8 New Books We Recommend This Week


LOST AND WANTED, by Nell Freudenberger. (Knopf, $26.95.) After her best friend from college dies unexpectedly, a theoretical physicist (specialty: five-dimensional space-time) is compelled to re-examine their relationship in this absorbing novel. “The effect is beautiful,” Louisa Hall writes on the cover of the Book Review. “Freudenberger navigates complicated concepts from physics with admirable clarity, and those concepts — entanglement, uncertainty, gravitational waves — help us feel in new ways the ongoing influence of dormant friendships, the difficulties involved with believing in attachments that can’t be observed, the enduring pull of discarded hopes.”

CODERS: The Making of a New Tribe and the Remaking of the World, by Clive Thompson. (Penguin Press, $28.) Thompson goes straight to the brain center of Silicon Valley: the army of programmers whose hands create our digital world. Through a focus on their behavior and thinking he’s able to offer new insights about the influence and power these geeks have on the rest of us. “With an anthropologist’s eye, he outlines their different personality traits, their history and cultural touchstones,” Nellie Bowles writes in her review. “By breaking down what the actual work of coding looks like — often pretty simple, rote, done in teams rather than by loner geniuses — he removes the mystery and brings it into the legible world for the rest of us to debate. Human beings and their foibles are the reason the internet is how it is — for better and often, as this book shows, for worse.”

HORIZON, by Barry Lopez. (Knopf, $30.) The eminent environmentalist reconstructs decades’ worth of his observations of the natural world, from the Arctic to Australia. “The book is autobiographical but not an autobiography,” our reviewer, Hillary Rosner, writes, “except to the extent that Lopez’s life of exploration has come to define him. It is his response to his own question: ‘Having seen so many parts of the world, what had I learned about human menace, human triumph and human failure?’ The answer fills 500 pages that feel at once like a reverie and an urgent appeal. ‘Horizon’ is beautiful and brutal, uplifting and bleak, a story of the universal human condition set in some of the most distinctive places on earth.”

THE CLUB: Johnson, Boswell, and the Friends Who Shaped an Age, by Leo Damrosch. (Yale University, $30.) Beginning in 1764, some of Britain’s future leading lights (including Samuel Johnson, Edmund Burke and Edward Gibbon) met every Friday night to talk and drink. Damrosch’s magnificent history revives the Club’s creative ferment. “Damrosch brilliantly brings together the members’ voices,” Lyndall Gordon writes in her review. “They air their opinions with the aplomb of thinkers who relish the English language, roll its tones and innuendos about their tongues and have the alertness to listen as well as speak. … As this stellar book moves from one Club member to another, it comes together as an ambitious venture homing in on the nature of creative stimulus.”

BANGKOK WAKES TO RAIN, by Pitchaya Sudbanthad. (Riverhead, $27.) In his debut novel, Pitchaya explores the intersecting lives of several generations — human and animal — connected to a single house in Thailand’s fever dream of a capital city. “At first, each chapter feels more like a deft character sketch than something with the forward momentum of a novel,” Hanah Beech writes, reviewing it. “Eventually, though, the stories begin to intersect and build on one another, like banana leaves woven to make a floating offering for the water spirits. Despite the profusion of characters, Pitchaya’s debut novel is more an evocation of a place than of a people.”

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