggles genuine loyalties to friends on both sides of the Vietnam War. Betsy Burton says "this portrayal of a man who sees and understands far more than one perspective is eye-opening--at first cynically amusing, and in the end an indictment not just of war but of the world and the mad, bad way it endlessly turns."

Books & Beats: May 2, 2015

May 1, 2015
Courtesy of the Artist

In What Comes Next and How to Like It (Scribner), the new memoir by Abigail Thomas, a lifelong friendship accompanies the author as she ascends into old age. Betsy Burton says the book is "moving, wise, and vastly comforting."

Books & Beats: April 25, 2015

Apr 24, 2015
Courtesy of the Artist

Betsy Burton reviews Antonio Ruiz-Camacho's debut collection of stories Barefoot Dogs (Scribner). She says you'll be "dazzled by the narrative, wondering, sometimes laughing."  Ruiz-Camacho will be at The King's English on Thursday, April 30th.

Books & Beats: April 18, 2015

Apr 20, 2015

Betsy Burton discovers a hidden America in her review of All Involved (ECCO) by Ryan Gattis.  Then try to pick just one great concert to see this week.  Austen Diamond says it'll be a tough choice.

Books & Beats: April 4, 2015

Apr 10, 2015

Betsy Burton explores the Western landscape with the likes of Wallace Stegner and Edward Abbey in her review of All the Wild that Remains (Norton) by David Gessner. Then Austen Diamond preps us for Punch Brothers' bluegrass goodness.

Books & Beats: March 28, 2015

Mar 30, 2015
Courtesy of the Artist.

In Betsy Burton's review of Night Life (Forge) by David Taylor, a rogue detective is caught between the CIA, FBI, and Joseph McCarthy's communist witch hunts.  Then Jazz SLC brings Manhattan Trinity to town--featuring pianist Kenny Barron.

Books & Beats: March 21, 2015

Mar 23, 2015

In Betsy Burton's review of The Enchanted (Harper Perennial) by Rene Denfeld, a prisoner, an investigator, and a fallen priest look for salvation on death row.  And Austen Diamond welcomes Hurray for the Riff Raff to Salt Lake City.  

Books & Beats: March 14, 2015

Mar 12, 2015
Courtesy of the Artist

In Betsy Burton's review of H is for Hawk (Grove Press) by Helen Macdonald, the grieving author finds comfort in companionship with a deadly predator. And the Pimps of Joytime tickle Austen Diamond's funky bone.  

Books & Beats: March 7, 2015

Mar 6, 2015

An older couple travels across dead King Arthur's Medieval Britain in Betsy Burton's review of The Buried Giant (Knopf) by Kazuo Ishiguro.  And Austen Diamond kicks Saint Patrick's Day off early with The Young Dubliners.   

Books & Beats: February 28, 2015

Mar 2, 2015
Courtesy of the Artist

Three generations of family drama plays out under one roof in Betsy Burton's review of A Spool of Blue Thread (Knopf) by Anne Tyler. Then, Austen Diamond navigates the lyrical acrobatics of Doomtree.  

Books & Beats: February 21, 2015

Feb 27, 2015
Courtesy of the Artist

Skateboarding saves a young boy from a life trapped indoors--Betsy Burton reviews Michael Christie's If I Fall, If I Die (Hogarth). And Austen Diamond keeps the spirit of Mardi Gras alive with Galactic.

One woman’s journey from local beauty queen to sit-com stardom - Betsy Burton reviews Funny Girl (Riverhead Hardcover) by Nick Hornby. Then—Austen Diamond shares how Dr. Dog captures the magic of their live shows.

Courtesy of the Artist

Explore the different roles medicine plays in life and death with Atul Gawande's Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End (Metropolitan Books) and a preview of Sleater-Kinney's highly anticipated reunion show.

The perfect book/concert combo for the mid-winter blahs - The Extraordinary Journey of the Fakir Who Got Trapped in an Ikea Wardrobe by Romain Puértolas (Knopf) and G. Love & Special Sauce.

Pages