Spring 2016 Poetry: Top Picks

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From Frank Bidart’s contained drama and Rita Dove’s blazingly heartfelt exploration of self and history, to the engaging openness of Campbell McGrath and Maureen McLane, to the shape-shifting formal verve of Tyehimba Jess and Brenda Shaughnessy, to the sheer burning wit of Kim Addonizio and Bob Hicok, poetry today is so rich and varied that, […]

Literary Fiction To Grab, from Tahmima Anam, Thomas Christopher Greene, & More | Fiction Previews, Jun. 2016, Pt. 1

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Alam, Rumaan. Rich and Pretty. Ecco. Jun. 2016. 304p. ISBN 9780062429933. $25.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062429957. LITERARY Upper-crust Sarah works at a charity while plotting the perfect wedding. Wayward self-starter Lauren works in publishing (well, she would) and avoids all questions of marriage—and the future in general. Best friends for 20 years, they’ve been distanced by […]

Not-Just-Memoirs from Barbara Boxer, Tig Notaro, & More | Nonfiction Previews, Jun. 2016, Pt. 1

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Boxer, Barbara. The Art of Tough: Facing Politics and Life Without Fear. Hachette. Jun. 2016. 288p. ISBN 9780316311465. $27; ebk. ISBN 9780316311441. lib. ebk. ISBN 9780316311434. Downloadable: Hachette Audio. MEMOIR California’s junior senator since 1993 (following a ten-year career in the House of Representatives), Boxer proclaims, “One goal of this memoir is to inspire people […]

From Don DeLillo to Service Dogs to the Baker & Taylor Cats | Barbara’s Picks, May 2016, Pt. 4

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Belfer, Lauren. And After the Fire. Harper. May 2016. 464p. ISBN 9780062428516. $26.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062428547. LITERARY/HISTORICAL FICTION In 1796 Berlin, famed musician Sara Itzig Levy hides an anti-Semitic cantata written by Johann Sebastian Bach and given to her by her teacher, one of Bach’s sons. In 1945 Germany, U.S. soldier Henry Sachs snatches a […]

Banks on Travel, Guy on Elizabeth I, Dickey on Pit Bulls, & More | Nonfiction Previews, May 2016, Pt. 4

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Banks, Russell. Voyager: Travel Writings. Ecco. May 2016. 320p. ISBN 9780061857676. $25.99. ESSAYS/TRAVELOG A Pulitzer Prize and Carnegie Medal finalist, novelist Banks is also an inveterate traveler. Here he offers a collection of essays arching over decades and continents as he interviews Fidel Castro in Cuba, elopes to Edinburgh with his fourth wife, travels along […]

Jo Baker, Haigh, Montefiore, Mukherjee, & More | Barbara’s Picks, May 2016, Pt. 2

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Baker, Jo. A Country Road, a Tree. Knopf. May 2016. 304p. ISBN 9781101947180. $25.95; ebk. ISBN 9781101947197. lrg. prnt. CD/downloadable: Random Audio. LITERARY/HISTORICAL FICTION Having taken us downstairs with the Bennet family servants in Longbourn, both a LibraryReads and a Discover Great New Writers pick and a New York Times Notable Book, Baker reimagines the […]

From Annie Dillard & Edward O. Wilson to Charlotte Brontë’s Fiery Heart | Barbara’s Nonfiction Picks, Mar. 2015, Pt. 1

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Dillard, Annie. The Abundance: Narrative Essays Old and New. Ecco. Mar. 2016. 304p. ISBN 9780062432971. $25.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062433015. ESSAYS On September 10, President Barack Obama awarded Dillard the National Humanities Medal “for her profound reflections on human life and nature,” as the White House citation said. “In poetry and prose, Ms. Dillard has invited […]

Benjamin Black, Mark Bowden, Janice Lee, & an Afghan Romeo and Juliet | Barbara’s Picks, Jan. 2016, Pt. 3

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Black, Benjamin. Even the Dead: A Quirke Novel. Holt. Jan. 2016. 304p. ISBN 9781627790666. $27; ebk. ISBN 9781627790673. CD/downloadable: Macmillan Audio. MYSTERY In this seventh in a series from Black, the alter ego of Man Booker Prize winner John Banville, Dublin-based pathologist Quirke gets quite a workout. Even as he’s worried that the blackouts and […]

Four Essential Sci/Med Titles from Tim Flannery, Lisa Randall, & More | Nonfiction Previews, October 2015, Pt. 2

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Flannery, Tim. Atmosphere of Hope: The Search for Solutions to the Climate Crisis. Atlantic Monthly. Oct. 2015. 256p. ISBN 9780802124067. $27; ebk. ISBN9780802190925. NATURE Ten years ago, Flannery helped jump-start the conversation on climate change with The Weather Makers, a No. 1 international best seller that was named an ALA Notable Book and has over […]

Henry Louis Gates Jr., Diana Nyad, Patti Smith, Simon Winchester | Barbara’s Nonfiction Picks, Oct. 2015, Pt. 1

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Gates, Henry Louis, Jr., & Kevin M. Burke. And Still I Rise: From Black Power to the White House. Ecco. Oct. 2015. 304p. ISBN 9780062427007. $35; ebk. ISBN 9780062427014. HISTORY Alphonse Fletcher University Professor and the director of the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research at Harvard, outstanding scholar Gates offers […]