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 […]

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


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 […]

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


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 […]

Five Key Literary/Historical Debut Novels | Fiction Previews, Jan. 2016, Pt. 1


Brown, Taylor. Fallen Land. St. Martin’s. Jan. 2016. 288p. ISBN 9781250077974. $25.99; ebk. ISBN 9781466893078. LITERARY/HISTORICAL Montana Prize winner Brown has published short fiction in venues like the Baltimore Review and  storySouth but makes the leap to full-blown novelist with a work set in Georgia in the final years of the Civil War. Callum, a […]

Five Essential Historical Titles | Nonfiction Previews, Dec. 2015, Pt. 2


Crowley, Roger. Conquerors: How Portugal Forged the First Global Empire. Random. Dec. 2015. 416p. ISBN 9780812994001. $30; ebk. ISBN 9780812994018. HISTORY Crowley spent some of his childhood in Malta, hung around Greece the summer after finishing school, and taught in Istanbul after reading English at Cambridge, and his enduring interest in the history of the […]

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 […]

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


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 […]

Gregory Maguire, Anthony Marra, David Mitchell, Jane Smiley | Barbara’s Picks, Oct. 2015, Pt. 1


Maguire, Gregory. After Alice. Morrow. Oct. 2015. 256p. ISBN 9780770436445. $26.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062410825. CD: HarperAudio. LITERARY/HISTORICAL Known for his revisionist take on children’s classics, particularly his Wicked-ly good series drawing on The Wizard of Oz, the first of which inspired the hit Broadway musical, Maguire turns his attention to Lewis Carroll’s immortal Alice’s Adventures […]

Niall Ferguson, Joan Lunden, David Maraniss, Anne-Marie Slaughter, & More | Barbara’s Nonfiction Picks, Sept. 2015, Pt. 4


Ferguson, Niall. Kissinger: Vol. I: The Idealist, 1923–1968. Penguin Pr. Sept. 2015. 560p. ISBN 9781594206535. $36. BIOGRAPHY Laurence A. Tisch Professor of History at Harvard and a senior research fellow at Stanford’s Hoover Institution, Ferguson is the author of New York Times best sellers like Civilization and The Ascent of Money. With those credentials and […]

Geraldine Brooks, J.M. Coetzee, Salman Rushdie, & the Return of Lisbeth Salander | Barbara’s Picks, Sept. 2015, Pt. 3


Brooks, Geraldine. The Secret Chord. Viking. Sept. 2015. 304p. ISBN 9780670025770. $27.95. CD: Penguin Audio. HISTORICAL FICTION Brooks, who wins both prizes (e.g., the Pulitzer for March) and audiences (there are two million copies of her books out there), has always triumphed with historical subjects, and she’s back at it with this novel about King […]