<i>Image by <a href="">David Flam</a>/<a href="" target="_blank">Creative Commons</a> via flickr</i>;

The tale of Bilbo Baggins chronicled in J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit often lives in the shadow of the popular writer’s masterpiece, The Lord of the Rings. Corey Olsen, the self-described “Tolkien Professor,” thinks that’s a shame. With both books, Tolkien created a stunningly complex myth that Olsen says addresses themes all too relevant in the real world: the nature of evil, the corrupting power of greed and the ease with which good people can be drawn into destructive conflict. Olsen joins us on Thursday to talk about the life and works of J.R.R. Tolkien.

Book on Tape Worm

Jan 2, 2013

Provo-based band Book on Tape Worm’s music has been called "slumber-pop," but not because it will lull you to sleep. Their songs are lush and melodic, and, like the best dreams, they sweep from soothing tranquility to energetic grandeur. Book on Tape Worm released their eagerly anticipated first album late last year, and they’ll join us on Thursday to talk about their music and about their Slumber Party concerts. We’ll also talk to Austen Diamond of City Weekly and Velour Gallery’s Kaneischa Johnson about the best local music in 2012.

Image by Katherine H via flickr,

Well, Christmas day has finally arrived, a day for gifts and giving. We're hoping you can finally put the busy-ness and commercial hubbub of the season aside and settle in to enjoy our gift to you. Tuesday on RadioWest, we've got two great holiday stories for your enjoyment: Truman Capote's "A Christmas Memory" and Ron Carlson's "H Street Sledding Record." (Rebroadcast)

Best Music of 2012

Dec 19, 2012
Katie Burk/NPR

Bob Boilen of NPR's All Songs Considered joins us on Thursday to run down his list for the best music of the past year, the records he comes back to over and over again, the songs he loves to sing along with. There are some canonical artists on his list – Leonard Cohen and Neil Young – and some critically-acclaimed indie acts – Cat Power, Grizzly Bear, Dirty Projectors – but the band that came out on top debuted their first album this year. Tune in to hear that band and a lot of other great tunes.

A Christmas Carol

Dec 12, 2012

In the fall of 1843, Charles Dickens was in something of a mid-life crisis. His marriage was troubled, his career tottering, his finances on the verge of collapse. He even considered giving up writing. He didn’t, of course. Instead, he wrote his most famous work, A Christmas Carol, in just six weeks, and then self-published it. As the historian and writer Les Standiford notes, Dickens’ famous Christmas tale didn’t just change his life, it reinvented the way we celebrate the holiday. We’ll talk with Standiford about A Christmas Carol on Thursday.

Deadline Artists

Dec 11, 2012

John Avlon is passionate about newspaper columns. He should be: he’s a columnist himself. But with newspapers on the wane, Avlon was worried that the best examples of his craft could be forgotten. So he and some friends have collected the best reported columns from America’s newspapers in a series of books. Deadline Artists showcases short stories that actually happened, written with the urgency of news and the precision of poetry. Avlon joins us on Wednesday to explore the art of great newspaper writing and where it might be headed.

Friday, we're previewing our latest partnership with Plan-B Theatre Company: the radio drama "Sherlock Holmes and the Blue Carbuncle." Holmes expert Leslie Klinger and playwright Matthew Ivan Bennett will join us. Klinger says part of Holmes' appeal is his dedication to justice, not legality. In this holiday whodunit, Holmes solves the crime of course, but reminds us that Christmas is the season of forgiveness. We'll talk about the story and perform a scene from the play which premieres December 18. (Rebroadcast)

Bob Garfield, co-host of NPR’s On the Media, is no stranger to advertising. For years, he critiqued TV commercials for the magazine Advertising Age. He is, however, a greenhorn when it comes to mob life. So it’s an exciting surprise that Garfield has written a book that involves both worlds. His new novel, Bedfellows, is about a Madison Avenue refugee thrust into a mob war between the Russians and a Brooklyn crime family  making some changes because of the global recession. We’ll talk with Bob on Wednesday about his “comic mob thriller” and what, if anything, it has to do with his day job.

What's the most remarkable thing you've done for passion? Composer Hector Berlioz was "hardly able to breathe" when he saw the actress Harriet Smithson on a Paris stage in 1827. But his love was unrequited and turned to disgust when he heard scandalous rumors about her. The experience was the inspiration for his Symphonie fantastique, which Harvard scholar Thomas Forrest Kelly calls "the opening salvo" of the Romantic era. Wednesday, Kelly joins Doug to talk about Berlioz's passion, his music and the movement he helped to create.

A Clockwork Orange

Nov 25, 2012

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the ultra-violent novella "A Clockwork Orange." Author Anthony Burgess said the work should have been forgotten, but because of Stanley Kubrick's film, it seemed destined to live on. It's the story of the barbaric passions of a British teen and the state's attempt to impose a mechanistic morality over his free-will. Monday, we're talking with scholar Andrew Biswell about "A Clockwork Orange" and about why Burgess said the point of the book has been widely misunderstood.