Book Reviews

Special Sections:

Annual Recommended Reading Lists

My Presidential Reading Project


Abandon Ship!: The Saga of the U.S.S. Indianapolis, the Navy’s Greatest Sea Disaster  Richard F. Newcomb (1958)
About a Boy  Nick Hornby (1998)
Abraham Lincoln  Thomas Keneally (2003)
Aiding and Abetting  Muriel Spark (2001)
Alias Grace  Margaret Atwood (1996)
All About All About Eve  Sam Staggs (2000)
All American Girl  Meg Cabot (2002)
All the King’s Men  Robert Penn Warren (1946)
All the Pretty Horses  Cormac McCarthy (1992)
Altered States  Anita Brookner (1996)
Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, The  Michael Chabon (2000)
American Boy  Larry Watson (2011)
American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House  Jon Meacham (2008)
American Psycho  Bret Easton Ellis (1991)
American Sphinx Joseph J. Ellis (1996)
American Talleyrand: The Career and Contemporaries of Martin Van Buren, The  by Holmes Alexander (1935)
And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer  Fredrik Backman (2016)
And That’s Not All  Joan Plowright (2001)
Angela’s Ashes  Frank McCourt (1996)
Angle of Repose  Wallace Stegner (1971)
Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life  Barbara Kingsolver (2007)
Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl  Anne Frank (1995)
Apple of My Eye  Helene Hanff (1978)
Art of Racing in the Rain, The  Garth Stein (2008)


Barrel Fever  David Sedaris (1995)
Bastard Out of Carolina  Dorothy Allison (1992)
Batavia’s Graveyard: The True Story of the Mad Heretic Who Led History’s Bloodiest Mutiny  Mike Dash (2002)
Bayou Farewell: The Rich Life and Tragic Death of Louisiana’s Cajun Coast  Mike Tidwell (2003)
Before I Go to Sleep  S.J. Watson (2011)
Behind the Scenes at the Museum  Kate Atkinson (1995)
Bel Canto  Ann Patchett (2005)
Beloved  Toni Morrison (1987)
Big Rock Candy Mountain, The  Wallace Stegner (1943)
Big Year: A Tale of Man, Nature, and Fowl Obsession, The  Mark Obmascik (2004)
Birchwood  John Banville (1973)
Birds in Fall  Brad Kessler (2006)
Black Flower, The  Howard Bahr (1997)
Black Water  Joyce Carol Oates (1992)
Blackburn  Bradley Denton (1993)
Blaze of Glory, A  Jeff Shaara (2012)
Bleak House  Charles Dickens (1853)
Blind Assassin, The  Margaret Atwood (2000)
Blue Latitudes: Boldly Going Where Captain Cook Has Gone Before  Tony Horwitz (2002)
Book Shop, The  Penelope Fitzgerald (1978)
Book Thief, The  Markus Zusak (2005)
Books: A Memoir  Larry McMurtry (2008)
Bossypants  Tina Fey (2011)
Bounty: The True Story of the Mutiny on the Bounty, The  Caroline Alexander (2003)
Brief History of the Dead, The  Kevin Brockmeier (2006)
Brick Lane  Monica Ali (2004)
Britt-Marie Was Here  Fredrik Backman (2016)
Brothers and Sisters  Bebe Moore Campbell (1998)
Buster Keaton: A Legend in Laughter  Larry Edwards (1995)


