Book Reviews

One of the Last Of the Few Sunday Newspaper Book Sections Will Soon Be Gone

The Washington Post reported today that it plans to close its stand-alone magazine Book World as of mid-February.

In dropping one of the few remaining stand-alone book sections in American newspapers, Executive Editor Marcus Brauchli said that the coverage will be shifted to the Style section and a revamped Outlook section. Shea said that The Post would publish about three-quarters of the roughly 900 reviews it has carried each year. The change will take effect Feb. 22.

Reading Into Bush's Book List

There is an interesting editorial in today's Washington Post about the list of books George Bush has read recently. "Reading Into Bush's Book List" By Richard Cohen, washington Post, Tuesday, December 30, 2008; Page A15.

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Captain Underpants Doesn't Need a Newbery Medal

Is the highest honor in children's literature, the Newbery medal, woefully out of touch? Yes, according to children's book expert Anita Silvey, who made her case in a recent issue of the School Library Journal. Silvey reports that many librarians and book critics think the American Library Association, which awards the Newbery annually, has in recent years chosen "quirky" books that appeal to few adults and even fewer children.

A Favorite Children's Author Writes His Own Tale

...Knucklehead, by Jon Scieszcka. “Knucklehead” is Scieszka’s own tall tale, a memoir organized like a collection of snapshots about growing up with five brothers in the Flint, Mich., of the 1950’s. Ever the teacher, in this slim volume ­Scieszka writes a model memoir. Or as he puts it, when you are getting in trouble “it’s good to be the one telling the story.”

Scieszka gets children, and he gets their humor. Especially boy humor. He tells the truth about what really goes on when parents aren’t looking. Want to hear more? The book is reviewed in the New York Times Sunday Book Review.

If you go in for crazy knuckleheaded kids stories, you might want to check out this accompanying blog from the paper entitled "Are You a Knucklehead"?.

Patience and Fortitude, a Book Review

From the Christian Science Monitor, reprint of a book review from December of 2001. The book by Nicholas Basbanes, is 'Patience & Fortitude' a grand, rambling, serendipitous treasure-house of material about books and the people who have loved them.

This story is told of the Italian humanist Niccolo Machiavelli: "Dismissed from high office, stripped of all his honors, and forced to leave his beloved city of Florence for the primitive countryside, he found solace in his books: “When evening comes, I return home and enter my study; on the threshold I take off my workday clothes, covered with mud and dirt, and put on the garments of court and palace.

“Fitted out appropriately, I step inside the venerable courts of the ancients, where … I am unashamed to converse with them and to question them about the motives for their actions, and they, out of human kindness, answer me. And for four hours at a time I feel no boredom, I forget all my troubles, I do not dread poverty, and I am not terrified by death. I absorb myself unto them completely."

Top Ten of 2008 from the New York Times

NYTimes ten best books of 2008, including reviews, excerpts and some first chapters. Included are Toni Morrison's 'A Mercy', Jhumpa Lahiri's 'Unaccustomed Earth' and the new biography of
V. S. Naipaul, 'The World is What It Is'.

V. S. Naipaul, a Man Who Has Earned a Knighthood, a Nobel and Enemies Galore

New book about novelist V. S. Naipaul : THE WORLD IS WHAT IT IS,
The Authorized Biography of V. S. Naipaul, By Patrick French,
Illustrated. 554 pages. Alfred A. Knopf. $30.

According to the review in the New York Times, it’s a handsome volume, jacketed in silver and black, with a disarming cover photograph of Mr. Naipaul stooping, with a gap-toothed grin, to tie a loose shoelace. Reviewer Dwight Garner says author French is "a relative rarity among biographers, a real writer, and at his best he sounds like a combination of that wily bohemian Geoff Dyer and that wittily matter-of-factual cyborg Michael Kinsley. Even the cameos in Mr. French’s biography are crazily vivid. Here is his hole-in-one description of the editor Francis Wyndham: “Popular, gentle, solitary and eccentric, Wyndham lived with his mother, wore heavy glasses and high-waisted trousers, gave off random murmurs and squeaks and moved with an amphibian gate.”

History of the Dot

A review of the History of the Dot. See: "Dot Everything" By Jennifer Schuessler, the New York Times, October 27. Earlier this month, Oxford University Press published “On the Dot: The Speck that Changed the World” — a short and very enthusiastic history of the mark you make when you dip a toothpick into a puddle of stuff.

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French Writer Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clézio Wins Nobel Prize

The Swedish Academy on Thursday awarded the 2008 Nobel Prize for literature to Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clézio, a cosmopolitan and prolific French novelist, children’s author and essayist regarded by many French readers and critics as one of the country’s greatest living writers.

Treasure found on E-bay - Resistance: Memoirs of Occupied France

The BBC reports that an import yet forgotten book appeared on E-bay. As Translator Barbara Mellor notes, "Notre Guerre, Souvenirs de Résistance, Agnès Humbert, 1946. The listing on French eBay didn't give much clue as to the treasure that lay in store...Humbert's journal sent shivers down my spine. The powerful immediacy of the narrative, the raw intensity of the subject matter, the compelling presence of Humbert herself - all were overwhelming, electrifying."

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