BOOKS
03/18/2010 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Book Review Roundup

There are a lot of big new books about to come out this month. Check out what reviewers are saying about the first batch of books for 2010.

"A Literary Bible: An Original Translation", David Rosenberg
The New York Times

By the "literary" of his title, [Rosenberg] means to say that he is looking for modern readings, free of the muddles introduced into the understanding of these works by academics and religious commentators of all descriptions, and recognizable as living speech. He must echo neither the venerable King James translation nor the many recent versions; he must somehow be modern as well as faithful to the past, reproducing where necessary the ancient, strange, "uncanny" vigor of J, the primary author. He likes what he sees of these qualities as they survive in modern Hebrew, but his remit is to translate into modern American English.

"The Lexicographer's Dilemma", Jack Lynch
The New York Times

It's getting harder to make a living as an editor of the printed word, what with newspapers and other publications cutting staff. And it will be harder still now that Jack Lynch has published "The Lexicographer's Dilemma," an entertaining tour of the English language in which he shows that many of the rules that editors and other grammatical zealots wave about like cudgels are arbitrary and destined to be swept aside as words and usage evolve.

"Committed", Elizabeth Gilbert
The Los Angeles Times

Gilbert -- who, before her mega hit, was a well-respected, guy's gal kind of journalist known for penning terrific features in such mags as GQ and Rolling Stone -- seems to have reverted to a comfortable journalistic distance in this book. The problem is that this is a first-person account and the subject is love, and her life. She tells readers that she loves Felipe, but nowhere does she show a truly unique, poignant moment. She talks of her anguish about marriage, but it is never proved in the actions between them. Gilbert is far too skilled not to be entertaining, but forgive a reader thirsting for more emotion. Marriage is a mystery, the saying goes, and so it remains.

"Remarkable Creatures", Tracy Chevalier
The San Francisco Chronicle

"I'm as surprised as anyone else. ... My background is not science. It's art or literature, but I always like to try to challenge myself and go in a new direction with books; otherwise, I get in a rut and write the same thing," she says.

"I want to keep readers guessing, and myself guessing, too, so it was like opening up a whole new world that I spent 2 1/2 years finding out about."

"Noah's Compass", Anne Tyler
The San Francisco Chronicle

"Noah's Compass" reads more like a gentle parable than an urgent investigation. Characters are plausibly drawn but also (in Tyler's trademark style) as bland as the canned soup and Cheerios they eat. No one's going to scare, hurt or confuse us. All will be revealed - subtly, slyly, sweetly - in good time. And while that foreknowledge is comforting, the price is unrepentant beige.

"Shades of Grey", Jasper Fforde
The Guardian

Jasper Fforde's new novel has one of the highest, or narrowest, of concepts I've come across in a long time, and as a consequence falls somewhere between "sharp" and "two-dimensional".

"Running: A Global History", Thor Gotaas
The Guardian

Recreational running, [Gotaas] points out, has been around since the dawn of recreation time. It's not some modern punishment we invented to burn off excess pints and pizza; it's our most ancient and universal form of play, and has been rhapsodised and dramatised for thousands of years. Gotaas combs the world for true running tales, and comes up with some beauties.

"Jane: A Woman's Determination and the Wild West Frontier", Mike King
Deseret News

"Jane: A Woman's Determination and the Wild West Frontier" was written by a Utah law enforcement investigator with nearly 30 years of experience.

But Mike King, who has been chief of staff to the Utah attorney general and who spent time as a beat cop and untangled mysteries of many a crime, never envisioned he would tackle the truth behind his great-great-grandmother's murder.

"I See Rude People: One Woman's Battle to Beat Some Manners into Impolite Society", Amy Alkon
The Detroit News

I talk in my book about how people are rude because we live in societies that are too big for our brains, so we're around strangers. And when you are around strangers, you can do anything to them.