In their own voices: authors read their works

Imagine hearing Will Shakespeare read one of his sonnets to you. How james baldwinabout Dickens regaling listeners with a reading from Oliver Twist? Proust, reciting in French about those madeleines? That would require a time-traveler willing to schlep around a whole lot of not-yet-invented recording equipment. But for some authors of the more recent past, it is possible to listen to them speak their own words thanks to the an idea dreamed up by Lynne and Harry Schwartz in 1962.

As Susan Stamberg reports in this Morning Edition feature from today’s show, the Schwartz’s, both avid readers, were taken with the recordings of very established authors–Dylan Thomas and T. S. Eliot for instance–and realized that there were younger, less established authors who might want to cut recordings. And, so in 1962, the project was launched. Among the first writers they record were James Baldwin, Philip Roth, Bernard Malamud and John Updike. Lynne and Harry’s original recordings were released in 1963. Now, they’re being re-issued on CDs and audio files as Calliope Author Readings.

Listen to the whole story here.

Barbara L.

Picture above: James Baldwin was the first in a series of authors Harry and Lynne Sharon Schwartz recorded.


Writers Reading: Zadie Smith

Zadie Smith’s latest acclaimed novel hit library shelves on September 4th and demand for a copy instantly hit fever pitch.  Titled NW, the British writer’s first novel since 2005’s On Beauty tells the captivating story of four North West Londoners struggling to make adult lives outside of Caldwell, the housing project of their youth.  Written in a daring stream-of-consciousness style, NW has been praised by Booklist as a “quintessential 21st-century urban novel depicting a vibrant, volatile multicultural world… with wit, empathy, and artistry.”  So add this emotional knockout to your must-read queue, and while you eagerly await your copy, don’t miss Smith reading an excerpt below.  Enjoy!

Writers Reading: Ken Follett

For Ken Follett fans, this September 18th is something of a holiday.  Yes, in only nine short days Winter of the World – the eagerly anticipated second book in his ambitious Century Trilogy – will hit library shelves to the delight of legions of readers.  Picking up right where the bestselling Fall of Giants left off, this epic installment traces the next generation of the five original Welsh, English, German, Russian, and American families as their lives are inextricably entangled by the rise of Hitler and the coming of war.  To help whet your appetite, don’t miss Follett reading a passage from the new book below, and don’t forget to clear your reading schedule.  September 18th is happily right around the corner.  Enjoy!

Writers Reading: Justin Cronin

Hey Justin Cronin fans have we got a treat for you.  As you’re surely well aware, the highly anticipated follow-up to his heart-stopping epic The Passage hits the streets in a few short weeks, and you’ll soon have all the apocalyptic mayhem you can handle.  Titled The Twelve, this second book in The Passage Trilogy is officially out on October 16th, and to help you down the home stretch, you won’t want to miss Mr. Cronin reading an excerpt below.  With this little appetizer, you’ll certainly be ready for the main course.  Enjoy!

Writers Reading: Paul Auster

Writers Reading is a brand spanking new Off the Shelf feature that lets you experience your favorite authors reading from their work.  We kick things off with the following clip of Paul Auster reading from his new novel Sunset Park.  Enjoy, and check back often for more Writers Reading.