A Little Girl's Death, and After by Ann Hood |

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Some things that didn't help novelist Hood after her 5-year-old daughter, Grace, died in 2002: being told she should try Pilates. Going to church (she hated God). Reading about other people who had survived grief. "None of them," Hood writes, "know what it is to lose Grace." This affecting memoir shows what it was, and what brought solace in the dark months and years after her little girl, who loved art, sparkly shoes and overripe kiwis, came down with a virulent form of strep one day and was dead 36 hours later. Undone by sorrow, Hood found respite in knitting—filling her empty arms with soft wool. Her husband's and son's love helped; adopting baby Annabelle in '05 cheered them all. Friends suggested that by sharing her story, "I could help others," Hood writes. "Of course I can't." In graceful prose, Comfort bears witness to the heartbreaking particularity of her—of any—loss. It's what she could do.

QUOTE: 'At night I would wake up in pain, my arms actually hurting with longing for her'by Nikolai Grozni |

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At 22, Grozni, a Bulgarian piano prodigy educated in America who has just been ordained as a Buddhist monk ("If you want to spend your life like a freak, that's your problem," says his mother), is searching for "the ultimate truth" at the Dalai Lama's university in Dharamsala. But many of his lessons, as it turns out, derive from stoners on the town's fringes. In this thoughtful, sharply funny memoir, Grozni presents an expatriate ensemble that includes his scheming roommate Tsar and tattooed Damien, who "does complicated handshakes with fingerless beggars." Though Grozni's quest ends short of Nirvana, his elegant story makes it clear that the ride—and not the destination—is the source of joy.

by Janelle Brown |

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One morning in Silicon Valley, Janice Miller turns on CNBC to see her husband make millions as his company goes public. By lunch, he has run off with her best friend; soon Janice is buying crystal meth from the pool boy as one daughter starts sleeping around and the other incurs massive debt. All are pulled under by the heavy in-security that seeps in when life falls apart. But Brown's winning debut teaches a hopeful truth: Sometimes, just as you're starting to drown, things fall back into place.

'At night I would wake up in pain, my arms actually hurting with longing for her'

LOVE THAT BOB DYLAN HAIR ON THE COVER OF YOUR NEW MEMOIR! I tried hard to look like him for a good part of my life.

YOU'VE BEEN CALLED AN "UNLIKELY SEX SYMBOL" Well, there's this conceit that only George Clooney-looking guys get to have those experiences.

WHAT'S THE BOOK ABOUT? My first book was about having leukemia [for five years], which I did. This one's not about illness! It's about a guy living life backwards.

WHAT'S GONNA HAPPEN IN THE SEX MOVIE? Charlotte gets pregnant. Oops! Either I've just spilled the beans or it's in the trailer.

"Katie Heigl and I have been thinking about starting one. I suggested Jane Austen—maybe Pride and Prejudice. I hope we'd discuss the books. We were talking about whether we'd just sit around and drink wine!"

"Well, we read a lot in our house and talk about what we're reading. I buy a lot of books and pass them on to Matthew." —SARAH JESSICA PARKER

"I used to be, but book clubs are a lot of work. I don't have time for that now." —DANA DELANY

"I'm not really a book club kind of girl.... I call it assigned reading." —BECKI NEWTON

"Oh my God, I'm reading To Kill a Mockingbird. I told everybody in my office we should read this together. It is a book club! We're all reading it now." —KIMORA LEE SIMMONS