Contemporary Literature Sitemap - Page 4 2014-11-27

My Reading Life by Pat Conroy - Review of My Reading Life by Pat Conroy
In My Reading Life, Pat Conroy presents a straightforward spiritual and psychological autobiography, in which he gives his readers insight to the books that shaped him as both a writer and a person.

Sixkill by Robert B. Parker - Review of Sixkill by Robert B. Parker
It is entirely appropriate that one of the best and most prolific writers of detective novels should go out with a big bang. With Sixkill, his final Spenser novel, Robert Parker proved that he still had what it takes to captivate his fans when he died in January 2010.

Carte Blanche: The New James Bond Novel by Jeffery Deaver
James Bond is back and badder than ever in Carte Blanche. Entrusted by Ian Fleming Publications to the capable hands of Jeffery Deaver (The Burning Wire) the young bond comes complete with the fast pace, exotic women, intriguing gadgets, and diabolical villians we've come to love in Ian Fleming's tales.

At Home: A Short History of Private Life by Bill Bryson - Book Review of Bill Bryson's At Home
Bill Bryson is best loved for his travel writing. Readers love to amble along with him on various adventures: through-hiking the Appalachian Trail (A Walk in the Woods), confronting deadly animals in the Australian outback (In a Sunburned Country), or sipping tea in England (Notes from a Small Island). At Home is a departure for Bryson, as the scope of its inquiries extend no further than the author's front door.

Give Me Your Heart by Joyce Carol Oates - Review of Joyce Carol Oates Give Me Your Heart
Joyce Carol Oates is the author of more than fifty novels and hundreds of short stories. Her work is often violent, and her topics often include rural poverty, sexual abuse, and female childhood and adolescence. Give Me Your Heart includes these elements and adds in a dose of survivorhood. Although terrible things happen, and some protagonists are guilty, some are plucky and lucky enough to escape certain tragedy.

Before You Suffocate Your Own Fool Self by Danielle Evans
In her impressive literary debut, Before You Suffocate Your Own Fool Self, author Danielle Evans emerges as a smart, funny and strong new voice in fiction. Readers of this story collection will find themselves alternating between laughing out loud and trying to fight off tears as Evans's characters navigate through the rough waters of their existence.

Full Dark No Stars by Stephen King - Review of Stephen King's Full Dark No Stars
In the four novellas that make up Full Dark, No Stars, Stephen King has crafted some of the most accessible, engrossing gothic tales that showcase his literary bravado while maintaining a firm hand on the suspense. But these novellas are not solely focused on scares: they are built around deftly tuned concepts that will linger with readers longer than any fright could.

Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk: A Modest Bestiary by David Sedaris
In his new book of stories, Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk: A Modest Bestiary, David Sedaris proves that he's a master at pushing the limits of whatever genre he chooses to write. This time - it's fiction, and in this wacky world that only Sedaris could dream up, animal characters take vacations, go on dates, and go to jail.

The Empty Family by Colm Toibin - Review of Colm Toibin's The Empty Family
In Colm Toibin's The Empty Family, emptiness is more of a distance, a space between. In nearly all of the short stories included in this collection, characters face a chasm, either emotional or geographical, and struggle with adjusting their lives around it. Some fight to reconnect with a distant homeland, some with distant friends and family, while others try to embrace the rift and grow stronger despite its presence.

Gryphon by Charles Baxter - Review of Charles Baxter's Gryphon
Gryphon is a collection of twenty-three stories, written by Charles Baxter between the early eighties and today, all of which are packed with a slow-paced poetry that riffs on the flatness - and oftentimes frozenness - of middle American landscapes.

The Hunger Games (The Hunger Games Series #1) by Suzanne Collins
In the dystopic landscape of Panem, a post-apocalyptic nation culled from the ashes of North America sometime in an unspecified future, an autocratic state government annually reinforce their dominance over the outlying districts with the Hunger Games, reality television for a post-apocalyptic age in which 24 youths, two boys and two girls from each district, battle to the death.

Pulse by Julian Barnes - Review of Pulse by Julian Barnes
Julian Barnes' Pulse is a well-tempered anthology of subtle dramatics. By dividing the stories in Pulse between two distinctly different sections, Barnes reminds readers that a short story collection can have a remarkable amount of craft in its structuring.

Embassytown by China Mieville - Book Review
China Mieville's Embassytown takes place in a distant future in which humans have colonized a planet that is already home to the Ariekei, whose language only a few altered humans can speak and which the very presence of the human colonists changes.

Zero History by William Gibson - Review of William Gibson's Zero History
The final novel in William Gibson's Bigend trilogy, Zero History, begins much like its predecessors (Pattern Recognition and Spook Country), with the various machinations and desires of Blue Ant and the man at its helm. Hubertus Bigend,

Get Capone by Jonathan Eig - Review of Jonathan Eig's Biography of Al Capone
In Get Capone, Jonathan Eig brings the real Al Capone to life. While acknowledging the myths that have defined Capone for ninety years, Eig has placed Capone's life accurately in the culture that spawned both him and his myth. This is a brilliant biography of an iconic American whose exploits have characterized the Roaring Twenties.

Autobiography of Mark Twain, Volume 1 by Mark Twain
The wait for Mark Twain's autobiography has been longer than the interval between the appearances of Haley's Comet that conveniently book-ended the life of Samuel Clemens. This first installment of three is well-worth the long wait. There are nuggets here that show the full force of Clemens's rapier like wit and acerbity. There are nuggets of great hilarity and moments of deep introspection.

Fragments: Poems, Intimate Notes, Letters by Marilyn Monroe
In

Townie by Andre Dubus III - Review of Andres Dubus III's memoir Townie
Townie is Andre Dubus III's no-holds barred memoir of poverty, drugs and violence in the mill towns of Massachusetts. Here, the author lets the reader into the story of his dysfunctional youth and the solace he found in fighting and later, writing.

Bossypants by Tina Fey - Review of Bossypants by Tina Fey
Tina Fey's quirky and self-depracating sense of humor comes through in her memoir Bossypants - all the way to the cover, which shows the writer coyly posed with her hand on her face and wearing a white dress shirt, tie, and hat. The cover could be an advertisement for a beauty product, except for the hairy, masculine arms that have been Photoshopped in place of Fey's own.

Half a Life by Darin Strauss - Review of Darin Strauss' Half a Life
Darin Strauss was driving with his friends to a miniature golf course when a sixteen year-old girl veered her bicycle across two lanes and into the path of his Oldsmobile. Celine Zilke's death that night changed eighteen-year old Strauss forever; the grief and guilt that afflicts Strauss throughout his memoir is impossible to reason with; it is at once crass and elegant, both simple and relentlessly complicated.

Ayako by Osamu Tezuka - Review of Osamu Tezuka's Ayako
Spanning twenty-five years and seven hundred pages, Ayako unfolds like a Victorian novel by way of Alfred Hitchcock: dark family secrets collide with political espionage and create one of the most layered and nuanced graphic novels to ever reach our shores.

The Belief Instinct by Jesse Bering - Review of The Belief Instinct by Jesse Bering
In The Belief Instinct, evolutionary psychologist Jesse Bering uses science, popular culture, and a dash of humor to illustrate why belief in God is not a delusion, as Richard Dawkins would have us believe, but a useful illusion, an adaptive trait that we humans have evolved over time.

The Clockwork Universe by Edward Dolnick - Review of The Clockwork Universe by Edward Dolnick
Edward Dolnick's The Clockwork Universe is the story of a group of scientists who set out to read God's mind. These geniuses - Gallileo, Newton, Kepler, and a host of others - wanted to find the key that would unlock God's laws. These laws, many of them thought, had been written in mathematical code. If they could discover the code, they could prove the existence of God.

Animalinside by Laszlo Krasznahorkai and Max Neumann - Review of Animalinside
In Animalinside, the 14th installment in the Cahiers series of short, intellectual pamphlets, Hungarian author Laszlo Krasznahorkai and German artist Max Neumann collaborate to create a slim collection of pieces that address the animal inside all of us.

A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan - Review of A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan
A Visit from the Goon Squad is an utterly unique work of fiction in which Jennifer Egan extracts episodes from the lives of a colorful array of characters to weave an atemporal tapestry of narrative that stretches into both past and future.

The Pale King by David Foster Wallace - Review of The Pale King by David Foster Wallace
The Pale King, like its progenitor Infinite Jest, is a puzzle - a bit like one of those 5,000 piece jigsaw puzzle that consumes the family's attention for weeks - and before emptying the pieces onto the table, Wallace shows us the cover on the box in a chapter that luminously sets the stage and instantly reminds the reader that whatever follows, if there's one thing that Wallace did better than most everyone else on the planet, it was writing singularly wonderful sentences.

