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Suggestions for summer reading - and viewing

By D. G. Martin
Posted Monday, June 22, 2009

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Chapel Hill, NC - It is summertime again and time to put aside a few books for vacation reading. Let me share some suggestions from books I have been reading to prepare for UNC-TV’s North Carolina Bookwatch’s new season beginning on Sunday, July 5, at 5 pm.

Our series will open with one of my favorites, “Holy Smoke: The Big Book of North Carolina Barbecue,” by John Shelton and Dale Volberg Reed. North Carolinians argue about barbecue the way French people argue about wines and cheeses. The Reeds give you facts to win every barbecue argument, whether your favorite is Eastern style or Lexington style. The Reeds open the new Bookwatch series on Sunday, July 5.

A few years ago, Greensboro newspaper editor Justin Catanoso learned that a cousin in Italy had been made a saint. This event launched Catanoso on journeys of travel and led to life-changing religious retrospection. He shares these experiences in his book, “My Cousin the Saint: A Search for Faith, Family, and Miracles,” and on Bookwatch. (July 12)

Todd Johnson left North Carolina for careers in music and theater production in New York City. But he set his first published novel, “The Sweet By and By,” right here in his home state. His heroes are strong North Carolina women facing the brutal reality of aging in a nursing home. Their stories entertain us and make some of us cry. (July 19)

If you have read N.C. State professor Michael Walden’s newspaper columns or heard him speak, you know that he explains clearly and simply how the workings of the economy affect the lives of North Carolinians. If not, read his new book, “North Carolina in the Connected Age: Challenges and Opportunities in a Globalizing Economy” and see him on Bookwatch. (July 26)

UNC-Chapel Hill psychology professor Barbara Fredrickson is a leader in a relatively new field, positive psychology. Instead of concentrating her work on troubled people, her research looks for ways psychology can help normal people improve their lives. She shares some of those findings in her new book, “Positivity: Groundbreaking Research Reveals How to Embrace the Hidden Strength of Positive Emotions, Overcome Negativity, and Thrive.” (August 2)

If you are (or have been) a Sesame Street fan, how would you like to know the inside story of how the program started and responded to success? Michael Davis’s new book, “Street Gang: The Complete History of Sesame Street,” tells the tale. (August 9)


In “Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions,” Duke University Professor Dan Ariely describes how irrational our decision-making process can become, and how people and businesses take advantage of our irrationality. (August 16)

Howard Lee won the Chapel Hill mayor’s election in 1969, becoming the first African American to win the top job in a majority white Southern town or city. He writes about that historic election in his new memoir, “The Courage to Lead: One Man’s Journey in Public Service.” He will talk about his book and his life on Bookwatch on August 23. Greensboro’s and UNC-Chapel Hill’s Marianne Gingher proved herself to be an important writer with her first published novel, “Bobby Rex's Greatest Hit.” Maybe even better is the story of how she came to be a writer as she tells it in “Adventures in Pen Land” and on Bookwatch. (August 30)

Lincolnton lawyer Dan Barefoot has been writing successful books about North Carolina history for many years. More recently he collected a set of writings for his book, “Hark the Sound of Tar Heel Voices: 220 Years of UNC History.” This book is not just for Carolina fans. Looking at North Carolina history through university’s lens is instructive for all of us. (September 6)

See you Sundays at five!


D.G. Martin is the author of “Interstate Eateries,” a guide to family owned homecooking restaurants near North Carolina’s interstate highways

e-mail E-mail this page
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Suggestions for summer reading - and viewing
UNC-TV’s North Carolina Bookwatch’s new season begins on Sunday, July 5, at 5 pm.

Related info:
NC Book Watch

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