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Articles by Steve Donoghue

Comics! Nightwing Returns to Blüdhaven!

December 7th, 2016
Comics! Nightwing Returns to Blüdhaven!

A standout for DC Comics this week, part of the company’s ongoing “Rebirth” line of titles slightly revamping the continuity that was itself revamped six years ago in the company’s “New 52” revamp, is issue #10 of Nightwing, in which the fan-favorite character moves to the seedy city of Blüdhaven with which he was so […]

A Winter-Time Regency Trio!

December 6th, 2016
A Winter-Time Regency Trio!

Our books today are three quick bursts of color and gaiety to brighten up a December day as winter, delayed and tentative, at last begins to close its grip on the city of Boston. Temperatures in the 20s (F) are in the immediate forecast for the first time in ten months, the other morning featured […]

The Literary Life … and the Hell with It!

December 5th, 2016
The Literary Life … and the Hell with It!

Our book today is a garrulous little delight from 1939, The Literary Life and the Hell with It, by Whit Burnett, the founder (along with his wonderful wife Martha Foley, the brains of the outfit) and long-time editor of Story magazine. Martha Foley had a fantastic ear for prose in English and a nearly-infallible instinct […]

Book Review: The Man with the Poison Gun

December 5th, 2016
the-man-with-the-poison-gun

The gripping true story of celebrated KGB assassin – and defector.

Comics: “Power and Glory” in the JLA!

December 2nd, 2016
Comics: “Power and Glory” in the JLA!

Back in 1989, inexplicably popular comic book artist Bryan Hitch was given control of DC Comics bestselling iconic “New 52” series Justice League of America and began a multi-part storyline called “Power and Glory,” in which Rao, the god of Superman’s lost homeworld Krypton, turns up alive and well on Earth one day and starts […]

Advice to a Young Reviewer!

December 1st, 2016
Advice to a Young Reviewer!

Our book today is a slim little thing from 1927: Advice to a Young Reviewer, a quick mini-pamphlet dashed off at white heat by Edward Copleston, who was born in Devon in 1776, attended Oxford, and became Bishop of Llandaff and Dean of St. Paul’s in 1828. Copleston was apparently a feisty old codger of […]

Book Review: Rasputin

December 1st, 2016
rasputin-cover

The mesmerizing lunatic who grafted himself onto the Romanov dynasty in its final decades gets a highly detailed new biography.

Keeping Up with the Windsors: Family Drama

December 1st, 2016
Keeping Up with the Windsors: Family Drama

A lavish new production dramatizes the tensions between royalty and personhood in the House of Windsor. Steve Donoghue reviews The Crown.

From the Archives: Chairman of the Board

December 1st, 2016
bpimlottthequeen

Lodestar or mirror? Passé or ne plus ultra? Elizabeth II has presided with consistency over an inconsistent age. And what have we learned of her?

Book Review: Brothers at Arms

November 29th, 2016
brothers-at-arms-cover

An invigorating new history looks at the American Revolution from a wide-angle international view

Wilt-tripping in the Penny Press!

November 29th, 2016
Wilt-tripping in the Penny Press!

Self-preservation these days requires not only skipping wholesale the front sections of all the political magazines to which I subscribe but also physically tearing them off their staples and discarding them, so that not even a stray glance falls on their appalling content. I’ve been doing this for a couple of weeks now and face […]

Book Review: Crane Pond

November 25th, 2016
crane-pond

A smart and gripping new novel brings the Salem Witch mania to life.

Book Review: The First Victory

November 24th, 2016
the-first-victory

The tough and bitter East Africa campaign of 1941 receives a comprehensive new history.

Penguins on Parade: 120 Days of Sodom!

November 23rd, 2016
Penguins on Parade: 120 Days of Sodom!

Some Penguin Classics just never feel quite legitimate, no matter how hard they try, no matter how fervent their supporters are over the decades or centuries. This is how it will feel twenty years from now, when Kurt Vonnegut’s flyblown oeuvre is inducted into the line, and this is how it will feel thirty years […]

Two Books of Travel!

November 21st, 2016
Two Books of Travel!

Our books today – one old favorite and one I believe a new mention here at Stevereads – provide a warm-reminder reading experience that only gets warmer as the weather turns colder and the years go by: they’re both anthologies of travel-writing. The first, A Taste for Travel, was edited by John Julius Norwich in […]

Book Review: The Vanquished

November 21st, 2016
vanquished

A thought-provoking new history shines a spotlight on the long and brutal aftermath of the First World War

A Pearl of Earls!

November 16th, 2016
A Pearl of Earls!

Our books today are posies picked from the local Barnes & Noble, a colorful trio of Regency novels all occupying roughly the middle orbit in the solar system of the British peerage: all books about earls, that strangely accessible rank of nobility considerably above a viscount and just a bit below a marquess. Any time […]

Book Review: Fifty English Steeples

November 15th, 2016
steep

That familiar glory of medieval English architecture -the church spire – is the subject of a stunning new book.

Book Review: Egyptomania

November 14th, 2016
egyptomania-cover

A new book chronicles the world’s enduring fascination with Ancient Egypt

The Lottery – The Graphic Novel!

November 7th, 2016
The Lottery – The Graphic Novel!

Our book today is a “graphic adaptation,” what once would have been known as an “illustrated classic,” of Shirley Jackson’s best-known little piece of work, “The Lottery.” It’s Shirley Jackson’s The Lottery: A Graphic Adaptation, done with marvelous restrained mastery by Miles Hyman, Shirley Jackson’s grandson, who opens the production with a few remarks about […]

Book Review: Scarlet Experiment

November 7th, 2016
bird-glass-feature

Can birds – any species of bird, anywhere in the United States – survive their contact with humanity? A new book looks at the science and the sobering numbers.

Book Review: Herbert Hoover

November 4th, 2016
herbert-hoover

Depression-era US President Herbert Hoover has always been easy to malign – a new biography argues that he’s just as easy to underestimate

His Majesty, the Not Excessively Cowardly

November 1st, 2016
His Majesty, the Not Excessively Cowardly

He’s forever linked in history with his punning nickname, but a new biography shows there was more to Æthelred than being “Unready”

Table Manners!

October 31st, 2016
Table Manners!

Our book today is a slim little garlic tart: Table Manners: How to Behave in the Modern World and Why Bother, a 130-page guide to proper behavior written by Jeremiah Tower, whose author-note refers to him, non-ironically and without so much as a glance in the direction of the Maidu or Mojave, as “the forefather […]

Book Review: Charlemagne

October 31st, 2016
charlemagne

The larger-than-life medieval Frankish king Charlemagne is the subject of a definitive single-volume biography now translated into English

Unconditional!

October 28th, 2016
Unconditional!

Our book today is Unconditional: Older Dogs, Deeper Love, a glorious result of photographer Jane Sobel Klonsky’s journeys around the United States, talking to people about their old dogs. This is a book that will bring a painful smile to the face of any dog owner, because its subject is the contradiction at the heart […]

Book Review: Turner

October 24th, 2016
trunercover

A sumptuous new biography of the man behind the Turner legend

Dude-Bro Reading in the Penny Press!

October 19th, 2016
Dude-Bro Reading in the Penny Press!

As I’ve readily admitted in the past, the lad-mags for which I have something of a pronounced sweet-tooth aren’t really the places you go if you’re looking for literary coverage. It’s true that some of them pay their freelancers well, so in the rear pages of many an issue, you can often find writing that […]

Book Review: Black Elk

October 19th, 2016
9780374253301

The Sioux medicine man and centerpiece of “Black Elk Speaks” is the subject of a comprehensive new biography

Through a Naturalist’s Eyes!

October 18th, 2016
Through a Naturalist’s Eyes!

Our book today is a kind of thing I’ve praised here at Stevereads many times in the past: regional natural history, in this case a pretty new volume from University Press of New England called Through a Naturalist’s Eyes: Exploring the Nature of New England, written by Michael Caduto and illustrated throughout by Adelaide Murphy […]

Book Review: Karl Marx: Greatness and Illusion

October 18th, 2016
51jyrr90-gl-_sx327_bo1204203200_

A big new biography attempts to get at the flesh-and-blood man behind the problematic theory of Marxism

Book Review: Something in the Blood

October 12th, 2016
something

A big, generous new biography of the man who created Dracula

Footnotes from the World’s Greatest Bookstores!

October 12th, 2016
Footnotes from the World’s Greatest Bookstores!

Our book today is a lovely squat little thing from Clarkson Potter publishers: Footnotes from the World’s Greatest Bookstores, subtitled “True Tales and Lost Moments from Book Buyers, Booksellers, and Book Lovers.” In it, writer and illustrator Bob Eckstein visits dozens of bookshops around the world – and hears about a few that no longer […]

Book Review: Britain’s War, 1937-1941: Into Battle

October 7th, 2016
britains-war

A lively new history of the years England fought alone against the might of Nazi Germany

Book Review: Vanity Fair’s Writers on Writers

October 4th, 2016
vf-wrtiers

The editors of Vanity Fair magazine delve into their century of writing to serve up dozens of their best writers writing about other writers.

Book Review: Northmen

October 3rd, 2016
norhtmen

A gripping new history tells the broader story of the Viking Era

Book Review: Eyes on the Street

October 1st, 2016
vital-little-plans

A lively new biography tells the story of iconic urban visionary and outspoken cultural critic Jane Jacobs.

Sorry, Lady – This Beach is Private!

October 1st, 2016
Sorry, Lady – This Beach is Private!

Our book today is Sorry, Lady – This Beach is Private!, a 1963 collection of the cartoons and illustrations of James Stevenson, he of New Yorker fame. This volume collects dozens of Stevenson’s now-iconic little gems from his long heyday with the magazine throughout the 1950s and ’60s. They’re every bit as much of a […]

No Further Arrests Have Been Made

October 1st, 2016
No Further Arrests Have Been Made

The serial killer who stalked the streets of London in 1888 and became immortal under the name Jack the Ripper is the subject of a sumptuous new collection of fact and fiction.

Book Review: Tamil

September 27th, 2016
tamilcover

A dense yet lyrical new book tells the long, intricate life story of the Tamil language and Tamil literature

Hypocritical Blather in the Penny Press!

September 23rd, 2016
Hypocritical Blather in the Penny Press!

