Six new paperbacks to check out this week.
THE GREAT QUAKE: How the Biggest Earthquake in North America Changed Our Understanding of the Planet, by Henry Fountain. (Broadway, $16.) In 1964, a magnitude 9.2 earthquake — the second strongest in history — rocked Alaska. In one town, the resulting tidal wave swept away a third of the residents. Fountain, a climate reporter for The Times, describes the aftereffects, including the rise of the study of plate tectonics.
CONVERSATIONS WITH FRIENDS, by Sally Rooney. (Hogarth, $17.) Frances and Bobbi, two young writers in Dublin, are more than best friends: they’re each other’s editors and confidantes. Frances’s affair with Nick, the husband of an older photographer whom the women befriend, sets their relationship adrift. The novel gives a satisfying voice to an intellectual, complex female friendship.
THE LAST CASTLE: The Epic Story of Love, Loss, and American Royalty in the Nation’s Largest Home, by Denise Kiernan. (Touchstone, $17.) At 175,000 square feet, the Biltmore estate in Asheville, N.C., was the largest private home in the country when it was completed in 1895 by a Vanderbilt heir. Kiernan trains a wide lens on Gilded Age America, particularly after the 1929 stock market crash imperiled the family’s fortunes.
FOREST DARK, by Nicole Krauss. (Harper Perennial, $16.99.) Two successful Americans — a celebrated but stalled writer, and an older lawyer — return to Israel to reconcile their divided selves. Krauss’s illuminating novel toys with questions of identity that resist easy answers. The book centers on characters who “have it all but nonetheless have begun to wander aimlessly across their own lives,” our reviewer, Peter Orner, wrote. “Israel, impossible and messy as it is, becomes a conduit for new possibilities.”
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