Caine Mutiny, The  Herman Wouk (1951)
Caleb’s Crossing  Geraldine Brooks (2011)
California Fault  Thurston Clarke (1995)
Case Histories  Kate Atkinson (2004)
Casual Vacancy, The  J.K. Rowling (2012)
Charlotte Temple  Susanna Rowson (1791)
Charming Billy Alice McDermott (1997)
Charms for the Easy Life  Kaye Gibbons (1993)
Circus Fire, The  Stewart O’Nan (2000)
City, The  Joel Kotkin (2005)
Civil Action, A  Jonathan Haar (1995)
Cleopatra: A Life  Stacy Schiff (2010)
Clockers  Richard Price (1992)
Close-Up on Sunset Boulevard: Billy Wilder, Norma Desmond and the Dark Hollywood Dream  Sam Staggs (2002)
Cloudsplitter  Russell Banks (1998)
Coffee Trader, The  David Liss (2003)
Cold Mountain  Charles Frazier (1997)
Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed  Jared Diamond (2004)
Collector of Hearts, The
  Joyce Carol Oates (1998)
Columbine  Dave Cullen (2009)
Commitments, The  Roddy Doyle (1997)
Complete Cartoons of the New Yorker, The  Robert Mankoff (2004)
Confederates in the Attic  Tony Horwitz (1998)
Corelli’s Mandolin  Louis De Bernieres (1995)
Corrections, The  Jonathan Franzen (2001)
Count of Monte Cristo, The  Alexandre Dumas (1844)
Crazy in Alabama  Mark Childress (1993)
Crossing, The  Cormac McCarthy (1994)
Cup of Gold  John Steinbeck (1929)
Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, The  Mark Haddon (2003)
Cutting for Stone Abraham Verghese (2009)


Daughter of the Queen of Sheba  Jacki Lyden (1997)
Dead Man Walking  Sister Helen Prejean (1993)
Dead Presidents: An American Adventure into the Strange Deaths and Surprising Afterlives of Our Nation’s Leaders  Brady Carlson (2016)
Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania  Erik Larson (2015)
Death in the Family, A  James Agee (1957)
Decorations in a Ruined Cemetery  John Gregory Brown (1994)
Desert Solitaire: A Season in the Wilderness  Edward Abbey (1968)
Desperate Characters  Paula Fox (1970)
Devil in the White City, The  Erik Larson (2003)
Disrupted: My Misadventure in the Start-Up Bubble  Dan Lyons (2016)
Dive From Clausen’s Pier, The  Ann Packer (2002)
Dogs of Babel, The  Carolyn Parkhurst (2003)
Down the River  Edward Abbey (1982)
Drop City  T.C. Boyle (2003)
Duane’s Depressed  Larry McMurtry (1999)


East of Eden  John Steinbeck (1952)
  Stephen King (2011)
Ella Minnow Pea
  Mark Dunn (2001)
Ellen Foster  Kaye Gibbons (1990)
Emily Alone Stewart O’Nan (2011)
Emma  Jane Austen (1815)
Empire Falls  Richard Russo (2002)
Endurance: An Epic of Polar Adventure  Frank Worsley (1931)
Endurance: Shackleton’s Legendary Antarctic Expedition, The  Caroline Alexander (1999)
Ethan Frome  Edith Wharton (1911)
Expecting Adam  Martha Beck (1999)
Eyre Affair, The  Jasper Fforde (2001)


Fallingwater Rising: Frank Lloyd Wright, E.J. Kaufmann, and America’s Most Extraordinary House  Franklin Toker (2003)
Far Cry From Kensington, A  Muriel Spark (1988)
Far From the Madding Crowd  Thomas Hardy (1874)
Fast Food Nation  Eric Schlossesr (2001)
Fay  William Wegman (1999)
Felicia’s Journey  William Trevor (1994)
Film Club, The  David Gilmour (2008)
Final Solution, The  Michael Chabon (2004)
First Light  Charles Baxter (1987)
Forsyte Saga, The  John Galsworthy (1906-1922)
44 Scotland Street Alexander McCall Smith (2005)
Founding Brothers: The Revolutionary Generation  Joseph J. Ellis (2000)
Foxfire: Confessions of a Girl Gang  Joyce Carol Oates (1993)
Freedomland  Richard Price (1998)
Frozen Thames, The  Helen Humphreys (2009)
Full Cupboard of Life, The  Alexander McCall Smith (2003)


