The Arsonist

Tensions flare in a New Hampshire town swollen by summer residents.

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Lovers at the Chameleon Club, Paris 1932

Espionage, obsession, and betrayal in the demimonde of pre-WWII Paris.

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Living with a Wild God

A tenacious journalist takes up a bold new investigation into the potential existence of divine forces and the mystical nature of faith.

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Boy, Snow, Bird

Ancient stories entwine with twenty-first-century themes in Helen Oyeyemi's fiction.

 

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Eugénie Grandet

Balzac's incisive story of wealth, desire, and fraud has never been more timely.

 

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Brown Dog

The adventures of Jim Harrison's "wonderful backwoods nitwit" are collected in one rollicking set of linked tales.

 

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Charmers Return

An annual rundown of books as diverting as they are thought-provoking.

 

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This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage

Compassion is the central theme in these essays from the author of State of Wonder and Bel Canto.

 

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The Two Hotel Francforts

The sensitively mapped tale of an affair on the eve of war is cloaked within a comedy of manners.

 

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Someone

A girl grows in Brooklyn, in the latest from the author of Charming Billy.

 

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Dreams of My Russian Summers

The power of memory and longing is undimmed in this classic memoir.

 

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Ten Things I've Learnt About Love

A long-estranged father and daughter, on a collision course.

 

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The Faraway Nearby

An unclassifiable writer looks at how stories take us on unexpected journeys.

 

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An Interview with Elinor Lipman

The charming writer of I Can't Complain on self-esteem, second chances, and happy endings.

 

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The Interestings

Old friends at the top and bottom of the art world meet in the middle.

 

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How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia

A wry take on "self-help" skewers our globalized economy.

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Schroder

A prisoner's letters reveal the harrowing and often triumphant life of a fraud.

 

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The Inventor and the Tycoon

Two unlikely collaborators project the dawn of film technology.

 

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Charmers

A short list of books that are equal parts entertainment and provocation.

 

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Friendship in Eden, and After

Revisiting Wallace Stegner's bittersweet tale of two couples whose lives are braided together.

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Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore

A technological adventure story lurks on these shelves.

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This Is How You Lose Her

A cheater's guide to love is also a poignant study of what keeps us from understanding ourselves.

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There but for the

A dinner party attendee's refusal to leave occasions reflection among his fellow guests.

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How to Be a Woman

A British writer's memoir attacks sexism with humor and a take-no-prisoners attitude.

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Workers' Compensations

Why a writer's luminous memoir makes inspiring reading for recent graduates -- and their families.

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In One Person

A story that blurs the line between the sexes can stimulate discussion.

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Conversation Pieces

Finding the balance between pleasure and challenge when selecting that group read.

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About the Columnist
Heller McAlpin is a New York-based critic who reviews books for NPR.org, The Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, San Francisco Chronicle, Christian Science Monitor, and other publications.

July 24: On this day in 1725 John Newton, the slave trader-preacher who wrote the hymn "Amazing Grace," was born.

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

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Books, CDs, DVDs to know about now
Paradise and Elsewhere

Canadian short story marvel Kathy Page emerges as the Alice Munro of the supernatural from these heartfelt tales of shapeshifting swimmers, mild-mannered cannibals, and personality-shifting viruses transmitted through kisses.

Pastoral

When a persuasive pastor arrives in a sleepy farm town, his sage influence has otherworldly results (talking sheep, a mayor who walks on water). But can he pull off the miracle of finding kindly local Liz Denny the love of her life?  Small wonder looms large in this charmer from Andre Alexis.

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).