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 […]

Debut Novels, in Love, War, & More | Fiction Previews, Apr. 2016, Pt. 3

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Donovan, Kemper. The Decent Proposal. Harper. Apr. 2016. 320p. ISBN 9780062391629. $25.99. POP FICTION At 29, wannabe Hollywood producer Richard Baumbach has little to show for his efforts but remains cockily assured of success, while 33-year-old Elizabeth Santiago will surely make partner at her law firm but barely deviates from her ordered life. (One big […]

Chevalier, Fishman, O’Brien, Oyeyemi, & Spiotta | Barbara’s Fiction Picks, Mar. 2016, Pt. 1

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Chevalier, Tracy. At the Edge of the Orchard. Viking. Mar. 2016. 304p. ISBN 9780525953005. $26.95; ebk. ISBN 9780698404199. CD/downloadable: Penguin Audio. LITERARY/HISTORICAL Chevalier is the New York Times best-selling author of numerous audience favorites, notably Girl with a Pearl Earring, and with this book, as a way to introduce her to new readers, her new publisher […]

Last of the February 2016 Pop Fiction | Fiction Previews, Feb. 2016, Pt. 4

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Bjørk, Samuel. I’m Traveling Alone. Viking. Feb. 2016. 400p. ISBN 9780525428961. $26.95; ebk. ISBN 9780698193802. Downloadable: Penguin Audio. THRILLER Already a well-known novelist, playwright, and singer/songwriter in his native Norway (under the name Frode Sander Øien), Bjørk leaps into the Scandinavian crime fiction game with this story of a special homicide unit in Oslo investigating […]

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 […]

Benjamin Black, Mark Bowden, Janice Lee, & an Afghan Romeo and Juliet | Barbara’s Picks, Jan. 2016, Pt. 3

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Black, Benjamin. Even the Dead: A Quirke Novel. Holt. Jan. 2016. 304p. ISBN 9781627790666. $27; ebk. ISBN 9781627790673. CD/downloadable: Macmillan Audio. MYSTERY In this seventh in a series from Black, the alter ego of Man Booker Prize winner John Banville, Dublin-based pathologist Quirke gets quite a workout. Even as he’s worried that the blackouts and […]

Middle East Fighting and U.S. Government Blues | Nonfiction Previews, Jan. 2016, Pt. 1

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Chase, Simon & Ralph Pezzullo. Zero Footprint: Leave No Trace, Take No Prisoners: The True Story of a Private Military Contractor in Syria, Libya, And the World’s Most Dangerous Places. Muholland: Little, Brown. Jan. 2015. 352p. ISBN 9780316342247. $28; ebk. ISBN 9780316342223. lib. ebk. ISBN 9780316342230. Downloadable: Hachette Audio. HISTORY/MILITARY/IRAQ Private military contractor Chase carries […]

From Night Vale to Elizabeth George, a Debut Worth $2 Million, & More | Barbara’s Fiction Picks, Oct. 2015, Pt. 2

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Fink, Joseph & Jeffrey Cranor. Welcome to Night Vale. HarperPerennial. Oct. 2015. 416p. ISBN 9780062351425. $19.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062351449. CD: HarperAudio. POP FICTION Surely you’ve heard of Night Vale, that funky little town in the eponymous (and bubbling-over popular) podcast and touring show created by Fink and cowritten by him and Cranor. The library figures […]

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

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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 […]