Christopher Buckley, James Lee Burke, Paolo Giordano, & Ruth Rendell | Barbara’s Picks, Dec. 2015, Pt. 1


Buckley, Christopher. The Relic Master. S. & S. Dec. 2015. 256p. ISBN 9781501125751. $26.95. HISTORICAL Buckley, who’s been called “the funniest writer in the English language” by Tom Wolfe and has a Thurber Prize for American Humor to prove it, offers a boisterous tale of 16th-century relic hunting that should have broad appeal. It’s 1517, […]

From Kevin Barry to Mary Gaitskill to Stephen King | Barbara’s Fiction Picks, Nov. 2015, Pt. 3


Barry, Kevin. Beatlebone. Doubleday. Nov. 2015. 256p. ISBN 9780385540292. $24.95. LITERARY FICTION Barry broke out big with his darkly brilliant debut, City of Bohane, winner of the International Dublin IMPAC Literary Award, and has since published two show-stopping collections. Here, after appearing with foresightful Graywolf, he’s getting his first big-house publication in the United States, […]

Mary Beard’s Ancient Rome, Edmund de Waal’s Porcelain, Jon Meacham’s Next Presidential Study, & More | Barbara’s Nonfiction Picks, Nov. 2015, Pt. 3


Beard, Mary. S.P.Q.R.: A History of Ancient Rome.. Liveright: Norton. Nov. 2015.  512p. ISBN 9780871404237. $35. HISTORY Cambridge classics professor Beard couldn’t be more modern in how she shares her ideas, serving as a television presenter and authoring the popular blog “A Don’s Life” while dealing firmly but genially with trollers who just can’t seem […]

Fairy Tales from Cunningham, Murder from Eco, an American Qur’an, & More | Barbara’s Picks, Nov. 2015, Pt . 2


Alarcón, Daniel (text) & Sheila Alvarado (illus.). City of Clowns. Riverhead. Nov. 2015. 144p. ISBN 9781594633331. $27.95; ebk. ISBN 9780698168688. GRAPHIC NOVEL Fans (like me) of Alarcón, a New Yorker “20 Under 40” author whose Lost City Radio won the 2009 International Literature Award, will be intrigued to learn about this graphic-novel version of a […]

The Last of Hijuelos, New Fiction by Albom & Allende, & Major History by Beevor, Kershaw, & Sebestyen | Barbara’s Picks, Nov. 2015, Pt. 1


Albom, Mitch. The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto. Harper. Nov. 2015. 400p. ISBN 9780062294418. $24.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062294425. CD: HarperAudio. POP FICTION Albom writes spiritually engaged work, from Tuesdays with Morrie, said to be the world’s best-selling memoir ever, to The First Phone Call from Heaven, his latest No. 1 New York Times best-selling novel. […]

From Bernanke on the Fed and Steinem on the Road to the Durable Gass and Winterson Rethinking Shakespeare | Barbara’s Picks, Oct. 2015, Pt. 5


Bernanke, Ben S. The Courage To Act: A Memoir of a Crisis and Its Aftermath. Norton. Oct. 2015. 448p. ISBN 9780393247213. $35. BUSINESS & ECONOMICS Not long after Bernanke’s 2006 appointment to the Federal Reserve, the housing industry collapsed, shoving the global economy into a tailspin. Here Bernanke recounts the Fed’s use of every resource […]

National Book Award Winner McCann, Nobel Prize Winner Oe, & More | Barbara’s Fiction Picks, Oct. 2015, Pt. 4


McCann, Colum. Thirteen Ways of Looking: A Novella and Three Stories. Random. Oct. 2015. 272p. ISBN 9780812996722. $26; ebk. ISBN 9780812996739. CD/downloadable: Random Audio. SHORT STORIES This is the first story collection in 12 years from McCann, whose multiple awards include the National Book Award (for Let the Great World Spin) and the International Dublin […]

Reich on Capitalism, Schiff on the Salem Witch Trials, & More | Barbara’s Nonfiction Picks, Oct. 2015, Pt. 4


Hotchner, A.E. Hemingway in Love: A Memoir. St. Martin’s. Oct. 2015. 176p. ISBN 9781250077486. $19.99; ebk. ISBN 9781466889484. CD/downloadable: Macmillan Audio. MEMOIR/LITERATURE Published in 1966, Papa Hemingway offers an affecting personal portrait of Hotchner’s close friend Ernest Hemingway. But there was more to the story. Apparently, in deference to Hemingway’s fourth wife, Mary, and his […]

Nobel Prize Winner Pamuk, Game of Thrones Martin, Shocking Houellebecq, & More | Barbara’s Fiction Picks, Oct. 2015, Pt. 3


Campbell, Bonnie Jo. Mothers, Tell Your Daughters: Stories. Norton. Oct. 2015. 256p. ISBN 9780393248456. $25.95. SHORT STORIES Campbell smashed into our consciousness with her terrific 2009 academic-press story collection, American Salvage, a National Book Award and National Book Critics Circle Award finalist. Her subsequent novel, Once Upon a River, got big praise, too, but it’s […]

Gabaldon Goes Outlandish, Joe Klein Returns, a Look at Clementine Churchill, & More | Barbara’s Nonfiction Picks, Oct. 2015. Pt. 3


Gabaldon, Diana. The Outlandish Companion Volume Two: The Companion to The Fiery Cross, A Breath of Snow and Ashes, An Echo in the Bone, and Written in My Own Heart’s Blood. Delacorte. Oct. 2015. 1008p. ISBN 9780385344449. $40; ebk. ISBN 9780440246459. LITERATURE Expecting that you’ll be in Droughtlander mode after whipping through the latest title […]