The Light One Candle Weekend Update

Happy Chanukah, for those who celebrate Judaism’s most famous minor holiday. I’ve already had enough latkes and sweets to last me till the end of the year. By which point I suspect I’ll be rather sick of all things Judith Regan. Then again, who knows?

NYTBR: Rachel Donadio asks notable authors to list their most memorable reads on the subject of war, while Barry Gewen rounds up new offerings on that subject; Brad Leithauser evaluates a new translation of Virgil’s AENEID; and Lydie Salvayre’s office novel is a biting satire I must get my hands on.

WaPo Book World: Tess Gerritsen compares fact and fiction with regard to the Alexander Litvinenko slaying; Gary Krist is the latest to praise Dave Eggers’ much-acclaimed new “fictionalized biography”, WHAT IS THE WHAT; Ron Charles admires Jody Shields for beautiful writing about a hideous subject; and Kevin Allman reviews new mysteries by Frederick Turner, Joseph Wambaugh, Robert Randisi, Andrew Greeley and Henry Chang.

G&M: I don’t envy David Hayes for reading Joan Didion’s complete non-fiction work over 3 weeks; Joe Queenan takes aim at Neal Gabler’s hefty Disney biography; Katia Grubisic has some fun but is ultimately not engaged by Scarlett Thomas’s THE END OF MR. Y; and Martin Levin goes to Russia and reports on what he saw there.

Guardian Review: Simon Armitage explains why a longtime fascination led to him wrestling with a medieval legend; Patricia Duncker makes me want to read EA Markham’s debut novel; and Maxim Jakubowski rounds up new crime offerings by Gillian Flynn and Vicki Hendricks, as well as anthologies edited by Les Standiford and Mike Ashley.

Observer: Rafael Behr wonders about the true meaning of Britishness; Kilian Fox is sickened by a rush-job account of Natasha Kampusch’s kidnapping and captivity; and Rachel Cooke is “writer of the year”? Hmmm, I can think of quite a few folks who would take issue with the award…

The Times: The broadsheet picks its obligatory ten best of the year; Simon Armitage tries to recapture a medieval feel with SIR GAWAIN AND THE GREEN KNIGHT; David Baddiel manages to make his Kingsley Amis argument hilariously redundant; and John Carey blisses out with the complete libretti of Gilbert & Sullivan works.

The Scotsman: Jackie McGlone talks with Lalita Tademy, who revisits her family past in her new novel RED RIVER; Allan Massie comes to HANNIBAL RISING completely fresh – and still disdains it, while John Freeman wonders why anyone should really botherLesley McDowell wonders at current trends in historical fiction; and Alex Berenson is rather bored by Alan Furst’s new espionage tale.

The Rest:

Speaking of Chanukah, sad news by way of the San Jose Mercury: Bob and Bob’s Jewish gift & bookshop in Palo Alto is shutting down after 24 of them.

Oline Cogdill picks her best mysteries of 2006 – 13 veterans, 5 debuts (plus two authors who “debut” by changing their name and their series) and a short story collection.

The Cleveland Plain-Dealer’s Michele Ross thinks Tony Hillerman is back on form with THE SHAPE SHIFTER. The author also speaks with the WSJ’s Jeff Trachtenberg (registration req’d.)

Also at the Plain Dealer, Les Roberts praises Asa Nomani’s intelligent thriller THE HUNTER (which I thought was not out till February…?) but is less effusive about Robert Daley’s PICTURES and Qiu Xiaolong’s A CASE OF TWO CITIES.

John Freeman chats with Richard Powers on the eve of the UK publication of THE ECHO MAKER. So if more people there buy the book, all the better.

With so many books about the joys of reading, what about the bad books? The Age’s Jane Sullivan investigates.

So remember that CourtTV contest to find “the next great crime writer”? The five finalists have been chosen and you can vote for your favorite by December 29. One of the finalists is Wendy Dager, who is written up in the North Ventura County Star.

And finally nooooo, the Queen musical is coming to Toronto. Noooooo.