Barbara's Picks

Kent Haruf, Erika Johansen, Stephen King, Milan Kundera, S.J. Watson | Barbara’s Fiction Picks, Jun. 2015, Pt. 1

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Haruf, Kent. Our Souls at Night. Knopf. Jun. 2015. 176p. ISBN 9781101875896. $23.95. LITERARY/FAMILY LIFE Haruf lays claim to impressive awards (e.g., Whiting Writers’ Award, the Wallace Stegner Award) and nominations (the National Book Award, the Los Angeles Times Book Prize), and his Plainsong, Eventide, and Benediction have sold 1.4 million copies combined. But the […]

Brands on Reagan, Laqueur on Putin, plus Kozol, Schickel, & Vargas Llosa | Barbara’s Nonfiction Picks, Jun. 2015, Pt. 1

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Brands, H.W. Reagan: The Life. Doubleday. Jun. 2015. 816p. ISBN 9780385536394. $35; ebk. ISBN 9780385536400. CD/downloadable: Random Audio. BIOGRAPHY A New York Times best-selling author and Pulitzer Prize finalist for The First American and Traitor to His Class, Brands is both a serious academic (he holds the Jack S. Blanton Sr. Chair in History at […]

Creepy (Barker, Oates), Literary (Bellow, Styron), Political (Lemmon), Epic (Stephenson) & More | Barbara’s Picks, May 2015, Pt. 4

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Barker, Clive. The Scarlet Gospels. St. Martin’s. May 2015. 368p. ISBN 9781250055804. $26.95; ebk. ISBN 9781466859555. CD: Macmillan Audio. HORROR Big news here: Barker’s first adult novel since 2007 brings back Hellraiser icons Harry D’Amour, good-guy investigator of the supernatural, and unimaginably evil Pinhead. It’s their final showdown, and whatever the outcome, Barker has announced […]

David McCullough, Toni Morrison, Jo Nesbo, Jane Smiley, & More | Barbara’s Picks, May 2015, Pt. 3

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Hillerman, Anne. Rock with Wings. Harper. May 2015. 304p. ISBN 9780062270511. $26.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062270535. MYSTERY With the 2013 publication of Spider Woman’s Daughter, award-winning journalist Hillerman took over the series starring famed tribal officers Joe Leaphorn and Jim Chee that had won raves for her father, the late Tony Hillerman. Good move: the book […]

Time, Quality, and the Shifting Digital Landscape at the Columbia Media Conference

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Conveniently, I live just blocks from Columbia University, which made it easy for me to stumble out of bed on Sunday, November 9, to attend the third annual Columbia Media Conference, sponsored by the Spectator Publishing Company (parent company of the Columbia Daily Spectator, the second-oldest student newspaper in the country) and aimed at encouraging […]

Butler, Danielewski, Enright, Hemon, Pearl, & Perkins-Valdez | Barbara’s All-Fiction Picks, May 2015, Pt. 2

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Butler, Nickolas. Beneath the Bonfire: Stories. St. Martin’s. May 2015. 272p. ISBN 9781250039835. $23.99; ebk. ISBN 9781466875531. CD: Macmillan Audio. SHORT STORIES After receiving some powerful reviews when it appeared last spring (the New York Times called it “an impressively original debut”), Butler’s Wisconsin-set, warmly small-town, big-friendship Shotgun Lovesongs went on to become a national […]

Atkinson, Dubow, Palahniuk, & Shepard | Barbara’s Fiction Picks, May 2015, Pt. 1

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Atkinson, Kate. A God in Ruins. Little, Brown. May 2015. 400p. ISBN 9780316176538. $28; ebk. ISBN 9780316341554. lib. ebk. ISBN 9780316341530. CD/downloadable: Hachette Audio. LITERARY Even without its Costa Award and numerous Best Book nods, Atkinson’s remarkably shape-shifting Life After Life would have legions of fans, and they’ll be excited to learn that her next […]

Bloom, Ellis, Shipler, & the Freakonomics Duo | Barbara’s Nonfiction Picks, May 2015, Pt. 1

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Bloom, Harold. The Daemon Knows: Literary Greatness and the American Sublime. Spiegel & Grau. May 2015. 528p. ISBN 9780812997828. $35; ebk. ISBN 9780812997835. LITERATURE A Sterling Professor of Humanities at Yale, former Charles Eliot Norton Professor at Harvard, and MacArthur Fellow, Bloom at 84 remains one of our best-known and most influential critics. Though he’s […]

Donna Leon, Christopher McDougall, Two Big First Novels, & Shakespeare’s Women | Barbara’s Picks, Apr. 2015, Pt. 4

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Freeman, Anna. The Fair Fight. Riverhead. Apr. 2015. 480p. ISBN 9781594633294. $27.95. HISTORICAL Having had great advance notice, including rave reviews upon its publication in the U.K., this debut novel lands with a punch—quite literally, since its subject is female pugilism in late 18th-century England. Brothel-born Ruth won’t triumph in the demimonde, lacking the beauty […]

David Baldacci, Larry Kramer, Steven Millhauser, Mary Morris, & More | Barbara’s Picks, Apr. 2015, Pt. 3

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Baldacci, David. Memory Man. Grand Central. Apr. 2015. 432p. ISBN 9781455559824. $28; ebk. ISBN 9781455586387. lib. ebk. ISBN 9781455559794. CD/downloadable: Hachette Audio. THRILLER Important bulletin to all your thriller fans: mega-best-selling author Baldacci hits a milestone with his 30th adult novel and he launches a new series. His hero is Amos Decker, who has hyperthymesia—no, […]

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