Books to Know – Top 10 List – May 2012


May 1, 2012
Miriam Laufer
Book Critic
Books to Know Top 10 List


1.  The Passage of Power: The Years of Lyndon Johnson

by Robert A. Caro, May 1 2012

The highly anticipated fourth volume on the life of Lyndon Johnson from Pulitzer prize-winning biographer Robert A. Caro will cover Johnson’s transition from Senate Majority Leader to Vice President and sudden ascension to the presidency. From Caro’s unparalleled research, never before seen details on the feud between Johnson and Robert Kennedy, and Johnson’s skillful political maneuvering in the wake of the Kennedy assassination can be expected.

2.  Range of Ghosts

by Elizabeth Bear, 2012 (See the book review)

3.  Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake

by Anna Quindlen, 2012

Bestselling novelist and journalist Anna Quindlen reflects on life, marriage, parenting, girlfriends, and stuff. Women in their 50s and 60s will most closely relate to Quindlen’s apt and amusing observations, but anyone looking for a humorous outlook on life and aging will enjoy this lighthearted memoir in essays.

4.  After the Fall, Before the Fall, During the Fall

by Nancy Kress,  2012

In 2035, humanity is reduced to 26 survivors in an alien shelter known as the Shell. Timelines before, during, and after the apocalypse converge as Pete from 2035 and Julie from 2013 work to avoid Pete’s future. Hugo and Nebula award winner Nancy Kress has written a tight, highly conceptual and ethical novella.

5.  The Sister Queens

by Sophie Perinot, 2012

Two sisters marry kings on opposite sides of the ocean, but their letters and devotion lead to accord between their historically warring countries, England and France. This historical fiction novel is based on the lives of Marguerite and Eleanor of Provence in the 13th century. Sophie Perinot, a first-time novelist, lives in Great Falls, Virginia.

6.  Crossing the Borders of Time: A True Story of War, Exile, and a Love Reclaimed

by Leslie Maitland, 2012

Former New York Times investigative reporter Leslie Maitland chronicles the true story of her mother’s escape from Nazi Germany and occupied France, and her own search for her mother’s long-lost French fiancée. The miraculous love story aside, the details of the escape are compelling, especially from the eyes of Maitland’s mother Janine, then a teenager. Maitland lives in Bethesda, Maryland.

7.  White House Burning

by Simon Johnson and James Kwak, 2012

Professors and economic bloggers Simon Johnson and James Kwak provide an historical and political analysis of the national debt and offer their take on the solution. While their views support an increase in taxes, their arguments favor reason over political ideology.

8.  Sacre Bleu: A Comedy d’Art

by Christopher Moore, 2012

Fans of Christopher Moore’s particular brand of farce will be thrilled, especially if they also happen to be art aficionados. Novelist Moore’s new book is about the color blue and its role in the death of Vincent Van Gogh in Belle Epoch Paris. Over two dozen works of art literally feature in its pages.

9.  Enchantments: A Novel

by Kathryn Harrison, 2012

Rasputin’s daughter Masha cannot stop the Prince Alexei’s bleeding like her celebrated father. However, Masha can tell fantastic stories as the Prince, nicknamed Alyosha, lies in bed and the world falls apart around them. This fantastical historical novel brings to life the last days of the Romanovs from a new perspective.

10.  Radiant Days

by Elizabeth Hand, 2012

Novelist Elizabeth Hand brings together teenage artist Merle in 1978 Washington D.C. and teenage poet Arthur Rimbaud in 1870 France. Through their encounter, Merle and Arthur are able to deepen their experiences in their respective art forms. Fans of Hand will not be disappointed with her continued focus on finding one’s self through art and lyrical writing.



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