Archives: Literature:Nonfiction

This is the archive page for the category [Literature:Nonfiction]; below you should see headlines and summaries of all entries found here on the subject. Click the appropriate link at each to read the entire entry.

Book Review: "'Zine," by Pagan Kennedy | September 19, 2014
This week Karl Wolff reviews 'Zine, by Pagan Kennedy, a reprint of her original 'zine about hipster life in Allston, Mass. | Read entire entry

Week of Updates: Our newest book is here! | September 15, 2014
It's been a busy month for us at CCLaP, and we have a major new announcement to make every day this week. Today -- our newest book is finally here, a "city all-star" student anthology called "Chicago After Dark," featuring work from 31 students at ten different universities, plus a brand-new introduction by Don De Grazia ("American Skin"). Click through for more, and to download a free ebook copy right this moment! | Read entire entry

CCLaP Rare: "The Chicago Speller," Grade Eight, July 1944 edition | August 15, 2014
Today's rare-book auction at CCLaP features a July 1944 edition of the "Chicago Speller" (grade eight) mini-textbook, handed out in the millions by the Chicago Public School district in the early 20th century. Click through for more details or to purchase it right this moment. | Read entire entry

CCLaP Rare: "Human Sexual Inadequacy" by Masters and Johnson (1970), First Edition First Printing | August 7, 2014
Today's rare-book auction from CCLaP features a first edition, first printing of Masters and Johnson's influential 1970 "Human Sexual Inadequacy," which along with 1966's "Human Sexual Response" laid down the basics of nearly everything we now medically know about human sexuality, and was a massively bestselling cultural touchstone of the Countercultural Era. Minimum bid only $20! Click through for more or to purchase it this moment. | Read entire entry

CCLaP Rare: "How Book of Cubbing," 1943 (last-ever mention of "Cubbing" versus "Cub Scouts") | August 4, 2014
Today's rare-book auction at CCLaP features the 1943 edition of the Boy Scouts of America's "How Book of Cubbing," the very last version of the book to feature the word "Cubbing" before its official change later in the year to the "Cub Scouts of America." Minimum bid only $20! Click through for more and to purchase it right this moment. | Read entire entry

Book Review: "There Were These People," by Brian Leli | June 27, 2014
This week Karl Wolff reviews Brian Leli's miscellany, "There Were These People," a self-publsished collection with worldwide scope and far-ranging styles. | Read entire entry

CCLaP Rare: "Scribner's Magazine" Collected Vol. 1 (1871), #1-6, First Edition | May 13, 2014
Today's rare-book auction at CCLaP featured a hardbound collection of the first six issues of the legendary "Scribner's Monthly" magazine, from 1870 and '71. Click through to make a bid at eBay right now! | Read entire entry

Book Review: "Revolutionary Russia, 1891 - 1991: A History," by Anthony Figes | May 9, 2014
This week Karl Wolff reviews, "Revolutionary Russia, 1891 - 1991: A History," by Anthony Figes, a revisionist history that reassesses the waves of violence in Russian history over one hundred years. | Read entire entry

Book Review: "A Taste for Intrigue: the Multiple Lives of Francois Mitterrand," by Philip Short | May 2, 2014
This week Karl Wolff reviews, "A Taste for Intrigue: the Multiple Lives of Francois Mitterrand," by Philip Short, a political biography of an enigmatic and ambitious political personality. | Read entire entry

Rare Book Roundup: 22 April 2014 | April 22, 2014
Today at CCLaP, a round-up of all our newest rare-book auctions at eBay, including first edition first printings of Erica Jong's "Fear of Flying," Norman Mailer's "The Prisoner of Sex," and T.C. Boyle's classic '90s comedy "The Road to Wellville." | Read entire entry

Book Review: "Sutro's Glass Palace," by John A. Martini | April 11, 2014
This week Karl Wolff reviews "Sutro's Glass Palace," by John A. Martini, a history of the Sutro Baths, a San Francisco landmark now just a set of ruins on the Pacific coastline. | Read entire entry

Book Review: "Everyday Book Marketing," by Midge Raymond | March 21, 2014
This week Karl Wolff reviews "Everyday Book Marketing," by Midge Raymond, a practical guide for authors with busy lives and offers useful advice, supplemented with valuable interviews. | Read entire entry

Book Review: "Report from the Interior" by Paul Auster | March 18, 2014
(CCLaP is dedicated to reviewing as many contemporary books as possible, including self-published volumes; click here to learn how to submit your own book for possible review, although be warned that it needs to have been published within the last... | Read entire entry

Book Review: "Women's Suffrage Memorabilia," by Kenneth Florey | March 14, 2014
This week Karl Wolff reviews "Women's Suffrage Memorabilia," by Kenneth Florey, a look into the material culture associated with the women's suffrage movement in the US and the UK, including their opposition. | Read entire entry

Book Review: "Not for Everyday Use" by Elizabeth Nunez | March 11, 2014
(CCLaP is dedicated to reviewing as many contemporary books as possible, including self-published volumes; click here to learn how to submit your own book for possible review, although be warned that it needs to have been published within the last... | Read entire entry

My Kind of Town: "The Autobiography of Joseph Jefferson" by Joseph Jefferson | March 6, 2014
Part of living in Chicago, or any major city, is escaping the hustle and bustle as often as you can. Which is the reason that CCLaP's founder Jason Pettus and I--as Jason has written about before--have made a hobby... | Read entire entry

Book Review: "How to Fake a Moon Landing: Exposing the Myths of Science Denial" by Darryl Cunningham | February 11, 2014
(CCLaP is dedicated to reviewing as many contemporary books as possible, including self-published volumes; click here to learn how to submit your own book for possible review, although be warned that it needs to have been published within the last... | Read entire entry

Book Review: "The Beatles Are Here!", edited by Penelope Rowlands | January 31, 2014
This week Karl Wolff reviews "The Beatles Are Here!" by Penelope Rowlands, a look back at the Fab Four's impact on the lives of musicians, writers, and longtime fans. | Read entire entry

Book Review: "What Color is Monday?," by Carrie Cariello | January 30, 2014
Today at CCLaP, Jason Pettus reviews "What Color is Monday?" by Carrie Cariello. Is he going to hell for giving a so-so score to an inspiring true story about a mother overcoming her child's diagnosis of autism? Yes. Yes he is. | Read entire entry

The Year in Books: Karl Wolff's Picks | January 10, 2014
Gunmages, Nazi mind readers, sovereign debt, democracy versus authoritarianism ... all that in more in Karl Wolff's picks for the 2013 Year in Books. | Read entire entry

The Year in Books: Travis Fortney's "Next Nine" | January 9, 2014
Since we all already picked our top three books of the year for Monday's Best of the Best list, and since the three books I picked for that list (Jeff Jackson's Mira Corpora, Kevin Powers' Yellow Birds and Diana Wagman's... | Read entire entry

The Year in Books 2013: Madeleine Maccar's Picks | January 7, 2014
Having only been a contributing part of the CCLaP collective since October presents a rather unique challenge in assembling a year's-best sort of list. The upshot of focusing on only a quarter of what I've read this year is that... | Read entire entry

The Year In Books 2013: Best of the Best | January 6, 2014
It's the start of CCLaP's seventh annual "Year In Books" special week-long report! Today, all four of the center's critics weigh in with their favorite reads of the year, giving us a list of twelve that could be considered the "best of the best" for 2013. Stay tuned all week for individual best-of lists! | Read entire entry

Book Review: "Papal Bull," by Joe Wenke | December 13, 2013
This week Karl Wolff reviews "Papal Bull," by Joe Wenke, a bitingly humorous critique about the Vatican's many flawed policies. | Read entire entry

Book Review: "The Book of My Lives" by Aleksandar Hemon | December 10, 2013
(CCLaP is dedicated to reviewing as many contemporary books as possible, including self-published volumes; click here to learn how to submit your own book for possible review, although be warned that it needs to have been published within the last... | Read entire entry

Book Review: "A Giant Cow-tipping by Savages," by John Weir Close | November 29, 2013
Karl Wolff celebrates Black Friday by reviewing "A Giant Cow-tipping by Savages," by John Weir Close, a historical look at the mergers and acquisitions business, including hostile take-overs, coke-fueled parties, and the importance of Delaware in corporate law. | Read entire entry

Book Review: "Out of Print" by George Brock | November 26, 2013
(CCLaP is dedicated to reviewing as many contemporary books as possible, including self-published volumes; click here to learn how to submit your own book for possible review, although be warned that it needs to have been published within the last... | Read entire entry

Book Review: "Anything That Moves," by Dana Goodyear | November 22, 2013
This week Karl Wolff reviews "Anything That Moves," by Dana Goodyear, an investigation into the extremes of American food culture, from raw food extremists yearning for poop covered chicken eggs to insect eating professors to diners on the prowl for whale meat. | Read entire entry

Book Review: "Red Fortress: History and Illusion in the Kremlin," by Catherine Merridale | November 1, 2013
This week Karl Wolff reviews, "Red Fortress: History and Illusion in the Kremlin," by Catherine Merridale, an interdisciplinary exploration of Russia's icon and how history is both preserved and obscured by national mythology. | Read entire entry

