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 […]

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, […]

Sean Carroll, Janine di Giovanni, Roxane Gay, Mark Kurlansky, Nathaniel Philbrick | Barbara’s Nonfiction Picks, May 2016, Pt. 1

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Carroll, Sean. The Big Picture: On the Origins of Life, Meaning, and the Universe Itself. Dutton. May 2016. 464p. ISBN 9780525954828. $28; ebk. ISBN 9780698409767. Downloadable: Penguin Audio. SCIENCE A theoretical physicist at the California Institute of Technology, Carroll won the Royal Society Winton Prize for The Particle at the End of the Universe, his […]

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 […]

LJ Reference Reviews: October 1, 2015

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Cambridge Archive Editions Online, Kanopy Streaming for K–12 institutions, Interesting Facts, a complete course on Digital Photography, for sf fans Fantastic Planets

Love, History, Language, Tragedy | Barbara’s Nonfiction Picks, Feb. 2016, Pt. 4

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Buckley, Gail Lumet. The Black Calhouns: From Civil War to Civil Rights with One African American Family. Atlantic Monthly. Feb. 2016. 336p. ISBN 9780802124548. $26. BIOGRAPHY/CULTURAL HERITAGE The daughter of actress Lena Horne, Buckley traces her roots back to great-great grandfather Moses Calhoun, a house slave given that rare chance to obtain an education who […]

On China, Criticism, & Constance Fenimore Woolson | Barbara’s Nonfiction Picks, Feb. 2016, Pt. 3

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Huang, Eddie. Back to the Mothership: In Search of Love, Happiness, and China. Spiegel & Grau. Feb. 2016. 272p. ISBN 9780812995466. $27; ebk. ISBN 9780812995473. CD/downloadable: Random Audio. Proprietor of the popular New York City restaurant Baohaus, then author of the best-selling memoir Fresh Off the Boat (FOB), then executive producer and off-camera narrator of […]

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

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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 […]

Key Poets To Discover and Rediscover, Including Juan Felipe Herrera | Poetry Previews, Fall 2015

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Equi, Elaine. Sentences and Rain. Coffee House. Oct. 2015. 100p. ISBN 9781566894210. pap. $16.95. POETRY Sharp-eyed, witty, and ever able to nail the mood or idea in distilled language—“A slight implies/ if not an insult/ (real or imagined)/ at least something/ unpleasant—/a slight cold,/ a slight headache”—Equi here ranges across the contemporary landscape, from clones […]

Eight Essential Memoirs from Barrymore, Cisneros, Fraser, & More | Nonfiction Previews, Oct. 2015, Pt. 4

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Barrymore, Drew. Wildflower. Dutton. Oct. 2015. 320p. ISBN 9781101983799. $28; ebk. ISBN 9781101983805. CD/downloadable: Penguin Audio. MEMOIR While 1990’s Little Girl Lost details Barrymore’s drug and alcohol abuse as a very young actress, this book covers the durable actress’s life since age 14, when she found herself living on her own. How it’s all come […]