BOOK NOOK: Confessions of a book lover occasionally set loose upon the world

Through almost 20 years covering books for this newspaper I have written occasional columns about my experiences on the book beat. This column is one of those.

I interviewed my first author on WYSO Public Radio in October of 1994. After interviewing a couple of hundred writers I received my first request to make a public appearance. The Dayton Metro Library asked me to give a presentation to their librarians about some of the authors I have met.

Since then I have made many more appearances. I have conducted public interviews with authors at various venues: libraries, bookstores, clubs, schools, theaters, and even a senior citizens’ center. The Dayton Metro Library asked me to introduce the humorist David Sedaris when he made his first appearance in Dayton along with the humorist Sarah Vowell.

A few years ago I gave a talk at the Engineers Club of Dayton. My topic that day (it was Election Day), was “How Richard M. Nixon Changed My Life, and Yours.” That was unusual, and a lot of fun. My standard theme is “Authors I Have Known.” I have given that presentation, which is always different, for various groups ranging from Kiwanis to Rotary to book clubs.

I gave a memorable talk at an anniversary luncheon for the Xenia Woman’s Club at the Dayton Woman’s Club. As the only guy there I recall some ladies were perplexed; I was chosen for such an important occasion? A man!

Recently I had the opportunity to give my author talk as the keynote speaker for the 46th Annual Wright State University Friends of the Libraries Luncheon. This event was a benefit for this worthy organization. As I mingled with attendees I was approached by a woman who told me she lives in the former home of Helen Hooven Santmyer.

Santmyer was the author of “And the Ladies of the Club,” a book she wrote about the women of the Xenia Woman’s Club. Small world, right? We talked about the author-I thought she died in the 1960′s. I was wrong. Santmyer was a librarian at the Dayton Public Library. OSU Press issued her book in 1982. Putnam reissued it two years later-it became a bestseller. Santmyer died in 1986, aged ninety.

The audience of book lovers at Wright State was a distinguished one, there were librarians, professors, even a couple writers who have appeared as guests on my radio show. During my talk I mentioned what I am currently reading; “Southern Man,” by Greg Iles. Weighing in at almost 1000 pages, this astounding novel will be out later this month.

After my talk there was a Q&A session-they had fabulous questions; one fellow wanted advice about doing interviews. Someone asked what new book am I excited about.

My answer: “My Beloved Monster: Masha, the Half-wild Rescue Cat Who Rescued Me” by Caleb Carr.

Another guest asked how Richard Nixon changed my life? My response: China, Nixon opened China to the world. Which changed everything.

Vick Mickunas of Yellow Springs interviews authors every Saturday at 7 a.m. and on Sundays at 10:30 a.m. on WYSO-FM (91.3). For more information, visit Contact him at

Credit: Contributed

Credit: Contributed

Credit: Contributed

Credit: Contributed

Credit: Contributed

Credit: Contributed

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