CCLaP Rare: "Night Scenes of City Life" (1891), by T. DeWitt Talmage, First Edition, First Printing | October 30, 2013
Today, another eBay auction from the center's rare-book collection: The delightfully overwrought Victorian moral-panic tale "Night Scenes of City Life" by T. DeWitt Talmage, once the second most well-known religious figure in the entire United States. Beware the evil laudanum and women with loose morals! | Read entire entry

Book Review: "Meaty" by Samantha Irby | October 30, 2013
(CCLaP is dedicated to reviewing as many contemporary books as possible, including self-published volumes; click here to learn how to submit your own book for possible review, although be warned that it needs to have been published within the last... | Read entire entry

Book Review: "The Reason I Jump" by Naoki Higashida | October 29, 2013
(CCLaP is dedicated to reviewing as many contemporary books as possible, including self-published volumes; click here to learn how to submit your own book for possible review, although be warned that it needs to have been published within the last... | Read entire entry

Book Review: "The Disaster Artist: My Life Inside The Room, The Greatest Bad Movie Ever Made" by Greg Sestero & Tom Bissell | October 22, 2013
(CCLaP is dedicated to reviewing as many contemporary books as possible, including self-published volumes; click here to learn how to submit your own book for possible review, although be warned that it needs to have been published within the last... | Read entire entry

Check out CCLaP's newest book, Karl Wolff's "On Being Human!" | October 8, 2013
Surprise! CCLaP is releasing a new book today! It's staff critic Karl Wolff's "On Being Human," reviews of classic books and movies all dealing with the subject of humanity, most of which ran at our blog in 2012 but with three exclusive new essays found just in this book version. Click through for all the details, and to download a free electronic copy right this moment! | Read entire entry

Book Review: "Fighting for an American Countryside," by Jennifer Vogel | October 4, 2013
This week Karl Wolff reviews "Fighting for an American Countryside" by Jennifer Vogel, an in-depth look at the economic, political, and cultural challenges facing rural Minnesota in a world ravaged by the Great Recession. | Read entire entry

Book Review: "The Early Parking Garages of San Francisco: An Architectural and Cultural Study, 1906 - 1929," by Mark D. Kessler | September 20, 2013
This week Karl Wolff reviews, "The Early Parking Garages of San Francisco," by Mark D. Kessler, an obscure topic that may reward a specialized type of reader. | Read entire entry

Book Review: "Sick Justice: Inside the American Gulag," by Ivan G. Goldman | August 30, 2013
This week Karl Wolff reviews Ivan G. Goldman's scathing indictment of the US justice system, "Sick Justice: Inside the American Gulag." | Read entire entry

Book Review: "God and the Fascists," by Karlheinz Deschner | August 9, 2013
This week Karl Wolff reviews the controversial classic, "God and the Fascists" by Karlheinz Deschner, which asserts the Vatican partnered with fascist regimes in order to crush European Bolshevism. | Read entire entry

CCLaP Rare (repost): "History and Rhymes of the Lost Battalion" (1929 edition) | July 26, 2013
Today, a new eBay auction from CCLaP's rare book collection: A 1929 edition of the 1919 World War One memoir "History and Rhymes of the Lost Battalion," which started life as a tribute to a well-loved commander and eventually was reprinted in the millions by VFW chapters around the nation. | Read entire entry

CCLaP Rare (repost): Newberry Library Sherwood Anderson Memorial (1948), LIKE NEW | July 23, 2013
Today, a new eBay auction from CCLaP's rare book collection: A LIKE NEW copy of Chicago's Newberry Library Bulletin, special Sherwood Anderson memorial from December 1948, which had sat in an unopened box from its publication to when CCLaP acquired it in 2011. $30 minimum bid, or buy it this second for $60! | Read entire entry

CCLaP Rare (repost): Chicago Civic Opera Company libretto of "Der Rosenkavalier" (c.1922-31) | July 22, 2013
Today, a new eBay auction from CCLaP's rare book collection: A souvenir lobby program from the Chicago Civic Opera Company's production of "Der Rosenkavalier," circa 1922 to '31. Minimum bid only $15! Buy it this second for $30! | Read entire entry

CCLaP Rare (repost): Whitney Biennial 1961 exhibition catalog | July 22, 2013
Today, another eBay auction from CCLaP's rare book collection: a first edition copy of the Whitney Museum of American Art's 1961 Annual Exhibition catalog, during one of the short periods of its history when the "Whitney Biennial" was actually held every year instead of every other year. $15 minimum bid! Buy it now for $30! How can you beat a deal like that?! | Read entire entry

CCLaP Rare (repost): "History and Rhymes of the Lost Battalion" (1929 edition) | July 20, 2013
Today, a new eBay auction from CCLaP's rare book collection: A 1929 edition of the 1919 World War One memoir "History and Rhymes of the Lost Battalion," which started life as a tribute to a well-loved commander and eventually was reprinted in the millions by VFW chapters around the nation. | Read entire entry

Book Review: "The Book of Times," by Lesley Alderman | July 19, 2013
This week Karl Wolff reviews "The Book of Times," by Lesley Alderman, a fun and informative look at how we use time in everything from household chores to gadget longevity to digestion time. | Read entire entry

CCLaP Rare: "The Innocents Abroad" (1869), by Mark Twain, First Edition/1870 Printing | July 11, 2013
Today, a new CCLaP rare book auction at eBay, this time for a first-edition (1870 printing) copy of Mark Twain's 1869 "The Innocents Abroad." Bitter, funny, blog-style reports from an upper-class "Grand Tour" cruise of Europe and the Holy Land, they originally got syndicated in papers and gained him millions of fans, with the book version containing 234 illustrations as well. Minimum bid $200, or buy it this second for $400! | Read entire entry

Book Review: "The Federal Reserve and the Financial Crisis," Lectures by Ben S. Bernanke | July 5, 2013
This week Karl Wolff reviews Fed Chairman Ben S. Bernanke's book, "The Federal Reserve and the Financial Crisis," a collection of lectures he had at George Washington University, where he talks about the history of the Fed and its missteps in dealing with the Great Recession. | Read entire entry

Book Review: "Overthinking the Marathon" by Ray Charbonneau | June 27, 2013
Today's book review: The half-diary, half-guidebook "Overthinking the Marathon" by Ray Charbonneau, which reviewer Jason Pettus found interesting and entertaining despite not being a runner himself. | Read entire entry

Announcing CCLaP's 2013 anthology: Design Us a Time Capsule | June 26, 2013
Every autumn CCLaP publishes an anthology of short work, and this year's theme is a doozy -- we want you to design us a time capsule, to help our books survive fire, floods and the coming robot apocalypse. Awards for best realistic entry and best fictional one! All submissions get published in a book coming this winter! Click through for all the details! | Read entire entry

Book Review: "Connecting Two Worlds" by Anthony T Simeone | May 8, 2013
(CCLaP is dedicated to reviewing as many contemporary books as possible, including self-published volumes; click here to learn how to submit your own book for possible review, although be warned that it needs to have been published within the last... | Read entire entry

Book Review: "Once Upon a Gypsy Moon" by Michael C. Hurley | May 8, 2013
Today's book review: The gentle memoir about sailing and romance in middle age, Michael C. Hurley's "Once Upon a Gypsy Moon." Says reviewer Travis Fortney, "An inspiring, heartfelt and honest read about accomplishing a long-held dream, which is especially recommended for readers who appreciate inspirational and confessional writing from a Christian viewpoint." | Read entire entry

Book Review: "The Nazi Seance," by Arthur J. Magida | April 5, 2013
This week Karl Wolff reviews "The Nazi Seance" by Arthur J. Magida, a fascinating history of a self-made and self-delusional mind reader who courted the Nazis while hiding his Jewish heritage. | Read entire entry

Book Review: "Gold Coast Madam," by Rose Laws with Dianna Harris | March 22, 2013
This week Karl Wolff look at the seamy side of Chicago history with "Gold Coast Madam" by Rose Laws with Dianna Harris, an autobiography of Rose Laws and the call girls that made her infamous. | Read entire entry

Why I Signed 'Historia, Historia' -- An Apologia. | March 21, 2013
Today at CCLaP, an "apologia" (that is, a deliberately all-positive critical essay) on all the reasons I decided to sign Eleanor Stanford's informative, poetic and haunting Peace Corps memoir "Historia, Historia." | Read entire entry

Book Review: "The Secretary," by Kim Ghattas | March 15, 2013
This week, Karl Wolff reviews "The Secretary" by Kim Ghattas, a half-Dutch, half-Lebanese BBC journalist, as she traces the tenure of Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State, dispelling some popular myths about how this massive institution works. | Read entire entry

CCLaP's first original book of the year is here! | March 11, 2013
Yippee! CCLaP's first original book of the year has finally gotten released today! It's called "Historia, Historia" by Philadelphia author Eleanor Stanford, and is an intriguing mix: partly a Peace Corps memoir, partly academic essays about the language and culture of the Cape Verde Islands, and partly Marya-Hornbacher-style gripping personal essays about an eating disorder she developed while there. Click through for all the details, and to download a free copy right now! | Read entire entry

