The Book Report: Washington Post critic Ron Charles (November 13)

Credit: CBSNews
Credit: CBSNews

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By Washington Post book critic Ron Charles

As the cold weather moves in and the holidays approach, you may be looking for good books to curl up with, or to give away to family and friends. Here are a few new titles to check out:



My favorite novel this year is “Demon Copperhead” by Barbara Kingsolver. Equal parts hilarious and heartbreaking, it’s the story of an irrepressible little boy nobody wants, but readers will love.

It’s based on Charles Dickens’ classic novel “David Copperfield,” but Kingsolver has moved the action to the mountains of southwest Virginia in the late 20th century. When Demon finds himself orphaned, he’s bounced from one foster home to another.

This story offers a tough examination of poverty and drug addiction in the richest country on Earth.

READ AN EXCERPT: “Demon Copperhead”

“Demon Copperhead” by Barbara Kingsolver (HarperCollins), in Hardcover, Large Print, eBook and Audio formats, available via Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Indiebound


Graywolf Press

Percival Everett has been writing witty, challenging novels for almost 40 years. His latest is called “Dr. No,” and it leaves the thrillers of James Bond shaken, not stirred.

The narrator is a math professor who specializes in the study of nothingness. He knows better than anyone that nothing matters. His work attracts the attention of a supervillain who wants to use the professor’s knowledge to break into Fort Knox.

Nothing makes sense here. In fact, nothing has never been this funny. But, as usual, Everett is up to something infinitely clever.


“Dr. No” by Percival Everett (Graywolf Press), in Hardcover, eBook and Audio formats, available via Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Indiebound


W.W. Norton

“The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida,” by Shehan Karunatilaka, recently won the Booker Prize, England’s highest literary honor, and now it’s finally available in the United States. This is a story that shouldn’t work at all, but it does, brilliantly.

It’s a zany comic novel and a grim comment about political corruption in Sri Lanka. The narrator is the ghost of a war photographer who’s granted seven days to figure out who killed him and how he can expose military atrocities. This is like nothing you’ve read before.

READ AN EXCERPT: “The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida”

“The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida” by Shehan Karunatilaka (W.W. Norton), in Trade Paperback and eBook formats, available via AmazonBarnes & Noble and Indiebound

Shehan Karunatilaka (


Hachette Books

And finally, roll over, Beethoven: This month brings a big, new biography of Chuck Berry by R.J. Smith. The father of rock ‘n’ roll, who died in 2017, left behind a string of unforgettable songs and troubling behavior. But he wowed audiences and influenced other musicians for decades – and he was still performing into his 80s.

“Chuck Berry: An American Life” draws on more than a hundred interviews and years of research to explore what Smith calls “the often triumphant, sometimes anguished details” of Berry’s career and personal life.

READ AN EXCERPT: “Chuck Berry: An American Life”

“Chuck Berry: An American Life” by R.J. Smith (Hachette Books), in Hardcover, eBook and Audio formats, available via Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Indiebound

For these and other suggestions about what to read this fall, contact your librarian or local bookseller. 

That’s it for the Book Report. I’m Ron Charles. Until next time, read on!

For more info: 

For more reading recommendations, check out these previous Book Report features from Ron Charles: 

Produced by Robin Sanders and Roman Feeser.