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Books

This book cover image released by Smithsonian Books shows "The Smithsonian Book of Air & Space Trivia", edited by Amy Pastan. (AP Photo/Smithsonian Books)

Bone up on aviation history with Smithsonian book

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Who discovered the planet Uranus in 1781? Don’t feel bad if the name William Herschel, a British musician and telescope builder, doesn’t come to mind in a snap. Only those with out-of-this-world interests could possibly score well in answering the questions posed in The Smithsonian Book of Air & Space Trivia. And such buffs would probably chafe at the suggestion that this informative little book, edited by Amy Pastan, is filled with unimportant details. These days the excitement once generated by astronauts and spaceships is easier to find in video games and in movies like Gravity than in headlines and TV news. Lest we forget, … 0

‘Every Day is for the Thief’ gives Lagos a fair shake

Sunday, April 20, 2014

In Walter Mosley’s classic detective novel Devil in a Blue Dress, Easy Rawlins tries to beg off from his first case by saying he wants to stay out of trouble. “Easy,” he’s told, “walk out your door in the morning and you’re mixed up in something.” Teju Cole is our premier novelist of … 0

‘The Secret Life of William Shakespeare’ brilliant when in Stratford

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Shakespeare was our greatest writer of historical fiction. Onto the uninformative spine of a chronicle he sculpted muscle and meaning. Think Richard III, Julius Caesar, Macbeth. Shakespeare turned the dull prose pages of the dead into the most present-tense of all art forms: a play, an ensemble of moving, speaking, purposeful bodies, here, … 0

Books: ‘Boy, Snow, Bird’ a fractured fairy tale

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Mirrors can be the unlikeliest of deceivers. They suggest a clean retelling of just the facts, an accurate reflection of what’s placed before them, without judgment or commentary. But of course what we see in a mirror isn’t … 0

Keith Richards picture book out this fall

Sunday, March 16, 2014

A children’s book by a Rolling Stone Keith Richards is writing a children’s book. He really is. The Rolling Stone who came to define the adults-only lifestyle of rock has a deal with Little, Brown Books for Young … 0

App reviews: Entitle, Pendo

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Books on demand It’s easier than ever for movie-lovers to get the things they want on demand. But what about readers? With Entitle, a web service and app, the literati now have an option. Users get two books a month for $9.99, from a library of more than … 0

Books: Beware the rabbit hole of worry

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Is it better to worry about the concrete and the immediate or the nebulous and the unclear? Is it better to worry about the things that hit home or the larger shifts in society? Or is it even … 0

Noted author chronicles friendship with, betrayal from ‘Clark Rockefeller’

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Writers love stories about wily liars, especially real-life Mr. Ripleys who’ve been unmasked. Thus the phenomenal draw of the Clark Rockefeller story, which offers multiple thrills: elaborate dissembling, art fraud, kidnapping and a long-unsolved murder. To date, the … 0

Boarding school controversy fuels novel

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Vermont author Thomas Christopher Greene’s new novel The Headmaster’s Wife hooked me from the first page and was so intriguing I read it in two days. Just about the time I thought I’d figured out what was happening, … 0

‘Meat Racket’: Disturbing, if not completely fair, take on the meat industry

Sunday, March 9, 2014

In late January, I was flying home from San Diego. I was ravenous and quite grateful for my chicken salad. That is, until I began reading The Meat Racket by Christopher Leonard. The first chapter, entitled “How Jerry … 0

‘Annihilation’ is panic-inducing, and I can’t wait for the sequel

Sunday, March 9, 2014

About 50 pages into Jeff VanderMeer’s new novel, Annihilation, I felt the onset of a panic attack. Annihilation is successfully creepy, an old-style gothic horror novel set in a not-too-distant future. The best bits turn your mind inside … 0

Book looks at society’s changing attitude about drugs

Sunday, March 9, 2014

In 2007, scientists writing in the British medical journal the Lancet caused a stir when they ranked 20 often-abused drugs in terms of their degree of harm. Few readers had objections to the scientists’ naming heroin as the worst drug, or khat (a stimulant popular mostly in the … 0

80 years after he walked across Europe, a travel writer’s final volume

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Patrick Leigh Fermor, one of travel literature’s most colorful, beguiling pedestrians, famously decided to walk across Europe when he was 18. Why not? He’d failed out of every school he’d gone to, after all, had given up on … 0