Niksen: The Dutch Art of Doing Nothing

“I believe we’ve forgotten how to do things just because, not without any larger purpose like becoming healthier. We run or walk because we want to reach a certain number of steps and not because it feels good. The same way, we can do nothing because it feels nice and not because it will offer us certain benefits–even if it might.”

Several decades ago, George Saunders and his wife were visiting Washington D.C. when their cousin mentioned that anecdotal evidence indicated President Abraham Lincoln had surreptitiously visited the tomb of his 11-year-old son, Willie. For years, the story of Lincoln, so overcome by grief, that he stole into the monument where his son was interred, nagged…

Good Neighbors

There goes the neighborhood. Set in a town on Long Island not unlike the one where she grew up. Sarah Langan’s  Good Neighbors, an Amazon Best of February Pick, is formatted like a sociological study exploring a crime that happened in the past. “My roots are in horror and I thought about making this a…

The Hunting Wives: The Ultimate in Girl’s Night Out

            Southern belles behaving badly is the premise of The Hunting Wives, May Cobb’s new mystery-thriller about an elite circle of wealthy women in a small Texas town. Every clique has its queen bee and in this privileged hunt club it’s the oil-rich, manipulative, and magnetic Margot Banks who leads the group who are doing…

Hour of the Witch

“Hour of the Witch,” Chris Bohjalian’s well-researched and chilling new novel, takes us into a past where, just by trying to exercise her independence and desire to lead her own life, a woman could be castigated as a witch.

The Big 50: The Men and Moments That Made the Chicago Cubs

         Carrie Muskat, who started covering the Chicago Cubs in 1987, has written The Big 50: The Men and Moments That Made the Chicago Cubs (Triumph Books 2021; $16.95).          “Really there are more than 50 moments because it was hard to limit them so it’s 50 plus,” Muskat tells me in an early morning…

Leaving Isn’t the Hardest Thing

Lauren Hough’s parents were members of The Children of God, so she told people they were missionaries instead of belonging to that infamous cult. A student at a conservative Catholic High School, she hid her sexuality. As a member of the U.S. Airforce she visited gay bars using the name Ouiser Boudreaux, taken from the…

The Hollow Ones

               I didn’t intend to spend the last three days speed reading “The Hollow Ones” by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan (Grand Central Publishing 2021; $28). Indeed, I had other things to do—deadlines to meet, a new workout program to keep up with, and my daughter’s wedding to help plan. But I didn’t do…

Chicago Writer Takes Us Back to the Gilded Age in New Novel

         Chicago author Renee Rosen is again taking us on a trip to the past. In her previous novels, she’s explored the city’s jazz roots (Windy City Blues), the Chicago Fire and the founding of the city’s iconic department stores (What the Lady Wants: A Novel of Marshall Field and the Gilded Age), and Prohibition-era…