David Mitchell, Cloud Atlas

Sometimes I’m very late to the party. There’s little to do in those cases, but make my apologies as I make my entrance. That’s the situation I find myself in, now, endeavoring to review David Mitchell’s excellent and award-winning novel, Cloud Atlas, more than ten years after its release. I’m…

Neil L. Rudenstine, Ideas of Order: A Close Reading of Shakespeare’s Sonnets

Cover of Neil Rudenstine's Ideas of Order

Neil L. Rudenstine is a retired English literature professor specializing in Renaissance literature, a former President of Harvard University, and a Rhodes Scholar. Ideas of Order: A Close Reading of Shakespeare’s Sonnets is exactly what the title says it is—a close reading of Shakespeare’s Sonnets. Rudenstine is neither the first…

Important

Laura Anne Gilman, Silver on The Road

Cover of Laura Anne Gilman's Silver on the Road

One of the things I most love about Laura Anne Gilman’s fantasy/paranormal books is the way she takes folklore and myth and makes it her own, rendering the familiar into something new and strange, but at the same time, coherent and consistent. She excels at world building. I think Silver…

Amy Pennington, Apples: From Harvest to Table

Cover of Amy Pennington's Apples from Harvest to Table

Amy Pennington’s Apples: From Harvest to Table is an apple cookbook, beautifully illustrated with photos by Olivia Brent. These are made-from-scratch recipes, and were written with an eye to using local and fresh, and an awareness of issues like low sugar needs and gluten tolerances, or cooking with (and for)…

Jo Walton, What Makes This Book So Great: Re-Reading the Classics of Fantasy and SF

Jo Walton, aside from being the author of Among Others, and the Small Change books Farthing, Ha’ Penny and Half a Crown, has been engaging in online conversations about really good books since UseNet, at least. When Tor decided to create Tor.com as a place to talk about books, founding…

Rowan Jacobsen, Apples of Uncommon Character

Cover of Rowan Jacobsen's Apples of Uncommon Character

The complete title is important: Apples of Uncommon Character: Heirlooms, Modern Classics, and Little-Known Wonders. Rowan Jacobsen is a journalist, one who has received James Beard Awards for a book (A Geography of Oysters and for his essays. He’s also the author of American Terroir. I first read his work…

Ilana C. Myer, Last Song Before Night

Ilana C. Myer’s Last Song Before Night is, in the most simplistic reduction, a quest fantasy, set in the rich, complex pseudo-medieval society of Eivar where poets and seers are trained in a special academy. Once, long ago, poets were also enchanters, but their abilities made them dangerous and feared…

Daniel Okrent, Last Call: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition

Cover of Daniel Okrent's Last Call

Daniel Okrent’s Last Call: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition is ostensibly a history of America’s attempt from 1920 to 1933 when, in response to the 18th amendment, the nation outlawed “the manufacture, sale, or transportation of intoxicating liquors.” In actuality, Okrent has written a careful, readable and interesting history…

Roland Green, Stephen Cushman et al, Eds. Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics. 4th Edition.

Cover of the Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics

The Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics is a massive tome, perhaps as much as three or four times the size of the second edition. At 1,639 folio-sized pages of text, and 5.7 lbs, even in softcover, it is cumbersome at best. It’s just as well then that it’s still…

Celebrating Banned Books Week

Banned Books Week, 2015 runs from September 27 through October 3, 2015. The American Library Association describes it like this: Banned Books Week is an annual event celebrating the freedom to read. Typically held during the last week of September, it highlights the value of free and open access to…