January 9, 2014 There's plenty of cruelty in the British songwriter's book, but he's unreservedly bighearted toward his favorite films, actors, TV shows and music, and he rhapsodizes over one LGBT icon after the other.
January 9, 2014 Also: "Because" is named the word of the year; a new poem by Paul Beilstein.
January 9, 2014 Ishmael Beah was 12 when he was orphaned by Sierra Leone's civil war and recruited as a child soldier. He described the ordeal in his 2007 memoir, A Long Way Gone. Now, Beah's debut novel, Radiance of Tomorrow, tells the story of a shattered community struggling to rebuild itself after war.
January 9, 2014 When writer Lynn Darling found herself at a turning point in her life, she sought solitude and enlightenment in the woods of Vermont. Her new memoir, Out of the Woods, describes that midlife experience. Fresh Air book critic Maureen Corrigan calls it "a compelling story of internal exploration, as well as outward-bound adventure."
January 8, 2014 Sue Monk Kidd, the author of the best-selling The Secret Life of Bees, takes on both slavery and feminism in her novel The Invention of Wings. It's a story told by two women: Hetty, a slave, seeks her freedom, while Sarah, her reluctant owner, rebels against her family to become an abolitionist.
January 8, 2014 According to Russian journalist Masha Gessen, the 2012 arrests were the start of a campaign by Vladimir Putin and his supporters against government critics. Gessen, who is also an LGBT rights advocate, recently moved to New York with her partner and their children in response to the anti-gay laws Russia passed in June.
January 8, 2014 Also: Former U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates' new memoir is critical of the Obama White House; The Morning News' annual Tournament of Books announces its contestants; a new short story from Nicole Krauss.
January 8, 2014 In softcover nonfiction, William Knoedelseder looks at the family behind Budweiser, Charles Duhigg delves into the science of habit, Fred Kaplan explores an Army revolution, and Whole Foods' founder argues for businesses pursuing a higher purpose. In fiction, George Saunders delivers a collection of fantastical stories.
January 7, 2014 The polar vortex putting much of the U.S. in a deep freeze may have you reaching for the comfort cookies. But in Antarctica — where the coldest temperatures on Earth have been recorded — 5,000 calories a day isn't a bad idea. One thing the continent's history teaches us: When life is stripped down to man versus the most brutal elements, bring plenty of snacks.
January 7, 2014 The famous sleuth has discovered that U.S copyright law is anything but elementary. A federal judge recently ruled that elements of the Sherlock Holmes characters are now both licensed property of the Doyle estate and in the public domain. The Doyle estate plans to appeal the decision.
January 7, 2014 In Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary at War, Robert Gates says the president was unsure the Afghan surge would work and was openly distrustful of military leaders. "I never doubted Obama's support for the troops, only his support for their mission," he writes. The book is scheduled for release Jan. 14.
January 7, 2014 Ben Marcus' new book, Leaving the Sea, is an experimental and challenging collection of stories. Reviewer J.P. O'Malley says there's not much of a through line to the stories, but that it doesn't matter: "If you enjoy writers like Samuel Beckett," he writes, "I'm sure you will love this collection."
January 7, 2014 In Little Failure, the novelist recounts his emigration from the USSR to the U.S. when he was 7. For the first few years, he says, he would sit alone in the school cafeteria, talking to himself in Russian "in this gigantic fur hat and fur coat." It wasn't long before a teacher advised, "Children won't play with you if you have that much fur on."
January 7, 2014 Also: Zola Books has bought Bookish; Gary Shteyngart goes on a walking tour of Queens, N.Y., for The Wall Street Journal; Costa Book Awards are announced.