I was hooked from the minute I picked up Francine Prose’s Anne Frank: The Book, The Life and The Afterlife (HarperCollins, $24.99). I knew the story of Anne’s short life, though I hadn’t read The Diary of a Young Girl. I was intrigued by Prose’s assertion that the Diary be considered as literature, with a capital L, and its author as a writer, not just a victim. This book, which has touched millions in its half century, chronicles the experience of eight people hiding  in a few small rooms because they were Jews in Nazi-occupied Holland. Prose tells three stories here. One concerns Anne’s revisions; she wrote and redrafted as many as ten pages a day. She wanted her account to live on. Prose also tells the remarkable story of how the journal survived; tossed aside as worthless papers while the obvious valuables were looted, the diary lay forgotten until Otto Frank returned. Then there’s the story of the diary’s U.S. publication. Rejected by most major publishers, it languished unwanted until a young editor named Judith Jones read it. She couldn’t put it down. That was enough to persuade Doubleday to publish it.

Anne Frank: The Book, The Life, The Afterlife Cover Image
ISBN: 9780061430800
Availability: Not On Our Shelves—Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Harper Perennial - October 5th, 2010

It’s easy to equate Louisa May Alcott with her literary alter ego Jo March, the feisty, dark-haired bookworm of Little Women. But as Harriet Reisen vigorously shows in Louisa May Alcott (Holt, $26), the real Louisa was far more intriguing. Reisen introduces us to the woman who churned out thrillers and pulp fiction, and who penned a romance about hashish the same year she published Little Women. Jo March eventually married, but the fiercely independent Alcott, who supported herself and her family with her writing, preferred to be a free spinster and to paddle her own canoe. This is a compelling biography.

Louisa May Alcott: The Woman Behind Little Women Cover Image
ISBN: 9780312658878
Availability: Not On Our Shelves—Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Picador - October 26th, 2010

In response to the Epicureans, the stoic philosopher Seneca said, “No one can live a happy life if he turns everything to his own purposes.  Live for others if you want to live for yourself.”  Psychoanalyst Adam Phillips and historian Barbara Taylor trace the origins, evolution, and psychology of benevolent human interaction in On Kindness (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $20).  Chapters explore the earliest arguments for and against it, from ancient and Renaissance writers to Hobbes’s defense of individualism in Leviathan and the rebuttals from Rousseau and Hume.  The psychological root of the conflict between self-interest and the regard for others is traced from the mother/child relationship through puberty and the search for love and safety.  Insightful and erudite, On Kindness shows that the all-too-common, modern condition of disconnectedness is neither beneficial nor inevitable.

On Kindness Cover Image
ISBN: 9780312429744
Availability: Not On Our Shelves—Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Picador - June 22nd, 2010