Cult of the Literary Sad Woman

From Jean Rhys to Joan Didion, fiction is awash in female suffering. Leslie Jamison considers affliction’s allure — and its more promising alternatives.


Rachel Maddow Takes On the Oil Industry

Maddow’s “Blowout” details the political problems caused by our reliance on fossil fuels.


Garry Shandling’s Riotous Scrapbook

“It’s Garry Shandling’s Book,” edited by Judd Apatow, brims with photos, diary excerpts, reminiscences, newspaper clippings, script pages and more.


When James Baldwin Squared Off Against William F. Buckley Jr.

“The Fire Is Upon Us,” by Nicholas Buccola, is at once a biography of two leading American intellectuals and an in-depth look at their legendary 1965 debate over civil rights.


Darryl Pinckney on Race, Class and Being ‘Busted in New York’

In his new collection of essays, the author reflects on growing up black and privileged, and the legacy of his parents’ civil rights activism.


Meryl Streep Wants to Tell You a Bedtime Story

Contemporary actors revivify E.B. White’s “Charlotte’s Web” and an unpublished work by Dr. Seuss.


9 New Books We Recommend This Week

Suggested reading from critics and editors at The New York Times.


Revisiting Baldwin vs. Buckley

Nicholas Buccola talks about “The Fire Is Upon Us,” and Saeed Jones discusses “How We Fight for Our Lives.”


Patient Care Is Wrenching: A Psychiatrist, a Nurse and a Doctor Bare All

Three new books by medical professionals delve into the human emotions involved in tending to the gravely ill.


For Lydia Davis, Language Is Character

“Essays One” collects occasional pieces by the author and translator known for her wry wit and exacting syntax.


Seeing Margaret Thatcher Whole

“Margaret Thatcher: The Authorized Biography — Herself Alone,” the third volume of Charles Moore’s massive biography, takes the story from her final years in power to her death in 2013.


What Is the Meaning of Sacred Texts?

Karen Armstrong’s new book argues that Scripture is meant to be interpreted by the spirit of the words, not by the letter of the law.


Faith and Reasons: Two Authors Explore the Persistence of Religious Feeling

Jack Miles, in “Religion as We Know It,” and Melvin Konner, in “Believers,” both turn to history to understand the nature of belief.


The Trouble With Identity Politics

Readers respond to recent issues of the Sunday Book Review.


The Secrets of Erin Morgenstern’s Success: Say No to the Internet. Say Yes to Video Games.

It took eight years, but the author of “The Night Circus” is back, and she has another bestseller.


What Makes a Popular Song Great?

Rob Kapilow’s “Listening for America” explains how to distinguish good from bad in the Great American Songbook.


A Book Version of ‘Pan’s Labyrinth’ Is Even Darker Than the Movie

Guillermo del Toro and his co-writer, Cornelia Funke, stay faithful to the script, but ramp up the bleakness in this tale of a princess living through a brutal war.


Meeting the Brother Who Can’t Remember Her

In Thanhha Lai’s “Butterfly Yellow,” a Vietnamese refugee finds the brother taken from her family as a toddler. Much more than just time separates them.


Why Movie Musicals Work

Jeanine Basinger’s “The Movie Musical!” is an encyclopedic tribute to musicals past and present.


Round Trip With the King of Pop Art

In Andy Warhol’s diaries, first published 30 years ago, the legendary bon vivant kept meticulous track of cab fare.


Langston Hughes on James Baldwin’s ‘Notes of a Native Son’

In 1958, Langston Hughes wrote for The Times about “Notes of a Native Son,” James Baldwin’s 1955 collection of essays meditating on race in America and Europe.


Jane Austen Has Left the Building — and So Have Dickens and Waugh

In “Novel Houses,” Christina Hardyment conducts tours of 20 famous fictional dwellings and the real places that inspired their creators.


New in Paperback: ‘Vietnam’ and ‘Upstream’

Six new paperbacks to check out this week.


Learning the Wiles of a Biographer, With Beckett and Beauvoir

Deirdre Bair’s memoir, “Parisian Lives,” takes readers behind the scenes as, early in her career, she grapples with two towering literary figures.


Arkady Renko Has Been Sent to Siberia. And He’s Fine With That.

Martin Cruz Smith’s latest Russian thriller leads off Marilyn Stasio’s Crime column, which also includes a new Jack Reacher novel from Lee Child.

 

When James Baldwin Squared Off Against William F. Buckley Jr.

