Lynn Neary

Lynn Neary is an NPR arts correspondent covering books and publishing.

Not only does she report on the business of books and explore literary trends and ideas, Neary has also met and profiled many of her favorite authors. She has wandered the streets of Baltimore with Anne Tyler and the forests of the Great Smoky Mountains with Richard Powers. She has helped readers discover great new writers like Tommy Orange, author of There, There, and has introduced them to future bestsellers like A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles.

Arriving at NPR in 1982, Neary spent two years working as a newscaster on Morning Edition. For the next eight years, Neary was the host of Weekend All Things Considered. Throughout her career at NPR, she has been a frequent guest host on all of NPR's news programs including Morning Edition, All Things Considered, Weekend Edition, and Talk of the Nation.

In 1992, Neary joined the cultural desk to develop NPR's first religion beat. As religion correspondent, Neary covered the country's diverse religious landscape and the politics of the religious right.

Neary has won numerous prestigious awards including the Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting Gold Award, an Ohio State Award, an Association of Women in Radio and Television Award, and the Gabriel award. For her reporting on the role of religion in the debate over welfare reform, Neary shared in NPR's 1996 Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Silver Baton Award.

A graduate of Fordham University, Neary thinks she may be the envy of English majors everywhere.

If you grew up loving Little Women, as I did, there was one pretty much inviolable truth you lived with: Jo, the second oldest sister was the character everyone wanted to be. She's fun and smart and so determined to be independent and become a writer that she rejects a marriage offer from her best friend, Laurie, the rich boy from next door.

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You know, for seven years now, your friends here at NPR have been recommending books of the year just in time for the holidays. We call it the Book Concierge, and now you can not only browse through more than 300 titles from this year, but also check out the lists from years gone by. We asked NPR books and publishing correspondent Lynn Neary to tell us about one of her favorites from 2019.

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The decade now coming to a close was a tumultuous one for the publishing industry. NPR's Lynn Neary has been digging into her old reporting, and she found that as the decade opened, publishers and booksellers faced a digital revolution with trepidation.

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Libraries across the U.S. are furious with one of the country's big five publishing houses. As of Friday, Macmillan Publishers Ltd. is drastically restricting the sales of its e-books to libraries.

For the first eight weeks after an e-book goes on the market, a library system can buy only one copy. So if you are used to getting your books from a library and you are an e-book fan who has been eagerly awaiting Hillary Mantel's next book, The Mirror and the Light, for example, you may have a long wait when it comes out in March 2020.

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A young Jewish girl begins a diary just as World War II is about to break out in Europe. She records the details of her daily life, but more and more, the war takes over. Eventually, the diary comes to a heartbreaking end.

In this case, it is not the story of Anne Frank. This is Renia's Diary, a journal that spent decades stored away in a safe deposit box. Now it's being published with help from Renia's niece and sister.

Lara Prescott can trace her interest in Dr. Zhivago back to the beginning — the very beginning — of her life. She's named after one of the main characters in Boris Pasternak's novel about a doomed love affair at the time of the Russian revolution. (Prescott's mother was a huge fan of the film adaptation.)

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In newspapers she was described as the "unconscious intoxicated woman." In the courtroom she was called Emily Doe. On Tuesday, she let the world know that her real name is Chanel Miller.

In 2015, Miller was attacked while unconscious after drinking too much at a fraternity party at Stanford University. Two young men on bicycles rescued her. Her attacker tried to run away but they chased him and held him down until the police arrived. Brock Turner, her attacker, was a student at Stanford and a swimming champion.

Discoverability. It's a word that people who market and sell books use when talking about one of their biggest challenges: With hundreds of thousands of titles released each year, how do readers find the books that publishers want them to buy?

Word of mouth is the old standby. Media interviews are a big help. Book clubs can go a long way to boosting sales. Put those all together and you get celebrity book clubs, which are increasingly seen as a ticket to success.

When writer Téa Obreht's first book came out in 2011, it got the kind of reaction that most debut novelists only dream of: The Tiger's Wife was both critically acclaimed and a best seller. It was nominated for the National Book Award and won the Orange Prize.

Writers, like all artists, are willing to give up a lot to keep doing what they love best. But sometimes, reality bites, and dreams have to be put aside in order to put food on the table. That's what happened to Adrian McKinty — but then, with a little help from some friends, he found a way to keep going. The result is his new book, The Chain.

This story is part of American Anthem, a yearlong series on songs that rouse, unite, celebrate and call to action. Find more at NPR.org/Anthem.

Poet, writer and musician Joy Harjo — a member of the Muscogee Creek Nation — often draws on Native American stories, languages and myths. But she says that she's not self-consciously trying to bring that material into her work. If anything, it's the other way around.

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In 2017, during the Super Bowl halftime show, Lady Gaga did something extraordinary. She performed a song that had become the unofficial anthem of the LGBTQ community.

(SOUNDBITE OF SUPER BOWL LI TELECAST)

LADY GAGA: (Singing) No matter gay, straight or bi, lesbian, transgender life - I'm on the right track, baby. I was born to survive. No matter black, white or beige, chola or Orient made - right track, baby, I was born to be brave.

(CHEERING)

Four years ago the unthinkable happened to Jayson Greene. His 2-year-old daughter, Greta, was visiting her grandmother. The two were sitting on a bench on New York's Upper West Side when a brick came loose from a nearby building. It struck Greta in the head, and she died three days later. Greene began keeping a journal, which turned into his new memoir, Once More We Saw Stars.

Cathy Guisewite, the creator of the "Cathy" comic strip, didn't really want the character to be named after her. People would think that "Cathy" was based on her own life, she reasoned, and ... they would be right. Or, at least, they wouldn't be wrong.

"Cathy was kind of my heart," Guisewite says. "Other stronger characters in the strip like Andrea were more my brain. But Cathy was kind of my heart, that was me."

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