Presidents show up in a lot of thrillers—usually as victims of assassination attempts, nefarious or feckless plotters with their corporate buddies, or thoughtful approvers of wild but necessary schemes to stop the bad guys. I have limited my list to novels in which the president is central to the story, and, although many recent books are excellent candidates, I have chosen mainly from among the classics, tales that set the templates for many of the works that have followed.
I love books that envision some sort of alternate version of our world. For me, the key ingredient in these stories is a feeling of realism. I always want to feel as if I’m reading something true, no matter how imaginative the scenario is.
The Kitchen Book and the Cook Book by Nicolas Freeling Freeling, a British crime writer, worked as a cook in restaurants and hotels in France and England for many years. This volume contains two short, lovely, memorable books: In The Kitchen Book, Freeling writes about his life in professional kitchens with understated, wry fluidity, conjuring a memorable group of characters with economy and wit.
Literary criticism is unlikely to change the world, but every now and then it throws up a work of real intellectual stature. Frank Kermode’s The Sense of an Ending is one such book, but here are five others:Eric Auerbach’s Mimesis (1946) has a claim to being one of the most monumental works of criticism of the modern era.
Carlin Romano covers scores of philosophers and their extremely serious works in his new book, America the Philosophical. Here he notes five of his favorite idiosyncratic philosophy books—off the beaten path, but fun and illuminating.
Along with my wife and, when they were little, our children, I have spent several multiyear stretches living in Asian countries. Our longest stays have been in Japan, Malaysia, and most recently in China.The theme for my selection is “Outsiders in Asia.
Things Fall Apart (1958), by Chinua Achebe A classic of African writing and a book of world stature, Chinua Achebe’s novel is set in a Nigerian village in the 1890s, where traditional society and the individual’s role falters in the face of modern and western influence.
The Confessions of Nat Turner By William StyronNat Turner was a black slave who sparked a bloody uprising in Virginia in 1831 and left behind—after his capture and execution—a brief, cryptic account of what made him do it. Or maybe he didn’t leave the account, which was alleged by some to have been the work in part or whole of the lawyer, Thomas Gray, who proceeded to publish it.
Wake-up call, continental breakfast, the day’s newspaper ... and books to make the morning complete! It’s time again for the PEN World Voices Festival of International Literature, when writers like Herta Müller, Paul Auster, Michael Cunningham, Etgar Keret, Margaret Atwood, and Tony Kushner descend on New York City.
Windows on the World By Frédéric BeigbederStill one of the best 9/11 novels. The author breaks two rules with panache: that you have to be American, optimally a New Yorker, to write with authority about the World Trade Center (Beigbeder is from France, where this novel was first published in 2004); and that books published too closely on the heels of any such tragedy are bound to suffer from a lack of perspective and come out rubbish.
On the Beach By Nevil ShuteA post-apocalyptic Australian story revolving around nuclear fallout, euthanasia, and a fuel crisis in which the one bright beam of civilized hope is Seattle? Yes please. Who needs a description of Maui this summer? Not I, not when there’s an end-of-the-world Pearl Harbor portrayal inspired by then-recent events.
Here are five books I’ve read in the past 12 months that I wish I were still reading.By Moss Hart A wildly entertaining look at the playwright’s life up until the moment he hits it big. It left me, and probably everyone else who ever read it, desperately wishing for Act Two.
It may surprise some that bestselling novelist Dennis Lehane is a huge fan of short stories. From Andre Dubus to Wells Tower, he picks his 5 favorite collections. His new novel, Moonlight Mile, is out now.
Actor, artist and writer James Franco shares his six favorite books, from Faulkner to Bukowski. His debut short story collection, 'Palo Alto,' is out now.
Need a book recommendation? We get asked all the time. But look no further, because here's our answer. We've left the task to the experts: every week, great writers pick their favorite books and tell you why they are must-reads. What are you waiting for?
Laid aside for decades, Tolkien’s abandoned poem about King Arthur is finally released. Biographer John Garth reads the epic.
Writers Bel Kaufman, Michael Chabon, Mary Glickman, and others reflect on their roots. From Open Road Media.