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What We're Reading

At NPR, we cover a lot of books every week. Among those, there are always a handful of standouts — the shortlist, the books with buzz. "What We're Reading" brings you our book team's picks of the most interesting new fiction and nonfiction releases, along with candid comments from our reporters, hosts and staff.

The life of Alejandro Pompez; Nigel Slater and his vegetable patch; saluting moms as fashion icons.()  

April 26, 2011 The biography of a cigar worker turned respected baseball executive, a petite book of poetry perfect for the season, a huge chronicle of a cook and his vegetable patch, and a mother's day gift book that celebrates moms as fashion plates.

Summary

Gwyneth Paltrow Cooks; A Hefty New Poetry Collection; The Life Of Diana Vreeland.()  

April 19, 2011 Gwyneth Paltrow cooks and tells family stories; a sumptuous illustrated biography of Diana Vreeland now in paperback; a comprehensive Latin American poetry anthology; an expose of working at the mall.

Summary

Breaking Down The Appleseed Myth; A Deeply Sad Farming Memoir; A Valentine To Prairie Life()  

April 12, 2011 A retelling of the famous Johnny Appleseed myth; a devastating memoir about the birth of the organic farming movement and its effect on a homesteading family; an attempt to discover the secrets of Little House on the Prarie; and an NPR contributor's struggle with the recession and its aftermath.

Summary

The Life Of Edith Piaf; Tina Fey's Zingers; Julia Child As An OSS Spy; A Memoir Of The Wilderness.()  

April 5, 2011 The life of French chanteuse Edith Piaf; Tina Fey's hilarious book of zingers; the untold story of Julia and Paul Child in the OSS; and a quiet meditation on the desert wilderness from 10,000 feet above sea level.

Summary

Living With Susan Sontag; A Novel Set Around Hitchcock's Psycho; A YA Novel About 1941 Lithuania.()  

March 29, 2011 A memoir of living in close quarters with Susan Sontag; a novel set in the world of Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho; and a young-adult novel that covers the very adult themes of labor camps in 1941 Lithuania.

Summary

Sarah Vowell's Hawaiian Adventures; New York History Told On One Block; A Foodie Memoir Of ElBulli()  

March 22, 2011 Sarah Vowell takes on the American occupation of Hawaii, author Katharine Greider dives into New York history through the lens of her crumbling Manhattan row house, and Lisa Abend follows the apprentices toiling away in the molecular gastronomy labs of Ferran Adria's elBulli.

Summary

This Week's Reads: Haunted By Folklore, Missing Girls, The Internet and Jay-Z()  

March 15, 2011 Tea Obreht makes her sparkling debut with the folkloric Tiger's Wife, and another new author, Cara Hoffman, holds her own with the creepy but elegant So Much Pretty. A Jay-Z biography falls short, but Jonathan Coe's humorous novel about Internet loneliness is an acerbic glimpse of modern times.

Summary

Quests for Health, Happiness, 'Snow Honkies' ()  

March 8, 2011 David Brooks' The Social Animal combines neuroscience with philosophy to uncover the secrets of happiness. The Longevity Project draws long-life lessons from an 80-year study of 1,528 10-year-olds. Finally, an all-black crew explores whiteness on an expedition to – where else? – Antarctica in the wickedly satirical Pym.

Summary

What We're Reading: May 25-31()  

May 25, 2010 Maureen Corrigan hails the "genius" of Stieg Larsson's vision, as revealed in his final "Girl Who" mystery. Is Anthropology of an American Girl the next Catcher in the Rye? Neda Ulaby says no. And novelist Aimee Bender evokes the taste of love in The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake.

Summary

What We're Reading, May 11-17()  

May 11, 2010 Martin Amis' newest is part Decameron, part Big Chill, as twenty-somethings in an Italian castle navigate the sexual revolution. Laura Bush navigates her way from Midland, Texas, to a life in the White House. A miraculously preserved 18th-century rabbi reanimates (oy gevalt!) in Memphis. And civil rights legend Andrew Young passes life lessons to his godson.

Summary

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About 'What We're Reading'

At NPR, we cover a lot of books every week. Among those, there are always a handful of standouts — the shortlist, the books with buzz. "What We're Reading" brings you our book team's picks of the most interesting new fiction and nonfiction releases, along with candid comments from our reporters, hosts and staff.