THE GREAT WAR, By Joe Sacco. The panorama darkens as we move from behind-the-lines activity to the combat zone, from preparations to attack: a dark-grey wash marks nightfall, with small white patches picking out candlelit dugouts and distant explosions.
CARELESS PEOPLE, by Sarah Churchwell. It is art that eases our frustrations with a plot in which the “careless” escape and the dreamers are cut down, and it is to art that we are left wanting, ceaselessly, to return.
THE ART GENOME PROJECT. At first glance, Artsy.net looks like the minimalist homepage of a wealthy museum. But it’s what you can’t see—how the images are categorised and organised—that sets the site apart.
THE HEIR APPARENT, by Jane Ridley. It’s hard not to see parallels between Bertie’s fate and that of his great-great-grandson Prince Charles, now 65: to spend adult life searching for something to do while waiting for Mother to die.
FASCIST SYMPATHIES. Unable to stabilize the market or the world, readers turned inward and saw themselves anew—as fixable machines, captives of an unbridled will or endlessly renewable resources.
BOOK OF AGES, by Jill Lepore. This luminous story of the life of Benjamin Franklin’s sister is stitched together from fragments and scraps, a life’s “remains”: literature and descendants.
JESMYN WARD, author of “Men We Reaped.” “Part of what I’m trying to accomplish in the book is to shock people out of their complacency.”
SPARTA, by Roxana Robinson. The unit fragments and the soldier finds himself alone, more deeply alone than he was before he enlisted, more alone than he has ever been.
THE UNWINDING, by George Packer. If there is hope in these stories, it lies in the resilience of the ordinary characters Packer writes about with empathy, patience, and respect—in what he calls “the ability of people to survive in the middle of strong winds blowing.”
SHRAPNEL by William Wharton. Shrapnel wounds haphazardly—it can glance off the surface or lodge deep in the body. In William Wharton’s World War II memoir, it becomes a metaphor for the war’s psychic impact.
ON MARJORIE HILLIS. “Live Alone and Like It” is a brisk and bracing self-help guide for women who, by choice or accident, find themselves “settling down to a solitary existence.”
BREATHLESS, by Nancy K. Miller. Miller’s memoir, although it is saturated with the chilly beauty of Paris, is no lyrical indulgence. It is far sharper, and more honest, than that.
STEVEN WATTS, author of “Self-Help Messiah.” “Critics suggested that he was really promoting a program of “flattery” as a way to soft-soap others and make them susceptible to your will.”