Simon Doonan

Admired as the longtime Creative Director of the department store chain Barneys New York -- and as one of the fashion industry's sharpest wits -- Simon Doonan this month dons a genre tailor made for him: memoir.  In The Asylum, Doonan presents "a collage of couture reminiscences... and hysteria," rich with hilarious and provocative insights into the clothing game and its most renowned moguls, designers, and gadflies.  The Asylum's sharp prose suggests that Doonan is also a savvy reader, as do his superb selections for this week's edition of Guest Books, which he declares to be a trio of The Weirdest Books He's Ever Read. 


Appleby House
By Sylvia Smith

"This is the must hilariously mundane book I have ever read. In excruciating detail, Miss Smith describes time spent in a rooming house in London in the 80's. The bickering and minutiae make it as compelling as War and Peace."



The Slaves of Solitude
By Patrick Hamilton

"This might be the most dismal book ever written. Just when you think it cannot get any more depressing, something even more turgid happens. It's also sad and beautifully written."


The Girls of Slender Means
By Muriel Spark

"Spark's novels are all pretty bitchy, but this just might take the cake. These girls might share a Schiaparelli dress... but when fire breaks out, it's every bitch for herself."


July 22: On this day in 1941, on his twelfth wedding anniversary, Eugene O'Neill presented the just-finished manuscript of Long Day's Journey into Night to his wife, Carlotta.

Crime fiction legends Dennis Lehane and Michael Connelly discuss the new book that unites their beloved sleuths Patrick Kenzie and Harry Bosch.

Books, CDs, DVDs to know about now
The Hundred-Year House

When a poetry scholar goes digging through the decrepit estate of his wife's family to uncover a bygone arts colony's strange mysteries, he awakens a tenacious monster: his mother-in-law. A wickedly funny take on aging aristocracies from author Rebecca Makkai (The Borrower).

Watching Them Be

What makes a film actor into a larger-than-life movie star? James Harvey's passionate, freewheeling essays explain why there are some faces (from Greta Garbo's to Samuel L. Jackson's) from which we cannot look away.


What if you called up the spouse on the verge of leaving you -- and instead found yourself magically talking to his younger self, the one you first fell for?  Rainbow Rowell, author of the YA smash Eleanor & Park, delivers a sly, enchanting take on 21st-century love.