A literature book recommendation: Swing Time by Zadie Smith

A critic review (source NY Times) can be read at: http://nyti.ms/2lm3Fut.
The book relies not on plot or character development but on a series of skillfully rendered passages to propel the story as it swings back and forth through time, though not necessarily with perfect rhythm.
Book description from Google Books:
A New York Times bestseller Finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction An ambitious, exuberant new novel moving from North West London to West Africa, from the multi-award-winning author of White Teeth and On Beauty Two brown girls dream of being dancers–but only one, Tracey, has talent. The other has ideas: about rhythm and time, about black bodies and black music, what constitutes a tribe, or makes a person truly free. It’s a close but complicated childhood friendship that ends abruptly in their early twenties, never to be revisited, but never quite forgotten, either. Tracey makes it to the chorus line but struggles with adult life, while her friend leaves the old neighborhood behind, traveling the world as an assistant to a famous singer, Aimee, observing close up how the one percent live. But when Aimee develops grand philanthropic ambitions, the story moves from London to West Africa, where diaspora tourists travel back in time to find their roots, young men risk their lives to escape into a different future, the women dance just like Tracey–the same twists, the same shakes–and the origins of a profound inequality are not a matter of distant history, but a present dance to the music of time.
The book is rated 3.60/5 at goodreads.com, from 18242 ratings. See 2296 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2kAys2F.
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A humour book recommendation: Today Will Be Different by Maria Semple

A critic review (source NY Times) can be read at: http://nyti.ms/2dVk55J.
The success of this poetic, seriously funny and brainy dream of a novel — “Mrs. Dalloway Takes Laughing Gas,” perhaps — has to do with Maria Semple’s range of riffs and preoccupations.
Book description from Google Books:
* Instant New York Times Bestseller *Named a Notable Book of 2016 by the Washington Post, one of Amazon’s Top 100 Books of the Year, one of New York Times Book Review’s 100 Notable Books, one of The Guardian’s Best Books of 2016, one of NPR’s Best Books of 2016, a Must-Read Book of 2016 by PopSugar, one of EW’s 20 Best Books of 2016, one of Glamour’s Top Ten Books of the Year, and one of Kirkus Reviews’ “Best 100 Fiction Books of 2016″A brilliant novel from the author of Where’d You Go, Bernadette, about a day in the life of Eleanor Flood, forced to abandon her small ambitions and awake to a strange, new future.Eleanor knows she’s a mess. But today, she will tackle the little things. She will shower and get dressed. She will have her poetry and yoga lessons after dropping off her son, Timby. She won’t swear. She will initiate sex with her husband, Joe. But before she can put her modest plan into action-life happens. Today, it turns out, is the day Timby has decided to fake sick to weasel his way into his mother’s company. It’s also the day Joe has chosen to tell his office-but not Eleanor-that he’s on vacation. Just when it seems like things can’t go more awry, an encounter with a former colleague produces a graphic memoir whose dramatic tale threatens to reveal a buried family secret. TODAY WILL BE DIFFERENT is a hilarious, heart-filled story about reinvention, sisterhood, and how sometimes it takes facing up to our former selves to truly begin living.
The book is rated 3.19/5 at goodreads.com, from 28603 ratings. See 4230 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2eI2LBQ.
Buy it or see reader reviews on amazon.com at: http://amzn.to/2sxynS4.

