Centre County Reads

Sunil Yapa’s debut novel “Your Heart Is a Muscle the Size of a Fist” breaks the mold of our current polarized political climate and examines a controversial moment in American history from multiple angles. In doing so, the author, who is a State College native, reminds readers of the value that comes from trying to understand one another.

The cover of "Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy" and reviewer Adison Godfrey.
Right: Erin Cassidy Hendrick / WPSU

In her latest work of historical nonfiction, Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy, Karen Abbott examines the role of four women during the Civil War who risk their lives for their beliefs. Each chapter shifts in focus, alternating between Union and Confederate sympathizers. The book cycles through the stories of Belle Boyd, Emma Edmonds, Rose O’Neal Greenhow and Elizabeth Van Lew. Drawing from original source material, Abbott makes these women and their histories come alive, illuminating the women’s war and how these unsung heroines influenced the course of history.

This past March, Take Note went on the road, to Penn State's HUB Robeson Center's Freeman Auditorium, to talk with New York Times' bestselling author, Jess Walter.  His 2012 masterpiece Beautiful Ruins was this year's Centre County Reads selection.  NPR's Fresh Air called the book "A literary miracle." Salon called it "Damn near perfect."

BookMark: "Beautiful Ruins" by Jess Walter

Feb 12, 2015
Reviewer Carter Clabaugh and the cover of "Beautiful Ruins"
Erin Cassidy Hendrick / WPSU

 Jess Walter’s sixth novel , Beautiful Ruins, might seem like a pure homage to Classic Hollywood Cinema. However, the book proves to be so much more. It’s a braided tale with chapters jumping forward fifty years, hopscotching across America and Europe, and introducing characters seemingly unrelated to main characters in the 60’s, Dee and Pasquale, until their lives intersect in the present.