Elaine Showalter, a prominent literary scholar who recently served as the chair of the Man Booker International Prize, throws all stuffiness to the winds with A Jury Of Her Peers (Knopf, $30), her exceptionally readable literary history of American women writers from the mid-1600s through the 20th century. Showalter is always opinionated (Gertrude Stein she describes as “unreadable, self-indulgent, and excrutiatingly boring”), and she encapsulates her assessments with such wit, passion, and erudition that reading her personal choices of the 250 female writers she wants in her literary hall of fame is a consistently fresh and lively experience. Some of these authors were overlooked in their time, and others are rediscoveries; this compendium offers readers a whole new library to explore.

A Jury of Her Peers: Celebrating American Women Writers from Anne Bradstreet to Annie Proulx Cover Image
ISBN: 9781400034420
Availability: Special Order—Subject to Availability
Published: Vintage - January 12th, 2010

Malcolm Gladwell, the master of the quirky mashup and incomparable author of The Tipping Point, Blink, and Outliers, serves up a feast of his favorite New Yorker pieces in What The Dog Saw (Little Brown, $27.99). The eponymous essay is a profile of the charismatic dog trainer, Cesar Millan; in his signature counterintuitive approach, Gladwell is less interested in Millan than he is in what’s going on inside Millan’s dog’s head, and by the end of the piece, even cat people will be eager to know. Gladwell’s insatiable curiosity about other people’s motivations and desires leads to such diverse ruminations as who’s most likely to be hired, who’s most likely to make a killing in investments, and why there are so many kinds of mustard but only one ketchup.

What the Dog Saw: And Other Adventures Cover Image
ISBN: 9780316075848
Availability: Special Order—Subject to Availability
Published: Little, Brown and Company - October 20th, 2009

What the Dog Saw: And Other Adventures Cover Image
ISBN: 9780316076203
Availability: In Stock—Click for Locations
Published: Back Bay Books - December 14th, 2010

During her long career as a poet and essayist, Adrienne Rich has graced us with collections that looked at the works of dozens of writers, and with A Human Eye: Essays on Art in Society 1997-2008 (W.W. Norton, $24.95), Rich offers seasoned commentary about poets Muriel Rukeyser and LeRoi Jones (Amiri Baraka), poetry of contemporary Iraqi poets, and gay and lesbian poets. She also includes an appreciation of James Baldwin, a writer whom she (like Chinua Achebe; see his new book of essays, below) admires and was influenced by. This essay began with Rich receiving a letter bearing a Baldwin postage stamp. The first question she asked was why, in the midst of the Bush fils years, were we commemorating this critic’s life? As she updated the piece for this book, she wondered what, if anything, had changed, even as the country was poised to elect its first African-American president.

A Human Eye: Essays on Art in Society, 1996-2008 Cover Image
ISBN: 9780393070064
Availability: Out of Print in This Format
Published: W. W. Norton & Company - April 6th, 2009