Archive: Rachel Hartigan Shea

How to Review Books in a New Age

Ron Charles, in reporting on the NBCC awards last week, modestly forgot to mention that he received the group's citation for excellence in reviewing. In his speech exhorting fellow critics to cultivate their delight in books, Ron brought down the house -- no surprise to anyone who knows him....

By Rachel Hartigan Shea | March 16, 2009; 12:33 PM ET | Comments (1)

The Habits of Highly Effective Writers

It's a cliche even to mention this, but at book signings the two cliche questions are: How do you write? and When do you write? I couldn't care less whether a writer uses a computer, a quill or a typewriter so ancient that a special assistant must be hired in...

By Rachel Hartigan Shea | March 9, 2009; 07:00 AM ET | Comments (1)

Short Fiction to Read When You Should Be Working

Sometimes it is helpful to take a break from work while still giving the appearance of feverish focus. After all, empty desks give budget-crunched bosses bad ideas. So, rather than slipping out for a cup of coffee, or even to go to the bathroom, casually send your browser over to...

By Rachel Hartigan Shea | March 2, 2009; 07:00 AM ET | Comments (2)

Five Books for When Your Job Is Threatened

These are trying times, indeed, and few people's jobs are safe. So what should you read while your co-workers are down-sized around you, and you are asked to do more (and better!) with less? Bartleby, the Scrivener, by Herman Melville. Not a book, per se, but I defy anyone to...

By Rachel Hartigan Shea | February 5, 2009; 11:28 AM ET | Comments (1)

Does This Reader Really Know What She Thinks She Knows?

Right now, I'm reading Sophie's World: A Novel About the History of Philosophy by Jostein Gaarder. The book, which published 15 years ago, is more "history of philosophy" than "novel," but I'm feeling virtuous because reading the book makes me think I'm catching up on the philosophy courses I avoided...

By Rachel Hartigan Shea | February 2, 2009; 11:51 AM ET | Comments (1)

Book World, Reimagined

As you probably know from reading the news from the Post and the New York Times, Feb. 15 will be the last issue of Book World as a stand-alone section in the print newspaper. But we are not going away. If you read Book World online, you may not notice...

By Rachel Hartigan Shea | January 28, 2009; 09:21 PM ET | Comments (6)

Who Reads New Yorker Fiction?

Not me. Or at least not as often as I probably should. But luckily there are bloggers to do that for us. (Pretty soon bloggers, twitterers and Facebook friends will do all our thinking for us.) Over at The Millions, Max Magee comments on every story that ran in the...

By Rachel Hartigan Shea | January 12, 2009; 07:00 AM ET | Comments (2)

Tony Blair's Holiday Reading

If you find yourself without New Year's Eve plans, fill the empty evening with a parlor game from across the pond: Guess the books on Tony Blair's reading list. Prime Minister Tony Blair and his wife, Cherie, in Sept. 2006 (Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images) Blair and his wife Cherie sent out...

By Rachel Hartigan Shea | December 30, 2008; 07:04 AM ET | Comments (0)

Five Books That I Can't Wait to Read to My Son

My son is just on the cusp of having enough patience to listen to chapter books, read aloud over many nights. Much to my surprise, he loved The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe -- so much so that we read it twice -- but we got bogged down somewhere...

By Rachel Hartigan Shea | December 18, 2008; 07:03 AM ET | Comments (15)

Obama-Mania Hits Kid Lit

We've reported here on the post-election scramble by journalists to nab publishers for their Barack Obama books. Some far-sighted writers like Jabari Asim, former deputy editor of Book World, and Gwen Ifill, of Washington Week and the NewsHour, already have books scheduled to come out on Inauguration Day: Asim's is...

By Rachel Hartigan Shea | December 16, 2008; 07:00 AM ET | Comments (2)

Gifts for Friends Who Always Root for the Underdog

Just about everybody is feeling like an underdog these days, but the following books (taken from our list of the best nonfiction books of 2008) recount the lives of real people, mostly women, who were kept down but somehow carved out their own space in the world.-- Rachel Hartigan Shea...