When the Killing's Done by T.C. Boyle - Review of When the Killing's Done by T.C. Boyle
T.C. Boyle is a dynamic writer with an expansive vocabulary. He chooses controversial topics and then weaves chatty novels around them; his characters are modern and the language in his writing feels instantly familiar. When the Killing's Done is no exception: the topic is how humans interact with the environment, and while the scenarios feel a bit stale, they do represent both sides of this divisive issue.

The Curfew by Jesse Ball - Book Review
In Jesse Ball's The Curfew, William, an epitaphorist employed by the dystopic city of C. carries on with his daughter, Molly. They're good citizens, keeping their heads down until an old acquaintance who claims knowledge of what became his wife, moves William to action, after dark, during the curfew.

The Night Train by Clyde Edgerton - Book Review
It's 1963 in a rural North Carolina town where Dwayne Hallston, a white teenager, emulates James Brown and Larry Lime Nolan, his black friend, strives to play piano like Thelonious Monk. With impossible dreams and a forbidden friendship, Dwayne and Larry help each other navigate their racially divided world in Clyde Edgerton's The Night Train.

State of Wonder by Ann Patchett - Book Review
A missing medical researcher, an obsessed professor, and a drug that keeps an obscure tribe of Amazonian woman fertile into their 70s are the key ingredients in Ann Patchett's State of Wonder.

Buzz Aldrin, What Happened to You In All the Confusion by Johan Harstad
In Harstad's debut novel of intentional obscurity, Mattias, a Norwegian gardener, loses his job and his girlfriend before disappearing to the Faroe Islands to find himself accidentally rescued by an enigmatic cast of characters in a most unxpected place.

Luka and the Fire of Life by Salman Rushdie - Review of Salman Rushdie's Luka and the Fire of Life
Luka and the Fire of Life is the second children's novel by Salman Rushdie, coming twenty years after the publication of Haroun and the Sea of Stories in 1990. Although set in the same World of Magic and with the same cast of characters, those who have read Haroun will find Luka a wildly different sort of novel.

The Box: Tales from the Darkroom by Gunter Grass - Review of Gunter Grass' The Box
A literary master, his family, an assistant and her all-seeing camera are the components that make up Gunter Grass's great literary experiment, The Box: Tales from the Darkroom. In this work of fiction, Grass writes in the voices of his eight children as they sit around the tables in their various households to record memories of their childhoods and of their father, who always seemed to be just out of reach.

Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro - Review of Kazuo Ishiguro's Never Let Me Go
Never Let Me Go is a 2005 novel from British author, Kazuo Ishiguro (a movie version of Never Let Me Go was released in 2010). The story is speculative, set in an alternate England whose dystopic elements aren't immediately apparent to the reader. The novel has a fascinating premise whose potential is never realized.

Summertime by J.M. Coetzee
As elusive as Bob Dylan when it comes to responding to questions about his personal history, J.M. Coetzee designs a fictional autobiography in Summertime in which an unnamed biographer lifts illustrative passages from Coetzee's diaries and interviews significant persons from the Nobel Laureate's past, now that Coetzee (in the novel, though not in real life) has passed away.

My Name is Red by Orhan Pamuk - Review of Orhan Pamuk's My Name is Red
My Name is Red was originally published in Turkish in 1998. The first English translation came in 2001 and won the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award in 2003. The novel was burned publicly in Turkey when Orhan Pamuk was accused of

Caribou Island by David Vann - Review of David Vann's Caribou Island
In David Vann's Caribou Island, a retired couple sets off to chase the ultimate homesteader's dream: a cabin, on an island, in Alaska. But the project will have consequences more far-reaching than anyone originally intended.

Jeff in Venice, Death in Varanasi by Geoff Dyer
Geoff Dyer has always blurred the edges between fiction and nonfiction, but his celebration of the sublime in both the mundane and the exotic is made palatable if not delicious by his facile hand. The best parts of Jeff in Venice, Death in Varanasi are beautifully written and incisive.

Atmospheric Disturbances by Rivka Galchen - Review of Rivka Galchen's Atmospheric Disturbances
In Atmospheric Disturbances, Rivka Galchen dishes up an amalgam of psychiatry, meteorology, and poetic prose in a story about a psychiatrist who finds his lovely young wife has disappeared and been replaced by an exact replicate at the same time that his patient, who believes that he is secretly employed to control the weather, has also gone missing.

Sing You Home by Jodi Picoult - Review of Sing You Home by Jodi Picoult
Jodi Picoult's Sing You Home will bring tears to your eyes from both anger and sympathy as it presents both sides of three of America's most polarizing, hot-button issues: gay rights, reproductive science, and the Christian right.

Swamplandia! by Karen Russell - Review of Swamplandia! by Karen Russell
Hilola Bigtree, matriarch of the Bigtree Clan and star of the alligator wrestling show at the family-operated Swamplandia! alligator park, has passed away.

The Tiger's Wife by Tea Obreht - Review of The Tiger's Wife by Tea Obreht
Tea Obreht's outstanding debut novel, The Tiger's Wife, captivates with both awe and understanding. With a flawless synthesis of politics, folklore, and tradition, Obreht has created such a perfectly private book that readers will feel grateful for her exquisite prose.

The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey by Walter Mosley
Consider that you are very old and beginning to sink into the abyss of dementia, but you are still at a point that you know that something is happening to you. You have a choice. You can continue along your current path and slowly become more disoriented, perhaps over a few weeks or years. Or, you can take an experimental new drug that will guarantee that you have some weeks with a clear, penetrating mind and renewed physical vigor. Such is the dilemma of Ptolemy Grey.

By Nightfall by Michael Cunningham
Michael Cunningham's novel By Nightfall features a a middle-aged SoHo art dealer whose world is shaken by the arrival of his wife's younger brother, a recovering drug addict who wants to pursue a career in the arts.

Nemesis by Philip Roth - Review of Philip Roth's Nemesis
In Nemesis, Philip Roth's thirty-first novel, a Jewish community in Newark is crippled with paranoia surrounding the polio outbreak during the summer of 1944. Yet, twenty-three year old Bucky Cantor, the summer's playground director for the Weequahic neighborhood, is afflicted with a different sort of inaction: unable to enlist due to his bad eyes, he's stuck at home with a heart teeming with unrequited love for his country.

How to Read the Air by Dinaw Mengestu - Review of Dinaw Mengestu's How to Read the Air
Dinaw Mengestu's How to Read the Air is a brilliantly written, literary elegy that holds the reader's close attention from the first paragraph until the end. Mengestu's facility with language is reflected on every page; his ability to astound with a turn of phrase, a metaphor is usual. Yet, in its elegiac exploration of how the bonds between Ethiopian exiles are dissolved by dislocation and turmoil, it is ultimately one of the most depressing stories of the year.

The Next Queen of Heaven by Gregory Maguire - Book Review of Gregory Maguire's The Next Queen of Heaven
Gregory Maguire's newest novel, The Next Queen of Heaven, packs in some of the cleverest wit and one-liners since Patrick Dennis' Auntie Mame (1955). Sure the story itself drags like a plus-sized snail through wet cement, but the snark is too precious to toss aside.

The Petting Zoo by Jim Carroll - Review of Jim Carroll's The Petting Zoo
As both editor Paul Slovak and rocker Patti Smith note in their forewords to Jim Carroll's posthumously published novel The Petting Zoo, Carroll died of a heart attack at his writing desk on September 11, 2009 while putting the finishing touches to this swan song, which he'd been working on since the 1990s. Smith says Carroll wrote The Petting Zoo

Sunset Park by Paul Auster - Review of Paul Auster's Sunset Park
Poor dialogue and poor pacing make Sunset Park a difficult story to believe and a difficult book to trust. The characters in Paul Auster's latest all speak with a strained dramatic flair that is better left for the author's meta-noir novels. The book attempts to tackle complicated familial emotions, but without the ability to believe any of his characters when they speak from the heart, Auster falls flat in that attempt.

Trespass by Rose Tremain - Review of Rose Tremain's Trespass
Rose Tremain's Trespass is a cautionary tale of sorts. At once about boundaries both emotional and familial, Trespass tells the story of five aging characters as they struggle balancing independence with imposition.

