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Sunday, December 28, 2014 |  Madison, WI: 20.0° F  Fair
The Daily

BOOKS

A Book A Week: Room by Emma Donoghue

Inspired by real-life events, Room is the story of a mother and son who are imprisoned in a garden shed by the mother's rapist. It's also the story of their rescue and reintegration into society. The narrator is the son Jack, who was born in the shed, and is 5 years old when the story begins. >More
 A Book A Week: The Girl Who Fell From the Sky by Heidi W. Durrow

I know a lot of people who read young adult (YA) fiction. Most are mothers of middle and high school girls who started reading it because they wanted to share the reading experience with their daughters. But I know this isn't the full story; YA is too popular among adults to be only the province of a certain group of women. >More
 A Book A Week: Korean Deli: Risking it all for a Convenience Store by Ben Ryder Howe

Ben Ryder Howe is the sweetest man on Earth. Or at least he comes across that way in his memoir My Korean Deli: Risking It All for a Convenience Store, the story of his family's attempt to purchase and operate a deli/convenience store in Brooklyn. He must be sweet -- he goes along with this plan to please his mother-in-law! What a nice boy. >More
 A Book A Week: Bangkok 8 by John Burdett

In recent years, many mystery novels have become platforms for social analysis. There is something about the form that lends itself to the task, whether it's the requirement that all mysteries contain some form of good vs. evil, or the close character studies afforded by the tradition. >More
 A Book A Week: The Invisible Bridge by Julie Orringer

What a refreshing change Julie Orringer's The Invisible Bridge is from the contemporary fiction I've been reading recently. Instead of a book about self-absorbed whiny people where hardly anything happens, this book is a sprawling saga of World War II in Hungary, with a cast of thousands, a huge variety of locations, war, deprivation, joy, anxiety, relief, love, hate, birth, death, and not a shred of self-pity. I loved it! >More
 Wayne Pacelle's The Bond explores human-animal kinship

One fascinating thing about Wayne Pacelle's new book on the connection between people and animals is that, the more you read, the better its title gets. At first I thought The Bond seemed a bit sentimental, perhaps insubstantial. I cracked open the covers thinking it would tug at my heart more than appeal to my intellect. But in chapter after chapter Pacelle, president of the Humane Society of the United States, establishes multiple contexts -- genetic, societal, historical, ethical and even economic -- for his book's central conceit. >More
 A Book A Week: A Darker Domain by Val McDermid

Here's a useful new term: Tartan Noir. It describes a form of Scottish crime fiction characterized by troubled protagonists and plots that deal with questions of redemption. >More
 A Book A Week: Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger

I hate it when a character does something that is ...out of character. Not just unpredictable, but something you just feel like that character wouldn't do. When you know a character as well as you know your own sister (for example) and then she does something you just know she would not do, it's like a blast of cold air that interrupts and ultimately diminishes the whole reading experience. This was the experience I had with Her Fearful Symmetry. >More
 A Book A Week: The Finkler Question by Howard Jacobson

Howard Jacobson's The Finkler Question won the 2010 Man Booker Prize for fiction. Many people a lot smarter than I am have analyzed this book in depth, so I'm not going to do that. Any book about self-hating Jews and anti-Semitism is bound to generate a lot of discussion, and I am certain I have nothing new to add. >More
 A Book A Week: The Poisoner's Handbook: Murder and the Birth of Forensic Medicine in Jazz Age New York by Deborah Blum

Deborah Blum won a Pulitzer Prize for science journalism and is a professor at the University of Wisconsin. One of her former students recommended The Poisoner's Handbook: Murder and the Birth of Forensic Medicine in Jazz Age New York, and I'd also heard from several mystery readers that it was a really fun book, if you don't mind a little chemistry with your drama. >More
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