21 LESSONS FOR THE 21ST CENTURY, by Yuval Noah Harari. (Spiegel & Grau, $28.) This sweeping survey of the modern world by an ambitious and stimulating thinker offers a framework for confronting the fears raised by such major issues as nationalism, immigration, education and religion. “Its title is a misnomer,” Bill Gates writes in his review. “Although you will find a few concrete lessons scattered throughout, Harari mostly resists handy prescriptions. He’s more interested in defining the terms of the discussion and giving you historical and philosophical perspective.”
PRESIDIO, by Randy Kennedy. (Touchstone, $26.) Vintage Texas noir, this first novel follows the flight to the Mexican border of a car thief turned accidental kidnapper. Lee Child, reviewing it, calls the book “a fluent, mordant, authentic, propulsive narrative, wonderfully lit from within by an intriguing main character. … Kennedy rises to the challenge and succeeds.”
BOOM TOWN: The Fantastical Saga of Oklahoma City, Its Chaotic Founding, Its Apocalyptic Weather, Its Purloined Basketball Team, and the Dream of Becoming a World-Class Metropolis, by Sam Anderson. (Crown, $28.) A vivid, slightly surreal history of “the great minor city of America,” starting 500 million years ago and continuing up through Timothy McVeigh, Kevin Durant and the Flaming Lips. “The author has discovered a subject that energizes him the way a birch-bark canoe roused John McPhee, the way a French meal stoked M.F.K. Fisher and the way the burning Bronx fired up Jonathan Mahler,” according to Will Blythe’s review. “Anderson may have a gimlet eye, but the nature of his civic scrutiny tends toward the affectionate.”
SMALL FRY, by Lisa Brennan-Jobs. (Grove, $26.) Brennan-Jobs’s memoir of an unstable childhood at the mercy of her depressed, volatile and chronically impoverished mother on the one hand and, on the other, her famous, wealthy and emotionally abusive father, Steve Jobs, is luminous and deeply disturbing. “This is a work of uncanny intimacy,” Melanie Thernstrom writes in her review. “It has that defining aspect of a literary work: the stamp of a singular sensibility. In the fallen world of kiss-and-tell celebrity memoirs, this may be the most beautiful, literary and devastating one ever written.”
CHERRY, by Nico Walker. (Knopf, $26.95.) The incarcerated novelist’s debut is a singular portrait of the opioid epidemic and the United States’ failure to provide adequate support to veterans. It’s full of slapstick comedy, despite gut-clenching depictions of dope sickness, the futility of war and PTSD. “As a stylist, Walker is un-self-conscious and rangy,” our reviewer, Julie Buntin, writes (in a double review with “Open Me,” below). “He has a gift for the strategically deployed profanity, and writes dialogue so musical and realistic you’ll hear it in the air around you.”
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