by Jocelyn McClurg)
What should you read this weekend? USA TODAY's picks for book lovers include some new baseball titles for fans of all ages.
A Nice Little Place on the North Side: Wrigley Field at One Hundred by George F. Will; Crown Archetype, 223 pp.; non-fiction
Being a Chicago Cubs fan is a frustrating business. Year after year, the Cubs have led their followers down the primrose path of hope toward an apparently inevitable collapse. After dominating baseball for much of the early 20th century, the team had its first losing decade in the 1940s and never looked back, losing more games than it won — sometimes a lot more — in every decade since.
But for the Cubs faithful, a day at Wrigley Field, the team's historic home built in 1914 at Clark and Addison, is always a good day, no matter what it says on the scoreboard. With the fresh air and sunshine, the ivy-covered walls and handsome brick backstop, and above all the ice-cold, reasonably priced beer — really, to ask for a winning team on top of all that seems downright greedy.
The Cubs organization has counted on it. As the conservative columnist and long-suffering Cubs fan George Will suggests in A Nice Little Place on the North Side, the team's owners, beginning with the chewing-gum magnate P.K. Wrigley, consciously designed and marketed the ballpark as a Valhalla of the game, a destination whose appeal was largely independent of its tenant's won-loss record.
USA TODAY says *** out of four. "An intelligent, tough little book."
The Streak: How Joe DiMaggio Became America's Hero, written by Barb Rosenstock, illustrated by Terry Widener; Calkins Creek, 32 pp., for ages 8-12; non-fiction
This book for younger readers looks at the summer of 1941 and the 56-game hitting streak set by New York Yankees slugger Joe DiMaggio, a record that still stands.
USA TODAY says ***½. "With Terry Widener's lovely, fluid paintings, author Barb Rosenstock mixes history, biography and romantic nostalgia."
Batter Up, Charlie Brown! by Charles M. Schulz; Fantagraphics, 63 pp., for all ages; fiction
Collects a series of three baseball stories from Charles Schulz's classic comic strip, Peanuts.
USA TODAY says ****. "In every game, one team has to lose. Batter Up is for anyone who's ever lost."
The Cairo Affair by Olen Steinhauer; Minotaur, 408 pp.; fiction
In Budapest, minutes after an American diplomat Emmett Kohl confronts his wife about her affair with a CIA agent the year before when they were stationed in Cairo, he is gunned down by an Eastern European hit man.
USA TODAY says ***. "You could practically rip the plotline of Olen Steinhauer's new spy novel from the front pages of yesterday's newspaper."
The Hippest Trip in America: Soul Train and the Evolution of Culture & Style by Nelson George; William Morrow, 236 pp.; non-fiction
Chronicles the 1,117-episode run of Soul Train, the syndicated TV dance-and-music series that saw African-American culture leap to the forefront of mainstream pop.
USA TODAY says *** ½. Offers "rapier-keen social history and street-savvy cultural criticism."
Contributing reviewers: Kevin Nance, Bob Minzesheimer, Don Oldenburg, Gene Seymour