Great House by Nicole Krauss - Review of Nicole Krauss' Great House
In Great House, Nicole Krauss has built a monument to the art of the novel. She reminds readers of the limitless restraints of a novelist, and in four connected stories manages to break down all notions of form and expectation to create a work that is so exceptional and ambitious that it is nothing short of a triumph.

Red Hook Road by Ayelet Waldman - Review of Ayelet's Waldman's Red Hook Road
Khaled Hosseini calls Red Hook Road

Burning Garbo by Robert Eversz
Take a sang froid ex-con assigned to photograph a reclusive Garbo-like movie star: she's knocked unconscious but nevertheless escapes a fast-moving California brush fire; outmaneuvers a conniving alcoholic cop set for blood; survives a trailer bulldozed over a cliff while she's inside; and just by the skin of her teeth, escapes an evil dentist set to pull all thirty-two of her pearly whites-sans Novocain. This story moves.

Shades of Grey by Jasper Fforde - Review of Jasper Fforde's Shades of Grey
Jasper Fforde may just be my new ffavorite author. He makes my job easy and enjoyable and perhaps even entirely unnecessary. You don't actually have to continue reading this review, really. If you are at all disposed to dystopian and decidedly satirical coming-of-age steampunk, with a healthy dose of Monty Pythonesque laughs, you may skip to the end of this page where I recommend getting your hands on a copy of 'Shades of Grey' immediately.

Aesop's Mirror: A Love Story by Maryalice Huggins - Review of Aesop's Mirror
In 'Aesop's Mirror,' antiques restorer Maryalice Huggins sets out to track down the origins of an unusual rococo antique mirror, a quest that takes her on a mystery that is all the more compelling because it is true.

The Thing About Life is That One Day You'll Be Dead by David Shields
David Shield's book is a strange animal: bits of memory - recollections of boyhood sports and reflections upon his father's late-life vigor - interspersed with statistical notations on the human body's journey from cradle to grave. It's disjointed, but somehow the pieces of this odd book coalesce in the end to affect the reader with an appreciation of life's impermanence.

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest by Stieg Larsson - Review of Stieg Larsson's The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest
Having completed 'The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest,' I was struck by conflicting emotions. There was joy because I had been able to read the best of the trilogy of Stieg Larsson's Millennium novels. There was sadness because it was the last and I would be able to learn no more about his striking characters.

Broken: A Love Story by Lisa Jones - Review of Broken by Lisa Jones
In Broken, Lisa Jones tells the incredible life story of a man named Stanford Addison, a quadriplegic Arapahoe who breaks - or rather gentles - wild horses. But Broken is as much about this author's journey through brokenness and healing as it is about Stanford Addison, the man who prompts it all.

A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again by David Foster Wallace
'A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again,' a collection of essays that David Foster Wallace wrote for various publications during the early 1990's. It's a mixed bag of compositions, two of which are absolute must-reads.

On Writing by Stephen King - Review of Stephen King's On Writing
Stephen King's On Writing is half memoir, half instruction to writers, and all love for the craft of writing. As good now in its 10th Anniversary edition as it was when King penned it in 2000, On Writing recounts King's childhood writing efforts and his initial successes, and within its pages, King lays open a toolbox full of advice for writers.

Pirateology
Pirateology is a fantastic introduction to pirates for old and young alike. It is the journal of Captain William Lubber, an 18th Century pirate hunter sent off by the Governor of Massachusetts to hunt down and capture the dread pirate, Arabella Drummond. Within is a varied melange of pirate lore, history, artwork, and treasure.

Point Omega by Don DeLillo - Review of Don DeLillo's Point Omega
Don DeLillo's Point Omega is about Richard Elster, a secret defense intellectual who has retreated to solace in the desert southwest. Elster is sought out by a young filmmaker and then by his daughter Jessie. The three proceed to train discussion on points philosophical.

Freedom by Jonathan Franzen - Review of Jonathan Franzen's Freedom
In Freedom, the mom is an ex-athlete who still carries a torch for her husband's rock star best friend, the dad is a corporate progressive who fights Big Coal, the son actually moves out of the house and into the neighbor's, and the author, Jonathan Franzen, once again proves mastery at mining the suburban experience for both comedy and tragedy.

Allusion
An allusion is a reference to a famous person, place, thing or part of another work of literature. It is assumed that the reader understands the allusion.

Alessandro Baricco
Alessandro Baricco was born in Turin in 1958. The author of three previous novels, he has won the Prix Médicis étranger in France and the Selezione Campiello, Viareggio, and Palazzo del Bosco prizes in Italy. His third novel,

Dave Eggers Bio - Biography of Dave Eggers
Dave Eggers is the author of numerous works of fiction and nonfiction including A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, You Shall Know Our Velocity, and What is the What. He is the founder of McSweeney's independent publishing house and the 826 Valencia writing lab, which has since expanded to 826 National, writing workshops for teens around the U.S.

Carl Hiaasen
Carl Hiaasen turned his hand to fiction in the early eighties. His first novel, Tourist Season,was published in 1986 and named

Marco Polo: From Venice to Xanadu by Laurence Bergreen - Book Review
As the most celebrated European to explore Asia, Marco Polo was the original global traveler and the earliest bridge between East and West. A universal icon of adventure and discovery, he has inspired six centuries of popular fascination and spurious mythology. Here is the first fully authoritative biography of one of the most enchanting figures in world history.

The River at the Center of the World by Simon Winchester
Simon Winchester's

Rome 1960: The Olympics that Changed the World by David Maraniss - Book Review of Rome 1960
In

Temples, Tombs, and Hieroglyphs by Barbara Mertz - Book Review
In this updated version of the classic of popular Egyptology, Barbara Mertz reveals herself to be the perfect guide to ancient Egypt for the student, the layman, and those who plan to visit---or have visited---the Nile Valley.

The Long March: The True History of Communist China's Founding Myth by Sun Shuyun - Book Review
The Long March is Communist Chinas founding myth, the heroic tale that every Chinese child learns in school. Seventy years after the historical march took place, Sun Shuyun set out to retrace the marchers steps and unexpectedly discovered the true history behind the legend.

Book Review of The Terror: The Merciless War for Freedom in Revolutionary France by David Andress
Book Review of The Terror: The Merciless War for Freedom in Revolutionary France by David Andress

A Voyage Long and Strange: Rediscovering the New World by Tony Horwitz - Book Review
A few years ago Tony Horwitz found himself at Plymouth Rock amidst a gaggle of tourists who struck him as particularly unknowledgable of our nation's founding. Searching his own memory on the subject, he found an equally sizable chasm, prompting him to set off on a

Why Birds Sing by David Rothenberg
Why Birds Sing is a lyric exploration of bird song that blends the latest scientific research with a deep understanding of musical beauty and form. Whether playing the clarinet with the white-crested laughing thrush in Pittsburgh, or jamming in the Australian winter breeding grounds of the Albert's lyrebird, David Rothenberg journeys to the heart and soul of bird song.

Led Zeppelin's Led Zeppelin IV (33 1/3 series)
In this wickedly entertaining and thoroughly informed homage to one of rock music's towering pinnacles, Erik Davis investigates the magic‚ black or otherwise‚ that surrounds this album. Carefully peeling the layers from each song, Davis reveals their dark and often mystical roots and leaves the reader to decide whether Led Zeppelin IV is some form of occult induction or just an inspired, brilliantly played rock album.

Blonde Faith: An Easy Rawlins Novel by Walter Mosley - Book Review
Easy Rawlins, L.A.'s most reluctant detective, comes home one day to find Easter, the daughter of his friend Chrismas Black, left on his doorstep. Easy knows that this could only mean that the ex-marine Black is probably dead, or will be soon. Easter's appearance is only the beginning, as Easy is immersed in a sea of problems. The love of his life is marrying another man and his friend Mouse is wanted for the murder of a father of 12.

The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown - Review of the Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown
In The Da Vinci Code, Dan Brown combines a murder mystery with a religious historical thriller to create a record-breaking best-seller. While in Paris, Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon receives an urgent phone call: the curator of the Louvre has been murdered inside the museum. While working to solve the enigmatic riddle, Langdon is stunned to discover it leads to a trail of clues hidden in the works of Da Vinci -- clues visible for all to see -- yet ingeniously disguised by the painter.

Dead Connection by Alafair Burke, Book Review
In Alafair Burke's thriller,

Death Dance by Linda Fairstein
World famous dancer, Natalya Galinova has disappeared at the Metropolitan Opera House during intermission of a performance. The theatre, the three colleagues quickly discover, is not all sound and light. Much of what seems to be is not. Politics and intrigue behind the scenes prop up this story and create the illusion that all is well. At the same time, Alex is devising a creative means of capturing a corrupt physician who assaults his female patients by drugging them.

