Plato at the Googleplex: Why Philosophy Won’t Go Away, by Rebecca Newberger Goldstein. (Vintage) Goldstein revives the art of the dialogue, bringing the Greek philosopher to life in 21st-century America and sending him on a multicity book tour. As he probes some of the deepest questions confronting us – from sexuality and child-rearing to morality and the meaning of life – “we hear authentic Platonic arguments brought nicely up to date,” Anthony Gottlieb wrote in The New York Times Book Review.
The Transcriptionist, by Amy Rowland. (Algonquin) In this eerily powerful debut novel, Lena works in the offices of a New York City newspaper, her equipment “a headset, a Dictaphone to play the tapes … and patience.” (Rowland was a transcriptionist for The New York Times.) But the harrowing reports from the field are taking their toll, and news of a puzzling death sends Lena on a search for the truth that will change her life.
The Kid: The Immortal Life of Ted Williams, by Ben Bradlee Jr. (Back Bay/Little, Brown) Bradlee’s deeply reported biography adds great detail and nuance to our picture of the Hall of Fame slugger (1918-2002): his 19 electrifying seasons with the Boston Red Sox, his war heroism as a Marine Corps pilot, and his all-too-human troubles away from the game.
Pacific, by Tom Drury. (Grove Press) Drury makes a triumphant return to Grouse County and the characters from his first novel, “The End of Vandalism.” Micah, the 14-year-old result of a long-dead relationship, leaves his ne’er-do-well father in Iowa to go live with his actress mother in California. While Micah quickly finds new drugs and an alluring first love, Sandra Zulma arrives in Grouse County – either a legendary heroine or a deluded screwball – looking for a mythic Celtic stone.
Camelot’s Court: Inside the Kennedy White House, by Robert Dallek. (Harper Perennial) Dallek, the author of “An Unfinished Life: John F. Kennedy, 1917-1963,” here turns his gaze to the president’s dynamic but uneasy team of advisers, the New Frontiersmen, as he details the contentious issues of Kennedy’s years in office, including the Bay of Pigs, the Cuban missile crisis, civil rights and Vietnam.
The Guts, by Roddy Doyle. (Penguin) Since forming the Commitments – the working-class youths who, in Doyle’s first novel, brought soul music to 1980s Dublin – Jimmy Rabbitte has carved out quite a life: small music business, loving family. But a cancer diagnosis sends him reeling, and as Jimmy battles his illness he runs into old bandmates, reaches out to his estranged brother, and vows to live more in the moment.
The Leading Indicators: A Short History of the Numbers That Rule Our World, by Zachary Karabell. (Simon & Schuster) Gross national product, balance of trade, unemployment, inflation, consumer confidence. Karabell’s terrific introduction to a range of statistics explains how individuals, companies and countries came to rely on measures like these, and why such traditional concepts may no longer be up to the task.
New York Times