Book Review: The Last Lion: Winston Spencer Churchill: Defender of the Realm, 1940-1965, by William Manchester and Paul Reid | March 8, 2013
This week, Karl Wolff reviews "The Last Lion: Winston Spencer Churchill: Defender of the Realm, 1940-1965" by William Manchester and Paul Reid, the much anticipated third volume to Manchester's epic biography of the controversial British statesman. | Read entire entry

Book review: "I Am Ready to Die a Violent Death," by Heiko Julien | March 6, 2013
Today's book review: "I Am Ready to Die a Violent Death," by Chicagoan Heiko Julien, part of that super-duper-indie lit crowd that includes Tao Lin and Jordan Castro, a deeply experimental prose/poetry hybrid that often feels like drunken Twitter posts from a madman, and will certainly make anyone over the age of 35 feel like a sad old out-of-touch loser while they're reading it. | Read entire entry

Book review: "Digging Deeper: A Memoir of the Seventies," by Peter Weissman | February 26, 2013
Today's book review: Peter Weissman's contemporary memoir about the 1970s, "Digging Deeper," which starts out clunky but quickly grows into a pleasantly slow-paced, anecdotal look at that decade and the former hippie burnouts who survived it. | Read entire entry

The NSFW Files: An Introduction | February 22, 2013
Today at CCLaP, Karl Wolff introduces his new essay series for 2013, "The NSFW Files," which over the rest of this year will investigate the historical and literary worth of erotica through the ages, from ancient Rome to modern times. | Read entire entry

George Saunders: A Critical Overview | January 16, 2013
Because of getting to interview him last week, I ended up reading all seven books of George Saunders' career over a tiny space of time in January; so instead of an individual review of each, I thought I'd do one large essay about them all today, and examine the dark and bizarre shared universe where his famed bizarro stories take place. | Read entire entry

30 Books in 30 Days: "Because You Have To: A Writer's Life," by Joan Frank | December 20, 2012
Today's book review at CCLaP: The disappointing, mostly useless writing guide "Because You Have To" by Joan Frank, not an actual guide to the technicalities of writing but rather such froo-froo subjects as whether to tell your middle-class friends you're working on a book, or how to decorate your middle-class "artist studio" in the back of your house. | Read entire entry

Why I Signed 'Famous Drownings in Literary History' -- An Apologia. | December 13, 2012
Today at CCLaP, an "apologia" -- a "critical" essay deliberately kept all-positive -- on all the reasons I decided to sign and publish Kevin Haworth's beautiful, thought-provoking and poetic essay collection "Famous Drownings in Literary History," after receiving it last year as a cold submission. | Read entire entry

30 Books in 30 Days: "What Pooh Might Have Said to Dante," by Manny Rayner | December 7, 2012
Today's book review at CCLaP: "What Pooh Might Have Said to Dante" by Manny Rayner, a collection of book reviews by this popular Goodreads.com member and a great example of what everyone could be doing with their online criticism if they wanted. | Read entire entry

30 Books in 30 Days: "Religion for Atheists," by Alain de Botton | November 26, 2012
Today's book review at CCLaP: The thought-provoking practical self-help guide "Religion for Atheists" by contemporary philosopher Alain de Botton, founder of London's "School of Life" which actually puts these principles into action. | Read entire entry

Book Review: "The Cage," by Gordon Weiss | November 2, 2012
This week Karl Wolff reviews "The Cage," by Gordon Weiss, a former UN worker who writes about the human rights disaster of Sri Lanka in its battle with the Tamil Tigers. | Read entire entry

Mini-review: "How Proust Can Change Your Life," by Alain de Botton | October 10, 2012
Today's book review at CCLaP: The delightful yet informative "How Proust Can Change Your Life," by philosopher and 'spiritual atheist' Alain de Botton. | Read entire entry

Book Review: "Lyndon Johnson: The Passage of Power," by Robert Caro | October 5, 2012
Today at CCLaP, Karl Wolff gives his first perfect 10 of the year, to the hotly anticipated "Lyndon Johnson: The Passage of Power" by Robert A. Caro. Says Karl, "Strange as it sounds, it is a hagiography of sorts, since saints have their flaws and weaknesses [and] Johnson had both." | Read entire entry

Mini-review: "Thomas Hart Benton: A Life," by Justin Wolff | October 3, 2012
Today's book review at CCLaP: The engaging, fascinating "Thomas Hart Benton: A Life" by journalist Justin Wolff, a look at the leftist Early Modernist painter who once was the most famous artist in America, but who had fallen into obscurity even by the end of his own life. | Read entire entry

CCLaP Rare: "History and Rhymes of the Lost Battalion" (1929 edition), by L.C. McCollum | October 1, 2012
Today, a new listing in CCLaP's rare-book selling service: A 1929 edition of the World War One memoir "History and Rhymes of the Lost Battalion," by surviving member L.C. McCollum, a tribute to their steady-minded commander Charles Whittlesey who sadly committed Jazz Age suicide just two years after the war ended. | Read entire entry

CCLaP Rare: Newberry Library Bulletin, December 1948, Sherwood Anderson Memorial | September 24, 2012
CCLaP's newest rare-book auction is up at eBay! This time it's the special 1948 issue of Chicago's "Newberry Library Bulletin," marking the public opening of their famed Sherwood Anderson Papers, in LIKE NEW condition (literally in a sealed box from then until now). Bidding starts at only $20, and there's no reserve! Please help us spread the word about our new eBay store! | Read entire entry

Book Review: "Arming the Luftwaffe," by Daniel Uziel | September 7, 2012
Today at CCLaP, Karl Wolff reviews "Arming the Luftwaffe" by Daniel Uziel, an account of the development of Nazi era technology and wartime logistics. Says Karl, "This book isn't for everybody, since it is written in dry academic prose; but for the specialist, it is a treasure trove of information and analysis." | Read entire entry

Your micro-review roundup: 28 August 2012 | August 28, 2012
Today at CCLaP, short reviews of four recently read books: Richard Russo's hilarious 1997 comedy about academia, "Straight Man;" "At Random: The Reminiscences of Bennett Cerf," by the co-founder of Random House and one of the most surprisingly fascinating books I've read in years; and the brilliant soft-apocalypse thrillers "The Dewey Decimal System" and "The Nervous System" by Shudder To Think guitarist Nathan Larson, likely to make the center's best of the year list in December. | Read entire entry

Your micro-review roundup: 31 July 2012 | July 31, 2012
Today, short reviews of three recently read books: The academic thesis-cum-manifesto "Paragogy" by Charles Jeffrey Danoff and Joe Arided, interesting but way over my head; the practical and fascinating "Understanding Arabs" by Margaret K. Nydell; and the disappointing glorified coffeetable book "City: A Guidebook for the Urban Age," by P.D. Smith. | Read entire entry

The CCLaP 100: "Meditations," by Marcus Aurelius | July 18, 2012
Today in the "CCLaP 100" essay series on literary classics: It's "Meditations," the private journals of Roman emperor, working soldier and hardcore Stoic Marcus Aurelius, written from 160 to 180 AD and essentially like one of those punchy, bullet-point-riddled advice books from famous corporate executives. Classic or not? Click through for my opinion! | Read entire entry

Your micro-review roundup: 11 July 2012 | July 11, 2012
Today, short reviews of three recently read books: Lizzie Stark's insightful "NPR-worthy" look at live action role-playing games, "Leaving Mundania;" George R.R. Martin's "A Feast for Crows," volume five of the "Game of Thrones" novels; and Patrick Wensink's brilliantly silly bizarro novels about grizzled rock stars and world-dominating burger franchises, "Broken Piano for President." | Read entire entry

Your micro-review roundup: 27 June 2012 | June 27, 2012
Today, small reviews of three recently read books: The lovely new melancholy relationship story "Office Girl" by local lit legend Joe Meno; the serviceable but badly padded "Star Trek FAQ" by Mark Clark; and the great but not life-changing "I Must Not Think Bad Thoughts" by Mark Dery, sorta Noam-Chomsky takes on the usual subject matters of anarcho-nerds like Warren Ellis and Boing Boing. | Read entire entry

Your micro-review roundup: 3 May 2012 | May 3, 2012
Today, small reviews of three recently read books: the fascinating new anthology of obscure Victorian detective stories, "The Dead Witness;" the rollickingly good Michael-Crichton-like look at a person actually turned into a giant; and Sam Benjamin's "American Gangbang: A Love Story," a funny yet riveting look at a former alt-porn producer who slowly morphed into a mainstream pornographer, and by extension a sort of indictment of the entire alt-porn community of the early 2000s in general. | Read entire entry

CCLaP Rare: "First Aid Textbook for Juniors" (first edition), by the American Red Cross (UPDATE: SOLD) | April 9, 2012
Today at CCLaP, a new listing in our rare-book selling service: A first-edition, second-printing copy of the 1949 American Red Cross's "First Aid Textbook for Juniors," their first attempt at offering such a guide to teens which would explode in popularity in the following decade, as the popularity of the Boy Scouts also exploded. Click through for details, lots of photos, and to purchase it right this moment. (UPDATE: Sold on April 9, 2012.) | Read entire entry