The Final Solution: A Story of Detection by Michael Chabon
In The Final Solution, Michael Chabon has condensed his vision to create a short, suspenseful tale of compassion and wit that re-imagines the classic detective story. In retirement in the English countryside, an 89-year old man, vaguely recollected by the locals as a once-famous detective, is more concerned with his beekeeping than his fellow man. Into his life wanders Linus Steinman, nine years old and mute, who has escaped from Nazi Germany with his sole companion: an African grey parrot.

An Incomplete Revenge: A Maisie Dobbs Novel by Jacqueline Winspear - Book Review
Set in 1931 England, An Incomplete Revenge begins with a deceptively simple quest for psychologist and investigator Maisie to explore a rural town in Kent for a prospective land buyer, who is concerned about a series of thefts, fires, and vandalism in the area. Though the countryside is lovely and the village looks inviting, Maisie soon realizes that the secrets at stake are far more sinister than petty crime.

Shadow of Power: A Paul Madriani Novel by Steve Martini - Book Review
'Shadow of Power,' Steve Martini's ninth Paul Madriani legal thriller, takes the defense attorney from a California courtroom to the pursuit of a missing Supreme court justice in a smart and sophisticated story packed with

Robert Ludlum's The Arctic Event by James H. Cobb - Book Review
On an island in the Canadian Arctic, researchers discover the wreckage of a Soviet bomber that disappeared with its crew more than fifty years ago while carrying two tons of weaponized anthrax. Desperate to prevent a political firestorm, the U.S. dispatches a Covert-One team led by Lieutenant Colonel Jon Smith to the crash site. As for the Russians, they are lying: a second, even deadlier secret rests within the hulk of the lost bomber, a secret the Russians are willing to kill to protect.

The Hot Kid by Elmore Leonard
With tommy guns, hot cars, speakeasies, cops and robbers, and a former lawman who believes in vigilante justice, all played out against the flapper period of gun molls and Prohibition,

The Tin Roof Blowdown by James Lee Burke - Review of The Tin Roof Blowdown by James Lee Burke
As James Lee Burke's novel The Tin Roof Blowdown begins, Hurricane Katrina has left the commercial district and residential neighborhoods awash with looters and predators of every stripe. The power grid of the city has been destroyed, New Orleans reduced to the level of a lawless medieval society. In the midst of all this, Detective Dave Robicheaux must find two serial rapists, a morphine-addicted priest, and a vigilante who may be more dangerous than the criminals looting the city.

The Collected Poems of Muriel Rukeyser
Known mainly for her political protest poems of the 1930s, Muriel Rukeyser was attacked throughout her career: by the Left for not being Left enough, and by the Right for being too leftist, by New Critics for writing poems that referred to the social context, by the House Un-American Activities Committee for being a

The Poetry Home Repair Manual by Ted Kooser
Recently appointed as the new U. S. Poet Laureate, Ted Kooser has been writing and publishing poetry for more than forty years. In the pages of The Poetry Home Repair Manual, Kooser brings those decades of experience to bear. Here are tools and insights, the instructions (and warnings against instructions) that poets—aspiring or practicing—can use to hone their craft, perhaps into art.

Edgar Allan Poe & the Juke-Box, Uncollected Poems, Drafts, and Fragments
From the mid-1930s to 1978 Elizabeth Bishop published some eighty poems and thirty translations. Yet her notebooks reveal that she embarked upon many more compositions. Edgar Allen Poe & the Juke-Box presents, alongside a facsimile of the notebook page from which they are drawn, poems Bishop began soon after college, reflecting her passion for Elizabethan verse and surrealist technique.

A History of the World in 6 Glasses by Tom Standage


'American Nerd' by Benjamin Nugent - Book Review of 'American Nerd'
In 'American Nerd,' Benjamin Nugent delves into the subculture and history of the nerd, from 'Pride and Prejudice' through the debate and anime nerds of the present day. Nugent walks a fine line between sociological study and personal memoir as he recalls the Dungeons and Dragons sessions of his youth. 'American Nerd' is an engaging exploration into the archetype, for those who care to make the trip.

Emergence by Steven Johnson - Book Review
Emergence is the ability of low-level components to self-organize into a higher-level system of sophistication and intelligence. Known by many names - collective phenomenon, bottom-up behavior, self-organization, and decentralization - it is a fascinating phenomenon that Steven Johnson approaches from numerous angles in his 2001 book,

Microtrends by Mark J. Penn - Book Review
Mark Penn is known for his ability to detect relatively small patterns of behavior in our culture - microtrends that are wielding great influence on business, politics, and our personal lives. Only one percent of the public, or three million people, is enough to launch a business or social movement. In Microtrends, Penn identifies more than 70 microtrends in religion, leisure, politics, and family life that are changing the way we live.

Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game by Michael Lewis
The Oakland Athletics have a secret: a winning baseball team is made, not bought.Billy Beane, general manager of the Athletics, is putting into practice on the field revolutionary principles garnered from statisticians. In

Surviving Justice: America's Wrongfully Convicted and Exonerated Edited by Lola Vollen & David Eggers
On September 30, 2003, Calvin was declared innocent and set free from Angola State Prison, after serving 22 years for a crime he did not commit. Hitting the streets without housing, money, or a change of clothes, exonerees across America are released only to fend for themselves. In the tradition of Studs Terkel's oral histories, Surviving Justice collects the voices and stories of the exonerees for whom life is forever framed by extraordinary injustice.

You Are Here: Personal Geographies and Other Maps of the Imagination
You Are Here is a wide-ranging collection of superbly inventive maps. These chart places you won't find, but a voyages you take in your mind: an exploration of a country estate from a dog's perspective; a guide to buried treasure on Skeleton Island; a trip down the road to success; or the world as imagined by an inmate of a mental institution. With over 100 maps from artists, cartographers, and explorers, You are Here gives the reader a breath-taking view of real and imaginary worlds.

The Marino Mission: One Girl, One Mission, One Thousand Words
Learn SAT vocabulary words the easy way! Instead of trying to memorize word lists, students can pick up

Proust and the Squid by Maryanne Wolf - Book Review
The act of reading is a miracle. Every new reader's brain possesses the extraordinary capacity to rearrange itself beyond its original abilities in order to understand written symbols. But how does the brain learn to read? As world-renowned cognitive neuroscientist and scholar of reading Maryanne Wolf explains, we taught our brain to read only a few thousand years ago, and in the process changed the intellectual evolution of our species.

A Wolf at the Table by Augusten Burroughs - Book Review
In 'A Wolf at the Table,' Augusten Burroughs returns to the story of his dysfunctional family, a subject that he mastered in his bestseller, 'Running with Scissors' (2003). If 'Running with Scissors' is Burroughs' family comedy of sorts, then 'A Wolf at the Table' is its tragedy. None of the zany humor present in his earlier book surfaces in this one, which is poignantly rendered and at times heart-breaking.

What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami - Book Review
When Haruki Murakami traded the physically demanding job of running his jazz club for the sedentary routine of a professional novelist, he learned he was going to have to make some life changes. For one thing, he was going to have to quit smoking 60 cigarettes a day. For another, he'd have to start exercising. Exercising for Murakami means running, specifically long-distance running.

Born Standing Up: A Comic's Life by Steve Martin - Book Review
In the late 1970's, Steve Martin,, this gray-haired, white-suited comedian, burst seemingly out of nowhere, straight to the top. But Steve Martin was no overnight sensation. He had spent the prior decade and a half tirelessly learning, honing, and refining the character and the act that in the late 1970's would be indelibly imprinted on the frontal lobes of a nation. This book is all about Steve Martin's fifteen year slog through the trenches of stand-up comedy.

The Little Guide to Your Well-Read Life by Steve Leveen
What would you read if you had the time? What would you learn if you could? Spend just three hours with Steve Leveen's Little Guide to Your Well-Read Life and you could gain a lifetime of greater fulfillment as a reader. The secret, as Steve will tell you, is to know how to fall—and stay—in book love. That's easy to do, once you give yourself permission to read your way.

The World in a Phrase: A Brief History of the Aphorism by James Geary
The World in a Phrase by James Geary is for lovers of words and seekers of wisdom, a lively history of aphorisms—the shortest and oldest written art form—and the intriguing people who have penned them, from the Buddha to Emily Dickinson.

