Ask the Editor – Reading recommendations

BRIAN BASHAM, HOST: Today is Friday, May 1st. Good morning! This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Brian Basham.

NICK EICHER, HOST: And I’m Nick Eicher. Next up: WORLD editor in chief Marvin Olasky with some reading recommendations.

MARVIN OLASKY, EDITOR IN CHIEF: I received many letters in April about books. Here’s a typical one: “Hi. What are a few good books on the Great Depression? Would you recommend Studs Terkel’s Hard Times?”

I could answer that one easily, since I’ve read Hard Times. My response: “Terkel is good to get a personal sense of the hardships. The Forgotten Man by Amity Shlaes is a terrific overall history.” 

You can send questions of that kind to this email address: [email protected]. If I can answer without doing a lot of research, I will. If I cannot, I won’t respond. But that doesn’t mean you are without resources. WORLD has a fountain of book suggestions. 

First, during coronavirus time we’ve produced four feature stories to help you choose excellent reading. Our April 11 issue recommended 40 recently published history books. The April 25 issue gave young parents brief descriptions of 36 picture books published since 2000 and listed 84 more from the 20th century. 

Our issue dated May 9 reviews 52 books about 21st-century China, starting point for the Wuhan virus. And the issue that goes to press next Wednesday, God willing, looks at three books by pro-abortion authors that include useful insights for pro-lifers. 

Second, at the top of WORLD’s website landing page you can click “Special Sections” and see a pull-down menu with the words “Books of the Year.” From there you are one click away from our annual books issues going back more than two decades—to 1999. The 2007 and 2014 issues include my personal lists of the best books I had reviewed during the preceding seven years. 

The “Special Sections” pull-down menu at also has a listing of “Marvin Olasky books.” The complete texts of 16 are there for free downloading.

Third, please make use of the WORLD archives search engine. For example, if you type in “young adult” with quotations, the search results will also list writer names on the left. Click on the top writer name and the top category, Culture & Arts. Then you can access 17 of Janey Cheaney’s reviews of YA (young adult) books. 

Usually in February we review children’s books of the past year and also books about African American history, since February is Black History Month. At the end of June we recommend books for beach reading—but stay at least six feet apart. 

Fourth, thousands of books are available online at no charge at Project Gutenberg and many other websites. If you click “free books online” you’ll find many worth exploring. If you have a public library card, you can paste into your browser and borrow digital books or audiobooks for free from your local library. To stream movies owned by public libraries, type kanopy (with a k).

We’ll list all the websites I’ve mentioned at

I’m Marvin Olasky.

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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