Beyond Words: What Animals Think And Feel by Carl Safina. (Picador) Humans have been far too anthropocentric when trying to understand the mental experiences of other animals, Safina, a marine conservationist, argues here. His observations on grieving elephants in Kenya, endangered wolves in Yellowstone National Park and a harmonious whale society in the Pacific Northwest build the case that other species are capable of nuanced thought and emotion.
Kitchens Of The Great Midwest by J. Ryan Stradal. (Penguin) This bighearted novel is partly a culinary biography of Minnesota, tracing how traditions (lutefisk) give way to fads, and partly a sendup of food. The story’s central character, Eva, is born into a food-obsessed family and soon displays preternatural gifts of her own, using cooking to overcome a childhood tragedy.
The Seven Good Years: A Memoir by Etgar Keret. Translated by Sondra Silverston, Miriam Shlesinger, Jessica Cohen and Anthony Berris. (Riverhead) The author, an Israeli, has built a fan base devoted to his fantastical short stories. In this, his first nonfiction book, Keret focuses on the stretch of time between his son’s birth and his father’s death, and considers the absurdities of fatherhood and family life.
Days Of Awe by Lauren Fox. (Vintage) The death of Isabel’s close friend in a car crash sets off a period of tragedies; a year later, Isabel and her husband have divorced, her adolescent daughter has grown aloof and a number of her other relationships have become unmoored. Isabel reconsiders her identity throughout this novel as the relationships that once defined her fall away, but her rapport with her mother remains at her emotional core.
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The Weather Experiment: The Pioneers Who Sought To See The Future by Peter Moore. (Farrar, Straus & Giroux) If forecasts and precise weather reports are now a ubiquitous part of life, in the 1800s, the premise was improbable – even laughable. Moore, a Briton, tells the story of the 19th-century scientists and sailors who set out to show that data could help predict meteorological patterns, and he includes the U.S. contributions to the field.
The Gap Of Time by Jeanette Winterson. (Hogarth Shakespeare) In this novel, the inaugural title in a series of books “covering” plays by Shakespeare, Winterson adapts the story of “The Winter’s Tale” to a contemporary, post-financial-crash setting. Leo, a paranoid hedge fund manager in London, sends his newborn daughter to New Bohemia, a facsimile of New Orleans, after a fit of jealous rage.
Midnight’s Furies: The Deadly Legacy Of India’s Partition by Nisid Hajari. (Mariner/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) Hajari’s account focuses on the months preceding the 1947 split between India and Pakistan, probing one of the conflict’s central questions: How did two countries with so many commonalities end up as bitter rivals?
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