This Year You Write Your Novel by Walter Mosley
Anyone can write a novel now, and in this essential book of tips, practical advice, and wisdom, Walter Mosley promises that the writer-in-waiting can finish it in one year. Intended as both inspiration and instruction, the book provides the tools to turn out a first draft painlessly and then revise it into something finer.

Trinity Blood: Rage Against the Moons
Created by the late Japanese writer Sunao Yoshida, the Trinity Blood series targets the young adult market and has spawned an international manga and anime franchise. Translated into English for the first time, the novel is wholly engrossing and highly entertaining. Yoshida created a bleak, post-Apocalyptic world populated by humans and vampires who are locked in an eternal struggle for power.

The Boy Who Fell out of the Sky: A Memoir by Ken Dornstein
In The Boy Who Fell Out of the Sky, Ken Dornstein takes readers on a journey through the life and death of his elder brother, David, who died at the age of 25 in the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland. Six years Ken's senior, David was a writer who incessantly filled spiral notebooks with his fictions, thoughts, and life experiences. Obsessed with succeeding as a writer, David imagined that this success would only come after death at a young age.

The Carolina Way: Leadership Lessons From A Life in Coaching. Dean Smith and Gerald D. Bell with John Kilgo
The Carolina Way is an excellent, easily read examination of leadership based on the lessons Smith learned and taught in 36 years of coaching basketball at the University of Kansas (under the legendary Phog Allen), the Air Force Academy and the University of North Carolina. The format is deceptively simple. Coach Smith writes (with the able assistance of John Kilgo) about a particular aspect of leadership as it relates to his coaching philosophy.

Cross-X: A Turbulent, Triumphant Season With an Inner-city Debate Squad by Joe Miller
In Cross-X, Joe Miller tells the compelling story of an inner city high school debate squad that in spite of overwhelming educational, economic, and racial odds, excels in a game dominated historically by privileged students with prep school backgrounds.

Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight by Alexandra Fuller
In Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight, Alexandra Fuller delivers her memory of an African childhood fraught with hardship, loss, and danger. She became accustomed to armed guerrillas and landmine-littered roads; hunger, drought, and malaria were never far off; and her family was both guilty of and victim to the racism that consumed colonial Africa in the late 20th century.

Don't Panic: Douglas Adams and the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Neil Gaiman
Don't Panic celebrates the life of Douglas Adams who, in a field in Innsbruck in 1971, had an idea that became The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy: the radio series that started it all, the five book 'trilogy', the TV series, almost-film, and everything that followed. Acclaimed author Neil Gaiman also tells the story of the other projects Douglas worked on, including his posthumous collection The Salmon of Doubt.

Eyeing the Flash: The Education of a Carnival Con Artist by Peter Fenton
At age fifteen, Peter Fenton is a gawky math whiz schoolboy with a dissatisfied mother, a father who drinks himself to foolishness, and no chance whatsoever with girls. That's when he meets Jackie Barron. Eyeing the Flash is an insider's view of the carnival underworld -- the cons, the double-dealing, the quick banter, and, of course, the easy money. The story of a shy middle-class kid turned first-class huckster, Peter Fenton's coming-of-age memoir is highly unorthodox.

Farm City : The Education of an Urban Farmer by Novella Carpenter - Review of Farm City
When Novella Carpenter moves to an Oakland ghetto,

First Man: The Life of Neil Armstrong by James Hansen
In a narrative filled with revelations, James Hansen re-creates Neil Armstrong's career in flying, from his seventy-eight combat missions as a naval aviator flying over North Korea to his transatmospheric flights in the rocket-powered X-15 to his piloting Gemini VIII to the first-ever docking in space. These milestones made it seem, as Armstrong's mother put it,

Girl Sleuth: Nancy Drew and the Women Who Created Her by Melanie Rehak
In Girl Sleuth, Melanie Rehak weaves a history of Nancy Drew and her creators. Both Nancy and her

History Play: The Lives and After Life of Christopher Marlowe by Robert Bolt
Rodney Bolt's life of Christopher Marlowe plays out a surprising solution to a literary mystery, bringing the spirit of William Shakespeare alive as we've never seen it before. As we accompany Marlowe into the halls of academia, the society of the popular English players traveling Europe, and the dangerous underworld of Elizabethan espionage, a fascinating and almost plausible life story emerges, along with a startlingly fresh look at the plays and poetry we know as Shakespeare's.

The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch - Book Review
Each year at a series known as The Last Lecture, a Carnegie Mellon faculty member is asked to deliver what would hypothetically be a final speech to their students before dying. For Randy Pausch, it wasn't hypothetical. The 47-year-old father of three has been diagnosed with cancer and given just a few months to live. Randy Pausch's inspirational last lecture has been viewed over 10 million times and is now a best-selling book elaborating on the theme

Love Is A Mix Tape: Life And Loss, One Song At A Time by Rob Sheffield
In

Opening Day: The Story of Jackie Robinson's First Season by Jonathan Eig, Book Review
April 15, 1947. It was an ordinary day for an ordinary baseball player. It was an extraordinary day for an extraordinary man. Jack Roosevelt Robinson went 0-4 that day, scoring the winning run, but he changed the face of baseball. Some said he changed the face of America...

The Perfectionist: Life and Death in Haute Cuisine by Rudolph Chelminski - Review of The Perfectionist by Rudolph Chelminski
Bernard Loiseau was one of only twenty-five French chefs to hold Europe's highest culinary award, three stars in the Michelin Red Guide, and only the second chef to be personally awarded the Legion of Honor by a head of state. Despite such triumphs, he shocked the culinary world by taking his own life in February 2003. In 'The Perfectionist,' Journalist Rudolph Chelminski gives us a rare tour of this hallowed culinary realm.

Positively Fifth Street by James McManus
In the spring of 2000. Harper's Magazine sent James McManus to Las Vegas to cover the World Series of Poker-- in particular, the mush-rooming progress of women in the $23 million event, and the murder of Ted Binion, the tournament's prodigal host, purportedly done in by a stripper and her boyfriend with a technique so outre it took a Manhattan pathologist to identify it.

Radical Simplicity: Creating an Authentic Life by Dan Price
Radical Simplicity speaks directly to that craving we all have for the simple life. Radical Simplicity is filled with practical tips for living more simply. It includes instructions for making a sauna, a compost bin, and other aids to the natural life.

Red and Me: My Coach, My Lifelong Friend by Bill Russell, Alan Steinberg - Review of Red and Me
'Red and Me' is the story of Celtic's all-star Bill Russell and his close relationship with the Celtic's legendary coach Red Auerbach. Could there have been two more unlikely friends, a short, abrasive Jew from Brooklyn and a tall, gangly black man from the South? These were two different

Roman Candle: The Life of Bobby Darin by David Evanier
By age 8 Bobby Darin knew he was doomed to die young. So he set out to become a showbiz legend by age 25. From his Grammy-winning smash hit

Schulz and Peanuts: A Biography by David Michaelis - Book Review
Charles M. Schulz, the most widely syndicated and beloved cartoonist of all time, is also one of the least understood figures in American culture. Now acclaimed biographer David Michaelis gives us the first full-length biography of the brilliant, unseen man behind Peanuts: at once a creation story, a portrait of a native genius, and a chronicle contrasting the private man with the central role he played in shaping the national imagination.

Soft Spots: A Memoir of Combat and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
'Soft Spots' is the firsthand account of one Marine's attempt to re-enter life after experiencing it in its most barbaric form for five months in Iraq in 2003. Van Winkle's story is unique as it is not told from the perspective of a journalist or a foreign policy expert who observed triggers being pulled, but is told from someone who pulled the trigger and is now faced with a lifelong struggle to make sense of it all.

Soul of the Age by Jonathan Bate: A Biography of the Mind of William Shakespeare
Subtitled

Strom: The Complicated Personal and Political Life of Strom Thurmond
The announcement of an African-American child sired by the late segregationist and Dixiecrat Strom Thurmond shook the American political and social establishment. A steady re-examination of race relations - especially Sen. Thurmond's attitudes - soon followed. Authors Jack Bass and Marilyn Thompson carefully articulate the historical, personal, and political elements that defined the life of Strom Thurmond.

Another Bullshit Night in Suck City by Nick Flynn
Nick Flynn met his father when he was twenty-seven years old, working as a caseworker in a homeless shelter in Boston. Nick, his own life unsettled, was living alternatively in a ramshackle boat and in a warehouse that was once a strip joint. Another Bullshit Night in Suck City tells the story of two lives, the story of Nick's boyhood in Scituate, Massachusetts, with his brother and young mother who struggled to keep the family together and that of his father who refused to play by the rules.