Like plenty of other people (perhaps particularly other beagle-fanciers), I loved Andrew Sullivan’s blog The Dish in most of its various incarnations over the years, and I read it eagerly even when, as was very often the case, I disagreed with the author. I was disappointed when he rather ostentatiously announced his retirement from blogging […]

Book Review: The Playful Little Dog

September 22nd, 2016
the-playful-little-dog

Penguin Random House continues its re-issue series of classic little children’s books.

Book Review: Lusitania – The Cultural History of a Catastrophe

September 22nd, 2016
lusitania-cover

Just over a century ago, the luxury liner Lusitania was sunk by a German U-boat with great loss of life, a disaster that, as a new book explains, re-shaped the world.

Book Review: Looking For Betty MacDonald

September 19th, 2016
looking-for-b-macdonald

The beloved author of “The Egg and I” receives her first full-length biography

Wagging Tails!

September 17th, 2016
Wagging Tails!

Our book today is a little treasure from deep, deep in the shadowy recesses of my personal library: a much-loved 1955 volume called Wagging Tails: An Album of Dogs, written by Marguerite Henry and drawn by Wesley Dennis. It’s an exuberantly friendly, colorful book full of friendly dogs, a book put out by Rand McNally […]

Book Review: Cocteau – A Life

September 15th, 2016
cocteau-cover

The multi-faceted artist and director Jean Cocteau is the subject of a mammoth biography, newly translated into English

Book Review: Selling Hitler

September 15th, 2016
selling-hitler

A brilliant new study anatomizes the mechanisms of Nazi propaganda

Book Review: Deepwater Horizon

September 13th, 2016
deepwater-horizon

The explosion, fire, sinking, and oil spill of the Deepwater Horizon back in 2010 gets a definitive scholarly analysis.

Book Review: If Venice Dies

September 12th, 2016
if-venice-dies

The tourist magnet of Venice faces an uncertain future on many fronts – but Salvatore Settis has many possible solutions in mind …

Dürer’s Record of Journeys to Venice and the Low Countries!

September 11th, 2016
Dürer’s Record of Journeys to Venice and the Low Countries!

Our book today is a little-known absolute gem that owes what very limited popular readership it’s ever had in America in the last eighty years to the stalwart old Dover reprint line as it once was – not its reprints of canonical classics, which have always been and continue to be glaringly ugly and editorially […]

Book Review: Where Song Began

September 8th, 2016
where-song-began

The overflowing diversity of Australian bird life is the subject of Tim Low’s captivating new book

Book Review: Why Birds Matter

September 8th, 2016
why-birds-matter

Who can measure the worth of a nightingale’s song? Why scientists can, you silly thing!

Comrade Loves of the Samurai!

September 8th, 2016
Comrade Loves of the Samurai!

Our book today is Comrade Loves of the Samurai, a pokey little translation by E. Powys Mathers from way back in 1928, when it appeared in a privately-published set of high-class smut called Eastern Love. The set featured two books: selections from the Nanshoku Okagami of the great 17th century Japanese author Saikaku Ihara, here […]

Book Review: Red Right Hand

September 5th, 2016
red right hand

A young woman’s life is turned upside-down when she encounters a strange man with a molten red hand.

Book Review: Red Right Hand

September 5th, 2016
nexus strikes

The hitman who kills hitmen is contracted by a semi-rogue FBI agent to take on a particularly delicate – and dangerous – side-mission

The Cape at Summer’s End: Cape Cod Yesterdays!

September 2nd, 2016
The Cape at Summer’s End: Cape Cod Yesterdays!

Our book today is Cape Cod Yesterdays, which bestselling novelist Joseph C. Lincoln dashed off in 1935 and which went through his customary flurry of reprints, since the man was a storyteller with a golden touch, an immensely popular bestselling author of a century ago who built a large chunk of his career on his […]

Single Occupancy, Lots of Sunlight, Water Included

September 1st, 2016
Single Occupancy, Lots of Sunlight, Water Included

For a century, humans have been searching for any sign of extraterrestrial life, intelligent or otherwise. A new book tells the story of that quest – and keeps its geeky hope alive.

Book Review: ADHD Nation

August 31st, 2016
adhd nation

A hard-hitting new book exposes the widespread misdiagnosis of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

The Penguin Book of English Verse!

August 29th, 2016
The Penguin Book of English Verse!

Our book today is that saddest of all kinds of books, the superseded classic. In this case, we’re talking about The Penguin Book of English Verse – not the massive 2004 version edited in all its splendor by Paul Keegan but rather the 1956 version edited by John Hayward, who had the old-fashioned chutzpah to […]

Book Review: August 1914

August 29th, 2016
august 1914

Before the famous epic battles of the First World War, there were lesser-known but equally ferocious clashes that are often lost in the larger narrative. A short, powerful book seeks to redress that imbalance.

Book Review: The World of Poldark

August 25th, 2016
Book Review: The World of Poldark

The companion book to the 2015 production of “Poldark” turns out to be more than just a pretty face

Book Review: Angelinetum and Other Poems

August 24th, 2016
marrasio

Doctor and poet Giovanni Marrasio’s verses receive an expert new edition from the Harvard’s I Tatti Library series

Birds Worth Knowing!

August 20th, 2016
Birds Worth Knowing!

Our book today is a pretty little gem unearthed from the bargain carts of my beloved Brattle Bookshop: the 1917 classic Birds Worth Knowing by the American author who wrote under the pen name Neltje Blanchan. This particular edition was issued in 1923 as part of the Little Nature Library put out by Doubleday, and […]

Book Review: America’s Snake

August 19th, 2016
cuddly

Snake expert Ted Levin argues in his captivating new book that the American rattlesnake is as misunderstood as it is miraculous.

Ink Chorus: Bestseller!

August 18th, 2016
Ink Chorus: Bestseller!

Our book today is surely one of the all-time classics of the Ink Chorus: Claud Cockburn’s 1972, er, bestseller Bestseller, in which our author subjects a dozen bygone bestselling novels to a forensic examination that’s both erudite and often hilarious, biting but also oddly sympathetic. He takes a tour through some of the bestselling novels […]

Book Review: The Accidental Life

August 15th, 2016
accidental life

Veteran editor Terry McDonell writes a ribald memoir that’s half storytelling and half tips of the trade

Book Review: The Fifty-Year Mission

August 11th, 2016
star trek lives

On the occasion of its 50th anniversary, Star Trek gets a definitive oral history.

Genteel Bloodletting in the Penny Press!

August 10th, 2016
Genteel Bloodletting in the Penny Press!

I clearly wasn’t the only reader of the mighty TLS who was disappointed by Julian Baggini’s cover article about the ethics of eating animals! I went into the piece with high hopes, which in retrospect I see now was a bit foolish, and Ingrid Newkirk of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals felt the […]

Book Review: Marked for Death

August 10th, 2016
marked for death

A gritty and gripping new history tells the story of the dawn of aerial warfare.

Book Review: The Invisible Life of Ivan Isaenko

August 9th, 2016
vasily stepanov

A crippled young man in a forgotten hospital has armored himself against the rotten hand he’s drawn in life – until he falls in love with a new patient.

The Life of the Robin!

August 6th, 2016
The Life of the Robin!

Our book today is a wonderful little classic of popular natural history: David Lack’s The Life of the Robin from 1943, in which Lack takes everything known about robins from literature, poetry, and science and pulls it all together to craft a portrait-in-the-round of one of England’s most common birds. “Into the world of the […]

Book Review: Ghost Talkers

August 4th, 2016
ghosttalkers

The heroine of Mary Robinette Kowal’s enchanting new novel is doing her part for the WWI war effort – by debriefing the spirits of soldiers killed on the battlefield

Book Review: The Nix

August 4th, 2016
the nix

The life of the main character in Nathan Hill’s stunning debut novel is turned upside-down when the madwoman on the nightly news turns out to be his mother.

Book Review: Dawn of the Dog

August 4th, 2016
dawn of the dog

A new book takes a revisionist look at the evolutionary history of the dog.

Book Review: The Story of Egypt

August 3rd, 2016
Book Review: The Story of Egypt

A new book tells the history of ancient Egypt, from the mists of pre-history to the familiar tale of Cleopatra

Book Review: The Year’s Best Science Fiction

August 1st, 2016
year’s best sf 16

The latest entry in the epic “Year’s Best Science Fiction” series by editor Gardner Dozois features everything from Venusian monsters to telepathic food – with stops along the way for planetary warfare, quantum piracy, and the end of the world as we know it.

Ink Chorus: Homage to Daniel Shays!

August 1st, 2016
Ink Chorus: Homage to Daniel Shays!

Our book today is a clear, clean classic showing hardly any sign of floorboard decay, a good example of stages in a literary hack’s via dolorosa from griping underdog to griping Grand Dame: it’s Homage to Daniel Shays, Gore Vidal’s smashingly good 1972 volume collecting essays and book reviews from a neat 20-year span, from […]

Suffer the Little Children

August 1st, 2016
Suffer the Little Children

According to a new book, not only did God design life, but deep down inside, we all know it. Steve Donoghue remains unconverted.

Book Review: The Castle of Kings

July 28th, 2016
the castle of kings

A strong-willed young woman and a visionary young man navigate a 16th-century Germany in chaos in order to find their destiny

Book Review: Pound for Pound

July 27th, 2016
sticker

An emotionally and physically damaged young woman finds healing by helping some of the most unlucky dogs on Earth in Shannon Kopp’s touching new book

Ink Chorus: A Writer’s Notebook!

July 21st, 2016
Ink Chorus: A Writer’s Notebook!

Our book today is a stiff-legged, sniffy, fascinating little thing, From a Writer’s Notebook, a quasi-commonplace book brought out by Van Wyck Brooks in 1958. You can feel the prickliness of the endeavor even from the title, can’t you? “From a Writer’s Notebook,” so carefully distinguishing the author from his proletariat readers – the writer’s […]

Book Review: Frederick Barbarossa

July 20th, 2016
frederick barbarossa

The legendary life of the great Frederick Barbarossa is grounded in facts and records in a deeply impressive new biography

Book Review: Franz Liszt

July 18th, 2016
l

A new single-volume biography captures the oversized life of legendary composer and pianist Franz Liszt

The Urban Whale!

July 16th, 2016
The Urban Whale!

Our book today lands squarely in the category I’ve come to call “Near Misses”: it’s The Urban Whale: North Atlantic Right Whales at the Crossroads, edited by Scott Kraus and Rosalind Rolland, and it’s a “Near Miss” because it was brought out by Harvard University Press in February of 2007 – mere weeks before my […]

Book Review: Legible Religion

July 16th, 2016
l religion

How do you manage to have religion without scripture? As a fascinating new book demonstrates, inn this as in so many other seemingly impossible paradoxes, the ancient Romans found a way.

