New & Noteworthy

New this week:

PORTRAITS WITHOUT FRAMES By Lev Ozerov. (New York Review Books, paper, $16.95.) Composed in free verse, these 50 portraits of Soviet writers, composers and artists trapped between art and politics span the famous — like Anna Akhmatova, Isaac Babel and Dmitry Shostakovich — to the lesser known. IRON CURTAIN JOURNALS By Allen Ginsberg, edited by Michael Schumacher. (University of Minnesota, $29.95.) The great Beat poet traveled to Communist countries in the first half of 1965, Cuba and Poland among them. These journals convey his impressions, both insightful and banal. FROM GUTENBERG TO GOOGLE By Tom Wheeler. (Brookings, $24.99.) Wheeler, the former chairman of the F.C.C., turns to “network revolutions” of the past, like the invention of the printing press and the telegraph, to better understand our present. WINTER WAR By Eric Rauchway. (Basic, $28.) Rauchway explores the now forgotten moment in 1932 when Franklin Delano Roosevelt was elected, but before he was inaugurated, when his nascent plans for the New Deal faced a formidable critic in the man he beat, Herbert Hoover. PSYCHEDELIC PROPHETS Edited by Cynthia Carson Bisbee, Paul Bisbee, et al. (McGill-Queen’s University, $65.) Beginning in 1953, Aldous Huxley began a correspondence with Humphry Osmond, a British psychiatrist interested in the potential of psychedelic drugs to treat mental illness. The doors were open and a lengthy exchange of letters, collected here, followed.

& Noteworthy

In which we ask colleagues at The Times what they’re reading now.

“At the beginning of the year, I had the brilliant idea to read some Russian novels. That idea seemed less brilliant once I moved to the politics team to cover the midterm elections. For months, I lugged Leo Tolstoy’s ANNA KARENINA through airports, stuffing it into my backpack as I traveled around the country. There it sat in the passenger seat of my rented Corolla in Valencia, Calif. There it was again, in a hotel room in Las Vegas. Alone at night in cities far from home, I would try to read a few pages — about family, about betrayal, about revenge — before falling asleep. More than once, I stopped in awe as I recognized in myself Tolstoy’s descriptions of love and anger, jealousy and delight. ‘Whenever, at whatever moment, she might be asked what she was thinking about,’ Tolstoy wrote of Anna, ‘she could answer without mistake: about the same thing, about her happiness and her unhappiness.’ As Anna famously threw herself under the wheels of a train, part of me felt relieved that I would no longer have to carry her around. A bigger part of me felt like I had lost my closest companion.”

— Sydney Ember, politics reporter

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