[In this feature, we highlight a handful of the best book reviews appearing over the weekend in major newspapers.]


Baseball in the Garden of Eden, by  John Thorn. Reviewed by Katherine A. Powers (Barnes and Noble Review).

I’m super-excited for baseball to start. Thursday can’t come fast enough. Here’s an history of baseball that looks to take an interesting twist:

Thorn, baseball’s most eminent historian, investigates the hanky-panky (in every sense) that lay behind baseball’s creation myth, and while doing so teases out the complicated tangle that was the game’s actual evolution.

I’m already re-watching Ken Burns’s “Baseball” this week. So this looks like a good addition to my reading list to keep up the festivities. Also, check out this post on baseball reading I did a few years back. Get a copy at Powell’s.


Future Babble, by Dan Gardner. Reviewed by Kathryn Schulz (New York Times).

People want to know the future. Analysts and meteorologists and all kinds of other professions make calculated predictions that the majority of us consider to be at least somewhat reliable. Yet many of us see soothsayers and fortune tellers as hocus pocus. According to Gardner, mathematical models aren’t able to help predict the future with any more accuracy any more than an oracle can read bones. It’s an interesting topic, and the review is good. (I like Schulz’s observation: “To his credit, Gardner is a fox. His book, though, is somewhat hedgehoggy.”) Get a copy from Powell’s.


The Red Garden, by Alice Hoffman. Reviewed by Valerie Miner (Los Angeles Times).

Hoffman is an excellent writer, so I have little doubt this book is good. As Miner describes it, it’s a really cool concept:

The Red Garden is a fantastical history of Blackwell, Mass., from 1750 to the present, replete with intermarried families, melancholic bears and altruistic mermaids. If you have trouble with bears and mermaids, this just isn’t your kind of book, for Alice Hoffman is a star in the burgeoning field of fairy-tale literary fiction.

The book is a collection of linked stories; sounds a lot like Sherwood Anderson’s Winesburg, Ohio, or Alice Munro’s The Beggar Maid. Not bad company; this looks like a book to read. Get a copy from Powell’s.


Briefly: PostSecret has an exhibit on faith. The NY Times writes up some baseball books.


Bonus Book Trailer: Keeping up today’s theme