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May 5, 2021 @ 6:15 am

Ep. 88 The Messy Memoir with Vitale Buford and Jaydee Graham 5-5-21

May is Mental Health Awareness month so this week we decided to interview 2 authors whose new memoirs deal with their mental health issues and the addictions that resulted from those issues.

There is hardly a family who hasn’t been touched in some way by mental illness. For so many years, mental illness in all its forms--anxiety, depression, suicide or bipolar disorder--were kept under wraps which made the sufferers and their loved ones feel even more isolated.

But recently, memoirs about messy lives, dysfunctional families, and the realities of finding help have become increasingly popular and can be a powerful tool for the author to help themselves in addition to their readers. Our guests Jaydee Graham and Vitale Buford chat with us about the power of the messy memoir.

In part 1 of this week’s show, Jaydee talks to us about her book The Soul Grind: Fighting for Light Amongst the Trenches, an account of her struggles with alcohol and drugs in her teenage years.

In part 2 Vitale Buford talks to us about her 2020 memoir, Addicted to Perfect, in which she describes her 10-year addiction to the prescription drug Adderall, a drug often prescribed for people with ADHD. For those who abuse it, it can cause euphoria and the feeling of having superhuman amounts of energy. In Vitale’s case, she used Adderall because she felt it gave her the energy to be able to be “perfect.”

Book Mentioned in this Episode:

1- The Soul Grind : Fighting for Light Amongst the Trenches by Jaydee Graham
2- Addicted to Perfect: A Journey Out of the Grips of Adderall by Vitale Buford

3- Make Your Mess a Memoir by Anna David

4- A New Pair of Glasses by Chuck C.
5- Co-Dependent No More by Melody Beattie
6- The Art of Forgiving by Lewis B. Smedes
7- The Gentle Path Through the Twelve Steps: The Classic Guide for All People in the Process of Recovery by Patrick Carnes
8- Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert
9- Books by Glennan Doyle
10- The Benefits of Being an Octopus by Ann Braden
11- Harry's Trees by Jon Cohen
12- Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness by Susannah Cahalan
13- Reasons Not to Die by Matt Haig
14- A Beautiful Mind by Sylvia Nasar
15- Wild by Cheryl Strayed
16 - Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight by Alexandra Fuller



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April 28, 2021 @ 7:26 am

Ep. 87 A Shot of Bourbon with a Dash of Law with Brain Haara 4-28-21

This week we are getting in the “spirit” of the first Saturday of May; a date that is sacrosanct for many Kentuckians because of the running of the Kentucky Derby. A love of horses and bourbon whiskey are high on the list of things that Kentuckians are proud of and want to export to the rest of the world. Bourbon is big business in our region and has had a surge in popularity over the last decade; around 90 percent of all bourbon is produced here in the Bluegrass State. At no other time of the year is bourbon more popular in Louisville KY than during Derby season.

Our guest this week, Brian Haara, is an attorney who developed an interest in bourbon through his work in the industry. He started by writing a bourbon history and law blog and has been featured in bourbon documentaries. His book, Bourbon Justice: How Whiskey Law Shaped America, is a deep dive into the history of bourbon law that goes back almost to the founding of our country and highlights how bourbon cases have affected all types of commercial law, including consumer protections and trademark law. He wanted to tell the stories of how our country and bourbon grew up together. He is also a bourbon connoisseur who gives tasting notes on various bourbons on his blog and throughout the book.

He chats with us about how he fell down the literary “Poe” hole as a teen, how Victoria’s Secret benefited from bourbon law, and he gives me and Carrie some suggestions of bourbons to buy for the bourbon drinkers in our life; whether they be newbies or long time fans.

Websites mentioned--

Books mentioned--
1- Bourbon Justice: How Whiskey Law Shaped America by Brian Haara
2- Poe anthology (Edgar Allan Poe)
3- Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
4- The Hobbit by J. R.R. Tolkein
5- The Catcher in the Rye by J.D.Salinger
6- Once and Future Witches by Alix Harrow
7- The 10,000 Doors of January by Alix Harrow
8- To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
9- The Glorious Heresies by Lisa McInerney
10- Basketball and Philosophy: Thinking Outside the Paint by Jerry L. Walls (editor)

TV shows mentioned--
The Wire ( 2002-2008)

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April 21, 2021 @ 6:11 am

Ep. 86 Turn The Page and Tour the World with Melissa Joulwan

COVID has been hard for those among us who like to travel, but one of our favorite ways to assuage that desire is to read books set in different locations. Sweeping meadows. Mountains that touch the sky. Exotic locales. These places can whisk us from our humdrum homes.

