Alan Bradley, Robert Olen Butler, Emma Donoghue, James Gleick, Robert Gottlieb | Barbara’s Picks, Sept. 2016, Pt. 2

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Bradley, Alan. Thrice the Brinded Cat Hath Mew’d: A Flavia de Luce Novel. Delacorte. Sept. 2016. 400p. ISBN 9780345539960. $26. CD: Random Audio. MYSTERY Wickedly smart young Flavia de Luce launched her investigative career with The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, which proved its worth by winning the Agatha, Macavity, Barry, Dilys, Arthur […]

The Idiot Brain, Fashion Photography, the Microbiome, & More | Nonfiction Previews, Jul. 2016, Pt. 3

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Burnett, Dean. Idiot Brain: What Your Head Is Really Up To. Norton. Jul. 2016. 320p. ISBN 9780393253788. $26.95. COGNITIVE SCIENCE Ever popular, books about the brain typically extol its wonders, but Burnett lets us in on all the weird things it does, ranging from blackouts to insomnia, and all the mistakes we’ve made in trying […]

From Palestine to the Supreme Court to Diane Arbus | Barbara’s Nonfiction Picks, Jun. 2016, Pt. 4

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Ehrenreich, Ben. The Way to the Spring: Life and Death in Palestine. Penguin Pr. Jun. 2016. 448p. ISBN 9781594205903. $28; ebk. ISBN 9780698148192. CD/downloadable: Penguin Audio. POLITICAL SCIENCE A National Magazine Award winner, Ehrenreich spent time over the last three years living with several Palestinian families in the West Bank; his reporting on what he […]

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 […]

The Middle East | Nonfiction Previews, May 2016, Pt. 2

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Hamid, Shadi. Islamic Exceptionalism: How the Struggle Over Islam Is Reshaping the Middle East. St. Martin’s. May 2016. 256p. ISBN 9781250061010. $25.99; ebk. ISBN 9781466866720. POLITICAL SCIENCE The caliphate has always been Islam’s dominant form of governance, and since the Ottoman Caliphate was abolished in 1924, there has been a continuing struggle for some kind […]

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 […]

O’Nan in Jerusalem, a Newly Discovered Tolkien, Abu-Jaber’s New Memoir, & More | Barbara’s Picks, Apr. 2016, Pt. 3

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Abu-Jaber, Diana. Life Without a Recipe: A Memoir of Food and Family. Norton. Apr. 2016. 256p. ISBN 9780393249095. $26.95. MEMOIR Abu-Jaber, a fiction writer known for sparkling award winners like Crescent, has also given us the luscious memoir The Language of Baklava. Here she continues wrapping her discussion of love and identity in the sweet […]

Today’s Issues, Tomorrow’s Business | Social Science Previews, Feb. 2016, Pt. 4

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Bates, Laura. Everyday Sexism. Thomas Dunne: St. Martin’s. Feb. 2016. 384p. ISBN 9781250067937. $25. 99; ebk. ISBN 9781466876668. SOCIAL SCIENCE/FEMINISM On April 16, 2015, Bates’s blog, The Everyday Sexism Project, enjoyed its third anniversary and scored big as the No. 1 trending topic that day on Twitter. Bates started the blog in 2012 after she […]

A Nina Simone Biography, Actors’ Memoirs, and Viertel on the American Musical Theater | Performing Arts Previews, Feb. 2016, Pt. 2

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Fisher, Carrie. The Princess Diarist. Blue Rider. Feb. 2016. 240p. ISBN 9780399173592. $24.95. CD/downloadable: Penguin Audio. MEMOIR After Postcards from the Edge and Wishful Drinking, here’s another memoir from the erstwhile Princess Leia, just in time for the release of the latest Star Wars sequel. Not a full-length narrative arc but interconnected autobiographical essays; note […]