September 27, 2010 As gleefully inappropriate as it is wise, David Sedaris' collection of animal fables uses naughty wildlife and explicit illustrations to take on selfishness, bigotry and other human foibles.
September 15, 2010 The damned wear Yale varsity sweaters in Seymour Chwast's graphic novel adaptation of Dante's masterpiece. Chwast's diabolically witty cartoon drawings mix Hell's medieval monsters with the tropes of film noir and the zaniness of indie comics.
September 14, 2010 When Alan Bennett checks his mother into a hospital for depression, he uncovers more than a few skeletons in the family closet. The British playwright's memoir dismantles the myth of the normal family in a resentful but tender tale of hardship and enduring love.
Jonathan Franzen is also the author of The Corrections: A Novel, and The Discomfort Zone, a memoir.
August 24, 2010 There's been plenty of buzz about Jonathan Franzen's much-anticipated fourth novel ever since President Obama accepted an advance readers copy for his vacation in Martha's Vineyard. Critic Heller McAlpin says inflated expectations aside, she found Freedom to be a surprisingly moving and hopeful epic.
August 3, 2010 Norwegian writer Per Petterson hits the mark with his latest novel, which follows a man reflecting on his life — especially the events of 1989, a year when he lost his wife, his mother, and his faith in Communism.
July 29, 2010 Lifelong angler Paul Greenberg fuses investigative journalism, travelogue and personal memoir into one grand meditation on humankind's relationship with the ocean. Four Fish asks readers "to reevaluate whether fish are at their root expendable seafood or wildlife desperately in need of our compassion."
July 21, 2010 Read these books at the beach, and people two towels over will wonder why you're chortling. There are plenty of books that will make you laugh, but critic Heller McAlpin separates the mere giggles from the all-out gut-busters.
July 15, 2010 Alexander McCall Smith, author of the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency books, carries on the grand old tradition of serialized novels in Corduroy Mansions. There's plenty of quirk and charm in this high-spirited, rambling tale about the inhabitants of a genteel, comfortably worn apartment block in London.
June 30, 2010 Sloane Crosley follows I Was Told There'd Be Cake with a new collection of sparkling personal essays. She serves up humorous observations and mordant opinions in carefully calibrated cocktails of self-absorption and self-deprecation.
June 16, 2010 Ever since his 1987 debut, The Object of My Affection, Stephen McCauley has helped revive and update the modern comedy of manners. His new novel, Insignificant Others, takes a gently satiric look at what it means to be in a serious relationship — but also see someone else on the side.
June 4, 2010 Ten years out of the fishing business, Linda Greenlaw was eager to see if she still had what it took to be a swordboat captain. She got herself a boat, a crew and a fishing expedition — then sailed off to find out.
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.
NPR thanks our sponsors
Become an NPR sponsor