The Book Review

The New York Times

The world's top authors and critics join host Gilbert Cruz and editors at The New York Times Book Review to talk about the week's top books, what we're reading and what's going on in the literary world. Listen to this podcast in New York Times Audio, our new iOS app for news subscribers. Download now at

  • 37 minutes 5 seconds
    The 100 Best Books of the 21st Century

    This week The New York Times Book Review rolled out the results of an ambitious survey it conducted to determine the best books of the 21st century so far. On this week’s episode, Gilbert Cruz chats with fellow editors Tina Jordan, Scott Heller and Joumana Khatib about the results of that survey and about the project itself, including the willingness of some participants to let us share their ballots with the public.

    12 July 2024, 5:39 pm
  • 34 minutes 6 seconds
    Book Club: 'Headshot,' by Rita Bullwinkel

    Rita Bullwinkel’s impressive debut novel, “Headshot,” follows eight teenagers fighting in the Daughters of America Cup, a youth women’s boxing tournament staged in a dilapidated gym in Reno. Each chapter details a match between fighters, bout after bout, until finally a champion is declared.

    We are thrown into the high-octane theater of each fight, as the boxers work to defeat their opponents. But we also explore each girl’s life, with flashes into the past and the future and into the girls’ minds as they reckon with their intense desires to make something of themselves.

    In this week’s episode, the Book Review’s MJ Franklin discusses the book with his colleagues Joumana Khatib and Lauren Christensen. Caution: Spoilers abound.

    28 June 2024, 5:32 pm
  • 37 minutes 50 seconds
    Griffin Dunne on His Joyful and Tragic Family Memoir

    Every family has its stories, and every family has its drama — and some families, like the one the actor and director Griffin Dunne was born into, have an excess of both. His uncle was the writer John Gregory Dunne, his aunt was Joan Didion and his father was Dominick Dunne, who became famous for his Vanity Fair dispatches from the trial of the man who killed his daughter (and Griffin’s sister) Dominique.

    On this week’s episode of the Book Review podcast, Dunne talks about his book, “The Friday Afternoon Club: A Family Memoir.” Of waiting to write it until his father, uncle and aunt had died, Dunne said he needed the distance: “I had the perspective on just how remarkable those three were as writers, what an influence they had on my life.”


    21 June 2024, 5:28 pm
  • 28 minutes 27 seconds
    10 Books to Check Out This Summer

    Summer is upon us and you're going to need a few books to read. Book Review editors Elisabeth Egan and Joumana Khatib join host Gilbert Cruz to talk through a few titles they're looking forward to over the next several months.

    Books discussed in this episode:

    "Farewell, Amethystine," by Walter Mosley

    "The Cliffs," by J. Courtney Sullivan

    "Horror Movie," by Paul Tremblay

    "Liars," by Sarah Manguso

    "The God of the Woods," by Liz Moore

    "The Bright Sword," by Lev Grossman

    "Pearl," by Sian Hughes

    "Sandwich," by Catherine Newman

    "The Future Was Now," by Christopher Nashawaty

    "An Honest Woman: A Memoir of Love and Sex Work," by Charlotte Shane

    14 June 2024, 6:46 pm
  • 37 minutes 38 seconds
    Elin Hilderbrand on Her Final Nantucket Summer Book

    For many years now, Elin Hilderbrand has published a novel every summer set on the island of Nantucket. With her 30th book, 'Swan Song,' the bestselling author says she will step off that hamster wheel and try something new. 

    On this week's episode, she and host Gilbert Cruz talk about her career, what she's reading, and what's next.

    7 June 2024, 7:10 pm
  • 45 minutes 40 seconds
    Let's Talk About Percival Everett's 'James'

    The broad outlines of "James" will be immediately familiar to anyone with even a basic knowledge of American literature: A boy named Huckleberry Finn and an enslaved man named Jim are fleeing down the Mississippi River together, each in search of his own kind of freedom.

    But where Mark Twain’s “Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” treated Jim as a secondary character, a figure of pity and a target of fun, Percival Everett makes him the star of the show: a dignified, complicated, fully formed man capable of love and wit and rage in equal measure.

    In this week’s episode, the Book Review’s MJ Franklin discusses the book with his colleagues Joumana Khatib and Gregory Cowles. Caution: Spoilers abound.

    31 May 2024, 7:01 pm
  • 43 minutes 3 seconds
    Writing About NASA's Most Shocking Moment

    The year 1986 was notable for two big disasters, both of them attributable to human error and bureaucratic negligence at competing super powers: the Chernobyl nuclear accident in the Soviet Union and the explosion of the Space Shuttle Challenger in the United States.