A home-craft-hobbies book recommendation: Man Who Made Things Out Of Trees by Robert Penn

A critic review (source Guardian) can be read at: http://bit.ly/1ReERiW.
There is something special about the stuff…From his tree Penn has made a lovely book: part elegant history, part anxious lament.
Book description from Google Books:
Out of all the trees in the world, the ash is the most closely bound up with who we are- the tree we have made the greatest and most varied use of over the course of human history. This is the story of how Robert Penn cut down an ash tree to see how many things could be made from it. Journeying from Wales across England and Ireland to the USA in his quest, Robert finds that the ancient traditions, skills and knowledge of the properties of ash, developed over millennia making wheels and arrows, tools and bowls, furniture and baseball bats, are far from dead. He reveals how the people working with this wood every day have a particular and intimate understanding of the physical world, preserving unique expertise handed down through generations. This exuberant tale of nature, human ingenuity and the pleasure of making things by hand chronicles how our urge to understand and appreciate trees still runs through us all like grain through wood.
The book is rated 3.79/5 at goodreads.com, from 188 ratings. See 34 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/1RfEQ8d.
Buy it or see reader reviews on amazon.com at: http://amzn.to/2tXNMyT.

A sport book recommendation: Trials of the Earth: The True Story of a Pioneer Woman by Mary Mann Hamilton

A critic review (source NPR) can be read at: http://n.pr/2cL1cVL.
Beyond everything else, this memoir impresses on readers just how easy it was to vanish in an earlier America…How fortunate that the manuscript of Trials of the Earth didn’t meet that same fate.
Book description from Google Books:
The astonishing first-person account of Mississippi pioneer woman struggling to survive, protect her family and make a home in the early American SouthNear the end of her life, Mary Mann Hamilton (1866 – c.1936) began recording her experiences in the backwoods of the Mississippi Delta. The result is this astonishing first-person account of a pioneer woman who braved grueling work, profound tragedy, and a pitiless wilderness (she and her family faced floods, tornadoes, fires, bears, panthers, and snakes) to protect her home in the early American South. An early draft of Trials of the Earth was submitted to a writers’ competition sponsored by Little, Brown in 1933. It didn’t win, and we almost lost the chance to bring this raw, vivid narrative to readers. Eighty-three years later, in partnership with Mary Mann Hamilton’s descendants, we’re proud to share this irreplaceable piece of American history. Written in spare, rich prose, Trials of the Earth is a precious record of one woman’s extraordinary endurance and courage that will resonate with readers of history and fiction alike.
The book is rated 3.91/5 at goodreads.com, from 964 ratings. See 177 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2cL2eRi.
Buy it or see reader reviews on amazon.com at: http://amzn.to/2s4wyMf.

A sci-fi book recommendation: The One Hundred Nights of Hero: A Graphic Novel by Isabel Greenberg

A critic review (source Guardian) can be read at: http://bit.ly/2eM4xBS.
Greenberg’s enchanting second graphic novel returns to the strange world of her award-winning debut, The Encyclopaedia of Early Earth. The two have much in common – including self-regarding god Birdman, old crones, special sausages and a deep love of stories and the people who tell them.
Book description from Google Books:
A New York Times bestsellerAn NPR Best Book of 2016A Publishers Weekly Best Book of 2016In the tradition of The Arabian Nights, a beautifully illustrated tapestry of folk tales and myths about the secret legacy of female storytellers in an imagined medieval world.In the Empire of Migdal Bavel, Cherry is married to Jerome, a wicked man who makes a diabolical wager with his friend Manfred: if Manfred can seduce Cherry in one hundred nights, he can have his castle–and Cherry.But what Jerome doesn’t know is that Cherry is in love with her maid Hero. The two women hatch a plan: Hero, a member of the League of Secret Story Tellers, will distract Manfred by regaling him with a mesmerizing tale each night for 100 nights, keeping him at bay. Those tales are beautifully depicted here, touching on themes of love and betrayal and loyalty and madness.As intricate and richly imagined as the works of Chris Ware, and leavened with a dry wit that rivals Kate Beaton’s in Hark! A Vagrant, Isabel Greenberg’s One Hundred Nights of Hero will capture readers’ hearts and minds, taking them through a magical medieval world.
The book is rated 4.49/5 at goodreads.com, from 1431 ratings. See 302 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2dR0Pta.
Buy it or see reader reviews on amazon.com at: http://amzn.to/2sC9fcO.