The “New” Boston Public Library!

July 14th, 2016
The “New” Boston Public Library!

An old friend and I made plans to meet outside the Boston Public Library this morning on Boylston Street. It was steaming hot and humid, but we both wanted to experience the library for the first time together. Not the first time visiting the Johnson Building, of course. I’d been going there since the place […]

Book Review: Hitler’s Compromises

July 11th, 2016
hitler’s compromises

A brilliant new book explores the alternatives to brute force the Nazi regime often employed to get its way

Notes for a Star Trek Bibliography: Captain to Captain!

July 11th, 2016
Notes for a Star Trek Bibliography: Captain to Captain!

Our book today is the latest Star Trek novel, Greg Cox’s Star Trek Legacies: Captain to Captain, the first volume in a new trilogy from Pocket Books commemorating 2016’s 50th anniversary of the original appearance of the “classic” version of the show. The idea is clearly to celebrate the show’s rich history; the plot Cox […]

Ink Chorus: But Do Blondes Prefer Gentlemen?

July 9th, 2016
Ink Chorus: But Do Blondes Prefer Gentlemen?

Our book today is that horrendously-titled 1986 masterpiece But Do Blondes Prefer Gentlemen? – alternately known as Homage to QWERT YUIOP and Other Writings, a total loss either way and a prime example of why authors should never be allowed to pick the title of their books – especially authors as freakishly widely-read and as […]

Book Review: Hitler’s Soldiers

July 6th, 2016
hitler’s soldiers

A big new history of the German Army during World War II takes a complex and multifaceted look at the men who fought for the Reich

Book Review: The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam

July 5th, 2016
perry1

A new dual biography of poet and translator accompanies a new illustrated edition of the famous Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam

Penguins on Parade: The Federalist Papers!

July 4th, 2016
Penguins on Parade: The Federalist Papers!

Some Penguin Classics, as we’ve seen, are classics in their own editions in addition to their reprinted contents. Whether it’s the Tain or Magna Carta or the Shahnameh, these monumental volumes feel like much more than simply the purveying of accessible translations – they’re self-contained seminars in their own right. The happy phenomenon applies equally […]

The Story of Nell Gwyn!

July 2nd, 2016
The Story of Nell Gwyn!

Our book today is not exactly the Final Word: it’s The Story of Nell Gwyn (and the Sayings of Charles the Second), as “related and collected” by the now-forgotten Victorian editor and biographer Peter Cunningham in 1883. It’s a slightly oversized gold-gilded production of recounted Restoration trifles, just the kind of things for which Cunningham […]

Ink Chorus: Terrorists & Novelists!

July 1st, 2016
Ink Chorus: Terrorists & Novelists!

Our book today is Terrorists & Novelists, a 1982 collection of great New York Review of Books pieces, New Statesman pieces, and New York Times Book Review pieces by the novelist and essayist Diane Johnson, who’d go on to score very nice sales with her 2000 novel Le Mariage and its 2003 follow-up L’Affaire. Re-reading […]

Book Review: Russia’s Path Toward Enlightenment

July 1st, 2016
russia’s path

Long before Peter the Great and Catherine the Great, Russian thinkers and writers were haltingly, passionately fashioning their own peculiar brand of Enlightment

At Play with Clay

July 1st, 2016
At Play with Clay

Ever since Mary Shelley wrote her weird masterpiece two centuries ago, it’s been impossible to keep a good monster down. In the Shadow of Frankenstein gives readers two dozen pastiches that keep the Creature alive.

Book Review: Melville in Love

June 27th, 2016
melville in love

Did an unconventional Berkshires beauty provide the inspiration for Herman Melville to write his great masterpiece? A new book thinks it would be lovely to think so.

The American Poets Longfellow!

June 23rd, 2016
The American Poets Longfellow!

Our book today is a lovely old slip-cased thing from 1945: the volume of Louis Untermeyer’s “American Poets” series dedicated to Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. This series was done up very prettily: solid binding, high-quality paper, and original artwork for each volume – in this case, wood engravings by Boyd Hanna that are as wonderful on […]

Book Review: Louis XVI

June 23rd, 2016
louisxvi

The glittering Bourbon king who lost his head to the Revolution gets a sumptuous newly-expanded biography

Book Review: Toward Democracy

June 22nd, 2016
toward dem

The long and constantly-unfinished process of democracy is given a sprawling examination in James Kloppenberg’s new book.

Book Review: The Cavendon Luck

June 19th, 2016
thecavendon luck

The Second World War closes in on the two families bravely struggling to keep Cavendon Hall alive.

Book Review: Commander in Chief

June 18th, 2016
commander in chief

In 1943, American President Franklin Roosevelt faced the strong-willed rivalry of his own nominal ally, Winston Churchill

Penguins on Parade: Sketches from a Hunter’s Album!

June 17th, 2016
Penguins on Parade: Sketches from a Hunter’s Album!

Some Penguin Classics, as we’ve seen in the past here at Stevereads, are just clear-cut improvements over earlier versions. One obvious example comes from 1990, the Richard Freeborn updated edition of Sketches from a Hunter’s Album, the book that first made the literary reputation of Ivan Sergeyevich Turgenev, whose first collection of these little sketches […]

Penguins on Parade: The Praetorians!

June 14th, 2016
Penguins on Parade: The Praetorians!

Some Penguin Classics serve as reminders of the perils of sequels. In fact, since the very first Penguin Classic, and also the first Penguin Classic best-seller, was E. V. Rieu’s translation of Homer’s Odyssey, it would be fair to say the Penguin Classics line was founded on a sequel – with all the pros and […]

Penguins on Parade: Storm of Steel

June 13th, 2016
Penguins on Parade: Storm of Steel

Some Penguin Classics never quite stop being controversial, and that’s certainly the case with Ernst Junger’s bestselling First World War memoir In Stahlgewittern, which was first privately printed in 1920 when its author in his twenties, fresh from his experiences during the war. He’d compulsively recorded those experiences in a collection of wartime diaries, and […]

Book Review: The Bitter Taste of Victory

June 10th, 2016
the bitter taste of victory

Lara Feigel’s new book delves into the landscape of the apocalypse: Germany in the immediate wake of Allied victory.

Book Review: In Gratitude

June 7th, 2016
in gratitude

Novelist and essayist Jenny Diski faithfully chronicled her own dying from cancer. A new book collects her last and greatest literary work.

From My Library Walls!

June 7th, 2016
From My Library Walls!

Our book today is a courtly thing from 1945: William Dana Orcutt’s memoir From My Library Walls. The book is subtitled “A Kaleidoscope of Memories,” which might make it sound deadly dull and ponderous, but this particular author couldn’t write a ponderous book to say his life. He delighted readers with a dozen or so […]

Romance Roundup: Lords & Ladies in Love!

June 5th, 2016
Romance Roundup: Lords & Ladies in Love!

Our books today comprise a quick and torrid little tour through Burke’s Peerage, highlighting – as if it needed highlighting – that the 21st century Regency Romance is every bit as obsessed with rank and privilege as the Regency era itself was. In ascending order of oomph, those ranks are: the barons, the viscounts, the […]

Book Review: Anatomy of Malice

June 5th, 2016
anatomy of malice

A gripping new book looks at a quartet of the worst Nazi war criminals to stand trial.

Book Review: The Gene

June 3rd, 2016
the gene

A generous new book describes the history – and the momentous potential – of genetic research

Penguins on Parade: Tales from the Decameron!

June 1st, 2016
Penguins on Parade: Tales from the Decameron!

Some Penguin Classics hew close to an academic model and try in their good conscience to be gateways to richer wonders. Once such gateway that’s always been attractive to teachers is an abridgement of Giovanni Boccaccio’s gigantic masterpiece, The Decameron. In its unedited form, the book is a cinder block in size, one hundred stories […]

Book Review: The Summer Dragon

June 1st, 2016
the summer dragon

In fantasy illustrator Todd Lockwood’s debut novel, a young woman from a family of dragon-breeders faces an ancient evil

Let’s All Meet at the Mahalalel Mall

June 1st, 2016
Let’s All Meet at the Mahalalel Mall

A thorough and even-handed new book gives readers a tour of the “Creation Museum” in Kentucky – and warns not to dismiss its dangers too readily.

Notes for a Star Trek Bibliography: The Original Episodes!

May 30th, 2016
Notes for a Star Trek Bibliography: The Original Episodes!

Our book today is a doozy, a true and unexpected delight: Barnes & Noble’s latest addition to their sterling, mouth-watering series of leatherbound classics is a Star Trek volume! Just in time for the 50th anniversary of the original TV show’s appearance (an anniversary Paramount Pictures has decided to honor by, astonishingly, shamefully, mostly ignoring […]

Comics! DC’s Rebirth!

May 27th, 2016
Comics! DC’s Rebirth!

Comics this week contained several bombshells and big events, but the one that drew my attention the most was the first issue of DC Comics’ new “Rebirth” summer event series, and it drew my attention not just because of the fan reactions popping up all over the nerdy end of the blogosphere but also because […]

Book Review: Bach’s Major Vocal Works

May 27th, 2016
bach’s major vocal works

Some of Johann Sebastian Bach’s most glorious music is also some of the most intimidating to modern audiences; a new book introduces readers to the masses and oratorios of the master.

Book Review: The Risen

May 26th, 2016
the risen

The familiar story of the Spartacus rebellion gets a lavish new telling

Book Review: The Next Pandemic

May 25th, 2016
the next pandemic

A lively account of life on the front lines in the fight against the world’s worst diseases.

In Paperback: Manhattan Night

May 24th, 2016
manhattan nocturne

A terrific ten-year-old noir novel is given a new paperback edition on the occasion of its translation to the Hollywood screen.

Book Review: Otto Binder

May 23rd, 2016
otto binder

He helped to create some of the staple characters of the comic book world, and yet he’s unknown outside the industry. A spirited biography tells the story of Otto Binder.

Book Review: The Loney

May 22nd, 2016
loney

A violent, desolate stretch of the English coastline forms the setting for Andrew Michael Hurley’s much-heralded debut novel

Gimme That Old Time Religion in the Penny Press!

May 20th, 2016
Gimme That Old Time Religion in the Penny Press!