Game of Thrones George R.R. Martin (1996)
Ghost Stories of Edith Wharton, The  Edith Wharton (1973)
Girl Waits With Gun  Amy Stewart (2015)
Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The  Stieg Larsson (2005)
Gods and Generals  Jeff Shaara (1996)
Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood and the Prison of Belief  Lawrence Wright (2013)
Gone for Good  Mark Childress (1998)
Good Lord Bird, The  James McBride (2013)
Good Scent From a Strange Mountain, A  Robert Olen Butler (1993)
Great Deliverance, A  Elizabeth George (1883)
Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, The  Mary Ann Shaffer & Annie Barrows (2008)


H is For Hawk  Helen Macdonald (2014)
Happiest Toddler on the Block, The
  Harvey Karp (2004)
Hard Times  Charles Dickens (1854)
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets  J.K. Rowling (1999)
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince  J.K. Rowling (2005)
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban  J.K. Rowling (1999)
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix  J.K. Rowling (2003)
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone  J.K. Rowling (1998)
Haunting of Hill House, The  Shirley Jackson (1959)
Heart of Midlothian, The  Sir Walter Scott (1818)
Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, A  Dave Eggers (2000)
Heartburn  Nora Ephron (1983)
Heat of the Day, The  Elizabeth Bowen (1948)
Heaven’s Prisoners  James Lee Burke (1988)
Help, The  Kathryn Stockett (2009)
Henry Clay: The Essential American  David S. Heidler, Jeanne T. Heidler (2010)
High Fidelity  Nick Hornby (1995)
His Dark Materials: The Amber Spyglass  Philip Pullman (2000)
His Dark Materials: The Subtle Knife  Philip Pullman (1997)
His Excellency: George Washington  Joseph J. Ellis (2004)
Horseman, Pass By  Larry McMurtry (1961)
Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet Jamie Ford (2009)
Hours, The  Michael Cunningham (1998)
House of the Seven Gables, The  Nathaniel Hawthorne (1851)
House on Coliseum Street, The  Shirley Ann Grau (1961)
House Tells the Story: Homes of the American Presidents, The  Adam Van Doren (2015)
How Reading Changed My Life  Anna Quindlen (1998)
How the States Got Their Shapes  Mark Stein (2008)
Hunger Games, The (2008)


I, Claudius  Robert Graves (1934)
I, Fatty  Jerry Stahl (2004)
Icy Sparks  Gwyn Hyman Rubio (1998)
In A Sunburned Country  Bill Bryson (2001)
In My Hands: Memories of a Holocaust Rescuer  Irene Gut Opdyke (1999)
In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex  Nathaniel Philbrick (2001)
In the Woods  Tana French (2007)
Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mount Everest Disaster  Jon Krakauer (1997)
Intrusions  Ursala Hegi (1995)
Isaac’s Storm: A Man, A Time and the Deadliest Hurricane in History  Erik Larson (1999)
Island of the Blue Dolphins  Scott O’Dell (1960)
Ivanhoe  Sir Walter Scott (1819)


James Madison  Garry Wills (2002)
James Monroe  Gary Hart (2005)
Jane Austen Book Club, The  Karen Joy Fowler (2004)
Jennie Gerhardt  Theodore Dreiser (1911)
John Adams  David McCullough (2002)
John Quincy Adams Lynn Hudson Parsons (1997)
Journal of a Novel: The East of Eden Letters  John Steinbeck (1969)
Judi Dench: With a Crack in Her Voice  John Miller (1998)
Justice  Larry Watson (1995)


Kidnapped  Robert Louis Stevenson (1886)
Kite Runner, The  Khaled Hosseini (2004)
Known World, The  Edward P. Jones (2003)
Krakatoa: The Day the World Exploded, August 27, 1883  Simon Winchester (2003)


Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal  Christopher Moore (2002)
Last Night at the Lobster
  Stewart O’Nan (2007)
Last Town on Earth, The  Thomas Mullen (2006)
Lesson Before Dying, A  Ernest J. Gaines (1994)
Letter From New York  Helene Hanff (1992)
Life After Life  Kate Atkinson (2013)
Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid, The  Bill Bryson (2006)
Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, The  Marie Kondo (2014)
Life of Pi  Yann Martel (2001)
Light Between Oceans, The  M.L. Stedman (2012)
Light in August  William Faulkner (1932)
Little Children  Tom Perrotta (2004)
Living on the Wind: Across the Hemisphere with Migratory Birds  Scott Weidensaul (1999)
Lost World, The  Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (1912)
Louise Brooks: A Biography  Barry Paris (1989)
Love Warps the Mind a Little  John Dufresne (1997)
Lovely Bones. The  Alice Siebold (2002)
Lying Awake  Mark Salzman (2000)


Madeleine’s Ghost  Robert Girardi (1995)
Main Street  Sinclair Lewis (1920)
Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand  Helen Simonson (2010)
Man Called Ove, A  Fredrik Backman (2012)
Mansfield Park  Jane Austen (1814)
Map of the World, A  Ruth Hamilton (1994)
March, The  E.L. Doctorow (2005)
Martian, The  Andy Weir (2011)
Mary and O’Neil  Justin Cronin (2001)
Maus  Art Spiegelman (1986/1991)
Mayor of Casterbridge, The  Thomas Hardy (1866)
Me Talk Pretty One Day  David Sedaris (2000)
Memoirs of a Geisha  Arthur Golden (1997)
Midnight Rising  Tony Horwitz (2011)
Midnight in the Garden of Good & Evil  John Berendt (1994)
Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day  Winifred Watson (1938)
Mr. Standfast  John Buchan (1919)
Mists of Avalon, The  Marion Zimmer Bradley (1982)
Moby Dick  Herman Melville (1851)
Mohawk  Richard Russo (1986)
Montana 1948  Larry Watson (1993)
Mother Tongue: English and How It Got That Way, The  Bill Bryson (1990)
My First Summer in the Sierra  John Muir (1911)
My Life in France  Julia Child (2005)
My Name Escapes Me: The Diary of a Retiring Actor  Alec Guinness (1996)
My Old Man and the Sea: A Father and Son Sail Around Cape Horn  David Hays and Daniel Hays (1995)
Mystery at Lilac Inn, The  Carolyn Keane (1931)


Naked  David Sedaris (1997)
Nana  Emile Zola (1880)
Nanny Diaries, The  Emma McLaughlin & Nicola Kraus (2002)
Namesake, The  Jhumpa Lahiri (2003)
Napoleon  Paul Johnson (2002)
A New-England Tale  Catharine Maria Sedgwick (1822)
Nickel and Dimed  Barbara Ehrenreich (2001)
Night  Elie Wiesel (1958)
Night to Remember, A  Walter Lord (1955)
No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency, The  Alexander McCall Smith (1998)
Nobody’s Fool  Richard Russo (1993)
Northanger Abbey  Jane Austen (1818)
Notes From a Small Island  Bill Bryson (1995)


Oblivion  Josephine Hart (1995)
October Light  Robert Gardner (1976)
Odds, The  Stewart O’Nan (2012)
Of Mice and Men  John Steinbeck (1937)
Old Curiosity Shop  Charles Dickens (1841)
Old Glory: A Voyage Down the Mississippi  Jonathan Raban (1981)
Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals, The  Michael Pollan (2006)
On the Occasion of My Last Afternoon  Kaye Gibbons (1998)
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest  Ken Kesey (1962)
One for the Road  Tony Horwitz (1987)
One Good Turn  Kate Atkinson (2006)
One-Room Schoolhouse: Stories About the Boys, The  Jim Heynen (1993)
One Thousand White Women: The Journals of May Dodd  Jim Fergus (1998)
One True Thing  Anna Quindlen (1994)
Outsiders, The  S.E. Hinton (1967)
Over the Edge of the World: Magellan’s Terrifying Circumnavigation of the Globe  Laurence Bergreen (2003)