A war book recommendation: MacArthur at War: World War II in the Pacific by Walter R. Borneman

A critic review (source Washington Times) can be read at: http://bit.ly/2dozNGl.
As Mr. Bornemann concludes, “there was never much middle ground” concerning MacArthur. The “wildest superlatives” at both ends of the spectrum was false. A necessary read for anyone who attempts to understand the man.
Book description from Google Books:
A Finalist for the Gilder Lehrman Prize for Military History at the New-York Historical Society The definitive account of General Douglas MacArthur’s rise during World War II, from the author of the bestseller The Admirals.World War II changed the course of history. Douglas MacArthur changed the course of World War II. MACARTHUR AT WAR will go deeper into this transformative period of his life than previous biographies, drilling into the military strategy that Walter R. Borneman is so skilled at conveying, and exploring how personality and ego translate into military successes and failures.Architect of stunning triumphs and inexplicable defeats, General MacArthur is the most intriguing military leader of the twentieth century. There was never any middle ground with MacArthur. This in-depth study of the most critical period of his career shows how MacArthur’s influence spread far beyond the war-torn Pacific.
The book is rated 4.38/5 at goodreads.com, from 90 ratings. See 20 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2dozMm4.
Buy it or see reader reviews on amazon.com at: http://amzn.to/2u9VEgM.

A bio-memoir book recommendation: Testimony by Robbie Robertson

A critic review (source NY Times) can be read at: http://nyti.ms/2lAgql7.
Mr. Robertson, in “Testimony,” occasionally leans too heavily on mythopoeticism. But just as often his writing is wonderfully perceptive.
Book description from amazon.com:
The New York Times Bestseller“High-spirited, hugely enjoyable and generous from start to finish.” –New York Times Book Review   “Robust, wry, gritty and wise.” —The Wall Street Journal  “Confident and well oiled. At times it has the mythic sweep of an early Terrence Malick movie.”—New York TimesOn the 40th anniversary of The Band’s legendary The Last Waltz concert, Robbie Robertson finally tells his own spellbinding story of the band that changed music history, his extraordinary personal journey, and his creative friendships with some of the greatest artists of the last half-century.      Robbie Robertson’s singular contributions to popular music have made him one of the most beloved songwriters and guitarists of his time. With songs like “The Weight,” “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down,” and “Up on Cripple Creek,” he and his partners in The Band fashioned a music that has endured for decades, influencing countless musicians.      In this captivating memoir, written over five years of reflection, Robbie Robertson employs his unique storyteller’s voice to weave together the journey that led him to some of the most pivotal events in music history. He recounts the adventures of his half-Jewish, half-Mohawk upbringing on the Six Nations Indian Reserve and on the gritty streets of Toronto; his odyssey at sixteen to the Mississippi Delta, the fountainhead of American music; the wild early years on the road with rockabilly legend Ronnie Hawkins and The Hawks; his unexpected ties to the Cosa Nostra underworld; the gripping trial-by-fire “going electric” with Bob Dylan on his 1966 world tour, and their ensuing celebrated collaborations; the formation of the Band and the forging of their unique sound,  culminating with history’s most famous farewell concert, brought to life for all time in Martin Scorsese’s great movie The Last Waltz.       This is the story of a time and place–the moment when rock ‘n’ roll became life, when legends like Buddy Holly and Bo Diddley criss-crossed the circuit of clubs and roadhouses from Texas to Toronto, when The Beatles, Hendrix, The Stones, and Warhol moved through the same streets and hotel rooms. It’s the story of exciting change as the world tumbled through the ’60s and early 70’s, and a generation came of age, built on music, love and freedom. Above all, it’s the moving story of the profound friendship between five young men who together created a new kind of popular music.     Testimony is Robbie Robertson’s story, lyrical and true, as only he could tell it.
The book is rated 4.11/5 at goodreads.com, from 1070 ratings. See 214 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2l1aXka.
Buy it or see reader reviews on amazon.com at: http://amzn.to/2tskZ5n.