Your micro-review roundup: 22 March 2012 | March 22, 2012
Today, short reviews of four recently read books: The older books "Q Road" and "American Salvage" by Bonnie Jo Campbell, in preparation for a podcast interview I recently did with her; the so-so horror collection "Eyeballs Growing All Over Me...Again," by Tony Rauch; and John H. Sibley's account of pursuing creative studies while homeless, "Being and Homelessness," intriguing but with an appeal limited to a select crowd. | Read entire entry

CCLaP Rare: "Der Rosenkavalier" libretto and program, Chicago Civic Opera Company | March 6, 2012
A new listing for CCLaP's selling service of rare and unique books: A libretto and souvenir program for a Chicago Civic Opera Company production of "Der Rosenkavalier," circa 1922-1931. Click through for details, photos, and to purchase it right now. | Read entire entry

Your micro-review roundup: 6 March 2012 | March 6, 2012
Today, short reviews of three recently read books: The so-so Young Adult debut of science-fiction veteran Ian McDonald, "Planesrunner;" the forgettable memoir of exposing corruption at Roche Pharmaceuticals, Doug Bremner's "The Goose That Laid the Golden Egg;" and alt-horror favorite Jeremy Shipp's delightfully disgusting new story collection, "Attic Clowns." Guess what THAT's about! | Read entire entry

Book review: "Cosmic Communist Constructions Photographed," by Frederic Chaubin | February 24, 2012
Today at CCLaP, Karl Wolff reviews Taschen's acclaimed "Cosmic Communist Constructions Photographed" by Frederic Chaubin. The book explores Soviet architecture from the late '60s to the early '90s, showing an uncharacteristic exuberance and ethnic individualism not usually associated with the stereotypical Soviet architecture. | Read entire entry

Your micro-review roundup: 15 February 2012 | February 15, 2012
Today, small reviews of three recently read books: The so-so science-fiction thriller "Mad Skills" by Walter Greatshell; the deliberately silly and gross bizarro novel "Party Wolves in My Skull" by Michael Allen Rose; and "India Rising" by NYT columnist and brilliant intellectual Anand Giridharadas, perhaps the best English-language book yet about what it's like to live in a rapidly changing India in the 21st century. | Read entire entry

Your micro-review roundup: 6 February 2012 | February 6, 2012
Today, short reviews of four recently read books: The silly theological primer "A Higher Court" and the military technothriller "The Covert Element," both by John L. Betcher; the highly entertaining journalism book on middle-aged brain activity, "The Secret Life of the Grown-Up Brain;" and the clever memoir "Escaping From Reality Without Really Trying" by Robert Jacoby, thoughts on forty years of being a sailor but written as a direct-voice transcript, Studs-Turkel-style. | Read entire entry

Your micro-review roundup: 24 January 2012 | January 24, 2012
Today, short reviews of three recently read books: The filthy and funny Postmodernist classic "Portnoy's Complaint" by Philip Roth; the "Portlandia" style memoir about an indie rocker stuck in the eco-liberal world of north Seattle, Claire Dederer's "Poser: My Life in 23 Yoga Poses;" and Paul West's sweeping Terence-Malick-style sci-fi epic "First Cause," not very good but with a score boost for sheer earnestness. | Read entire entry

Your micro-review roundup: 9 January 2012 | January 9, 2012
Today, short reviews of three recently read books: The Dickensian post-apocalyptic thriller-comedy "Under the Harrow" by Mark Dunn; Josef Eisinger's interesting but dry "Einstein on the Road," based on the famed physicist's travel diaries; and Marion Stein's "Loisaida," a competent but cliched look at lower Manhattan in the "Rent" late-1980s. | Read entire entry

Your micro-review roundup: 15 November 2011 | November 15, 2011
Today, short reviews of three recently read books: The highly entertaining "NPR-worthy" look at bibliomania, "The Man Who Loved Books Too Much;" Craig Lancaster's nice new collection of character-based short stories, "Quantum Physics and the Art of Departure;" and inventive haunted-house story and Grand Future Of American Literature "There Is No Year" by HTMLGiant's Blake Butler, better than expected but still losing steam about halfway through. | Read entire entry

Your micro-review roundup: 2 October 2011 | November 2, 2011
Today, short reviews of three recently read books: The new surreal story cycle "The Five Lost Senses of Carl" by Mel Bosworth; the fantastic latest in Cherie Priest's "Clockwork Century" steampunk series, the submarine epic "Ganymede;" and "Two Times Intro," photographs by REM's Michael Stipe from Patti Smith's 1995 US tour with Bob Dylan. | Read entire entry

Your micro-review roundup: 20 October 2011 | October 20, 2011
Today, short reviews of three recently read books: The unfortunately almost unreadable political thriller "Discontents" by James Wallace Birch; the "Art Deco Steampunk" sequel "Ghosts of War" by George Mann; and "Memoir of a Milk Carton Kid" by Lawrence Fisher, the true story of one of those kidnapped girls locked up for years in a suburban dungeon, written by her former attorney. | Read entire entry

Book Review: "Epic Win for Anonymous" by Cole Stryker | October 19, 2011
Stryker is an unabashed fan of 4chan, of /b/, of Anonymous, and of our crazy internet world, and it shows. He loves his subject in all its weird, frightening, and unexplainable glory. He wants to show us how amazing and filled with potential this all is. | Read entire entry

Jugs & Capes: "A.D.: New Orleans After the Deluge," by Josh Neufeld | October 3, 2011
It feels wrong to criticize such a worthwhile project, and I'm sorry. But while it was a great attempt, and must have taken an insane amount of work to do, it fell far short of its potential. | Read entire entry

Jugs & Capes: "Fun Home" by Alison Bechdel | September 1, 2011
Fun Home is absolutely spectacular. It's dense, fraught with meaning, stuffed with beautiful prose and complimented by simple illustrations. And in addition to being incredibly smart, incredibly illuminating, and incredibly inventive, it's also incredibly sexy. | Read entire entry

Book Review: "When Skateboards Will Be Free" by Saïd Sayrafiezadeh | August 4, 2011
A lot of bad shit happened to Saïd, and I'm sure that he needs a certain amount of distance from the memories still. But he tells his whole story at such a remove that it almost feels like fiction, like a construct. For me, the book fell short. It was indeed an interesting look at a crazy childhood, but it was lacking in depth, and left me feeling a little hollow. | Read entire entry

Your micro-review roundup: 4 May 2011 | May 4, 2011
Today, short reviews of three recently read titles, including the latest by MTV Books, the latest from our pals at Pedlar Press, and a fantastic new history book from former Pulitzer winner Gordon Wood concerning the 25 years following the American Revolution. | Read entire entry

Your micro-review roundup: 19 April 2011 | April 19, 2011
Today, a special micro-review roundup, looking at the seven guides I recently checked out of the Chicago Public Library on the subject of book collecting and bookmaking, ranging in publication date from the 1970s to just a few years ago. | Read entire entry

Your micro-review roundup: 12 April 2011 | April 12, 2011
Today, short reviews of three recently read books: The pretty good "NPR-worthy" look at the formation of Britain's Royal Society, Edward Dolnick's "The Clockwork Universe;" Elizabeth Strout's lackluster academic story collection "Olive Kitteridge," winner of the 2009 Pulitzer Prize; and Charles Elton's wonderfully dark character drama about children's literature, families and secrets, the exquisite "Mr. Toppit." | Read entire entry

Book review: "And the Heart Says Whatever" by Emily Gould | March 16, 2011
Today's book: The essay collection "And the Heart Says Whatever" by infamous Gawker writer Emily Gould; reviewer Oriana Leckert finds her to have 'a terrific voice,' and although 'arch and slightly cruel at times, but she is just as often honest and impressively raw.' | Read entire entry

Your micro-review roundup: 22 February 2011 | February 22, 2011
Today, short reviews of three recently read books: The amazingly well-done liberal satire "Revenge Fantasies of the Politically Dispossessed" by Jacob Wren; the okay sports guide "Chasing the Runner's High" by Ray Charbonneau; and the engaging hybrid of historical melodrama and Victoriana thriller "The Transformation of Bartholomew Fortuno" by Ellen Bryson. | Read entire entry

Book Review: "Revolution," by Deb Olin Unferth | February 16, 2011
Today's book: Deb Olin Unferth's South-American-radical memoir "Revolution." Says reviewer Oriana Leckert: "Though there are a few times when [her] façade is cracked, and she lets real emotions come through, the bulk of the book is extremely self-conscious." | Read entire entry

Your micro-review roundup: 20 January 2011 | January 20, 2011
Today, short reviews of three recently read books: Rebecca Janowitz's intolerably smug look at Chicago left-wing paradise Hyde Park, "Culture of Opportunity;" local author Kevin Guilfoile's new DaVinci-Codesque thriller "The Thousand;" and the delightfully dark and disgusting confessional novel "alt.punk" by Lavinia Ludlow. | Read entire entry