Palace Walk  Naguib Mahfouz (1956)
Pastures of Heaven, The  John Steinbeck (1932)
Pax  Sarah Pennypacker (2016)
Paying Guests, The  Sarah Waters (2015)
Peace Like a River  Lief Enger (2001)
Pentimento  Lillian Hellman (1973)
Perfect Storm, The  Sebastian Junger (1997)
Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood  Marjane Satrapi (2003)
Persepolis 2  Marjane Satrapi (2004)
Peyton Place  Grace Metalious (1956)
Picture  Lillian Ross (1950)
Picture of Dorian Gray, The  Oscar Wilde (1891)
Pigs in Heaven  Barbara Kingsolver (1993)
Plot Against America, The  Philip Roth (2004)
Pompeii  Robert Harris (2003)
Praise Song for the Widow  Paule Marshall (1983)
Prayer for the Dying, A  Stewart O’Nan (1999)
Prep  Curtis Sittenfeld (2005)
Pride and Prejudice  Jane Austen (1813)
Private Alters  Katherine Mosby (1995)
Professor and the Madman, The  Simon Winchester (1998)
Pure Drivel  Steve Martin (1998)


Race to the Pole: Tragedy, Heroism and Scott’s Antarctic Quest  Sir Ranulph Fiennes (2004)
Rape of Nanking, The  Iris Chang (1997)
Reader, The  Bernhard Schlink (1999)
Reading Lolita in Tehran  Azar Nafisi (2003)
Reality and Dreams  Muriel Spark (1997)
Red Badge of Courage, The  Stephen Crane (1895)
Red-Tails in Love: A Wildlife Drama in Central Park  Marie Winn (1998)
Reserve, The  Russell Banks (2008)
Return of the Native, The  Thomas Hardy (1878)
Right Ho, Jeeves  P.G. Wodehouse (1934)
Road From Coorain, The  Jill Ker Conway (1989)
Robinson Crusoe  Daniel Defoe (1719)
Round House, The  Louise Erdrich (2012)


Sacred Hunger  Barry Unsworth (1992)
San Miguel  T.C. Boyle (2012)
Secret Life of Bees, The  Sue Monk Kidd (2002)
Secrets of Mary Bowser  Lois Leveen (2012)
Series of Unfortunate Events: Books 1-10, A  Lemony Snicket (1999-2003)
Series of Unfortunate Events: The End, A  Lemony Snicket (2006)
Series of Unfortunate Events: The Penultimate Peril, A  Lemony Snicket (2005)
Shadows of Blue & Gray: The Civil War Writings of Ambrose Bierce  Ambrose Bierce
Sharpe’s Rifles  Bernard Cornwell (1988)
Shipping News, The  E. Annie Proulx (1993)
Sights Unseen  Kaye Gibbons (1995)
Small Island  Andrea Levy (2004)
Smoke Gets in Your Eyes & Other Lessons from the Crematory  Caitlin Doughty (2014)
Snow Angels  Stewart O’Nan (1995)
Snow Falling on Cedars  David Guterson (1995)
Soloist, The  Mark Salzman (1994)
Sparrow, The  Mary Doria Russell (1996)
Speed Queen, The  Stewart O’Nan (1997)
Spectator Bird, The  Wallace Stegner (1976)
Sport of Kings, The  C.E. Morgan (2016)
Star Called Henry, A  Roddy Doyle (1999)
Started Early, Took My Dog  Kate Atkinson (2011)
Storm of Swords, A  George R.R. Martin (2000)
Straight Man  Richard Russo (1997)
Summerland  Michael Chabon (2002)
Sun and Shadow  Ake Edwardson (1999)
Sunk Without a Sound: The Tragic Colorado River Honeymoon of Glen and Bessie Hyde  Brad Dimock (2001)
Swamplandia!  Karen Russell (2011)
Sweet Hereafter, The  Russell Banks (1992)
Sweet Summer  Bebe Moore Campbell (1989)


