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The Book Report: Washington Post Critic Ron Charles (March 19)

By Ron Charles, Washington Post book critic

When looking for what to read next this spring, consider a few titles I’ve enjoyed recently:


messy house

Curtis Sittenfeld’s new novel, “Romantic Comedy” (Random House) is – surprise! – A romantic comedy.

It’s about a woman named Sally who writes sketches for a TV show like “Saturday Night Live.” She’s determined not to fall in love with anyone else at the studio, but then a handsome pop star arrives to host the show, and Sally can’t figure out if it’s the real thing or a punchline.

Read an excerpt: “Romantic Comedy” by Curtis Sittenfeld

“Romantic Comedy” by Curtis Sittenfeld (Random House), available in hardcover, large print, ebook and audio formats, April 4 through Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Indiebound




Rebecca Mackay’s new novel forces us to consider how the stories of murdered women become lurid entertainment.

“I have some questions for you.” (Viking) begins when a popular podcaster is invited to teach at his old prep school. Back on campus, he begins to reminisce about the death of his high school roommate, and the botched investigation into the incarceration of a black man.

More than 20 years later, can reexamining that case bring justice, or more mystery?

Read an excerpt: “I Have Some Questions for You” by Rebecca Mackay

“I Have a Question for You” by Rebecca Mackay (Viking) in hardcover, ebook, and audio formats, available through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Indiebound



Farrar, Strauss and Giroux

“Birnam Wood” (Farrar, Strauss and Giroux) is Eleanor Caton’s first novel after she won the Booker Prize for “The Luminaries” in 2013.

This time, Caton has made a thriller revolving around a New Zealand estate. Some radical environmentalists want to use the land for a free vegetable garden, but an American billionaire is stealing nearby minerals.

Both sides think they can use and deceive the other, but the result is a fatal disaster.

Read an excerpt: “Birnam Wood” by Eleanor Caton

“Birnam Wood” by Eleanor Caton (Farrar, Strauss & Giroux), available in hardcover, large print, ebook, and audio formats, through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Indiebound.



Poets have always spoken their verse aloud, but about 50 years ago a collection of voices emerged to create spoken-word poetry, a vibrant new form of expression, celebration and resistance that has attracted millions of admirers.

Joshua Bennett, one of the genre’s most exciting and knowledgeable writers, provides a comprehensive cultural history of the form in his new book. “spoken word” (Knopf). It’s a story that takes him from the Obama White House to Broadway to street corners and cafes to hear America sing.

Read an excerpt: “The Spoken Word: A Cultural History” by Joshua Bennett.

“Spoken Word: A Cultural History” by Joshua Bennett (Knopf), available in hardcover, large print, ebook and audio formats, March 28 through Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Indiebound


For more advice on what to read, check with your librarian or local bookseller.

That’s it for the book report. I’m Ron Charles until next time, read on!

For more information:

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

Produced by Robin Sanders and Roman Fischer.


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