A Strong Sense of Place is both a podcast and a website where readers can find interesting bookish conversations with our guest this week, Melissa Joulwan, and her husband David, two expatriates living in Prague located in the Czech Republic. In this week’s episode, she tells us about how they select the places they will visit each season, why place in a book has to meet very stringent specifications, and how roller derby helped her make some big life decisions.

Books Mentioned in this Episode:

Podcasts mentioned--
Strong Sense of Place (

Books mentioned--
1- Are You There, God? It's Me, Margaret. by Judy Blume
2- Forever by Judy Blume
3- The First Deadly Sin by Lawrence Sanders
4- Archy McNally series by Lawrence Sanders
5- Lord of the Flies by William Golding
6- Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
7- My Antonia by Willa Cather
8- Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
9- The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova
10- The Shadow Land by Elizabeth Kostova
11- She Walks These Hills by Sharyn McCrumb
12- The Phryne Fisher mysteries by Kerry Greenwood
13- Hamnet by Maggie O'Farrell
14- Less by Andrew Sean Greer
15- A Room With a View by E.M. Forster
16- The Curse of Jacob Tracy by Holly Messinger

Movies or TV adaptations mentioned in this episode:

1- Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries (Amazon)
2- A Room With a View (1985 movie)
3- Jane Eyre (1945 movie with Orson Welles)
4- Jane Eyre (2011 movie with Michael Fassbender)
5- Jane Eyre ( 2006 BBC miniseries with Toby Stephens)

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April 14, 2021 @ 6:37 am

Ep. 85 The Bones of a Marriage Laid Bare with Christina Consolino 4-14-21

There is a pop psychology theory about left brain and right brain dominance from the 1980s. Supposedly those with strong right brains are the analyzers and those with dominant left brains are the artists. In this scenario, it is a rare person who is lucky enough to have both sides of their brain work harmoniously; their logical and scientific right brain plays nicely with the creative and imaginative left brain. Our guest this week, debut novelist Christina Consolino would be one of those people. Christina grew up creating stories but also loved to read biographies of famous female scientists like the first female physicians in the United States; the Blackwell sisters. She loves to read fiction but decided to make a career in science by pursuing a PHD in physiology and teaching it at the college level. Like a lot of writers, the characters she created in her head wanted to come out; when they got louder, she knew it was time to embrace the life of a full-time author.

Christina’s first book which came out in March is called Rewrite the Stars. It is the story of a military veteran’s PTSD and the havoc it has wrought on his marriage. The reader gets both his version of events, as well as those of his estranged wife, Sadie.

Christina talks to us about how her experience as an editor gave her confidence to write her novel, what disease her veteran character originally had instead of PTSD through 3 drafts until she decided it just didn’t serve her story well, and what name she calls her favorite teaching skeleton.

Books Mentioned in this Episode:
1- Rewrite the Stars by Christina Consolino
2- The Value Tales series
3- A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
4- The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
5- The Sisters Blackwell by Janice Nimura
6- Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare
7- The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
8- Washington Black by Esi Edugyan (audiobook)
9- So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo
10- She Wouldn't Change a Thing by Sarah Adlakha
11- Sophie's Choice by William Styron
12- How the Penguins Saved Veronica by Hazel Prior
13- A Polar Affair by Lloyd Spencer Davis
14- A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman
15- Where'd You Go Bernadette? by Maria Semple

Online magazines mentioned--
1- Literary Mama

Movies mentioned--

1- Write Before Christmas

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April 7, 2021 @ 6:21 am

Ep. 84 Book Festivaling All Year Long with Sara Woods 4-7-21

Remember in high school or college when you were required to take a certain number of humanities classes? Maybe you groaned or rolled your eyes. But maybe it was the spark that lit an interest in subjects that helped you think critically and creatively. It was in a high school humanities class that Carrie was introduced to and fell in love with E. M. Forster’s novel A Room With a View. For me, an introduction to art history in college opened a whole new world and made me want to travel and see the cultures portrayed in the artwork I learned about. The exposure to subjects like literature, history, philosophy, culture, and religion help us understand the world we live in.

