The Book Review-logo

The Book Review

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


New York, NY


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




10 Best Books of 2023

It’s that time of year: After months of reading, arguing and (sometimes) happily agreeing, the Book Review’s editors have come up with their picks for the 10 Best Books of 2023. On this week’s podcast, Gilbert Cruz reveals the chosen titles — five fiction, five nonfiction — and talks with some of the editors who participated in the process. Here are the books discussed on this week’s episode: “The Bee Sting,” by Paul Murray “Chain-Gang All-Stars,” by Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah “Eastbound,” by Maylis de Kerangal “The Fraud,” by Zadie Smith “North Woods,” by Daniel Mason “The Best Minds,” by Jonathan Rosen “Bottoms Up and the Devil Laughs,” by Kerry Howley “Fire Weather,” by John Vaillant “Master Slave Husband Wife,” by Ilyon Woo “Some People Need Killing,” by Patricia Evangelista We would love to hear your thoughts about this episode, and about the Book Review’s podcast in general. You can send them to


Talking Barbra Streisand and Rebecca Yarros

Book Review reporter Alexandra Alter discusses two of her recent pieces. The first is about Georgette Heyer, the "queen of Regency romance," and recent attempts to posthumously revise one of her most famous works in order to remove stereotypical language. The second looks at Rebecca Yarros, author of one of this year's most surprising and persistent bestsellers: the "romantasy" novel "Fourth Wing." Then, staff critic Alexandra Jacobs joins Book Review editor Gilbert Cruz to discuss her review of Barbra Streisand's epic memoir, "My Name is Barbra."


Why is Shakespeare's First Folio So Important?

In 1623, seven years after William Shakespeare died, two of his friends and fellow actors led an effort to publish a single volume containing 36 of the plays he had written, half of which had never been officially published before. Now known as the First Folio, that volume has become a lodestone of Shakespeare scholarship over the centuries, offering the most definitive versions of his work along with clues to his process and plenty of disputes about authorship and intention. In honor of its 400th anniversary, the British Library recently released a facsimile version of the First Folio. On this week’s episode, The Times’s critic at large Sarah Lyall talks with Adrian Edwards, head of the library’s Printed Heritage Collections, about Shakespeare’s work, the library’s holdings and the cultural significance of that original volume.


Happy Halloween: Scary Book Recommendations

You don’t need Halloween to justify reading scary books, any more than you need sand to justify reading a beach novel. But the holiday does give editors here a handy excuse to talk about some of their favorite spooky reads. On this week’s episode, the host Gilbert Cruz talks with his colleagues Tina Jordan and Sadie Stein about the enduring appeal of ghost stories, Gothic novels and other scary books. Titles discussed: “Ghost Hunters: William James and the Search for Scientific Proof of Life After Death,” by Deborah Blum “Something Wicked This Way Comes,” by Ray Bradbury “Rebecca,” by Daphne du Maurier “Don’t Look Now: And Other Stories,” by Daphne du Maurier “The Exorcist,” by William Peter Blatty “Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark,” by Alvin Schwartz “Ghosts,” by Edith Wharton “Eight Ghosts: The English Heritage Book of Ghost Stories,” by various “Oh, Whistle, and I’ll Come to You, My Lad,” by M.R. James “The Hunger,” by Alma Katsu “The Terror,” by Dan Simmons “The Little Stranger,” by Sarah Waters “Affinity,” by Sarah Waters “The Paying Guests,” by Sarah Waters “The Haunting of Hill House,” by Shirley Jackson “Hell House,” by Richard Matheson “House of Leaves,” by Mark Z. Danielewski “A Haunting on the Hill,” by Elizabeth Hand “The Virago Book of Ghost Stories,” edited by Richard Dalby “The Turn of the Screw,” by Henry James


How Did Marvel Become the Biggest Name in Movies?

In 2008 — the same year that Robert Downey Jr. appeared in the action comedy “Tropic Thunder,” for which he would earn his second Oscar nomination — he also appeared as the billionaire inventor and unlikely superhero Tony Stark in “Iron Man,” the debut feature from the upstart Marvel Studios. Downey lost the Oscar (to Heath Ledger in “The Dark Knight”), but Marvel won the day. In the 15 years since “Iron Man” came out, the Marvel Cinematic Universe has expanded to 32 films that have earned a staggering $26 billion and changed the world of moviemaking for a generation. In a new book, “MCU: The Reign of Marvel Studios,” the writers Joanna Robinson, Dave Gonzales and Gavin Edwards explore the company’s scrappy beginnings, phenomenal success and uncertain hold on the future, with lots of dish along the way. On this week’s episode, Gonzales and Robinson join the host Gilbert Cruz to talk all things Marvel.