Your micro-review roundup: 3 January 2010 | January 3, 2011
Today, short reviews of three recently read books: The disappointing liberal morality tale "Songs of Vagabonds, Misfits and Sinners" by Ken Wohlrob; the fantastic "Storyteller: The Authorized Biography of Roald Dahl" by Donald Sturrock; and the so-so urban fantasy tale and 2010 Hugo nominee "Palimpsest" by Catherynne M. Valente. | Read entire entry

Your micro-review roundup: 13 December 2010 | December 13, 2010
Today, short reviews of three recently read books: The fantastic "NPR-worthy" essay series on Russian Literature, Elif Batuman's "The Possessed;" the experimentally transgressive "Cows" by Matthew Stokoe, recently reissued by Akashic Books; and the sci-fi action thriller "7 Scorpions: Rebellion" by Mike Saxton, bound to be loved by the violent juggalo teenage boy in your own life. | Read entire entry

The CCLaP 100: "The Executioner's Song," by Norman Mailer | December 10, 2010
Today in the CCLaP 100 essay series on so-called literary classics: It's the 1980 "New Journalism" showpiece "The Executioner's Song," in which the notorious Norman Mailer details in a "true-life novel" the sad saga of Gary Gilmore, the first American to be executed after the Supreme Court's lifting of a longtime ban in the '70s. Classic or not? Click through for my opinion! | Read entire entry

Your micro-review roundup: 29 November 2010 | November 29, 2010
Today, short reviews of three recently read books: David Masciotra's academic essay series on the political vision of Bruce Springsteen, "Working on a Dream;" Josh Karlen's haunting memoir of an almost-big '80s punk band that never quite made it, "Lost Lustre;" and Tim Brown's Pratchettesque time-travel sociological comedy, "Second Acts." | Read entire entry

Book review: "The Autobiography of Mark Twain," edited by Harriet Elinor Smith | November 23, 2010
Today's book: The unexpectedly hot "Autobiography of Mark Twain," which the famed Victorian humorist demanded not be published in full until a century after his death, less surprise-filled than the media would have you believe but still a fascinating, funny, illuminating read. | Read entire entry

Your micro-review roundup: 4 November 2010 | November 4, 2010
Today, short reviews of three recently read books: The pedestrian right-wing political thriller "Rude Awakenings" by Keith Donaldson, the interesting but overlong bio "Henry Clay: The Essential American" by David and Jeanne Heidler, and the infuriatingly awful "The Four Fingers of Death," the latest by postmodernist poster-child Rick Moody. | Read entire entry

Book reviews: "The Stories of John Cheever" and "Cheever: A Life," by Blake Bailey | October 27, 2010
Today, a special double book review: "The Stories of John Cheever," the famed '70s collection of this Postmodernist pioneer's brilliant tales of '50s suburban ennui; and the brand-new biography "Cheever: A Life" by Blake Bailey, which reveals what a miserable life the closeted, alcoholic Cheever was living while writing these stories. | Read entire entry

The CCLaP 100: A mid-project report | October 25, 2010
Today at CCLaP, a special extra-long essay, examining all the surprises and things I've learned so far after recently completing the first half of the center's "CCLaP 100" essay series on so-called literary classics. Plus best-of lists! Lots and lots of best-of lists! | Read entire entry

The CCLaP 100: "Walden," by Henry David Thoreau | October 20, 2010
Today in the "CCLaP 100" series on literary classics: It's the 1854 Transcendentalism primer "Walden" by Henry David Thoreau, in which the environmentalism pioneer lives in the woods for two years and tells us what he found, embraced by some and ridiculed by others for well over a century now. Classic or not? Click through for my opinion! | Read entire entry

Your micro-review roundup: 21 September 2010 | September 21, 2010
Today, short reviews of three recently read books: The disappointing Booker nominee "The Children's Book" by A.S. Byatt, the so-so "Art Deco steampunk" tale "Ghosts of Manhattan" by George Mann, and the fascinating "NPR-worthy" history/anthropology book "Life in Year One" by Scott Korb. | Read entire entry

Your micro-review roundup: 3 September 2010 | September 3, 2010
Today, short reviews of three recently read books: The lovely little novella "Walks With Men" by Ann Beattie, the silly but fun caper tale "Mesopotamia" by Arthur Nersesian, and the highly entertaining "NPR-worthy" look at the history of standard English, "Righting the Mother Tongue" by David Wolman. | Read entire entry

Personal essay: Why I Signed '99 Problems' -- An Apologia. | August 17, 2010
It's the release day of CCLaP's newest original book, the running/writing essay collection "99 Problems" by Ben Tanzer! Here, a critical essay on why I signed the book in the first place, written in the style of an "apologia" (or deliberately all-positive critical piece). | Read entire entry

Your micro-review roundup: 13 August 2010 | August 13, 2010
Today, short reviews of three recently read books: The awful "Horns" by Joe Hill; the awful "The Novel: An Alternative History" by Steven Moore; and the awful "Point Omega," by Don DeLillo. Ugh, these were all so...what's the word I'm looking for? | Read entire entry

Your micro-review roundup: 28 July 2010 | July 28, 2010
Today, short reviews of three books recently read: The silly but useful "lifestyle management" guide "The 4-Hour Workweek;" the profoundly disappointing "Roadside Bodhisattva" by Paul Di Filippo; and a collection of two screenplays by David Mamet, "The Spanish Prisoner" and "The Winslow Boy." | Read entire entry

Book review: "The History of the Medieval World," by Susan Wise Bauer | May 20, 2010
Today's review: Susan Wise Bauer's informative and lively "The History of the Medieval World," presenting in a tight 650 pages a truly planet-wide look at the years 500 to 1000 AD, and which today becomes the first book at CCLaP this year to receive a perfect score of ten. | Read entire entry

Your micro-review roundup: 20 April 2010 | April 20, 2010
Today, short reviews of five recently read books, including Mark Frost's '90s steampunk novels "The List of 7" and "The 6 Messiahs," James Greer's inventive noir "The Failure," Peter Ackroyd's historical novel "The Casebook of Victor Frankenstein," and the disappointing biography of L. Frank Baum, "The Real Wizard of Oz." | Read entire entry

Your micro-review roundup: 5 April 2010 | April 5, 2010
Today, short reviews of four books recently read at CCLaP: Alan Moore's new comic "The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Century;" the genre compilations "Thank You, Death Robot" and "Black Wings: New Tales of Lovecraftian Horror;" and Sarah Pickering's photography book "Explosions, Fires, and Public Order." | Read entire entry

Your micro-review roundup: 24 March 2010 | March 24, 2010
Today, short reviews of four books recently read: Pauline Kael's '80s film criticism book "Hooked;" Marc Nash's prose poem "A, B & E;" the obscure 1897 Victorian detective novel "The Dorrington Deed-Box;" and the profoundly disappointing "The Magicians" by Lev Grossman. | Read entire entry

Book review: "The Big Rewind," by Nathan Rabin | March 11, 2010
Today's book: The personal memoir "The Big Rewind" by "AV Club" head writer Nathan Rabin, a book with all the dysfunction of an Augusten Burroughs story, but all the humor you'd expect from an employee of The Onion. | Read entire entry

Book review: "The Ayatollah Begs to Differ," by Hooman Majd | March 9, 2010
Today's book: Hooman Majd's "The Ayatollah Begs to Differ," not just a fantastic guide to the old Persian Empire and the modern Iran it became, but also a funny and insightful travelogue about a clueless Westerner getting convinced to do outrageous things. | Read entire entry

Your micro-review roundup: 11 February 2010 | February 11, 2010
Today, short reviews of three books recently read here: Jack Ortved's "The Simpsons: An Uncensored, Unauthorized History," Andrew Zornoza's fantastic little art book "Where I Stay," and Sandy Prindle's so-so legal thriller, "The Sins of Tarrant County." | Read entire entry

Your micro-review roundup: 2 February 2010 | February 2, 2010
Today, small reviews of three recent nonfiction titles: Doug Taylor's "There Never Was a Better Time: Toronto's Yesterdays," Robert Ferguson's "The Vikings: A History," and the art book "Animals and Objects In and Out of Water: Posters by Jay Ryan." | Read entire entry

Your micro-review roundup: 25 January 2010 | January 25, 2010
Small reviews of four books recently received here at CCLaP, including Lance Carbuncle's gonzo actioner "Grundish & Askew," Kathleen Norris' "Acedia and Me," Len Belter's "Is Being Pro-Choice a Sin?," and crazy airport tract "The Christ is NOT a Person," by JC Tefft. | Read entire entry

The Year In Books 2009: The CCLaP Guilty Pleasure Awards | January 7, 2010
It's the final part of CCLaP's week-long look back at the best books reviewed in 2009; today is the much anticipated CCLaP Guilty Pleasure Awards, or a look at my seven favorite genre novels and comic books of last year. | Read entire entry

The Year In Books 2009: Worth a Second Look | January 5, 2010
Today, part 2 of CCLaP's week-long look back at the books of 2009, this time highlighting nine titles that may have not been the highest scorers of the year, but are well worth taking a look at again anyway. | Read entire entry

