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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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 […]

Lawrence Hill, Arnaldur Indridason, Darryl Pinckney, & More | Barbara’s Fiction Picks, Feb. 2016, Pt. 1

Goldberg, Paul. The Yid. Picador. Feb. 2016. 320p. ISBN 9781250079039. $26; ebk. ISBN 9781250079046. LITERARY Moscow-born Goldberg, a reporter and nonfiction author who immigrated to the United States in 1973, offers an imaginative and blackly funny debut novel about the Soviet Union in early 1953, around the time of the anti-Semitic Doctors’ Plot. Here, Stalin […]

Ginsberg, Macdonald, Seidel, Young | Barbara’s Poetry Picks, Feb. 2016, Pt. 1

Ginsberg, Allen. Wait Till I’m Dead: Uncollected Poems. Grove. Feb. 2016. 464p. ed. by Bill Morgan. ISBN 9780802124531. $22. POETRY “Rainy night on Union Square, full moon. Want more poems? Wait till I’m dead.” So proclaimed Allen Ginsberg at 3:30 in the morning on August 8, 1990. And now, nearly 20 years after his death, in […]