    The journalist Adam Higginbotham wrote about Chernobyl in his 2019 book, “Midnight in Chernobyl.” Now he’s back, with a look at the American side of the ledger, in his new book, “Challenger: A True Story of Heroism and Disaster on the Edge of Space.” On this week’s episode, Higginbotham tells host Gilbert Cruz why he was drawn to both disasters, and what the Challenger explosion revealed about weaknesses in America’s space program.

    “There was certainly a lot of hubris and complacency that led into this accident,” Higginbotham says. “In complex decision-making processes like those leading to the Chernobyl accident and the Challenger disaster, those concerned with making the decisions start off with a series of extremely carefully governed and defined practices for what constitutes acceptable risk and normal behavior. And then gradually over time, they subtly and almost unconsciously expand what they deem to be acceptable without even realizing it."

    17 May 2024, 8:10 pm
  • 41 minutes 44 seconds
    Fantasy Superstar Leigh Bardugo on Her New Novel

    In the world of fantasy fiction, Leigh Bardugo is royalty: Her Grishaverse novels are mainstays on the young adult best-seller list, her “Shadow and Bone” trilogy has been adapted for a Netflix series and her adult novels “Ninth House” and “Hell Bent” established her as a force to reckon with in the subgenre known as dark academia.

    Now Bardugo is back with a new fantasy novel, “The Familiar,” and it’s also her first work of historical fiction: Set during the Inquisition in 16th-century Spain, it deals with literal royalty (King Philip II of Spain) through the story of a young scullery maid who happens to possess some magical abilities. This week on the podcast, Gilbert Cruz talks with Bardugo about her career, her writing process and her decision to write a historical novel

    10 May 2024, 8:28 pm
  • 44 minutes 19 seconds
    Colm Toibin on His Sequel to 'Brooklyn'

    Colm Tóibín’s 2009 novel “Brooklyn” told the story of a meek young Irishwoman, Eilis Lacey, who emigrates to New York in the 1950s out of a sense of familial obligation and slowly, diligently begins building a new life for herself. A New York Times best seller, the book was also adapted into an Oscar-nominated movie starring Saoirse Ronan — and now, 15 years after its publication, Tóibín has surprised himself by writing a sequel.

    “Long Island,” his new novel, finds Eilis relocated to the suburbs and, in the opening scene, confronting a sudden crisis in her marriage. On this week’s podcast, Tóibín talks to Sarah Lyall about the book and how he came to write it.

    3 May 2024, 7:24 pm
  • 46 minutes 41 seconds
    Book Club: Dolly Alderton's 'Good Material'

    How to explain the British writer Dolly Alderton to an American audience? It might be best to let her work speak for itself — it certainly does! — but Alderton is such a cultural phenomenon in her native England that some context is probably helpful: “Like Nora Ephron, With a British Twist” is the way The New York Times Book Review put it when we reviewed her latest novel, “Good Material,” earlier this year.

    “Good Material” tells the story of a down-on-his-luck stand-up comic dealing with a broken heart, and it has won Alderton enthusiastic fans in America. In this week’s episode, the Book Review’s MJ Franklin discusses the book with his colleagues Emily Eakin and Leah Greenblatt. 

    Caution: Spoilers abound!

    26 April 2024, 7:52 pm
  • 31 minutes 22 seconds
    100 Years of Simon & Schuster

    Simon & Schuster is not growing old quietly.

    The venerable publishing house — one of the industry’s so-called Big 5 — is celebrating its 100th birthday this month after a period of tumult that saw it put up for sale by its previous owner, pursued by its rival Penguin Random House in an acquisition bid that fell apart after the Justice Department won an antitrust suit, then bought for $1.62 billion last fall by the private equity firm KKR.

    With conditions seemingly stabilized since then, the company is turning 100 at an auspicious time to celebrate its roots and look to its future. On this week’s episode, Gilbert is joined by Simon & Schuster’s publisher and chief executive, Jonathan Karp, to talk about the centennial and what it means.

    “It was a startup 100 years ago,” Karp says. “It was two guys in their 20s. Richard Simon and Max Schuster. They were just a couple of guys who loved books. And they made a decision that they wanted to read every book they published. … The first book was a crossword puzzle book. It was a monster success. They’d actually raised $50,000 from their friends and family. They didn’t need it. They returned the money. And the company was up and running.”

    We would love to hear your thoughts about this episode, and about the Book Review’s podcast in general. You can send them to [email protected].

    12 April 2024, 6:40 pm
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