Roger Angell, now 94, has had an extraordinary life. A longtime fiction editor of The New Yorker and one of the best-ever writers on baseball, he is the only writer elected to both the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the Baseball Hall of Fame. His wonderful new collection, This Old Man: All in Pieces, is, he says, a grab bag, a portrait of his brain at this point in his life. The title piece, a moving and personal account of aging, received the 2014 prize for best essay from the American Society of Magazine Editors.
The holidays can be a bit stressful, but luckily, laughter is an excellent stress reliever! So crack open one of the three books below and crack up around the Christmas tree.
“Gorgeous hair is the best revenge,” said Ivana Trump, she of the platinum blonde, sky-high hair. Hair as tool of revenge, as obsession, as embarrassment, as source of pride: Why does a long string of protein absorb so much of our attention?
C.S. Lewis wrote that “eating and reading are two pleasures that combine admirably,” and Cara Nicoletti has made both her life pursuits as she explains in Voracious: A Hungry Reader Cooks Her Way Through Great Books.
Shirley Jackson, who died 50 years ago this month at the much too early age of 48, left behind a solid literary opus anchored in two indelible works: the iconic short story “The Lottery” and the classy ghost story novel, The Haunting of Hill House. Let Me Tell You collects 29 stories, including 21 that have never before been published, as well as many essays and humor pieces.
Maxine Kumin, who died last year at 88, was a Pulitzer Prize-winning poet, essayist and children’s book author who served as U.S. poet laureate and bred horses on her New Hampshire farm. Kumin’s memoir, The Pawnbroker’s Daughter, comprises five essays, four of which first appeared in American Scholar and Georgia Review. These charming recollections will now reach a wider readership in book form.
We tend to think of William Styron as a novelist—and rightly so, given the enduring power of such works at The Confessions of Nat Turner and Sophie’s Choice. Yet Styron, who would have been 90 years old on June 11, was also a prolific and gifted writer of nonfiction, as the doorstop-sized new collection, My Generation, makes plain. This gathering of essays, journalism, book reviews, memoirs and occasional pieces, written over 50 years, offers a congenial glimpse into this eminent American writer’s life and mind.
Graduation: a special time when feelings of joy and celebration collide with a healthy dose of sheer terror. All of those hours of hard work have finally paid off in the form of a high school diploma or a university degree . . . but what’s next? How to make it in the real world is a big question with no easy answers. Whether your grad needs some level-headed advice on living well from some of our greatest authors, a few first-job stories or a collection of essays from much-admired leaders, four new books offer plenty of calming wisdom.
The lessons we learn from our mothers shape who we are, even the lessons we don’t particularly appreciate. Those lessons keep coming year after year, and their most valuable messages stay with us forever.
Kim Korson is your new favorite curmudgeon, a true Negative Nancy, the ultimate Debbie Downer. She's perfectly happy being unhappy, and she shares her path to negativity and all the merits of malcontent in her acerbic, witty memoir, I Don't Have a Happy Place. In a Behind the Book feature, Korson shares a bit on not being "wired for mirth."