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Zadie Smith is justly celebrated for her chameleon-like gifts as a writer. In novels like White Teeth and On Beauty she's ventured deeply into the lives of a multi-racial assortment of immigrants to Great Britain and the United States. Her characters run the gamut from aspirational working-class kids, self-important academics, pensioners, young dancers and, to date, one Chinese-Jewish Londoner with a fixation on Golden Age Hollywood.

The NCAA has confirmed the University of Louisville must give up its 2013 national championship in men's basketball, denying the school's appeal of a decision last year that penalized the Cardinals' program for "arranging striptease dances and sex acts for prospects, student-athletes and others."

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In 1966 psychologist Ken Holden was hired as a consultant to help gubernatorial candidate Ronald Reagan improve his speech-making skills. He and a fellow clinical psychologist spent three days with Reagan away from the press and the candidate's "handlers" getting to know the future president and coaching him.

Local author Erin Lindsay McCabe was inspired by the letters of Sarah Rosetta Wakeman, a private in the 153rd New York State Volunteers, a woman who fought in the Civil War dressed as a man. The author created a fictional character, Rosetta Wakefield, who follows her husband Jeremiah into battle. In researching her historical novel, Erin McCabe visited battlefields such as Antietam.

Durham resident Frank Fox was born in Oklahoma where times were hard during the days of the Dust Bowl. He was an orphan and his life had many ups and downs over the years, but through it all he felt protected by God as if inside a bubble. In 1949 he married his wife Juanita and they have shared a life together for 65 years.

Part diary, part travelogue, A Million Steps is a journey within a journey. After retiring from his job as a sales executive with a technology company, Kurt Koontz walked nearly 500 miles across Spain to the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela. While following the yellow arrows that mark the pilgrimage route, he also navigates through his personal history of addiction, recovery, and love. He embraces the beauty of the countryside and joyful connections to other pilgrims from around the world.

Dan Barnett, book reviewer for the Chico Enterprise-Record whose "Biblio File" column appears in the Sunday Arts section, is Nancy's guest as they discuss 2013 local authors like Douglas Keister, Dick Cory, John Rudderow, Zigrid Vidners, Jay Fuller, and others.

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IRA FLATOW, HOST:

Science Book Picks for 2013

Dec 16, 2013

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

IRA FLATOW, HOST:

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

IRA FLATOW, HOST:

This is SCIENCE FRIDAY. I'm Ira Flatow. If you tuned into "Jeopardy!" in 2011, you might have heard an exchange like this.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "JEOPARDY!")

ALEX TREBEK: Watson, start us, please.

WATSON: The European Union for $200.

Lori Jean Phipps writes books for big kids and little kids. In one of her books, she recorded what her day is like as a preschool teacher in Orland, California. In "Get It?" she records the words of the children themselves. "Tis the Season to be Molly" is one of her books for children that she illustrated herself.

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With our new series Since You Asked, we're turning to YOU. What have you always wondered about the North State? What questions do you have about this place we call home?

There’s still time to head up the road for a late-summer adventure. Plan a trip with help from this new map of California destinations featured by Kim Weir on her show Up the Road on NSPR.

On Cultivating Place, we speak with people passionate about plants, gardens, and natural history. We explore what gardens mean to us and how they speak to us.

Blue Dot, named after Carl Sagan's famous speech about our place in the universe, features interviews with guests from all over the regional, national and worldwide scientific communities.

Each week host Nancy Wiegman talks to local, regional and national writers about their latest projects. Co-produced by Nolan Ford, Nancy's Bookshelf airs Fridays from 10 to 11 a.m.

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