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Paperback Row

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By Joumana Khatib

Seven new paperbacks to check out this week.

PACIFIC: Silicon Chips and Surfboards, Coral Reefs and Atom Bombs, Brutal Dictators and Fading Empires, by Simon Winchester. (Harper Perennial, $16.99.) In essays that highlight 10 emblematic episodes from around the region, Winchester is able to “delineate both the tragedy and dynamism of contemporary world history, with all of its ghastly horrors,” our reviewer, Robert D. Kaplan, wrote.

AMERICAN HOUSEWIFE: Stories, by Helen Ellis. (Anchor, $15.) The women across these 12 tales bring to life different facets of domestic life, from party comportment to redecorating woes. One story is composed of a series of email exchanges between two new neighbors at odds; another explores the intricate rites and rituals (including how to skirt a “same-tunic disaster”) of a book club headed by an imposing matriarch.

THE CONFIDENCE GAME: Why We Fall for It . . . Every Time, by Maria Konnikova. (Penguin, $17.) A seemingly benign mixture of optimism and willingness to trust strangers, on top of a wider cultural acceptance of white lies, has created conditions where the con can flourish, Konnikova argues. She outlines the psychology at play — even the book’s structure mimics the sequence of a con — and includes brief detours to some illustrious and outrageous heists from history.

THE HIGH MOUNTAINS OF PORTUGAL, by Yann Martel. (Spiegel & Grau, $16.) Sorrow connects this novel’s three main story lines, which follow three grieving men. Martel, who won the Man Booker Prize in 2002 for his novel “Life of Pi,” opens with the story of Tomás in early-1900s Lisbon: Reeling from a series of deaths in quick succession, he sets out across Portugal in search of a priest’s lost relic.

ALIVE, ALIVE OH!: And Other Things That Matter, by Diana Athill. (Norton, $14.95.) The author, a longtime British editor who has worked with such luminaries as V.S. Naipaul, John Updike, Jean Rhys and Norman Mailer, is now less than a year away from the age of 100. In this book, a companion volume of sorts to her earlier memoir, “Somewhere Towards the End,” she reflects on decades of desires and unconventional choices.

THE DOGS OF LITTLEFIELD, by Suzanne Berne. (Simon & Schuster, $15.99.) All is not well in Littlefield, a tidy Boston suburb: Someone is poisoning the town’s dogs, who begin to die in droves. But the problems don’t stop there; the deaths are symptomatic of turmoil roiling beneath the surface. “Nothing sucks a reader in like psychological menace, and Berne is a master of the craft,” our reviewer, Patricia T. O’Conner, wrote.

DISSENT AND THE SUPREME COURT: Its Role in the Court’s History and the Nation’s Constitutional Dialogue, by Melvin I. Urofsky. (Vintage, $17.) A scholar looks back at some memorable, fiery rejoinders that shaped future legal opinions, and considers why the popularity of this tradition has been on the rise among justices in recent decades.

A version of this article appears in print on , on Page 28 of the Sunday Book Review with the headline: Paperback Row. Order Reprints | Today’s Paper | Subscribe

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Summary | 6 Annotations
AMERICAN HOUSEWIFE: Stories
2017/01/09 01:39
One story is composed of a series of email exchanges between two new neighbors at odds; another explores the intricate rites and rituals
2017/01/09 01:39
THE CONFIDENCE GAME: Why We Fall for It . . . Every Time,
2017/01/09 01:40
She outlines the psychology at play — even the book’s structure mimics the sequence of a con — and includes brief detours to some illustrious and outrageous heists from history.
2017/01/09 01:40
DISSENT AND THE SUPREME COURT: Its Role in the Court’s History and the Nation’s Constitutional Dialogue
2017/01/09 01:41
A scholar looks back at some memorable, fiery rejoinders that shaped future legal opinions, and considers why the popularity of this tradition has been on the rise among justices in recent decades.
2017/01/09 01:41