Our Book Critic's Current Favorites

ON THE NIGHTSTAND: What a book critic reads when she’s not being a book critic 
From Book Babe Ellen Heltzel

“Burning Horses,” by Agatha Hoff. What is it about the Nazis that makes them perpetual fodder for stories? Their cruelty, it seems, based on this “memoir” – a daughter’s retelling of her mother’s story as if her mother were writing it. Even though she was a Catholic married to another Catholic, Hoff’s mother had Jewish heritage, and that put her in jeopardy after the Nazis occupied Hungary during WWII. The contrast of her sheltered upbringing with the hardship and danger she faced later creates a riveting story.    
“I Curse the River of Time,” by Per Petterson. With the amazing success of the Stieg  Larrson books, Scandinavian novelists seem to be having their day with readers in this country. A more modest but very worthy bestseller was “Out  Stealing Horses,” in which this Norwegian author used one fictional character to tell a story about family and the larger currents that have driven contemporary European society in the past century. Here the narrator is a thirty-something man who tries to make sense of his relationship with his mother and his commitment to Communism as the Soviet Union is collapsing.

“Rose in a Storm,” by Jon Katz. Well, THIS book critic loves dogs! So I’m a big fan of Jon Katz (yes, he knows it’s a funny name for a dog lover). He established his credits writing about living with canines and other four-legged fellows on a farm in upstate New York. (Jeff Bridges played Katz in the movie “A Dog Year.”) In his latest, he turns to fiction and lets us see the world through the eyes, ears and nose of his sheepherder Rose.  Sounds corny, but it works.

“Hope Will Find You: My Search for the Wisdom to Stop Waiting and Start Living,” by Naomi Levy. Levy was a rabbi, author, wife and mother of two healthy children when, in 2001, she learned that her daughter, Noa, had a degenerative disease. After years of counseling others through crises, she suddenly was dealing with her own, and the struggle to save her daughter and make sense of her illness took over her life. This is the story of her fight to regain her equilibrium and the faith to go forward without fear.

“I Love in the Future & Here’s How It Works: Why Your World, Work, and Brain Are Being Creatively Disrupted,” by Nick Bilton. The technology writer for The New York Times confirms what we already knew: that the communication businesses – media, publishing and advertising – are being sliced and diced in new ways by the digital revolution. He creates a new species created by all the bells and whistles of a connected world, the “consumnivore,” a consumer who wants the information they think they need, and they want it now.  


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