Noteworthy paperbacks

May 11, 2013 

House of Stone: A Memoir of Home, Family, and a Lost Middle East by Anthony Shadid. (Mariner/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) In 2006, after years spent covering the Iraq war, Shadid began renovating the abandoned house of his great-grandfather in the Lebanese town of Marjayoun. (A correspondent for The New York Times, Shadid died last year while reporting from Syria.) This elegiac memoir combines stories of Shadid’s struggles with workmen, tales of his ancestors and their world, and reflections on his family’s journey to America.

Where’s You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple. (Back Bay/Little, Brown) Worn down from trying to live the Seattle life she’s never wanted, the Bernadette of this smart, entertaining novel has gone missing. Left to pick up the pieces, her precocious daughter, Bee, assembles a variety of documents – emails, invoices, police reports – to reconstruct Bernadette’s mysterious past.

Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman. (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $16.) This is a comprehensive presentation of a life’s work. Kahneman, the renowned psychologist and winner of the Nobel in economic science, explains the two systems that drive the way we think – one is fast, intuitive and emotional; the other is slower and more deliberate – and offers surprising conclusions about human rationality.

Season of the Rainbirds by Nadeem Aslam. (Vintage International) The murder of a corrupt judge sets the people of a secluded Pakistani village on edge in Aslam’s atmospheric first novel, first published in 1993. Their anxieties are compounded when a sack of letters, thought lost in a train crash 19 years earlier, suddenly reappears.

The Outsourced Self: What Happens When We Pay Others to Live Our Lives for Us by Arlie Russell Hochschild. (Picador, $17.) From wedding planners to life coaches to eldercare managers, the marketplace has gradually invaded our homes, Hochschild writes in this thoughtful book, which studies the effects of using paid strangers to meet our most personal needs

Land of Promise: An Economic History of the United States by Michael Lind. (Harper) In this ambitious history, rich with details, Lind argues that America owes its prosperity to the Hamiltonian (pro-big government) tradition.

Bring Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel. (Picador) Taking up where her previous novel, “Wolf Hall,” left off, Mantel makes the story of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn newly fascinating and suspenseful. Seen from the perspective of Henry’s chief minister, Thomas Cromwell, the ruthless maneuverings of the court move swiftly to the inevitable executions.

Damn Yankees: Twenty-Four Major League Writers on the World’s Most Loved (and Hated) Team edited by Rob Fleder. (Ecco/HarperCollins) These essays are as expansive and idiosyncratic as the team that inspired them: Leigh Montville on Babe Ruth; Jane Leavy on Mickey Mantle, Pete Dexter on Chuck Knoblauch; William Nack on the tumultuous 1977 season.

New York Times

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