In our state, the organization that promotes the humanities is Kentucky Humanities; a non-profit that is an affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities in Washington, DC. It offers lots of cool programs, many of which are focused on books and bringing discussions about them to the Kentucky public at large. This nonprofit serves as the state cheerleader of Kentucky writers’ literary endeavors and one way it does this is through the Kentucky Book Festival which takes place every November. However, there are Book Festival programs that happen all year long including book bundles subscriptions, The Kentucky Reads program, and the School Days initiative that brings children’s book authors into schools to dazzle young readers and put books they can keep into their hands. All of these programs highlight Kentucky authors and put a spotlight on the rich literary talent we have within our border.

This week we talk with Sara Woods, the Kentucky Book Festival director. She brought her experience working with the Western Kentucky University sponsored Southern Kentucky Book Festival to her new position and from there brainstormed some fresh ideas about how to bring books to people even when, especially during Covid, people can’t come to the books.

Sara tells us how her love for her American Girl Doll as a child sparked her excitement for reading, how she is using the talents of a tattoo artist to highlight one of the books in the book bundle subscription service, and where you can get ice cream and beer on a bike trail to vastly increase the fun factor.

Books Mentioned in this Episode:

1- American Doll book sets (Felicity)
2- Illustrated classics (Moby Dick, Great Expectations)
3- The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien
4- Essays by Michel de Montaigne
5- Clay's Quilt by Silas House
6- Just a Few Miles South by Ouita Michel
7- Kill All Your Darlings by David Bell
8- Perfect Black by Crystal Wilkinson
9- All the King's Men by Robert Penn Warren
10- Hannah Coulter by Wendell Berry
11- Birds of Opulence by Crystal Wilkinson
12- Duncan the Story Dragon by Amanda Driscoll
13- Haggis and Tank Unleashed: Digging for Dinos by Jessica Young
14- Nat Turner's Rebellion by Shawn Pryor
15- The Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo
16- The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand
17- The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix Harrow
18- Once and Future Witches by Alix Harrow
19- Bunny by Mona Awad
20- The Secret History by Donna Tartt
21- The Vine that Ate the South by J. D. Wilkes
22- A Very Punchable Face by Colin Jost
23- Bossy Pants by Tina Fey
24- Let Love Rule by Lenny Kravitz
25- Yes, Please by Amy Poehler

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April 1, 2021 @ 11:32 am

REPLAY Ep. 71 A Heroine Rocks the Boat with Tori Murden McClure 3-32-21

Our guest this week, Tori Murden McClure, is a Renaissance woman. She has a law degree, a Master of Divinity degree from Harvard as well as a Master of Fine Arts from Spalding University, the institution where she currently serves as President. She was the first woman and first American to ski 750 miles to the geographic South Pole. She worked as an assistant to Muhammad Ali at the Ali Center, and has served as a chaplain in Boston area hospitals. But what she is most known for is her solo journey to successfully row a boat across the Atlantic Ocean in 1999. Ten years later, she published her memoir about that experience, A Pearl in the Storm: How I Found My Heart in the Middle of the Atlantic Ocean.

Now, a little over ten years after publication, her book and story have a new life. A musical about her experience has been created, and her boat is part of the Frazier Museum’s Cool Kentucky exhibit.

The book, which we discuss with Tori in this week’s episode, has a lot to do with 2020 in a roundabout way because it is about her battle with feelings of helplessness stemming from her childhood. And who in this world hasn’t been experiencing feelings of helplessness during this global pandemic? We can all relate to wanting to do something but not being able to.

Tori talks to us about why memoir is in its own way is just another type of fiction, what completely different pieces of advice she received from her writing mentors during her MFA program that shaped her book, how her desire to write a book about a hero’s journey as a woman can be tricky and hasn’t been done often, and why we didn’t see her memoir as an Oprah book club selection.

If you would like to see Murden’s sailless and motorless plywood boat The Pearl, it is on exhibit at the Frazier Museum in Louisville KY. This is a permanent exhibit but several items are on short-term loan.

The album Row is a concept album about Tori’s journey rowing across the Atlantic written by Dawn Landes. It can be found on Amazon music. These songs are part of the musical Row which will be available via Audible in the Spring of 2021. Tori Murden McClure’s memoir can be found at your favorite bookstore or library.

Books mentioned in this episode:

1- A Pearl in the Storm by Tori Murden McClure
2- When Memory Speaks: Reflections on Autobiography by Jill Kerr Conway
3- Man's Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl
4- Notes of a Native Son by James Baldwin
5- A Gift from the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh
6- Essays of Ralph Waldo Emerson
7- Shakespeare's plays
8- Iliad and Odyssey by Homer
9- Dante's Inferno
10- Small Spaces by Katherine Arden
11- How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi
12- Hildegard of Bingen: The Woman of Her Age by Fionna Maddocks
13- Leonard and Hungry Paul by Ronan Hession
14- Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman
15- The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion

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March 24, 2021 @ 7:15 am

Ep. 83 TRU-ly A One Man Show with Jason Cooper 3-24-21

The famous American author Truman Capote once said, ”Life is a moderately good play with a badly written third act.”

