Interviews By Topic

Alice Walker

Alice Walker recommends Richard Yates' novel following an advertising executive whose seemingly successful life quietly fractures under the pressure of mundanity, alcoholism, anger, and recklessness. She says she was drawn to the book because Yates' world was so different from hers.More

Antigone

Writer, classicist, and stand-up comic Natalie Haynes makes a strong case for reading ancient Greek and Roman literature in the modern age.More

Circe

Circe, the all-powerful goddess from Homer’s “The Odyssey,” is known for turning men into swine, and for her mastery of potions. The artwork “Circe,” imagined by Romare Bearden, is a black woman surrounded by mystical animals and a skull, wearing West African garb with a calm but defiant look on her face.More

That Tree in April 2017

Mark Hirsch took 365 photos — one a day for a year — of a single Bur oak tree. The project changed his life.More

Tree

Richard Powers’ “The Overstory” is overturning a lot of conventional thinking. It’s been called “visionary” and “monumental” — and it earned him the 2019 Pulitzer Prize in fiction. Though human characters shape the plot of this 500-page epic, the real heroes are trees.More

Phillip Pullman

Philip Pullman, the celebrated English writer has just written a 630-page sequel brimming with contentious ideas about religious tyranny, the loss of imagination and the nature of consciousness — all in a book that’s marketed to children.More

Tommy Orange

Tommy Orange — author of 2019 PEN/Hemingway Award winner “There, There” — says he wasn't much of a reader in his early years. But a chance encounter with an absurd, experimental novel by John Kennedy Toole showed him a path to writing a novel that was truly his own.More

foggy trees

Suzanne Simard is a forest ecologist who's revolutionizing our understanding of trees. She has discovered that trees use underground networks to communicate and cooperate with each other. It turns out that whole forests can exist as a superorganism.More

The San Andreas Fault, on the Carrizo Plain.

Do you know what an earthquake sounds like? Geophysicist Ben Holtzman collects recordings from around the world — from the Fukushima disaster to the manmade earthquakes caused by fracking. We hear examples of these seismic rumbles.More

Underground

Robert Macfarlane spent a decade exploring caves, mines, catacombs and sewers, on a quest to discover the deep underground. He found a subterranean world of wonder and horror.More

Covalanas panel in the Bernifal Cave.

There's no better way to get a feel for the origins of the human mind than to go and see ancient cave art. Anthropologist Christine Desdemaines-Hugon took Steve and Anne to two French caves with paintings dating back more than 10,000 years.More

divers

Jill Heinerth nearly died when she was trapped by ocean currents inside an Antarctic iceberg. She's one of the world's most accomplished underwater cave divers, often exploring caves no one's ever been in, which show her "the veins of the Earth."More

Ghosts

Steve Paulson's family has lots of stories of the paranormal, but Steve is the family skeptic. So he did his own investigation, talking with skeptic Michael Shermer, religion scholars Tanya Luhrmann and Jeff Kripal, channeler Paul Selig, and his Aunt Marge Bradley.More

A house in Savannah, Georgia — one of America's most haunted cities.

The Sorrel-Weed House has been called the “most haunted house” in Savannah, Georgia, and its “ghost tour” is a big tourist attraction. But historian Tiya Miles found another story of slavery and racial stereotypes buried in this history.More

Horror

Writer Gemma Files' Dangerous Idea? There are upsides to embracing horror — spending time playing out negative scenarios in fiction can lead to a more positive life.More

NYAS panel on wonder

Steve asked a panel of experts— social psychologist Michelle Shiota, writer Caspar Henderson, and astrophysicist Alex Filippenko — to unpack the emerging science behind the emotions of awe and wonder, including their role in our ongoing quest for understanding and knowledge.More

haunted burger

Listener Jonathan Blyth sent us a ghost story that might make you think twice about what — or whom — is on your plate.More

president ghost

A ghost story for the election season from listener Eric Van Vleet.More

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