What Big Books Have Yet to Come Out in 2023?

On this week’s episode, a look at the rest of the year in books — new fiction from Alice McDermott and this year’s Nobel laureate, Jon Fosse, a journalist’s investigation of state-sanctioned killings in the Philippines, and a trio of celebrity memoirs. Discussed in this week’s episode: “The Vulnerables,” by Sigrid Nunez “Day,” by Michael Cunningham “Absolution,” by Alice McDermott “A Shining,” by Jon Fosse “Romney: A Reckoniung,” by McKay Coppins “Class,” by Stephanie Land “Some People Need Killing,” by Patricia Evangelista “The Kingdom, the Power and the Glory: American Evangelicals in an Age of Extremism,” by Tim Alberta “My Name is Barbra,” by Barbra Streisand “The Woman in Me,” by Britney Spears “Worthy,” by Jada Pinkett Smith


What It's Like to Write a Madonna Biography

Madonna released her first single in 1982, and in one guise or another she has been with us ever since — ubiquitous but also astonishing, when you consider the usual fleeting arc of pop stardom. How has she done it, and how have her various personae shaped or reflected the culture she inhabits? These are among the questions the renowned biographer Mary Gabriel takes up in her latest book, “Madonna: A Rebel Life,” which casts new light on its subject’s life and career. On this week’s episode, the host Gilbert Cruz chats with Gabriel about all things Madonna, and revisits the context of the 1980s’ music industry that she conquered.


Audiobooks are the Best

You love books. You love podcasts. Ergo, we assume you love audiobooks the way we do — we hope you do, anyway, because this week we’ve devoted our entire episode to the form, as Gilbert Cruz is joined by a couple of editors from the Book Review, Lauren Christensen and Tina Jordan, to discuss everything from favorite narrators to regional accents to the ideal listening speed and the way audiobooks have to compete with other kinds of media.


Zadie Smith on Her New Historical Novel

Zadie Smith’s new novel, “The Fraud,” is set in 19th-century England, and introduces a teeming cast of characters at the periphery of a trial in which the central figure claimed to be a long-lost nobleman entitled to a fortune. Smith discusses her new novel with Sarah Lyall. Also on this week’s episode, the Times reporters Alexandra Alter and Julia Jacobs discuss a recent controversy involving the National Book Awards and their decision to drop Drew Barrymore as this year’s master of ceremonies in solidarity with the Hollywood writers’ strike.


Elon Musk's Biography and Profiling Naomi Klein

Elon Musk, the billionaire South Africa-born entrepreneur whose business interests include the electric car company Tesla, the private rocket company SpaceX and the social media platform X (formerly Twitter), is the richest person in the world — and the subject of an expansive new biography by Walter Isaacson, whose earlier subjects famously include the Apple founder Steve Jobs. Our critic Jennifer Szalai discusses her review of the Musk biography. Szalai also discusses her recent Times Magazine profile of the writer and activist Naomi Klein, whose new book, “Doppelganger,” examines the “mirror world” of online conspiracy theories and paranoia and its effect on real-world politics.


Talking to Stephen King and September Books to Check Out

Stephen King’s new novel, “Holly,” is his sixth book to feature the private investigator Holly Gibney, who made her debut as a mousy side character in the 2014 novel “Mr. Mercedes” and has become more complicated and interesting with each subsequent appearance. King appears on the podcast this week to tell the host Gilbert Cruz about Holly’s hold on his imagination and the ways she overlaps with parts of his own personality. Along the way, he also tells a dad joke, remembers his friend Peter Straub, and discusses his views on writing and life. Also on this episode, Cruz talks with Joumana Khatib about some of the month’s most anticipated new titles. Here are the books discussed in this week’s September preview: “The Fraud,” by Zadie Smith “Elon Musk,” by Walter Isaacson “The Iliad,” by Homer. Translated by Emily Wilson “Glossy: Ambition, Beauty, and the Inside Story of Emily Weiss’s Glossier,” by Marisa Meltzer “Land of Milk and Honey,” by C. Pam Zhang “American Gun: The True Story of the AR-15,” by Cameron McWhirter and Zusha Elinson


Amor Towles Sees Dead People

The novelist Amor Towles, whose best-selling books include “Rules of Civility,” “A Gentleman in Moscow” and “The Lincoln Highway,” contributed an essay to the Book Review recently in which he discussed the evolving role the cadaver has played in detective fiction and what it says about the genre’s writers and readers. Towles visits the podcast this week to chat with the host Gilbert Cruz about that essay, as well as his path to becoming a novelist after an early career in finance. Also on this week’s episode, Sarah Lyall, a writer at large for The Times, interviews the actor Richard E. Grant about his new memoir, “A Pocketful of Happiness,” and about his abiding love for the book “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.” We would love to hear your thoughts about this episode, and about the Book Review’s podcast in general. You can send them to


