The Book Report: Recommendations from Washington Post reviewer Ron Charles (November 28)


By Washington Post literary critic Ron Charles

With supply chain issues still wreaking havoc with retailers, it’s not too early to start planning the holidays. And remember: No matter who you’re shopping for, a good book is always fine!


Pulitzer Prize winner Louise Erdrich has published a novel titled “The phrase” (HarperCollins), set in a tiny Minneapolis bookstore – just like the one she owns in real life.

The narrator is a convicted body thief who leaves prison early and finds a job at the bookstore. Everything goes well until the most annoying customer in the store dies… and then comes back like a ghost!

The way this novel mixes wacky comedy with the COVID-19 lockdown, the Black Lives Matter protests, and the redemptive power of the books, is simply magical.

Read an excerpt from “La Sentence”

“The phrase” by Louise Erdrich (HarperCollins), in Hardcover, eBook and Audio formats, available through Amazon and Indiebound



Throughout her career, Turkish writer Elif Shafak has stood up for victims of war and oppression. Her new book is a hauntingly beautiful novel titled “The island of missing trees” (Bloomsbury), which takes us to the troubled nation of Cyprus.

The story follows two young lovers – one Turkish, one Greek – who are separated by the Turkish invasion of 1974. The lovers don’t know if they will ever meet again, but a surprisingly talkative fig tree (surely the most unusual narrator! ) knows everything.

Read an excerpt from “The Island of Missing Trees”

“The island of missing trees” by Elif Shafak (Bloomsbury), in Hardcover, eBook and Audio formats, available through Amazon and Indiebound


Simon & Schuster

New Yorker magazine editor Susan Orlean has been fascinated by animals for years. His new book, titled “About animals” (Simon & Schuster, a division of ViacomCBS), brings together some of his most beloved essays on all creatures, large and small, from his own chickens to Willy the Whale.

In these delightful and insightful stories you will meet lions, tigers and mules, oh my god! – and explore our complicated relationship with the animals that coexist with us on this crowded planet.

Read an excerpt from “On animals”

“About animals” by Susan Orlean (Avid Reader / Simon & Schuster), in Hardcover, eBook and Audio formats, available through Amazon and Indiebound



Money can’t buy me love, but it can buy me “Words” (Liveright), which may be the next best thing.

This beautiful two-volume set contains 154 songs that Paul McCartney wrote or co-wrote from 1956 to the present day. Edited and presented by poet Paul Muldoon, this unique song from memory through is filled with McCartney’s memories of his life and inspiration.

At nearly 1,000 pages – with countless photographs, posters and handwritten notes – “The Lyrics” will be music to any rock ‘n’ roll fan.

Read an excerpt from “The lyrics”

“The lyrics: from 1956 to the present day” by Paul McCartney, edited by Paul Muldoon (Liveright), in Hardcover and eBook formats, available through Amazon and Indiebound

For these and other great gift ideas, contact your local bookseller.

That’s it for the book report. Until next time, read on!

For more information:

Story produced by Robin Sanders, Roman Feeser and Juan Torres-Falcon.

For more reading recommendations, check out these previous Ron Charles book report features:

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