Book Review

Veteran bookseller Sarah Bagby shares her experience and insight into the literary world. You also listen to Sarah's book reviews through iTunes. Listen or subscribe here

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Reading any novel by Elizabeth Strout is an opportunity to let immaculate sentences, uncanny insight into what it means to be human, and surprising, life-changing incidents permeate your entire being.

An elegant woman in a backless black dress, black gloves, and smoking a cigarette sets off the red background on the cover of Melanie Benjamin's delicious historical novel, The Swans of Fifth Avenue.

In the sub-genre of fiction focusing on the mysteries in the art world, are a couple of novels to read right now.

This book review originally aired on January 26, 2015. Descent by Tim Johnston was just released in paperback.

Tim Johnston’s suspenseful novel, Descent, kept me up late. Then, I reached for it first thing the next morning.

Caitlin Courtland, 18, disappears in the mountains of Colorado. Until the mystery of the disappearance is solved, Caitlin’s family suffers deeply from the tragedy and Johnston examines the fragility of life and faith.

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Adam Johnson’s Fortune Smiles delivers six stories, six milieux, and six new ways of seeing the world.  Johnson’s stories portray the struggles of our world today, focusing mostly on characters living on the edge of proper society in circumstances out of their control, such as having to find work in a Stasi Prison; or the levees destruction after Hurricane Katrina; or defecting from Pyongyang to Seoul.

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Book reviewer Sarah Bagby looks at a pair of hefty novels.

Lauren Groff's audacious novel, Fates and Furies, is an astounding portrait of a marriage. Amazing sentences build seductive paragraphs that breathe life into every providential scene.

For me, a good book has well drawn characters, an intriguing plot, language that disappears so I am transported, the transcendence of an individual’s experience to the universal, and finally redemption or resolution. The Thing About Jellyfish, a debut novel for middle-grade readers by Ali Benjamin, is a good book.

Book reviewer Sarah Bagby says a new novel pays tribute to earlier work, but still manages to be a true original.

I have been a sucker for the beguiling voice of Elizabeth Gilbert ever since I read her profile of Hank Williams III in the December 2000 issue of GQ.

I sought out the books she’d published before that article and have read everything since. She had a freak success with her love-it-or deal-with-it memoir Eat Pray Love.

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