By Nick Pyenson. (Penguin, $17.) This natural history of whales and their 50-million-year evolution also offers a vivid inside look at scientific passion in action. Pyenson, a curator of marine mammal fossils at the Smithsonian, conveys the thrill of the chase whether he’s hunting whale fossils in Peru or tagging baleens in Antarctica.
AND THEN WE DANCED: A Voyage Into the Groove
By Henry Alford. (Simon & Schuster, $17.) The humorist Alford elegantly combines personal history, insights into the emotional and social psychology of dance, and trenchant portraits of greats like Isadora Duncan and Savion Glover. Times reviewer Misty Copeland praised the book and its “heartwarming and hilarious” storytelling.
By Akil Kumarasamy. (Picador, $17.) The characters in this debut story collection, set in the long shadow of the Sri Lankan civil war, witness unthinkable brutality and suffer catastrophic losses. Writing with a style Times reviewer Tania James called “lyrical and affecting,” Kumarasamy shows the tender moments and intimate gestures through which traumatized people piece their shattered lives back together.
THE POISONED CITY: Flint’s Water and the American Urban Tragedy
By Anna Clark. (Picador, $18.) The horrifying story of how the mostly African-American citizens of Flint, Michigan, found their water supply tainted by lead and other toxins gets a thorough treatment in this meticulous, sobering book. Starting with segregated housing policies imposed on the city in the 1920s and moving through officials’ criminal neglect and cover-ups of wrongdoing, Clark traces the inevitable racial underpinnings of a deadly health crisis.
By Jo Nesbo. (Hogarth Shakespeare, $16.) As part of a series of contemporary novels that are based on Shakespeare’s works, Nesbo, the acclaimed Norwegian thriller writer, transforms “Macbeth” into a crime story, setting it in the grimy, corrupt Glasgow of the 1970s. Times reviewer James Shapiro praised the novel, calling it an “inventive and deeply satisfying” adaptation “suited to our own troubled times.”
By R.O. Kwon. (Riverhead, $16.) Extremism, of the romantic, religious and political varieties, animates this story of intoxicating first love between two spiritually lost college students, one Korean-American, one white and in flight from a Bible college. Times reviewer Thu-Huong Ha called Kwon’s debut a novel “for anyone who’s ever been captivated by another.”