Joking apart

Free association underpins the comedy of Lorrie Moore’s writing — or perhaps the verb should be ‘unpins’, since her prose spins off in tangential, apparently affectless riffs.

Gut instincts

Julie Powell wrote Julie and Julia, a book (and now a film) in which she described her attempts to cook a huge number of recipes by the cookery writer Julia Child.

Home is where the heart is

Brooklyn, by Colm Tóibín

The actress and the orphan

Ask Alice, by D. J. Taylor

Fame is still the spur

God Bless America: Misadventures of a Big Mouth, by Piers Morgan

Lincoln’s legacy

Team of Rivals, by Doris Kearns Goodwin


The man for the hour

The Gamble: General Petraeus and the Untold Story of the American Surge in Iraq, 2006-2008, by Thomas E. Ricks


The end of the affair

Americans in Paris, by Charles Glass

Arthur at Camelot

Journals: 1952-2000, by Arthur Schlesinger, Jr, edited by Andrew Schlesinger and Stephen Schlesinger

Was the Abdication necessary?

The Eagle & the Crown, by Frank Prochaska

Stars bright and dim

State by State: A Panoramic Portrait of America, edited by Matt Weiland and Sean Wilsey