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Nick Hornby's 'Funny Girl' traces the road to stardom

Nick Hornby's last novel, "Juliet, Naked" (2009), felt like a culmination of a kind. Revolving around a reclusive rock star and the fans who will not let him rest, it was a callback to Hornby's early work — "Fever Pitch," a nonfiction account of his soccer fanhood, or his first novel,...

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  • 'Driving the King' a bold reimagining of civil rights era
    'Driving the King' a bold reimagining of civil rights era

    In "Driving the King," Ravi Howard imagines what it might have been like if singer Nat King Cole had been a figurehead of the civil rights movement. Given that Cole was not a driving force during the civil rights era, Howard's choices in this fitfully moving novel are daring.

  • Secret conflicts shape a family in Sandip Roy's 'Don't Let Him Know'
    Secret conflicts shape a family in Sandip Roy's 'Don't Let Him Know'

    Sandip Roy's "Don't Let Him Know" reads more as a collection of linked stories than a full novel — which makes sense, since several of its chapters were first published as stand-alones. The saga of an Indian family, it zeros in for the most part on two generations: Romola Mitra and her...

  • 'The Man Who Couldn't Stop' a rich, reasonable look at OCD
    'The Man Who Couldn't Stop' a rich, reasonable look at OCD

    Has the thought of swerving your car into oncoming traffic ever popped into your head? What about the thought of a stranger, nude? Or sliding a knife into someone's gut? As David Adam reports in "The Man Who Couldn't Stop: OCD and the True Story of a Life Lost in Thought," "nine in ten people...

  • Steven Brill's 'America's Bitter Pill' tackles healthcare mess
    Steven Brill's 'America's Bitter Pill' tackles healthcare mess

    When it comes to healthcare, the United States is a pitiable mess. As Steven Brill writes in "America's Bitter Pill," the country spent $3 trillion on it in 2014, far more than any other developed country; more, in fact, "than the next ten biggest spenders combined." It is also the single...

  • 'Sophia' a fascinating story of a princess turned revolutionary
    'Sophia' a fascinating story of a princess turned revolutionary

    Born in England and a favored goddaughter of Queen Victoria, Princess Sophia Duleep Singh was thoroughly British. Yet she was also Indian — her father had signed his kingdom over to the British Empire — and that left Sophia caught between identities, something it would take her half...

  • 'Gateway to Freedom' reveals underground railroad history
    'Gateway to Freedom' reveals underground railroad history

    Eric Foner's vivid new book, about the semi-organized system to aid runaway slaves popularly known as the underground railroad, makes an excellent companion to "Reconstruction," his magisterial 1988 account of the post-Civil War effort to bring racial justice to the American South. In both...

  • George Pelecanos' 'Martini Shot' short stories colorful but confined
    George Pelecanos' 'Martini Shot' short stories colorful but confined

    George Pelecanos is among our most prolific — and compelling — crime novelists, a writer who evokes his hometown of Washington, D.C., much as Dennis Lehane does with Boston or Michael Connelly Los Angeles: as a character in its own right. Complicated, riven by conflicts of race...

  • A devout Mormon turns sleuth in the excellent 'Bishop's Wife'
    A devout Mormon turns sleuth in the excellent 'Bishop's Wife'

    Some of the mystery genre's most beloved sleuths are women of a certain age. Although their gray hair or wrinkles may relegate them to the shadows of a youth-obsessed culture, their vantage point provides an intimate perspective on their communities that often surpasses that of even law...

  • Punk, hip-hop and rock are the focus of new photobooks
    Punk, hip-hop and rock are the focus of new photobooks

    As with all cultural revolutions, punk and hip-hop were at their most dangerous and fascinating in the beginning. It was also during the earliest moments that some of the best pictures were made of these musical movements as young artists shattered the rules and burned brightly in front of...

  • 'The Boston Girl' by Anita Diamant is pleasant but lacks bite
    'The Boston Girl' by Anita Diamant is pleasant but lacks bite

    Anita Diamant is having a big December. Her new novel, "The Boston Girl," has been released right after the Lifetime premiere of "The Red Tent," based on her wildly successful 1997 debut.

  • David L. Ulin's best books of 2014
    David L. Ulin's best books of 2014

    Lists are, by their nature, impressionistic: How could they be otherwise? Here then, alphabetically by title, are the most stirring of the books I wrote about this year, my 10 favorites of 2014.

  • 2014 in Review: David L. Ulin looks at the year in books
    2014 in Review: David L. Ulin looks at the year in books

    What was the upshot of my year in reading — the ideas, the through lines that most stirred or provoked me in 2014? The dominant thread was what we might call that of common experience, work that finds significance in incidental things.

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