Also: Lila Perl died at 92; David Foster Wallace and grammar; NEA grants awarded.
Fresh Air's book critic says it's just a fluke that 9 of the 11 titles she picked this year were written by female authors. Her favorites include a jumbo-sized Dickensian novel, a biography of Ben Franklin's sister, a comedy of manners, a stunning Scandinavian mystery and more.
Also: Jennifer Szalai on the problem with "guilty pleasures"; Mike Tyson denied entry into the U.K.; portrait of Jane Austen sold at auction.
The latest installment in the Hobbit movie trilogy opens this week. And some hard-core fans plan to celebrate not just with a marathon screening of the Lord of The Ring films that came before it, but with a full day of feasting — seven meals, hobbit-style. We offer up a sample menu.
Nina Borg, the heroine of Death of a Nightingale, is a Red Cross nurse on a mission to save the dispossessed. But she neglects her own family as she rescues those in need in Agnete Friis and Lene Kaaberbol's elaborately plotted page-turner.
Hey there, befuddled aunts, uncles and family friends. Not sure what to buy for kids who already have everything? NPR's Book Concierge is here to help you find gifts for all those nieces, nephews and offspring of other people.
Also: Joan Didion on Martha Stewart; Alice Munro's Nobel interview; the difficulties of judging the National Book Awards.