Books

Books

Bruce Handy discusses 'Wild Things,' his book on children's literature and adult readers

In the delightful "Wild Things: The Joy of Reading Children's Literature as an Adult" (Simon & Schuster, 307 pp., $26), Vanity Fair contributing editor Bruce Handy assesses some genre classics with a journalist's flair and a parent's warmth. Ranging from "Goodnight Moon" to "Charlotte's Web," Handy cogently captures each book's artistic and emotional qualities while deftly placing it in cultural and historical context. He admits being reduced to tears while reading aloud the final "Christopher Robin was going away" chapter of "The House at Pooh Corner," but jokes that "my heartless kids couldn't have cared less." Asides like this recall Handy's apprenticeship as a writer for Spy magazine and "Saturday Night Live," but a recent conversation (edited for length and clarity) showed that he is fundamentally serious about children's literature.

Books

Four new novels take us to another time and place

I love novels that transport me to another time and place, but I suspect that writing them is tricky. Half the fun of re-creating another era is doing the research, and if a writer has unearthed a tract on 19th-century office chairs after three days of looking, it must be hard to resist a detailed description of same. Quick advice! Leave it out.

Books

Book review: 'Refugee,' powerful page-turner sheds light on child refugees

Parents need to know that "Refugee," by Alan Gratz is a historical novel that braids the stories of three young refugees in three different time periods and settings: 1938 Berlin, 1994 Cuba, and 2015 Syria. The circumstances of all the kids and families are dire, and their journeys are fraught with imminent danger. The publisher recommends this book for kids starting at age 9, but due to the level of violence and peril, we recommend it for 10 and up. Though all three protagonists survive for the length of the story, all lose family members. Josef the Berlin Jewish boy gets beat up, as does Cuban Isabel's father. Syrian Mahmoud's home is destroyed by a missile, and he sees a dead man floating in the sea, as well as a soldier with a bullet in his head. Some in the book almost drown. But the book isn't gratuitously violent. It paints a vivid picture of the plight of refugees, and the kids and families seem both real and relatable, making this a good book for sparking family discussion.

Books

Best-sellers

Rankings for hard-cover books sold in Southern California, as reported by selected book stores:

Books

Best-sellers

Rankings for hard-cover books sold in Southern California, as reported by selected book stores:

Books

This week's best-sellers from Publishers Weekly

Here are the best-sellers for the week that ended Sunday, Aug. 13, compiled from data from independent and chain bookstores, book wholesalers and independent distributors nationwide, powered by NPD BookScan (c) 2017 NPD Group.

Books

Reviews: Three memoirs about the end of life

Over the past 25 years or so, memoir writers have plumbed nearly every facet of life: traumatic childhood, coming of age, parenthood, divorce, parents' demise, siblings' demise, spouses' demise, battles with addiction, and, thank goodness, a host of less dire things. (Buying a fixer-upper in the south of France, say, or walking across Australia with some camels.)

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