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Weekend book picks: Three new memoirs

6:04 PM, Jun 30, 2012   |    comments
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What should you read this weekend? USA TODAY's picks for book lovers include three new memoirs, and the latest novel by Mark Haddon, set at an English country house.

The Receptionist: An Education at The New Yorker
By Janet Groth; Algonquin, 240 pp., $21.95; non-fiction

Janet Groth was a receptionist at the legendary New Yorker magazine from 1957 to 1978. She saw and heard it all.

Groth was the one who had to tell J.D. Salinger there was no office Coke machine. She steered Woody Allen to the right floor. Repeatedly.

And then, of course, there's humorist Calvin Trillin, cartoonist Charles Addams and the painfully shy E.B. White, who hired her. The magazine's eccentricity was not lost on Groth. Lucky for us.

USA TODAY says *** out of four. "Are you a New Yorker magazine groupie? Do you wait every week just to laugh at the cartoons and read Talk of the Town? If so, we have a book for you."

Apron Anxiety: My Messy Affairs
In and Out of the Kitchen|-|

By Alyssa Shelasky; Three Rivers, 260 pp., $14, paperback original; non-fiction

When New York party girl Alyssa Shelasky moves to Washington, D.C., with her busy celebrity-chef boyfriend (Top Chef's Spike Mendelsohn, who is unnamed in the book), the former kitchen-phobe turns to cooking as "Chef's" career heats up and their relationship fizzles.

USA TODAY says *** out of four. "A fresh dining and dating memoir ... charming."

Hotels, Hospitals and Jails
By Anthony Swofford; Twelve, 276 pp., $26.99; non-fiction

After former Marine sniper Anthony Swofford hit it big with Jarhead, his memoir about the Gulf War that became an acclaimed movie, he had to deal with a new problem: too much money, sex, drugs and alcohol, which nearly killed him.

USA TODAY says ***½ out of four. "Gritty, intense and wrenching."

The Red House
By Mark Haddon; Doubleday, 264 pp., $25.95; fiction

Eight relatives, stuck with one another on an eight-day holiday in the English countryside, offer plenty of drama in The Red House, the third novel by Mark Haddon (The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time).

USA TODAY says *** out of four. "Haddon delivers a story of remarkable complexity, exploring the rich interior lives of his characters."

The Seven Wonders
By Steven Saylor; Minotaur, 321 pp., $25.99; fiction

It's 92 B.C., and Steven Saylor's fictional teenage crime-solver Gordianus is on a tour of the Seven Wonders of the World. This is a younger version of Gordianus the Finder from Saylor's mystery series, and here he solves his first cases accompanied by Antipater of Sidon, a famous and real poet.

USA TODAY says ***½ out of four. "If you're going to tour the ancient world, you could find no better guide than Saylor."

USA Today

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