My Picks

Horowitz, Anthony. The House of Silk. Mulholland: Little, Brown. Nov. 2011. 320p. ISBN 9780316196994. $27.99. MYSTERY
Great news, Sherlock Holmes fans! For the first time ever, the estate of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle has authorized a new Holmes story. In fact, the estate approached Horowitz, author of the top New York Times best-selling Alex Rider series. A Holmes expert, Horowitz says he’s steeped in 19th-century literature and will aim for authenticity in plot, language, and character. At the same time, he knows he’s writing for a contemporary audience, and so he took care to make the plot completely gripping and fast-paced. No word on the content yet‚ the publisher will reveal clues with tantalizing slowness, as in a good (ahem) mystery. Okay, so other authors have used Holmes as a character; this is different, and it’s exciting however it turns out. All mystery fans will want.

Kantor, Jodi. The Obamas. Little, Brown. Nov. 2011. 448p. ISBN 9780316098755. $29.99. CD/Downloadable: Hachette Audio. BIOGRAPHY/CURRENT EVENTS
Since Kantor is a Washington correspondent of the New York Times, she would seem to have the knowledge to write a book titled The Obamas. And since she’s Arts & Leisure editor at the paper, she would seem to have the right sensibility for the task she’s set herself: to portray the President and the First Lady as they try to lead a normal life and raise their kids in a house that can’t quite feel like home, with traditions already established and security agents everywhere. Kantor has reported on the Obamas from the beginning of the 2008 presidential race‚ her cover story on their marriage for the New York Times Magazine was a big hit‚ and she promises an in-depth look at Michelle Obama. So, not a political treatise but no powder-puff job either, with Kantor in charge; a nicely sane and humane book we could use.

Straus, Roger III & others. America’s Great Railroad Stations. Viking Studio. Nov. 2011. 256p. ISBN 9780670023110. $40. PHOTOGRAPHY
Who doesn’t love railroads? Not to mention the stations, center of the community in 19th- and early 20th-century America and often remarkable examples of architecture. Straus, who worked in publishing for 30 years before turning to architectural photography, joins with publishing colleagues and fellow railroad nuts Ed Breslin and Hugh Van Dusen to document the best of this genre. Here you’ll see not just stations still in use but those that have been sensibly converted into museums, banks, restaurants, and more. There’s archival material, too. More than a nostalgia trip, I think, this should give a good visual understanding of what good architecture can and should do and how buildings can be adapted for further community use.

Barbara Hoffert About Barbara Hoffert

Barbara Hoffert (, @BarbaraHoffert on Twitter) is Editor, LJ Prepub Alert; past chair of the Materials Selection Committee of the RUSA (Reference and User Services Assn.) division of the American Library Association; and past president, treasurer, and awards chair of the National Book Critics Circle.