In his fifth book of nonfiction, Julian Barnes, the Man Booker Prize-winning novelist, uses the essay form in its original sense as a test of ideas and experience, through which he comes to terms with human mortality. Levels of Life (Knopf, $22.95) approaches this ultimate mystery in three steps, first putting “together two things,” then “two people that have not been put together before,” in order to see the world afresh. The opening foray looks back to the early years of ballooning and photography, technologies that offered an ongoing experience of “thrilled discovery.” Barnes then recounts the brief romance of two “balloonatics,” Sarah Bernhardt and British Colonel Frederick Burnaby, homing in on love as the “meeting point of truth and magic.” Finally, Barnes tells his own story of love—and loss. Married for some thirty years, he and his wife had just thirty-seven days after her diagnosis to say farewell. Still reeling from her 2008 death, Barnes recounts how grief has changed his life, alienating him from normality and from friends, but also leading him to a new-found appreciation of opera, which “cuts to the chase—as death does.”

Levels of Life Cover Image
ISBN: 9780385350778
Availability: Hard to Find
Published: Knopf - September 24th, 2013

Levels of Life (Vintage International) Cover Image
$14.95
ISBN: 9780345806581
Availability: Special Order—Subject to Availability
Published: Vintage - July 2014

Why read Why Read Moby Dick? Philbrick’s slim volume elegantly champions Melville’s tomb, contextualizing, highlighting, occasionally deconstructing, and always cheerleading its subject. It reminds Melville’s fans of Moby Dick’s brilliance and presents the book’s distractors with compelling reasons to recant. Unlike Moby Dick, Philbrick’s book is a quick read. But, like Melville’s novel, Why Read Moby Dick is worth dipping into again and again. Why Read Moby Dick is a companion to Moby Dick, not a replacement; it doesn’t attempt to compete with Melville’s classic. Philbrick is aware of his position as sagacious enabler and he excels at his task. He’s Fedallah to Melville’s Ahab, but with a happier ending.

Why Read Moby-Dick? Cover Image
$14.00
ISBN: 9780143123972
Availability: In Stock—Click for Locations
Published: Penguin Books - September 24th, 2013