10 new books we recommend this week

Cultural life, broadly defined, towers among this week’s recommended books, ranging from a scholar’s freewheeling dissertation on Marcel Proust to a cyclist’s prayer to ride free. Frederic Tuten’s history collection often pays homage to artists and writers from previous generations, David Hackett Fischer’s recent history pays homage to black contributions to American culture, and the group biography “Metaphysical Animals” looks back on a group of notable women who became friends in Oxford in the 1940s. to their common skepticism of prevailing philosophical ideas.

Not all of this week’s animals are metaphysical. In “An Immense World”, science journalist Ed Yong considers the many different ways in which non-human animals experience the world, and in “Embrace Fearlessly the Burning World”, the late nature writer Barry Lopez begs us to pay close attention to the planet’s other living beings. . There’s also a new book by French economist Thomas Piketty, despairing over the path capitalism has taken us down, and in fiction a debut novel by Leila Mottley and the concluding volume of Rosalie Knecht’s private detective trilogy. Happy reading.

Gregory Cowles
Senior Editor, Books
Twitter: @GregoryCowles

A HUGE WORLD: How animal senses reveal the hidden realms around us, by Ed Yong. (Random House. $ 30.) Ed Yong’s new book encourages readers to break out of their “sensory bubble” to consider the unique ways in which dogs, dolphins, mice and other animals experience their surroundings. The book is filled with captivating facts, such as the way in which a dolphin echolocating a human in water can perceive not only the external form of the human, but also what is inside, including the skeleton and lungs. The book is “fun and elegantly written,” says our critic Jennifer Szalai, showcasing Yong’s “exceptional gifts as a storyteller.”

TWO WHEELS GOOD: The history and mystery of the bicycle, by Jody Rosen. (Krone, $ 28.99.) Remarkably, the bicycle was first invented in 1817, more than a decade after the advent of the steam locomotive. Rosen, a contributing writer for The Times Magazine, expertly demonstrates how bicycles have touched almost every element of life on earth since then. He also has a personal passion: “Cycling is the best way I know to reach a changed consciousness.” Better than yoga, wine and weeds, “it runs neck and neck with sex and coffee.” Charles Finch, who reviews the book, writes: “In moments, Rosen reaches a kind of embarrassed nirvana as he ponders his subject, lovingly describing a trick rider’s stunts, crossing Dhaka with rickshaws or his own encounters with snow, car doors and, of course, drivers.”

BE KELLY MIST AND FOUND, by Rosalie Knecht. (Tin housing, paper, $ 15.95.) In the last volume of this almost tone-perfect private detective trilogy from the 1960s, Vera’s boyfriend, Max, disappears on a trip to his family’s California property. “I have been expecting few novels this year with so much suspense,” Sarah Weinman writes in her latest crime column. “Knecht’s writing, crisp and tight, cuts through the manicured landscape at breakneck speed.”

A SHORT STORY OF GENDER EQUALITY, by Thomas Piketty. Translated by Steven Rendall. (Belknap / Harvard University, $ 27.95.) In his latest book, the world-famous economist explores the origins of inequality dating back to the 18th century and gives his ideas on how to create more just societies today. “He is well aware that changes on the scale he proposes never happen step by step,” Nicholas Lemann writes in his review. ‘Are such upheavals on the way? Piketty does not make predictions, but he treats the current system of ‘hypercapitalism’ as openly doomed. “

FUCKLY Embrace THE CARRIED WORLD: Essays, by Barry Lopez. (Random House, $ 28.) Lopez’s posthumous collection of essays delves into territories both intimate and large, from traumatic childhood memories in Los Angeles to intriguing explorations of Antarctica. If there is a unifying theme, it is the redemptive meaning of being aware of the planet and of the other beings with whom we share it. “The implications of attention, it becomes clear, are radical and profound,” writes Ben Ehrenreich, reviewing it. “What more is there to say? He loved this world and did his best and showed us the way.”

NIGHT CRAWLING, by Leila Mottley. (Knopf, $ 28.) Based on a true story, this debut follows a poor teenager in Oakland, California, as she falls into a sex trade ring where her addicts are the police. Mottley writes with a lyrical abandonment that reminds us that she was once Oakland’s youth poet-winner. In the words of my book review colleague Lauren Christensen, who reviews it: “The thing about some trauma plots is that even the most sinister can unfortunately be true. … Kiara’s story is pure fiction, says Mottley, but her circumstances are disturbing, statistically real. “

AFRICAN FOUNDERS: How enslaved people expanded American ideals, by David Hackett Fischer. (Simon & Schuster, $ 40.) This comprehensive, ambitious study by a Pulitzer-winning historian looks at how the rich interplay between white and African American cultures came to define the various regions of the United States. “‘African Founders’ is basically an appreciation of the place of black people in America past and present, as well as an appreciation of the nation of which they became a part,” writes our reviewer, Drew Gilpin Faust. Fischer “argues that black people in their struggle for their own freedom expanded and transformed America’s understanding of what freedom meant.”

LIVING AND DIING WITH MARCEL PROUST, by Christopher Prendergast. (Europa Compass, paper, $ 17.) This magnificent book by a Proust researcher at King’s College, Cambridge, gathers extensive references from the “Remembrance of Things Past” to explore everything from metaphor to the role of food. “Prendergast’s organization is more fruitful than logical,” writes Edmund White in his review, giving him the opportunity to “break gold nuggets from the enormous complexity of Proust’s book. He reminds us again and again of the joys of everyday life, of sex, food, music. , painting (though not about friendship, for which the narrator has little respect), but also about the equal and final majesty of death. ”

METAPHYSICAL ANIMALS: How four women brought philosophy back to life, by Clare Mac Cumhaill and Rachael Wiseman. (Double day, $ 32.50.) In the 1940s, a group of young women who enjoyed great success (including novelist Iris Murdoch) challenged the prevailing philosophical views of Oxford. As a group biography, this book is “evocative and sparkling,” writes Laura Miller in her review, “outlining each woman’s character with a novelist’s mastery of details. The photographs … give a charming sense of intimacy and the texture of everyday life in the middle of The British life of the century, its teacups and cats and ration coupons. “

DARK BAR: stories, by Frederic Tuten. (Bellevue Literary, paper, $ 17.99.) Whether his subjects are aging lovers or talking centaurs, Tuten’s prose in these lamenting stories is always crucial. The collection often evokes a rich cultural past with cameo performances from well-known real artists. “It is not surprising to come from Tuten, who at the age of 85 has had a long and distinguished career, not just as a fiction writer, but as an art and film critic,” Joshua Henkin writes in his review. “The last item in the collection is a short essay, partly aimed at books and a life of reading, partly an aesthetic manifesto. … ‘The Bar at Twilight’ is neither normative nor predictable, and it carries a firm impression of the soul. “

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