Trail of Crumbs: Hunger, Love, and the Search for Home by Kim Sunee - Book Review
Abandoned at the age of three in a Korean marketplace, Kim Sunee is adopted and raised by a New Orleans couple. As an adult, she moves to France with multimillionaire Olivier Baussan. In A Trail of Crumbs, Kim Sunee takes readers on a journey from Korea to New Orleans to Paris and Provence, along the way serving forth her favorite recipes.

Voltaire Almighty: A Life in Pursuit of Freedom by Roger Pearson
A rebel from start to finish (1694 — 1778), During much of his life Voltaire was the toast of society for his plays and verse, but his barbed wit and commitment to human reason got him into trouble. Jailed twice and eventually banished by the King, he was an outspoken critic of religious intolerance and persecution. Voltaire Almighty provides a look at the life and thought of one of the major forces behind the European Enlightenment.

Windblown World: The Journals of Jack Kerouac 1947- 1954
In Windblown World, Douglas Brinkley gathers a selection of journal entries from the most pivotal period of Jack Kerouac's life, beginning in 1947 when he was twenty-five years old and ending in 1954. Truly a self-portrait of the artist as a young man, these journals show Kerouac charting his own progress as a writer and struggling to perfect and finish his first novel,

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay - Book Review


On Agate Hill by Lee Smith
On her thirteenth birthday, Molly, an orphaned daughter of a Confederate soldier, writes in her diary

Peony in Love by Lisa See - Review of Peony in Love by Lisa See
Writing an historical novel is easy. Pick a time, setting, and characters. Be sure that characters are realistic and they act according to their milieu, never inconsistent in dress, action, or speech. Avoid anachronisms. Somehow, on this bed of raw facts, one must create a story imbued with life and authenticity, with characters who live in our imagination. Lisa See has done this in

Gentlemen of the Road by Michael Chabon - Book Review
Originally titled Jews with Swords, Michael Chabon's Gentlemen of the Road is a slender novel full of history and the flowery language of historical writing. It is also full of wonderful illustrations by Gary Gianni, creator of the syndicated newspaper comic strip, Prince Valiant.

Shanghai Girls by Lisa See
Opening in Shanghai in 1937 and ending some 20 years later in Los Angeles, Lisa See's 'Shanghai Girls' is themed around the duality between a reverence for tradition and the pull of the modern world.

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
Set during World War II in Germany, Markus Zusak's new novel is the story of Liesel Meminger, a foster girl living outside of Munich. Liesel scratches out a meager existence for herself by stealing when she encounters something she can't resist-books. With the help of her accordion-playing foster father, she learns to read and shares her stolen books with her neighbors during bombing raids as well as with the Jewish man hidden in her basement before he is marched to Dachau.

Brain Rules: 12 Principles for Surviving and Thriving at Work, Home, and School by John Medina - Book Review
In

Natural Acts : A Sidelong View of Science and Nature by David Quammen - Book Review
David Quammen has devoted his professional life to waxing poetic about the natural world. His essays in 'Outside,' 'National Geographic,' 'Harper's,' and elsewhere have ranged in topic from crow ennui to the ethical implications of cloning. Quammen's nontechnical point-of-view and his sense of humor render science not only palatable but entertaining, making this expanded edition of 'Natural Acts,' enjoyable for the reader with even a passing interest in science and the natural world.

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
Douglas Adams' THE HITCHHIKER'S GUIDE TO THE GALAXY is not just a book--it's a phenomenon. It's based on a BBC radio series that spawned four other books, a TV series, a movie, and a computer game. A fleet of alien spaceships blows up Arthur Dent's planet setting him off upon a hectic and hysterically funny adventure that includes torturously bad poetry, a depressed robot, and the two-headed President of the Galaxy, Zaphod Beeblebrox himself.

World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War by Max Brooks


A Convergence of Birds: Original Fiction and Poetry Inspired by Joseph Cornell
Inspired by Cornell's avian-themed boxes, and suspecting that they would be similarly (and diversely) inspiring to others, Jonathan Safran Foer began to write letters. From Joyce Carol Oates to Robert Pinsky, Rick Moody to Lydia Davis, twenty writers have generously contributed original pieces of prose and poetry that are as eclectic as they are imaginative. Accompanied by tipped-on plates, this volume is a soaring tribute - not only to the work of Joseph Cornell, but to the spirit of creation.

Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned by Wells Tower - Review of Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned
In his outstanding debut story collection, 'Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned,' Wells Tower captures a variety of experience that is as far-ranging as it is close to home. These stories of Viking marauders, teenage girls, and fractured families are violent and tender. They're stories told with the kind of honesty that makes us see our worst selves in the best possible light.

Animals of the Ocean, In Particular the Giant Squid by Dr. and Mr. Doris Haggis-On-Whey
Animals of the Ocean, In Particular the Giant Squid, advances many heretofore unexplored discoveries and opinions, including squid dating dos and don'ts, why squid are not at all able to watch television in black and white, the ways in which people who don't know any better might think fish are not animals, the long-term effects of salt water on musical theater, and also the adventure of Günther.

In Persuasion Nation by George Saunders
In Persuasion Nation is the latest collection of stories from acclaimed writer, George Saunders.

No One Belongs Here More Than You: Stories by Miranda July - Book Review
As an artist, Miranda July defines eclectic. In 2005 she won the Camera d'Or prize at Cannes for her film

The Best American Short Stories 2009 - Review of The Best American Short Stories 2009
If you don't read any other fiction this year, read this book of short stories. If you are recovering from heart failure and are not sure if your heart is still working properly, then read this book of short stories. If you can't remember the last time you cried alone in a room with nothing but a book and a ticking clock, then read this book of short stories, and remember what it is to be alive, to laugh out loud, to be a member of the human race, the animal who tells stories.

Brief Interviews with Hideous Men by David Foster Wallace - Review of Brief Interviews with Hideous Men
These short pieces incorporate the stylistic pyrotechnics for which David Foster Wallace is famous - a usage lexicon from 100 years in the future that sheds light on the deterioration of male-female sexual relations, a series of pop quizzes that degrades into a meta-fiction in which the author debates the utility of such a form, and the brief interviews of the title in which a variety of self-absorbed male figures speak candidly with a female interviewer.

Oblivion by David Foster Wallace Review - Book Review of David Foster Wallace's Oblivion
One of the most prodigiously talented and original writers at work today returns with his first new fiction in five years. In the stories that make up Oblivion, David Foster Wallace joins the rawest, most naked humanity with the infinite involutions of self-consciousness-a combination that is dazzlingly, uniquely his. These are worlds undreamt-of by any other mind.

Two of the Deadliest edited by Elizabeth George - Review of Two of the Deadliest
Lust and Greed are 'Two of the Deadliest' of the Seven Deadly Sins. Elizabeth George has brought together 18

Eragon by Christopher Paolini
When Eragon finds a polished blue stone in the forest, he thinks it is the lucky discovery of a poor farm boy; perhaps it will buy his family meat for the winter. But when the stone brings a dragon hatchling, Eragon's simple life is shattered, and he is thrust into a perilous new world of destiny, magic, and power. So begins Book 1 of Christopher Paolini's Inheritance Trilogy.

Global Village Idiot by John O’Farrell
John O’Farrell is a columnist with the Guardian as well as a writer for the TV show Spitting Image and a joke writer for Tony Blair (not the one that is a fake puppet on Spitting image, but the one that is the real puppet of George W. Bush). Global Village Idiot is a reprinting of many of his Guardian columns over the period of time beginning with George W. Bush on the campaign trail and ending on the desert trails leading to Baghdad.

Hardcore Zen by Brad Warner
In his new book, Brad Warner explores Buddhism and metaphysics through a philosophy he dubs

Khrushchev: The Man and His Era by William Taubman
The definitive biography of the mercurial Soviet leader who succeeded and denounced Stalin. Nikita Khrushchev was one of the most complex and important political figures of the twentieth century. Ruler of the Soviet Union during the first decade after Stalin's death, Khrushchev left a contradictory stamp on his country and on the world. Winner of the 2003 Pulitzer Prize for Biography, William Taubman's Khrushchev: The Man and His Era is the definitive work about a definitive figure.

