I love NPR. Almost every program peaks my interest. When I’m driving, listening in to Chapter-A-Day, or Dr. Zorba, or Here On Earth, or the late night radio show programs with old school sound effects (one of my faves!), I like to imagine what other people are doing while they’re listening in. I would imagine in today’s day and age, most are driving just like me. But then some might be making dinner, doing work outside, exercising at the gym, rocking a child to sleep.
Yesterday’s guest was author, Michael Perry. If you’ve never read his work, you must! If you’d like a recipe for country living, equal parts back woods advice and survival 101, you’ll find it in his work. His background as a male nurse, EMT, and volunteer firefighter who grew up in a very small town in Wisconsin gives him an unreal edge to describing catastrophe and humor in the same scene. One of his first works about his hometown is called Population: 485. I read it this last fall. Since that book, he has continued his story by writing about marriage and family life in Truck: A Love Story and Coop: A Family, A Farm, And the Pursuit of One Good Egg.
Throughout the conversation, Perry comes off as very likable, humble, and down to earth. He jokes about speaking engagements, and he sincerely thanks his fans (the pockets of them that come forth, he says). He really does a great job of promoting his work, without sounding like a PR agent. He has a website and blog about his work, and he says yes (cause he needs the money) to as many speaking arrangements as he can. But I loved his honesty and interest in what his readers, or in this case callers, had to say. He appreciated their input.
One caller flattered him immensely by saying he was asked what book he would recommend if you were going to lend a book to President Obama, and he answered Truck: A Love Story. The caller’s reasons were that “Truck” depicts the everyday man of rural living and he would want the president to remember the mid/working class individuals who were just getting by and not be completely consumed by the political world.
I kind of trailed off from the rest of the program for a bit, cause I kept thinking “What an interesting question!” What if you could give a book to the president? What book would you choose and why?
I think that’s really hard to answer. If I had to pick just one, and make it really good one, I’d say The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot. If ever there was a book that followed the generations of a family who struggled, and dealt with politics of race, class, education, and health care, this book is truly moving. I believe, and maybe I watched too many documentaries on Martin Luther King Day, but I really do believe that if we turn our eyes away from history, we are doomed to repeat ourselves. I think this story is one everyone should know.
What book would you recommend?