Author Archives: briansbestbooks

North to Alaska: ‘The Yiddish Policemen’s Union’

Nearly everyone knows about the humble and unusual origins of Jesus: the Son of God who comes to Earth as a baby born to a virgin in a barn under dubious circumstances, the carpenter from a backwater town turned Great … Continue reading

Posted in Historical Fiction, Mystery, Sci-Fi/Fantasy | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Danish Invasion: ‘Death of Kings’

Ah, the Saxon Stories. Bernard Cornwell’s account of the reign of Alfred the Great and formation of the English nation is one of the best serials today. Are they great literature? Not really. But who cares? What makes these stories … Continue reading

Posted in Historical Fiction | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Welcome to the Machine: ‘Boss Tweed’

In Chicago, there’s a little joke that sums up our system of public corruption nicely. It goes something like this: A government official needed to construct a new public facility, so he started looking into contractors around the country to … Continue reading

Posted in Biography, Non-Fiction | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

11/22/63: History Is a Relentless Master

I’m a sucker for counterfactuals. (Nerd alert!) Perhaps it’s because I love history, but I’ve always enjoyed stories that consider how the past might have played out had key events gone in different direction. Stephen King’s new book, 11/22/63, which … Continue reading

Posted in Action/Thriller, Drama, Historical Fiction | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Space Case: ‘Have Glove, Will Travel’

Back when I wrote about Doug Hornig’s book on the ’75 World Series between Boston and Cincinnati, I touched on the fact that Red Sox ace Bill “Spaceman” Lee was my all-time favorite baseball player. I admire the guy because … Continue reading

Posted in Biography, Non-Fiction, Sports | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

‘River of Gods’: Rajas, Robots and Religion

Where to begin? Ian McDonald’s River of Gods is definitely one of the strangest, most imaginative and most epic books you will ever come across, like a Philip K. Dick novel rewritten by Dostoyevsky. The plot contains myriad twists and … Continue reading

Posted in Action/Thriller, Mystery, Sci-Fi/Fantasy | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Cold as Hell: ‘The Terror’

Been a bit slack on the book reviews lately: A combination of holiday hangover and a series of illnesses pulled me out of my flow. Mostly recovered now, though. Since we’re finally well into our winter weather here in Chicago, … Continue reading

Posted in Action/Thriller, Historical Fiction, Horror, Mystery, Sci-Fi/Fantasy | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Jamming Econo: ‘Our Band Could Be Your Life’

How to create a successful indie rock band in 10 simple steps: 1. Consume music and other art omnivorously, absorbing influences anywhere and everywhere. 2. Buy an instrument, secondhand if need be. Learn to play it competently (or not — … Continue reading

Posted in Music, Non-Fiction | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Old Money, New Money, Green Money, Blue Money: ‘The Great Gatsby’

OK, let’s get something straight right off the bat: There’s really nothing new to say about ‘The Great Gatsby.’ There’s probably an entire library’s worth of criticism, counter-criticism and counter-counter-criticism about the book. In fact, just by writing about it, … Continue reading

Posted in Capital "L" Literature, Drama | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

‘The Great Derangement’: Laugh ‘Til You Cry

Loony lefty conspiracy movements. Christian megachurches. The Florida GOP. Capitol Hill. In the middle of the last decade, Rolling Stone writer Matt Taibbi waded neck-deep through all of these fever swamps and came out of the other side with The … Continue reading

Posted in Comedy, Non-Fiction | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment