December 11, 2013 Fresh Air's book critic says it's just a fluke that 9 of the 11 titles she picked this year were written by female authors. Her favorites include a jumbo-sized Dickensian novel, a biography of Ben Franklin's sister, a comedy of manners, a stunning Scandinavian mystery and more.
November 26, 2013 For critic Maureen Corrigan, this year's hybrid family holiday may be best celebrated by escaping into a book. Her recommendations include a kids' book about Russian Jews who identify with the Pilgrims, and a novel that contemplates class divides during wartime through the lens of a football game.
November 13, 2013 Essay collections are underrated and often ignored in favor of short stories or novels. But in the hands of a writer as practiced as Ann Patchett, critic Maureen Corrigan says the essay becomes an expansive storytelling vessel. Patchett's new book is This Is The Story Of A Happy Marriage.
November 7, 2013 In the many decades since the publication of How to Win Friends and Influence People, Dale Carnegie's self-help classic has been both celebrated and mocked, but it's still selling plenty of copies. Steven Watts' new biography of the man may feel overstuffed, but, as Maureen Corrigan notes, Carnegie's relentless positivity always shines through.
October 31, 2013 Donna Tartt is a writer who takes her time — she's published just one novel per decade since her debut in 1992. But critic Maureen Corrigan says she'd gladly wait another 10 years for a book as extraordinary as Tartt's latest work, The Goldfinch, an "exuberantly plotted triumph."
October 21, 2013 Bridget Jones hasn't aged well. At 51, she's the "geriatric mum" of two small children, and finds herself yearning to plunge back into dating. Critic Maureen Corrigan says if you're looking for jolly feminist cultural commentary, you'd be better off reading a witty "encyclopedia of lady things" from the creators of the website Jezebel.
October 10, 2013 For centuries, the memory of Jane Franklin has languished in brother Benjamin's shadow. While Ben is on currency and splashed across textbooks, Jane's life of curiosity and hardship has been forgotten. In Book of Ages, historian Jill Lepore draws a portrait of one of the American Revolution's "little women."
October 7, 2013 Jhumpa Lahiri's new novel, The Lowland, is on the long list for the National Book Award and the shortlist for the Man Booker. Critic Maureen Corrigan says Lahiri should start making room in her trophy cabinet; The Lowland is a beautiful tale of a family transformed by political violence.
September 16, 2013 That's the collective nickname Harlem-ites used for them: white women who risked family exile and social ostracism to be part of the movement. They were philanthropists and thrill seekers,educators and artists, hostesses and lovers. Carla Kaplan tells their stories in Miss Anne in Harlem.
September 4, 2013 Alice McDermott's characters can often be described as average, and Marie, the heroine of her latest novel, is no exception. But critic Maureen Corrigan says the power of McDermott's writing is that she can make even Marie's run-of-the-mill life one for the record books.
August 15, 2013 The prestigious publishing company Farrar, Straus and Giroux helped define the intellectual life of post-World War II America. Boris Kachka's book explores the company's history, from its founding in 1946 to its sale to a German conglomerate in 1994 and beyond.
August 6, 2013 The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P. is a debut novel about a sharp and assured young man living among young, aspiring literary types in Brooklyn. Book critic Maureen Corrigan says never before has a novel made her feel so grateful to be middle-aged.
July 18, 2013 After "Robert Galbraith" was revealed to be the pen name for J.K. Rowling, many readers have been circling back to a "debut" novel they'd initially overlooked. Critic Maureen Corrigan says the mystery is respectable, but she will shelve it in the "I've read worse, but I've read better" category.