Dan Klefstad

Morning Edition Host & Book Series Editor

Good morning, Early Riser! Since 1997 I've been waking WNIJ listeners with the latest news, weather and other information, with the goal of seamlessly weaving this content into NPR's Morning Edition.

What do I do after the show ends at 9:00? I read. I'm especially interested in literature from the WNIJ listening area, which led me to adopt the "Book Beat" in 2012. Throughout the year, I immerse myself in works written by authors from northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin. Then I interview these writers for Morning Edition and record them reading excerpts. Interviews and excerpts are available as podcasts in our Book Series archive.

If you're a writer from this area, or have a personal connection to this place, send your book to me at 801 N. 1st St., DeKalb, IL 60115. You can also email a .doc or .pdf to dklefstad@niu.edu. I'm looking for novels, poems, short fiction, memoirs and creative nonfiction. While most of the books I feature come from established presses, I do accept self-published works. Just make sure your manuscript is well edited.

Thanks,

@danklefstad

#WNIJReadWithME

Ways to Connect

Next month, we'll introduce you to the latest books from five authors in the WNIJ listening area.

You might've seen short video teasers on social media such as this one, featuring Kristin Oakley.

Oakley begins this Summer's series with her thriller Carpe Diem, Illinois. You can find complete details about the series here.

A thriller set in an Illinois "unschooling" community. A novel about a Maine woman asked by the FBI to revisit her childhood. A tale of two Chicago runaways heading west across the prairie.

These are just three of the books featured during the WNIJ Read With Me Book Series, which returns in June. We'll also explore the lives of Sylvia Plath and other famous poets, and finish with quirky stories about President Andrew Jackson and his gardener.

What made Abraham Lincoln's speeches great? Geometry, according to the authors of a newly re-issued book about the 16th President.

It isn't so much the mathematical properties of space that influenced Lincoln's speeches as the principles of demonstration outlined by the ancient Greek mathematician Euclid.

Republican Senators don't argue about Judge Merrick Garland's qualifications to be the next Supreme Court Justice. Garland is the chief judge of the U.S Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C.

They dislike that President Obama nominated him during an election year, during his last year in office, and that the moderate Garland would replace conservative icon Antonin Scalia.

Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth beat two challengers to win the Democratic primary for U.S. Senate. That means Duckworth, an Iraq war veteran, will face incumbent Republican Sen. Mark Kirk in the November General Election.

Kirk, a moderate, beat conservative challenger James Marter in the GOP primary.

U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk is a Republican who favors gun control and strong environmental protections.

You read that right. If you're surprised, that's because Kirk belongs to a dying breed -- a moderate Republican during a time when GOP candidates are trying to get to the right of each other on issues from abortion to immigration.

So it's not surprising that Kirk faces a primary challenge from conservative James Marter, a Peoria County businessman.

Wikipedia

Voters in the 16th Illinois Congressional District must be happy with Adam Kinzinger. The Republican incumbent has no primary challenger, and Democrats fielded no candidate so far.

Kinzinger took 71% of the vote in the last General Election in this heavily Republican district. Democrats, who controlled the remapping process, packed the 16th with GOP voters to make the neighboring 17th District more Democratic.

Northern Illinois University

One of Illinois’ most Republican Congressional districts, the 14th, was created by Democrats who controlled the redistricting process in 2010.

The party’s map-makers packed GOP voters into this district in an effort to make neighboring districts more Democratic. So it was little surprise when the incumbent, Randy Hultgren, took 65% of the vote in 2014. He has no opponent in the March 15th primary.

Illinois' 6th Congressional District pits a leader in the House Republican caucus against a GOP insurgent who blends Donald Trump-like rhetoric with a Tea-Party platform.

The seat is held by Peter Roskam, first elected in 2006. This year he faces a primary challenge from Gordon "Jay" Kinzler, a Glenn Ellyn surgeon and Lt. Colonel in the Army Reserve.

The politics surrounding the vacancy on the U.S. Supreme Court may threaten the notion of judicial impartiality. That is, until you realize how political the high court really is.

Few things are more partisan than a justice's decision to retire, says Artemus Ward, a political scientist at Northern Illinois University.

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