The Telephone

Hook ups, hang ups, history, and one hot conversation.



The Telephone Gambit: Chasing Alexander Graham Bell's Secret

By Seth Shulman


We all know that Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone. But while a writer-in-residence at MIT, Shulman uncovered a slew of sources that indicated Bell copied the idea with the help of an alcoholic patent officer. Even more surprising, he wasn't driven by a desire for profit or fame--he did it for love.



America Calling: A Social History of the Telephone to 1940

By Claude S. Fischer


Now that phones go with us everywhere, it's hard to remember a time when we couldn't just call someone on a whim. Chronicling the early decades of telephone technology, Fischer, a sociology professor at UC-Berkeley, examines how its spread changed our collective way of life long before we all went mobile.



The Phone Book: The Curious History of the Book that Everyone Uses but No One Reads

By Ammon Shea


Before Facebook, there was the phone book. First printed in 1878, this hefty tome has played a critical role in presidential elections, Supreme Court rulings, abstract art, and circus sideshows, as Ammon Shea reminds us in this quirky history.




The Master Switch: The Rise and Fall of Information Empires

By Tim Wu


Wu documents how control of every segment of America’s overloaded information industry--radio, telephone, television, and film--has been systematically seized by monopolistic corporate entities. With that in mind, he explores the ramifications of a comparable swallowing up of the Internet. Google, we're looking at you.




By Nicholson Baker


The master of novelistic minutiae records a phone-sex conversation between two strangers. The dialogue is occasionally erotic, often hilarious, and sometimes troubling as two lonely souls find a connection that's both intimate and long-distance.



July 24: On this day in 1725 John Newton, the slave trader-preacher who wrote the hymn "Amazing Grace," was born.

Crime fiction legends Dennis Lehane and Michael Connelly discuss the new book that unites their beloved sleuths Patrick Kenzie and Harry Bosch.

Books, CDs, DVDs to know about now
Paradise and Elsewhere

Canadian short story marvel Kathy Page emerges as the Alice Munro of the supernatural from these heartfelt tales of shapeshifting swimmers, mild-mannered cannibals, and personality-shifting viruses transmitted through kisses.


When a persuasive pastor arrives in a sleepy farm town, his sage influence has otherworldly results (talking sheep, a mayor who walks on water). But can he pull off the miracle of finding kindly local Liz Denny the love of her life?  Small wonder looms large in this charmer from Andre Alexis.

The Hundred-Year House

When a poetry scholar goes digging through the decrepit estate of his wife's family to uncover a bygone arts colony's strange mysteries, he awakens a tenacious monster: his mother-in-law. A wickedly funny take on aging aristocracies from author Rebecca Makkai (The Borrower).