Lies (and the Lying Liars who Tell Them) by Al Franken
For the first time since his own classic Rush Limbaugh Is a Big Fat Idiot and Other Observations, Al Franken trains his subversive wit directly on the contemporary political scene. Now, the

Mr. Paradise by Elmore Leonard
Roommates Kelly and Chloe are enjoying their lives and their downtown Detroit loft just fine. Kelly is a Victoria's Secret catalog model. Chloe is an escort, until she decides to ditch her varied clientele in favor of a steady gig as girlfriend to eighty-four-year-old retired lawyer Tony Paradiso, a.k.a. Mr. Paradise... Mr. Paradise is Elmore Leonard at home in Detroit and sharper than ever.

Out of Sheer Rage by Geoff Dyer - Review of Geoff Dyer's Out of Sheer Rage
Geoff Dyer is, arguably, one of the whiniest people on the planet. He begins this memoir by describing the endless vacillation he experienced in setting out to write a sober, academic study of D.H. Lawrence - the writer who had inspired Dyer to write - and then proceeds to hedge about where he should live in order to write the study.

Quicksilver by Neal Stephenson - Review of Quicksilver by Neal Stephenson, author of Snow Crash, Cryptonomicon, Anathem
Volume I of Neal Stephenson's Baroque Cycle, Quicksilver, is here. A monumental literary feat that follows the author's critically acclaimed New York Times bestseller Cryptonomicon, it is history, adventure, science, truth, invention, sex, absurdity, piracy, madness, death, and alchemy. It sweeps across continents and decades with the power of a roaring tornado, upending kings, armies, religious beliefs, and all expectations.

Sex and Sunsets by Tim Sandlin - Review of Sex and Sunsets by Tim Sandlin
A hilariously engaging first-novel, Sex and Sunsets garnered Tim Sandlin comparisons to Jack Kerouac and Tom Robbins at its publication in 1987.

Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs
Chuck Klosterman, author of

The Confusion by Neal Stephenson - Review of The Confusion by Neal Stephenson, author of Snow Crash, Cryptonomicon, Anathem
The Confusion, the second book of Neal Stephenson's Baroque Cycle trilogy does not disappoint as he picks up his characters where he abruptly dropped them at the end of Quicksilver. The year is 1689 and Jack Shaftoe was last seen captive aboard a slave vessel, Eliza finds herself the center of political intrigue, and Daniel Waterhouse lies with uncertain fate atop an operating table. Join Stephenson amidst a vast and intricate historical backdrop in Volume two of The Baroque Cycle.

Working Fire by Zac Unger
Zac Unger didn't feel like much of a firefighter at first. His fellow recruits seemed to have planned for the job all their lives; he was an Ivy League grad responding to a help-wanted ad. He couldn't keep his boots shined, and he looked horrible in his uniform. Working Fire is the story of how Zac Unger came to feel at home among this close-knit tribe, came to master his work's demands, and came to know what it is to see the city of Oakland through a firefighter's eyes.

The Truth (with Jokes) by Al Franken
Al Franken's landmark bestseller, Lies, and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right, was praised as a

Dress Your Family In Corduroy and Denim by David Sedaris
David Sedaris' Dress Your Family In Corduroy and Denim, another collection of essays (Me Talk Pretty One Day, Naked, The Santaland Diaries) based on the diary he has kept every day for some thirty-odd years. While most of these stories have seen print already in Esquire, GQ and the New Yorker, Sedaris' work is so contained and addictive, you can't eat just one.

When You Are Engulfed in Flames by David Sedaris - Book Review
There is perhaps no funnier writer than David Sedaris. His ability to distill personal experience through a fine mesh of acute perception and admitted neuroses results in what amounts to pure, often laugh-out-loud, humor. 'When You Are Engulfed in Flames' exhibits, although in fits and starts, some of the same cleverly self-deprecating humor that I've become accustomed to reading in 'The New Yorker' (from which many of these pieces are reprinted) and hearing on NPR's This American Life.

When Will Jesus Bring the Pork Chops? by George Carlin
Here we go again . . . George Carlin's hilarious When Will Jesus Bring the Pork Chops? offers his cutting-edge opinions and observational humor on everything from evasive euphemistic language to politicians to the media to dead people. Nothing and no one is safe! In When Will Jesus Bring the Pork Chops? Carlin's razor-sharp observations demolish everyday values and leave you laughing out loud — delivering exactly what his countless fans have been waiting for.

Life Interrupted, The Unfinished Monologue by Spalding Gray
Spalding Gray, America's captivating teller of angst-filled stories, ended his life in 2004, after two gruesome years of suicidal depression resulting from a car-totalling crash in Ireland which left him with a broken hip and a head injury. Life Interrupted consists of Gray's final monologue in which he describes the accident and its aftermath in Irish hospitals, plus a short story he wrote to commemorate his tenth wedding anniversary, and a short love letter he penned to the city of New York.

Maps and Legends by Michael Chabon - Book Review
'Maps and Legends' is Michael Chabon's first book of nonfiction, 16 essays in which the author celebrates genre fiction by wandering academically through the detective stories of Arthur Conan Doyle, the fantasy of Philip Pullman, classic works of Norse Myth, and more. 'Maps and Legends' is a slim volume whose high points emerge when Chabon gets personal, describing how he came to write.

The Opposite of Fate by Amy Tan
Amy Tan has touched millions of readers with haunting and sympathetic novels ofcultural complexity and profound empathy. With the same spirit and humor that characterize her acclaimed novels, she now shares her insight into her own life and how she escaped the curses of her past to make a future of her own. She takes us on a journey from her childhood of tragedy and comedy to the present day and her arrival as one of the world's best-loved novelists.

Psychogeography by Will Self - Book Review


Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (Harry Potter 1) by J.K. Rowling
In

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Harry Potter 2) by J.K. Rowling
J.K. Rowling's second novel in a series of seven,

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (Harry Potter 3) by J.K. Rowling
For Twelve long years, the dread fortress of Azkaban held an infamous prisoner named Sirius Black. Convicted of killing thirteen people with a single curse, he was said to be the heir apparent to the Dark Lord, Voldemort. Now he has escaped, leaving only two clues as to where he might be headed: Harry Potter's defeat of You-Know-Who was Black's downfall as well. Harry Potter isn't safe, not even within the walls of his magical school.

Gifts by Ursula K. Le Guin
At 74, Ursula K. Le Guin is the author of more than sixty books and is most famous for the books in her Earthsea Cycle (A Wizard of Earthsea, The Tombs of Atuan, The Farthest Shore), which have sold millions of copies and have been translated into sixteen languages. Gifts is her first YA novel in fourteen years and a rich and compelling novel not just for young adult readers, but for readers of all ages.

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (Harry Potter 6) by J.K. Rowling
The war against Voldemort is not going well. Dumbledore is absent from Hogwarts for long stretches of time, and the Order of the Phoenix has already suffered losses. And yet... As in all wars, life goes on. Sixth-year students learn to Apparate -- and lose a few eyebrows in the process. The Weasley twins expand their business. Teenagers flirt and fight and fall in love. Classes are never straightforward, though Harry receives some extraordinary help from the mysterious Half-Blood Prince.

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Harry Potter 4) by J.K. Rowling
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire is the pivotal fourth novel in the tale of Harry Potter's training as a wizard. Harry wants to get away from the Dursleys and go to the International Quidditch Cup with Hermione, Ron, and the Weasleys. He wants to dream about Cho Chang, his crush. He wants to find out about the mysterious event that's to take place at the Hogwarts. He wants to be a normal, fourteen year old wizard. Unfortunately for Harry Potter, he's not normal - even by wizarding standards.

Design Flaws of the Human Condition by Paul Schmidtberger - Book Review
Through a hilarious series of events, two strangers find themselves railroaded into an anger-management class, where they soon become fast friends. Iris is there because of an eminently justifiable meltdown on a crowded flight, whereas Ken got caught defacing library books with rude (but true!) messages about his former boyfriend. The boyfriend that he caught in bed with another man on the same night he got fired from his night job proofreading in a law firm.

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer - Review of Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close
Oskar Schell, the precocious nine year old narrator from Jonathan Safran Foer's Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, is an inventor, Francophile, tambourine player, Shakespearean actor, jeweler, pacifist. He is nine years old. And he is on an urgent, secret search through the five boroughs of New York to find the lock that fits a mysterious key belonging to his father, who died in the attacks on the World Trade Center.

Fluke by Christopher Moore
Nathan Quinn's obsession with the meaning of humpback whale song has gotten him into trouble in the past, but never like this. A chance encounter with a whale with disturbingly peculiar markings on its flukes begins a bizarre adventure that can only culminate in a showdown with the origins of life itself.