I’ve come to expect jaw-dropping moments in paleo-conservative magazines like The Weekly Standard, magazines that mistake blind cultural atavism for actual conservatism and end up actively praising a wide array of things any 1960 conservative would have considered appalling. But every so often, I stumble across a true whopper neatly folded into something as seemingly […]

Comics! Civil War II!

May 19th, 2016
Comics! Civil War II!

It would surely have dumbfounded the Steve from 10 years ago, but nevertheless: I’ve largely succeeded in weening myself from buying weekly comics. It’s not quite the impressive act of will that it might sound, mainly because my two age-old superhero comic book companies, Marvel and DC, have done their part recently by putting out […]

Book Review: The Summer Guest

May 18th, 2016
the summer guest

A young woman’s diary of her friendship with Anton Chekhov raises the tantalizing possibility of a long-lost work by the master.

Jungle Days!

May 17th, 2016
Jungle Days!

Our book today is from an old friend of ours here at Stevereads, the great, garrulous naturalist William Beebe, the friendly world wanderer and author of, among many other books, Galapagos: World’s End. This book is a wonderful thing from 1925 called Jungle Days, a breezy, episodic account of various journeys the author took in […]

Book Review: Ice Station Nautilus

May 17th, 2016
ice station nautilus

Rick Campbell’s new novel features a fight to the death deep under the Arctic ice

Book Review: The Fireman

May 15th, 2016
the fireman

In Joe Hill’s new novel, a plague of spontaneous combustion is sweeping the world …

Ink Chorus: Nothing If Not Critical!

May 14th, 2016
Ink Chorus: Nothing If Not Critical!

Our book today is a pure beauty of critical prose: Nothing If Not Critical by the late, great Robert Hughes, which I recently found at the Brattle Bookshop in a 1990 UK trade paperback and burrowed into before I’d even made it all the way back home. The book reprints critical essays and reviews Hughes […]

Book Review: Saladin

May 13th, 2016
saladin

A lean and fast-paced new biography tells the story of the legendary sultan who took Jerusalem from the Crusaders

Book Review: The Genius of Birds

May 12th, 2016
the genius of birds

A stirring, eloquent new book makes a wide-ranging case for the brainpower of birds

Book Review: The Faith of Christopher Hitchens

May 11th, 2016
RNS-HITCHENS-QANDA a

A provocative new book sets out to study the faith of one of the country’s most famous atheists

One Wild Bird at a Time!

May 9th, 2016
One Wild Bird at a Time!

Our book today is the latest from a long-time favorite here on Stevereads: it’s One Wild Bird at a Time by the great bird specialist and nature-writer Bernd Heinrich, a slim volume (filled, as always, with the author’s own illustrations) in which he meditates on one kind of bird per chapter in a warm and […]

Book Review: The End of Karma

May 8th, 2016
the end of karma

A clear-eyed look at the disaffected youth of India

The Father!

May 7th, 2016
The Father!

Our book today is what the good folks over at BookTube refer to as a “chunker”: it’s a 600-page brick of a thing called The Father, by the team of Anders Roslund and Stefan Thunberg writing under the name Anton Svensson. This is an English-language translation by Elizabeth Clark Wessel (it’s an eye-catching hardcover from […]

Book Review: Karl Doenitz and the Last Days of the Third Reich

May 6th, 2016
karl d

A new book looks at the little-known figure of Hitler’s chosen successor

Penguins on Parade: The Shahnameh!

May 4th, 2016
Penguins on Parade: The Shahnameh!

Some Penguin Classics, as I’ve noted before here at Stevereads, feel like they’re a long time in the making, and the Shahnameh of Ferdowsi more than most and in two different ways. Not only has this sprawling tenth century Persian epic waited a long time for an attractive, affordable paperback edition in English, but this […]

Book Review: Prisoners of Hope

May 4th, 2016
prisoners of hope

A generation ago, President Johnson enacted a stunning array of social legislation, the full audacity of which has often been overshadowed by the other aspects of LBJ’s presidency. A new book shines a light on the Great Society.

The House on Ipswich Marsh!

May 3rd, 2016
The House on Ipswich Marsh!

Our book today is The House on Ipswich Marsh, a lovely 2005 meditation by William Sargent on the “Pink House” at Ipswich on Boston’s North Shore (the title an obvious nod to Wyman Richardson’s great 1947 book The House on Nauset Marsh). Sargent received a grant to study ground-nesting birds that lived near the house, […]

Book Review: The First Nazi

May 3rd, 2016
first nazi cover

How much of the evil of Adolf Hitler can be traced to an infamous general of the First World War?

Inside Benchley!

May 2nd, 2016
Inside Benchley!

Our book today is Inside Benchley, a 1921 anthology of Robert Benchley’s humorous essays illustrated by the great Gluyas Williams. I recently found a paperback copy of the book at the Brattle, brought it back to Hyde Cottage, opened it in order to revisit Benchley’s essays (something I hadn’t done in decades), and reeled back […]

Comics! An Epic Run!

May 1st, 2016
Comics! An Epic Run!

Last week, in addition to being pleasantly surprised by the “Last Days of Superman” storyline unfolding in the DC’s various Superman comics, I was equally pleased – though not surprised – by issue #51 of Batman, a story titled “Gotham Is,” written by Scott Snyder and drawn by Greg Capullo. The reason I wasn’t surprised […]

Book Review: Valiant Ambition

May 1st, 2016
valiant ambition

The infamous treachery of Benedict Arnold gets a vigorous and richly detailed new retelling by the bestselling author of In the Heart of the Sea.

‘Yes, Yes, Yes!’

May 1st, 2016
‘Yes, Yes, Yes!’

To be immortalized by Shakespeare is often also to be caricatured by him; a sumptuous new biography of King Henry IV admirably brings its royal subject out of the Bard’s shadow.

From the Archives: Lizard on a Rock

May 1st, 2016
From the Archives: Lizard on a Rock

He survived years of dangerous exile, won his crown on the battlefield, and founded one of the most famous dynasties in human history – and yet we still haven’t embraced Henry VII. A spirited biography seeks to change that.

Bro-Reading in the Penny Press!

April 28th, 2016
Bro-Reading in the Penny Press!

As I’ve noted in the past here at Stevereads, I take a peculiar interest in the slight but often fascinating book-coverage you can find in the “lad mags” like Esquire or Men’s Journal or GQ. It’s always strange to me, the efforts the editors of these magazines (arrogant SOBs almost to a man) to find […]

Book Review: Running with Rhinos

April 28th, 2016
running with rhinos

The heroic efforts to save the lives of the black rhinos of Zimbabwe are at the heart of a thrilling new book

Comics! The Final Days of Superman!

April 27th, 2016
Comics! The Final Days of Superman!

I ventured into the comics shop recently, which is something I don’t do all that often anymore, for two main reasons: first, as I’ve lamented several times here at Stevereads, the bloom of most comics went off the rose for me a few years ago when DC Comics – the mainstay of my comics world […]

The DC Comics 75th Anniversary Poster Book!

April 25th, 2016
The DC Comics 75th Anniversary Poster Book!

Our book today is a doozy from 2010: it’s the 75th Anniversary Poster Book of DC Comics, a lavishly oversized thing put out by the good folks at Quirk Books in honor, as its title hints, of the 75th anniversary of DC Comics and its venerable roster of comic book characters (the three most recognizably […]

Book Review: The Habsburg Empire: A New History

April 25th, 2016
the habsburg empire

A new history takes a thought-provokingly centralist look at the oft-chronicled Habsburg Empire

Cape Coddities!

April 24th, 2016
Cape Coddities!

Our book today is a little treasure from 1920, Cape Coddities by Dennis and Marion Chatham, dotted all throughout with charming little spot illustrations by Harold Cue. I’ve been pulling this little volume down off the shelf every year when Spring first begins to unfold in Boston; the song-birds come back to the lawns and […]

Book Review: Dear Princess Grace, Dear Betty

April 24th, 2016
dear princess grace

A noted feminist social critic looks back on her long friendship with the great Betty Friedan.

Penguins on Parade: The Penguin Book of Renaissance Verse!

April 21st, 2016
Penguins on Parade: The Penguin Book of Renaissance Verse!

Some Penguin Classics, as we’ve noted before here at Stevereads, are genuinely impressive works of scholarship in their own right, and I recently came across one of those during a foray at the Brattle Bookshop: The Penguin Book of Renaissance Verse, edited by David Norbook – in this case, the 2005 update to the 1992 […]

Book Review: The President’s Book of Secrets

April 21st, 2016
president’s book of secrets

A fascinating new book presents readers with a bounty of stories surrounding the daily intelligence-services briefing given to US Presidents

Book Review: History and Presence

April 20th, 2016
history and presence

An invigorating new study of the real presence of the divine in the mundane workings of organized religion

Book Review: Waiting for the Past

April 19th, 2016
waiting for the past

The latest volume from deceptively erudite Australian poet Les Murray

Book Review: Selected Poems of Edna St. Vincent Millay

April 17th, 2016
selected millay

America’s Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Edna St. Vincent Millay gets an elegant new Selected Poems volume

The Lady with the Borzoi!

April 17th, 2016
The Lady with the Borzoi!

Our book today is The Lady with the Borzoi, a biographical tribute to Blanche Knopf that somehow feels both surprising and long overdue. The book, written with grace and a cheery volubility by Laura Claridge, is the story of Blanche Knopf, the so-called “soul” of the publishing house she created a century ago with her […]

Book Review: The Empire That Would Not Die

April 15th, 2016
empire that woudln’t die

Abandoned by the West and battered by the Islamic caliphate, the eastern Roman Empire shrank and withdrew but did not fall – a new history asks why

Classical Literature!

April 15th, 2016
Classical Literature!

Our book today is Classical Literature: An Epic Journey from Homer to Virgil and Beyond by emeritus Oxford don Richard Jenkyns. The book is an alarmingly thin perambulation through the whole of the classics from the Homeric era through the Augustan Age and a little bit beyond, a hurried tour that’s saved from being a […]

Book Review: The Fever of 1721

April 13th, 2016
the fever

When smallpox struck the city of Boston in 1721, battle lines were drawn over how to deal with it – and strange alliances formed

The Medici!

April 11th, 2016
The Medici!