What to Read in August

Sarah Lyall discusses a new thriller in which a scuba diver gets swallowed by a sperm whale and Joumana Khatib gives recommendations for five August titles. Books discussed on this week's episode: “Anansi’s Gold: The Man Who Looted the West, Outfoxed Washington, and Swindled the World,” by Yepoka Yeebo “The Bee Sting,” by Paul Murray “The Visionaries: Arendt, Beauvoir, Rand, Weil, and the Power of Philosophy in Dark Times,” by Wolfram Eilenberger “Pet,” by Catherine Chidgey “Happiness Falls,” by Angie Kim “Whalefall,” by Daniel Kraus


Ann Patchett on Her Summery New Novel

Ann Patchett returns to the podcast to talk about her new novel, "Tom Lake," waxes poetic on Thornton Wilder's "Our Town" (which plays a big part in her book), and talks about the joys of owning an independent bookstore.


It's Getting Hot Out There

The author Jeff Goodell joins to talk about his book “The Heat Will Kill You First,” about the consequences of a warming planet. Times critic Jennifer Szalai also discusses three books about the natural world.


Colson Whitehead and His Crime Novel Sequel

Gilbert Cruz is joined by two-time Pulitzer Prize winner Colson Whitehead, who talks about his novel "Crook Manifesto" and Harlem in the '70s. He also reflects on his famous post-9/11 essay about New York City.


Great Books from The First Half of 2023

Gilbert Cruz is joined by fellow editors from the Book Review to revisit some of the most popular and most acclaimed books of 2023 to date. First up, Tina Jordan and Elisabeth Egan discuss the year’s biggest books, from “Spare” to “Birnam Wood.” Then Joumana Khatib, MJ Franklin and Sadie Stein recommend their personal favorites of the year so far. Books discussed on this week’s episode: “Spare,” by Prince Harry “I Have Some Questions for You,” by Rebecca Makkai “Pineapple Street,” by Jenny Jackson “Romantic Comedy,” by Curtis Sittenfeld “You Could Make This Place Beautiful,” by Maggie Smith “The Wager,” by David Grann “Master, Slave, Husband, Wife,” by Ilyon Woo “King: A Life,” by Jonathan Eig “Birnam Wood,” by Eleanor Catton “Hello Beautiful,” by Ann Napolitano “Enter Ghost,” by Isabella Hammad “Y/N,” by Esther Yi “The Sullivanians,” by Alexander Stille “My Search for Warren Harding,” by Robert Plunket “In Memoriam,” by Alice Winn “Don’t Look at Me Like That,” by Diana Athill


The Magic of Literary Translation and 'Bridget Jones' at 25

The editors of The Book Review talk about the nitty gritty of literary translation. And then, a conversation about the legacy of the novel “Bridget Jones’s Diary." What makes translation an art? How does a translator’s personality affect their work? Why do we see so many translations from some countries and almost none from others? These are just some of the questions addressed in a recent translation issue of the Book Review, which Gilbert Cruz breaks down with the editors Juliana Barbassa and Gregory Cowles. Also on this week’s episode, Elisabeth Egan and Tina Jordan discuss “Bridget Jones’s Diary,” published in the U.S. 25 years ago this summer. “I discovered, looking back at back into Bridget’s life on the eve of my 50th birthday, she was not as funny to me as she used to be,” says Egan, who wrote an essay about the novel called “Bridget Jones Deserved Better. We All Did.”


Remembering Cormac McCarthy and Robert Gottlieb

Recently, two giants of modern American literature died within a single day of each other. Gilbert Cruz talks with Dwight Garner about the work of Cormac McCarthy’s work, and with Pamela Paul and Emily Eakin about the life and legacy of Robert Gottlieb.


What It’s Like to Write an MLK Jr. Biography

Jonathan Eig’s book “King: A Life” is the first comprehensive biography in decades of Martin Luther King Jr., drawing on reams of interviews and newly uncovered archival materials to paint a fuller picture of the civil rights leader than we have received before. On this week’s podcast, Eig describes the process of researching and writing the book, and tells the host Gilbert Cruz how he tracked down resources that were unavailable to earlier biographers. “I was a newspaper reporter for a long, long time — and you know, working on daily stories, if you got five days to work on a story, it was a luxury. Now I’ve got five, six years to work on a story, and I take full advantage of that," Eig says. "It took me two years to find, even though I knew it was out there, this unpublished autobiography that Martin Luther King’s father wrote. Nobody had ever quoted from it. ... Stuff like that just gets me really, really pumped up.” We would love to hear your thoughts about this episode, and about the Book Review’s podcast in general. You can send them to