Capote’s own life is the subject of the one man play, Tru, written by Jay Presson Allen which appeared on Broadway in 1989. The play is now being performed by local theater company Pandora Productions, a group that focuses on producing plays by and/or about LGBTQ people, as an on-demand show available for two weeks: March 26-28 and April 2-4. This production of Tru stars Louisvillian Jason Cooper, a veteran theater artist. He started his own theater company, The Chicken Coop Theater, 2 years ago which focuses on producing lesser known plays. But he is also a high school English teacher at a private school where he is engaging the next generation in the love of reading and has just completed writing a memoir as part of a Master of Fine Arts Creative Writing program. Jason has immersed himself in the life of an artist whether it be acting, directing, literary appreciation, or writing.

In Tru, Cooper helps audiences see the celebrity of Truman Capote in addition to the person he was behind the mask. Some writers just do their thing and live normal lives, while others become reclusive and avoid the limelight. But Truman Capote became a celebrity whose persona, at times, eclipsed his literary works.

Jason talks to us about why Truman Capote was so important to the gay community, why working in the theater has been such a good training ground for life as a teacher, what actual Capote mannerisms Jason felt he had to tone down so audiences would find him believable, and why he thinks bad movie musicals from the 1980s are epic.

Books Mentioned in This Episode:

1- Penny's Holiday (children's book)
2- The Color Purple by Alice Walker
3- Native Son by Richard Wright
4- Ordinary People by Judith Guest
5- The Chosen by Chaim Potok
6- Tru by Jay Presson Allison (play)
7- Answered Prayers: The Unfinished Novel by Truman Capote
8- In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
9- A Christmas Memory by Truman Capote
10- The Hate You Give by Angie Thomas
11- Let Love Rule by Lenny Kravitz
12- The Southern Book Club's Guide to Slaying Vampires by Grady Hendrix
13- I'll Be Gone in the Dark by Michelle McNamara
14- The Black Kids by Christina Hammonds Reed

Movies mentioned--
1- Capote
2- Murder by Death



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March 16, 2021 @ 8:30 pm

Ep. 82 It’s Not The Same Old Story with Joe Manning

Historically, the voices we’ve heard most in books and literature have been those of white men, and even though there has been a movement to include more varied voices, there are still stories we don’t often hear. The Louisville Story Program, however, is a nonprofit organization focused on helping the stories that don’t often get heard come to light.

The first person narrative stories are made into professionally published books, but the way these stories come to fruition vary. Sometimes Louisville Story Program staff do intensive writing workshops with high school students in neighborhoods we don’t hear from very often. The teens write their own stories under the guidance of individuals who help them focus and make their writing the best it can be. In other situations, Louisville Story Program staff listen and record the oral histories of community members like horse racing professionals at Churchill Downs and turn those into published works.

This week, we talk to the deputy director of the Louisville Story Program Joe Manning. He is a songwriter/ musical performer as well as an author whose collection of essays about his experience as a young man on a merchant freighter that traveled the globe is called Certain Relevant Passages and was published in 2017.

Joe tells us the easiest and most important question an interviewer can ask to get a great answer, how his very young daughter has helped him listen to more audiobooks, why it's so important for underrepresented groups to be able to tell their own stories instead of having others tell it for them, and why two important words for The Louisville Story Program are community and communion.

Books Mentioned in this Episode:

1- The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery
2- Better Lucky Than Good by Louisville Story Program
3- Our Shawnee by Louisville Story Program
4- The Fights We Fought Have Brought Us Here by Louisville Story Program
5- White Hotel by D.M. Thomas
6- My Meteorite by Harry Dodge
7- Bluets by Maggie Nelson
8 Cork Dork: A Wine-Fueled Adventure Among the Obsessive Sommeliers, Big Bottle Hunters, and Rogue Scientists Who Taught Me to Live for Taste by Bianca Bosker
9- Certain Relevant Passages by Joe Manning



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March 10, 2021 @ 7:15 am

Ep. 81 Lions, Tigers, Bears, and Books with Katy Morrison

When I say the word “zoo” your first thought is probably elephants or giraffes; maybe a great memory of going on a school field trip or of taking your own children there for a special outing. A word you probably don’t associate with a zoo is “Book club”. But our guest today, Katy Morrison, a zoo educator at the Louisville Zoo, wants to broaden your vision a bit. At the beginning of the pandemic, she was brainstorming ways that the zoo could still serve its patrons virtually, especially adult patrons who are often not the focus of zoo outreach. And then she read a book on primates that she was dying to talk about with someone. So she pitched the idea of the Conservation and Conversation bookclub to the zoo and it was soon full steam ahead for her vision of non-traditional education through book discussions.