Our book today is the latest from the prolific Paul Strathern: The Medici, subtitled somewhat predictably “Power, Money, and Ambition in the Italian Renaissance.” And the subtitle is hardly the only thing in the book that’s predictable; after all, G. F. Young did this kind of tour d’horizon over a century ago, laying out the […]

Book Review: Tales from the Long Twelfth Century

April 11th, 2016
tales from the long 12th

At the center of a lively, personality-driven new book about the twelfth century is the contentious family of King Henry II

The Edge of Empire!

April 9th, 2016
The Edge of Empire!

Our book today is The Edge of Empire: A Journey to Britannia: From the Heart of Rome to Hadrian’s Wall, an utterly winning and somewhat old-fashioned work by Bronwen Riley in which she imagines a sprawling travel itinerary of Antonine Rome through a narrative device that was once familiar in popular histories of ancient Rome, […]

Book Review: Thoreau’s Wildflowers

April 8th, 2016
moser2

A lovely new volume offers a selection of Henry David Thoreau’s heartfelt writings about flowers

Jesus Before the Gospels!

April 8th, 2016
Jesus Before the Gospels!

Our book today is the latest from Biblical scholar Bart Ehrman, bestselling author of such books as Misquoting Jesus and How Jesus Became God. His new book is called Jesus Before the Gospels and has the opus-length subtitle, How the Earliest Christians Remembered, Changed, and Invented Their Stories of the Savior. As the book’s title […]

Book Review: The Whole Harmonium

April 6th, 2016
Book Review: The Whole Harmonium

A sympathetic new biography of the poet Wallace Stevens

On Being Human!

April 6th, 2016
On Being Human!

Our book today is the new one from Jerome Kagan, the emeritus professor of psychology at Harvard University. The book is On Being Human: Why Mind Matters (a pleasingly sturdy hardcover from Yale University Press), consisting of a series of connected meditations on topics ranging from the power of societal norms to the suggestive effects […]

Book Review: Dante – The Story of His Life

April 3rd, 2016
dante

A thorough new biography explores the life of the great Florentine poet in detail

Between a Rock and Bleeding Mouth-Cancer in the Penny Press!

April 3rd, 2016
Between a Rock and Bleeding Mouth-Cancer in the Penny Press!

As I’ve mentioned before here at Stevereads, it’s always a pleasure for me to see a glossy square-bound lad-mag divert from quick-ab workouts and $35,000 wristwatches to talk about some of the less venal elements of what goes into making a well-rounded person. The most vulnerable of those elements is of course the gentle art […]

The Mark of the Horse Lord!

April 1st, 2016
The Mark of the Horse Lord!

Our book today is a rattling good yarn from an author we’ve met before here at Stevereads: Rosemary Sutcliff, this time her 1965 novel The Mark of the Horse Lord, which follows the hard life and harrowing adventures of young Phaedrus, a slave in northern Britain in the first century who’s a gladiator when the […]

Man’s Pest Friend

April 1st, 2016
Man’s Pest Friend

Only one dog out of every five on Earth is somebody’s pet; the rest are roamers in streets and city dumps. A fascinating new book looks at the lives of the canine majority.

Dancing Fish and Amonites!

March 30th, 2016
Dancing Fish and Amonites!

Our book today is one of my many re-reads: Penelope Lively’s 2013 memoir Dancing Fish and Amonites, her elegant and intelligent meditation – partly about her life and upbringing but mainly about the story of her life as she observes it in her own memories: “The memory that we live with – the form of […]

Book Review: Eruption

March 30th, 2016
eruption

Nearly 40 years ago, Washington State’s Mount St. Helens volcano erupted, killing 57 people and spewing hundreds of tons of molten ash into the atmosphere. A gripping new book tells the story.

Book Review: Pollination Power

March 27th, 2016
pollination power

Birds, bees, mice, bats – a wide array of animals are crucial to the pollination of the plants of the world. A stunning new book shows us their world.

The Books of Venice! Inside Venice!

March 27th, 2016
The Books of Venice! Inside Venice!

Our book today is a genuine stunner: Inside Venice by Toto Bergamo Rossi, with gorgeous photographs by Jean-Francois Jaussaud. The book is subtitled A Private View of the City’s Most Beautiful Interiors, and the folks at Rizzoli have pulled out all the stops in making it the Venice-themed coffee table book of the year. It’s […]

The Books of Venice! Inside Venice!

March 27th, 2016
The Books of Venice! Inside Venice!

Our book today is a genuine stunner: Inside Venice by Toto Bergamo Rossi, with gorgeous photographs by Jean-Francois Jaussaud. The book is subtitled A Private View of the City’s Most Beautiful Interiors, and the folks at Rizzoli have pulled out all the stops in making it the Venice-themed coffee table book of the year. It’s […]

Book Review: Baby Birds

March 25th, 2016
Book Review: Baby Birds

An enterprising bird-artist takes readers inside the nests of a dozen species

Greece and Rome: Builders of Our World!

March 23rd, 2016
Greece and Rome: Builders of Our World!

Our book today is one I’ve mentioned briefly before: The National Geographic Society’s Greece and Rome: Builders of Our World from 1968, one of the series of great volumes they put out forty years ago and that are now staples of flea markets and yard sales all over the United States. At one time or […]

Book Review: Louisa

March 22nd, 2016
louisa

A smart and lively new biography of the wife of President John Quincy Adams

Book Review: John Quincy Adams – Militant Spirit

March 20th, 2016
jqa militant spirit

A smart and appealingly complex new biography of America’s contentious sixth president

Galapagos: World’s End!

March 20th, 2016
Galapagos: World’s End!

Our book today is a genuine corker: Galapagos: World’s End by William Beebe, his 1924 account of the trip he took in 1923 with the Harrison Williams Galapagos Expedition to travel in the footsteps of of Charles Darwin’s expedition there with the Beagle in 1835. Beebe was already a prominent scientist and natural history expert […]

A Fair Wind for Troy!

March 19th, 2016
A Fair Wind for Troy!

Our book today is one we’ve mentioned before here at Stevereads: A Fair Wind for Troy, a 1976 YA novel about the lead-up to the Trojan War, one that centers, as classically-minded readers might be able to tell from the title, on the bloodthirsty House of Atreus and the willingness of its head, Agamemnon, to […]

Falling Slowly

March 18th, 2016
Falling Slowly

Our book today is Falling Slowly, a 1998 novel by the late Anita Brookner. Her death caught me by surprise, and a dispirited search of my shelves turned up only this one book, which I took down and duly re-read. It’s the story of Miriam and Beatrice Sharpe, a pair of middle-aged sisters in London […]

Book Review: The Civil Wars of Julia Ward Howe

March 18th, 2016
jwh

A new biography of Julia Ward Howe shows how much more there was to her story than the writing of “The Battle Hymn of the Republic”

Book Review: Everyday Renaissances

March 15th, 2016
everyday renaissances

An eye-opening new history sheds light on the book-lovers and book-collectors of Renaissance Venice

stevereads 2016-03-15 13:51:04

March 15th, 2016
stevereads 2016-03-15 13:51:04

Our book today is an energetically delightful translated work put out by the good folks at Europa Editions: Bound in Venice: The Serene Republic and the Dawn of the Book by Alessandro Marzo Magno. The book was originally published in Italy (as L’alba dei libri. Quando Venezia ha fatto leggere il mondo) in 2013 and […]

stevereads 2016-03-15 13:51:04

March 15th, 2016
stevereads 2016-03-15 13:51:04

Our book today is an energetically delightful translated work put out by the good folks at Europa Editions: Bound in Venice: The Serene Republic and the Dawn of the Book by Alessandro Marzo Magno. The book was originally published in Italy (as L’alba dei libri. Quando Venezia ha fatto leggere il mondo) in 2013 and […]

Six for Dr. Franklin!

March 14th, 2016
Six for Dr. Franklin!

Our books today all star that most inimitable of American Founding Fathers, Benjamin Franklin! During one of my bookshelf-reorganizations back in 2015, I had one of those awkward realizations so common to book-people: I noticed for the first time that I had something like seven different biographies of Franklin. This was embarrassing, of course (there’s […]

Book Review: Benjamin Franklin in London

March 14th, 2016
benfranklininlondon

A gripping new book chronicles the years and years iconic Founding Father Ben Franklin spent in the heart of the British Empire

Book Review: The Brazen Age

March 13th, 2016
the brazen age

A boisterous new history of New York City and America in the wake of the Second World War

Notes for a Star Trek Bibliography: The Latter Fire!

March 13th, 2016
Notes for a Star Trek Bibliography: The Latter Fire!

Our book today is a new Star Trek novel set in the world of the Original Series, The Latter Fire by James Swallow, a sci-fi genre-novel hack of the first water, with a wide shelf of Star Trek, Warhammer, Doctor Who, and Stargate books to his credit. I made the mistake of reading his Author’s […]

Notes for a Star Trek Bibliography: The Latter Fire!

March 13th, 2016
Notes for a Star Trek Bibliography: The Latter Fire!

Our book today is a new Star Trek novel set in the world of the Original Series, The Latter Fire by James Swallow, a sci-fi genre-novel hack of the first water, with a wide shelf of Star Trek, Warhammer, Doctor Who, and Stargate books to his credit. I made the mistake of reading his Author’s […]

Our Hearts Were Young and Gay!

March 12th, 2016
Our Hearts Were Young and Gay!

Our book today is an essential classic: Our Hearts Were Young and Gay by Cornelia Otis Skinner and Emily Kimbrough (we’ve met Emily before here at Stevereads), their 1942 bestseller about the madcap European tour they took as fresh-faced Bryn Mawr graduates back in the comparatively innocent days of the 1920s. They strike a mischievously […]

Book Review: High Dive

March 9th, 2016
high dive

A 1984 assassination attempt on Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher forms the unlikely backdrop for Jonathan Lee’s US debut novel

The Great House of Birds!

March 8th, 2016
The Great House of Birds!

Our book today is a slim, intensely satisfying anthology assemble by legendary Cape Cod nature writer John Hay in 1996 called The Great House of Birds, drawing together some of the author’s favorite writings about birds. They were a lifelong source of fascination for Hay (“birds fly away from us,” he writes, “with an unspoken […]

Book Review: The Swimmer

March 8th, 2016
.

A preoccupation with endings characterizes the tenth collection from poet John Koethe

Book Review: The Rise of a Prairie Statesman

March 7th, 2016
rise of a prairie statesman

The first of a projected two-volume biography of Senator and Democratic Party standard-bearer George McGovern

Comics: If Asgard Should Perish!

March 7th, 2016
Comics: If Asgard Should Perish!