The Year In Books 2009: Best of the Best | January 4, 2010
Today, part 1 of CCLaP's look back at the 90 books reviewed here in 2009, this time concentrating on the nine titles with the highest scores out of them all. | Read entire entry

The Year In Books 2009: An introduction | January 1, 2010
It's time for CCLaP's annual best-of essay series, "The Year in Books 2009!" Today, an introduction and sneak preview to the four-part report. | Read entire entry

Your micro-review roundup: 31 December 2009 | December 31, 2009
CCLaP's last four book reviews of 2009, including Erik Larson's "The Devil in the White City," Chuck Palahniuk's "Pygmy," the general-interest nonfiction guide "The Joy of Chemistry," and Jon Clinch's brilliant Sam Shepardization of Mark Twain, "Finn." | Read entire entry

The CCLaP 100: "Democracy in America," by Alexis de Tocqueville | December 29, 2009
Today in the "CCLaP 100" classics essay series: Alexis de Tocqueville's 1831 "Democracy in America," the first modern sophisticated analysis of the US government's structure ever written. Is it a classic or not? Click through for my opinion. | Read entire entry

Book review: "Israel vs. Utopia," by Joel Schalit | November 9, 2009
Today's book: The brilliant essay collection "Israel vs. Utopia," in which Middle East journalist Joel Schalit attempts to explain the many complex political issues regarding Israel and Judaism to us clueless "Seinfeld" watching Americans. | Read entire entry

Your micro-review roundup: 4 November 2009 | November 4, 2009
Today, short reviews of three recently read books: The fantastic "After the Prophet" by Lesley Hazleton, the so-so "The Black Heart" by Patrick O'Leary, and the unreadable trainwreck "The Fortress of Solitude" by Jonathan Lethem. | Read entire entry

Your microreview roundup: 22 October 2009 | October 22, 2009
Today, short reviews of two recent books: the nonfiction guide "Classics for Pleasure" by Pulitzer winner Michael Dirda, and ho-hum horror novella "R.I.P." by Terry Lamsley. | Read entire entry

Book review: "Mind Gone Astray," by Wayne Kallio | September 7, 2009
Today's book: The only so-so schizophrenia memoir "Mind Gone Astray," by Wayne Kallio. | Read entire entry

Your micro-review roundup: 28 July 2009 | July 28, 2009
Today, small reviews of four recent titles I've read, including Jill Jonnes' NPR-worthy history book "Eiffel's Tower," the love letter to literature "Ex Libris" by Anne Fadiman, the academic novella "Disquiet" by Julia Leigh, and Christian relationship guide "How to Keep the Woman You Have," by F.G. Walters. | Read entire entry

Your micro-review roundup: 10 July 2009 | July 10, 2009
Today, small reviews of four recent books I read: The Iranian graphic-novel memoir "Persepolis" by Marjane Satrapi; the surprisingly powerful Alzheimer's memoir "Released to the Angels" by Marilynn Garzione; the so-so genre exercise "The Ringmaster," by M.A. William; and the surprisingly awful "Downtown Owl" by famed Generation X memoirist Chuck Klosterman. | Read entire entry

Book review: "Descartes' Bones," by Russell Shorto | July 9, 2009
Today's book: The fascinating new "narrative nonfiction" book "Descartes' Bones," looking at the history behind this Enlightenment philosopher's long-missing skull, and by extension humanity's relationship with science in the 400 years since the Renaissance. | Read entire entry

Book review: "Moral Clarity," by Susan Neiman | June 29, 2009
Today's book: The smart and sober primer on Enlightenment philosophy and where it all went wrong with the Bush administration, Susan Neiman's "Moral Clarity: A Guide for Grown-Up Idealists." | Read entire entry

Personal essay: The CCLaP music library reaches 500 songs. | June 29, 2009
Today, a special essay on the occasion of my 500th free legal song download since opening CCLaP, looking in detail about what this says about the arts in the early 2000s and what it says about culture in general. A companion piece to episode 42 of the CCLaP Podcast, also being posted today. | Read entire entry

Your micro-review roundup: 15 June 2009 | June 15, 2009
Today, a roundup of four recent books I didn't have much to say about: Kelly Simmons' "Standing Still," Gilbert Hernandez's "Palomar: The Heartbreak Soup Stories," Thomas Foster's "How to Read Novels Like a Professor," and Alvin Granowsky's "Teacher Accused." | Read entire entry

Algren at 100: An introduction | June 10, 2009
Announcing CCLaP's summer reading project for 2009, "Algren at 100," whereby I read for the first time nearly the entire ouevre of this controversial 20th-century Chicago author, on the occasion of his 100th birthday. Today, an introduction to Algren and the series. | Read entire entry

Book review: "The President's Pianist," by George Manos | June 9, 2009
Today's book: The great little memoir "The President's Pianist" by George Manos, an overview of this Washington musician's entire career but with an emphasis on the years he played for President Harry Truman in the 1940s and '50s. | Read entire entry

Your micro-review roundup: 4 June 2009 | June 4, 2009
A roundup of my latest "micro-reviews," concerning books that I didn't have full-length essays for, including Eddie Campbell's "The Black Diamond Detective Agency," David Carr's "The Night of the Gun," Dr. Cornelia Franz's "Common Sense Pediatrics," and Ron Riales' "Red Moon: Looming of the New World Order." | Read entire entry

Book review: "The Gypsy In My Soul," by Christine Harris | April 21, 2009
Today's book: The only so-so "fictionalized memoir" concerning the plight of the Romanies during the Holocaust, Christine Harris' "The Gypsy In My Soul." | Read entire entry

Your micro-review roundup: 14 April 2009 | April 14, 2009
Today, quick reviews of four recent not-so-good self-published books: Dayton Alverson's "Race to the Sea;" James J. Collins' "Nuclear Nightmare;" William Bicket's "One Man in a Million;" and Bryan Roscoe's "Majestic Restoration." | Read entire entry

The CCLaP 100: "The Art of War," by Sun Tzu | April 7, 2009
Today's book: The ancient Chinese military guide and surprisingly apt corporate business book "The Art of War," written by Taoist military commander Sun Tzu around 500 BC. Is it a classic? Click through for my thoughts on the matter. | Read entire entry

Tales from the Completist: "Just A Geek," by Wil Wheaton | March 26, 2009
Today's book: The 2004 personal memoir "Just A Geek," by celebrated child-actor turned respected writer Wil Wheaton. | Read entire entry

Book review: "Himalayan Passage," by Jean Smith | March 17, 2009
Today's book: The delightful historical novel "Himalayan Passage" by American Buddhist Jean Smith, reimagining the actual Akbar reign of India's Mughal Empire as a rousing adventure tale and love story. | Read entire entry

Book review: "Taj Mahal," by Diana and Michael Preston | February 26, 2009
Today's book: The nicely done NPR-style general overview of India's late Moghul Empire and its greatest remnant, Diana and Michael Prestons' "Taj Mahal: Passion and Genius at the Heart of the Moghul Empire." | Read entire entry

Personal essay: First thoughts on CCLaP's coming "wikicloud" experiment | February 19, 2009
Today, I present my first thoughts on CCLaP's newest bizarre weekend creative project idea for smartypants middle-agers; I'm reading a thousand Wikipedia entries on the subject of the 19th Century, and tracking the results in a dynamic "mind-map" graphic format. Here, an essay on why that is, and what I've already learned just a few weeks into the process. | Read entire entry

Personal essay: How Ready Is Ready? | February 11, 2009
Today, it's another in a series of regular guest essays I do for the HarperCollinsUK website Authonomy.com, on various aspects of the writing and selling process. Here -- just when do you know that a book is "finished" and ready to be shopped around to begin with? | Read entire entry

Book review: "The Contract: A Life for a Life," by Joseph Kutrzeba | February 9, 2009
Today's book: The surprisingly great Holocaust memoir "The Contract: A Life for a Life," by Jew-turned-Catholic Joseph Kutrzeba, setting itself off from so many other similar books by its willingness to embrace the now-forgotten moral ambiguity of those times. | Read entire entry

Book review: "Africa: A Photographic Safari," by Carlyle Thompson | January 28, 2009
Today's book: The only so-so travel journal "Africa: A Photographic Safari," by Carlyle Thompson. | Read entire entry

Book review: "Master of Ceremonies," by David Henry Sterry | January 26, 2009
Today's book: The only so-so memoir of notorious '70s male-stripclub Chippendales, David Henry Sterry's "Master of Ceremonies." | Read entire entry

CCLaP's newest eBook, "The Year In Books 2008," is here | January 2, 2009
CCLaP's third "white paper," minor publications that gather up longer material first published here at the site, is finally here; it's a collection of the four-part "Year In Books 2008" report that's been running here all week. Today, every bit of information you need about the book and how to download a free copy. | Read entire entry

The Year In Books 2008: The CCLaP Guilty Pleasure Awards | January 1, 2009
It's the fourth and final report from this 2008's Year In Books report, the awarding of the coveted CCLaP Guilty Pleasure Awards; these are titles I ended up slavishly loving like the fanboy I am, but for one rational reason or another I probably shouldn't have. Yay, my favorite books of all! | Read entire entry