“The Fire Is Upon Us,” by Nicholas Buccola, is at once a biography of two leading American intellectuals and an in-depth look at their legendary 1965 debate over civil rights.


Seeing Margaret Thatcher Whole

“Margaret Thatcher: The Authorized Biography — Herself Alone,” the third volume of Charles Moore’s massive biography, takes the story from her final years in power to her death in 2013.


Arkady Renko Has Been Sent to Siberia. And He’s Fine With That.

Martin Cruz Smith’s latest Russian thriller leads off Marilyn Stasio’s Crime column, which also includes a new Jack Reacher novel from Lee Child.


In a Chaotic World, Dungeons & Dragons Is Resurgent

The role-playing game has made a surprising return to mainstream culture.


Garry Shandling’s Riotous Scrapbook

“It’s Garry Shandling’s Book,” edited by Judd Apatow, brims with photos, diary excerpts, reminiscences, newspaper clippings, script pages and more.


How to Beat the Market

Gregory Zuckerman’s “The Man Who Solved the Market” tells the extraordinary story of an investor (not named Warren Buffett) who made a fortune on Wall Street.


Revisiting Baldwin vs. Buckley

Nicholas Buccola talks about “The Fire Is Upon Us,” and Saeed Jones discusses “How We Fight for Our Lives.”


Carol Brightman, 80, Dies; Profiled a Notable Writer and a Notable Band

After publishing a biography of Mary McCarthy, she changed course and plunged into the world of the Grateful Dead and the group’s devoted fans.


The Trouble With Identity Politics

Readers respond to recent issues of the Sunday Book Review.


The Secrets of Erin Morgenstern’s Success: Say No to the Internet. Say Yes to Video Games.

It took eight years, but the author of “The Night Circus” is back, and she has another bestseller.


What Makes a Popular Song Great?

Rob Kapilow’s “Listening for America” explains how to distinguish good from bad in the Great American Songbook.


A Book Version of ‘Pan’s Labyrinth’ Is Even Darker Than the Movie

Guillermo del Toro and his co-writer, Cornelia Funke, stay faithful to the script, but ramp up the bleakness in this tale of a princess living through a brutal war.


Meeting the Brother Who Can’t Remember Her

In Thanhha Lai’s “Butterfly Yellow,” a Vietnamese refugee finds the brother taken from her family as a toddler. Much more than just time separates them.


Why Movie Musicals Work

Jeanine Basinger’s “The Movie Musical!” is an encyclopedic tribute to musicals past and present.


Round Trip With the King of Pop Art

In Andy Warhol’s diaries, first published 30 years ago, the legendary bon vivant kept meticulous track of cab fare.


Langston Hughes on James Baldwin’s ‘Notes of a Native Son’

In 1958, Langston Hughes wrote for The Times about “Notes of a Native Son,” James Baldwin’s 1955 collection of essays meditating on race in America and Europe.


Jane Austen Has Left the Building — and So Have Dickens and Waugh

In “Novel Houses,” Christina Hardyment conducts tours of 20 famous fictional dwellings and the real places that inspired their creators.


New in Paperback: ‘Vietnam’ and ‘Upstream’

Six new paperbacks to check out this week.


Learning the Wiles of a Biographer, With Beckett and Beauvoir

Deirdre Bair’s memoir, “Parisian Lives,” takes readers behind the scenes as, early in her career, she grapples with two towering literary figures.


James I. Robertson Jr., Exacting Civil War Historian, Dies at 89

Dr. Robertson, who wrote or edited dozens of books, was best known for his monumental biography of Stonewall Jackson.


Noel Ignatiev, 78, Persistent Voice Against White Privilege, Dies

In the journal Race Traitor and in a provocative book, Dr. Ignatiev argued that the white race should, in a sense, be abolished.


Randall Munroe Loves Outdated Views of the Future

“Seeing what people worried about or complained about a hundred years ago always gives a lot of perspective,” says the creator of the web comic XKCD, whose new book is “How To.”


Home for the Holidays, for Better or Worse

In his latest novel, Benjamin Markovits revisits the Essinger family, this time at their home in Texas. Luckily for the reader, their lives are far from perfect.


9 New Books We Recommend This Week

Suggested reading from critics and editors at The New York Times.


Refugee and Author Detained by Australia Is Given Visa to Travel

Behrouz Boochani, who was held for years as part of Australia’s offshore immigration detention program, arrived in New Zealand for a literary festival.