Our book today is a gem from 2010: a Marvel Premiere Edition called If Asgard Should Perish, with writing by Len Wein, artwork by John Buscema, and glorious coloring by Glynis Wein. This volume – which I somehow hadn’t known existed, and which I found just the other day in the used-book basement of the […]

A Trip to the Harvard Book Store!

March 6th, 2016
A Trip to the Harvard Book Store!

When I have bookish guests coming to Boston, one natural destination is the Harvard Book Store over in Cambridge, a great shop lavishly stocked with both new and used books. Since I haven’t worked in Cambridge in decades, I tend not to make my way out there in the normal course of my week – […]

Book Review: The Year of the Runaways

March 5th, 2016
yera of the runaways

A complex and moving novel about a trio of young men who leave their native India in search of work

The Books … of Venice! Gondola Days!

March 3rd, 2016
The Books … of Venice! Gondola Days!

Our book today is that incredibly durable classic of Venice books, Gondola Days by the redoubtable artist, novelist, and all-around overachiever F. Hopkinson Smith, who wrote it, illustrated it, and basked in its success in 1897. He’d written quite a few books prior to this one, and he’d go one to write quite a few […]

Penguins on Parade: The Book of Magic!

March 2nd, 2016
Penguins on Parade: The Book of Magic!

Some Penguin Classics don’t look like Penguin Classics, which is a trifle odd when you consider how instantly recognizable the Penguin brand is to book-buyers, but you certainly won’t hear me complaining when the results are as nifty as The Book of Magic, a big new anthology of supernatural literature “from Antiquity to the Enlightenment,” […]

Book Review: The King’s Bed

March 2nd, 2016
the king’s bed

A lively new book gives readers a mistress-by-mistress recounting of the reign of Charles II

Book Review: Battle of the Atlantic

March 1st, 2016
battle atlantic

Atlantic shipping was the lifeline of Great Britain during the Second World War, and the Nazis knew it just as well as the Allies did. A thrilling new book recounts the sprawling, war-long Battle of the Atlantic

Romance Roundup: Regency Rakes!

March 1st, 2016
Romance Roundup: Regency Rakes!

In the world of Regency romances, few things are more tempting to authors than a good old-fashioned rakehell, a well-born dandy whose main pleasure in life is seducing, deflowering, and abandoning all the ladies of the fashionable ton, from wide-eyed society debutantes to thrill-seeking duchesses. The fact that these rakes are inevitably also habitues of […]

The Skin Crowd

March 1st, 2016
The Skin Crowd

A sumptuous new book lays a vast roll call of frogs before the reader and opens a window onto the strange world of the world’s most popular amphibian.

Book Review: Into the Heart of Our World

February 28th, 2016
into the heart of our world

A new book offers a fascinating look at a complex and turbulent alien world – the one beneath our feet

A Sensible Career Path in the Penny Press!

February 28th, 2016
A Sensible Career Path in the Penny Press!

Impossible for me to pass over Michael Dirda’s “Freelance” column from last week’s TLS, and likewise impossible for me not to respond. Dirda uses the little space this time to reflect on his long stint as an editor at the legendary Washington Post Book World, and in his typical fashion, he manages to build enormous […]

Book Review: The Vatican Princess

February 27th, 2016
vatican princess

A new historical novel joins the ranks of those trying to rehabilitate the reputation of poor Lucrezia Borgia

Library: An Unquiet History!

February 27th, 2016
Library: An Unquiet History!

Our book today is Library: An Unquiet History, a hymn of praise from 2003 to public libraries. It’s written by Matthew Battles, who worked at the Houghton Library (and lived in scenic Jamaica Plain!) at the time, and its touchstone throughout is Harvard’s mighty Widener Library, whose wonders he very effectively evokes: The library … […]

Writers by Nature in the Penny Press!

February 24th, 2016
Writers by Nature in the Penny Press!

One of my newer magazine subscriptions is The Nature Conservancy, published by the deep-pocketed conservation group of the same name. The magazine is slightly oddly-sized, and it’s full of great nature photography, and the small handful of issues I’ve read regularly so far have impressed me with the breadth and sensitivity of their prose. The […]

Book Review: The Boiling River

February 24th, 2016
the boiling river

A young explorer enters the Amazon in search of a legendary river that boils as it flows.

Mystery Monday: Jane and the Waterloo Map!

February 22nd, 2016
Mystery Monday: Jane and the Waterloo Map!

Our book today is Jane and the Waterloo Map by Stephanie Barron, the latest in her long-running series of murder mysteries in which Jane Austen takes time out from being a novelist to try her hand at being a crime-solving sleuth. The series started back in 1996 with Jane and the Unpleasantness at Scargrave Manor […]

Comics: The “Rebirth” of the Legion?

February 21st, 2016
Comics: The “Rebirth” of the Legion?

Our book today is a brightly-colored celebration from 2008: Legion of Super-Heroes: 1050 Years of the Future, sub-titled: “Celebrating 50 Years of Everyone’s Favorite Super-Team of Tomorrow!” It reprints some of the best issues from the long run of the various incarnations of the Legion of Super-Heroes, DC Comics’ sprawling super-team of teenagers fighting interstellar […]

Alive in the Wild!

February 20th, 2016
Alive in the Wild!

Our book today is Alive in the Wild, a 1970 compilation of short pieces of nature-writing by two dozen different hands, all of it introduced by Victor Calahane, a popular and busy mid-century mammalogist and science writer who was also the author of an absolutely wonderful book called Mammals of North America, which we’ll certainly […]

Book Review: Skeptic

February 20th, 2016
skeptic

Popular debater and science writer Michael Shermer’s latest book collects some of the columns he’s written for Scientific American

Book Review: The Lightkeepers

February 18th, 2016
lightkeepers

Many kinds of violence haunt a remote California island chain when a nature photographer takes a one-year assignment there

Islands and Lagoons … of Venice!

February 18th, 2016
Islands and Lagoons … of Venice!

Our book today is a gorgeous “coffee table book” from 1980 with the Vendome Press: Islands and Lagoons of Venice, with text by Peter Lauritzen and stunning photography by Fulvio Roiter. The book lavishly, lovingly celebrates the vast, strange world of the other Venice, the 200 square miles of lagoon, inlets, and islands sprawling around […]

Book Review: Strange Gods

February 17th, 2016
strange gods

Throughout human history, people have found reasons to change their religions – Susan Jacoby’s brilliant new book examines the phenomenon of adopting strange gods

Ink Chorus: Never in Doubt!

February 16th, 2016
Ink Chorus: Never in Doubt!

Our book today is Never in Doubt, a collection of book book reviews from stalwart bull terrier Peter Prescott, who reviewed books for Newsweek for two decades and adored our ragged fish-wrap art form with a sharp wit, a punchy prose style, and, underneath some thick plates of armor, a true believer’s heart. He was […]

A Polar Vortex Romance Round-Up!

February 15th, 2016
A Polar Vortex Romance Round-Up!

Sometimes, the only fitting answer to a Polar Vortex plunge into sub-zero temperatures is a readerly plunge into the steamy world of romance novels. Curled up in bed, listening to the freezing sleet hit the window, I decided to indulge myself in a trio of sumptuous historical romances: Heir to the Duke by Jane Ashford […]

Book Review: The Deep Sea Diver’s Syndrome

February 15th, 2016
deep sea diver’s syndrome

Popular French science-fantasy writer Serge Brussolo gets makes his debut appearance in English with a story of men and women who treasure-hunt in the dreams of other people

Book Review: The Perfect Bet

February 14th, 2016
adam kucharski

An illuminating new book takes readers inside the calculus of gambling

Pilgrim at Tinker Creek!

February 13th, 2016
Pilgrim at Tinker Creek!

Our book today is one of those modern classics every reader should read: Annie Dillard’s great Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, for which she won the Pulitzer Prize back in 1975. In these pages – part memoir, part natural history, part crackpot seat-of-the-pants philosophy – she muses on the natural world of her surroundings in Virginia’s […]

A Time in Rome!

February 12th, 2016
A Time in Rome!

Our book today is Elizabeth Bowen’s winsome 1960 glory of place-writing, A Time in Rome, in which she blends history and travelogue and memoir in an entirely successful attempt to capture in words what the Rome and its environs had meant to her for half a century. As with everything else she wrote, whether it […]

On the Runways of Alpha Centauri This Season in the Penny Press!

February 11th, 2016
On the Runways of Alpha Centauri This Season in the Penny Press!

Fortunately, no matter how frustrating or confusing the Penny Press is on any given week, we’ll always still have the beacon of clarity that is high fashion.  

Send in the D-List in the Penny Press!

February 11th, 2016
Send in the D-List in the Penny Press!

The latest issue of Vanity Fair had an amusing little one-page squib that managed to provoke in me an old and often-provoked reaction. The piece, called “Unsung Superheroes,” is written by Scott Jacobson, Mike Sacks, and Ted Travelstead (don’t ask me why – the thing is 300 not particularly taxing words long; I have no […]

Lawrence Osborne in the Penny Press!

February 11th, 2016
Lawrence Osborne in the Penny Press!

I’m always pleased when one of my beloved lad-mags pauses from its barrage of plugs for $50,000 wristwatches and full-page ads for cigarettes in order to talk about books; it’s slightly encouraging to me, that the editors of these magazines sometimes think that in addition to grotesquely expensive status-symbol gimcracks and incipient lung cancer, young […]

Yet More Echo-Reviews in the Penny Press!

February 11th, 2016
Yet More Echo-Reviews in the Penny Press!

The latest New York Review of Books, in addition to its usual spread of great reviews of books I haven’t read – the standout this time probably being Jacob Weisberg’s “We Are Hopelessly Hooked,” a review of a spate of new books on digital media that was full of great quotes (my two favorite: “We […]

Book Review: Dog Run Moon

February 10th, 2016
callan wink

The debut short story collection from a Montana fly-fishing guide

Fanny Burney!

February 9th, 2016
Fanny Burney!

Just the other day, I happened to come across a disparaging comment about Fanny Burney (these are the kinds of circles I frequent, alas), and it’s stuck with me. The writer of the comment had no use for poor Fanny, remarking that the world would have been better all around if she’d never put pen […]

Mystery Monday: Death at La Fenice!

February 8th, 2016
Mystery Monday: Death at La Fenice!