The Year In Books 2008: Best experimental | December 31, 2008
It's part three of the four-part CCLaP look at 2008's reviewed books, being posted here all week; today, eight of the best experimental or cutting-edge books to be originally reviewed here over the last twelve months. | Read entire entry

The Year In Books 2008: Worth a second look | December 30, 2008
It's part two of the four-part report I've been filing here this week, looking back at the forty most interesting books reviewed here at CCLaP in 2008. Today, ten books that are worth checking out again, sometimes phenomenal titles that nonetheless will only appeal to a limited audience. | Read entire entry

The Year In Books 2008: Best of the best | December 29, 2008
It's part one of CCLaP's four-part look at the year in books for 2008, being published throughout this week. Today, the ten highest-rated books of the year, of the 83 contemporary titles that were reviewed. | Read entire entry

The CCLaP Year In Books 2008 | December 28, 2008
It's here! It's here! It's CCLaP's look back at the 83 contemporary books reviewed here this year, highlighting slowly over the week almost 40 of them again, grouped into themes each day and with brand-new micro-reviews of them all. Here, the roundup and main index. | Read entire entry

Book review: "Ibiza Virgin," by Jennifer Eric | December 18, 2008
Today's book: The oddly organized "Ibiza Virgin" by Jennifer Eric, partly a practical travel guide to this club-heavy Mediterranean tourist destination, partly a memoir of a disastrous summer internship she had there in the mid-2000s. | Read entire entry

Announcing CCLaP's newest book: "The Great iPod Indie Rock Challenge of 2008." | December 16, 2008
Today, I'm happy to announce CCLaP's third book, the second in its "White Paper" series, minor reprints of longer material that original ran at the site; in this case, a new collection of the four essays that originally chronicled the "Great iPod Indie Rock Challenge of 2008," in which I dared my lazy middle-aged self to get all my sad old '80s and '90s rocks off my little 1-gig iPod Shuffle and replaced with brand-new music by brand-new bands as quickly as possible. | Read entire entry

The Great iPod Indie Rock Challenge of 2008: A wrap-up. | December 16, 2008
(UPDATE, DECEMBER 2008: All four essays in this series are now available as a free downloadable eBook, for those who are interested.) Well, so here we finally are, at the end of the Great iPod Indie-Rock Challenge of 2008;... | Read entire entry

Personal essay: Grinding the gears -- the mechanics of language. | December 12, 2008
Today, it's another reprint of a guest essay I recently wrote for "authonomy," the cutting-edge online literature experiment from HarperCollins UK; this time I write on the mechanics of language, things like grammar and paragraph structure, and various issues related to publishing that these subjects bring up. | Read entire entry

Mini-review: "The Canon," by Natalie Angier | December 9, 2008
Today's review: Natalie Angier's surprisingly disappointing "The Canon," in which she asks a series of scientists what the most important basic lessons about their profession are, hampered throughout by an overly cute, badly written style of "magazine journalism." | Read entire entry

Mini-review: "Tearing Down the Wall of Sound," by Mick Brown | December 9, 2008
Today's review: The 2007 Phil Spector biography "Tearing Down the Wall of Sound" by journalist Mick Brown, surprisingly ho-hum for a tale of a gun-toting rock-icon recluse. | Read entire entry

Announcing CCLaP's newest book: "Yet More Interestingness: The 2008 Election." | November 24, 2008
Happy day: Today marks the beginning of CCLaP's new "white paper" series, minor publications that simply collect and reprint material originally published at the website. Here, the first in the series, collecting nearly 400 bookmarks to "interesting things" concerning the 2008 US Presidential election. | Read entire entry

Book review: "Still Life with Psychotic Squirrel," by CB Smith | November 19, 2008
Today's book: The blog-like collection of personal essays "Still Life with Psychotic Squirrel," by CB Smith. | Read entire entry

Your micro-review roundup: 10 November 2008 | November 10, 2008
Today, a round-up of small reviews from books I've recently read, including Philip Roth's "The Plot Against America," Hideo Okuda's "Lala Pipo," Lawrence Bush's "Waiting for God," Nick Tosches' "In the Hand of Dante," and Stephen Prothero's "Religious Literacy." | Read entire entry

Curious about what's coming next from CCLaP Publishing? | October 27, 2008
With all this talk today about CCLaP's first original book, Ben Tanzer's "Repetition Patterns," are you curious about what the organization's next book is going to be? Here, the official announcement, with a release date of Christmas 2008. | Read entire entry

Personal essay: Regarding the iPod as personal mainstream adult-contemp radio station. | October 24, 2008
Today: We've officially reached the three-quarters mark of the Great iPod Indie-Rock Challenge of 2008 (in which I as a middle-ager am trying to replace all my sad old '80s college-rock with brand-new contemporary music). Here, a tenth-month report. | Read entire entry

Obsession of the moment: Carnegie Council Podcast | October 21, 2008
Today's obsession: The Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs, a thinktank for fascinating lectures on global politics, who have recently started making those lectures available to the public as part of a free podcast. | Read entire entry

Personal essay: The fine art of the book pitch. | October 16, 2008
Today, the first in a new series of guest articles I've started writing for publishing company HarperCollins; in this case, how to best write one of those maddening 25-word "elevator pitches" for your unsigned novel. | Read entire entry

Obesssion of the moment: Douglas Rushkoff at Boing Boing | October 2, 2008
Today's obsession: The deliriously great guest-entries this week at pop-culture journal Boing Boing, from futurist and professor and author and philosopher Douglas Rushkoff. | Read entire entry

Obsession of the moment: Newsless.org | September 29, 2008
Today's obsession: The new "future of journalism" blog Newsless.org, started and run by a fascinating academic fellow at the Unviersity of Missouri "J School" named Matt Thompson. | Read entire entry

In which I respond to the reader question, "What do you think of 9/11 Fiction?" | August 10, 2008
I've been adding a lot of simple scores to books over at Goodreads.com recently; and that inspired someone to ask me what I think of Don DeLillo's September-11th novel "Underworld." Today, my surprisingly complicated answer. | Read entire entry

Your micro-review roundup: 28 July 2008 | July 28, 2008
Small little micro-reviews of some recent projects, including the books "1421" and "1434" by Gavin Menzies, "The Great Neighborhood Book" by Jay Walljasper, "Liverpool 800" edited by John Belchem, and the 1954 movie "The Caine Mutiny." | Read entire entry

Book review: "Born Standing Up," by Steve Martin | July 18, 2008
Today's book: "Born Standing Up," Steve Martin's memoirs of his old '70s stand-up comedian years, a time in his life he barely ever discusses in public anymore. It's FASCINATING. | Read entire entry

Book review: "Hats & Eyeglasses," by Martha Frankel | July 14, 2008
Today: The so-so personal memoir "Hats & Eyeglasses," by former "Details" columnist and entertainment journalist Martha Frankel, which is supposedly about gambling addiction but isn't really about gambling addiction. Click through for more on what I mean. | Read entire entry

Mini-review: "New Monasticism," by Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove | July 3, 2008
Today's review: The misleadingly-titled "New Monasticism" by Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove, a guide not really to modern monk-like behavior but rather traditional liberal activism. | Read entire entry

Mini-review: "RenGen," by Patricia Martin | June 30, 2008
Today's review: The 2007 business book "RenGen" by Patricia Martin, arguing that the US is on the brink of a major new cultural renaissance, and that business owners could do themselves some good by anticipating and planning for it. | Read entire entry

Book review: "The Ten-Cent Plague," by David Hajdu | June 26, 2008
Today's book: David Hajdu's "The Ten-Cent Plague," a detailed and fascinating look at the 1950s comic-book scare in the United States, featuring a ton of new interviews with the people originally involved. | Read entire entry

Your micro-review roundup: 23 June 2008 | June 23, 2008
Today, little tiny reviews of three recent movies and books, none of which I liked enough to bother writing a full review. Includes Lettie Teague's "Educating Peter," as well as the movies "Spun," "Notes on a Scandal," and "Diary of the Dead." | Read entire entry

Wanna see CCLaP review a specific book? Check out our new wish list! | June 20, 2008
Yes, it's true; due to popular demand, I am now listing online the various books that CCLaP will be reading and reviewing soon; and it's over at Amazon too, in the form of a wish list, so that you can help get me review copies if you feel like assisting a broke critic. | Read entire entry

Book review: "American Transcendentalism: A History," by Philip Gura | June 17, 2008
Today's book: 2007's astoundingly great "American Transcendentalism: A History," a tight and finally clear look at this bizarre early-1800s burp in American history, by culture and lit professor Philip Gura. | Read entire entry

Your micro-review roundup: 16 June 2008 | June 16, 2008
Tiny little reviews of four books I recently didn't have the chance to finish, including Kate Christensen's "Great Man," Benjamin Wiker's "Ten Books That Screwed Up the World," Sean Williams' "Saturn Returns," and Jon Armstrong's "Grey." | Read entire entry

