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Shelf Awareness

New and notable books in the literary landscape

A dwarf experiences a series of lupine transformations in the fabulist novel “Little Nothing” by Los Angeles writer Marisa Silver. This evocative tale examines the malleable nature of identity through fairy tale tropes, but places the character’s emotional toil front and center. A post-modern wonder that would leave the Grimm brothers gobsmacked.  

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The bestselling author of “Where’d You Go, Bernadette,” Maria Semple is back with her signature comic voice in “Today Will Be Different.” A TV-writer-turned-beleaguered stay-at-home mom strives to be her “best self” over the course of one day (goals include: wearing yoga pants only for yoga and radiating calm). Surprise! The endeavor is much harder, and far more hilarious, than anticipated.

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Renowned philosopher of science and avid scuba diver Peter Godfrey-Smith delivers one of the most beautiful works of science writing of the year with “Other Minds: The Octopus, The Sea and The Deep Origins of Consciousness.” A journey through the evolution of sentience and the nature of human intelligence by way of the cephalopod.     

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The posthumous release of Kathleen Collins’ short story collection “Whatever Happened To Interracial Love?” means a rediscovery of an exceptional literary voice. There are times when fiction can capture the essence of a movement more intimately than history, and Collins has captured the inner lives of 1960s activists with wit and wisdom in these brief masterworks. Collins was a civil rights activist, dramatist and the first African American female to produce a feature-length film, but died in 1988 at age 46.

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If Michael Lewis’ latest goes the way of his “Moneyball” and “The Big Short,” then we’ll probably see a Brad Pitt movie called “The Undoing Project” by this time next year. Lewis has made a niche for himself by writing about bizarre, data-driven thought leaders, and this time he turns his attention to two Nobel Prize-winning behavioral psychologists whose research on irrational decision-making had far-reaching effects on everything from Big Data to economics to politics. 





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