New this week:
THE STRANGE CASE OF DR. COUNEY By Dawn Raffel. (Blue Rider Press, $27.) The use of incubators to save the lives of premature infants has its origins among the sideshows of Coney Island and Atlantic City. As Raffel recounts in this bit of forgotten but fascinating history, at the turn of the 20th century Dr. Martin Couney discovered a novel way to help sickly newborns while also making a few bucks displaying the little wonders alongside bearded ladies and strongmen. HOW SCHOOLS WORK By Arne Duncan. (Simon & Schuster, $26.99.) Obama’s education secretary unpacks his thoughts about what is working and what isn’t in our nation’s school system. He is looking to offer some straight talk, beginning with this opening line: “Education runs on lies.” A FUTURE OF FAITH By Pope Francis with Dominique Wolton. (St. Martin’s, $29.99.) The pope sat down for a series of interviews with a French reporter and this book collects the transcripts, revealing Francis’ thoughts on a wide range of contemporary issues, from immigration to globalization, making even clearer the revolutionary quality of his papacy. VALLEY OF GENIUS By Adam Fisher. (Twelve, $30.) The juggernaut of Silicon Valley now seems like a part of the economy that was always meant to be, but it’s worth remembering how young it is and how haphazard was its start. Fisher has interviewed over 200 people in this expansive oral history of the industry, which stretches from Atari to Facebook. MAEVE IN AMERICA By Maeve Higgins. (Penguin, paper, $16.) The Irish comedian and memoirist writes of her misadventures in the United States after moving here in her 30s and discovering the joys and pains of independence.
In which we ask colleagues at The Times what they’re reading now.
“I went into the story of the El Faro — the American container ship that sank in a hurricane near the Bahamas in 2015 — knowing that all 33 crew members had died. So I was surprised at how tense I felt reading INTO THE RAGING SEA, Rachel Slade’s gripping nonfiction account of the disaster. Part of the reason is the sheer amount of firsthand material she has to work with. Thanks to a black box recording from the bridge of the El Faro containing 26 hours of conversation, Slade was able to put together a sea disaster tale unlike any other. (The $3 million effort to retrieve that black box from the bottom of the ocean comprises its own twisty mini-tale.) All of the small errors of judgment, all of the overconfidence and complacency that led to the disaster are on full display, straight from the doomed mariners’ mouths. It makes for an exciting, terrifying and deeply sad story.”
— Gilbert Cruz, Culture Editor
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