How I Paid for College by Marc Acito
It's 1983 in Wallingford, New Jersey, a sleepy bedroom town outside of Manhattan. Seventeen-year-old Edward Zanni, a feckless Ferris Bueller-type, is Peter Panning his way through a carefree summer of magic and mischief. The fun comes to a halt, however, when Edward's father remarries and refuses to pay for Edward to study acting at Juilliard. Marc Acito, hailed as the

Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal by Christopher Moore - Book Review
Lamb is Christopher Moore's irreverent, iconoclastic, and hilarious tale of the early life of Jesus Christ as witnessed by his boyhood pal Levi bar Alphaeus (a.k.a. Biff).

Mr. Sebastian and the Negro Magician by Daniel Wallace - Book Review
From the author of Big Fish comes this haunting, tender story that weaves a tragic secret, a mysterious meeting with the Devil, and a family of charming circus freaks recounting the extraordinary adventures of their friend Henry Walker, the Negro Magician.

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz - Book Review
The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao is rooted in the despotic dictatorship of Rafael Trujillo,

The Selected Works of T.S. Spivet by Reif Larsen - Review of The Selected Works of T.S. Spivet
Tecumseh Sparrow Spivet is a 12-year-old cartographer living on the Coppertop Ranch just 4.73 miles North of the tiny town of Divide, Montana. His middle name is in honor of the bird that met its demise against the Spivet kitchen window at the exact moment of the boy's birth. T.S. keeps the skeletal remains of that sparrow on his drafting table, in a bedroom flanked by shelves crammed with the notebooks in which he maps his world. This is no ordinary Montana ranch boy.

Watchmen and the Birth of Respect for the Graphic Novel
The October 24, 2005 issue of Time Magazine named

The Collected Works of Billy the Kid by Michael Ondaatje - Book Review of The Collected Works of Billy the Kid


Flint & Silver: A Prequel to Treasure Island By John Drake - Review of Flint and Silver
'Flint and Silver' is the first in a series of prequels John Drake is planning to the much loved children's book 'Treasure Island.' This rollicking tale of pirates and buried treasure is not a children's book, however. Drake has penned a wonderful beginning to the story that is finished in Robert Louis Stevenson's 'Treasure Island,' but with an eye on the adult reader who perhaps still longs for adventure on the high seas.

Jasper Fforde Bio - Biography of Jasper Fforde author of The Eyre Affair
Jasper Fforde is the author of the Nursery Crimes and Thursday Next series of alternate history, fantasy, mystery novels as well as Shades of Grey (2010), the first in a new funny and dystopic series of books about a future race of people who are divided into a hierarchy based upon their ability to perceive different ranges in the color spectrum.

PEN/Faulkner Award Winners
Named for William Faulkner, who used his Nobel Prize funds to create an award for young writers, and affiliated with PEN (Poets, Playwrights, Editors, Essayists and Novelists), the international writers' organization, the PEN/Faulkner Award was founded by writers in 1980 to honor their peers. The award judges-working fiction writers all--each read approximately 300 novels and short story collections to select a winner and four nomineers.

PEN/Faulkner Award Winners
Named for William Faulkner, who used his Nobel Prize funds to create an award for young writers, and affiliated with PEN (Poets, Playwrights, Editors, Essayists and Novelists), the international writers' organization, the PEN/Faulkner Award was founded by writers in 1980 to honor their peers. The award judges-working fiction writers all--each read approximately 300 novels and short story collections to select a winner and four nomineers.

Best Novels of The Century (so far)
While

Books about Work
What we do to make a living, and that which truly ignites us from the inside out are often different and disparate things. The exploration of how to move these closer together, or at least find some kind of peace at work, has become a popular topic in a time when

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Harry Potter 5) - Trivia Quiz
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Harry Potter 5) - Trivia Quiz. Do you remember Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix or has Vol... I mean, You Know Who been getting inside your mind? Best practice your Occlumency.

About.com Contemporary Literature
literature, location replace

Independent Bookstores - Why do you love your independent bookstore?
Are you an independent book store patron? What do you love about the Boulder Book Store?

2008 Best Books - List of the Best Books of 2008
What were your favorite books in 2008? Share your point of view!

The Bride Stripped Bare by Anonymous
In writing The Bride Stripped Bare, the author decided to remain anonymous so she would feel absolutely free to explore a woman's inner world. As she writes in her afterword,

The Garden of Last Days by Andre Dubus III - Book Review of The Garden of Last Days
'The Garden of Last Days' is the best novel of the year. Instantly interesting and engaging, it grabs one's attention and holds it to the last page. It is compelling, thought-provoking reading that requires the reader to bring a

God Is Dead by Ron Currie, Jr. - Book Review of God Is Dead
God has inhabited the body of a young Dinka woman in the Sudan. When she is killed in the Darfur desert, he dies along with her, and word of his death soon begins to spread. Faced with the hard proof that there is no supreme being in charge, the world is irrevocably transformed, yet remains oddly recognizable.

Little Children by Tom Perrotta
The characters of Tom Perrotta's latest novel, Little Children, are a surprising bunch: Todd, the handsome stay-at-home dad; Sarah, a lapsed feminist with a bisexual past; Richard, Sarah's husband, who has found himself more and more involved with a fantasy life on the internet; and Mary Ann, who thinks she has it all figured out. Written with all the fluency of Perrotta's previous novels, Little Children exposes adult dramas amidst the swingsets and slides of an ordinary American playground.

Under the Banner of Heaven by Jon Krakauer
Jon Krakauer’s Into Thin Air was a narrative tour de force chronicling the disastrous 1996 Everest expeditions, and should be considered a classic of modern journalism. Measured against this awesome standard, Under the Banner of Heaven, a tour of mainstream Mormonism and its fundamentalist offspring, is a failure. It is a lucid and sometimes compulsively readable failure, but it lacks the narrative drive and cohesive perspective of Into Thin Air.

Amsterdam by Geert Mak
From a twelfth-century settlement of wooden huts at the mouth of the River Amstel, Amsterdam had become by the late sixteenth century one of the great cultural capitals of Europe and a major financial center. In this gracefully written examination of Amsterdam's soul, part history, part travel guide, the Dutch writer Geert Mak depicts the lives of early Amsterdammers and traces the city's progress from a small town of merchants, sailors, farmers, and fishermen to a thriving metropolis.

The Great Mortality: An Intimate History of the Black Death


Allegory
Allegory is a story in which things and people represent something entirely other -- perhaps an idea or a philosophy. Allegories typically contain within a moral or lesson.

Anecdote
An anecdote is a short narrative of an interesting or funny event.

Antagonist
The antagonist is the main opponent of the main character in a work of literature. The main character is called the protagonist.

Analogy
Analogy is a comparison of an unfamiliar object or idea to a familiar one in an attempt to explain or illuminate the unfamiliar.

Autobiography
The author's account of his or her life. Autobiography can be in the form of diary, letters, memoirs, or many other forms.

Caricature
In literature, a caricature is a description of a person using exaggeration of some characteristics and oversimplification of others.

Character Sketch
A brief narrative that reveals a fictional character's traits or personality.

Conflict
Conflict is the struggle between the opposing forces on which the action in a work of literature depends. There are five basic forms of conflict: person versus person, person versus self, person versus nature, person versus society, and person versus God.

Denouement
Denouement (French: the action of untying) is the series of events that follow the plot's climax. It is the conclusion or resolution of the story.

Dialogue
Dialogue is the conversation of characters within a work of literature. It is also a literary form which dates back to the 5th century BC in Greece and was improved upon by Plato by 400 BC.

Diction
Diction is the author's choice of words, taking into account correctness, clearness, and effectiveness. There are typically recognized to be four levels of diction: formal, informal, colloquial, and slang.

Dramatic Monologue
A speech or soliloquey by a character to an imaginary audience, in which the reader gains insight into the character's personality or history.

Epic Poem
A long and highly stylized narrative poem celebrating the heroic achievements of its hero. Homer's Iliad and Odyssey are usually regarded as the first important epic poems and are considered to define the form.

Epigram
An epigram is a concise, pointed, and satirical poem on a single thought or event. The form was originally intended for inscribing on monuments, and obtained its current definition around the 1st century BC. Samuel Taylor Coleridge ingeniously wrote an epigram that encapsulates epigram:

Epistle
An epistle is a letter. In literature, it is a composition in prose or poetry in the form of a letter. Epistolography is the art of writing letters or epistles.