During her long career as a poet and essayist, Adrienne Rich has graced us with collections that looked at the works of dozens of writers, and with A Human Eye: Essays on Art in Society 1997-2008 (W.W. Norton, $24.95), Rich offers seasoned commentary about poets Muriel Rukeyser and LeRoi Jones (Amiri Baraka), poetry of contemporary Iraqi poets, and gay and lesbian poets. She also includes an appreciation of James Baldwin, a writer whom she (like Chinua Achebe; see his new book of essays, below) admires and was influenced by. This essay began with Rich receiving a letter bearing a Baldwin postage stamp. The first question she asked was why, in the midst of the Bush fils years, were we commemorating this critic’s life? As she updated the piece for this book, she wondered what, if anything, had changed, even as the country was poised to elect its first African-American president.

A Human Eye: Essays on Art in Society, 1996-2008 Cover Image
ISBN: 9780393070064
Availability: Special Order—Subject to Availability
Published: W. W. Norton & Company - April 1st, 2009

Zadie Smith has always had a penetrating eye and a sharp wit, both of which are as much at work in Changing My Mind (Penguin Press, $26.95) as they were in her novels, White Teeth and On Beauty. In this volume, we are granted entry to Smith’s inner world, learning what she thinks about writers, the craft of writing, travel, and politics. Showcasing her best essays and criticism, the collection proclaims Smith as a cultural and intellectual powerhouse from whom we can continue to expect great things.

Changing My Mind: Occasional Essays Cover Image
ISBN: 9780143117957
Availability: In Stock—Click for Locations
Published: Penguin Books - October 26th, 2010

I think of Hallie Ephron’s The Bibliophile’s Devotional (Adams Media, $16.95) as an amuse bouche of books: each day it offers a small bite of something good.  Ephron’s hope is that these tidbits (she calls the book a “tasting menu”) will tempt you to run to your favorite (local independent) bookstore and get one of the books she describes.   There are many ways to enjoy this book; you can treat it like a true devotional, reading one page a day, or you can look up significant dates in your life and see which book corresponds.  (My birthday is The Hobbit.)  You may want to use it to learn about interesting books you’ve never gotten the chance read (so many books so little time!). Or follow it as a ready-made list of must-reads.

The Bibliophile's Devotional: 365 Days of Literary Classics Cover Image
ISBN: 9781605501055
Availability: Hard to Find
Published: Adams Media - October 18th, 2009