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Baum On Books

Baum On Books

Joan Baum is a recovering academic from the City University of New York, who spent 25 years teaching literature and writing. She has a long career as a critic and reviewer, covering all areas of cultural history but particularly enjoys books at the nexus of the humanities and the sciences.

With an eye on reviewing fiction and nonfiction that has regional resonance for Connecticut or Long Island, Joan considers the timeliness and significance of recently published work: what these books have to say to a broad group of readers today and how they say it in a distinctive or unique manner, taking into account style and structure as well as subject matter.
  • A high-end investment firm in Connecticut is the backdrop for a new murder mystery novel. And its author may surprise you. WSHU's book critic Joan Baum has this review.
  • Jacket Design by Emily Mahon
    The Mark Twain classic, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn gets a fresh retelling in Percival Everett’s new work: James: A Novel. This time we see the story through the eyes of Jim/James, a man who escapes slavery to keep his family together. Everett shares a deeply complex James who code-switches to survive. Here' WSHU’s Culture Critic Joan Baum's review.
  • Yale University Press has published a catalog highlighting rarely-seen drawings and prints by the pre-eminent Renaissance Italian painter, Botticelli. Book critic Joan Baum has this review.
  • In her latest novel, The Vixen Amber Holloway, New York author Carol LaHines crafts a tense psychological tale where a Dante scholar descends into her own personal hell. Our book critic, Joan Baum, had this review.
  • A group of ultra-right extremists in New York City organized to overthrow the U.S. government. And they nearly succeed. It was just one plot in a broad effort to replace Democracy with Fascism in the 1940’s. Our book critic Joan Baum read all about it in journalist Rachel Maddow’s latest work, Prequel.
  • Joanne Leedom-Ackerman used to teach writing at NYU and CCNY. Now she is a Vice President of PEN International and the author of a new political thriller. Book critic Joan Baum has this review.
  • Up on the roof of a New York City apartment building, tenants gather to tell tales and escape their isolation during the COVID-19 pandemic shutdown. That’s the setting of a new collection of stories. Book critic Joan Baum has this review.
  • In her first work of fiction, a New York psychiatrist explores our human need to forge relationships with each other through a series of short stories. Book critic Joan Baum has this review.
  • A Long Island detective gets caught up in the greedy intrigue of the pharmaceutical industry as he searches for a missing biochemist. That’s the latest plot in a mystery novel by author Chris Knopf. Book critic Joan Baum has this review.
  • There are a wealth of biographies on the life of writer F. Scott Fitzgerald. A new book challenges how those profiles interpret the man, his life, and his work. Book critic Joan Baum has this review.
  • Star Crossed is a new book that tells the true story of two young people in Paris, who fell in love during the Nazi occupation. Our Culture Critic Joan Baum has this review.
  • Life in Harlem during the volatile 1970’s. That’s the setting for author Colson Whitehead’s latest novel. Book critic Joan Baum has this review.