Tales of the City  Armistead Maupin (1979-1989)
Tambora: The Eruption That Changed the World  Gilles D’Arcy Wood (2014)
Tender Bar, The  J.R. Moehringer (2005)
Tears of the Giraffe  Alexander McCall Smith (2000)
Telegraph Avenue  Michael Chabon (2012)
That Old Cape Magic  Richard Russo (2009)
Thirty-Nine Steps , The John Buchan (1915)
This Republic of Suffering: Death and the American Civil War  Drew Gilpin Faust (2008)
Three Musketeers, The  Alexandre Dumas (1844)
Thunderstruck  Erik Larson (2006)
Thurber Carnival, The  James Thurber (1944)
Time of Our Singing, The  Richard Powers (2003)
To the Lighthouse  Virginia Woolf (1927)
Tortilla Flat  John Steinbeck (1935)
Town Like Alice, A  Nevil Shute (1963)
Tracks of Angels, The  Kelly Dwyer (1994)
Travels With Charley in Search of America  John Steinbeck (1962)
Tree Grows in Brooklyn, A  Betty Smith (1943)
Trial of Abigail Goodman, The  Howard Fast (1993)
Trouble  Fay Weldon (1993)


Uncommon Reader, The  Alan Bennett (2007)
Undaunted Courage: Meriwether Lewis, Thomas Jefferson and the Opening of the American West  Stephen Ambrose (1996)
Underground Railroad, The  Colson Whitehead  (2016)
Understanding Exposure  Bryan Peterson (2004)


Van, The  Roddy Doyle (1991)
Vernon God Little  DBC Pierre (2003)
Virgin Suicides, The  Jeff Eugenides (1993)
Voyage Long and Strange, A  Tony Horwitz (2008)


Walk in the Woods, A  Bill Bryson (1998)
Walking Into the River  Lorian Hemingway (1992)
War of the Worlds, The  H.G. Wells (1898)
War That Saved My Life, The  Kimberly Brubaker Bradley (2016)
Warden, The  Anthony Trollope (1855)
Washington Square  Henry James (1880)
Water for Elephants  Sara Gruen (2006)
Way We Live Now, The  Anthony Trollope (1875)
Wayward Bus, The  John Steinbeck (1947)
Wedding of the Waters: The Erie Canal and the Making of a Great Nation  Peter L. Bernstein (2006)
Well, The  Elizabeth Jolley (1986)
West of Sunset  Stewart O’Nan (2015)
Wieland: or the Transformation: An American Tale  Charles Brockden Brown (1798)
Wish You Were Here  Stewart O’Nan (2002)
Without You, There Is No Us: My Time With the Sons of North Korea’s Elite  Suki Kim (2014)
What It Felt Like  Henry Allen (2000)
When the Emperor Was Divine  Julie Otsuka (2002)
When the Light Goes  Larry McMurtry (2007)
Where’d You Go, Bernadette  Maria Semple (2012)
White Devils  Paul McAuley (2004)
Wishful Drinking  Carrie Fisher (2008)
Woman in Black, The  Susan Hill (1983)
Woman Who Walked Into Doors, The  Roddy Doyle (1996)
Women, The  T.C. Boyle (2009)
Wonder Boys  Michael Chabon (1995)
Wordy Shipmates. The  Sarah Vowell (2008)
Wrecked, Blessed Body of Shelton Lafleur, The  John Gregory Brown (1996)
Writing Class, The  Jincy Willett (2008)


Year of Magical Thinking, The  Joan Didion (2005)
Yiddish Policeman’s Union, The  Michael Chabon (2007)
Year of Silence, The  Madison Smartt Bell (1987)
Your Blues Ain’t Like Mine  Bebe Moore Campbell (1992)


Zombie  Joyce Carol Oates (1995)