Recent Reviews

P.D. James, renowned British crime novelist, dies at 94

In her many books, Ms. James showed a gritty mastery of the crime genre and of human nature.

‘Philip Larkin: Life, Art and Love,’ by James Booth

A valuable critical biography of the great poet that focuses on Larkin’s life as refracted in his writing.

‘The Book of Strange New Things,’ by Michel Faber

A Christian minister is sent to a distant planet to bring Jesus to the aliens.

‘The Frozen Dead’: Gruesome killings in a Pyrenees town

Stock characters and predictability undo a debut novel with a thoughtful take on the homicidal mind.

‘The Lodger,’ by Louisa Treger

A carefully researched novel about a neglected pioneer of 20th-century literature: Dorothy Richardson.

Three sci-fi novels imagine frightening alternate realities

See the world another way in ‘The Three-Body Problem,’ ‘Elysium’ and ‘Genesis Code’

‘Betrayed,’ by Lisa Scottoline, stars a modern Nancy Drew

Like “The Good Wife’s” Alicia Florrick, the heroine here fights for justice with pluck and high drama.

Book World: ‘The Girl Next Door’ by Ruth Rendell

Lives are pulled apart by the discovery of an old pair of severed hands.

Why abortion is a moral decision

Katha Pollitt seeks to cast abortion as a social good — a decision made by women who celebrate motherhood.

Marcus Samuelsson: Cooking the world, at home

Q&A: The chef and author on the global influences in an American kitchen.

How the age of digital warfare began

Kim Zetter traces the planning, execution and discovery of the famed Stuxnet digital attack in Iran.

Giving Queen Isabella her due

Kirstin Downey portrays Queen Isabella I as not just the wife of Ferdinand II but a power herself.

The magnificent men of World War I

In “The Unsubstantial Air,” Samuel Hynes tells the story of American flyers in World War I

Tales of old-school diplomacy

Christopher Hill describes his career as a diplomat at work in crisis situations from Kosovo to Korea.

What postage stamps say about America

Chris West tells the story of America through three dozen of its postage stamps.

Book World: ‘Deep Dark Down,’ by Héctor Tobar

The untold stories of 33 men buried in a Chilean mine, and the miracle that set them free.

The year in literary news

Book events that made news in 2014.

The five best science fiction/fantasy books of 2014

On the list: Stephanie Feldman’s debut “The Angel of Losses” and James Cambias’s “A Darkling Sea.”

The five best audiobooks of 2014

Works by Colm Tóibín, Robert Harris, Smith Henderson and Georgette Heyer are adapted for the ear.

The five best thrillers of 2014

Spellbinding tales by John Grisham, Daniel Levine, Louise Penny, Tana French and Jean Hanff Korelitz

The five best Romance novels of 2014

Sarah Morgan, Lorraine Heath, Meredith Doran, Monica McCarty and Kristen Callihan make the list.

The top 10 graphic novels of 2014

On the list: “Bumperhead,” “Saga” and “Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant?”

The top 50 fiction books for 2014

Among the titles are several award winners and finalists, including for the National Book Award.

50 notable works of nonfiction

From politics to health to history and more, these books are worth checking out.

The ten best books of 2014

A great year in fiction and nonfiction.

‘Lemony Snicket’ author apologizes for ‘watermelon’ joke

The “Lemony Snicket” author’s riff about an African-American writer did not go over well.

Michael Dirda reviews ‘Jason and the Argonauts’

An amalgam of the mythic and the modern with a dash of Baron Münchausen or Marvel comics.

Alice Lee, sister and gatekeeper to Harper Lee, dies at 103

Miss Lee, an Alabama lawyer, often represented her sister, the elusive author of “To Kill a Mockingbird.”

‘Mermaids in Paradise,’ by Lydia Millet

In this comic novel, honeymooners become eco-warriors to defend shimmering creatures under water.

‘A Map of Betrayal,’ by Ha Jin

Jin’s anti-hero is Gary Shang, “the biggest Chinese spy ever caught in North America.”

National Book Award finalists for poetry

Five new collections vie for the $10,000 prize on Nov. 19.

‘A Little Lumpen Novelita,’ by Roberto Bolaño

An electric jolt of a novel about urban youth, anomie, sex and crime.

‘Blue Labyrinth,’ by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child

A gruesome novel about an exceedingly strange FBI agent.

Are humans doomed to self-destruct?

Edward O. Wilson proposes that, though we are genetically Paleolithic, we can save humanity and the planet.

The road to Israel’s creation

Richard Cohen explores the rise of Zionism, the creation of Israel, and the nation’s current-day challenges.

Queen for many a day

In ‘Victoria: A Life’, the prolific A.N. Wilson proves that we do need another life of the monarch.

Bearing up to war’s traumas

Yochi Dreazen shows how one military family aided others from the lessons of their own tragedies.

The catfish phenomenon

Nev Schulman examines the psychology of those who pursue deceptive romances online

How it came down in Benghazi

Mitchell Zuckoff tells the action-packed tale of the attack on the American facility in Benghazi.

Doctors’ lives: Pressured in all directions

Exploring the world of cost control, empathy and words for the dying.

Washington Post Bestsellers Nov. 23, 2014

The books Washington has been reading.

Ron Charles

Ron Charles

‘The Book of Strange New Things,’ by Michel Faber

A Christian minister is sent to a distant planet to bring Jesus to the aliens.

Ron Charles

Ron Charles

‘A Map of Betrayal,’ by Ha Jin

Jin’s anti-hero is Gary Shang, “the biggest Chinese spy ever caught in North America.”

The Style Blog

Ron Charles

Patti Smith on ‘Wuthering Heights’

The punk rocker introduces a new edition of Emily Brontë’s classic from the Folio Society.

Michael Dirda

Michael Dirda

‘Philip Larkin: Life, Art and Love,’ by James Booth

A valuable critical biography of the great poet that focuses on Larkin’s life as refracted in his writing.

Michael Dirda

Michael Dirda

Michael Dirda reviews ‘Jason and the Argonauts’

An amalgam of the mythic and the modern with a dash of Baron Münchausen or Marvel comics.

Michael Dirda

Michael Dirda

‘Splitting an Order,’ by Ted Kooser

New poems by one of the most accessible and enjoyable major poets in America.

Jonathan Yardley

Jonathan Yardley

The magnificent men of World War I

In “The Unsubstantial Air,” Samuel Hynes tells the story of American flyers in World War I

Jonathan Yardley

Jonathan Yardley

Queen for many a day

In ‘Victoria: A Life’, the prolific A.N. Wilson proves that we do need another life of the monarch.

Jonathan Yardley

Jonathan Yardley

The social lions of midcentury Washington

Gregg Herken explores the cozy lives of influence and self-regard in the Cold War years of Washington.

Literary Calendar

Going Out Guide: Upcoming events

Going Out Guide: Upcoming events

Get the latest on readings, signings and author appearances in the D.C. area.