Barbara's Picks

War, Islam, & Evangelicals | Barbara’s Nonfiction Picks, Apr. 2017, Pt. 2


Bellaigue, Christopher de. The Islamic Enlightenment: The Struggle Between Faith and Reason, 1798 to Modern Times. Liveright: Norton. Apr. 2017. 560p. ISBN 9780871403735. $35. HISTORY Many Westerners see Islam as behind the times, having failed to experience Europe’s Enlightenment. But Bellaigue, an authority on Islam and the Middle East who speaks Turkish, Persian, and Arabic […]

Nadeem Aslam, Elizabeth Kostova, & More | Barbara’s Fiction Picks, Apr. 2017, Pt. 2


Aslam, Nadeem. The Golden Legend. Knopf. Apr. 2017. 336p. ISBN 9780451493781. $26.95; ebk. ISBN 9780451493798.LITERARY Winner of the Kiriyama and Windham-Campbell Literature prizes, Aslam has also been short-listed for the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award and twice long-listed for the Man Booker Prize, honors that don’t begin to sum up the power of his nuanced, […]

Cory Doctorow, Michael Eric Dyson, Roxane Gay, Vaddey Ratner | Barbara’s Picks, Apr. 2017, Pt. 1


Doctorow, Cory. Walkaway. Tor. Apr. 2017. 384p. ISBN 9780765392763. $26.99; ebk. ISBN 9780765392787. SF Cyber-visionary Doctorow, a multi-award-winning and New York Times best-selling author, returns to adult fiction after eight years with a story set in a futuristic dystopia. Life’s necessities, like food, clothing, and shelter, can be printed out via computer, but the world […]

From Attenberg to Lesser to Schlink | Barbara’s Picks, Mar. 2017, Pt. 4


Attenberg, Jami. All Grown Up. Houghton Harcourt. Mar. 2017. 208p. ISBN 9780544824249. $25; ebk. ISBN 9780544824263. LITERARY FICTION Author of the New York Times best-selling and Los Angeles Times Book Prize short-listed The Middlesteins and, more recently, of the well-received Saint Mazie, Attenberg again lays bare the soul of a woman. Her heroine here is […]

Kunzru, See, Russian Revolution, & More | Barbara’s Picks, Mar. 2017, Pt. 3


Dunant, Sarah. In the Name of the Family. Random. Mar. 2017. 448p. ISBN 9780812996975. $28. ebk. ISBN 9780812996982. CD/downloadable: Random Audio. HISTORICAL FICTION Renowned for her bright and disciplined way with Renaissance Italy, New York Times best-selling novelist Dunant again visits the Borgias, to whom she recently paid court in Blood and Beauty. Pope Alexander […]

Four Rising-Star Novelists | Barbara’s Picks, Mar. 2017, Pt. 2


Butler, Nickolas. The Hearts of Men. Ecco. Mar. 2017. 400p. ISBN 9780062469687. $26.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062469700. LITERARY Butler, who debuted with the heartfelt Shotgun Lovesongs, which won honors ranging from the Midwest Booksellers Choice Award to France’s Prix Page/America, returns after the story collection Beneath the Bonfire with another look at male bonding. At Camp […]

Elif Batuman, Mohsin Hamid, Chris Hayes, & More | Barbara’s Picks, Mar. 2017, Pt. 1


Batuman, Elif. The Idiot. Penguin Pr. Mar. 2017. 448p. ISBN 9781594205613. $27; ebk. ISBN 9781101622513. lrg. prnt. Downloadable: Penguin Audio. LITERARY FICTION As evidenced by her National Book Critics Circle finalist, The Possessed: Adventures with Russian Books and the People Who Read Them, Batuman is a refreshingly different breed of critic, offering intriguingly personal and […]

Nobel Prize Winner Coetzee & Civil War as Concept | Barbara’s Picks, Feb. 2017, Pt. 4


Armitage, David. Civil Wars: A History in Ideas. Knopf. Feb. 2017. 368p. ISBN 9780307271136. $27.95; ebk. ISBN 9780385353090. PHILOSOPHY/HISTORY The Lloyd C. Blankfein Professor of History at Harvard University, Armitage considers civil war not as an aggregation of battles but as an idea dating back to republican Rome. That idea really matters, for whether or […]

Laird Hunt, Yiyun Lee, & More | Barbara’s Picks, Feb. 2017, Pt. 3


Dennett, Daniel C. From Bacteria to Bach and Back: The Evolution of Minds. Norton. Feb. 2017. 448p. ISBN 9780393242072. $28.95. PHILOSOPHY/MIND & BODY Austin B. Fletcher Professor of Philosophy at Tufts University and winner of the Erasmus Prize, Dennett knows how to talk to lay readers; he’s published numerous books, not just with academic presses […]

Looted Books, Librarian Heroes


Published in spring 2016, Joshua Hammer’s The Bad-Ass Librarians of Timbuktu celebrated the librarians who recently rescued hundreds of thousands of ancient Islamic and secular manuscripts when militants invaded their city. Anders Rydell’s The Book Thieves: The Nazi Looting of Europe’s Libraries and the Race To Return a Literary Inheritance (Viking. Feb. 2017. 384p. tr. […]