CCLaP Podcast 24: Author Cory Doctorow | May 27, 2008
Today on the podcast: A one-hour talk with a personal hero of mine, Cory Doctorow, a popular and award-winning novelist as well as one of the four editors of Boing Boing, currently acknowledged by most as the most popular blog on the planet. | Read entire entry

Book review: "Day of Empire," by Amy Chua | May 7, 2008
Today's book: The historical and political "Day of Empire" by futurist and law professor Amy Chua, which argues that all world-dominant societies throughout history share a freakishly small amount of traits, both during their ascendancies and their falls. Click through for more. | Read entire entry

Book review: "Bringing Home the Birkin," by Michael Tonello | May 5, 2008
Today's book: The dazzling 2008 memoir "Bringing Home the Birkin," detailing one witty young man's globetrotting adventures buying up the notoriously scarce handbags and then reselling them on eBay for an insane markup. What a great book; click through for the reasons why. | Read entire entry

Your micro-review roundup: 3 May 2008 | May 3, 2008
A round-up of little tiny reviews for the last week or two, including four books and four movies. Click through for a lot more. | Read entire entry

The CCLaP 100: "The Republic," by Plato | April 4, 2008
Today's book: Plato's "The Republic" from approximately 360 BC, the book that single-handedly defined the way most of our modern Western governments currently work. Is it a classic still worth reading today? Click through for my thoughts. | Read entire entry

Mini-review: "Trip," by Mick MacO | April 3, 2008
Today's review: The self-published 2008 European confessional travelogue "Trip," by Irish graphic designer living in Germany "Mick MacO." | Read entire entry

If CCLaP laid out a new classic book, which would you rather see? | March 23, 2008
I'm thinking of doing a new layout of an obscure "classic" book, one of the titles I'll be reviewing later this year as part of the CCLaP 100 essays, in a variety of formats for free download and hopefully a little publicity for the center. But which book should I do? Click through for the choices and to vote in CCLaP's online poll. | Read entire entry

Obsession of the moment: Google Docs as mobile eText reader | March 17, 2008
Today, a simple "lifehack" to share -- how I use the free online webapp "Google Docs" as a surprisingly good eBook reader for my mobile device. | Read entire entry

Mini-review: "Shakespeare: The World as Stage," by Bill Bryson | March 13, 2008
Today's review: The delightful 2007 slim and accessible guide to William Shakespeare, travel writer Bill Bryson's "Shakespeare: The World as Stage." | Read entire entry

New basement distro is looking for your used classics | February 25, 2008
Today, news of a new used-book distribution company in the St. Louis area called "sticks and stones," started up by my friend Michael Franklin, and how they are in need of your used classics. Click through for a lot more. | Read entire entry

CCLaP Podcast 20: 37signals' Jason Fried | February 19, 2008
Today on the CCLaP Podcast: An interview with tech guru and gentleman philosopher Jason Fried, one of the founders of highly popular Chicago software company 37signals. | Read entire entry

Chicago Women In Publishing is having an interesting panel soon | February 5, 2008
A little news today from CCLaP friend Chris Benevich of MediaBistro; that the group Chicago Women In Publishing will be holding an interesting panel discussion soon, regarding how to best negotiate contracts when you're a freelancer. Click through for the details! | Read entire entry

Field report: RAGAD #5 release party | January 21, 2008
Today, a report and photographs from the release party for issue 5 of Chicago literary magazine RAGAD, run by CCLaP friend and reader Nick Ostdick. | Read entire entry

Personal essay: The Year in Books, 2007 | December 31, 2007
Today, CCLaP's look at the year in books for 2007; not a look at the entire industry, of course, but rather the 50 or so books I personally got to read and review this year, including new synopses of the ones I found the best. | Read entire entry

Congratulations to Nathan Rabin and his "Year of Flops" | December 27, 2007
Today, a small fan entry about a group that usually gets nothing but criticism, the 800-pound indie gorilla The Onion; specifically, an entry about how much I loved Nathan Rabin's essay series "My Year of Flops," which is just about to end its remarkable run. | Read entire entry

Book review: "Jezebel: The Untold Story of the Bible's Harlot Queen," by Lesley Hazleton | December 20, 2007
Today's book: The fascinating but instantly controversial "Jezebel: The Untold Story of the Bible's Harlot Queen," by Hebrew scholar and Middle East journalist Lesley Hazleton. | Read entire entry

The Ridiculously Long Guide to CCLaP's 10-Point Scoring System | December 17, 2007
I'm putting together CCLaP first-ever top-ten list of the year right now, and realized something important recently -- that I've never really explained how the 10-point scoring system here works. Today, the ridiculously long and overwritten guide. | Read entire entry

Obsession of the moment: Monitor Mix | December 5, 2007
Today's obsession: The new National Public Radio blog "Monitor Mix," written by former Sleater-Kinney guitarist and current "ThunderAnt" comedian Carrie Brownstein. | Read entire entry

Book review: "Grand Avenues," by Scott Berg | November 2, 2007
Today's book: The excellent and intelligent look at the founding of Washington DC, historian Scott Berg's "Grand Avenues." | Read entire entry

CCLaP Podcast 14: Author Elizabeth Crane | October 22, 2007
Today's episode: A half-hour conversation with Chicago writer Elizabeth Crane, author of the story collections "When the Messenger is Hot" and "All This Heavenly Glory." | Read entire entry

Personal essay: Nathaniel Hawthorne, DailyLit, and the Penny Dreadful 2.0. | October 15, 2007
I started reading the classic Hawthorne proto-horror novel "House of the Seven Gables" today, in my case through a cool free online service called DailyLit. Today, some thoughts inspired by the process, as well as the possible future of online serial publishing. | Read entire entry

Book review: "Growing Up Moffett," by Sarah Moffett | October 9, 2007
Today's book: The Christian-heavy cancer-coping personal memoir "Growing Up Moffett," by Washington DC attorney Sarah Moffett. | Read entire entry

Obsession of the moment: Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me! | October 4, 2007
Today's obsession: The National Public Radio humorous game show "Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me!," which I'm probably the last intellectual in America to actually learn about. | Read entire entry

CCLaP Podcast 10: PursueThePassion.com's Brett Farmiloe | September 4, 2007
Today's episode: A talk with Brett Farmiloe, founder of the intriguing creativity/business website PursueThePassion.com. | Read entire entry

Obsession of the moment: Ken Levine | July 16, 2007
Today's obsession: Veteran television screenwriter Ken Levine (M*A*S*H, Cheers, Frasier), who maintains a great daily blog about the "Hollywood machine." | Read entire entry

Book review: "God is a Woman," by Ian Coburn | July 5, 2007
Today's book: The tragically comic faux dating guide "God is a Woman," by Chicago stand-up comedian Ian Coburn. | Read entire entry

Obsession of the moment: Tim Goodman | July 5, 2007
Today's obsession: Tim Goodman, television critic for the San Francisco Chronicle. | Read entire entry

Obsession of the moment: YesButNoButYes | June 22, 2007
Today's obsession: The smartly-written pop-culture blog "YesButNoButYes." | Read entire entry

Chicago litblogger? The Sun-Times would like to hear from you, please. | June 21, 2007
I caught an interview with Chicago Sun-Times Books editor Cheryl Reed today, where she makes an interesting confesson: that she wants to hire more Chicago reviewers, but can't find any Chicago reviewers. Litbloggers, click through for all the details. | Read entire entry

Obsession of the moment: The Millions | June 19, 2007
Today's obsession: The already well-known (in certain circles) literary-criticism blog "The Millions." | Read entire entry

Obsession of the moment: Cross-Media Entertainment | June 18, 2007
Today's obsession: Christy Dena's "Cross-Media Entertainment" blog, which takes an intellectual look each day at the various ways entertainment projects are hopping across different mediums and formats. | Read entire entry

Book review: "The Plan of Chicago: Daniel Burnham and the Remaking of the American City," by Carl Smith | June 13, 2007
Today's book: Historian Carl Smith's "The Plan of Chicago: Daniel Burnham and the Remaking of the American City," a detailed look at the architect and city planner's original 1909 post-fire plan for the city, as well as the current conditions that went into its making. | Read entire entry

Book review: "HP Lovecraft: Against the World, Against Life," by Michel Houellebecq | June 11, 2007
Today's book: The extended literary essay/love letter "HP Lovecraft: Against the World, Against Life," by controversial French author Michel Houellebecq. | Read entire entry

Obsession of the moment: David Louis Edelman revisits "Lord of the Rings" | June 11, 2007
Today's obsession: Science-fiction author and Campbell Award nominee David Louis Edelman, who at his blog this week revisits the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy in book form for the first time since seeing the Peter Jackson film versions. | Read entire entry

Book review: "Virtual Worlds: Rewiring Your Emotional Future," by Jack Myers with Jerry Weinstein | June 6, 2007
Today, a review of the non-fiction book "Virtual Worlds: Rewiring Your Emotional Future," by noted media columnists Jack Myers and Jerry Weinstein. | Read entire entry

Book reviews: Master list | April 15, 2007
The master list of all books reviewed through the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography. | Read entire entry

Mini-reviews: Master list | April 15, 2007
The master list of all mini-reviews (books and movies) found at the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography. | Read entire entry