Our book today is Death at La Fenice from way back in 1992, the very first of Donna Leon’s wildly popular murder mysteries set in Venice and featuring Commissario Guido Brunetti, her steadfast and nondescript working-stiff sleuth. Now, in 2015, Leon has been writing Venice-based novels for a quarter of a century; they’ve sold millions […]

Book Review: Apostle

February 8th, 2016
apostle

An author spends years traveling to the various final resting places of the Apostles – and comes back with an unsettlingly insightful new look at the early history of Christianity

The February ’16 Boston Public Library Book Sale!

February 7th, 2016
The February ’16 Boston Public Library Book Sale!

Once again I combed my few remaining hairs, donned pants, kissed my frail old dogs good-bye, and ventured out to the bi-monthly book sale hosted by the stalwart City-Wide Friends of the Boston Public Library, even though I need a sack of new books about as much as I need an attack of malaria. But […]

Penguins on Parade: The Tale of Tales!

February 6th, 2016
Penguins on Parade: The Tale of Tales!

Some Penguin Classics, as we’ve seen before, take an earlier superb work of scholarship or translation and basically save it from obscurity by adding it to the Classics lineup. In our case today, the name of that obscurity would be Wayne State University Press, which in 2007 originally published Nancy Canepa’s translation of Giambattista Basile’s […]

A Brief History of Rome!

February 5th, 2016
A Brief History of Rome!

Our book today is from 1885: the Brief History of Rome put out in New York as part of the old Barnes’ One-Term Series that was designed to put short, affordable one-volume introductions to then-staple subjects like history, science, and language into classrooms in the state of New York (and beyond – many’s the tiny […]

Roman Life in Pliny’s Time!

February 4th, 2016
Roman Life in Pliny’s Time!

Our book today takes us back once again to Ancient Rome, this time to the 1st century world of Pliny the Younger. It’s Maurice Pellison’s Roman Life in Pliny’s Time, in an 1897 English-language translation by Maud Wilkinson, with an Introduction by University of Chicago professor Frank Justus Miller, who’s pulling out all the rhetorical […]

Book Review: The Annotated Lincoln

February 4th, 2016
the annotated lincoln

A big, gorgeous new anthology presents a virtual life of Abraham Lincoln as seen through his writings

A Day in Old Rome!

February 3rd, 2016
A Day in Old Rome!

Our book today hails all the way from 1925: A Day in Old Rome by William Stearns Davis, a wonderfully amiable educator and writer who brought out this book as a follow-up to his 1914 A Day in Old Athens, which surprised both its author and its publisher by actually selling briskly in bookshops. A […]

Book Review: Exit Right

February 3rd, 2016
exit right

A brilliant new book takes an in-depth look at six American cultural figures who took a stand on principle – and then changed their minds

A February TBR!

February 2nd, 2016
A February TBR!

As many of you will know, I adore the “Booktube” neighborhood of YouTube, the chatty, clubbish neighborhood where book-nerds of all types post videos of themselves sitting in their bedrooms, talking to their cameras about the latest children’s books they’ve read. Not all children’s books, I grudgingly admit, although the preponderance is so great it […]

Mystery Monday: A Prisoner in Malta!

February 1st, 2016
Mystery Monday: A Prisoner in Malta!

Our book today is A Prisoner in Malta by Phillip DePoy, out new from Minotaur books, the first in what I hope is a long series of adventures starring a young Christopher Marlowe. Unlike so many actual historical characters who get pressed into service in whodunit novels – figures like Samuel Johnson, Benjamin Franklin, or, […]

Book Review: The Good Liar

February 1st, 2016
the good liar

Nicholas Searle’s debut novel stars a canny old swindler who may or may not have found has final, perfect mark

The Lost Boy

February 1st, 2016
The Lost Boy

A new book studies the history of copyright and the life and legacy of Aaron Swartz, one of copyright’s groundbreaking interpreters for the new century.

The Books … of Venice! Birth of a City!

January 31st, 2016
The Books … of Venice! Birth of a City!

Our book today is Venice: Birth of a City, a marvelous illustrated 1987 gem by the great Piero Ventura, whose picture books just brim with life and idiosyncratic charm. He opens his account of the earliest history of Venice with the customary hymn of praise and some basic geographic outlining: Venice is the strangest, most […]

The Books … of Venice! Birth of a City!

January 31st, 2016
The Books … of Venice! Birth of a City!

Our book today is Venice: Birth of a City, a marvelous illustrated 1987 gem by the great Piero Ventura, whose picture books just brim with life and idiosyncratic charm. He opens his account of the earliest history of Venice with the customary hymn of praise and some basic geographic outlining: Venice is the strangest, most […]

Asimov gems in the Penny Press!

January 30th, 2016
Asimov gems in the Penny Press!

It’s such a satisfying feeling, to buy the new issue of Asimov’s Science Fiction, slide it into the front pocket of my battered leather satchel, and know with complete certainty that I have absolutely subway-proof reading ahead of me. Each issue of Asimov’s costs $5 – and yet for that price you get, every single […]

Book Review: The Ex

January 30th, 2016
the ex

A name from a hotshot defense attorney’s past comes back to haunt her when she discovers her ex is a suspect in a triple homicide

World Pictures!

January 29th, 2016
World Pictures!

Our book today is a heavy, sumptuous thing from the first year of the previous century, before world wars and world plagues and looming world destruction, before anybody had ever heard the words ‘nuclear warhead’ or ‘genocide’ or ‘global warming.’ It’s a seemingly innocent tour of the world by the celebrated artist Mortimer Menpes, World […]

Book Review: Lay Down Your Weary Tune

January 27th, 2016
lay down

An out-of-work musician is hired to ghost-write the memoirs of a legendary blues singer, but the legend hides some grim new realities

Attending Oxford: Doctor Thorne!

January 27th, 2016
Attending Oxford: Doctor Thorne!

The Oxford University Press, centuries old and the biggest academic press in the world, founded its World’s Classics series in 1906 (having bought the imprimatur lock, stock, and barrel from the brilliant publisher Grant Richards in 1901). For over a hundred years, the line has produced reasonably-priced and expertly-edited canonical texts, proving that great and […]

Book Review: Cosmosapiens

January 26th, 2016
cosmosapiens

A sweeping new overview of the sciences has big ambitions – and some odd sticking points

Geographica: Denali!

January 26th, 2016
Geographica: Denali!

The latest issue of National Geographic is as packed with glorious goodies as all other issues of the magazine tend to be, and one of them brought back a lot of great memories: an article about the sprawling natural park region all around “the Tall One,” the moody and incredible mountain I knew as Mount […]

Mystery Monday: Real Tigers!

January 25th, 2016
Mystery Monday: Real Tigers!

Our book today is Real Tigers, Mick Herron’s return to Slough House, the forbidding location on the wrong side of the Thames from Regent’s Park, the sleek headquarters of M15. Slough House is where M15 sends its disgraced agents, the ones so tarnished as to be considered beyond rehabilitation. Thus sidelined into oblivion, these “slow […]

The Books of Venice: Marco Polo – Venetian Adventurer!

January 24th, 2016
The Books of Venice: Marco Polo – Venetian Adventurer!

It occurred to me that since the city of Venice is so dear to my heart (Venice, Italy, that is – sorry, all you handsome young weightlifters! Venice, California isn’t our setting today), I should formalize an ongoing feature about the endless stream of books generated by La Serenissima, and how better to start than […]

Book Review: The Lost Tudor Princess

January 23rd, 2016
lost tudor princess

The little-known matriarch of modern British monarchy, the headstrong niece of King Henry VIII, is the subject of an absorbing new biography

Cat-Scratch Fever in the Penny Press!

January 23rd, 2016
Cat-Scratch Fever in the Penny Press!

I love a 16,000-word TLS rumination on the lesser novels of George Eliot as much as the next bookworm (the keening sound you just heard coming from Up North was a certain Open Letters Monthly colleague saying “WHAT lesser novels?”), but sometimes, when rummaging through the week’s Penny Press, I get my biggest smiles from […]

Cat-Scratch Fever in the Penny Press!

January 23rd, 2016
Cat-Scratch Fever in the Penny Press!

I love a 16,000-word TLS rumination on the lesser novels of George Eliot as much as the next bookworm (the keening sound you just heard coming from Up North was a certain Open Letters Monthly colleague saying “WHAT lesser novels?”), but sometimes, when rummaging through the week’s Penny Press, I get my biggest smiles from […]

Cat-Scratch Fever in the Penny Press!

January 23rd, 2016
Cat-Scratch Fever in the Penny Press!

I love a 16,000-word TLS rumination on the lesser novels of George Eliot as much as the next bookworm (the keening sound you just heard coming from Up North was a certain Open Letters Monthly colleague saying “WHAT lesser novels?”), but sometimes, when rummaging through the week’s Penny Press, I get my biggest smiles from […]

Cat-Scratch Fever in the Penny Press!

January 23rd, 2016
Cat-Scratch Fever in the Penny Press!

I love a 16,000-word TLS rumination on the lesser novels of George Eliot as much as the next bookworm (the keening sound you just heard coming from Up North was a certain Open Letters Monthly colleague saying “WHAT lesser novels?”), but sometimes, when rummaging through the week’s Penny Press, I get my biggest smiles from […]

Book Review: Bull and Other Stories

January 22nd, 2016
bull and other stories

Misfits and battered believers fill the pages of Kathy Anderson’s wise and funny debut

Cheap Thrills!

January 22nd, 2016
Cheap Thrills!

Our book today is a lurid little treat: Cheap Thrills, a short, pithy, and heavily illustrated history of the pulps by the irrepressible Ron Goulart and subtitled The Amazing! Thrilling! Astonishing! History of Pulp Fiction. It was originally written back in 1972, as Goulart tartly observes: “At the time I was researching Cheap Thrills there […]

Cheap Thrills!

January 22nd, 2016
Cheap Thrills!

Our book today is a lurid little treat: Cheap Thrills, a short, pithy, and heavily illustrated history of the pulps by the irrepressible Ron Goulart and subtitled The Amazing! Thrilling! Astonishing! History of Pulp Fiction. It was originally written back in 1972, as Goulart tartly observes: “At the time I was researching Cheap Thrills there […]

Boston: Cradle of Liberty!

January 21st, 2016
Boston: Cradle of Liberty!

Our book on this glorious day is Boston: Cradle of Liberty, a slim hardcover gem from 1965 written by Edward Weeks and illustrated by Fritz Busse. It’s the kind of keepsake tchotchke historic cities like Boston generate on a monthly basis (this March, it’ll be A History of Boston in 50 Artifacts, for instance), but […]

The Spoken Word in the Penny Press!