Katy uses her liberal arts background in history and classical studies to explore conservation issues through non-fiction books. While the book club makes the hard sciences more accessible to non-scientists, it is still challenging enough for those with more scientific backgrounds. The concept of conservation is a broad one that can include the most obvious for a zoo; animal conservation, but can also include things like cultural conservation, sustainable agriculture through the lense of cookbooks, and green burials.

Each month, Katy moderates the book discussion, sometimes with special guests, and sends the participants a guide with additional links and resources so they can continue the conversation with family and friends through things like podcast links, related reading for younger readers, and suggested documentaries. And of course one of the wonderful things about a virtual bookclub is that you don’t have to be in the same city as the zoo. In fact, Katy was inspired by a bookclub she joined virtually at an aquarium in New Jersey.

Katy talks to us about the fantasy books she was crazy about as a child where the protagonists could talk with animals, why many organizations are starting book clubs during the pandemic, and which decidedly non cuddly creature at the zoo is her favorite because of a project she did in 3rd grade.

Books mentioned in this episode:

1- Tortall Universe series by Tamora Pierce
2- The Wild Magic series by Tamora Pierce
3- Harry Potter series by J.K.Rowling
4- The Polar Affair by Lloyd Spencer Davis
5- Sea People: The Puzzle of Polynesia by Christina Thompson
6- Will My Cat Eat My Eyeballs? by Caitlin Doughty
7- Smoke Gets In My Eyes by Caitlin Doughty
8- The Big Burn by Timothy Egan
9- Primates: The Fearless Science of Jane Goodall, Dian Fossey, and Birute Galdikas by Jim Ottaviani
10- Astrophysics for People in a Hurry by Neil deGrasse Tyson
11- No One is Too Small to Make a Difference by Greta Thunberg
12- A Life on Our Planet by David Attenborough
13- Far From the Tree by Robin Benway
14- The Death and Life of the Great Lakes by Dan Egan
15- The Pocket Change Collective series (This is What I Know About Art by Kimberly Drew)
16- The Rise: Black Cooks and the Soul of American Food by Marcus Samuelson
17- You Never Forget Your First: A Biography of George Washington by Alexis Coe

Podcasts mentioned:
Ologies by Alie Ward

Documentaries mentioned:
1- A Life on Our Planet
2- Making Of (videos)
3- My Octopus Teacher (Netflix)



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March 3, 2021 @ 6:59 am

Ep. 80 Resistance Reading with Farrah Alexander 3-3-21

Sometimes it only takes a spark to start a fire. For writer and activist Farrah Alexander, the small flicker of an idea that eventually became her first book was her January 2017 participation in the historic Women's March in Washington DC. She encountered so many women who were emboldened to make change but weren’t sure how to channel their energies.

Farrah wrote her book titled Raising the Resistance: A Mother’s Guide to Practical Activism which gives suggestions on how to be a leader in your life and a model for change for your children. But the book is also witty and whimsical which makes it accessible to a wide audience.

Farrah has been a journalist and freelance writer whose articles have appeared in the Huffington Post, Scary Mommy, and BuzzFeed. Her work focuses on feminism, social justice, parenting, and politics. She is also a Jeremiah Fellow with Bend the Ark, a Jewish partnership for justice which aims to combat white supremacy and mobilize communities for social change.

In this episode, Farrah talks to us about how even as a child she was drawn to books with strong female characters like Amelia Bedelia, how she wants to make the ideas of feminism less academic and more accessible, why she feels essay writing can be a powerful tool for women to share their stories, and which item of her political memorabilia collection is her most cherished.

Books mentioned in this episode:

1- Raising the Resistance: A Mother's Guide to Practical Activism by Farrah Alexander
2- Amelia Bedelia books by Peggy Parish
3- Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh
4- The Death of Expertise: The Campaign Against Established Knowledge and Why it Matters by Tom Nichols
5- A Promised Land by Barack Obama
6- Becoming by Michelle Obama
7- Big Girl, Small Town by Michelle Gallen

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