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The Daily


Chocolate rabbits, plaid sunflowers: My Garden by Kevin Henkes

Inside the front cover of My Garden, the new picture book by local author Kevin Henkes, the Library of Congress dryly catalogs it as "Gardens -- Fiction." That's an understatement. The wide-eyed, straw-hatted little girl in the book imagines a garden in which jellybean bushes flourish and flowers reappear immediately after being picked. >More
 A Book A Week: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

This was better than I expected, given its ubercute title, odd narrative structure, and overhyped back story. Did you know that the Channel Islands (located between France and England) were occupied by the Germans during World War II? I did not, before reading this book. >More
 A Book A Week: Read My Pins by Madeleine Albright

Not being a terribly close follower of diplomatic maneuvers, I was unaware of former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright's famous use of pins to telegraph her thoughts and intentions to world leaders and the press. But lots of other people were aware of it, and now Albright has written a book about it, Read My Pins, to accompany an exhibit of her pins organized by the Museum of Art and Design in New York. >More
 A Book A Week: The Saffron Kitchen by Yasmin Crowther

Someone recommended Yasmin Crowther's The Saffron Kitchen to me as a good follow-up to Bitter Sweets, which I read a few weeks ago. It's another immigrant story; Maryam moves from Iran to London as a young woman, marries an Englishman and has a child. Eventually she feels an overwhelming urge to return to Iran to rediscover her girlhood and to reconnect with people she has lost. >More
 McSweeney's makes a newspaper: A review of Panorama

When I was a kid, one of the few rituals I shared with my dad was on Sunday mornings. We'd hop in the car and drive to a doughnut shop for a dozen doughnuts, then head over to the cigar shop/newsstand on State Street in Erie, Pa., my hometown. I fell in love with the ritual of spreading out with a Sunday paper, munching down doughnuts over the funnies.So I was a sucker for the latest McSweeney's, the quarterly literary journal that revels in experimenting with form. >More
 A Book A Week: Brooklyn by Colm Toibin

I find the accolades accorded to Colm Toibin's Brooklyn mystifying. A few weeks ago Toibin won the Costa Novel of the Year Award for it; the Costa is a prestigious British literary prize given to authors from the U.K. and Ireland. He was favored to win the bigger prize, the Costa Book of the Year, but lost to poet Christopher Reid. >More
 A Book A Week: The Glass Room by Simon Mawer

Simon Mawer's The Glass Room is a big book. A Big Book. A book about art and its role in our everyday lives. What better way to frame this discussion than to create some characters who are living inside a work of art -- a glass house designed by a visionary architect. >More
 A Book A Week: When the Emperor Was Divine by Julie Otsuka

Julie Otsuka's When the Emperor Was Divine is the last book I read in 2009. It's the story of one family's experience at an internment camp for Japanese Americans during World War II. >More
 A Book A Week: The First Person by Ali Smith

I hate experimental fiction. Yet every now and then I feel the need to try some, just to see if I still hate it -- it's kind of like tasting anchovies every few years, even though you know you really think they are too salty and too fishy. >More
 A Book A Week: Bitter Sweets by Roopa Farooki

Roopa Farooki's Bitter Sweets is a multigenerational story about an Indian family in both India and in Britain. It's one of those sprawling family sagas that are often labeled "women's fiction" but with a South Asian flavor. >More
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