By Rachel Hartigan Shea | December 9, 2008; 07:00 AM ET | Comments (1)

Buying Books in Philadelphia

It's easy for editors at newspaper book sections to get jaded about bookstores. After all, new books are sent to us; we don't have to buy them. As for the leisurely browsing that makes visiting a bookstore a full afternoon's entertainment, well, we browse, but in a rush, between meetings...

By Rachel Hartigan Shea | December 2, 2008; 07:00 AM ET | Comments (2)

Details of the Dead

In the current issue of Book World, Steven Moore reviews Roberto Bolaño's novel 2666, which he called "a fascinating meditation on violence and literature." The source of the violence that permeates the 898-page novel, which Bolaño finished on his death bed in 2003, is the 400-plus "femicides" that remain unsolved...

By Rachel Hartigan Shea | November 25, 2008; 07:00 AM ET | Comments (0)

What Plumbers Do After They've Been Made Famous to Illustrate a Political Point

They, too, write books! But Samuel "Joe the Plumber" Wurzelbacher won't be spending a lot of time dilly-dallying like those namby-pamby members of the media elite. He'll get right to work, publishing "Joe the Plumber: Fighting for the American Dream" on December 1 of this year. If 13 days seems...

By Rachel Hartigan Shea | November 18, 2008; 08:00 AM ET | Comments (1)

How Political Journalists Relax After an Election

The election is over, the president chosen. No longer must you spend the bulk of your work day obsessively clicking on electoral maps, and your nights flipping between the Daily News, Bill O'Reilly and Rachel Maddow. You've got your life back. But what will the journalists do now that the...

By Rachel Hartigan Shea | November 18, 2008; 07:00 AM ET | Comments (0)

Bad Words

The researchers behind the Oxford English Dictionary have created a database that monitors how the English language is changing. Made up of everything from literary novels to newspapers to the ephemera of chatrooms, the Oxford English Corpus now contains over 2 billion words. Naturally, the Oxford researchers are using their...

By Rachel Hartigan Shea | November 11, 2008; 07:00 AM ET | Comments (8)

Better Read Than Red

On the last day of a presidential campaign season that saw the return of that hoary old insult "Socialist!" what should wander onto our shelves but Tales for Little Rebels: A Collection of Radical Children's Literature. Edited by scholars Julia L. Mickenberg and Philip Nel, Tales for Little Rebels features...

By Rachel Hartigan Shea | November 4, 2008; 07:15 AM ET | Comments (1)

Four Books that Changed the Way I Eat

People often write about how books have changed their lives, given them new ways of looking at the world, a new philosophy of life. That's the power of the written word. But books also have a practical influence: They can tell you how to do things. This past year, four...

By Rachel Hartigan Shea | October 30, 2008; 07:01 AM ET | Comments (6)

Glossaries: An Idle Pleasure

Surely, one must be nearly paralyzed with boredom to idly flip through the pages of a glossary. And yet, there's something strangely compelling about a compendium of definitions, especially those clustered around a specific subject. Last year, I reviewed the delightfully informative 'Isms and Ologies: All the Movements, Ideologies, and...

By Rachel Hartigan Shea | October 21, 2008; 07:08 AM ET | Comments (2)

And the Man Booker Prize Goes to....

White Tiger by Aravind Adiga. The novel that earned him £50,000 (roughly $86,000) is narrated by an Indian chauffer named Balram Halwai who writes "a long series of unanswered letters ... to Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao -- who is soon to visit India on a fact-finding junket." Man Booker Prize...

By Rachel Hartigan Shea | October 14, 2008; 05:39 PM ET | Comments (2)

How the Sausage Gets Made

Admit it. When some poor soul raises his hand at a book reading to ask a notable writer how she writes, you sigh or even groan audibly. Typewriter or computer? Pen or pencil? Caffeinated or medicated? All day or just a few intense hours? The poor wannabe writer is desperate...

