May 21, 2010 Heller McAlpin reviews Life Would Be Perfect If I Lived in That House, Meghan Daum's new book. Following her memoir My Misspent Youth and the novel Quality of Life Report, Daum returns with a new book about all the houses she's lived in or coveted.
May 20, 2010 In The Pregnant Widow by Martin Amis, a man in his 50s looks back on the sexual high point of his life, a summer in Italy when he was 20 and torn between three women. Reviewer Heller McAlpin says The Pregnant Widow is both a romp and an exercise in extended nostalgia.
April 15, 2010 Journalist Mark Kurlansky is drawn to singular subjects — cod, salt and oysters, to name a few. In The Eastern Stars, he takes a look at the history of baseball and sugar in the small town of San Pedro de Macoris in the Dominican Republic.
April 7, 2010 Anne Lamott's seventh novel, about precocious Rosie Ferguson, follows the rebellious girl into her senior year of high school, in which Rosie battles her dysfunctional parents and a powerful drug addiction.
April 1, 2010 In Ian McEwan's novel, a morally corrupt physicist is convinced he has the answer to the world's energy problem. Critic McAlpin recommends sticking out the bumps for an overall "turbocharged" read.
March 18, 2010 Lionel Shriver's novel So Much for That tells the story of Shep Knacker, who is about to retire to a tropical island when his wife gets diagnosed with cancer. To keep his insurance, Shep has to keep his hated job, but he soon discovers that even the full coverage of the fully employed may not be enough to keep him afloat.
March 5, 2010 In This Book Is Overdue — a passionately delivered profile of a profession in the midst of transition — Marilyn Johnson argues that today's librarians are more likely to be tattoo-toting cyber-missionaries than bespectacled old ladies shushing you in the stacks.
Author Roger Rosenblatt with his grandson James. Rosenblatt told Melissa Block in an All Things Considered interview that he titled his book Making Toast because "it is a simple gesture of moving on."
March 2, 2010 When Roger Rosenblatt's 38-year-old daughter — a mother of three — died unexpectedly, he and his wife knew what they had to do: they packed up and moved in with their young grandchildren. In his new memoir, Rosenblatt chronicles his daughter's tragically abbreviated life and his grandkids' resilience in the face of heartbreak.
February 11, 2010 Adam Haslett's debut novel pits a retired history teacher against the young banker trying to build a garish house on her father's land. Reviewer Heller McAlpin calls Haslett's book "a literary go-kart."
February 10, 2010 Louise Erdrich's Shadow Tag follows the disintegration of a marriage beset by betrayal and manipulation. Reviewer Heller McAlpin says Erdrich's novel raises "issues about art, privacy and identity."
February 1, 2010 The stories in Wild Child, the new book from T.C. Boyle, involve mostly unremarkable characters confronted with moral dilemmas. In the title story, a young boy abandoned at birth and who grew up on his own is discovered in the woods in France.
January 12, 2010 You might think of Alexander McCall Smith's new novel, La's Orchestra Saves the World, as a literary tea biscuit: sweet and easily digestible, says reviewer Heller McAlpin. The WWII-era story, set in rural England, tells the story of a new McCall Smith heroine, Lavender Stone.
January 8, 2010 Heller McAlpin reviews Jim Harrison's latest book, a trio of novellas connected by the song "The Last Word in Lonesome Is Me" by Patsy Cline. McAlpin says Harrison's fiction is rooted in a deep connection with nature and respect for the disenfranchised.
December 14, 2009 Heller McAlpin's picks include: the story of a lifelong crush on Albert Camus, a humorous take on middle-aged malaise, and a no-nonsense look at mortality. The sharp, fresh writing in these memoirs will bring you headfirst into each author's world, with your heart following close behind.
November 11, 2009 The payoff in Zadie Smith's book of essays, Changing My Mind, comes not from her discussion of her literary influences but in three essays about her "gentle, sentimental" father, Harvey Smith, a salesman who died at 81 in 2006.
NPR thanks our sponsors
Become an NPR sponsor