Julianna Baggott, Alice Hoffman, Adam Johnson, John Scalzi, & More | Barbara’s Picks, Aug. 2015, Pt. 1


Baggott, Julianna. Harriet Wolf’s Seventh Book of Wonders. Little, Brown. Aug. 2015. 336p. ISBN 9780316375108. $26; ebk. ISBN 9780316375092. lib. ebk. ISBN 9780316337694. Downloadable: Hachette Audio. WOMEN’S FICTION Author of the “Pure” trilogy, a bleak and gorgeously rendered dystopian tale, Baggott here does something arrestingly different. Reclusive author Harriet Wolf is long dead, but rumors […]

Fredrik Backman, C.J. Box, Shirley Jackson, & The Voyage of the Slave Ship Antelope | Barbara’s Picks, Jul. 2015, Pt. 4


Backman, Fredrik. My Grandmother Asked Me To Tell You She’s Sorry. Atria. Jul. 2015. 352p. ISBN 9781501115066. $25. LITERARY FICTION An international best seller published in more than 25 languages worldwide, Backman’s first novel, A Man Called Ove, got lovely reviews here that almost always used the word charming. That word (though perhaps with more […]

From Spain’s Golden Age to the Billion-Dollar Spy | History Previews, Jul. 2015, Pt. 1


Dickey, Christopher. Our Man in Charleston: Britain’s Secret Agent in the Civil War South. Crown. Jul. 2015. 368p. ISBN 9780307887276. $27; ebk. ISBN 9780307887290. HISTORY As the Civil War commenced, the Confederacy desperately wanted recognition from Great Britain. But that country opposed the slave trade, which the Southern states needed reopened to maintain their economy. […]

Great Book Club Books from Kate Alcott, Tom McCarthy, Tatjana Soli, & More | Fiction Previews, Feb. 2015, Pt. 4


Alcott, Kate. A Touch of Stardust. Pantheon. Feb. 2015. 304p. ISBN 9780385539043. $25; ebk. ISBN 9780385539050. CD: Random Audio. HISTORICAL How fun is this? Alcott, author of the New York Times best-selling The Dressmaker, has written a big, sprawling novel about the filming of Gone with the Wind, with a side trip to the boiling-over […]

Neil Gaiman, Rachel Joyce, Anne Tyler, Irvine Welsh | Barbara’s Fiction Picks, Feb. 2015, Pt. 1


Gaiman, Neil. Trigger Warning: Short Fictions and Discoveries. Morrow. Feb. 2015. 400p. ISBN 9780062330260. $27.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062330291. CD: HarperAudio. SHORT STORIES I don’t have to introduce Gaiman as the Hugo, Bram Stoker, and World Fantasy Award– and Newbery Medal–winning author of Coraline and other spectacular examples of speculative fiction, do I? He’s back with […]

Memoirs from Musicians (Charlie Wilson), Journalists (Robert Chirstgau, Kevin Sessums), a Genius Gamer (Garriott de Cayeux ), & More | Nonfiction Previews, Feb. 2015, Pt. 1


Christgau. Robert. Going into the City: Portrait of a Critic As a Young Man. Dey Street: HarperCollins. Feb. 2015. 320p. ISBN 9780062238795. $26.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062238818. MEMOIR Chief music critic at the Village Voice for more than three decades and still going strong as a Billboard.com columnist and visiting arts professor at New York University, […]

Eric Foner, Seth Grahame-Smith, Edith Pearlman, & More | Barbara’s Picks, Jan. 2015, Pt. 3


Cohen, Roger. The Girl from Human Street: Ghosts of Memory in a Jewish Family. Knopf. Jan. 2015. 336p. ISBN 9780307594662. $26.95; ebk. ISBN 9780385353137. MEMOIR New York Times columnist Cohen, honored by the Overseas Press Club for his work as the paper’s Balkans bureau chief during the Bosnian War and in charge of the Pulitzer […]

Karen Armstrong, Richard Ford, Ha Jin, & More | Barbara’s Picks, Nov. 2014, Pt. 1


Armstrong, Karen. Fields of Blood: Religion and the History of Violence. Knopf. Nov. 2014. 432p. ISBN 9780307957047. $30; ebk. ISBN 9780385353106. CD/downloadable: Random Audio. HISTORY A best-selling author of insightful books on religion and winner of the 2008 TED Prize, which facilitated her work with TED on the Charter for Compassion, Armstrong here goes beyond […]

Performing Arts Essentials: Books by Cumming, Dunham, Lear, & Poehler | Barbara’s Picks, Oct. 2014, Pt. 3


Cumming, Alan. Not My Father’s Son: A Memoir. Dey: HarperCollins. Oct. 2014. 288p. ISBN 9780062225061. $26.99. MEMOIR A star of stage and screen who broke our hearts with his Tony Award–winning portrayal of the Emcee in 1998’s Cabaret—and is doing so again on Broadway now—Cumming here offers a totally unexpected memoir. At the time he […]

Fashion Essentials: Chanel, Saint Laurent, Schiaparelli | Barbara’s Picks, Oct. 2014, Pt. 3


Garelick, Rhonda. Mademoiselle: Coco Chanel and the Pulse of History. Random. Oct. 2014. 576p. ISBN 9781400069521. $35; ebk. ISBN 9780679604266. BIOGRAPHY Drawing on the Chanel archives, extensive interviews, and her own background as an author with a Yale PhD in French and comparative literature who covers fashion, performance, art, and cultural politics, Garelick offers more […]