January 20th, 2016
The Spoken Word in the Penny Press!

It was a bit of a thready swallow, working my way past the smug cover photo of Fox News shill Megyn Kelly in the latest issue of Vanity Fair, but I was certainly glad I did, since the issue itself was chock-full of murder, celebrities, and murdered celebrities, plus great photos, grotesque real estate ads, […]

Book Review: Groundless

January 20th, 2016
groundless

Rumors and dark stories flew along the rutted dirt roads of colonial America, bearing tales that had virtually no basis in reality. A new book uses rumor to understand the rumormongers.

The Art of the Mass Market: Hornblower!

January 19th, 2016
The Art of the Mass Market: Hornblower!

Yet another digression before we even get to our technical main topic! This time it’s the “Hornblower Saga” mass market paperback 1970s reprint run of all the classic Horatio Hornblower adventures by C. S. Forester, each with a gorgeous new cover by an uncredited artist. The Hornblower books have of course been reprinted many, many […]

Universe 10!

January 18th, 2016
Universe 10!

Our book today is Universe 10, the tenth installment in the great old science fiction anthology series by one of the best and sharpest-eyed editors the genre ever produced, Terry Carr. This slim volume is from 1980 – the copy I have is a hardcover, although I expect most of the loyal readers Terry amassed […]

Penguins on Parade: Early Fiction in England!

January 17th, 2016
Penguins on Parade: Early Fiction in England!

Some Penguin Classics need to work harder than others to define their terms. Take, for example, the nifty recent volume edited by Laura Ashe, Early Fiction in England from Geoffrey of Monmouth to Chaucer – even the title of the book might prompt a quizzical expression from the average reader, who might just naturally associate […]

Book Review: The Butcher’s Trail

January 16th, 2016
the butcher’s trail

In the wake of the strife and collapse of Slobodan Mlosevic’s Yugoslavia, a large group of war criminals had to be hunted down and delivered for trial. A riveting new book tells the story.

Comics! Secret Wars Concludes!

January 16th, 2016
Comics! Secret Wars Concludes!

It’s been a long time, and a lot of water has gone under the proverbial bridge since Marvel’s latest mega-event “Secret Wars” mini-series began its nine-issue run back in 2007. Writer Jonathan Hickman and artist Esad Ribic launched the event – in which some kind of universe-killing singularity wipes out the entire continuity of the […]

Book Review: Justifying Genocide

January 15th, 2016
justifying genocide

A powerful new book looks at the ideological connections between the Armenian Genocide and the Nazi death-camps that followed twenty years later

The Illustrated Tennyson!

January 15th, 2016
The Illustrated Tennyson!

Our book today is a grand Victorian thing, an illustrated 1884 edition of the poems of Tennyson published by dear old James Osgood & Co. on Tremont Street in Boston. This is an appreciation, a tribute to the 19th century’s greatest poet; it has no critical apparatus of any kind and certainly cannot be consulted […]

Book Review: Jakob’s Colors

January 14th, 2016
jakob’s colors

The Nazi slaughter of hundreds of thousands of European gypsies forms the grim backdrop to Lindsay Hawdon’s debut novel

Romance Roundup: January 2016!

January 14th, 2016
Romance Roundup: January 2016!

As we’ve mentioned here at Stevereads before, the tactic some Romance authors take of anchoring their stories geographically seems extremely popular with the core readership. I find this more confusing than not, since, after all, the traditional modern view of romance is that it’s something most likely to take root and flourish in foreign soil […]

Book Review: The Bands of Mourning

January 13th, 2016
the bands of mourning

In the latest novel from hyper-prolific Brandon Sanderson, the vast mythos of his “Cosmere” is further expanded

An Island Summer!

January 13th, 2016
An Island Summer!

Our book today is Walter Magnes Teller’s An Island Summer from 1951, his sentiment-infused reminiscence of a “happy family holiday” on Martha’s Vineyard with his wife and four children. The book, illustrated by Donald McKay, follows the adventures of the Teller family as they take the ferry and make their way to the Paint Box, […]

Book Review: George Washington’s Journey

January 12th, 2016
george washington’s journey

In his first term as president, George Washington packed up and went on long, rattling tours of the new United States, to see the people and let them see him. A new book follows along.

The Perils of Parody in the Penny Press!

January 12th, 2016
The Perils of Parody in the Penny Press!

It’s hard to miss the cover of the latest Esquire on the newsstands. It’s a stark, ugly black-and-white close up of Donald Trump’s face, under the banner “Hater in Chief.” And the issue’s contents are politically weighted, in ways virtually guaranteed to irk me – especially the magazine’s specious, irritating accompanying “news survey” about rage […]

Book Review: What Belongs to You

January 11th, 2016
what belongs to you

An American instructor in Bulgaria falls into a problematic infatuation with a rough-hewn rent-boy in Garth Greenwell’s debut novel

Moorehead’s Gallipoli!

January 11th, 2016
Moorehead’s Gallipoli!

Our book today was a very thoughtful gift! The little old lady who reviews the same novel every week for the Silver Spring Scold recently tapped out her pin money onto the kitchen table, put on her finest bonnet, tottered around the corner to her favorite second-hand bookstore, Puss-in-Books, and procured for me a plastic-wrapped […]

Book Review: The Norton Critical Lazarillo de Tormes

January 10th, 2016
norton lazarillo

The great Renaissance classic gets a spryly-translated new Norton edition

Ink Chorus: Malcolm Cowley!

January 10th, 2016
Ink Chorus: Malcolm Cowley!

Our book today is The Portable Malcolm Cowley, a compendious volume from 1990 edited by Donald Faulkner that’s one of the best entries in the wonderful Viking Portable Library series not only because it brings together a treasure-pile of great stuff but also because, in Cowley’s case, that assemble stuff is the very essence of […]

Penguins on Parade: Mont Saint Michel and Chartres

January 9th, 2016
Penguins on Parade: Mont Saint Michel and Chartres

Some Penguin Classics remain obstinately unclassifiable, no matter how many times you read them. Look, for instance, at Penguin’s 1986 paperback of Mont Saint Michel and Chartres, the deeply, deceptively strange 1904 work by Henry Adams. On the surface, it looks like a passionately impressionistic travelogue of the type that was enormously popular at the […]

Book Review: Blood & Steel

January 9th, 2016
Book Review: Blood & Steel

In the third century, the Roman Empire teetered on the brink of implosion, with one man after another claiming power – and Harry Sidebottom’s “Throne of the Caesars” series transmutes it all into first-rate historical fiction

Attending Oxford: The Expedition of Cyrus!

January 8th, 2016
Attending Oxford: The Expedition of Cyrus!

The Oxford University Press, centuries old and the biggest academic press in the world, founded its World’s Classics series in 1906 (having bought the imprimatur lock, stock, and barrel from the brilliant publisher Grant Richards in 1901). For over a hundred years, the line has produced reasonably-priced and expertly-edited canonical texts, proving that great and […]

Book Review: Beyond Greek

January 8th, 2016
beyond greek

A provocative new book re-examines the startling power and, yes, originality of Roman literature

Comics! Obi-Wan & Anakin!

January 7th, 2016
Comics! Obi-Wan & Anakin!

The onslaught of new Marvel Comics titles set in the world of Star Wars will now flow unabated, thanks to the grotesque, obscene box office success of the new Star Wars move, The Force Awakens (as of this writing, the movie has grossed over one trillion dollars and been officially inducted into the official liturgy […]

Comics! Obi-Wan & Anakin!

January 7th, 2016
Comics! Obi-Wan & Anakin!

The onslaught of new Marvel Comics titles set in the world of Star Wars will now flow unabated, thanks to the grotesque, obscene box office success of the new Star Wars move, The Force Awakens (as of this writing, the movie has grossed over one trillion dollars and been officially inducted into the official liturgy […]

Book Review: The Happy Marriage

January 7th, 2016
the happy marriage

A bedridden famous painter reflects on his unhappy marriage – and his wife gets the last word

Book Review: Only the Stones Survive

January 6th, 2016
only the stones

In Morgan Llywelyn’s latest novel, the gods and goddesses of ancient Ireland take center stage

Three Weeks in Europe!

January 6th, 2016
Three Weeks in Europe!

Our book today is Three Weeks in Europe by John U. Higinbotham, a gem from 1904 sub-titled “The Vacation of a Busy Man” and aimed squarely at the hectic modern world with its breakneck pace: Most books of travel state that you should give three months to Florence, for example, but map out a three […]

Three Weeks in Europe!

January 6th, 2016
Three Weeks in Europe!

Our book today is Three Weeks in Europe by John U. Higinbotham, a gem from 1904 sub-titled “The Vacation of a Busy Man” and aimed squarely at the hectic modern world with its breakneck pace: Most books of travel state that you should give three months to Florence, for example, but map out a three […]

Book Review: The Lives of Frederick Douglass

January 5th, 2016
lives of fd

A stimulating new study of the autobiographies Frederick Douglass continued writing throughout his life

Price-hikes and Lookalikes in the Penny Press!

January 5th, 2016
Price-hikes and Lookalikes in the Penny Press!

The New Year in the Penny Press started out for me with a nasty little shock. Despite bungling my subscription paperwork to such an extent that I get two copies of every issue of the New Yorker in the mail ever week, I had occasion shortly after the year began to buy a copy of […]

Mystery Monday: The Lady Agnes Mystery!

January 4th, 2016
Mystery Monday: The Lady Agnes Mystery!

The further back in history they go, the more inventive mystery writers have to be if they want their sleuths to be women. After all, the crime-solving detectives must not only go down mean streets in search of evidence but also be able to deal with the sordid types they find there – and they’ve […]

Book Review: The Gun

January 4th, 2016
the gun

A young man out for a nighttime walk in Tokyo finds a gun. Then he thinks about it all the time. Then he thinks about getting bullets for it. And then he thinks about firing it …

January 2016 TBR!

January 3rd, 2016
January 2016 TBR!

Our books today have (mostly) not yet appeared in bookstores – they’re a selection of titles coming up in January of 2016 that, for one reason or another, I’m eagerly anticipating. As some of you will guess, I’m a big fan of the sub-culture of YouTube known to its inhabitants as BookTube. It’s mostly filled […]

Now in Paperback: Doomed

January 3rd, 2016
true love

Now in paperback: a densely-packed graphic novel in which Superman slowly becomes his worst enemy