By Rachel Hartigan Shea | October 7, 2008; 07:02 AM ET | Comments (0)

Kids Do Read, After All

Every year at the National Book Festival, I am struck with the same realization: Some kids are just mad about books. I mean, quavering voice mad, tears in eyes mad, please, oh, please, oh, please sign my book, you are my FAVORITE author mad. You expect this sort of adoration...

By Rachel Hartigan Shea | September 29, 2008; 09:39 AM ET | Comments (1)

Markets Down, Library Cards Up

Will our economy survive the current meltdown? Like soothsayers reading entrails, reporters and analysts cite all sorts of indicators -- job growth, retail sales, consumer confidence, etc., to predict whether we'll all be living like hobos this time next week. (Is it time to panic when the government's website on...

By Rachel Hartigan Shea | September 23, 2008; 08:05 AM ET | Comments (0)

A Lion Named Christian: Awwwwww

You watched the video (if you haven't, click above); soon you'll be able to read the book. What publisher could resist the story of two guys (swingers, really, it was London in 1969) who bought a lion cub at Harrod's and raised him in their flat. When he got...

By Rachel Hartigan Shea | September 16, 2008; 04:12 PM ET | Comments (3)

David Foster Wallace, Cont'd

For more on David Foster Wallace, check out The Howling Fantods, a fansite which has linked to obituaries and tributes. They point out that Harper's magazine has put Wallace's (or DFW in fanspeak) articles up in PDF. The classic one to read, though they all approach genius, is Shipping Out...

By Rachel Hartigan Shea | September 16, 2008; 10:54 AM ET | Comments (0)

Self-annihilation

David Foster Wallace killed himself last Friday. In the obituaries, I looked for his trademark footnotes, especially the one that would have told us that his suicide by hanging was just a postmodern joke played by a fame-averse author who wished to drop out of the world for a while....

By Rachel Hartigan Shea | September 16, 2008; 07:08 AM ET | Comments (0)

Five Books I'm Embarrassed Not to Have Read

A lot of unread books sit upon my shelves. Most of the time I am okay with that. After all, the publishers keep cranking books out, yet I remain one woman with a single set of eyes and very limited time. (I can only read so much, publishers!) And yet,...

By Christian Pelusi | September 4, 2008; 07:30 AM ET | Comments (31)

Five Books to Avoid Reading Outdoors

A week or so ago, on a family trip to West Virginia, I lay awake listening to wild animals (or, I feared, monsters or depraved killers) munch away on our food. And as I was lying there, the smacking of their slavering lips paralyzing me with terror, my thoughts turned...

By Christian Pelusi | June 26, 2008; 07:59 AM ET | Comments (0)

Five Books to Climb Into

I was a fanciful child, desperate for the romance and adventure that seemed far away from the suburban sprawl of Reno, Nevada, where I grew up. So when I read books, I read them hungrily, eating up the details of places and times distant from my own. If I loved...

By Christian Pelusi | April 24, 2008; 06:24 AM ET | Comments (0)

Books to Read on a Washington Snow Day

Here in mild Washington, snow days are called on account of rain, even cloudiness. Snow itself is just a forecaster's fantasy. So instead of seeding the clouds or moving to New England, create your own winter wonderland: turn the heat down very low, wrap yourself in a plush blanket and...

By Christian Pelusi | February 7, 2008; 10:08 AM ET | Comments (16)

Books That I Wanted to Throw Across the Room

Books don't often make me angry. If I don't like one, I just stop reading it. But then there are the good books, the ones that draw me in, that I'm fully invested in, that I look forward to reading during the few quiet moments of my day. When one...

By Christian Pelusi | December 20, 2007; 07:11 AM ET | Comments (31)

On How the West Was Won

As the sole Westerner on the Book World staff, I feel geographically obligated to highlight some of my favorite novels about the settling of the West. These aren't triumphalist, manifest-destiny books, but fiction that grapples with what it feels like to go out into a fierce, unfamiliar land. Are there...

By Rachel Hartigan Shea | October 18, 2007; 07:01 AM ET | Comments (0)

 

© 2010 The Washington Post Company